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The British Empire is often misunderstood. Judgments of it differ widely, from broadly adulatory - a ‘great’ enterprise,
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In the 1930s, British colonial officials introduced drama performances, broadcasting services, and publication bureaus i
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The British Empire, especially in its late-Victorian heyday, spanned the world and linked a quarter of world's popu
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An estimated one million Armenians were killed in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Against the backdrop of
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Negative emotions, including anger, fear and shame, have been at the heart of recent political events, such as the prote
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A compelling history of British imperial culture, showing how it was adopted and subverted by colonial subjects around t
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This is the first comprehensive history of Ireland and the British Empire. It examines the different phases of Ireland
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Today’s arguments over Britain’s relationship with Europe and its place in the world are shaped by its imperial history.
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Emotions are not universal, but are experienced and expressed in diverse ways within different cultures and times. This overview of the history of emotions within nineteenth-century British imperialism focuses on the role of the compassionate emotions, or what today we refer to as empathy, and how they created relations across the empire. Jane Lydon examines how empathy was produced, qualiﬁed and contested, including via the fear and anger aroused by frontier violence. She reveals the overlooked emotional dimensions of relationships constructed between Britain, her Australasian colonies and Indigenous people, showing that ideas about who to care about were frequently drawn from the intimate domestic sphere, but were also developed through colonial experience. This history reveals the contingent and highly politicized nature of emotions in imperial deployment. Moving beyond arguments that emotions such as empathy are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, this study evaluates their concrete political uses and effects. Jane Lydon is Professor of History and Wesfarmers Chair of Australian History at The University of Western Australia. Her research centres upon Australia’s colonial past and its legacies in the present. She worked as an archaeologist before becoming a historian, and retains an interest in diverse forms of evidence for the past, especially photographic archives.
Critical Perspectives on Empire Editors Professor Catherine Hall University College London Professor Mrinalini Sinha University of Michigan Professor Kathleen Wilson State University of New York, Stony Brook Critical Perspectives on Empire is a major series of ambitious, cross-disciplinary works in the emerging ﬁeld of critical imperial studies. Books in the series explore the connections, exchanges and mediations at the heart of national and global histories, the contributions of local as well as metropolitan knowledge, and the ﬂows of people, ideas and identities facilitated by colonial contact. To that end, the series not only offers a space for outstanding scholars working at the intersection of several disciplines to bring to wider attention the impact of their work; it also takes a leading role in reconﬁguring contemporary historical and critical knowledge, of the past and of ourselves. A full list of titles published in the series can be found at: www.cambridge.org/cpempire.
Imperial Emotions The Politics of Empathy across the British Empire Jane Lydon The University of Western Australia, Perth
University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia 314–321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi – 110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06–04/06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781108498364 DOI: 10.1017/9781108653589 © Jane Lydon 2020 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2020 Printed in the United Kingdom by TJ International Ltd, Padstow Cornwall A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. ISBN 978-1-108-49836-4 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
For Tim, Roy and Dash, for keeping the home ﬁres burning.
List of Figures Acknowledgements Introduction: Emotions and Empire 1
page viii xi 1
Children of Empire: British Nationalism and Colonial Utopias
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’: Images of Frontier Conﬂict
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
The Homeless of Empire: Imperial Outcasts in Bleak House
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
Charity Begins at Home: Philanthropy, Magic Lantern Slides and Missionary Performances
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism: ‘a Strange Reluctance to Actually Shout at the Queen’
1.1 John Tenniel, ‘Telescopic Philanthropy’, Punch, Volume XLVIII, 4 March 1865, page 89. Little London Arab. ‘“PLEASE ‘M, AIN’T WE BLACK ENOUGH TO BE CARED FOR?” (with MR. PUNCH’S Compliments to LORD STANLEY.)’ Punch Cartoon Library / TopFoto. page 36 1.2 Gustave Doré, ‘The New Zealander’, 1872, frontispiece to London: a Pilgrimage. Out of copyright. 37 1.3 Jacques Louis Copia (engraver) based on drawing by Jean Piron, ‘Natives from Van Diemen’s Land Preparing Their Meal,’ [Sauvages du Cap de Diemen préparant leur repas] in Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière, Voyage in Search of La Perouse, performed by order of the Constituent Assembly, [Atlas pour servir a la relation du voyage a la recherché de la Perouse], Paris: Chez Dabo, 1817, Plate 5. National Library of Australia. PIC Volume 592 #U8147/5 NK3030, Bib id 33969, http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136482306. 41 2.1 Godfrey Mundy, ‘Mounted Police and Blacks’, frontispiece Lithograph by W. L. Walton, Our Antipodes: or, Residence and Rambles in the Australasian Colonies, with a Glimpse of the Goldﬁelds. 52 2.2 ‘Phiz’ (Hablot Knight Browne), ‘Australian Aborigines Slaughtered by Convicts’, 1841. The Chronicles of Crime; or, The New Newgate Calendar, London: Sydney: Printed for T. Tegg, 2 volumes, 1841, between pages 472 and 473. 60 2.3 George Hamilton, ‘Meeting natives on the Campaspi plains June 1836’. Three Scenes Around the Campaspi River and Plains, Victoria, 1836 [sic], National Library of Australia, PIC Volume 1186 #PIC/20001/2. NLA- nla.obj321140428-m. 65 2.4 George Hamilton, ‘Overlanders Attacking the Natives’, V/89: Ink drawing, signed G. Hamilton, 1846. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, V/89. 69 viii
List of Figures
2.5 George Hamilton, ‘Natives Spearing the Overlanders’ Cattle’, V/88: Ink drawing. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, V/88. 69 2.6 George Hamilton, ‘The Harmless Natives’, Lithographs by G Hamilton, [1846–1856]. Lithographed and published by Penman and Galbraith Pirie Street Adelaide. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. 70 2.7 George Hamilton, ‘The Persecuting White men’, DL PX 133/1–3: Lithographs published by Penman and Galbraith Pirie Street Adelaide. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. 71 3.1 Hammatt Billings, frontispiece in Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly, A 1852 .S76 U4 v.2. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. 82 3.2 George Washington Wilson, photographer, ‘An Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, 1892. Aberdeen University Special Collections. 92 4.1 ‘The London Sweep’, in Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (1851). Engraving. © Museum of London. 105 4.2 Oscar Rejlander, ‘Poor Joe’. Negative about 1860; print later. Carbon print, 84.XA.828.6.13. Getty Museum. 106 4.3 Gustave Doré, ‘Found in the Street’, London: A Pilgrimage, 1872. 108 4.4 William Powell Frith, The crossing sweeper, 1858. © Museum of London. Image number 000783. 109 4.5 Thomas William Couldery, ‘The ’Prentice Hand’, 1887, Art Gallery of New South Wales. 114 4.6 Thomas William Couldery, ‘Jo the Crossing-sweep’, 1879, Private Collection, Brisbane, Queensland. 115 6.1 Introduction. ‘Neddie’s Care’. James Bamforth, 1887, Yorkshire. PLM-00147–001 (Coll. Cinémathèque française). 146 6.2 ‘Only a penny, Sir, please give me a penny’, James Bamforth, 1887, Yorkshire. PLM-00147–007 (Coll. Cinémathèque française). 148 6.3 ‘Before and After’, Barnardo’s archives. 150 6.4 Barnett Samuel Marks, ‘Saved from the Streets, Portraits of Boys on Board the “Chichester” Training Ship’, Diptych Painted c.1872. L8215 (a) In deep mire where there is no standing; L4839 (b) Escape as a bird out of the snare of the fowler. National Maritime Museum (UK). 152
List of Figures
6.5 Dr Barnardo’s Homes Australasian deputation, ca. 1892. Photographs by Hammer & Co. Adelaide. PIC/14735, National Library of Australia. 155 6.6 ‘Wild Blacks of Australia’, in John Brown Gribble, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia, London, 1884, facing p. 20. 158 6.7 ‘Warangesda Aboriginal Mission, Murrumbidgee River’, frontispiece, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia. 158 6.8 Billy Foote, of the Warangesda Mission, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia, facing p. 40. 159 6.9 Amelia, of the Poonindie Mission, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia, facing p. 76. 160 6.10 Alfred Atkinson, ‘First Aborigines at Yarrabah Mission, in front of shelter, some with spears’, c.1892. Cairns Historical Society. 162
This has been an exciting book to write, bringing a new lens to bear on concerns that have always fascinated me: the past in the present, or how we got to where we are. Empathy is a central emotion of our time, and a powerful political tool. The emotions we now group under the umbrella of ‘empathy’, including compassion, pity or ‘fellow feeling’, underwrote the colonisation of Australia, and continue to maintain imperial and local ties. Conversely, these emotions may deny some groups, such as Indigenous Australians, full recognition of culture and rights. I am deeply grateful to those colleagues who provided advice, read chapter drafts and engaged with my work, especially Ann Curthoys, Liz Conor, Andrew Lynch, Susan Broomhall and Shino Konishi, as well as a wider circle of colleagues who shared their precious time in reading and responding to my work. Thank you Tony Ballantyne, Anna Johnston, Fiona Paisley, Maggie Nolan, Jon Piccini, Roland Bleiker, Emma Hutchison, Angela Wanhalla, Brook Andrew, Jessica Neath, Ross Gibson, Ann McGrath, Karen Hughes, Amanda Nettelbeck, Kalissa Alexeyeff, Melinda Hinkson and Alice Gorman. Since I arrived in Western Australia over six years ago, many colleagues have provided generous responses, critique, and lively conversation, and I especially thank Alistair Paterson, John Docker, Jeremy Martens, Tony Hughes d’Aeth, Kieran Dolin, Ned Curthoys, Aileen Walsh, Darren Jorgensen, Clarissa Ball, Ted Snell, Janice Lally, Vanessa Russ, Kate Gregory, Jenny Gregory, Philip Mead, David Gilchrist, Giovanni Tarantino, Farida Fozdar, Sharon Purchase, Laura Dales, Sandra Bowdler and Sven Ouzman. My interest in the history of emotions was inspired and strengthened by the work undertaken by colleagues associated with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre for the History of Emotions, hosted by The University of Western Australia. Much of the early thinking and research for this project emerged from an ARC Future Fellowship addressing the status of historic photographs of Aboriginal people, now acknowledged to be an important form of xi
Indigenous heritage. Images are not the only focus of this book, but they permeate and actively shape it, as they do both history and life. Such research is only possible with the support and generosity of many people, including institutional collection managers, and especially Aboriginal communities. In researching images of frontier violence, I am especially grateful to Wirrayaraay Elder Aunty Sue Blacklock and the Reverend John Brown, and members of the The Friends of Myall Creek committee, especially Ivan Roberts, who supported work on a book collection marking the 180th anniversary of the 1838 Myall Creek Massacre. I am also tremendously grateful to Lyndall Ryan, with whom I collaborated in that work. I am likewise grateful to Julie Robinson, Maria Zagala and Tracey Lock of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Ian Coates and Sarah Streatfeild of the National Museum of Australia, Gaye Sculthorpe and Mary McMahon of the British Museum and Andrew Sergeant, Damian Cole, Erika Mordek and Nicola Mackay-Sim of the National Library of Australia for their help in accessing their collections. Thanks to Eleanor and David Lydon for permission to reproduce T. W. Couldery’s work, and my father James Lydon for his interest in this research. For invitations to present my work, I am grateful to Paul Sendziuk, Anna Johnston, Liz Conor and Jon Piccini. Research addressing lantern slide visual culture was funded by the ARC through a Discovery project exploring magic lantern slide history, led by Martyn Jolly, and involving Elisa de Courcy, Martin Thomas, Nicolas Peterson, Paul Pickering and Joe Kember. Research about anti-slavery discourse in Australia was the subject of another Discovery project led by Fiona Paisley, and conducted with Jennifer Burn, Philippa Levine and Kevin Grant. I am grateful for permission to reproduce portions of work published elsewhere: Chapter 2 draws in part from an article published in History Compass in 2017, copyright Wiley and Sons: https://doi.org/10.1111/hi c3.12330, and another published in Journal of Australian Studies in 2018, copyright Taylor & Francis: https://doi.org/10.1080/14443058.2018.15 26816. Chapter 4 draws in part from an article published as ‘“The colonial children cry”: Jo the crossing-sweeper goes to the colonies’, Journal of Victorian Culture 20(3): 1–18, copyright Oxford University Press: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13555502.2015.1052091. Chapter 6 is derived in part from an article published in Early Popular Visual Culture in 2017, copyright Taylor & Francis: https://doi.org/10.1080/ 17460654.2017.1406813 Many thanks to Michael Watson at Cambridge University Press for his patience and encouragement, as well as series editors Catherine Hall, Kathleen Wilson and Mrinalini Sinha for their incisive advice about the
project, and Lisa Carter for support. Karen Gillen kindly compiled the index, and Ursula Acton provided rigorous and sensitive copy-editing. Finally, deep love and gratitude to my friends and family who have put up with my absence while writing – and especially Mary Lydon, Tim, Roy and Dash.
Introduction: Emotions and Empire
Whilst in the neighbourhood of the Rufus, I observed many women in deep mourning for their husbands, who had been shot in some of the conﬂicts with Europeans. Many children were pointed out to me as being fatherless from the same cause; and I have no doubt that the loss of lives in these districts has been considerable from such affrays. . . . All that would be required to cement the good understanding that has so happily commenced, would be the formation of a permanent station on the Murray, at the Junction of the Rufus, under the direction of someone who has a knowledge of the manners and customs of the Aborigines; . . . it would be the means, I doubt not, of effectually preventing, for the future, those wholesale losses of property, and those fearful scenes of retaliation and bloodshed which have heretofore so frequently occurred. Edward John Eyre, Adelaide, 1842.1
Edward Eyre’s despatch is redolent of the emotions aroused by colonial conﬂict and cross-cultural exchange. Following terrible interracial violence along the new ‘overland’ route between Melbourne and Adelaide, culminating in the Rufus River Massacre of late 1841, many white settlers were ﬁlled with rage and fear. Eyre was sent to the region to make peace. His account sought to elicit recognition of the Aboriginal inhabitants as human beings with families, who felt sorrow for the loss of their husbands, parents or children, and toward whom colonists had responsibilities. Rather than ferocious warriors, Eyre depicted Aboriginal men as fathers with dependents. To strengthen his argument for the establishment of a Protector – a role that he was to take up himself – he envisaged a happier future in which good will would prevail between colonists and Indigenous people. While Eyre was unusual at this time in seeking to prompt compassion for Aboriginal people among white settlers, such arguments were an integral aspect of the history of imperialism, and point toward the important role of the emotions in creating relationships between people across divides of culture, space and time. 1
‘Despatch from Mr Eyre’, Southern Australian, 18 February 1842, p. 3.
This book explores changing ideas about who to feel for and with across the British Empire, from the late eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century. It examines the role of the compassionate emotions, today glossed as empathy, in the establishment and maintenance of imperialism, focusing on relations between Britain and her Australasian colonies, and between settlers and Indigenous people. It traces the way that emotional narratives created relationships between self and distant others, yet also served to maintain cultural distinctions and legitimate conquest. These emotional relationships took forms speciﬁc to the settler colony, where empathy was an essential means of uniting dispersed communities and linking the metropolis and her colonies – but also served to exclude, especially on racial grounds. British imperialism brought distant peoples into communication, fostering new relationships constructed via competing, intensely affective narratives, as well as new ideas about humanity and nation, cosmopolitanism and empire, slavery, convicts and Indigenous peoples. Often drawn from the domestic referents of family, childhood and inheritance, these were ampliﬁed and challenged by imperial networks, revealing the imbrication of feelings, morality and debates integral to conquest. Drawing upon a wide range of sources, especially popular culture, this book maps the history of what eighteenthcentury moral philosopher Adam Smith called ‘fellow feeling’ across the British Empire, and its role in creating diverse emotional communities, united by shared allegiances and goals. Smith’s broad conception of sympathy encompassed what during the twentieth century increasingly came to be called ‘empathy’, a term only introduced to English in 1909 in translation of the German term ‘Einfühlung’ (or ‘feeling into’). In its earliest turn-of-the-century usage, empathy referred to an aesthetic experience, such as a reaction to a work of art, as well as a bodily response. During the twentieth century, empathy subsumed the multidimensional concept of sympathy as it was used by earlier observers. In this book, I aim to use terms such as ‘sympathy’ within their historical context; however, in drawing on the extensive recent critical literature focused upon a broad and inclusive usage of ‘empathy’, I use this latter term to refer to the constellation of sympathetic emotions. Some now consider empathy to refer to a closer identiﬁcation with another’s emotional state than sympathy, but I choose to retain the inclusive sense of Smith’s ‘fellow-feeling’.2 Within scholarship exploring emotions such as pity or compassion it has become orthodox to 2
Karsten Stueber, ‘Empathy’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato .stanford.edu/entries/empathy/; Carolyn Burdett, ‘Is Empathy the End of Sentimentality?’ Journal of Victorian Culture 16 (2) (2011), 259–74.
Researching the History of the Emotions
emphasize the ways in which they mask complicity with oppressive practices. However, some have challenged the view that emotional relationships always advanced imperialism, showing that bonds of friendship, for example, may undermine the seemingly inevitable reinforcement of racial boundaries and inequalities of power.3 Despite the signiﬁcant limits of empathetic understanding, I argue that we must understand such feelings as politically malleable and contingent processes rather than static entities, and distinguish between diverse contexts of reception and response in exploring the role of emotional discourse within imperial relations. Rather than judging emotions such as empathy as ‘positive’, or ‘negative’, I seek to map their political effects in historical context. Researching the History of the Emotions Over the last three decades, growing interest in the history and culture of the emotions has demonstrated their important role in human life, as well as their cultural and temporal variability. The seemingly universal experience and expression of the emotions has in fact varied tremendously across time and place. In history, this research ﬁeld emerged most immediately from gender history and the history of the family during the 1990s, and challenged the opposition between the supposedly domestic, feminine, ‘private’ sphere, and the rational, male, public domain, as a historical construction with little basis in fact. Such work demonstrated the importance of gender as a means of naturalizing social hierarchies and the differential distribution of power. Like gender, emotions, supposedly so closely linked to the private female domain, can be shown to pervade all aspects of life, and perform the epistemological function of deﬁning ‘not just male and female, public and private, but also subject and object, human and nonhuman, determined and free’.4 Scholars working across diverse periods and cultures have now demonstrated how emotional experience has deﬁned, reproduced and reiﬁed central social, political 3
Studies that emphasize the ways that emotions maintain inequality include, e.g., Lauren Berlant (ed.), Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion (New York and London: Routledge, 2004); Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotions (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004). More contingent political effects are the focus of e.g., Marianne Noble, The Masochistic Pleasures of Sentimental Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton, 2000); Cindy Weinstein, Family, Kinship and Sympathy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). Studies that examine the potential of emotions to challenge the status quo include Leela Gandhi, Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin-de-Siècle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship (Duke University Press, Durham, 2006). Rachel Ablow, ‘Introduction: Victorian Emotions’, Victorian Studies, 50(3) (2008), 375–7, quotations p. 375.
and scientiﬁc categories.5 Anthropologists documented the diversity of emotional vocabularies and norms, and argued that emotion is tied to the politics of everyday interaction and therefore that a key focus of the study of emotion is constituted by the politics of social life (rather than the psychology of the individual).6 Emotions may be collective, historically created and locally contingent, and respond dynamically to circumstance, response or refusal in systems of circulation and exchange that Sara Ahmed terms ‘emotional economies’.7 A rich ﬁeld of scholarship has now elaborated a variety of conceptual and methodological ways to understand the historical role of the emotions. A central interdisciplinary question has concerned the relationship between universally experienced bodily responses – often considered the domain of scientists and especially neuroscientists – and their cultural expression.8 While still debated, most accept that these domains are not opposed, and that biological and cultural studies of emotion inform one another: discourse, and especially language, shapes both the experience and expression of emotion. A broad scholarly consensus distinguishes between the biological and embodied nature of ‘affects’, and the social and cultural expression of ‘emotions’, although acknowledging the complex relationship between these two dimensions.9 Another crucial methodological issue regards how to access the emotional life of people in past times – how do we interpret their expressions of emotions, usually conveyed in language, performance or visual imagery, to understand actual emotional states? This is sometimes termed the ‘experience versus expression question’ – that is, how do we recover the 5
7 8 9
Ablow, ‘Introduction’. For overviews, see Jan Plamper, The History of Emotion: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); and contributions to Susan Broomhall (ed.), Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction (London and New York: Routledge, 2016). Catherine A. Lutz and Lila Abu-Lughod (eds.), Language and the Politics of Emotion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Catherine A. Lutz and Geoffrey M. White, ‘The Anthropology of Emotions’, Annual Review of Anthropology 15 (1986), 405–36. Sara Ahmed, ‘Happy Objects’, in Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (eds.), The Affect Theory Reader (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2010), pp. 29–51. Plamper, History of Emotion. Thomas Dixon, From Passions to Emotions: The Creation of a Secular Psychological Category (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 135–79; Elspeth Probyn, Blush: Faces of Shame (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005). Resisting the emphasis on meaning inherent within poststructuralism, affect theorists insist upon the excessive qualities of embodied experience, and their potential to transform or exceed social rules. See, for example, Clare Hemmings, ‘Invoking Affect: Cultural Theory and the Ontological Turn’, Cultural Studies 19(5) (2005), 548–67; Brian Massumi, ‘Fear (The Spectrum Said)’, positions 13 (2005), 31–48; Stephanie Trigg, ‘Affect Theory’, in Susan Broomhall, ed., Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction (Routledge, 2016), pp. 10–13.
Researching the History of the Emotions
subjectivity of historical actors who may have been constituted so differently from us? In seeking to reconstruct past emotions, a range of useful approaches has been developed, that more or less emphasizes the collective, normative aspects of emotional cultures. An especially ﬂexible formulation is Barbara Rosenwein’s notion of ‘emotional communities’, which she argues are ‘largely the same as social communities’ such as families, neighbourhoods, syndicates and factories. Emphasizing negotiation, challenge and frequent deviancy from norms, this concept allows for simultaneous participation within multiple ‘circles’. Drawing from this approach, I aim to uncover the ‘systems of feeling’ that deﬁne what members of these emotional communities consider valuable or harmful, and which therefore generate emotions. Conversely, systems of feeling also determine which emotions are devalued or ignored – such as the oftenderided ‘royal-watchers’, a community I examine in my ﬁnal chapter. Emotions are a communicative tool expressed through conventions, and so in order to reconstruct the affective bonds between people and their emotional expression, I examine and contextualize a wide range of ‘emotions-related utterances’ in documentary sources.10 This emphasis on language points to the importance of shared ideas and narratives in forming communities among people not personally known to one another. Here the study of emotions intersects with postcolonial scholarship, which has revealed the importance of Western conceptions of history and culture, and the devices we use to conceive, construct and convey meaning about other peoples, as profoundly implicated in imperialism and oppression.11 This central concern with representation has been expanded by cultural theorists to embrace, following Pierre Bourdieu, ‘a pluralized ﬁeld of colonial narratives, which are seen less as signs than as practices, or as signifying practices rather than elements of a code’.12 Viewing the emotions as ‘practices’ allows us to see them in terms of a practical engagement with the world, and overcomes persisting false binaries created between body and mind, and 10
Barbara H. Rosenwein, ‘Worrying about Emotions in History’, American Historical Review 107 (2002), 821–45; Andrew Lynch, ‘Emotional Community’ in Susan Broomhall (ed.), Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction (Routledge, 2016), pp. 3–6; William Reddy’s complementary concept of ‘emotives’, or utterances that characterize the self (and others) in emotional terms, emphasizes their performative function and power to enact change: William M. Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). For studies that examine diverse socialities and spaces and their relationship to distinctive affective regimes, see Susan Broomhall (ed.), Spaces for Feeling: Emotions and Sociabilities in Britain, 1650–1850 (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2015). Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978). Nicholas Thomas, Colonialism’s Culture: Anthropology, Travel and Government (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 8.
expression and experience, by revealing their interrelationship. As practices, emotions constitute ‘objects of feeling’ – those toward whom we feel pity, anger or love. Monique Scheer argues that this framework ‘elaborates most thoroughly the infusion of the physical body with social structure, both of which participate in the production of emotional experience’.13 In practice theory, subjects are not viewed as prior to practices, but rather as the product of them; the body is deeply shaped by the habitus (the engrained habits, skills and dispositions that deﬁne one’s social location).14 The consumption of media such as texts, visual images and music constitute an important emotional practice that transforms knowledge into bodily engagement. Fictional representations in literature, theatre and ﬁlm can be analysed as artefacts ‘used by actors in their emotional practices, as providers of templates of language and gesture as well as mediators of social norms’.15 I examine such artefacts in historical context, looking for evidence for their intended, as well as their actual, effects across the empire, within what has been termed an ‘imperial commons’, a lively, empire-wide print culture. The dramatic nineteenth-century expansion of print and communication technologies drove the creation of increasingly larger imagined communities, united by values, myths and emotional narratives that shaped the cultural and historical imagination. The Victorian press linked Britain and her colonies, and gave readers a sense of their shared world.16 Several recent studies trace the contribution of bestselling books to the creation of an imperial commons as they circulated across the globe, translated into diverse cultural, linguistic and social contexts. Within distinctive communicative systems, the book’s ‘speciﬁc historical iterations’ produced diverse effects, its accessibility facilitated by the partiality of intellectual property law, and augmented by the ‘scrapbooking’ method of newspapers reproducing text from each other across the empire, prompting a mode of reading that juxtaposed diverse frameworks, events, people and arguments in a ‘widespread and homemade global idiom . . . a demotic form of world literature’.17 These 13
14 15 16
Monique Scheer, ‘Are Emotions a Kind of Practice (and Is That What Makes Them Have a History)? A Bourdieuian Approach to Understanding Emotion’, History and Theory, 51(2) (2012), 193–220, quotation p. 199; Ahmed, Cultural Politics of Emotion, 8–9, 83. Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990), pp. 53–54. Scheer, ‘Are Emotions a Kind of Practice?’, 217–18. Julie F. Codell, Imperial Co-histories: National Identities and the British and Colonial Press (Cranberry, NJ: Associated University Press, 2003); Joanne Shattock and Michael Wolff, The Victorian Periodical Press (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1982). Antoinette Burton and Isabel Hofmeyr, ‘Introduction’ in Antoinette Burton and Isabel Hofmeyr (eds.), Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial
Researching the History of the Emotions
portable, mobile, accessible texts might imagine how imperialism worked, or simply provide engaging accounts of shared concerns, such as the place of children in the metropolis, mission work or slavery. In emotional practice, these ‘artefacts’ were mediated by performance, manuscript, print or more recently, digital forms, constituting, as Maureen McLane has argued, ‘the means through, and historical conditions under which human imagination materializes itself’.18 Through their translation across diverse cultural and spatial contexts of reception, narratives that aroused feelings crossed boundaries of class, race, and gender, even as they contributed to creating them. To recover this condition of mediality, I undertake what Daniel Hack terms ‘close reading at a distance’ – the combination of both attending to the text, but also its wider and diverse reception to understand both better.19 As I examine in Chapter 3, when ‘overlander’ George Hamilton rendered his direct experiences of frontier violence in art and text, and sought to justify frontier violence on the grounds of selfdefence, he quoted from Charles Dickens’ novel Bleak House to attack the ‘greasy Chadbands’ who insisted on Aboriginal rights. In evoking the hypocrisy of those, like Dickens’s ﬁctional character, who urged compassion but did not practice it, Hamilton sought to align his readers with colonists, and set them against Indigenous people. As this example shows, these interpretive schemes also deﬁne some lives as more distinctly human than others, telling readers who belongs within a shared community and is therefore worthy of concern.20 In examining key texts, images and authors that were taken up in Australia, and their reception across the imperial world, I seek to understand how emotional narratives deﬁned speciﬁc objects of empathy, turning responses toward, or away from, speciﬁc objects or communities, whether white settlers, Aboriginal people, missionaries, orphans or members of the royal family.
18 19 20
Commons (Duke University Press, 2014), p. 1; Isabel Hofmeyr, The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of the Pilgrim’s Progress (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2004); Tony Ballantyne, ‘Moving Texts and “Humane Sentiment”: Materiality, Mobility and the Emotions of Imperial Humanitarianism’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 17(1) (2016), doi:10.1353/cch.2016.0000; Tony Ballantyne, ‘Contesting the Empire of Paper: Cultures of Print and AntiColonialism in the Modern British Empire’, in Jane Carey and Jane Lydon (eds.), Indigenous Networks: Mobility, connections and exchange (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 219–40. Maureen McLane, Balladeering, Minstrelsy, and the Making of British Romantic Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 7. Daniel Hack, Reaping Something New: African American Transformations of Victorian Literature (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2016), p. 3. Judith Butler, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (London: Verso, 2010), p. 51.
Visual culture provides an important means of accessing historical emotions, as I explore throughout this book, and especially in Chapters 2, 3, 5, and 7. Although images are as much shaped by contemporary conventions, cultural predispositions and allegiances as other cultural forms, nonetheless I argue that through images we can see something of contemporary emotions – including ambivalence, and the moral uncertainties of the invaders. Visual theorists have shown that ‘looking’ is a politically and historically speciﬁc process, and that images are highly ambivalent historical traces that assume meaning when enmeshed in narrative – whether written, oral, visual or embodied context. In this way, globalizing visual cultures constitute an important dimension of the imperial commons.21 Contexts for interpreting visual meanings change over time, allowing us to recognize more clearly the premises and conventions of other eras, and to interpret the image in new ways.22 Like texts, by arousing emotions such as empathy or compassion, images bring distant peoples into communication and create social relationships. Images may be performative, but also perlocutionary in seeking to persuade, frighten, anger or evoke compassion. Art tends to be especially interested not just in depicting emotions but also in creating them. Indeed, Erin Sullivan suggests that ‘there are very few works of art that set out not to make their audiences feel something’.23 As I argue in Chapter 3, images can evoke our own compassion, disgust, sorrow or fear in the present, in ways that forensic historical analysis sometimes cannot. Changing Emotional Regimes across the British Empire As Chapter 2 explores further, during the period of Britain’s colonial expansion in the eighteenth century, a broad emotional regime often termed the ‘cult of sensibility’ emerged across Europe and America, inﬂuenced by philosophers of moral sentiment such as David Hume and Adam Smith. This emotional orientation was deﬁned through contrasts drawn between home and other, domestic and cosmopolitan priorities, and ﬂuctuated according to political context. During the 1790s, for 21
John Berger, Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin, 1973); W. J. T. Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004); Deborah Poole, Vision, Race and Modernity: A Visual Economy of the Andean Image World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997); Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011). Lynda Nead, ‘The Secret of England’s Greatness’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 19(2) (2014), 161–182, doi: 10.1080/13555502.2014.919083. Erin Sullivan, ‘The Role of the Arts in the History of the Emotions’, Emotions: History, Culture, Society, 2(1) (2018), 113–31, quotation p. 126.
Changing Emotional Regimes across the British Empire
example, British perceptions that the French Revolution was driven by an excess of sentiment and egalitarianism prompted a backlash evident in a suspicion of excessive displays of sentimentality and the desire to distance themselves from ‘the French fashion for tears, sensibility and revolution’.24 Increasingly hierarchical ideas about human difference and the classiﬁcation of the natural world acted to exclude non-white peoples from full humanity, and an opposition between emotion and reason was elaborated in which so-called savage peoples were less in control of their emotions and therefore lacked the capacity for civility.25 In imagining new Antipodean ‘homes’, a series of key oppositions were invoked that contrasted the natural emotions of parenthood with an unnatural universalism, pitting near against distant, national against cosmopolitan, in what was to remain an enduring imperial theme. Such exclusions relegated Indigenous people to the past, as their seemingly inevitable disappearance became a matter for mourning. The discourse of humanitarian sensibility was applied to a range of reforms, and notably the British movement to abolish slavery which reached a triumphant conclusion in August 1833, when British Parliament ﬁnally abolished slavery throughout the British colonies. While historians have ﬁercely debated the respective importance of emotional, religious, economic and political factors in contributing to the movement’s ultimate success, it is clear that the achievement of abolition marked a climax of public sentiment, and emotional discourse that successfully mobilized empathy for slaves was key to the campaign.26 The British anti-slavery campaign bridged the so-called ages of sensibility and sentimentality, and exempliﬁes the politicization of emotional regimes, 24
Thomas Dixon, Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 122; G. J. Barker-Benﬁeld, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992); Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling; anti-slavery sentiment also dipped during this decade: Robin Blackburn, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery 1776–1848 (London: Verso, 1988) pp. 131–5. Nicole Eustace, Passion Is the Gale: Emotion, Power, and the Coming of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008); Kathleen Wilson, ‘Empire, Gender, and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century’, in Philippa Levine (ed.), Gender and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 14–45; Margrit Pernau et al., Civilizing Emotions: Concepts in Nineteenth Century Asia and Europe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Elizabeth B. Clark, ‘“The Sacred Rights of the Weak”: Pain, Sympathy, and the Culture of Individual Rights in Antebellum America’, Journal of American History, 82(2) (1995), 463–93; Christine Levecq, Slavery and Sentiment: The Politics of Feeling in Black Atlantic Antislavery Writing, 1770–1850 (Durham: University of New Hampshire Press, 2008); Brycchan Carey, British Abolitionism and the Rhetoric of Sensibility: Writing, Sentiment and Slavery, 1760–1807 (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Margaret Abruzzo, Polemical Pain: Slavery, Cruelty, and the Rise of Humanitarianism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
entwined with debates about empire and nation, and political ideologies of liberalism and republicanism.27 The discourse of sensibility was also linked to the expansion of international British missionary networks from 1790 to 1812, a period when British interests begin to multiply around the globe.28 While historians have not always considered the anti-slavery and missionary movements together, as Zoë Laidlaw has noted, religious values and humanitarianism were mutually constitutive for those such as the physician, Quaker and philanthropist Thomas Hodgkin, a co-founder of the Aborigines Protection Society in 1837. During this period, evangelical Protestantism contributed to the new ‘sentimentalism’, which sustained key aspects of the discourse of sensibility including the view that sympathetic feeling was natural and virtuous, as well as an optimistic view of human nature. Fundamental to both was the impulse to feel with another, and to act to alleviate their suffering.29 The climax of public sentiment aroused by the anti-slavery movement’s success propelled a new wave of missionary activity during the 1830s and 1840s. Over the last two decades, interest in the history of ‘humanitarianism’ has prompted an important body of work that has traced the emergence of a growing concern for the suffering of distant others within a long genealogy of human rights.30 This work allows us to understand how globalization and imperialism were linked to the expanding category of the human, for example, as communicative technologies and colonial experience generated new ideas about distant others; the category of ‘humanitarian’ constitutes a productive historiographical means of foregrounding important connections and continuities across place and period. Many historians use the term ‘humanitarian’ to denote all those historical actors who worked to ameliorate the plight of non-white peoples, including members of 27
Blackburn, Overthrow; Christopher Leslie Brown, Moral Capital: Foundations of British Abolitionism (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Levecq, Slavery and Sentiment. Andrew Porter, Religion versus Empire? British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004). Zoë Laidlaw, ‘Heathens, Slaves and Aborigines: Thomas Hodgkin’s Critique of Missions and Anti-Slavery’, History Workshop Journal 64 (2007), 133–61; John Mullan, Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988); Fred Kaplan, Sacred Tears: Sentimentality in Victorian Literature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987), p. 16. For discussion of the relationship between ‘sensibility’, ‘sentimental’ and ‘sentimentalism’, see Carey, British Abolitionism, 4–9. Lynn Hunt, Inventing Human Rights: A History (New York: Norton, 2007); Michael Barnett, Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism (London: Cornell University Press, 2011); D. J. B. Trim and Brendan Simms, ‘Towards a History of Humanitarian Intervention’ in Brendan Simms and D. J. B. Trim (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) pp. 1–24.
Changing Emotional Regimes across the British Empire
the anti-slavery movement, missionaries and those in secular roles, from the late eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.31 One key contribution of this ﬁeld has been to show how humanitarianism was fundamentally bound up with the developing institutions of the colony and nation-state, and that ‘ideas and practices associated with imperial politics and administration have both been shaped by and have in themselves informed developing notions of humanitarianism’.32 This scholarship has explored the scope and the limits of humanitarian responses to the expansion of empire, focusing upon British imperial policy during the early to mid-nineteenth century and tracing the transition from the post-abolitionist commitment to Indigenous justice, to settler self-government. British civil society and the state adopted certain humanitarian principles, alongside those of political economy as part of the disciplinary apparatus of governance both domestically and within a newly expanded empire.33 The establishment of protectorates of Aborigines with magisterial authority in the Port Phillip District of New South Wales and in New Zealand during the late 1830s exempliﬁes the application of ‘protection’ as a wide-ranging program of legal reform, within a process of extending legal jurisdiction as a technology of British sovereignty.34 As Amanda Nettelbeck has recently argued, the program of protecting Indigenous people’s rights around the British Empire was
Andrew Porter, ‘Trusteeship, Anti-Slavery and Humanitarianism’, and ‘Religion, Missionary Enthusiasm and Empire,’ in The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. 3: The Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 198–221; Henry Reynolds, This Whispering in Our Hearts (St. Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1998); Elizabeth Elbourne, Blood Ground: Colonialism, Missions, and the Contest for Christianity in the Cape Colony and Britain, 1799–1853 (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2002); Amanda Barry et al. (eds.), Evangelists of Empire? Missionaries in Colonial History (Parkville: University of Melbourne, 2011). Rob Skinner and Alan Lester, ‘Humanitarianism and Empire: New research agendas’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 40 (2012), 729–47. Elbourne, Blood Ground; Zoë Laidlaw, ‘Integrating Metropolitan, Colonial and Imperial Histories: The Aborigines Select Committee of 1835–37’, in Julie Evans and Tracy Banivanua-Mar (eds.), Writing Colonial History: Comparative Perspectives, (Melbourne: RMIT Press 2002), pp. 75–91; Zoë Laidlaw, Colonial Connections 1815–45: Patronage, the Information Revolution and Colonial Government (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 2005); Alan Lester, ‘Colonial Networks, Australian Humanitarianism and the History Wars’, Geographical Research 44 (2006), 229–41. Alan Lester and Fae Dussart, Colonization and the Origins of Humanitarian Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014); Rachel Standﬁeld, ‘Protection, Settler Politics and Indigenous Politics in the Work of William Thomas’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 13 (2012). Project MUSE, doi: 10.1353/cch.2012.0007; Lynette Russell and Leigh Boucher (eds.), Settler Colonial Governance in Nineteenth-Century Victoria (Canberra: ANU Press, 2015); Lisa Ford, Settler Sovereignty: Jurisdiction and Indigenous People in America and Australia, 1788–1836 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010).
dependent upon their reform as governable colonial subjects, including through punishment under the law.35 Another important contribution of humanitarian histories, forming an important strand of the ‘new imperial histories’, has been to reveal the nature of transnational links and synergies forged across settler colonies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries on the basis of connections made through religious and other reform campaigns.36 During the period between the abolition of the slave trade and the consolidation of settler governance, evangelical humanitarian networks directed the emotional and moral power of anti-slavery discourse toward the plight of Indigenous peoples.37 While most of this scholarship has not explicitly focused upon emotional experience and expression, it has explored the intellectual and religious dimensions of humanitarianism, associated with ideas of redemption, atonement and active help for the suffering, and its reliance upon the language of sentiment. Elizabeth Elbourne’s classic 2003 essay cogently traced the continuities between the British anti-slavery campaign, led to victory in 1833 by MP Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, and his 1836–7 initiative, the British Parliamentary Select Committee on Aborigines (British Settlements), which ‘applied to British settlers and traders the same language that had so recently been brought to bear against slave owners’.38 As I explore in Chapter 3, humanitarians across the British Empire drew upon anti-slavery discourse in seeking to arouse concern for 35 36
Amanda Nettelbeck, Indigenous Rights and Colonial Subjecthood: Protection and Reform in the Nineteenth-Century British Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). Alan Lester, Imperial Networks: Creating Identities in nineteenth century South Africa and Britain (London: Taylor and Francis, 2001), pp. 23–44; Alan Lester, ‘Thomas Fowell Buxton and the Networks of British Humanitarianism’, in H. Gilbert and C. Tifﬁn (eds.), Burden or Beneﬁt: Imperial Benevolence and Its Legacies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), pp. 31–48; Anna Johnston, Missionary Writing and Empire, 1800–1860 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003); Susan Thorne, Congregational Missions and the Making of an Imperial Culture in Nineteenth-Century England (Stanford, California, 1999), pp. 149–50; Porter, Religion versus Empire?; Laidlaw, Colonial Connections, 27; Laidlaw, ‘Heathens, Slaves and Aborigines’; Hilary Carey, God’s Empire: Religion and Colonialism in the British World, c.1801–1908 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), p. 2; C. A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780–1830 (London: Longman, 1989); Catherine Hall, Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830–1860 (Oxford: Polity, 2002). Catherine Hall, ‘The Slave-Owner and the Settler’ in Jane Carey and Jane Lydon (eds.), Indigenous Networks: Mobility, Connections and Exchange (New York: Routledge, 2014), pp. 29–49; Catherine Hall et al., Legacies of Slave Ownership: Colonial Slavery and the Formation of Victorian Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 60–5. Elizabeth Elbourne, ‘The Sin of the Settler: The 1835–6 Select Committee on Aborigines and Debates over Virtue and Conquest in the Early Nineteenth-Century British White Settler Empire’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 4 (2003), 1–17.
Changing Emotional Regimes across the British Empire
Indigenous peoples during the 1830s, a time of growing frontier violence across the settler colonies. In a context where Aboriginal people were stereotyped by settlers as primitive and non-human, counter-images and strategies drawn from anti-slavery discourse might constitute them as objects of white compassion. Two kinds of masculinity mobilized empathy toward their very different objects: the ‘sensibility of manliness’ that characterized metropolitan evangelical Christianity competed with racialized settler masculinities in processes common to many settler colonies during the 1830s and 1840s. While humanitarian ideas of ‘atonement’ for invasion focused upon a program of Christianitzation and ‘civilization’, philanthropists usually stopped short of acknowledging Aboriginal rights to the land, demonstrating that their idealizing empathy with Indigenous peoples was deeply complicit with dispossession. Despite its utility, however, the category of ‘humanitarian’ can also act to obscure important differences between diverse historical positions, especially during the period between 1840 and 1860 when the term entered common English usage, and was highly contested. As a category of analysis, this term can also exaggerate continuities between past and present-day views. As Claire McLisky has pointed out, only in 1844 did the Oxford English Dictionary deﬁne ‘humanitarian’ as ‘one who advocates or practices humanity or humane action; one who devotes himself to the welfare of mankind at large; a philanthropist’. Before this time the term ‘philanthropist’ was the preferred term for anti-slavery and other reformist campaigners.39 Indeed, the term ‘humanitarian’ was initially used with contempt, to connote excessive and ill-conceived views. ‘Humanitarian’ ﬁrst appeared in the colonial press in 1843, when an extract from the Times ridiculed the proposal that verdicts of ‘temporary insanity’ might be delivered in cases of homicide, and concluded that ‘[s]uch is the argument used by modern humanitarians, to the great scandal of justice and common sense, as well as to the great peril of human life.’40 In Australasian newspapers, use of the term ‘humanitarian’ over its ﬁrst decade was invariably ironic, signifying the actual cruelty, impracticality and foolishness of the position in question. Throughout the 1840s and into the 1850s the term was deployed in colonial debates to attack the liberalization of the criminal justice and convict systems.41 39
Claire McLisky, ‘“Due Observance of Justice, and the Protection of their Rights’: Philanthropy, Humanitarianism and Moral Purpose in the Aborigines Protection Society, circa 1837 and Its Portrayal in Australian Historiography, 1883–2003’, Limina 11 (2005), 57–66. ‘English Extracts: Insanity’, Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 16 October 1843, p. 4. For example, the reformed ‘probation’ convict system designed by ‘gallant humanitarian’ Captain Machonochie was considered to lack ‘the salutary ingredient of fear’: ‘The
Proponents were derided as ‘sentimental’, ‘maudlin’ and ultimately immoral – such as when the radical working-man’s People’s Advocate and New South Wales Vindicator argued against leniency toward men who had murdered their wives, writing scornfully that ‘Mr. Ewart, with a cohort of inferior humanitarians, is ready to invoke the House of Commons on behalf of the guilty – humanitarian juries are all alive to acquit them – and humanitarian judges to pronounce deprecatory charges to these sentimental and maudlin juries.’ By contrast, wrote the People’s Advocate, ‘[w]e respect human life as much as any man – far more, in our opinion than any humanitarian in the empire; but the life we respect is that of the innocent, not that of the miscreant who has shed his neighbour’s blood, or, which is worse, who has shed the blood of his wife, of the mother of his children.’42 These censorious uses signal the emotional and moral contest over the meaning of suffering, and the proper object of sympathy, opposing deserving and undeserving, acknowledged or excluded, and in turn signalling wider cultural shifts regarding discipline, punishment and liberal individualism. The People’s Advocate deployed the language of sentimentality to locate sympathy and to assign it to particular persons, ‘thereby designating who possesses affect and who elicits it’.43 This struggle over the meaning of ‘humanitarian’ is revealing of the opposed positions of ‘philanthropists’ and their opponents in the imperial political deployment of emotions at this period, and so I have aimed to be precise in attending to these tensions in historical context, although engaging closely with the important humanitarian historiography. Until the late 1840s, the missionary enterprise and the status of Indigenous peoples were still an acceptable, even favoured, object of sentiment. However, colonial experience of frontier conﬂict, and the disappointing pace of Indigenous conversions undermined the enthusiasm of the 1830s, just as notions of biological race strengthened, causing a backlash against missionary work. Around 1849, an explicit and racialized opposition between imperial evangelization and local urban reform emerged in metropolitan debates, exempliﬁed by the high-proﬁle exchange between political theorists Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill. Carlyle’s notorious ‘Occasional discourse on the Negro Question’ attacked the supposed hypocrisy of the philanthropic movement for the emancipation of West Indian slaves because he claimed that it overlooked
Transportation System’, Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Saturday 1 May 1847, p. 2. ‘The Murder Movement’, People’s Advocate and New South Wales Vindicator, Saturday 10 August 1850, p. 12. Lynn Festa, Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).
Domesticity and Imperialism
the problems faced by the British.44 Two years later, Henry Mayhew adopted Carlyle’s logic in his monumental slum exposé London Labour and the London Poor, which he argued made ‘our many societies for the civilization of savages on the other side of the globe appear like a “delusion, a mockery, and a snare,” when we have so many people sunk in the lowest depths of barbarism round about our very homes’.45 As I explore further in Chapters 4 and 5, these racialized and emotional oppositions, in turn grounded in binaries constructed between home and foreign, domestic and imperial responsibilities, were crystallized by two wildly popular sentimental novels published in the early 1850s. American Harriet Beecher Stowe’s phenomenally successful anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly sought to evoke compassion for slaves, not to be emancipated in North America until the end of the Civil War in 1865. By contrast, Charles Dickens’s Bleak House established an affective and moral opposition between Mrs Jellyby – the ﬁrst ‘humanitarian’ to appear in ﬁction – whose satirically drawn ‘telescopic philanthropy’ represents the hypocritical expenditure of empathy for those in distant lands, and the white waif Jo the crossing-sweep as the novel’s proper and most powerful object of compassion. Dickens’s explicit opposition between imperial evangelization and local urban reform directed audiences to care about the white poor with the inference that black people were not a proper focus for concern. Some contemporaries contrasted the moral logic of Bleak House unfavourably with that of UTC, and saw Dickens’s novel as a direct attack on the abolitionist cause, so that in one sense Bleak House may be seen as a retort to Stowe’s antislavery novel. Jo’s touching story circulated widely across the colonies of Australia and New Zealand, and was put to work in transmitting inherited British values and making sense of local political and social circumstances. By the late nineteenth century, Jo’s colonial re-making effectively consolidated racial exclusions. Domesticity and Imperialism As Chapter 4 further explores, ideas about gender, and especially the ideology of separate spheres which constructed women’s place within the home as the source of moral and sentimental values, have played a critical role in deﬁning colonial categories, furthering imperial ambition, and justifying rule. The very meaning of ‘domestic’ relies upon its opposition 44 45
Thomas Carlyle, ‘Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question’, Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country, XL (1849), 670–9. Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (London: George Woodfall and Son, 1851), p. 472.
to the ‘foreign’, contrasting the familial household with everything outside it. Metropolitan domestic ideals were applied to an expanded imperial world, seeking to re-create the European social order and incorporate Indigenous peoples within it. This sentimental investment in the home and family was the basis for the colonial project of assimilation, a vision in which women played a key role by bringing their supposed feminine sensibility to bear upon training the young.46 Ann Stoler’s exploration of the ‘tense and tender ties’ of imperialism ﬁrst galvanized interest in the ways that seemingly ‘private’ relationships and domains serve to deﬁne and maintain imperial power. Her examination of the interactions of Europeans with Indigenous populations in households and in their personal or sex lives in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Indonesia showed that ‘intimate matters and narratives about them’ contributed to deﬁning the ‘racial coordinates and social discriminations of empire’, furthering imperialism through creating colonial categories and distinguishing the ruler from the ruled.47 This approach has shown how interracial marriage has ﬁgured as a key strategy for settler colonists to access Indigenous land and resources, and an important practice of imperial rule, and analysis has extended to a wide range of relationships and sites, including violent encounters, familial and friendly correspondence, or the colonial port’s recruitment ground, for example.48 However, while richly suggestive of the diverse and powerful feelings at stake in these processes, the framework of imperial ‘intimacy’ is apt to take for granted the emotional and affective dimensions of these ‘tender’ 46
See contributions to Philippa Levine (ed.), Gender and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), especially Philippa Levine, ‘Introduction: Why Gender and Empire?’, in Philippa Levine, ed., Gender and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 1–13; Wilson, ‘Empire, Gender, and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century’; Laura Wexler, Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U.S. Imperialism (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 25–6. Ann Laura Stoler, ‘Tense and Tender Ties: The Politics of Comparison in North American History and (Post) Colonial Studies’, Journal of American History 88 (3), (2001), 829–65; Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010). Judith Binney, ‘“In-Between Lives”: Studies from within a Colonial Society’, in Tony Ballantyne and Brian Moloughney (eds.), Disputed Histories: Imagining New Zealand’s Pasts (Dunedin, New Zealand, 2006), pp. 93–118; and Rachel Standﬁeld, ‘Violence and the Intimacy of Imperial Ethnography: The Endeavour in the Paciﬁc’, 31–48; Elizabeth Vibert, ‘Writing “Home”: Sibling Intimacy and Mobility in a Scottish Colonial Memoir’, pp. 67–88; Charlotte Macdonald, ‘Intimacy of the Envelope: Fiction, Commerce and Empire in the Correspondence of Friends Mary Taylor and Charlotte Brontë, c.1845–55’, pp. 89–109; Frances Steel, ‘Suva Under Steam: Mobile Men and a Colonial Port Capital, 1880s–1910s’, pp. 110–126, all in Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton, eds., Moving Subjects: Gender, Mobility, and Intimacy in an Age of Global Empire (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009).
Missionaries and Love
ties, in favour of exploring the power relations entailed in imperial governance. ‘Intimacies’ tends to become shorthand for interracial sex or marriage, while ‘sensibilities’ connotes cultural proclivities or taste, rather than explicitly focusing on emotional experience and expressions, which are therefore tacitly assumed to be universal. Ann McGrath’s study of love, sex and marriage between Indigenous peoples and settler citizens in the United States and Australia is an exception that has shown the potential for closer analysis of the emotional dimensions of crosscultural relations. As she argues, ‘[l]ove, that eternal intangible, is integral to this history’, and she explicitly examines feelings, tenderness and tender emotions in the process of nation formation.49 Recent work has now begun to examine the imbrication of violence and intimacy in the settler colonial encounter and its shaping of a wide range of colonial economies, including journeys of exploration, everyday interaction between colonial ofﬁcials and Indigenous peoples, and the supposedly private domains of the settler colonial home.50 Missionaries and Love As I explore in Chapters 6 and 7, the missionary enterprise provides a rich focus for analysis of the compassionate emotions in imperial context, given the dominant if complex Christian ethos of love, pity and compassion. Missionaries subscribed to the New Testament’s doctrine of salvation by love, and its imperative to draw others into a loving relationship with God. Love was unconditional and inclusive, expressed in Jesus Christ’s ‘new commandment’: ‘love each other as I have loved you’ (John 13:33–35). However, this empathetic emotional stance existed in tension with the injunction, ‘but if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an inﬁdel’ (1 Timothy 5:8), which expressed the imperative to care for one’s own family before those who were more distant.51 This emotional and moral friction animates diverse transnational discourses about religion, economics and gender, infused with evangelical Christian 49 50
Ann McGrath, Illicit Love: Interracial Sex and Marriage in the United States and Australia (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015), p. 1. Penny Edmonds and Amanda Nettelbeck (eds.), Intimacies of Violence in the Settler Colony: Economies of Dispossession around the Paciﬁc Rim (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), especially Angela Wanhalla and Lachy Paterson, ‘“Tangled Up”: Intimacy, Emotion, and Dispossession in Colonial New Zealand’, in Penny Edmonds and Amanda Nettelbeck (eds.), Intimacies of Violence in the Settler Colony: Economies of Dispossession around the Paciﬁc Rim (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 179–99. Stephen Prickett and Robert P. Carroll (eds.), The Bible: Authorized King James Version (Oxford University Press, 2008/ 1611), p. 260.
ideas about sin, repentance and national character.52 In a sense, the religious and emotional burden of imperialism fell upon the shoulders of missionaries. Many Christian missionaries understood their faith to be grounded in an intimate and affective connection to God, and sought to explicitly articulate their emotional experience.53 Many Protestant denominations believed that emotion in religion was a sign of God’s grace, and proof of salvation.54 Missionary histories have also provided an important framework in providing insight into Indigenous experiences of Christianity and cultural exchange. Many cultures embraced Christianity, although frequently synthesizing or developing innovative emotional regimes of their own.55 Some Indigenous peoples harnessed print technologies to involve their communities within colonial networks and participate within the imperial commons.56 Pity, and its emotional cognates such as compassion and sympathy, justiﬁed missionary intervention into Indigenous lives, which was seen as a form of atonement and redemption. Some see this as an inherent contradiction within pity, in which the very offer of sympathy requires 52
Boyd Hilton, The Age of Atonement: The Inﬂuence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought, 1785–1865 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991); Anne O’Brien, ‘Humanitarianism and Reparation in Colonial Australia’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 12 (2011), doi:10.1353/cch.2011.0016. Claire McLisky and Karen Vallgårda, ‘Faith through Feeling: An Introduction’, in Claire McLisky, Daniel Midena and Karen Vallgårda (eds.), Emotions and Christian Missions: Historical Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 1–21; Claire McLisky, ‘Professions of Christian Love: Letters of Courtship between Missionaries-to-Be Daniel Matthews and Janet Johnston’ in Barry et al, Evangelists of Empire?, pp. 173–85. Joanna Cruickshank, ‘Blood, Tears and Race: Moravian Missionaries and Indigenous Bodies in Colonial Australia’, Interface 14 (2011), 15–31; Jacqueline Van Gent, ‘Sarah and Her Sisters: Letters, Emotions and Colonial Identities in the Early Modern Atlantic World’, Journal of Religious History 38 (2014), 71–90. Claire McLisky, ‘The Location of Faith? Power, Agency and Spirituality on Maloga Mission, 1874–1888’, History Australia 7 (2010), 08.1–08.24; Peggy Brock, The Many Voyages of Arthur Wellington Clah: A Tsimshian Man on the Paciﬁc Northwest Coast (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011); Peggy Brock (ed.), Indigenous Peoples and Religious Change (Leiden: Brill, 2005); Peggy Brock et al., Indigenous Evangelists and Questions of Authority in the British Empire 1750–1940 (Leiden: Brill, Studies in Christian Mission 2014); McLisky and Vallgårda, ‘Faith Through Feeling’; Claire McLisky, ‘“All of One Blood”?: Race and Redemption on Maloga Mission, 1874–1888’, in Leigh Boucher, Jane Carey and Katherine Ellinghaus (eds.), Proceedings of the Historicising Whiteness Conference (Melbourne: RMIT Publishers, 2007), pp. 408–15; Jessie Mitchell, In Good Faith? Governing Indigenous Australia through God, Charity and Empire 1825–1855 (Canberra: ANU ePress, 2011); Amanda Barry et al., (eds.), Evangelists of Empire? Missionaries in Colonial History (History Conference and Seminar Series 18, School of Historical Studies, The University of Melbourne, 2008). Ballantyne, ‘Moving Texts’; Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhall, He Reo Wãhine: Mãori Women’s Voices from the Nineteenth Century (Auckland University Press, 2017), pp. 265–89.
Missionaries and Love
the maintenance of distance between subject and observer rather than obliterating its own conditions of existence. In this way, as Amit Rai has argued of imperial India, sympathy functions as ‘a modality of power’ while seeming not to be one, particularly evident in driving efforts to transform and Christianize the other.57 The British missionary movement’s active use of religious and emotional values and language constituted a powerful emotional regime closely entwined with imperialism.58 Missionaries could also challenge the colonial exploitation of Indigenous people, as Chapter 6, ‘Aboriginal ‘Slavery’ on the New Frontier’ explores. In 1885, the missionary John Brown Gribble, fresh from a visit to London and its philanthropic Exeter Hall circle, attempted to establish a mission in north-western Western Australia. Unlike the continent’s now-settled south-east, this region continued to witness frontier violence, brutal labour practices and sexual exploitation. He quickly antagonized the colony’s pastoralist interests and a press scandal eventuated, in which the pastoralist lobby sought to ridicule Gribble’s claims for sympathy toward Aboriginal people, in favour of their own. Gribble aspired to what is often termed ‘muscular Christianity’, a form of masculinity that linked spiritual belief to more secular values of bravery and heroism, and his hero was the African missionary David Livingstone. Gribble typiﬁed the way that missionaries sought to transcend racial and imperial dichotomies by harnessing print culture to create supportive emotional communities united by a sense of Christian fellowship.59 Although the 1830s climax of the anti-slavery movement was long past, Gribble’s notorious 1886 denunciation, Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land is suffused with anti-slavery quotations and imagery, expressing his immersion in this global cause. Yet Gribble’s intensely affective language seemed sensational and excessive to many colonists, undermining his credibility. By the 1870s, alongside the Victorian relish of pathos, romanticism and sentiment, a contrasting emotional style can be linked to the emergence of modernist biological race, especially as Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection became scientiﬁc orthodoxy. In the context of a universal language of emotion that sought to account for variability in evolutionary terms, restraint was increasingly emphasized as a marker of 57
Amit S. Rai, Rule of Sympathy: Sentiment, Race, and Power, 1750–1850 (New York: Palgrave, 2002), quotations 57, 55; see also Laura M. Stevens, The Poor Indians: British Missionaries, Native Americans, and Colonial Sensibility (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006); Hilton, Age of Atonement. Norman Etherington, Missions and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005); Porter, Religion versus Empire?; Carey, God’s Empire; Thorne, Congregational Missions, pp. 23–88. Johnston, Missionary Writing and Empire.
civilization.60 Racial thought fuelled colonial scepticism regarding what many now call ‘missionary propaganda’, and Gribble’s writing is typical of narratives of Christian heroism within a religious literary tradition of persecution, self-sacriﬁce and redemption. Ultimately modelled upon the life of Jesus Christ himself, this plot was re-enacted in Victorian popular culture by many others, African missionary David Livingstone being only the most famous. In the end, Gribble’s intended object of sympathy was his own ill-treatment, displacing sympathy for Indigenous people. Chapter 7, ‘Charity Begins at Home? Philanthropy, Magic Lantern Slides and Missionary Performances’, examines the importance of an increasingly powerful form of visual culture, as magic lantern slide performances became a key means of communicating across diverse imperial publics. During the 1890s, British campaigners in the Australasian colonies pleading for the metropolitan waif competed with local missionaries seeking to arouse compassion for Aboriginal people through magic lantern slide performances. This chapter explores the visual and rhetorical strategies deployed to secure public sympathy for their very different causes, the emotional effects they sought to evoke and their larger implications for imperial identities. The London-based Barnardo’s orphanages successfully raised funds in the Australian colonies through travelling performances aiming to arouse pity for the metropolitan poor by combining slum sensation with documentary force. Here, white settler audiences were asked to administer relief to the waifs of the Mother Country. During these years these performers competed with Australian missionaries such as John Brown Gribble, who travelled widely to tell the story of his mission work and raise funds for his new settlement, Yarrabah, in north Queensland. Gribble was however challenged on the grounds of his outsider status, invoking the logic of telescopic philanthropy, as explored in Chapter 5, to re-assert a racialist hierarchy and ridicule humanitarianism. This dynamic shows how emotional narratives worked to simultaneously construct imperial relations, contest national or cosmopolitan world-views, and simultaneously constitute metropolitan and colonial culture. Drawing an Emotional Line: the Susceptible Critic Nicola Bown urges us to take the emotions we study seriously, and to acknowledge the impact of these historical narratives upon us in the 60
Thomas Dixon deﬁnes ‘the age of the stiff upper lip’ as running approximately from the death of Charles Dickens in 1870 to the death of Winston Churchill in 1965. Dixon, Weeping Britannia, 3–4.
Drawing an Emotional Line: the Susceptible Critic
present.61 This seems very hard for scholars to do. The traditional opposition between reason and emotion demands that the scholar declares for the former, a stance reinforced by scholarly protocols that prize critique, with its exposure of the credulous, and its assurance ‘that we are always right – unlike those naïve believers whose fetishes we strive to expose’.62 In 1970, Paul Ricoeur wrote of the ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’, the distinctively modern style of interpretation that circumvents self-evident meanings in order to draw out concealed and often uncomfortable truths. As Rita Felski suggests, his alternative approach, a ‘hermeneutics of faith’, which aims to restore meaning to a text, did not become fashionable, perhaps seeming too dismissive of the work of critique that deﬁned an ascendant poststructuralism. As she asks, ‘[w]ho would want to be associated with the bad smell of the uncritical?’ However, the language of critique is also characterized by a speciﬁc emotional style – that of cynicism, a morally inﬂected distrust of others’ motives and actions.63 Cynicism is the emotional counterpart of sentimentality, with its desire to believe in the goodness of human nature, colouring the professional’s stance of detachment, and making it difﬁcult to write about emotions from the ‘inside’. The persistence of these oppositions has entailed various strategies of distancing in writing about emotions. For example, Walter Bagehot’s 1867 classic The English Constitution predicted that the monarchy, losing its political power to the ‘efﬁcient’ aspects of the state, needed to be transformed into a ‘digniﬁed’ ceremonial institution. As sociologist Michael Billig notes, Bagehot’s use of the oratio obliqua (oblique voice) allows him to distance himself when depicting the superstitious royalism of the masses, in order to appear a cool and rational observer. Elsewhere, however, Bagehot associates himself with ‘Englishness’ and the monarchy’s importance to the nation. This strategy enables him to argue for the signiﬁcance of the female domain of the royal family and its Queen without being implicated himself, remaining a detached observer.64 Scholarly suspicion continues to haunt emotions research, reﬂecting the scholar’s 61 62 63
Nicola Bown, ‘Introduction: Crying over Little Nell’, Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 4 (2007), www.19.bbk.ac.uk. Bruno Latour, ‘Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern’, Critical Inquiry 30 (2004), 225–48. Paul Ricoeur, Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), p. 356; Rita Felski, ‘Critique and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion’, M/C Journal 15 (2012), http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjo urnal/article/view/431; Rita Felski, ‘Suspicious Minds’, Poetics Today, 32 (2011), 215–34; Ruthellen Josselson, ‘The Hermeneutics of Faith and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion’, Narrative Inquiry, 14 (2004), 1–28. Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution (London: Chapman and Hall, 1867); Michael Billig, Talking of the Royal Family (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 60–1.
wariness of deprecation. Even Thomas Dixon, introducing his wonderful history of weeping in Britain, signals his distance from the emotional narratives he examines through his very confession, ‘I am a sucker for this kind of thing myself.’ Dixon’s ironic tone and frequently hilarious analysis function to draw an emotional line and declare his ultimate selfcontrol and authority, even while contrasting his own susceptibility with more restrained responses.65 But what is the cost of maintaining this scholarly and public stance? As cultural anthropologist Talal Asad argues, a posture of detachment ‘can readily convey a tacit or implicit judgement, especially when it is used to probe the deep-seated convictions, primordial passions, and heart-felt attachments of others’.66 Long-standing divisions of the social world that oppose reason and emotion continue to relegate the latter to the domain of the female, primitive and excessive. These constrain our present-day political culture, as speciﬁc forms of emotional expression continue to be dismissed and denigrated. Yet as Julie Ellison has pointed out, Western political cultures have always been shaped by a masculine sensibility, and a long Anglo-American tradition of ‘masculine tenderheartedness’ that originated in debates about parliamentary manhood.67 In the following chapters, and especially Chapter 4, which addresses the Stolen Generations, I attempt to take these feelings seriously as a force continuing to animate widespread public debate. As I explore further in Chapter 7, ‘The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism: “a Strange Reluctance to Actually Shout at the Queen”’, these gendered emotional oppositions continue to characterize Australian political culture and its scholarly analysis. This ﬁnal chapter brings the study into the present, as debates about relations between Britain and Australia inevitably lead toward proposals for an Australian Republic, constituting a vision of independence from Britain, and the political counterpart of Macaulay’s New Zealander. Where Macaulay’s New Zealander constituted a spectre of future decay used to urge metropolitan reform, the republic offers a counter-vision – equally futuristic – emphasizing descendant maturity. As historian Mark McKenna suggested in 1996, a republic has always been considered ‘the end point of the colonies’ political development – an ideal that would be fully realized when Australia ﬁnally matured into an independent nation’. 65 66
Dixon, Weeping Britannia, 3. Felski, ‘Critique’; Talal Asad, ‘Free Speech, Blasphemy, and Secular Criticism’, in Talal Asad et al. (eds.), Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech (Berkeley: Townsend Center for the Humanities, 2009), pp. 20–63. Julie Ellison, Cato’s Tears and the Making of Anglo-American Emotion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), p. 10.
Drawing an Emotional Line: the Susceptible Critic
Yet for more than two centuries the notion of inevitability has been used to delay the coming of a republic as much as to urge its arrival.68 While the notion of a republic has been elastic and emotional, it has not always entailed anti-British feeling – on the contrary, Australian nationalism and imperialism have most usually been intertwined and mutually supportive. This chapter explores these emotional ties and particularly the affective power of the Royal Family, representing a domestic ideal that continues to evoke loyalty, admiration and love. But popular royalism and the deeply gendered meanings of the monarchy are overlooked and disparaged within the Australian political sphere. This emotional conﬁguration highlights a broader challenge or ‘double bind’ for women who wish to contest the masculine sphere but are expected to behave in stereotypically female ways to do so. Serious consideration of such cultural meanings is a glaring absence in the present debate, severely limiting the republican movement’s capacity to engage those Australians who remain attached to the monarchy. This binary also undermines Indigenous claims, which are often dismissed for being ‘too emotional’. Today many consider that visions of a national future must begin with reconciliation with Indigenous people, and that the Australian nation needs to recognize and address Indigenous views regarding constitutional change. As I argue throughout this study, such relations and identities have been deﬁned by the movement of empathy between important emotional communities – the imperial relationship, the Australian nation and Aboriginal people – which continues to structure debates about identity and the future. Many of the most powerful emotional narratives that created and maintained ties across empire, and furthered the work of invasion, conquest and settlement are premised upon the cosy ties of home and family. In broad terms, such relations are signalled by the view of Britain as the ‘Mother Country’, and the colony her child. Home signiﬁes British culture, often narrated as domestic, female and white – and colonization becomes the story of making colonial space homelike. Anxieties and fear are expressed through depictions of the wild masculine space of the frontier, which violently defeats the primitive culture of Indigeneity. Missionaries daring to challenge this martial stance were increasingly required to assert their own potent brand of manliness, standing as fathers to the child-like Aborigine. Among the most powerfully emotional narratives are those expressing concern for children who might die or be lost to immorality, a theme that was applied to deﬁne racialized, gendered and 68
Mark McKenna, The Captive Republic: A History of Republicanism in Australia 1788–1996, (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
often competing objects of compassion and their human value. The meaning of Little Eva’s death in Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a result of her sorrow for black slaves, was countered by that of Jo the Crossing-sweep in Bleak House, whose neglect revealed the hypocrisy of missionaries; conversely the little-mourned Aboriginal children whose ‘happy’ deaths justiﬁed mission work were succeeded by the pitiful little victims of assimilation policies we now call the Stolen Generations. In the following chapters, I have chosen what seem to me to be particularly revealing or important instances of the constitution of imperial emotional communities, and their speciﬁc affective logic. No doubt others will discern further examples. Most important, I am conscious that this is a study of relationships created by whiteness, although I note the participation of Aboriginal people throughout. Exciting new research has begun to analyse the emotional experience and expression of Aboriginal people, especially in the process of early encounters and cultural exchange, but for better or worse, I have become increasingly unwilling to speak for Aboriginal people and history.69 I hope that by understanding how certain communities have been deﬁned as more-orless human and valuable, we can see the continuing power of these processes in cultural politics.
S. Konishi, ‘Early Encounters in Aboriginal Place: The Role of Emotions in French Readings of Indigenous Sites’, Australian Aboriginal Studies 2 (2015), 12‒23; Maria Nugent, ‘Indigenous/European Encounters’, in Susan Broomhall (ed.), Early Modern Emotions: An Introduction (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2017), pp. 406–9; Vanessa Smith, Intimate Strangers: Friendship, Exchange and Paciﬁc Encounters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
Children of Empire: British Nationalism and Colonial Utopias
Over the last decades of the eighteenth century, hopes and ambitions turned to conceptions of the great southern land, and the British nurtured fond plans for the Antipodean colonies of Australia and New Zealand; these were conceived as children of the British Empire, one day to assume a glorious inheritance. Many emotional ties ﬁrst experienced within the British family were applied to, enlarged and challenged by the relationships and scope of empire: ideas about heritage and childhood, for example, shaped utopian views of the colonies, while racial exclusion could be couched in terms of class. From colonization in 1788, the reality of invasion and violence against Indigenous people challenged this imaginary future, prompting mourning and erasure. The View from London In 2013, Australian political analyst Guy Rundle had been living in London for a while when he gave way to his frustrations about being put down by the ‘Poms’. The last straw, he explained, was a joke from his favourite satirical radio show, The News Quiz: ‘“Australian scientists discovered this week” the show’s host, Sandi Toksvig, trills in her impeccable public school accent. “That’s amazing! I had no idea there were Australian scientists!”’ He noted bitterly, ‘I have been listening to this show for 15 years, off and on. I have heard that joke at least ﬁve times.’ Rundle argued that ‘what British jokes about Australians really mean’ is that they allow left-liberal Brits to vent their distaste for their own proletariat: they can pillory Australians where they could not attack those ‘uncouth, assertive, rambunctious people closer to home, the British white working class’. In this way, he argued, the fear and hatred of a consumerist, perhaps superﬁcial and certainly undeferential mass is transferred from British proles to Aussies.1 1
Guy Rundle, ‘What British Jokes about Australians Really Mean’, The Guardian, Monday 8 July 2013, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/08/what-british-jokesaustralians-mean.
Children of Empire
These kinds of tensions have always characterized relations between Britain and Australia, and are profoundly emotional. Rundle’s rant also addresses a process that has long been of interest to historians – the mutual constitution of class, race and gender across empire, shaping both British and colonial identities. Historians of the missionary enterprise, which was concerned so closely with the project of transforming Indigenous peoples and reproducing the British social order among other peoples and places, have been in the forefront of exploring the imperial interdependence of these cultural categories. Catherine Hall and Sonya Rose, for example, argue that nineteenth century ‘grammars of difference and hierarchies of inequality’ engendered new forms of colonial rule that required such systems of classiﬁcation, using categories such as race that ‘legitimated inequalities of power’. As they point out, the classiﬁcation of subjects across the Empire was also ‘a process of positioning in a social space demarcated by notions of the metropolitan and the colonial – here/ there, then/now, home/away’.2 Important work, sometimes termed the ‘new transnational histories’, has now brought metropolis and colony into a single analytical frame.3 These articulated imperial categories were fundamental aspects of Western, industrial, modernity, and must also be understood from a colonial viewpoint, not just from a metropolitan perspective. Emotional narratives were developed and applied in the colonies to produce racialized grammars of difference. An acute sense of being tied to – but also judged by and judging – Britain has always shaped Australian responses: for example, in 1852, when the Sydney Morning Herald complained that Colonel Godfrey Mundy’s travelogue, Our Antipodes: or, Residence and Rambles in the Australasian Colonies, with a Glimpse of the Goldﬁelds, evidenced throughout ‘a feeling that a colonist is a different kind of person from his fellowsubjects in England. He speaks of a colonist with the same spirit that a Brobdignagian may have spoken of Gulliver.’4 As the reviewer knew, the 2
Catherine Hall and Sonya Rose, ‘Introduction: Being at Home with the Empire’ in Catherine Hall and Sonya Rose (eds.), At Home with the Empire: Metropolitan Culture and the Imperial World (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 1–31, quotations pp. 3, 19–20. See especially Hall, Civilising Subjects; Johnston, Missionary Writing and Empire; Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (New York: Routledge, 1995), p. 5; Stoler, ‘Tense and Tender Ties’; Thorne, Congregational Missions. See, for example, Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton, Empires and the Reach of the Global: 1870–1945 (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2012); Jane Carey and Jane Lydon (eds.), Indigenous Networks: Mobility, Connections and Exchange (New York: Routledge, 2014); Zoë Laidlaw and Alan Lester (eds.), Indigenous Communities and Settler Colonialism: Land Holding, Loss and Survival in an Interconnected World (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 9 October 1852, p. 2; Mundy, Our Antipodes.
Home and Away
Brobdignagian king in Jonathan Swift’s satirical 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels had been horriﬁed by his visitor’s description of European immorality, deceit, tyranny, violence and hypocrisy, and told Gulliver that his ‘natives’ (Europeans) must be ‘the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth’.5 Just as the actual experience of visiting the courts of China and Japan challenged the self-conception of eighteenth-century British envoys, Swift intended such belittlement to mortify his insular British readers.6 But where encounters with the imperial Other might make men of Scotland, Wales, England and even Ireland feel ‘intensely British’, for Mundy’s white settler readers, this alienation by a white fellow Briton was wounding. Home and Away By contrast, a powerful means of inclusion within imperial communities was the use of familial and domestic metaphors, grounded in a sense of Britain as ‘home’. As anthropologist Benedict Anderson argued in his classic account of the emergence of the modern nation, such imagined entities adopt the language of kinship as seemingly natural and ineluctable, beyond the individual’s control. Yet this was a creative process, and bringing widely dispersed subjects into the imperial ‘home’ entailed ‘stretching the short, tight skin of the nation over the gigantic body of the empire’.7 ‘Home’ and the ‘domestic’ were powerful and emotional concepts that relied upon their opposition to the ‘foreign’, which became everything outside its geographic and conceptual boundary. As ‘home’, the British nation provided the ground for a series of oppositions – between local and global, nation and cosmopolitan, white and black. In this way, the home was not ﬁxed and stable but rather a highly mobile means of expanding and contracting the boundaries of home and nation, in ways dependent upon racialized notions of the foreign.8 For white settlers, themselves distributed across widely-distant and often competing colonies, views of Britain as both nation and home were expressed in frequent references to the ‘Mother Country’, invoking a tie that spanned 5 6
Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 121. Linda Colley, ‘Britishness and Otherness: an Argument’, The Journal of British Studies 31 (1992), 309–29; Robert Markley, ‘Gulliver and the Japanese: The Limits of the Postcolonial Past’, MLQ: Modern Language Quarterly 65 (2004): 457–79; Bruce McLeod, The Geography of Empire in English Literature, 1580–1745 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 181–6. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 2006), pp. 85, 87; Hall and Rose, ‘Introduction’, 26–7; Hall, Civilising Subjects. Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire, 25–6.
Children of Empire
vast geographical distance fuelled by shared cultural and, increasingly, racial allegiances.9 Imagined communities also necessitate speciﬁc temporal frameworks: for example, the nation is premised upon the idea of a social group moving through time, and a conception of history as an endless chain of cause and effect, with a radical separation between past and present. Within this framework, ‘home’ entails a backward-looking form of temporality, with its domestic rhythms of parental nurture, adolescent rebellion and eventual maturity and independence. In visions of a transplanted, purely British culture, the yearned-for childhood home constituted a form of nostalgia that expressed imperial optimism, such as in Samuel Butler’s 1872 novel Erewhon, set in a future New Zealand. Where the imagined descendant inherits his patrimony, he embodies ‘old world’ values and so simultaneously represents futuristic and archaic ideals at once, as ‘a kind of anterior future or future past’.10 Such fantasies projected the familiar into the future, and bound together imperial citizens across vast distances, throughout the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century. Conversely, many colonists expressed an ambivalence and uncertainty about the supposedly private and comforting domestic sphere, which is revealed as alien, incomprehensible and overwhelming. This is sometimes argued to be the emergence of the uncanny, or unhomely, drawing upon the Freudian notion of the unheimlich as something that renders the homely (heimlich) as strangely, unsettlingly unfamiliar. It is prompted by the realization that the imaginary boundary between home and outside is illusory and fantastic, as Indigenous claims and cultures refuse to be erased, or the injustice of conquest becomes troublingly apparent. As a long-standing trope of postcolonial analysis, the return of the colonial repressed haunts the colonizer in a temporal re-enactment or repetition that provokes imperial anxieties.11 The emotions of fear, anxiety and 9
See Hall and Rose, ‘Introduction’, 23–7; Ranajit Guha, ‘Not at Home in Empire’, Critical Inquiry 23 (1997), 482–93; Rosemary Marangoly George, The Politics of Home: Postcolonial Relocations and Twentieth-Century Fiction (Cambridge, MA: 2002); Said, Orientalism, 55; Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (New Haven, CN, and London: 1992). Samuel Butler, Erewhon, or, Over the Range (London: Trubner & Co., 1872); Sue Zemka, ‘Erewhon and the End of Utopian Humanism’, ELH 69 (2002), 439–72, quotation p. 444. Guha, ‘Not at Home’; Ken Gelder and Jane Jacobs, Uncanny Australia: Sacredness and Identity in a Postcolonial Nation (Carlton, VC: Melbourne University, 1998), pp. 23–42; Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994), pp. 254–5; Robert Shannan Peckham (ed.), Empires of Panic: Epidemics and Colonial Anxieties (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2015); Harald Fischer-Tiné (ed.), Anxieties, Fear and Panic in Colonial Settings: Empires on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016); Jeffrey Auerbach, ‘Imperial Boredom’, Common Knowledge 11/2 (2005): 282–305.
alienation mark the illusory nature of the colonial home and the uncertainties of colonial regimes. Fellow Feeling? The focus of this book is the relationships deﬁned and given meaning through feeling with or for others – emotional relationships deﬁned variously over the last three centuries as pity, sympathy, fellow-feeling, compassion and empathy. As I explored in my Introduction, scholarly interest in emotions has deﬁned emotions, or ‘felt judgements’, as embodied feelings experienced in the context of cultural values and principles.12 From the mid-eighteenth century, a so-called ‘cult of sensibility’ arose in Britain, stressing a set of values that regarded sensation as a ‘moral and emotional capacity’, and that came to associate sensibility with reﬁned feeling, discrimination and taste as well as an intense sensitivity to the suffering of others. Considerable research has argued for the interrelationship rather than opposition between Enlightenment rationality and emotions, termed ‘passions’, ‘moral sentiments’, ‘sympathy’, ‘sensibility’ and ‘affections’. These philosophers provided the ideas of innate human goodness, and the merit of spontaneous expression of natural feelings was disseminated through popular literature. Linking morality with aesthetics, the idea that sensibility was a moral and emotional capacity entailing sympathetic identiﬁcation with others was widely disseminated by popular novels and other cultural forms.13 This new literary, religious and philosophical orientation emphasized human benevolence, a sympathetic concern with suffering and a revulsion from pain – as well as modern concepts of human responsibility for the suffering of others.14 ‘Humanitarian narratives’ were an integral aspect of the culture of sentimentalism and the growing moral expectation that one should care about 12 13
Thomas Dixon refers to ‘felt judgements’: Dixon, From Passions to Emotions; Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling; Rosenwein, ‘Worrying’. Daniel Wickberg, ‘What Is the History of Sensibilities?’, The American Historical Review 112 (2007), 661–84; Barker-Benﬁeld, Culture of Sensibility; Adele Pinch, Strange Fits of Passion: Epistemologies of Emotion, Hume to Austen (Stanford University Press, 1996); Christopher Nagle, Sexuality and the Culture of Sensibility in the British Romantic Era (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007); Ann Jessie Van Sant, Eighteenth-Century Sensibility and the Novel: The Senses in Social Context. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). Karen Halttunen, ‘Humanitarianism and the Pornography of Pain in Anglo-American Culture’, American Historical Review 100 (1995), 303–34; David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Stephen Ahern, Affect and Abolition in the Anglo-Atlantic, 1770–1830 (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2013).
Children of Empire
others, offering detailed accounts of the suffering body that sought to elicit ‘sympathetic passions’ and move a person from feeling to action.15 Adam Smith’s landmark 1759 work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments [Theory], examined the human capacity for ‘pity or compassion, the emotion which we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner’.16 Smith argued that it is not just suffering that ‘call[s] forth our fellow-feeling’, but that with any ‘passion’ evinced from the object, ‘an analogous emotion springs up, at the thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive spectator.’ Our joy for ‘those heroes of tragedy or romance who interest us, is as sincere as our grief for their distress, and our fellow-feeling with their misery is not more real’ than with their happiness. And he explained that while ‘pity’ and ‘compassion’ signify our fellow-feeling with the ‘sorrow of others’, by contrast ‘sympathy’ denoted ‘our fellow-feeling with any passion whatever’.17 Signiﬁcantly, Smith grounded moral conduct in the experience of seeing and being seen; he considered sympathetic identiﬁcation with others as a natural response to viewing their experiences, prompted by an inner spectator, ‘the man within’. Smith’s recognition of our innate disposition for motor mimicry anticipated a mode of sympathy and moral appeal that we now term empathy. But there were limits to ‘fellow-feeling’. Smith pointed out that ‘though our brother is on the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers’. The viewer is limited by his or her own experience and remains unable to truly enter into another person’s subjectivity; empathy can thus only be felt as an imaginative identiﬁcation. In the end, ‘it is the impressions of our own senses only, not those of his, which our imaginations copy’. With hindsight, it is also clear that Smith’s analysis was shaped by his own social and racial location.18 Elite, male, and European, Smith’s conception of sympathy was deﬁned by, and limited to, his own community. Smith wrote, ‘[a]mong civilized nations, the virtues which are founded upon humanity are more cultivated. . . . Among savages and barbarians, it is quite otherwise. [The] savage . . . can expect from his countrymen no sympathy’. In Theory, sympathy was a marker of morality and civility that advanced humanity itself. As he explained, ‘Before we can feel much for others, we must in some measure be at ease ourselves . . . 15
Thomas Laqueur, ‘Bodies, Details, and the Humanitarian Narrative’, in Lynn Hunt (ed.), The New Cultural History (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989), pp. 176–204. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984 ), p. 9. Smith, Theory, 10. 18 Stevens, The Poor Indians.
and all savages are too much occupied with their own wants and necessities to give much attention to those of another person’. Further, Smith argued that ‘fellow feeling’ should be extended only to those within one’s own circle, asking ‘To what purpose should we trouble ourselves about the world in the moon?’ Theory dismissed the ‘artiﬁcial commiseration’ of those whining and melancholy moralists who are perpetually reproaching us with our happiness, while so many of our brethren are in misery, Commiseration for those miseries which we never saw, which we never heard of, but which we may be assured are at all times infesting such numbers of our fellow-creatures, ought, they think, to damp the pleasures of the fortunate, and to render a certain melancholy dejection habitual to all men.19
Smith’s emphasis on social nearness rather than feeling at a distance exempliﬁes the ambivalence of ‘fellow feeling’ or empathy. These different positions had biblical precedents, as I have noted, contrasting the expansive Christian principle of brotherly love with the moral imperative to care for one’s own circle ﬁrst.20 In this way, the relationships and feelings elaborated by Smith contributed to the construction of the Scottish Enlightenment’s stadial view of human development, with its Eurocentric temporal and cultural hierarchy. By 1778, Henry Home, Lord Kames, argued that, ‘the principles of morality are little understood among savages: and if they arrive at maturity among enlightened nations, it is by slow degrees’; the view that sympathy deﬁned the superior morality of civility had attained the status of conventional wisdom.21 As Nicole Eustace has argued of pre-revolutionary North America, British claims that the heightened emotional sensitivities of Europeans gave them the advanced moral standing to assert control over the lives and lands of ‘savages’ justiﬁed conquest. In this way the rise of the culture of moral sensibility did not merely coincide with the modern age of empire; it actively helped underwrite it.22 Concerns about what seemed to some to be the rash expenditure of concern for distant others, and the improper distribution of emotions, 19 20 21
Smith, Theory, 139–40. Prickett and Carroll, The Bible: Authorized King James Version. For a discussion of the emergence of race at this period, see, e.g., Bronwyn Douglas, ‘Philosophers, Naturalists and Antipodean Encounters, 1748–1803’, Intellectual History Review 23 (2013), 387–409; Bronwyn Douglas, ‘Climate to Crania: Science and the Racialization of Human Difference’, in Bronwyn Douglas and Chris Ballard (eds.), Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race 1750–1940 (Canberra: ANU Press, 2008), pp. 33–96; R. L. Meek, ‘Smith, Turgot and the Four Stages “Theory”’, History of Political Economy 3 (1971), 9–27. Eustace, Passion Is the Gale; Nicole Eustace, ‘The Sentimental Paradox: Humanity and Violence on the Pennsylvania Frontier’, William and Mary Quarterly 65 (1) (2008), 29–64.
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therefore became central to British ideas about cosmopolitanism and nationalism. Competing views of the colonies were premised on these countervailing emotional ties. By the end of the eighteenth century, the man of sensibility, represented by Henry Mackenzie’s 1771 novel, The Man of Feeling, had become an object of satire in Britain. As noted in my Introduction, a radical shift from the sensibility movement to a suspicion of excessive displays of sentimentality was due to the violence and passion of the French Revolution, attributed to Rousseau’s worldview of sentiment, romanticism and natural rights.23 British responses were exempliﬁed by loyalist statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, who, in 1791, famously attacked the revolutionaries’ ‘universal benevolence’, which he opposed to national British interests.24 Burke’s attack upon the supporters of the French Revolution in his 1791 ‘Letter to a Member of the National Assembly’ argued that Rousseau had spent all his energy in the expression of universal benevolence; whilst his heart was incapable of harbouring one spark of common parental affection. Benevolence to the whole species, and want of feeling for every individual with whom the professors come in contact, form the character of the new philosophy. . . . He melts with tenderness for those only who touch him by the remotest relation, and then, without one natural pang, casts away, as a sort of offal and excrement, the spawn of his disgustful amours, and sends his children to the hospital of foundlings. The bear loves, licks, and forms her young; but bears are not philosophers. Vanity, however, ﬁnds its account in reversing the train of our natural feelings. Thousands admire the sentimental writer; the affectionate father is hardly known in his parish.25
But more than simply deploring misconceived sentimentalism, Burke’s intensely affective text contrasts the natural emotions of parenthood with universalism, and evokes an opposition between near and distant, national and transnational, and between familial and universal claims to affection that became an enduring imperial theme.26 The Future Tourist Yet around this time, English historian Edward Gibbon, in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (published in six volumes between 23
24 25 26
Reddy, The Navigation of Feeling; Dixon, Weeping Britannia, 108–22; Anne VincentBuffault, The History of Tears: Sensibility and Sentimentality in France (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1991). Esther Wohlgemut, Romantic Cosmopolitanism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), p. 25. Edmund Burke, A Letter from Mr. Burke to a Member of the National Assembly, (Paris printed; London, Reprinted for J. Dodsley, 1791). Stevens, The Poor Indians.
The Future Tourist
1776–89), wrote of the Picts, who were reported once to have roamed Strathclyde, that If, in the neighbourhood of the commercial and literary town of Glasgow, a race of cannibals has really existed, we may contemplate, in the period of Scottish history, the opposite extremes of savage and civilised life. Such reﬂections tend to enlarge the circle of our ideas; and to encourage the pleasing hope, that New Zealand may produce, in some future age, the Hume of the Southern Hemisphere.27
Reﬂecting a sense of imperial cycle and progress, Gibbon cast colonists, especially the distant southern antipodean settlements, as children and inheritors of empire. By the mid-nineteenth century, these competing visions of Britain’s relationship with its colonies were expressed in two iconic images – Dore’s New Zealander (1872) and Tenniel’s ‘Telescopic Philanthropy’ (1865). The New Zealander was a literary conceit popularized by Thomas Babington Macaulay in 1840 in picturing a distant future ‘when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s’.28 This scenario evoked Britain’s temporal evanescence at a time of growing appreciation of the time-depth of human civilization, as well as an awareness of the global diversity of humankind, largely prompted by Enlightenment exploration.29 Macaulay’s New Zealander also pointed toward the potential for recreating the best of the old world in the new. Seen in the context of Macaulay’s work and thought, he appears as the natural, ﬁlial inheritor of empire. Macaulay’s political thought was characterized by a conﬁdent emphasis on a progressive model of British history, and an inevitable advance toward ever-greater freedom and understanding, now known as the ‘Whig interpretation of history’. His 1848 history of the nation, as Catherine Hall has argued, ‘banished the 27 28
Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (London : Printed for Lackington, Allen, and Co. etc., 1815 ), Vol. iv, p. 297. Thomas Babington Macaulay, ‘Essay, on Ranck’s “History of the Popes”’, Edinburgh Review, October (1840). Indeed, Macaulay deployed this ﬁgure several times, including in 1824, 1829 and 1845. Several scholars point out the cultural work this ﬁgure performed for metropolitan contemporaries: David Skilton, ‘Contemplating the Ruins of London: Macaulay’s New Zealander and Others’, Literary London Journal 2 (2004), http://www.literarylondon.org /london-journal/march2004/skilton.html; David Skilton, ‘Ruin and the Loss of Empire: From Venice and New Zealand to the Thames’, in Maurizio Ascari and Adriana Corrado (eds.), Sites of Exchange: European Crossroads and Faultlines (Rodopi: Amsterdam, 2006), pp. 131–40; Michael Bright ‘Macaulay’s New Zealander’, The Arnoldian: A Review of Mid-Victorian Culture 10 (1982), 8–27; Robert Dingley ‘The Ruins of the Future: Macaulay’s New Zealander and the Spirit of the Age’ in Alan Sandison and Robert Dingley (eds.), Histories of the Future (London: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 15–33.
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Empire to its margins’, deﬁning Britain as home, secured by constant vigilance, and the English the master race.30 Macaulay narrated a history of England in which ‘from the auspicious union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity of which the annals of human affairs had furnished no example; [telling] how our country, from a state of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to the place of umpire among European powers’, and claiming that ‘in Asia, British adventurers founded an empire not less splendid and more durable than that of Alexander’. The future tourist, premised as he was on the future ascendance of the antipodean colonies, exempliﬁes an Arcadian theme that was common over the last decades of the eighteenth century. The loss of Britain’s North American colonies, and the growing strength of the anti-slavery movement, gave debates about the nature of colonization a utopian cast, seen most clearly in Romantic attempts to found an empire without slaves. In this view, Australia was seen as ‘Arcady’, offering sanctuary from the ills of modernity, in a persisting tradition of ‘romantic’ views that continued even during the reversals and upheavals of the mid-nineteenth century; this tradition pictured the colonies as an opportunity to address and improve upon old world ills, and located the antipodes as inheritor of the British Empire. This temporally and spatially expanded historical consciousness entailed the assumption that Britain’s colonies would grow, prosper and eventually succeed her, as part of the cycle of imperial power. Such views were premised on the familial relationship between ‘Mother Country’ and colonial offspring, with all the affection and discomfort of such ties.31 At one stage, ‘Macaulay’s New Zealander’ was quoted two or three times a week – according to Macaulay himself. In 1865, the satirical weekly Punch banned the use of ‘used up, exhausted, threadbare, stale and hackneyed’ literary devices, and particularly ‘Macaulay’s New Zealander’, of whom Mr Punch stated that, ‘The retirement of this veteran is indispensable. He can no longer be suffered to impede the trafﬁc over London Bridge. Much wanted at the present time in his own country. May return when London is in ruins’.32 Complementing Macaulay’s vision of imperial inheritance, Tenniel’s cartoon represents the nationalist, anti-missionary stance perhaps most well-known through Dickens’s novel Bleak House, in which he coined the 30
Catherine Hall, ‘At Home with History: Macaulay and the History of England’, in Catherine Hall and Sonya Rose (eds.), At Home with the Empire: Metropolitan Culture and the Imperial World (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 32–52. Jenny McDonnell, ‘Brave New Worlds: Samuel Butler’s Erewhon, Settler Colonialism and New Zealand Mean Time’, in Trish Ferguson (ed.), Victorian Time: Technologies, Standardizations, Catastrophes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 95–111; Zemka, ‘Erewhon’, 444. Skilton, ‘Contemplating’.
Labillardière’s New Zealander
term ‘telescopic philanthropy’ to sum up his argument that humanitarianism should not be extended to those on the other side of the globe at the expense of those close by, in London, such as homeless children. Britannia is shown peering through a telescope at a distant Africa, where a missionary delivers a sermon to a crowd of Africans, while at her feet, three small street ‘Arabs’ crouch, one asking plaintively ‘PLEASE ‘M, AIN’T WE BLACK ENOUGH TO BE CARED FOR?’(Figure 1.1). In 1872, this motif acquired iconic status with Gustave Doré’s powerful frontispiece to London: a Pilgrimage by Blanchard Jerrold (Figure 1.2): the engraving’s delicate lines project a melancholy beauty as the New Zealander, a lonely ﬁgure in a cloak, gazes across the Thames at the distant ruins of the great metropolis. The future tourist had become an icon of Britain’s relative frailty in a vast and ancient world – as well as its colonies’ utopian future. Dickens’s critique represented a mid-century backlash against foreign philanthropy, as I explore further in Chapter 4, and was also seen by many as an attack on the American anti-slavery cause. His emotional economy, directing the reader who to feel sorry for, relies upon the global scale of comparison drawn in these debates: metropolitan London’s black ‘Arabs’ are contrasted with the foreign black heathen in their humanity and need, even as proximity lends their cause urgency by contrast with the distant, vaguely perceived foreigners. Visually, these remarkable images each adopt a distant view to express the relationship between Britain and its colonies: in Tenniel’s case, to convey the vast gulf of geography and civilization between the British and African peoples; in Doré’s example, to evoke the passing of centuries and the eventual ascendancy of Britain’s colonies. Both take London to be the centre of the world – yet the power of Britannia’s surveying eye is reversed in Doré’s engraving, as the imperial heir enjoys London’s picturesque ruins. Less explicitly, each asks questions about the ties that bind parent and colony: historically these relationships varied across time and place, animated by sentiments ranging from fond paternalism to deep embarrassment and repudiation. Labillardière’s New Zealander But was the New Zealander really Macaulay’s? The metropolitan authorship of the future tourist was challenged by spirited New Zealand missionary William Colenso in a paper presented to the Hawkes Bay Philosophical Society in 1882.33 Colenso argued ﬁrmly – indignantly, 33
This was the elaboration of an article he had ﬁrst published around 1867. William Colenso, ‘A Few Remarks on the Hackneyed Quotation of “Macaulay’s New
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Figure 1.1 John Tenniel, ‘Telescopic Philanthropy’, Punch, Volume XLVIII, 4 March 1865, page 89. Little London Arab. ‘“PLEASE ‘M, AIN’T WE BLACK ENOUGH TO BE CARED FOR?” (with MR. PUNCH’S Compliments to LORD STANLEY.)’ Punch Cartoon Library / TopFoto. Zealander”’, Paper III, Read before the Hawke’s Bay Philosophical Institute, 12th June, 1882. The pamphlet collection of Sir Robert Stout: vol. 65, http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/t m/scholarly/tei-Stout65-t2-body-d2.html.
Labillardière’s New Zealander
Figure 1.2 Gustave Doré, ‘The New Zealander’, 1872, frontispiece to London: a Pilgrimage. Out of copyright.
even – that this idea had originated with the French naturalist JacquesJulien Houtou de Labillardière, citing his preface to the 1800 English edition of his celebrated account of Antoine-Raymond-Joseph Bruny D’Entrecasteaux’s search for La Perouse, who had gone missing in 1788.34 The 1791–4 expedition was also a scientiﬁc mission supported 34
Colenso, ‘A Few Remarks’.
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by the Society of Natural History and manned by eleven geographers and scientists, including Labillardière. As John Gascoigne details, the French accentuated the scientiﬁc character of Paciﬁc expeditions in the period after the Revolution, competing with the British.35 In 1800, Labillardière asked whether, the Great Arbiter of the destinies of nations may render that zeal [for exploration] subservient to the moral and intellectual, not to say the religious, improvement, and the consequent happiness, of our whole species? or, whether, as has hitherto generally happened, the advantages of civilisation may not, in the progress of events, be transferred from the Europeans, who have but too little prized them, to those remote countries which they have been so diligently exploring? If so, the period may arrive, when New Zealand may produce her Lockes, her Newtons, and her Montesquieus; and when great nations in the immediate region of New Holland, may send their navigators, philosophers, and antiquaries, to contemplate the ruins of ancient London and Paris, and to trace the languid remains of the arts and sciences in this quarter of the globe. Who can tell, whether the rudiments of some great future empire may not already exist at Botany Bay?36
Although we might sympathize with Colenso’s concern to challenge Macaulay’s ‘hackneyed’ phrase, and identify the ‘original’ author of the idea, what does it really matter? What is the signiﬁcance for our histories of acknowledging Labillardière’s account? Part of the answer is that Labillardière’s reﬂections express a radically different view of human history and identity that relativizes the British attitude represented by Macaulay. Highly inﬂuential across Europe in the years following its publication, Labillardière’s alternative vision of an antipodean ‘great future empire’ was grounded in a vision of human equality and unity that imagined the future progress of humankind as a whole. Labillardière argued that ‘Man’ demonstrated ‘sufﬁcient similarity of conduct, in similar circumstances, to prove the unity of his nature.’ He went on, Hence there appears no ground whatever for supposing, that any one tribe of mankind is naturally of an order superior to the rest, or has any shadow of right to infringe, far less to abrogate, the common claims of humanity. Philosophers should not forget, and the most respectable modern philosophers have not forgotten, that the savage state of the most civilized nations now in Europe, is a subject within the pale of authentic history, and that the privation of iron alone, would soon reduce them nearly to the barbarous state, from which, by a train of favourable events, their forefathers emerged some centuries ago. If the limits of a preface would allow us to pursue the reﬂections suggested by the 35 36
John Gascoigne, Encountering the Paciﬁc in the Age of the Enlightenment (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 420–2. Jacques-Julien Houtou de LaBillardière, Voyage in Search of La Pérouse, Performed by Order of the Constituent Assembly, during the Years 1791, 1792, 1793, and 1794 (London, John Stockdale, 1800), ‘Translator’s Preface’, pp. vi–vii.
Labillardière’s New Zealander
different views of savage life, presented by this and various other scientiﬁc voyages, it would be easy to show, that the boasted reﬁnement of Europe entirely depends on a few happy discoveries, which are become so familiar to us, that we are apt to suppose the inhabitants of these parts of the world to have been always possessed of them; discoveries so unaccountable, and so remote from any experiments which uncivilized tribes can be supposed to have made, that we cannot do better than acknowledge them among the many precious gifts of an indulgent Providence.37
Labillardière’s cosmopolitan reﬂections transcended narrowly nationalistic or imperialist views of the future to envision progress for ‘our whole species’. Acknowledging Labillardière’s vision permits us a frame of analysis that, as Antoinette Burton argues, ‘does not privilege one territorial site but insists on re-envisioning the historical landscape as a set of interdependent sites.’38 This temporal and spatial re-conceptualization allows us to re-think world history from the Antipodes, producing an alternative set of turning points and understandings of cultural landscapes from those produced from the metropolis. In this Labillardière anticipated more recent conceptualizations of world history that do not privilege any quarter of the globe. Among the implications of this antipodean re-orientation are that instead of the British perception of the future tourist as a spectre of decay and loss, to be feared and countered by national strength, this view brought humankind into a single political community, in which Indigenous peoples were fully human and equal. We can attribute this radical perspective to Labillardière’s cultural and political background – but also to his concrete empirical encounters with Indigenous people. At a time of revolution and political upheaval in France, d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition comprised fervently royalist ofﬁcers, but a revolutionary crew; Labillardière himself came from a bourgeois background, and was a life-long republican, but his daily companions were French aristocrats who were ‘bitterly resentful of new political realities’.39 As Shino Konishi has noted, the representations of Indigenous people produced aboard d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition challenged the majority of European accounts by representing them in an idealizing light, aligning with Rousseau’s 37 38 39
Labillardière, Voyage in Search, vi. Antoinette Burton (ed.), Gender, Sexuality and Colonial Modernity, (London: Routledge, 1999), pp. xxv, 4. Edward Duyker, Citizen Labillardière: A Naturalist’s Life in Revolution and Exploration 1755–1834 (Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2003), p. 4. Historian of anthropology George Stocking terms him an ‘optimistic and embracive egalitarian’: George Stocking, Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1968), p. 28.
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philosophy.40 Carol Harrison also argues that the revolutionary ethnographies produced by Frenchmen moved from contrasting French sexual culture with the eroticism of the Paciﬁc, to seek instead commonalities of gender.41 The expedition visited Tasmania in 1792 and 1793, and the voyage’s second visit especially has been characterized as an exceptionally harmonious and open-minded encounter. The naturalists rhapsodized that Indigenous society had attained the state ‘of most perfect harmony’ imagined by Rousseau, describing them as gentle, good and peaceful.42 In a remarkable series of engravings, the expedition’s republican artist Jean Piron showed the Tasmanian Aboriginal people in family groups, each family around its own ﬁre (Figure 1.3). Piron emphasized the affection of fathers for children, inserting Frenchmen into his image of domestic contentment to create a scene of shared, cross-cultural, domestic peace and affection.43 Rather than the distant future inheritor of British ruins, here Indigenous people joined the great human family on equal terms, an Arcadia realized in the present. Mutual Sentiments of Affection As Colenso noted, Macaulay, like many of his contemporaries, would have been very familiar with this ‘new and fresh work of surpassing interest to all Europe’, and the French Voyage in search of ‘the unfortunate La Perouse’ had made a great noise throughout Europe especially to Englishmen and the young of Macaulay’s juvenile years; – much what some of us (elders) may remember as to how thoroughly we enjoyed the Voyages of Capt. Cook; – and therefore must also have been seen and read by Macaulay; and such being the case, it was impossible for him to overlook or forget the very striking simile of the New Zealander.
Labillardière’s authorship of Voyage in Search of La Pérouse helped to introduce the southern continent into the European imagination and may even have helped precipitate British settlement of Tasmania.44 40
41 42 43 44
Shino Konishi, The Aboriginal Male in the Enlightenment World (Routledge, 2016), p. 9. John Mulvaney, ‘The Axe Had Never Sounded’: Place, People and Heritage of Recherche Bay (Tasmania: ANU ePress, 2007). Carol E. Harrison, ‘Replotting the Ethnographic Romance: Revolutionary Frenchmen in the Paciﬁc, 1768–1804’, Journal of the History of Sexuality 21 (2012), 39–59. Cassandra Pybus, Community of Thieves, (Melbourne: Minerva, 1991), pp. 31, 5; Konishi, The Aboriginal Male, 103. Edward Duyker, ‘Uncovering Jean Piron: In Search of d’Entrecasteaux’s Artist’, Explorations (2005), pp. 37–45. Colenso, ‘A Few Remarks’, 40; Duyker, Citizen Labillardière, 1.
Mutual Sentiments of Affection
Figure 1.3 Jacques Louis Copia (engraver) based on drawing by Jean Piron, ‘Natives from Van Diemen’s Land Preparing Their Meal,’ [Sauvages du Cap de Diemen préparant leur repas] in Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière, Voyage in Search of La Perouse, performed by order of the Constituent Assembly, [Atlas pour servir a la relation du voyage a la recherché de la Perouse], Paris: Chez Dabo, 1817, Plate 5. National Library of Australia. PIC Volume 592 #U8147/5 NK3030, Bib id 33969, http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136482306.
More recently, historians such as David Skilton have noted the many European precedents and applications of Macaulay’s scenario, indicating that although he may have become famous as the author, his motif performed important cultural work at this time for British identities and culture. Skilton suggests, for example, that the future tourist from North America to the ruins of London was a sign of the transfer of empire to the United States.45 Yet despite its often-utopian deployments, the idea of the future tourist ﬁlled many metropolitan observers with foreboding, a sign of all that was wrong with England. Novelist Anthony Trollope wrote The New Zealander in early 1855 in order ‘to show how England may be saved from the ruin that now threatens her!! And how the realisation of Macaulay’s famous prophecy . . . may be indeﬁnitely postponed’, in the mocking words 45
Skilton, ‘Contemplating the Ruins’.
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of Longman’s reviewer.46 Trollope’s text began by asking, anxiously, ‘[i]s the time quickly coming when the New Zealander shall supplant the Englishman in the history of the civilization of the world? Have the glories of Great Britain reached their climax, culminated, and begun to pale? Is England in her decadence?’ Although the premise of the work is the threat of colonial ascendancy, Trollope makes little concrete reference to the colonies except as a solution for British problems. Yet his critique of elite ‘governance of labour’ concludes that if Britain cannot provide leadership, then ‘an Australian aristocracy for such purpose will not be wanting.’ Such a threat relied upon contemporary English disdain for colonial culture, and constituted an ironic admonition, warning of cultural degeneracy and devolution. Trollope refers to the ‘gold diggings of Melbourne’ and the social reversals that ensued, as ‘girls who have been tenderly nurtured’ were ‘forced to serve’, and ‘men with soft hands . . . who could quote a line or two of Virgil . . . found themselves the menial servants of rough labourers’.47 Such ideas of colonial social upheaval and degradation were popularized by travel writers such as Colonel Godfrey Mundy, whose 1852 memoir Our Antipodes, drew upon his travels in New South Wales, Victoria, Van Diemen’s Land and New Zealand with his cousin, Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy.48 Our Antipodes – a title encapsulating its imperial viewpoint – went through four editions, and was translated into German (1856 and 1857) and Swedish (1857). Mundy greatly enjoyed these alien substitutions and reversals, and his lively discussion of the difﬁculty of obtaining servants – bold, arrogant, lordly – was frequently extracted. Another popular segment recounted his travels to the goldﬁelds, where class seemed entirely effaced by the diggers’ scruffy dress, hard labour and luck. However the threat of these instabilities competed with the acknowledged opportunities to be found. In its review of Mundy, the London Times recommended those struggling to earn sufﬁcient wages, ‘who looks at his children, only to grow anxious, heartsick, and desperate at the spectacle’ to ‘fearlessly set sail for the bright antipodes’ 46
This reader considered the work to be a ‘most feeble imitation’ of Thomas Carlyle’s Latter-Day Pamphlets and the manuscript remained unpublished during Trollope’s lifetime. N. John Hall ‘Editor’s Introduction’, in Anthony Trollope, The New Zealander (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), pp. xii–xli, quotation p. xii. Despite its nationalistic fervour, Trollope’s New Zealander was highly critical of British dishonesty in public life. Trollope, The New Zealander, 3, 20–1. Ken Macnab and Russel Ward, ‘Mundy, Godfrey Charles (1804–1860)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1967), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mundy-godfrey-charles-2490/ text3351.
Mutual Sentiments of Affection
where ‘plenty shall abound at his bidding, where every child that calls him father shall prove wealth to him in the ﬁeld, and joy in the homestead.’49 In plaintive echo, Trollope asked, ‘is it not a fact that even already labourers’ children there [Australia] are better schooled than are those of our labourers here?’ Elsewhere, reform is advocated so that ‘there would be no fear that the days of the New Zealander’s visit were coming right to us’.50 In this usage, the New Zealander was a frightening spur to domestic reform, and a spectre of British loss, social disorder and decadence. In popular parlance, Macaulay’s New Zealander became a menacing shadow whose very temporal distance marked the present health of the empire. Across a global British readership, including colonial newspapers, the idea of Macaulay’s New Zealander was often cast in jocular terms or had little emotional import, sometimes deployed with incredulity to refer to an impossible future, or simply as shorthand for some future, distant, time. He was invoked in more serious terms in anti-imperialism debates. For example, in 1859 the ‘White Rajah’ of Sarawak James Brooke’s negotiations for British protectorate status were defeated by the new British Prime Minister Lord Derby, who opposed any further territorial extension. The Times was horriﬁed, declaring that ‘Whenever the moment arrives that this is really a wise decision Lord Macaulay’s New Zealander may prepare for action. The fate of the British Empire will not, in all probability, be different from the fate of any other empire of which we ﬁnd record in history. When we cease to advance we shall begin to go back’.51 This argument perfectly expresses the temporal dimension of popular ideas about imperialism, often considered a project of boundless possibility. Critics of imperialism, such as historian Goldwin Smith, questioned imperialism and argued for the emancipation of the colonies in a controversial series of articles published as The Empire in 1863, questioning imperialism and arguing for the emancipation of the colonies.52 In 1862, the Saturday Review acknowledged the eventual realization of Smith’s vision with the arrival of Macaulay’s New Zealander but argued that Domestic independence has taken the place of absolute subservience to the will of the mother-country. Hearty loyalty has succeeded to almost universal disaffection. Force has been superseded by a healthy inﬂuence, honorably exerted on the 49 51 52
Times, Saturday 31 July 1852, p. 6. 50 Trollope, The New Zealander, 22. Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, Friday 18 February 1859, p. 3. (Reprinted from the Times). Goldwin Smith, The Empire: A Series of Letters (Oxford and London: John Henry and James Parker, 1863); R. Craig Brown, ‘Goldwin Smith and Anti-Imperialism’, Canadian Historical Review 43 (1962), 93–105; Gregory Claeys, Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850–1920 (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
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one side and frankly accepted on the other. It is strange that these common premises should have led the Duke of Newcastle and Mr. Goldwin Smith to precisely opposite conclusions. According to the Professor, these results are the sure indications of an early separation. According to the Minister, they are the best possible guarantees of a lasting union for the mutual beneﬁt of both parties to the subsisting compact.53
Smith represents an often-overlooked strand of anti-imperial thought, popularized by the British followers of Auguste Comte. Through his doctrine of Positivism, Comte and his disciples provided an inﬂuential critique of Empire for over ﬁfty years.54 From the late 1850s to the late Victorian and Edwardian periods such modes of thought were united by ideas of ‘true Englishness’ in contrast to what they regarded as a ‘distorted’ imperial identity. Mira Matikkala argues that late-Victorian anti-imperialists drew a clear distinction between the empire and imperialism, the empire signifying mainly emigration, colonization and the spontaneous spread of English liberal values in the form of the settler empire; whereas imperialism, as British authoritarian rule in the dependencies, was regarded as the negation of the same liberal spirit, representing anti-constitutionalism, ‘distorted’ imperial patriotism, militarism and irrational jingoism.55 However, such disquiet was subsumed into widespread ideas of the imperial family. In May 1862, the Courier insisted on this familial metaphor, suggesting that perhaps ‘one by one, the colonies must be thrown off as they arrive at maturity, just as the children of a family emancipate themselves when they arrive at years of discretion’, but that, Without imitating the rash speculation which we deprecate we may say that the continuous increase of mutual affection and conﬁdence is not a symptom of approaching separation; . . . Perhaps the feeling that there is, and always must be, something humiliating in the position of a colony, is the real reason why the prophecies of the dismemberment of the empire have been so generally credited, even by those who would see such a result with more alarm and regret than Mr. Goldwin Smith appears to feel. But the actual demonstrated fact is, that there is no such sense of humiliation among the colonists at all. . . . but the connexion itself is not likely to cease so long as a common interest and mutual sentiments of affection exist to bind England and her colonies together.
53 54 55
‘The Duke of Newcastle in the Colonies’, the Saturday Review, February 15. Courier, Friday 2 May 1862, p. 3. Claeys, Imperial Sceptics; Harald Fischer-Tiné, Shyamji Krishnavarma: Sanskrit, Sociology and Anti-Imperialism (New Delhi: Routledge, 2014). Mira Matikkala, Empire and Imperial Ambition: Liberty, Englishness and Anti-imperialism in Late Victorian Britain (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2010).
Vernacularizing the Future Tourist
Evoking affection, trust, humiliating inferiority or dependence, and shared ‘interest’, the relationship between parent and child was deﬁned in terms of apparently universal emotional ties. In this way, ‘the event which he looks for in the immediate future may perhaps be postponed for another ﬁfty or a hundred years.’56 Little did the writer imagine that even 150 years later ‘the event’ is still being ‘postponed’, as I explore further in Chapter 8. Vernacularizing the Future Tourist: ‘Great Australia and Its Dependencies of Britain and China’ Colenso’s attack on Macaulay is signiﬁcant in translating these ideas into local terms, to assert a colonial ascendancy that reversed and challenged the paternalism and nationalism of Macaulay’s view. Colenso’s allegiance to his new home, where he had established the local Hawkes Bay Mission, helps explain his assertiveness, as does his notoriously difﬁcult and tenacious personality. Like his cousin John William Colenso, the more well-known Bishop of Natal, he was a keen critic of colonialism and a defender of Indigenous rights.57 Colenso vernacularized Labillardière’s suggestion, advancing a robust vision of the future New Zealand tourist that was grounded in the very concrete circumstances of the British and French voyages to the Paciﬁc, and a perspective derived from ﬁrst-hand experience of southern hemisphere peoples and cultures. Where Gibbon and Macaulay had relativized Britain in terms of the temporal depth of human history, and made colonial Britons the eventual inheritors, Labillardière imagined a larger world with a mosaic of diverse peoples, giving rise to an expanded sense of ‘our whole species’. Macaulay’s nationalist, racialist view forms a profound contrast with Labillardière’s cosmopolitan, expansive, antipodean perspective. Yet this motif came to be applied in the colonies of Australia and New Zealand in diverse ways, frequently functioning to cement imperial ties and reiterate metropolitan British views. Sometimes it was merely shorthand for the future; but often the New Zealander functioned as Martians have for twentieth-century generations: that is, as an alien, future observer of human frailty and progress that relativizes culture and opens up diverse future opportunities. Fantastic possibilities were imagined – such as when in 1863, Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle created 56 57
Courier, Friday 2 May 1862, p. 3. A. G. Bagnall and G. C. Petersen, William Colenso: His Life and Journeys [edited by Ian St George] (Otago University Press, 2012).
Children of Empire
a dialogue between Habbakuk Slowcoach and Edward Fasttrain to take place a century ahead, in 1963: SLOW.–Psha! you’ll be telling me next that Queen Victoria isn’t King of England! ED.–That my friend is another indubitable fact. The present proprietor of the Crown of Gt. Australia and its dependencies of Britain and China is the great, great, great grandson on the maternal side of the Eminent Lecturer and Prison Reformer, Sir Henry Parkes, of Parkes Park, Parksland – known in his day as a candidate for the throne of Greece and the Duchy of East Maitland. . . . London is no longer the great Metropolis – it is deserted by all but the grandson of Macaulay’s New Zealander who may be seen sitting on the remains of the last British oak in Billingsgate Cemetery gazing through one of those antediluvian instruments a speaking trumpet at the ruins of Westminster Bridge. The capital of Great Britain is New Sydney. . . . the largest City in the World, it extends 1000 miles, and including its suburbs of Goulburn, Bathurst, Mudgee, Maitland, and Braidwood contains 190,000,000 inhabitants.58
Such visions reafﬁrmed Macaulay’s nationalism, as did satirical visions of ‘savage’ life imposed upon British culture. ‘Aboriginal Poems for Infant Minds by Macaulay’s New Zealander’ pictured a future family life centred upon cannibalism, beginning: I.Chackaboo, chickaboo, chuckaboo, chew, Mark baby over with pretty tattoo: Cut in the pattern like open-work tart; Rub in the powder, and make baby smart. II.Catch a little white boy, catch him by the leg. Kill a little white boy, get the crumbs and egg, Fry a little white boy, do him brown and dry, Put him on the table with the missionary pie.59
Stereotypical narratives like this constructed an unbridgeable divide between black and white, particularly in Australia, where Aboriginal people were rarely admired.60 By contrast, Mā ori were often perceived to conform to neo-classical ideals of beauty and valour, leading to more positive judgements. One writer in 1855, for example, noted that ‘[p]hysically, they are as well formed and as good-looking as any people. In bodily strength and athletic exercises they are great adepts.’ In this way sometimes the future tourist was literally understood to be Mā ori, cast ‘as a people destined to play a distinguished part in the world’s history.’ A radical idea even at the time, this writer speculated 58
Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle, Saturday 12 September 1863, p. 4. See also Geelong Advertiser, Monday 15 August 1870, p. 3, in which the Queen is imagined emigrating to the Australian state of Victoria ‘for the purpose of making “another England,” less the Irish difﬁculty and the weather of the old one’. ‘Aboriginal Poems for Infant Minds’, Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser, Saturday 15 June 1861, p 3. Liz Conor, Skin Deep: Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women (Perth: UWA Publishing, 2016).
Vernacularizing the Future Tourist
whether ‘Mr Macaulay’s New Zealander will become a real personage, though we do not know whether the historian contemplated him as a descendant of one of the native race, or merely as one inhabiting their land.’61 More threateningly, as the New Zealand Wars raged in 1864, Macaulay’s New Zealander was used as a warning to the Indigenous forces – ‘With the gambler’s infatuation they have rushed upon their doom – neither kindness nor humiliation are now needed. The chance that Lord Macaulay’s New Zealander will survive this struggle, to hereafter sketch the ruins of Britain’s capital from a broken arch of London Bridge is doubtful in the extreme.’62 Again, when four Mā ori seats were established in the New Zealand parliament 1867, the idea of Indigenous statesmen was satirized, one writer suggesting that Macaulay’s New Zealander will most certainly have very little Mā ori blood in his veins; and it is doubtful whether the great writer ever ventured to conceive a state of things so strange as these four savages sitting in such an assembly as the New Zealand House of Representatives; and inﬂuencing its decision as to the fate of a Ministry.63
Such ridicule relied upon assumptions of racial difference that emphasized commonalities of British blood and culture to span geographical distance, even as it created an unbridgeable chasm between black and white. In this way the emotive familial ties of British Empire were made and re-made, to explain and ameliorate divergent interests, and to patch up disputes. As the New Zealand Spectator and Cooks Strait Guardian wrote in response to Mundy’s travelogue, Your Englishman will sometimes talk, sometimes write like a republican. Your British colonist, when the shoe pinches, will sometimes vapour about separation. But in his heart of hearts he feels the real value of our glorious constitution- our admirable institutions. His fealty may be dormant, but it is not extinct. I truly believe that a ruler of a government must personally and repeatedly injure or wrong a Briton – wherever naturalized – before he shall be driven to the serious entertainment of a rebellious thought against his country and his sovereign – especially when that sovereign is a young and virtuous lady.64
As I explore further in my ﬁnal chapter, the present-day version of Macaulay’s New Zealander is constituted by the Republic, a vision of 61 62 63 64
‘Extracts’, The Age, Tuesday 23 October 1855, p. 7. ‘The New Zealand War’, Border Watch, Friday 20 May 1864, p. 2; Courier, Thursday 28 January 1864, p. 2; The Age, Friday 12 May 1871, p. 2. Brisbane Courier, Saturday 24 October 1868, p. 4. ‘Colonel Mundy on the Australian Colonies’, New Zealand Spectator and Cooks Strait Guardian, Vol. VIII, Issue 766, 4 December 1852.
Children of Empire
Australian independence from Britain. Where Macaulay’s New Zealander constituted a spectre of future decay used to urge contemporary reform and mastery, the similarly speculative future republic offers a counter-vision – equally futuristic – of descendant maturity and success. Imperial Nostalgia Invisible within this vision of futurity, optimism and eventual colonial inheritance stood Australian Aboriginal people, the object of a dominant emotional narrative that has played a major role in British imperialism and the Australasian colonies. This is what anthropologist Rosaldo ﬁrst termed ‘imperial nostalgia’: that is, the ways that a ‘mood of nostalgia makes racial domination appear innocent and pure’, grounded in the basic paradox that people mourn for what they have destroyed.65 As a cultural narrative, ‘extinction discourse’ is a long-standing and omnipresent dimension of imperialism, naturalizing the disappearance of Indigenous peoples as supposedly an inevitable consequence of contact. As Patrick Brantlinger suggests, this discursive trope, anticipating and mourning extinction before it happens, is characterized by a form of temporality he terms the future-perfect, or proleptic elegy, referring to a completed action in the future (e.g., when ‘he will have ﬁnished’). Extinction discourse underwrote both missionary endeavours to save Indigenous souls, and contemporary anthropological ethnography, one premised on transformation, the other on preservation, or ‘salvage’. Indigenous culture was invariably ﬁxed to a primitive stage of human development, considered to be distant in both space and time.66 The most famous example is of course the so-called extinction of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people in 1876, a myth which, as Lyndall Ryan has noted, served to reinforce the inevitability of ‘doom’ and mask later forms of frontier violence, as well as to deny later claims to recognition and rights of descendants. From the late nineteenth century, histories of Tasmanian colonization declared that when Tasmanian Aboriginal woman, Truganini, died in 1876, her race became extinct. Ryan examines colonial expressions of guilt, evident for example in James Bonwick’s 1870 history, The Last of the Tasmanians, in acknowledging the injustice of their dispossession.67 This malleable cultural narrative was applied to 65 66
Renato Rosaldo, ‘Imperialist Nostalgia’, Representations, 26, (1989), 107–22. Patrick Brantlinger, Dark Vanishings: Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races, 1800–1930 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2003), p. 4; Johannes Fabian, Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014). Lyndall Ryan, The Aboriginal Tasmanians (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996), pp. 1–3.
many contexts, gaining in strength with the acceptance of Darwin’s theory of natural selection over the second half of the nineteenth century and surviving into the 1930s.68 Amateur anthropologist Daisy Bates’ dramatic and graphic obituary of Nyoongar Elder Fanny Balbuk Yooreel, published in Perth’s Western Mail in June 1907 exempliﬁes the uses of this framework. Framing Balbuk as a victim of her own choices and cultural constraints, Bates wrote, ‘[p]oor Balbuk had an even more Chequered Career than was usual with native women’ because she made a ‘wrong’ marriage (transgressing traditional rules), which forced her into exile for seven years. Although she describes Balbuk as a deﬁant and strong woman, who insisted on her traditional rights and obligations, Bates also casts her as the beneﬁciary of the white colonists’ compassion. Living on charity in her last days, Nevertheless, she was understood and sympathised with, notwithstanding her ungracious manner, by those old white settlers in whose midst she had spent her childhood, who knew her history and that of her people, and who felt deeply with her in her pathetic isolation. These good people supplied her with the food her acquired taste craved, and in her most unmanageable moods the mention of some of these friends brought forth pleasant and grateful reminiscences.69
In this way Bates denies the processes of colonization that shaped Balbuk’s life, and turns her into a victim of inevitable, almost natural causes. The ‘old white settlers’ are transformed into benefactors rather than invaders. This powerful narrative explained, predicted and justiﬁed invasion and dispossession, directing a limited form of sympathy toward Aboriginal people in ways that placed them in the past. Conclusion In forging new settler communities across Australasia, a triangular emotional pull is evident, as Britain and its colonies tugged at the ‘skin of nation’ to cover its imagined new greater Britain, and its inheritors of civilization and empire. The arrival of the future tourist, symbol of 68
Ann Curthoys, ‘Genocide in Tasmania: The History of an Idea’, in A. Dirk Moses (ed.), Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation, and Subaltern Resistance in World History (New York: Bergahn Books, 2008), pp. 229–52; Rebe Taylor, ‘Genocide, Extinction and Aboriginal Self-determination in Tasmanian Historiography’, History Compass, 11 (2013), 405–18; Russell McGregor, Imagined Destinies: Aboriginal Australians and the Doomed Race Theory (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1993); Brantlinger, Dark Vanishings. Daisy M. Bates, ‘Fanny Balbuk-Yooreel: The Last Swan River (Female) Native’, Western Mail, Saturday 1 June 1907, p. 44.
Children of Empire
colonial independence, could be menacing to the parent society, as well as signalling the hoped-for growth and independence of the colony nation. These dreams required the disappearance of Aboriginal people, to be mourned but not for long; their nostalgic loss freed the new nation to move forward into the future.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’: Images of Frontier Conﬂict
Metropolitan humanitarian sentiment was at its height during the 1830s, following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 that outlawed slavery throughout the empire. However, the Act coincided with growing frontier violence in south-eastern Australia. Following their great victory, the anti-slavery movement’s leaders sought to redirect popular interest from abolition to the empire’s Indigenous peoples, as exempliﬁed by the 1835–6 Select Committee on Aboriginal Tribes inquiry (Aborigines Select Committee).1 Their report recommended metropolitan oversight of settler relationships with Indigenous peoples, imagining the moral redemption of both settlers and Indigenous people within a virtuous Christian community. As Elizabeth Elbourne argues, ‘[i]t matters that to claim to be civilized was to claim to possess knowledge, and implicitly virtue, superior to that of the non-civilized person, while to be a Christian was to possess a transformative knowledge of God’.2 Notions of the moral character of the individual and of the nation were heavily inﬂuenced by evangelical Christian ideas about sin, repentance and redemption.3 Humanitarian concern for the impacts of invasion upon Indigenous people was, however, countered by increasing conﬂict over land between squatters and Aboriginal people, narrated in newspaper stories in which colonists were cast as victims, and Aboriginal people were caricatured as savages.4 In response to widespread agitation in New South Wales during 1837, Commandant Major Nunn and a party of police troopers left Sydney on 26 December, inaugurating what is now known as ‘Major
2 3 4
Aborigines Protection Society, Report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Aboriginal Tribes (British Settlements), Great Britain, Parliament, House of Commons (London: W. Ball, A. Chambers, and Hatchard & Son, 1837). Elbourne, ‘The Sin of the Settler’. Hilton, The Age of Atonement; O’Brien, ‘Humanitarianism and Reparation’. For this humanitarian context, see Jane Lydon, ‘Anti-slavery in Australia: Picturing the 1838 Myall Creek Massacre’, History Compass 15 (2017), e12330, 10.1111/hic3.12330.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
Figure 2.1 Godfrey Mundy, ‘Mounted Police and Blacks’, frontispiece Lithograph by W. L. Walton, Our Antipodes: or, Residence and Rambles in the Australasian Colonies, with a Glimpse of the Goldﬁelds.
Nunn’s Campaign’ along the upper Gwydir River, on Namoi, Wirrayaraay and Kamilaroi country. A series of ‘skirmishes’ followed, including in January 1838 at Waterloo Creek, where one of the participants later estimated that ‘from forty to ﬁfty blacks’ were killed.5 Colonel Godfrey Charles Mundy’s imagined depiction shows the opposing forces arrayed on either side of a creek: the Aboriginal men on foot armed with spears and shields, facing their mounted and uniformed white foes, who carry guns and swords. This is a desperate battle but it is not between equals; the Aboriginal foe is depicted as primitive and savage (Figure 2.1). Signiﬁcantly, Mundy chose his sketch of frontier battle, captioned ‘Mounted Police and Blacks’, as frontispiece for his three-volume 1852 work, Our Antipodes: or, Residence and Rambles in the Australasian colonies, with a Glimpse of the Goldﬁelds.6 Mundy’s image was a stereotype of frontier conﬂict widely reproduced across the nineteenth century in imperial print culture, and speciﬁcally the visual economy formed by the engravings reproduced within illustrated newspapers, periodicals and books. In the ﬁxity and repetition of such scenes we see 5
Frederick Watson (ed.), Historical Records of Australia (Melbourne: Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1914–1925), ‘Depositions at Inquiry re Collision between Mounted Police under J.W. Nunn and Aborigines’, 20 Feb. 1839–Sept. 1840, p. 252. Mundy, Our Antipodes.
a fundamental device in colonial visual culture, seeking to show Aboriginal people as less than human, subordinate to British military prowess. In this chapter, I argue that visual accounts of conﬂict constitute an overlooked source of evidence that allows us to understand contemporary emotional regimes more directly. Here I compare two signiﬁcant contexts of frontier violence in south-eastern Australia during the late 1830s and 1840s, and their visual representation: the ﬁrst concerns the 1838 military action sometimes known as Major Nunn’s campaign, and related squatter conﬂict with Indigenous people that culminated in the infamous Myall Creek Massacre. The second context is constituted by conﬂict along the land routes established by ‘Overlanders’ between Melbourne (then the Port Phillip District) and the new settlement of Adelaide c. 1837–41. This phase is represented by the work of George Hamilton, himself an Overlander, whose drawings and prints, contextualized by his memories and ﬁctionalized reminiscences, express his complex, changing views over his lifetime. Blind Spots While visual culture, like language, is also subject to collective meanings, conventions and typiﬁcations, images offer easy access to contemporary emotions, including colonists’ ambivalence and moral uncertainties. Lynda Nead’s analysis of art depicting imperial relations at the height of the Victorian era, for example, argues that not only does it map racial and sexual hierarchies and ‘the transnational and intercultural exchanges of the mid-nineteenth century’, but that ‘the visual imagination’ may constitute a ‘tool of historical analysis that opens out possible meanings that would otherwise escape the scrutiny of context and historical reconstruction’.7 From our own very different, present-day vantage point, we may be able to recognize more clearly historical visual and cultural practices and conventions. Perhaps most powerfully, images arouse emotions, thereby bringing distant peoples into communication and creating social relationships such as empathy or compassion. During the nineteenth century, images fostered new relations across empire, as well as ideas about humanity and nation, cosmopolitanism, slavery, convicts and Indigenous peoples. In the present, the empathy prompted by images can evoke our own emotions most directly.
Nead, ‘The Secret of England’s Greatness’; Sullivan, ‘The Role of the Arts’.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
In our own time, distant atrocity and warfare becomes real to us primarily through media photography, providing a sense of proximity and reality. To my knowledge, no photographs exist of martial forms of Australian frontier violence. This is not merely because of the technical challenges posed by nineteenth-century photography, a medium invented only in 1839 and unable to capture outdoor ‘action’ until the late nineteenth century. Rather, this glaring absence marks a ‘blind spot’ – an unacknowledged, or troubling subconscious knowledge – that may also be attributed to the semi-secret status of violence against Aboriginal people in Australia, even at the height of frontier conﬂict.8 Across the continent, such conﬂict was often condoned by many settlers and the government as a ‘cruel necessity’, in what historian Jonathan Richards has termed a ‘secret war’. In this respect, the Australian photographic record forms an extreme contrast with forms of spectacularized violence documented elsewhere: photographs of American lynchings of AfricanAmerican people, for example, constituted trophies of the torture and murder inﬂicted upon black people, and usually include crowds of grinning, triumphant white onlookers.9 In other contexts, such as the American Civil War, photographs made the war real to viewers at home, but their complex mediation obscured key aspects of the conﬂict, in turn deﬁning local, American, blind spots.10 Despite their shared racialist premise – the subordination of a black minority – unlike lynching, there was no public consensus or widely shared acceptance regarding Australian frontier violence, despite quasi-public ofﬁcial complicity that prevailed in speciﬁc places and times.11 In the absence of photographic ‘proof’, however, a handful of visual images gave form to debates around violence on the colonial frontier, directing viewers how to feel about what they saw. Visual images prompt empathy, assuming meaning within various textual, visual or embodied narratives. Emotional narratives are 8 9
Jane Lydon, Photography, Humanitarianism, Empire (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 57–76. Jonathan Richards, The Secret War: A True History of Queensland’s Native Police (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2008). For thoughtful discussion of this complex and troubling history, see, for example, Dora Apel and Michelle Wallace Smith, Lynching Photographs (Oakland: University of California Press, 2007). Alan Trachtenberg argues that the Civil War archive’s own ‘grand invisibilities’ were death and slavery. Alan Trachtenberg, ‘Albums of War: On Reading Civil War Photographs’, Representations, 9 (1985), 1–32. Christopher Owen, Every Mother’s Son Is Guilty: Policing the Kimberley Frontier of Western Australia 1882–1905 (Perth: UWA Publishing, 2016). Similarly, Martha Sandweiss notes the absence of photographs of actual combat with Native Americans, perhaps indicating shared settler ‘blind spots’: Martha Sandweiss, Print the Legend: Photography and the American West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), pp. 242–3.
a powerful way of creating social relations, and especially effective are those that deﬁne whose lives are valuable and therefore worthy of compassion. Many scholars have explored the way that narratives, images and political discourse make some lives appear more distinctly human than others. As Judith Butler reﬂects of war photography, the visual conventions or ‘frames’ that permit the recognizability of certain ﬁgures of the human are themselves linked with broader cultural norms that determine what will or will not be a ‘grievable life’. Butler’s analysis seeks to explore the practices through which modern audiences comprehend the human costs of war by differentiating ‘the cries we can hear from those we cannot, the sights we can see from those we cannot’.12 The emotional images and associated narratives deployed by colonists can be seen as powerful ‘affective economies’ that deﬁned identities and aligned viewers with communities. As Sara Ahmed argues, emotions move between objects and signs, prompting ‘the accumulation of affective value [that] shapes the surfaces of bodies and worlds’.13 These intense attachments created social relationships and alliances spanning the British Empire.14 Nineteenth-century humanitarians sought to picture scenes of conﬂict to shock and move their readers on behalf of Indigenous people; conversely, those whose sympathies lay with white settlers sought to represent them as victims of Indigenous aggression. By understanding the original context of these images, we can share something of the emotional and moral responses of nineteenth-century viewers, and perhaps see past the blind spots of colonialism. ‘Our’ Antipodes? In Mundy’s work, part-travel account, part-memoir, his told of his experiences travelling through New South Wales, Victoria, Van Diemen’s Land and New Zealand as Deputy Adjutant-General of the colonial military forces between 1846 and 1851. Part of this time was spent travelling with his cousin, Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy.15 Mundy’s perspective was elite, martial, yet also lively and humorous. Like most travel-writers, Mundy searched for the exotic – nonetheless his proto-ethnographic curiosity about convicts, gold-ﬁelds, social chaos and Aboriginal people was highly stereotypical.16 He greatly enjoyed the 12 13 14
Butler, Frames of War, 74–75, quotation p. 51. Sara Ahmed, ‘Affective Economies’, Social Text 22 (2004), 117–39, quotation p. 121. Jane Haggis and Margaret Allen, ‘Imperial Emotions: Affective Communities of Mission in British Protestant Women’s Missionary Publications c1880–1920’, Journal of Social History 41 (2008), 691–716. Macnab and Ward, ‘Mundy’. 16 Mundy, Our Antipodes, 3.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
substitutions and reversals he observed in the colonies, and his lively discussion of the gold-ﬁelds was one of his most-reproduced by newspapers. Fundamentally, however, the Eton-educated Mundy was deeply invested in the British social order and endorsed its reproduction in the colonies. This tension between Mundy’s appreciation of the exotic and his allegiance to familiar British values structures his chapter on ‘Aborigines’, where a sympathy for the plight of Indigenous people contrasts with his belief in their essential racial inferiority. Mundy was typical of many contemporaries in believing in a fundamental biological difference between so-called ‘races of men’ – and that Aboriginal Australians were a survival from the stone-age doomed to extinction following contact with whites.17 Yet he also noted the injustice of usurping Aboriginal land, taken ‘neither by inheritance, by purchase, nor by conquest, but by a sort of gradual eviction’. With relish, Mundy described mounted expeditions, for which ‘extermination is the word! Men, women and children are butchered without distinction. Superiority of weapon makes it a bloodless victory; but there is a species of excitement in it, and – children of wrath, as we are – it becomes by practice a pleasurable excitement’.18 Violence and Masculinity on the Frontier Here, Mundy reveals the close links between racial violence and masculinity on the frontier, so often excised from national histories. As Marilyn Lake has pointed out, the frontier was long considered emblematic of the national experience, and on ‘the border’ of settlement, white men could ‘do as they liked’.19 Masculinities are diverse, socially contingent and multiple, arising from the interaction between gender, race and class, and therefore changing over time. Colonial masculinities were also shaped by British notions of manliness, linking qualities such as courage, independence, tenacity and responsibility for their dependents, with the traits required by emigrants.20 However, as a range of studies have 17
18 19 20
See, for example, Paul Turnbull, ‘British Anthropological Thought in Colonial Practice: The Appropriation of Indigenous Australian Bodies, 1860–1880’, in Bronwyn Douglas and Chris Ballard (eds.), Foreign Bodies: Oceania and the Science of Race 1750–1940 (Canberra: ANU e Press, 2008), pp. 205–29. Mundy, Our Antipodes, 78, 80. Marilyn Lake, ‘Frontier Feminism and the Marauding White Man’, Journal of Australian Studies, 20 (1996), 49, 12–20, doi: 10.1080/14443059609391738. Alan Lester and Fae Dussart, ‘Masculinity, “Race”, and Family in the Colonies: Protecting Aborigines in the Early Nineteenth Century’, Gender, Place and Culture, 16 (2009), 65–76; Robert Connell, Masculinities (Berkeley: University of California Press 1995), pp. 185–95; John Tosh, Manliness and Masculinities in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Harlow, England: Pearson Longman, 2005).
Violence and Masculinity on the Frontier
argued, settler colonial frontier violence became associated with white masculine heroism and a white gender identity that was treated as normative, while colonists infantilized Aboriginal people, subordinating Indigenous masculinity to their own. Qualities of bravery, energy, hard work and determination, attributed to colonists, were contrasted with the supposed treachery, laziness and immorality of Indigenous men as a means of marginalization, and the supposed ill-treatment of women was tied to effeminacy and a lower stage in human development.21 A number of historians have explored the role of frontier violence in constituting colonial masculinities, and contributing to ideas of citizenship and ultimately colonial state formation, often in selfconscious opposition to metropolitan interests and identities.22 The fear and uncertainty felt by white settlers in the face of Indigenous warriors encouraged the coalescing of a common identity in a process shared across the Australian colonies, but also the South African Cape Colony, and Canada during the 1830s and 1840s. In these accounts, the fear and anxiety prompted by conﬂict with Indigenous people was a primary factor in creating a sense of a uniﬁed settler community. For example, Rebecca Wood compares newspaper representations of the Myall Creek perpetrators that imagined an idealized white ‘settler’, suppressing class differences and portraying the colonists as isolated and threatened, while showing metropolitan humanitarians as weak and hypocritical. Similarly, Angela Woollacott argues that ‘the realities of frontier violence’ created deﬁnitions of masculine citizenship including physical strength, bush-craft and an often unspoken ‘preparedness to kill’.23 As Martin Crotty argues of adventure stories for boys, the narrative logic of penetrating and taming the uncivilized unknown 21
Jock McCulloch, ‘Empire and Violence, 1900–1939’, in Philippa Levine (ed.), Gender and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 220–39; Robert Hogg, ‘The Unmanly Savage: “Aboriginalism” and Subordinate Masculinities on the Queensland Frontier’, Crossings (2006), 10.3–11.1; Robert Hogg, ‘Performing Manliness: “Unmanly” Men on British Frontiers in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Australian Studies, 35 (2011), 355–72; Mrinalini Sinha, Colonial Masculinity: The ‘Manly Englishman’ and the ‘effeminate Bengali’ in the late nineteenth century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), p. 44; Conor, Skin Deep; Konishi, Aboriginal Male. McCulloch, ‘Empire and Violence’, 220–39; McClintock, Imperial Leather, 1–6. Alan Lester, ‘Reformulating Identities: British Settlers in Early Nineteenth-Century South Africa’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 23 (1998), 515–31; Angela Woollacott, ‘Frontier Violence and Settler Manhood’, History Australia, 6 (2009), 11.1–11.15; Rebecca Wood, ‘Frontier Violence and the Bush Legend: The Sydney Herald’s Response to the Myall Creek Massacre Trials and the Creation of Colonial Identity’, History Australia, 6 (2009), 67.1–67.19.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
drove changing conceptions of the untamed other, as English writers saw Australia as foreign, while Australian writers looked ﬁrst to the continent’s interior, and then its external borders.24 Mundy’s lively, stereotypical, account contributed to the imperial commons which circulated these contingent, changing constructions of masculinity with the effect of naturalizing gender roles, especially over the second half of the nineteenth century. Mundy’s books were widely reviewed, but signiﬁcantly, while the metropolitan newspapers acknowledged the question of frontier conﬂict, the colonial papers ignored it. Passing quickly over the topic of violence, British forums such as the urbane Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine and the conservative Times of London preferred to emphasize the advantages to be gained from emigration to Australia. Both the Times and local newspapers attacked Mundy’s self-centred perspective, and, as I noted in Chapter 1, the colonial press suggested that despite the hospitality he had enjoyed, he had depicted colonists in patronizing terms, ‘with the same spirit that a Brobdignagian may have spoken of Gulliver’.25 If even colonists were exasperated by Mundy’s inability to see beyond his own elite prejudices, it is not surprising that he was unable to acknowledge Indigenous humanity, reducing Aboriginal people merely to primitive and emasculated stereotypes. Myall Creek, June 1838 Only the Examiner was shocked by Mundy’s account of violence and especially his reference to the Myall Creek massacre, which it termed ‘thoroughly disgusting and disgraceful’, and a damning sign of the ‘state of moral feeling in New South Wales’.26 This squatter atrocity was perpetrated in the chaotic aftermath of Nunn’s military campaign, and indeed marked a horrifying climax of violence – however it also represented a unique moment of white recognition of injustice. At Myall Creek in June 1838, a group of twelve stockmen murdered around thirty-three Wirrayaraay people, predominantly women and children. They rounded them up, tying them together with rope, then led them to a creek bed 24
Martin Crotty, Making the Australian Male: Middle-Class Masculinity 1870–1920 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001); Graeme Turner, ‘Ripping Yarns, Ideology and Robbery under Arms’, Literary Studies, 14(2) (1989), 242–4. Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 9 October 1852, quotation p. 2; Anon., ‘Review’, Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, vol. 72/ CCCCXLIII, September 1852, 300–15; Times, 31 July 1852, p. 6. Anonymous, ‘Review: Our Antipodes; or Residence and Rambles in the Australian Colonies, with a Glimpse of the Gold Fields. (From the Examiner.)’, Empire, 7 October 1852, p. 4.
Myall Creek, June 1838
where they were hacked or clubbed to death and then decapitated – including the children. The crime was what historian Lyndall Ryan terms an ‘opportunity massacre’, carried out because the assassins believed that they would not be caught. However, what made this case unique was that white witnesses – convict hutkeeper George Anderson, and overseers William Hobbs and John Foster insisted on reporting the atrocity, and ofﬁcials such as Attorney General John Hubert Plunkett were prepared to pursue justice through the courts. Eleven of the twelve assassins were arrested and brought to trial, and following two trials, seven of the accused were convicted and hanged.27 Local responses were dominated by the fear and anger aroused by the threat of Aboriginal conﬂict, and angrily contested the arguments of the British humanitarian movement, then at the height of its powers following the abolition of slavery across the empire in 1833. Given the importance within sentimental discourse of witnessing and responding to the suffering of others, signiﬁcant recent research has considered the diverse and fraught relationships between humanitarianism and violence in the Anglophone colonies, and those who sought to ameliorate conﬂict.28 Penny Edmonds, for example, extends the analysis of humanitarian networks to show that it was not just inquiries appointed by government that brought humanitarian concerns into the policy domain, but also those of concerned Quakers who testiﬁed to the treatment of Aboriginal women in Bass Strait by ‘invok[ing] a language of spiritual power exercised through suffering’, reminiscent of anti-slavery rhetoric.29 Such strategies were applied to arouse compassion for Aboriginal people at this time of heightened public emotion. Within three years following the Myall Creek Massacre, a remarkable image circulated widely across the British Empire. An engraving titled ‘Australian Aborigines Slaughtered by Convicts’ was published in the popular 1841 compendium, The Chronicles of Crime; or, The New 27
Key accounts include Robert Reece, Aborigines and Colonist: Aborigines and Colonial Society in New South Wales in the 1830s and 1840s (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1974); Marian Aveling and Lyndall Ryan, ‘At the Boundaries’, in Alan Atkinson and Marian Aveling (eds.), Australians 1838 (Sydney: Fairfax, Syme & Weldon, 1987), pp. 54–60; Roger Milliss, Waterloo Creek: The Australia Day Massacre of 1838, George Gipps and the British Conquest of New South Wales (Melbourne: McPhee Gribble, 1992); Jane Lydon and Lyndall Ryan (eds.), Remembering Myall Creek (Sydney: NewSouth Books, 2018). Penelope Edmonds and Anna Johnston, ‘Empire, Humanitarianism and Violence in the Colonies’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 17 (1) Spring 2016. Penelope Edmonds, ‘Collecting Looerryiminer’s “Testimony”: Humanitarian AntiSlavery Thought and Action in the Bass Strait Islands’, Australian Historical Studies 45 (1) (2014), 13–33, quotation p. 29. Abruzzo, Polemical Pain, 40, 43; Ballantyne and Burton, Moving Subjects.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
Figure 2.2 ‘Phiz’ (Hablot Knight Browne), ‘Australian Aborigines Slaughtered by Convicts’, 1841. The Chronicles of Crime; or, The New Newgate Calendar, London: Sydney: Printed for T. Tegg, 2 volumes, 1841, between pages 472 and 473.
Newgate Calendar, showing the chained group of victims being dragged along by rufﬁans on horseback (Figure 2.2).30 It depicts the terrible
Camden Pelham, The Chronicles of Crime; or, The New Newgate Calendar (London and Sydney: T. Tegg, 1841), pp. 472–3.
Myall Creek, June 1838
prologue to massacre, as the innocent and helpless victims were led away to their death. ‘Phiz’ was the pseudonym of Hablot Knight Browne, a popular artist most well known for illustrating Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers. The Newgate Calendar had become a series of sensational, frequently inaccurate, accounts written by the Ordinary of London’s notorious prison in order to supplement his wages.31 This edition was printed in London, Sydney, Hobart and Glasgow by Thomas Tegg, one of the largest publishers of his day, and is the ﬁrst example of an attempt to exploit colonial as well as metropolitan audiences.32 Phiz’s depiction of the massacre perfectly harmonized with the Chronicles’s melodramatic tone, and to contemporary viewers antislavery rhetoric and imagery constituted an immediately recognizable framework for interpreting this scene. The upraised, shackled hands of the Aboriginal people evoke the famous emblem of the anti-slavery movement, Wedgwood’s medallion of the kneeling slave captioned ‘Am I not a man and a brother?’ This icon emphasized the innocence and vulnerability of the primarily female and child victims – but also their passivity and need to be helped by the white humanitarian.33 Their helplessness is emphasized by the central vignette, a scene reminiscent of the Christian motif of the Pietà or Lamentation of Christ, underlining the sacriﬁcial status of the victims. The women both look upward as if for divine assistance. Simultaneously, the image exaggerates the brutality of the perpetrators, drawn as caricatures, not recognizable men. This is borne out by the framing text, which begins, The atrocious cold-blooded massacre of which these persons were guilty is scarcely equaled by any event of a similar character . . . the victims were the unoffending aboriginal natives of the country, – the miscreants by whom the savage scene were enacted were Englishmen, who, however, from their sanguinary disposition, do not deserve that they should receive such an appellation.
Valerie Lester, Phiz: The Man Who Drew Dickens (London: Random House, 2011); Kelly Grovier, The Gaol: The Story of Newgate, London’s Most Notorious Prison (London: John Murray, 2008), p. 183. L. F. Fitzhardinge, ‘Tegg, James (1808–1845)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1967), http:// adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tegg-james-2718; J. Barnes and P. Barnes, ‘Reassessing the Reputation of Thomas Tegg, London Publisher, 1776–1846’, Book History, 3 (2000), 45–60. Marcus Wood, Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America 1780–1865 (New York: Manchester University Press and Routledge, 2000); C. S. Hamilton, ‘Hercules Subdued: The Visual Rhetoric of the Kneeling Slave’, Slavery and Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, 34 (4) (2013), 631–52.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
It went on to describe the ‘unresisting’, ‘hapless wretches’ who were ‘brutally butchered’, and ﬁnished its account of the atrocity by describing how ‘[t]he demon butchers then placed the bodies in a heap, kindled an immense ﬁre over them, and thus attempted to destroy the evidence of their unheard-of brutality’.34 This reversal, in which the white masters rather than their black victims are cast as ‘savage’, was a common antislavery trope in this period, expressed also in literary responses to Myall Creek.35 The Chronicles’s popular account ignored the wider context of frontier violence by portraying the atrocity as a singular crime carried out by degraded convicts, a perspective echoing that of the elite Aborigines Select Committee, which attributed damage to Aboriginal people to ‘the contamination of the dregs of our countrymen’.36 Framing frontier atrocity as convict crime allowed both colonists and humanitarians to displace their own complicity in Indigenous dispossession. To the Chronicles’s popular imperial audience, the visibly depraved cartoon ﬁgures of Phiz’s convicts made it clear where blame should be placed: at the door of these already convicted felons, rather than with the larger forces of statesanctioned violence and dispossession. These two images depicting conﬂict in 1838 New South Wales were widely circulated across the British Empire. What is particularly striking is the strongly gendered character of these two very different images: Mundy’s stereotypical representation of battle emphasized the superiority of British soldiers and their military capacity, against the primitive and clearly subordinate black warriors. Mundy’s image directed the viewer’s sympathy toward the manly British soldier. By contrast, Phiz’s sympathetic rendition of the ‘unoffending’ victims of Myall Creek emphasizes the helplessness and femininity of the victims, nearly all women and children, alongside the few elderly men, while Phiz’s convict criminals are grotesque, even bestial. Overlanders, 1836–1880 The articulation of cultural categories of class, race and gender intimated by these images is also evident in the much larger and more complex body of work produced by prominent South Australian colonist, George Hamilton (1812–83), over the course of his long career as Overlander, police commissioner, horse fancier, writer and artist. Hamilton’s 34 35
Pelham, Chronicles, 472–4. Anna Johnston, ‘“The Aboriginal Mother”: Poetry and Politics in Eliza Hamilton Dunlop’s Response to the Myall Creek Massacre’, in Jane Lydon and Lyndall Ryan (eds.), Remembering Myall Creek (Sydney: NewSouth Books, 2018), pp. 68–84. Aborigines Protection Society, Report, 10.
substantial oeuvre, expressing his participation in contemporary processes of cross-cultural exchange, maps the emotional regime that structured relations between black and white. By the time of his death, Hamilton was remembered as both ‘a ﬁne type of the bold and dashing bushman of the colony’s early days’, and ‘no mean judge of a good painting’. Hamilton was born in England, and served in the navy as a midshipman, arriving in Sydney in 1836. In 1847, he helped to organize the ﬁrst exhibition of South Australian artists’ works at the Council Room, Adelaide. Hamilton became a clerk in the South Australian Treasury in 1848, and inspector of mounted police in 1853.37 Hamilton was an ‘Overlander’, a colonist who participated in ‘opening up’ the land for colonial transport between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. We have ﬁve distinct accounts by George Hamilton of journeys between Sydney and Melbourne, and between Melbourne and Adelaide from 1836 to 1846, ranging from day-by-day journal entries, to factual transcriptions, to a ﬁctionalized reminiscence. His art work includes sketchbooks, drawings in pen-and-ink and pencil, prints and even paintings.38 Over the nineteenth century, this body of work gradually mythologized the colony’s origins and progress, strongly inﬂected by his concerns with his own ideas regarding class, race and masculinity. In narrating his travels and conquest, Hamilton deﬁned a sharp opposition between the pitiable settler and the marauding black through his textual emotional strategies. The term ‘Overlander’ was ﬁrst coined when the new settlement of Adelaide was reached by colonists in 1838, as noted by fellow Overlander and explorer George Grey. The term implies a colonycentred perspective that sees history as a process of mapping territory and connecting settlements, erasing its impact upon the Indigenous occupants. Joseph Hawdon was ﬁrst to travel south-west from the 37
‘The Late Mr. George Hamilton’, Adelaide Observer, 4 August, 1883, p. 32; J. H. Love, ‘Hamilton, George (1812–1883)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: Australian National University: National Centre of Biography), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hamil ton-george-12961/text23427; Design and Art Australia Online, ‘Exhibition of Pictures; the Works of Colonial Artists’, https://daao.library.unsw.edu.au/bio/event/exhibition-ofcolonial-artists-in-adelaide/. His written accounts comprise a collection of journals held by the National Library of Australia and a trilogy published in 1880: George Hamilton, ‘The Journal of an Overlander, or, a Narrative of Journies in New South Wales and South Australia from 1836 to 1845, ca. 1845’ (manuscript), National Library of Australia, MS 4299C; George Hamilton, Experiences of a Colonist Forty Years ago; A Journey from Port Phillip to South Australia in 1839; and A Voyage from Port Phillip to Adelaide in 1846, by An Old Hand (Adelaide, J. Williams, 1880). The Mitchell Library at the State Library of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, National Library of Australia and the National Museum of Australia all hold works by Hamilton.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
Goulburn River, followed shortly afterward by Edward Eyre from Port Phillip, while ‘the last great improvement of this kind [was] made by the adventurous C. Bonney, Esquire, who connected Port Phillip with Adelaide by a direct road running nearly parallel to the coast’.39 Hamilton was friends with Grey and Eyre, and closely followed behind Bonney in travelling from Port Phillip to Adelaide, setting forth in May 1839.40 However, he had already undertaken his ﬁrst journey in early 1837, between Sydney and Melbourne, inspired by Mitchell’s ‘discovery’ of ‘Australia Felix’ in 1836.41 In this ﬁrst, 1837, account, he adopted a humorous, adventurous style, accompanied by lively and often comical drawings of the expedition’s drunken departure, the search for water, and the bliss of ﬁnding a pond in which all members of the party plunged, human and animal. He downplayed the menace of frontier violence, and his encounters express curiosity and friendliness. Sometimes these stories are shaped by stereotype, for example, in somewhat distancing accounts of Aboriginal people and especially his disparaging comments about Aboriginal women. However, he was relatively open to new experience, and provides descriptions of the harmony and peace of traditional Aboriginal life – such as an idyllic scene on a beautiful day in which Aboriginal men gathered mussels by the banks of the river, and ‘the black children were laughing, screaming and playing in the river little urchins who hardly knew how to use their legs on dry banks were splashing plunging and diving in the cold current’.42 These idealizing moments alternate with amicable exchanges, with curiosity on both sides. Hamilton camped one night with a party of Aboriginal people, and although he set a double watch on his camp that night, he also recorded an ‘irregular vocabulary’ with his Aboriginal companions and they ‘sang their wild songs until the night was far advanced’.43 Hamilton’s drawings illustrating these encounters express this mutual curiosity and openness, recording speciﬁc individuals’ details of dress and attitude, and capturing the contingency and excitement of the occasion (Figure 2.3).
40 41 42 43
George Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West and Western Australia, during the Years 1837, 1838, and 1839, Under the authority of her Majesty’s Government, vol. 2 (London: T. and W. Boone, 1841). Hamilton, ‘The Journal of an Overlander’; Hamilton, Experiences of a Colonist. Hamilton, ‘The Journal of an Overlander’, 4. Hamilton, ‘The Journal of an Overlander’, 70. Hamilton, ‘The Journal of an Overlander’, 70.
Figure 2.3 George Hamilton, ‘Meeting natives on the Campaspi plains June 1836’.44 Three Scenes Around the Campaspi River and Plains, Victoria, 1836 [sic], National Library of Australia, PIC Volume 1186 # PIC/20001/2. NLA- nla.obj-321140428-m.
While there are hints of threat from Aboriginal people, Hamilton’s narratives instead emphasize conﬂict among convicts within his own party, while Aboriginal people are easily managed by the Overlander’s ﬁrm hand.45 However by 1839 and during the 1840s, Hamilton’s views of Indigenous people became increasingly hostile. Hamilton’s ﬁrst Overlander journey from Port Phillip to Adelaide commenced in May 1839, following the route established by Charles Bonney via the Grampians and parallel to the coast rather than along the Murray.46 Hamilton would have known that this route was less likely to prompt conﬂict than ‘Hawdon’s’ Murray route – in fact following traditional Aboriginal pathways – along which the sheer density of Aboriginal occupation was more likely to
The date must be a mistake because he explains clearly that he did not reach this place until 1837. These images appeared as engravings in Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery. Hamilton, ‘The Journal of an Overlander’, 46–7. Hamilton, ‘The Journal of an Overlander’; Hamilton, Experiences of a Colonist.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
provoke violence.47 Hamilton himself seemingly avoided although the threat of attack became ever present, and recounted a tense confrontation with two Aboriginal which he drew and cocked his pistol, ready to ﬁre. The passed, but he explained that
conﬂict, he later men, in moment
there was no bloodthirsty feeling actuating me in my conduct towards these ﬁne specimens of savages. No person (not even the benevolent Exeter-hallers) could have felt more kindly towards these niggers than I did, but although they were ‘men and brothers’ and all that, yet I was not inclined to lose my cattle and become ruined because a ‘man and a brother’ insisted on a course of conduct which would seriously injure me. Let me confess, however, that although it was my intention to ﬁre upon my black relations, it was with no desire to kill them. No ‘most reverend and pious signiors of Exeter Hall’, they would have been merely winged, shot through the leg or arm, or in some place not vital.48
Hamilton was frank in discussing violence in his account, even if he denied any murderous intention during this episode.49 Hamilton contrasted his willingness to harm, if not kill, Aboriginal people with what he saw as the hypocrisy of those ‘pious persons’ who cared more about ‘ignorant pagan black monsters’ than ‘their white brethren who are, from poverty, neglect, and vicious teaching, fast falling into a savagedom far more frightful’. Like many at this time, he pitted the rights of Indigenous people against those of poor whites, whether in Britain or in the colonies. His shifting views express the broader pattern of worsening frontier violence across south-eastern Australia during the late 1830s and early 1840s, including the Myall Creek trials. Perhaps Hamilton’s direct experience during his three Overlander trips between Melbourne and Adelaide from 1839 to 1846 also prompted a change to a more hostile stance. Closer to Adelaide, the Maraura people defended the Murray River route throughout 1840, especially around the Rufus River junction, and, in August 1841, two consecutive encounters with a group of Overlanders subsequently reinforced by a police party resulted in between thirty and forty Aboriginal people being killed and four taken prisoner (including two women and a boy) in what is now termed the ‘Rufus River massacre’. 47
A recent study notes that ‘Between April 1838 and April 1841 a minimum of 36 parties travelled the western Central Murray route, bringing with them at least 480 Europeans, 90,000 sheep and 15,000 cattle, as well as horses, bullocks, drays and goods into Aboriginal territories.’ Heather Burke, Amy Roberts, Mick Morrison, Vanessa Sullivan and the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (RMMAC), ‘The Space of Conﬂict: Aboriginal/ European Interactions and Frontier Violence on the Western Central Murray, South Australia, 1830–41’, Aboriginal History, 40 (2016), 145–79. Hamilton, A Journey from Port Phillip to South Australia in 1839, 20–21. For discussion of the concealment of violence, see, e.g., Hogg, ‘The Unmanly Savage’.
Amanda Nettelbeck, Rob Foster and Rick Hosking have traced the ways that the Rufus River conﬂict was represented in texts, ﬁrst by contemporaries, and then thirty years later by historian John Wrathall Bull’s ‘Early Experiences of Life in South Australia’, which became a template for later histories. They show that the event was seen in competing ways at the time, while by contrast Bull’s later version had a simpler moral outcome and celebrated colonial success.50 So in 1841, for example, the Adelaide Register expressed moral uncertainty about the legitimacy of the massacre, and cautioned readers not to be led ‘away by any harsh and unnecessary feelings of hostility to the Natives’. Ofﬁcials also worked to counter its sensational effects and remind colonists of the impact upon Indigenous people: a few months later, Edward Eyre was sent to the area with the view, if possible, ‘of establishing a friendly intercourse with the Aborigines’. His report, reproduced as the epigraph to this book’s Introduction, told that the numbers of Aboriginal people were much reduced, and noted that near the Rufus he ‘observed many women in deep mourning for their husbands, who had been shot in some of the conﬂicts with Europeans’, while ‘many children were pointed out to me as being fatherless from the same cause’. Eyre’s account humanized the fearful spectres of settler imagination, emphasizing their shared humanity – and the losses suffered by Indigenous families.51 Eyre’s views also expressed the new bourgeois ‘sensibility of manliness’ emerging at this time across the contemporaneous British world, highlighting a man’s duty of care to protect those weaker than themselves, which for humanitarians meant Indigenous peoples – although for settlers meant their own families and community.52 In addition to Hamilton’s own transition from young adventurer to colonial pioneer, with the personal elisions and embroideries of memory that entailed, it is important to understand the changing public context for the circulation and reception of his representations of the frontier. As these moved from eyewitness, ﬁrst-person description toward more conventional public forms, their increasingly stereotypical character was enhanced by the use of multiple visual media, including drawing, painting and print-making. This visual intertextuality exempliﬁes the ‘parallel lines’ manifested in image-making during the ﬁrst half of the nineteenth 50
Amanda Nettelbeck, ‘Mythologising Frontier: Narrative Versions of the Rufus River Conﬂict, 1841–1899’, Journal of Australian Studies, 23 (1999), 75–82; Robert Foster, Rick Hosking and Amanda Nettelbeck, Fatal Collisions: The South Australian Frontier and the Violence of Memory (Adelaide: Wakeﬁeld Press, 2001), pp. 29–43. ‘Despatch from Mr Eyre’, 3. Lester and Dussart, ‘Masculinity, “Race”, and Family in the Colonies’. Eyre’s views were to change by the 1850s: Hall, Civilising Subjects, 56; Julie Evans, Edward Eyre: Race and Colonial Governance (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2005).
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
century, a ‘space of troc [barter] that existed simultaneously with the emerging codes of modern visuality’.53 As his drawings were ‘translated’ into prints they became detached from their original contingency and particularity, becoming caricatures: their referentiality has been displaced by their symbolic value.54 Similarly, his personal memoirs lost their speciﬁcity to his own experience when they were re-written as popular semi-ﬁction and published as ‘reminiscences’. These shifts in format and genre shaped audience responses, as I explore further. Hamilton’s detailed and delicate drawings of conﬂict produced around 1846, soon after the Rufus River clash, sometimes showed violence in relatively objective terms, such as his ink drawing ‘Overlanders Attacking the Natives’, which suggests an even-handed view of this exchange (Figure 2.4). Even ‘Natives Spearing the Overlanders’ Cattle’ (Figure 2.5), while showing Aboriginal people as aggressors, remains relatively neutral. Although Hamilton was not skilled in depicting the human form, the people in these drawings are individuals rather than caricatures. Neither of these drawings shows Aboriginal people as aggressors against whites – although obviously they are ‘provoking’ settlers by attacking their cattle. However, during the 1840s, Hamilton began to produce less sympathetic images, whose pointed meaning was enhanced by their format. A series of lithographs from the late 1840s have lost the quality of realist observation and descended into caricature. These show Aboriginal people in stereotypical terms, as aggressive and savage, attacking peaceful settlers, with ironic titles such as ‘The Harmless Natives’ (Figure 2.6), or ‘The Persecuting White Men’ (Figure 2.7). Their cartoon-like quality is emphasized by their reproducibility, circulated as sets across the empire, and published in British centres such as Dublin.55 Here Hamilton directs our empathy from black to white. This shift in tone aligned with broader social and political developments, as the humanitarian sentiment of the 1830s underwent profound challenge both in England and in the colonies during the 1840s and 1850s, pitting popular and political ﬁgures such as Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens against the (British) humanitarian lobby, sneeringly referred to as ‘Exeter Hall’. By the 1850s, Hamilton lamented that 53 54
S. Bann, Parallel Lines: Printmakers, Painters and Photographers in Nineteenth-Century France (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), p. 11. This process has been explored with respect to Holocaust imagery, for example see Barbie Zelizer, Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera’s Eye (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). The British Museum holds an album of these prints titled ‘Colonial Sketches’ printed by Dublin lithographer Edward J. Harty. Museum number 2016,2033.1.g. I thank Mary McMahon for advising me about these holdings.
Figure 2.4 George Hamilton, ‘Overlanders Attacking the Natives’, V/89: Ink drawing, signed G. Hamilton, 1846. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, V/89.
Figure 2.5 George Hamilton, ‘Natives Spearing the Overlanders’ Cattle’, V/88: Ink drawing. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, V/88.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
Figure 2.6 George Hamilton, ‘The Harmless Natives’, Lithographs by G Hamilton, [1846–1856]. Lithographed and published by Penman and Galbraith Pirie Street Adelaide. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales. The Chadbands of Exeter Hall, after having greased their wheels with ham and eggs and buttered toast, will set their sympathetic benevolent heads together and weep over the sorrows of the black brute, who, by-the-bye, has no sorrows except those he himself creates; and turn their backs upon their white brethren who are, from poverty, neglect, and vicious teaching, fast falling into a savagedom far more frightful, but not so sentimental, as the ignorant pagan black monster who creates so much sympathy in certain civilized societies.56
In this tirade, Hamilton is directly quoting the argument made by Charles Dickens in his 1853 novel Bleak House, that evangelicals are hypocritical because their ‘telescopic philanthropy’ focuses on faraway blacks at the expense of those deserving and neglected closest to them (as explored further in Chapter 4). In Bleak House, the greasy Chadband preaches at the starving waif Jo the crossing-sweep instead of helping him, a caricature of hypocrisy and misdirected philanthropy. Hamilton explicitly applied ‘telescopic philanthropy’ to the colonies, to argue for racial 56
Hamilton, A Journey from Port Phillip to South Australia in 1839, 21.
Figure 2.7 George Hamilton, ‘The Persecuting White men’, DL PX 133/1–3: Lithographs published by Penman and Galbraith Pirie Street Adelaide. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.
loyalty, and against what he suggested was misplaced sympathy for Indigenous people. In his June 1845 Adelaide to Melbourne journal he stated, ‘tonight we have to be on the alert on account of the blacks in this neighbourhood having a propensity to spearing horses and my friends are loading their ﬁrearms’. In a plea for sympathy for the white victims of black violence, Hamilton wrote that ‘the aggregate number of murders committed by the natives of Australia since 1836 would astonish many persons in England who advocate the Black man’s cause’, and claimed that ‘there is not a tribe of blacks from Moreton Bay to Swan River but what is guilty of some wanton act of bloodshed on the unoffending white man’.57 His later, retrospective view imposes ‘telescopic philanthropy’ upon the frontier dynamics he ﬁrst experienced directly. By the time Hamilton’s ﬁctionalized account was published in 1880, as Experiences of a Colonist Forty Years Ago, he had made other signiﬁcant 57
Hamilton, ‘Adelaide to Melbourne, June 4–26 1845’, in The Journal of an Overlander, 13–14.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
changes to the original texts. In its exaggerations and additions, Hamilton’s reminiscences express a retrospective, bowdlerized version of relations between black and white, and between different social classes; they reﬂect signiﬁcant shifts in race relations that had taken place during the intervening years, and the elision of memory expressed in his growing triumphalism. We can see this later account as a textual re-enactment, set in the past, yet coloured by more recent social changes. Like all representation, his reminiscences are a narrative composed in reiteration – heightened by the intervening period of forty years between events and book.58 Hamilton’s Preface noted that ‘so long a time has passed since some of the events here represented have taken place, that doubts may be entertained respecting the accuracy of the author’s recollections’, but reassured the reader that his ‘memory has been assisted by stray notes occasionally met with and hasty sketches of bygone scenes found in small sketch-books stowed away in almost forgotten corners, the leaves of which are much dog-eared and smeared, and the drawings more or less distinct’.59 Love of War Nonetheless, Hamilton’s embellishments after forty years magnify his views, especially regarding the social categories of class and masculinity. From the start, Hamilton’s ﬁctionalized reminiscence is structured by the profound difference between the convicts (given names such as ‘Slushy’, ‘Long Bill’, and ‘Snob’), and the master – obviously representing Hamilton himself, whom he describes as ‘a young man, barely twenty years of age, born and bred a gentleman. He had emigrated to Australia for the purpose of working his way in the world, and gaining for himself an independence. He was strong, active, and good tempered; of a mild disposition, but determined character’.60 This conﬂation of class and masculinity echoes Grey’s 1841 description of the Overlander, which noted that The Overlanders are generally descended from good families, have received a liberal education (Etonians and Oxonians are to be found amongst them) and even at their ﬁrst start in the colonies were possessed of what is considered an independence. Their grandfathers and fathers have been men distinguished in the land and sea service of their country; and these worthy scions of the ancient stock,
58 59 60
Rebecca Schneider, Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Re-enactment (London: Routledge, 2011). Hamilton, Experiences of a Colonist Forty Years ago, preface, unpaginated. Hamilton, Experiences of a Colonist Forty Years Ago, 6.
Love of War
ﬁnding no outlet for their enterprise and love of adventure at home, have sought it in a distant land.61
Grey epitomizes the links between colonialism and British notions of masculinity, and particularly the equation of violence against Aboriginal people with white heroism, in writing that The ﬁerce and deadly contests which at times take place with the natives, when two or three hardy Europeans stand opposed to an apparently overwhelming majority of blacks, call for a large share of personal courage and decision; whilst the savage yells and diabolic whoops of the barbarians in their onsets, their fantastically painted forms, their quivering spears, their contortions, and shifting of their bodies, and their wild leaps, attach a species of romance to these encounters which affords plentiful matter for after-meditation. As the love of war, of gaming, or of any other species of violent excitement, grows upon the mind from indulgence, so does the love of roving grow upon the Overlanders.62
Like Mundy, Hamilton reproduced the old world social order in colonial terms. He also asserted his own masculinity by infantilizing the convicts and subordinating Indigenous masculinity to the strength and bravery of white men, in ways typical of white men on the frontier, as I have noted already. However, in addition, Hamilton displaced the fear of Aboriginal people on to the lower-class convicts, contrasted with his own equanimity and detachment. For example, the convict overseer hears ‘voices of the natives in the distance calling to each other’ and immediately jumps on his horse and gallops away, while the master calmly mounts his horse and joins the overseer at a walking pace.63 A further key shift in Hamilton’s account is from his earlier, relatively objective account of the Aboriginal people he encountered to a romanticizing, nostalgic ﬁgure of the noble ‘traditional’ Aboriginal. He adds a remarkable passage describing an encounter with several, whose ‘calm looks and a digniﬁed demeanour’ compared favourably with convicts, ‘who, notwithstanding their dirty garments and civilization, lacked the dignity of these sable lords of the wilderness’.64 This view was grounded in an opposition between the noble savage doomed to disappear and inauthentic younger generations, expressed neatly in the frontispiece images produced for Eyre’s two volume memoirs.65 By 1880, the now elderly colonist could afford to wax nostalgic about the people he had dispossessed. 61 62 63 65
Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery, 184. Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery. Hamilton, Experiences of a Colonist, 24. 64 Hamilton, Experiences of a Colonist, 37. Sari Braithwaite, Tom Gara and Jane Lydon, ‘From Moorundie to Buckingham Palace: Images of “King” Tenberry and His Son Warrulan, 1845–55,’ Journal of Australian Studies 35 (2011), 165–84.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
Conclusion During the 1830s, tensions between the impact of invasion and humanitarian critique were felt across the British colonies, and the insecurities prompted by Indigenous warfare were an important factor encouraging the formation of distinct settler identities. Through portraying colonists as victims of black savagery, but also through negative depictions of the weak and hypocritical humanitarian, shaped by metropolitan anti-slavery discourse, settlers deﬁned themselves as strong, resourceful and resolute. As the nineteenth century continued, this dynamic resurfaced on each new frontier, although with changing effects, as Chapter 6 explores further. As humanitarian sentiment confronted violent conquest, increasing emphasis on race underwrote the disparagement of the former; violence was eventually resolved by the increasingly repressive form of Indigenous governance constituted by apparatus of protection. In this way, Australian identity was forged in response to frontier violence as a defence and justiﬁcation. Debate regarding the nature and form of conﬂict entailed by colonization is now known as the Australian ‘history wars’, pitting those who assert a vision of peaceful settlement against those who argue for recognition of Indigenous dispossession and assimilation. This public dispute reached a climax around the turn of the millennium, as a prominent strand of critique focused on the forensic analysis of archival sources and estimates of numbers of casualties – a highly politicized historical discussion that aroused widespread public interest, including from the nation’s white male political leaders.66 However, some Aboriginal people expressed distaste for the mode in which this debate was conducted; they considered that its emphasis on disciplinary protocols was of less signiﬁcance than the moral implications of this history, and pointed out that Indigenous perspectives had been overlooked. Aboriginal writer Tony Birch, for example, suggested that the emphasis on forensic detail evaded a more important acknowledgement of the truth, commenting, ‘And we know – viewers, community, and nation. And how do we respond to this knowledge? We ‘wage a war’ around the footnote so that the waters of truth can be muddied enough that we can longer see our reﬂection’.67 While rigorous analysis of archival evidence and its status as proof continue to be important as a means to pursue justice, as Birch’s critique 66
Robert Manne, ed., Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle’s Fabrication of Aboriginal History (Melbourne: Black Inc. Publishing, 2003); Stuart Macintyre and Anna Clark, The History Wars (Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2003). Tony Birch, ‘“I Could Feel It in My Body”: War on a History War’, Transforming Cultures eJournal 1 (1), March (2006), 26, http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/TfC.
suggests, other aspects of the history of colonial conﬂict have been neglected. A key debate currently underway among Aboriginal people themselves concerns the most appropriate way to memorialize this past and its legacies in the present. For historians, there is also space for more nuanced, open-ended accounts of such historical processes, that acknowledge the impact of colonization on Aboriginal people, and address its moral implications in the present.68 Such acknowledgement entails recognizing our national blind spots: the historical denial or justiﬁcation of such effects, as well as their legacies in the present. As Chris Healy argued in his history of the cultural cycle of forgetting and remembering Aboriginal people, our selective recognition of national history has seemingly required us to overlook or deny certain aspects of the past.69 The more recent Australian ‘history wars’ focused on the courtroom, and forensic methods of counting casualties and weighing up the truth of the national past. By contrast with these debates, the images examined here help us ‘see’ our historical blind spots, and challenge those who seek to diminish or dismiss the impact of invasion upon Aboriginal people, by returning us to the emotional and moral intensity of 1830s and 1840s frontier violence in south-eastern Australia. Images express the anger, fear and compassion felt by white colonists, and demonstrate the ways that these emotions were politicized to legitimate colonial interests, by aligning viewers with white colonists, or seeking to evoke compassion for Aboriginal people. Colonial feelings of hate, contempt, and fear had the effect of diminishing and distancing Aboriginal people via opposing emotional regimes that countered humanitarian ‘Exeter Hall’ attempts to arouse empathy toward them. Where these two remarkable 1838 images express opposed positions within the affective economy of frontier conﬂict, Hamilton’s larger and more complex body of work traces a shift from experience to remembrance over the course of the nineteenth century, as his delicate and precise records of the border zones, at ﬁrst exuberant and curious, were reproduced, caricatured and re-contextualized to become stereotypes showing Aboriginal people as primitive and aggressive attackers of the ‘unoffending white man’; the real terror and ambivalence of the 1840s was displaced by the logic of progress and colonial achievement. Hamilton’s personal memories of the colony’s early days were elided to produce a narrative of colonialism in which distinctions of race, class and 68
See, for example, Brook Andrew and Jessica Neath, ‘Walking on Bones’, in Lydon and Ryan, Remembering Myall Creek; Katrina Schlunke, Bluff Rock: Autobiography of a Massacre (Perth: Fremantle Press, 2005), pp. 130–60. Chris Healy, Forgetting Aborigines (Sydney: NewSouth Press, 2008), p. 9.
Colonial ‘Blind Spots’
gender were naturalized, deﬁning a hierarchical view of society with himself at its apex. As they were reproduced and circulated across the empire, Hamilton’s images deﬁned speciﬁc objects of empathy, such as the brave and manly colonist in contrast to the inferior Indigenous man. Yet against Hamilton’s own triumphalist intentions, his complex body of images help us recover the emotional and moral uncertainties of those early years and their shifting circulation and reception. In these affective ways, images of frontier violence map the blind spots of colonialism, revealing the contemporary politics of emotion and its justiﬁcation of invasion and violence. From our present-day perspective they help us to see our ‘reﬂection’, and acknowledge the truth of our history and its legacies.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-selling anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly (1852), had an enormous impact on the abolitionist debate in America leading up to the American Civil War. From its publication, and throughout the twentieth century, the novel’s powerful affective charge crossed national and cultural borders, despite radically different social and historical contexts of reception. Australian audiences retained considerable sympathy for UTC’s depiction of slavery, even as satirical and burlesque versions proliferated in America. However such audiences generally failed to recognize the parallels between the plight of African American slaves, and of Indigenous Australians, and the assaults sanctioned by contemporary cultural prejudice against black people. Premised on the domestic ideal of a safe home and family ties, Stowe’s narrative both evoked empathy for slaves and their brutal illtreatment, at the same time that it underpinned assimilation policies premised on separating Indigenous children from their families. This paradox is especially evident via the novel’s Australian reception over the second half of the nineteenth century, where Stowe’s vivid language of slavery in the form of ﬂogging, chains, the grief caused by child removal and brutal physical treatment was invoked by humanitarians to protest the extremes of Aboriginal illtreatment, at the same time that the sentimental ideology of the home justiﬁed the conﬁnement of Aboriginal people on reserves, and the destruction of families under assimilation policies now termed the Stolen Generations. UTC is credited with playing a signiﬁcant cultural role in directing public opinion against the Fugitive Slave Act and against the spread of slavery into the territories in the lead up to the American Civil War. As popular myth has it, when Stowe met President Abraham Lincoln, he shook her by the hand, and said, ‘So you’re the little woman who wrote 77
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
the book that made this big war!’1 The book sold 300,000 copies in its ﬁrst year, becoming the most famous novel of the nineteenth century. London’s Morning Chronicle called it ‘the book of the day,’ its popularity ‘a thing unparalleled in bookselling annals’. Already by December 1852, reviewers referred to the ‘Tom-mania’ that had overtaken ‘the mob’, as the novel’s commodiﬁcation took the form of stage performances, songbooks, ornaments, dolls and even wallpaper. 2 UTC exempliﬁes the power of the bestseller to create an ‘imperial commons’, or shared print culture, as it was translated into diverse cultural, linguistic and social contexts.3 Stowe also visited England in 1853, with the effect of uniting abolitionists and re-awakening an interest in slavery. For British readers, UTC had ‘the charm of freshness when displaying a state of society which is sufﬁciently removed from our own to be new yet not so remote as to be strange’. From its publication and up to the present day, the novel’s powerful message of equality and humanitarian sentiment has made an impact upon diverse audiences around the globe.4 The narrative’s themes of injustice, escape from oppression and human rights were ﬂuidly interpreted across national and cultural borders, and multiple versions were applied to diverse situations across Europe, for example in attacking slavery in Brazil, and in a Yiddish version performed in New York in 1900. Over time, however, changing reading practices and shifts in social attitudes toward African-Americans produced radical alterations to its form and meaning, and in the United States by the 1890s its political and religious messages were softened for mainstream audiences.5 Through a range of literary strategies, Stowe brought the slave experience alive for her readers. The novel opens with the threatened sale of 1 2
Charles Edward Stowe, Harriet Beecher Stowe: The Story of Her Life (Boston: Houghton Mifﬂin, 1911), p. 203. Audrey A. Fisch, ‘Exhibiting Uncle Tom in Some Shape or Other’: The Commodiﬁcation and Reception of Uncle Tom’s Cabin in England’, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 17 (1993), 145–58, doi:10.1080/08905499308583369; Sarah Meer, Uncle Tom Mania: Slavery, Minstrelsy, and Transatlantic Culture in the 1850s (University of Georgia Press, 2005); In Britain, a million and a half copies were sold in the ﬁrst year alone: Cindy Weinstein, ‘Introduction’, in Cindy Weinstein (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. xii. Burton and Hofmeyr, Ten Books. Claire Parfait, The Publishing History of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852–2002, (Aldershot, Hampshire, UK; Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2007); and see contributions to Weinstein, The Cambridge Companion. David S. Reynolds, Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America (New York: W.W. Norton, 2011); Barbara Hochman, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Reading Revolution: Race, Literacy, Childhood, and Fiction, 1851–1911 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2011).
Introduced to Australia
Eliza’s four-year-old son to the cruel slave-dealer Haley – and her determined ﬂight to freedom. With Haley at her heels, and clasping her baby to her breast, Eliza makes an astonishing escape across the ice-ﬂoe-covered Ohio River, taking a desperate leap – impossible to anything but madness and despair; and Haley, Sam, and Andy, instinctively cried out, and lifted up their hands, as she did it. The huge green fragment of ice on which she alighted pitched and creaked as her weight came on it, but she staid there not a moment. With wild cries and desperate energy she leaped to another and still another cake; stumbling – leaping – slipping – springing upwards again! Her shoes are gone – her stockings cut from her feet – while blood marked every step; but she saw nothing, felt nothing, till dimly, as in a dream, she saw the Ohio side, and a man helping her up the bank. ‘Yer a brave gal, now, whoever ye ar!’ said the man, with an oath.6
Despite this moment of triumph, and the novel’s redemptive conclusion, which re-unites Eliza’s family, the obscenity of parting a mother and her child is evoked again and again in the novel, each individual story an attack on the ‘peculiar institution’. While the substantial ﬁeld of UTC studies has criticized the stereotypical and even racist nature of much of the novel, many have traced its concrete historical and political impact in moving audiences and generating popular support for anti-slavery campaigns.7 The visual culture that sprang up around the novel shaped public perceptions through prints and paintings, illustrations in various editions of the book, advertisements for stage productions, paintings of favourite scenes and even sheet music for Tom-inspired songs.8 The theatrical mode of blackface minstrelsy offered a major vehicle for the narrative. Introduced to Australia Australian readers were given a taste of the book at Christmas time 1852, through an extract in which a mother was cruelly separated from her only
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly, (Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, 2006 ), chapter VII ‘The Mother’s Struggle’. Accessed http://www.gutenberg.org/ﬁles/203/203-h/203-h.htm. See, for example, Reynolds, Mightier Than the Sword; Fisch, ‘Exhibiting Uncle Tom’; Meer, Uncle Tom Mania; Hochman, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Weinstein, The Cambridge Companion. Parfait, The Publishing History; Richard Waterhouse, ‘The Minstrel Show and Australian Culture’, Journal of Popular Culture 24 (1990), 147–66; Jo-Ann Morgan, Uncle Tom’s Cabin as Visual Culture, (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2007); Maurie D. McInnis, Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); Meer, Uncle Tom Mania.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
remaining child at a slave auction. This lengthy passage effectively demonstrates the novel’s ﬂavour: the auctioneer, a short, bustling, important fellow, elbowed his way into the crowd. The old woman drew in her breath, and caught instinctively at her son. ‘Keep close to yer mammy, Albert, – close, – dey’ll put us up togedder,’ she said. ‘O, mammy, I’m feard they won’t,’ said the boy. ‘Dey must, child; I can’t live, no ways, if they don’t’ said the old creature, vehemently.9
But the child, with his ‘ﬁne ﬁgure, alert limbs, and bright face’ was quickly sold away, and The poor victims of the sale, who had been brought up in one place together for years, gathered round the despairing old mother, whose agony was pitiful to see. ‘Couldn’t dey leave me one? Mas’r allers said I should have one, – he did,’ she repeated over and over, in heart-broken tones. ‘Trust in the Lord, Aunt Hagar,’ said the oldest of the men, sorrowfully. ‘What good will it do?’ said she, sobbing passionately. ‘Mother, mother, – don’t! don’t!’ said the boy. ‘They say you’s got a good master.’ ‘I don’t care, – I don’t care. O, Albert! oh, my boy! You’s my last baby. Lord, how ken I?’ ‘Come, take her off, can’t some of ye?’ said Haley, dryly; ‘don’t do no good for her to go on that ar way.’ The old men of the company, partly by persuasion and partly by force, loosed the poor creature’s last despairing hold, and, as they led her off to her new master’s wagon, strove to comfort her. ‘Now!’ said Haley, pushing his three purchases together, and producing a bundle of handcuffs, which he proceeded to put on their wrists; and fastening each handcuff to a long chain, he drove them before him to the jail.10
But the ﬁrst major review available to Australians, reprinted from the conservative Times of London, savaged the novel for its exaggeration and emotional excess, as well as its argument for abolition. Instead, the Times argued for the gradual and voluntary reform of slavery from within.11 Unusually for the period, the ﬁrst edition was illustrated, with Stowe’s Boston publishers John J. Jewett commissioning six full-page engravings and a small cover vignette from local illustrator Hammatt Billings, and the Times reviewer considered the author’s ‘extreme views’ to be signalled by Billings’ introductory image. This depicted the humble but cosy slave cabin with black mother and three small children awaiting their father 9 10 11
Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Chapter XII ‘Select Incident of Lawful Trade’. Reviews appeared quickly, for example in Empire, 6 November 1852, p. 1; The Courier, 15 December 1852, p. 3. Empire, 25 December 1852, p. 6.
Introduced to Australia
home from the ﬁelds, in a scene of domestic harmony (Figure 3.1). The reviewer wrote, ‘The object of the work is revealed in the pictorial frontispiece. Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe is an abolitionist, and her book is a vehement and unrestrained argument in favour of her creed’. He continued, Horrors in connexion with slavery – itself a horror – unquestionably exist but all accounts – save her own, and those of writers actuated by her extreme views – concur in describing the general condition of the southern slave as one of comparative happiness and comfort, such as many a free man in the united kingdom (sic) might regard with envy.12
This argument, premised on the contrast between slave rights and white worker rights, was as old as the anti-slavery movement itself.13 He savaged the novel as ‘absolute and audacious trash’ for the unlikely virtue of Tom and his success in converting other slaves to Christianity, and questioned its effect on ‘foolish’ readers, asking ‘What becomes of the judgment under such an ordeal, if the intellect be weak and the heart be strong? . . . it is easy enough for an artist to delineate fear by painting a man with staring eyes, open mouth, and hair on end. Truth however, demands more delicate dealing’. Painting a picture of ﬁnancial excess, he noted that ‘the authoress has already received from her publishers the sum of $10,300 as her copy-right premium on three months’ sales of the work’, believed to be ‘the largest sum of money ever received by any author, either American or European, from the sales of a single work in so short a period of time’. However, its ‘gravest fault’ was that by ‘excit[ing] the passions of their readers in favour of their philanthropic schemes’ such narratives would create dissension and anarchy amongst the states, and ultimately civil war.14 A strong rebuke to the Times followed a few days later from the Liverpool Mercury, asserting that ‘We will venture to say that no book in any language, on its publication, drew so many virtuous tears – tears, moreover, that we trust will not have been shed in vain. Those tears are drops of living liquid ﬁre, branding the foreheads of the American slaveholders, and of their guilty supporters.’15 This was the public verdict too, as 12 13
Times, 3 December 1852. This contrast constituted an enduring tension in Anglo-American relations. Wendy F. Hamand, ‘“No Voice from England”: Mrs. Stowe, Mr. Lincoln, and the British in the Civil War’, The New England Quarterly, 61 (1) (1988) 3–24; David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (Oxford, 2006), p. 304; Seymour Drescher, ‘Cart Whip and Billy Roller: Or Antislavery and Reform Symbolism in Industrializing Britain’, Journal of Social History, 15 (1) (Autumn 1981), 3. Times, 3 December 1852. Liverpool Mercury, 7 September 1852, republished Empire, 31 December 1852, p. 4.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
Figure 3.1 Hammatt Billings, frontispiece in Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly, A 1852 .S76 U4 v.2. Special Collections, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.
indicated by the novel’s tremendous and lasting popularity. The book’s narrative and its characters became absorbed into popular culture in large part because of its translation into staged performances. During the
The Politics of Empathy
1880s, between twenty and ﬁfty companies toured America each year, and during the 1890s there were more than 500 tours per year. Such performances reworked the plot and characters to satisfy local predispositions – such as the 1850s minstrel skits performed in the old south that showed happy slaves, including Uncle Tom and Topsy. David Reynold traces the novel’s popularity in America over following decades, from the intense enthusiasm of the Civil War years, its gradual dilution via spectacular and comic adaptations during Reconstruction, and eventual displacement by the romantic antebellum South depicted in Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel, Gone with the Wind, during the twentieth century.16 The Politics of Empathy Despite its popularity, the novel and its sentimental strategies have always had their critics. Charles Dickens was one notable contemporary reader who disliked Stowe’s book on the grounds of its admiration for black people, and I argue that his novel Bleak House constituted a riposte to her ‘picture of ebony perfection’. Bleak House expressed the mid-nineteenth century ‘backlash’ against anti-slavery feeling, and furnished a colonial allegory that encouraged contempt for non-white people, as I explore in Chapter 4. Others attacked Stowe’s racist stereotypes and exaggerations, and their literary effects. African American campaigner Frederick Douglass was probably ﬁrst to use the term ‘Uncle Tom’ as a pejorative epithet denoting a passive and subservient black man. Stowe applied a form of racial essentialism that George Frederickson termed ‘romantic racialism’, assigning positive racial differences such as an amenability to Christianity and love of family to her black slave characters.17 The reception of UTC also tells us much about the politics of sentimental reading – and ultimately, of empathy. Famously, in 1949, the African American civil rights campaigner and novelist James Baldwin attacked the novel on several grounds: ﬁrst, and foreshadowing more recent attention to the cultural construction of Whiteness, according to Baldwin the violence Stowe depicts leaves unanswered the question, ‘what it was, after all, that 16 17
Reynolds, Mightier Than the Sword. George M. Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817–1914 (New York: Harper and Row, 1971). Stowe’s strategies are also discussed by Kenneth Warren, Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism (University of Chicago, 1993); Kenneth Warren, ‘The Afterlife of Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, in Weinstein, The Cambridge Companion, pp. 219–34.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
moved her people to such deeds’.18 Baldwin also condemned UTC’s ‘sentimentality’ as ‘the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion’ that actually concealed a ‘secret and violent inhumanity’. In this criticism he anticipated more recent debates regarding the novel’s powerful emotional tactics and the politics of empathy. Lauren Berlant is prominent within a body of scholars who, in seeking to explore the politicization of empathy, have drawn on the novel to argue that empathy masks a shameful complicity with oppressive practices. As she points out, compassion and other such emotions merely describe a relationship, with an emphasis on the person who is feeling – yet such emotions are enmeshed in power relations, and are often implicated in continuing inequalities.19 For example, Saidiya Hartman has queried the effects of such relationships across boundaries of race, class and gender, arguing that attempts to empathize with the slave through representation result in the occlusion of her subjectivity, as the white viewer’s own experience determines the racial limits of imaginative identiﬁcation.20 As Berlant suggests, UTC is a ‘master sign or supertext’, that provides ‘an archive people come to out of a political optimism . . . that an aesthetic work can be powerful enough to move the people who read it into identifying against their own interests’.21 Although acknowledging the ‘radical threat and the great promise of this affective aesthetic’, Berlant expresses the concern that passive readerly empathy actually prevents social transformation, and that the reiﬁcation of ‘affect-saturated institutions (like the nation and the family)’ as solutions to ‘structural racial, sexual, or intercultural antagonism’, is merely ‘sentimental politics’ that ultimately is ‘as likely to justify ongoing forms of domination as to give form and language to impulses toward resistance’.22 Berlant’s critique echoes a mistrust of the humanitarian narrative that dates back to at least the eighteenth century: this strand of analysis has pointed to sentimental effects such 18
20 21 22
James Baldwin, ‘Everybody’s Protest Novel’, in Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay (eds.), The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (New York: Norton, 1997 ), p. 1654. Lauren Berlant, ‘Introduction: Compassion (and Withholding)’ in Lauren Berlant (ed.), Compassion: The Culture and Politics of an Emotion, (New York and London: Routledge, 2004), pp. 1–13. See also Lauren Berlant, ‘Poor Eliza’, American Literature, 70 (1998), 635–68. Saidiya Hartman, Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery and Self-Making in NineteenthCentury America (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). Berlant, ‘Poor Eliza’, 638. Lauren Berlant, The Female Complaint: The Unﬁnished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), pp. 33–67.
as titillating or anaesthetizing the viewer, leaving the status quo unchanged.23 More recently, however, several scholars have argued that readerly empathy and its political effects may be more complex than this. Julie Ellison, for example, rebuts Berlant’s sceptical position and her ‘decontextualised deployment’ of the novel, by comparing Stowe’s sympathetic text with the position of contemporary pro-slavery writers such as Louise S. McCord, reminding us of UTC’s radical impact on anti-slavery debates.24 Tellingly, Cindy Weinstein argues that sceptical analyses tend to assume that sympathy ‘has the same homogenizing meaning, the same stultifying and baleful effect, the same mode of production, regardless of the context in which it is cultivated, extended and received’. In these critiques, sympathy becomes structurally equivalent to the appropriations of slavery, rather than being seen as a speciﬁc deployment or a stage in a process.25 This debate suggests that sentimental narratives cannot be judged ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but must be closely contextualized within contemporary politics. Aboriginal Reception How did Australians apply the story and its moral lessons to their own lives? Like other popular Anglophone literary works within the imperial commons, UTC loomed large in Australia through its imperial circulation and re-working, both reinforcing British ties at the same time as applying their message to local circumstances. The many musical and theatrical adaptations of the text enlarged its Aboriginal audiences, in a powerful process of transformation and re-telling that, as adaptation studies have shown, is central to the cultural imagination.26 Many contemporary readers recognized Stowe’s strategies of exaggeration, typiﬁcation and binaries – just as we do in the present – yet chose to suspend disbelief and accept her message, sympathizing with her slave characters 23
24 25 26
Halttunen, ‘Humanitarianism’; for sceptical analyses of nineteenth century sentimental texts, see also Amy Kaplan, ‘Manifest Domesticity’, American Literature 70 (1998), 581–606. Ann Jurecic suggests that ‘[f]or scholars trained in what Paul Ricoeur called the hermeneutics of suspicion [and] a critical culture highly attuned to asymmetrical power relations, empathy is not a sanctioned response to literature’: Ann Jurecic ‘Empathy and the Critic’, College English, 74 (2011), 10–27, quotation p. 27. Ellison, Cato’s Tears, 69. Weinstein, Family, Kinship and Sympathy, 3; see also Michele Wallace, Dark Designs and Visual Culture, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), pp. 268–9. Kylie Mirmohamadi and Susan K. Martin, Colonial Dickens: What Australians Made of the World’s Favourite Writer (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2012), p. 2; Hofmeyr, The Portable Bunyan; Linda Hutcheon, A Theory of Adaptation (London: Routledge, 2012).
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and the abolitionist cause. Theatrical adaptations of UTC immediately sprang up: by early 1853, the novel had been dramatized for Australian audiences and was ‘very popular at our minor theatres’, becoming the most accessible form of the story and only increasing in popularity. It subsequently became the most frequently performed play of nineteenthcentury Australia, especially after the ﬁrst African American productions were staged, from 1878.27 Richard Waterhouse explores the popularity of the minstrel show in Australia, showing that where from the 1860s American audiences ‘abandoned plantation themes’ and ridiculed slaves as happy, if ludicrous ﬁgures of fun, in Australia, there remained considerable interest in and sympathy for slavery. No doubt this reﬂected distance from American circumstances – and continuing Australian alignment with British abolitionist sentiment, which persisted, if in diluted form, well past the movement’s 1830s climax. Yet Waterhouse notes that toward the end of the century, Australia’s increasing racialism expressed growing intolerance and exclusion. For example, opposition to Chinese immigration and competition on the goldﬁelds were invoked in UTC performances when a planter bid for Cassy’s mother and said, ‘Guess she’ll be better than a Chinaman, anyhow.’28 As had happened much earlier in the United States, by the 1890s, the moral lessons of UTC had been forgotten in burlesque versions focusing on the clownish ﬁgure of Topsy. In this way, UTC, like other popular performances, was adjusted to meet changing political views and cultural prejudices. However for some, UTC retained its moralizing power. An early Australian reader was the Tasmanian Aboriginal activist Mary Ann Cochrane, daughter of Tarenootairer, who, with her husband Walter George Arthur, had long campaigned for improved conditions for their people. In December 1853, the Tasmanian steamer Culloden made a ‘pleasure trip’ from Hobart to the Aboriginal settlement at Oyster Cove, where the day-trippers were greeted by ‘the Queen’, Mary Ann, aged about thirty. The Hobart pleasure-seekers observed that, ‘Mary Ann, it appears can read with ﬂuency, and asked for books. She wanted “something lively”. She had read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and pronounced 27
Bathurst Free Press and Mining News, 15 January 1853, p. 4; Lyn Innes, ‘“No Man Is an Island”: National Literary Canons, Writers and Readers’, in Maeve McCusker and Anthony Soares (eds.), Islanded Identities: Constructions of Postcolonial Cultural Insularity, (Brill, 2011), p. 190; Melissa Bellanta, ‘Uncle Tom in the White Paciﬁc: AfricanAmerican Performances of the “Slave Sublime” in Late-Colonial Australasia’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 15(2014). https://muse.jhu.edu/article/562295. Waterhouse, ‘The Minstrel Show’; Bellanta, ‘Uncle Tom in the White Paciﬁc’; Fiona Paisley and Jane Lydon, Introduction, ‘Australia and Anti-Slavery’, Australian Historical Studies, 45 (2014), 1–12.
it “very much true.” Books were promised her.’29 When Mary Ann spoke of the ‘truthfulness’ of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she showed that she participated in a global community of readers, gripped by the sentimental narrative of slavery in the United States. Mary Ann was already familiar with ideas about rights and freedom, and humanitarians and ofﬁcials had long drawn an analogy between slavery and the treatment of the Tasmanians. Mary Ann and her husband had effectively protested against the authoritarian management of Dr. Henry Jeanneret, drawing on the language of rights and slavery to argue that they were a ‘free people’, and that ‘we do not like to be his slaves nor wish our poor country to be treated badly or made slaves of’.30 The novel’s theme of separating families must have resonated with Mary Ann, whose husband Walter George Arthur, of the Ben Lomond tribe in north-eastern Tasmania, was separated from his kin ‘in unknown circumstances’.31 No doubt, when Mary Ann declared UTC’s tale of oppression and violence ‘very much true’, she was speaking from her experience as a black woman. Like African American consumers of the novel, Mary Ann was an ‘unintended reader’, product of the democratization of literacy whose ‘literary eavesdropping could lead to stunningly vibrant political insights’.32 While a signiﬁcantly different context, it is important to note that the African American literary tradition also owed much to the ‘historical practice of repetition and revision’, including the re-workings of texts from the Western canon from the perspective of black experience.33 Australian Indigenous communities also developed their own cultures of reading and writing, entailing interplay between their own social protocols and British practices of literacy.34 The emphasis upon literacy within Australian Aboriginal missions, in particular, produced new communities of Indigenous readers who participated in the complex mediality that constituted the imperial commons, including music, print culture and its rich visual culture. On Maloga Mission, on Yorta Yorta and Bangerang Country in New South Wales, Aboriginal people such as William Cooper demanded rights through petitions and letter campaigns, while doubtless the community would 29 30 31
32 33 34
Colonial Times, 6 December 1853, p. 2. Henry Reynolds, Fate of a Free People (Ringwood: Penguin Books, 1995). Henry Reynolds, ‘Arthur, Walter George (1820–1861)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, 2005), http://adb.anu.edu.au/bio graphy/arthur-walter-george-12775/text23047. Wexler, Tender Violence, 102; Hack, Reaping Something New. Henry Louis Gates, The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). Penny van Toorn, Writing Never Arrives Naked: Early Aboriginal Cultures of Writing in Australia (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2006).
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
have read missionary Daniel Matthews’ annual reports, and articles such as Catherine Impey’s radical London-based magazine Anti-Caste, attacking racial prejudice across the British Empire and the United States.35 The Maloga community also hosted a visit from Loudin’s Fisk Jubilee Singers in 1887, among the ﬁrst African American performers of black religious music to visit Australia and New Zealand. These travelling performances comprised primarily UTC plays and jubilee concerts – highly sentimental expressions of slave suffering that were extremely popular with mainstream Australasian audiences, who knew that each member of the choir was a former slave or direct descendant. Australian audiences also subscribed to the ‘romantic racialism’ popularized by UTC, or what Melissa Bellanta terms the ‘slave sublime’, which suggested that African slaves ‘responded to the hardship of their bondage with intense spirituality and emotion, and through this means were ultimately able to transcend their suffering’.36 After the Singers’ visit, the missionaries trained the Aboriginal residents to sing some of their songs, believing that complex and emotionally uplifting part-singing would have a ‘civilizing effect’. Fifty years later, the famous Cumeragunja choir was performing Yorta Yorta translations of these songs, and they are still sung today.37 The emergence of lantern slide performances as a dominant form of popular entertainment, education and reform during the late nineteenth century also helped UTC to become accessible to Aboriginal audiences. In 1905, the Reverend Archer Harris gave a ‘magic lantern exhibition’ of the story to Bandjalung residents of the Grafton Aborigines’ Home. The scenes Harris showed ‘seemed to interest his audience very much’, wrote the reporter, who commented, ‘it is curious to note the effect a scene of a sad nature will engender upon them’. Here the reporter applied Stowe’s simpliﬁed sentimental characterization to the Aboriginal audience, writing that ‘no people are kinder to one another than the much-despised Australian aborigines, whose extinction is in sight. Are there any who will say that there is not an element of sadness about the rapid passing away of these people?’38 The Grafton journalist’s romantic exaggeration of 35 36 37
Caroline Bressey, Empire, Race and the Politics of Anti-Caste (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013). Bellanta, ‘Uncle Tom in the White Paciﬁc’. Frederick Loudin, ‘Supplement’, in J.B.T. Marsh, The Story of the Jubilee Singers, Including Their Songs, with Supplement Containing an Account of Their Six Years’ Tour Around the World (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1903), pp. 140–1; Paul Pickering and Kate Bowan, Sounds of Liberty: Music, Radicalism and Reform in the Anglophone World, 1790–1914, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017), pp. 274–8, quotation p. 283. ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, Grafton Argus and Clarence River General Advertiser, Monday 28 August 1905, p. 2.
Aboriginal emotionality enhanced his pity for the Bandjalung, framed within the ‘dying race theory’, which, as noted in Chapter 1, is grounded in the basic paradox of mourning for what one has destroyed. Settler Reception However white settlers did not always think to make comparisons between American slaves and the grim situation of Australian Aboriginal people. Despite the continuation of frontier conﬂict and dispossession during the second half of the nineteenth century, and the implementation of assimilation policies, few colonists drew this analogy. During the novel’s early years, comparison was sometimes made between UTC’s slaves and white convicts, still so prominent in Tasmanian memory. One Hobart reviewer considered that UTC mirrored the ‘system once cherished in this colony’, in which the ‘same social evils which slavery inﬂicts upon the master, the same wrong which the master is tempted to inﬂict on the slave’ had been imposed upon convicts.39 Australians’ emotional response to American slavery generally formed a clear contrast with their indifference to Aboriginal people, as the journalist and campaigner Arthur Vogan noted during the 1930s, recalling how, When the martyred [missionary John] Gribble showed the Sydney public in 1887 what massacres of aborigines were taking place, and how child-slaves were sold for immoral purposes to Chinamen, the majority you belaud was weeping in the theatres over ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (I saw them!). But this public you believe in as inherently good would not take a step to suppress the horrors. So I investigated them myself; and published the facts in my ‘The Black Police’.40
The disjunction between these contrasting objects of sympathy was a result of the exclusion of Aboriginal people from settler conceptions of full humanity, in part by denigrating their emotional capacity, as well as hardening biological notions of race that assigned Aboriginal people the lowest rung of human taxonomies of difference. In broad terms, UTC was evoked in deﬁning Aboriginal conditions as ‘slavery’ only at moments of scandal, when the extreme brutality of working conditions, family separation or physical coercion could be rendered in stark and even spectacular terms. As acknowledgement of Aboriginal humanity emerged via activist reform during the twentieth century, the correlative deployment of UTC can be seen almost as an index of empathy. 39
Colonial Times, 23 April 1853, p. 2.
Western Champion, 27 January 1933, p. 13.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
Vogan’s novel, The Black Police, focused on the bloody reign of the Queensland native police force, and its central imagery was drawn from the American anti-slavery movement in the form of Greenleaf Whittier’s abolitionist poems and Stowe’s scenes of ﬂogging. Vogan himself had witnessed many brutalities, including a terrible ﬂogging of an Aboriginal woman while travelling through Queensland’s Channel Country in 1889. One of his characters felt ‘as if he had somehow descended into the slave countries of Mrs Beecher Stowe’, and that ‘all the horrors depicted by Mrs Beecher Stowe, all the sorrows sung of by the immortal Whittier, are rampant around me as I write’.41 Most powerfully, Vogan made central use of an immediately recognizable abolitionist visual symbol in a sensational image that stems directly from British versions of Stowe’s novel: the ﬂogged black woman. Both his lurid cover and an engraving within the text depicted a naked Aboriginal woman, Dina, being whipped by an Aboriginal man. Flogging was a prominent feature of UTC, subsequently implicated in salacious British discourse, and Vogan links the Queensland squatter’s sadistic enjoyment of whipping to moral depravity.42 Vogan’s novel sold well, but he complained that it had led to his professional ostracism and achieved little. Indeed, many readers seemed to ﬁnd his account old news, or ‘embellished’, and he was forced to defend his integrity. In Western Australia, where the pastoral frontier provoked interracial violence over the last decades of the nineteenth century, concern was crystallized by the outspoken Reverend John Brown Gribble during the 1880s, as Chapter 5 explores further. Gribble made constant use of the symbolism of slavery, including chains, whips and ﬂogging, and his accusations of slavery were taken up by supporters, especially in the eastern colonies, one of whom declared that the settlers in the district, some of whom appear from Mr. Gribble’s story to be of the real LEGREE stamp and to have equalled, if not exceeded him, in abominable cruelty. . . . we defy any reader of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ or of ‘Dred or the Dismal Swamp’ [Stowe’s second novel] to ﬁnd anything in those horribly realistic pages connected with cruelty to slaves that could excel or even equal the awful atrocities alleged by Mr. Gribble to have been committed, and are still being committed, with impunity in Western Australia.43
Jane Lydon, ‘The Bloody Skirt of Settlement: Arthur Vogan and Anti-Slavery in 1890s Australia’, Australian Historical Studies 45 (2014), 46–70; Mark Cryle, ‘“Australia’s Shadow Side”: Arthur Vogan and the Black Police’, Fryer Folios 4 (2009), 18–21. Ian Gibson, The English Vice: Beating, Sex and Shame in Victorian England and After (London: Duckworth, 1978). Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 14 July 1886, p. 4; Western Mail, 19 June 1886, p. 19.
Sentimentalism and Assimilation
Again, in 1904, reports of the ill-treatment of Aboriginal people in Western Australia’s north-west circulated across Australia and the empire. Practices such as arresting Aboriginal men, women and children for cattle-stealing, and transporting them on foot and in neck-chains across many thousands of kilometres prompted a Royal Commission inquiry into Aboriginal administration in Western Australia.44 Critics termed labour practices ‘Slavery in the north’, and claimed that they ‘equalled in cruelty anything described in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”’. Commentary from the cities of southern Australia – whose histories of frontier violence were now safely relegated to the past – began to deﬁne these Australian horrors in UTC terms.45 Gradually, during the interwar period, some observers began to argue for the acknowledgement of Aboriginal people and their ill-treatment, particularly in the ‘remote’ regions of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. New photomedia technologies allowed events in remote places to be witnessed by mass audiences around the world, and the sight of Aboriginal men in neck chains was framed within a long-standing British visual tradition associated with the abolition of slavery, and the emblem of the anti-slavery movement – the kneeling slave in chains, asking ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother?’ Activists across the country began to make use of the symbolic power of such imagery in campaigning against Indigenous ill-treatment.46 In 1923, campaigning newspapers such as the Truth signalled their outrage via headlines such as ‘Slavery in the North. UNCLE TOM’S CABIN UP-TO-DATE. Whips Crack, and Starvation Still Scourges’, and descriptions of labour practices, assault and the sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women framed in terms of Stowe’s text.47 Sentimentalism and Assimilation However, the perception of places such as the Grafton Aboriginal reserve as ‘Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins’ points to the ways that the ‘sentimentalization’ of the ideology of the private home made the institutions of assimilation possible. This sentimental domestic ideal made the values of white middle-class women central to the major institutions of cultural life, 44 45 46
Walter Edmund Roth, Royal Commission on the Condition of the Natives (Perth Government Printer, 1905), p. 130. Kalgoorlie Western Argus, 20 April 1899, p. 18; Gippsland Times, Thursday 9 February 1905, p. 2. Jane Lydon, The Flash of Recognition: Photography and the Emergence of Indigenous Rights (Sydney: New South Books, 2012); John Maynard, Fight for Liberty and Freedom: The Origins of Australian Aboriginal Activism (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2007), pp. 93–103. Truth, Saturday 16 June 1923, p. 11, and Saturday 8 September 1923, p. 5.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
Figure 3.2 George Washington Wilson, photographer, ‘An Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, 1892. Aberdeen University Special Collections.
and structured UTC’s narrative logic. However, this ideology also underpinned the institutions of assimilation with their ‘disciplinary intimacy’ – forms of loving, middle-class parental authority that replaced or complemented corporeal discipline at home or in school.48 The nuclear family provided the template for attempts to transform Aboriginal people and culture across the empire. Visions of Aboriginal domesticity were produced by the managers of missions and reserves as evidence of their success, supported by photographic evidence (Figure 3.2). The Aboriginal reality underlying this romantic view was exposed when critics of Aboriginal treatment drew upon UTC analogies to protest the removal of children from their families by force, under assimilation policies now known as the Stolen Generations. Such 48
Wexler, Tender Violence, 125. See also Joanne Tompkins, Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790–1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985).
Sentimentalism and Assimilation
responses emphasized the emotional cruelty of severing family ties, for example when a ‘disgusted resident’ of Windorah, in central west Queensland, wrote to a newspaper in 1905 to protest the actions of a pastoralist, whom he considered the ‘modern Simon Legree hero of this episode, as inhumane as an anything depicted in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”’ who removed a four-year-old girl ‘against the wishes of the mother, and in so doing was aided and abetted by those who are entrusted with the duty of protecting the aboriginal.’ At this time in Queensland, the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 (Qld) gave Protectors appointed in all districts enormous control over almost all aspects of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including the power to remove them to reserves.49 The writer stated, ‘I saw this mother both before and after the separation from her infant, and I do not envy the heart that failed to sympathise with her in her abandonment of grief.’50 Again, in January 1925, Grafton residents read of four children ‘Torn from Parents’, in ‘a matter that reads like a chapter from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” rather than an episode in democratic Australia in this year of grace 1925’.51 The Aborigines Protection Act 1909 (NSW) gave the Board the power to ‘assume full custody of the child of any aborigine’ if a court found there was neglect, but by 1915, they could take Aboriginal children from their homes without a court hearing. From 1912 to 1938, over 1,400 children – from an Indigenous population of fewer than 10,000 – were taken from their parents in New South Wales.52 In this case, unbeknownst to their parents, four children were removed by a police ofﬁcer, and white witnesses observed, Heartrending Scenes. This ofﬁcer’s instruction was to meet the children at the ferry; and thither they went, accompanied by their parents, who did not know that their little ones were to be taken away from them. The scene at the parting was heartrending, but the children were taken despite the protests and tears, and conveyed to Kempsey. The children were properly fed and clothed by their parents. There was a boy of 14, a girl of 13, and another child of six, and another of four.53
50 51 52
Henry Reynolds (ed.), Race Relations in Northern Queensland (Townsville: James Cook University 1993), pp. 20–24; Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 (61 Vic. No. 17), QGG, 16 December 1897, s.4, p. 1388. ‘Aboriginal Slavery’, Worker, Saturday 24 February 1900, p. 9. Northern Star, 8 January 1925, p. 4. Australian Human Rights Commission 2009, History of the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, Sydney, www.humanrights.gov.au/time line-history-separation-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-children-their-families-text (Accessed 1 November 2017). The Richmond River Express and Casino Kyogle Advertiser, 9 January 1925, p. 2.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
The practice of removing Indigenous children and placing them in foster homes or training schools to ‘assimilate’ them continued in New South Wales until 1969.54 What was most unusual about these cases was that the removals took place before white eyewitnesses, who responded to the families’ intense expressions of grief. Bandjalung/Gumbainggirr Elder Robyne Bancroft notes that this story had a uniquely happy ending perhaps because the white witnesses were able to challenge the Aborigines’ Board and return the children to their father.55 The sentimentalization espoused by UTC was central within nineteenth-century ideas about domesticity, with the effect of naturalizing policies of assimilation. As an emotional and moral regime premised upon a domestic ideal, those who were without a ‘home’ were excluded and despised. Many Uncle Toms The novel and its moral and emotional regime came to stand as shorthand for black slavery, and as campaigns to acknowledge and support Aboriginal people emerged during the 1930s, and again after the Second World War, UTC was evoked more frequently to frame both reminiscences of the treatment of Aboriginal people, as well as contemporary abuses.56 The novel also provided a framework for directing empathy toward the suffering and ill-treatment of other non-white peoples, such as indentured South Sea Islanders (from Vanuatu and Fiji) within the Queensland-Paciﬁc labour trade. The labour trade servicing the Queensland sugar industry, which began with ‘blackbirding’ (kidnapping) in the early 1860s, was criticized by contemporaries as slavery. While historians have debated the accuracy of this categorization, as Tracey Banivanua-Mar argued, violence was integral to the system.57 One such critic of the trade was journalist, novelist and barrister 54
Inara Walden and Heather Goodall, ‘Assimilation Begins in the Home’: The State and Aboriginal Women’s Work as Mothers in New South Wales, 1900s to 1960s’, Labour History, 69 (1995), 75–101. I thank Robyne Bancroft for sharing this information with me. Personal communication, 23 June 2015. For example, ‘Katherine Susannah Prichard’s “Coonardoo”’ was said to ‘do for Australia what ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ did for America’, West Australian, Saturday 10 May 1930, p. 4; ‘A National Scandal’, Cairns Post, Wednesday 28 August 1935, p. 14; ‘Why Bother about the Aborigines?’ Methodist, Saturday 19 January 1946, p. 4. Tracey Banivanua-Mar, Violence and Colonial Dialogue: The Australian-Paciﬁc Indentured Labour Trade (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007), p. 12. See also Clive Moore, ‘Kanakas, Kidnapping and Slavery: Myths from the Nineteenth Century Labour Trade and Their Relevance to Australian Melanesians’, Kabar Serang, 8–9, (1981), 78–92; and Dorothy Shineberg, The People Trade: Paciﬁc Island Laborers and New Caledonia, 1865–1930 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999).
The Politics of Empathy Today
Thomas Bailey Clegg, whose short story, titled ‘An Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, was published in Cassell’s Family Magazine in September 1888. An extract chosen for Australian audiences featured the death of the young islander ‘Uncle Tom’, which closely echoed Stowe’s text. Here, the young white girl Eliza – in UTC a major slave character – assumes the role of comforter on Uncle Tom’s death-bed. Unlike Stowe’s unwavering Christian slave, the Queensland Uncle Tom is ignorant of Christianity, asking pathetically, ‘God, He good master?’, while his dying words were, ‘“I go work along His plantation.” . . . No more moons need pass for Uncle Tom. He is free. He has gone home, home to an island that lies beyond the cane-brake, beyond sun, moon, and stars.’58 Death scenes of this sort were a favourite of Victorian audiences. By selﬂessly dying for others, defenceless characters such as UTC’s Little Eva and Uncle Tom were rendered morally transcendent and powerful.59 The death of children, in particular, aroused intense emotion for nineteenth-century audiences that was directed toward clear moral outcomes, as I explore further in Chapter 4 with respect to the death of Jo the crossing-sweep. The Politics of Empathy Today For modern Australian readers, UTC irresistibly evokes the tragedy of Aboriginal child removal entailed in assimilation policies, for which the national term has become the Stolen Generations. Many Australians remember the winter of 1997, when they ﬁrst heard the stories from Bringing Them Home, the report of the National Inquiry into the separation from their families and communities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. This inquiry, conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), found that ‘between one in three and one in ten Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities’ from 1910 to 1970, and concluded that the forced removal of children with the aim of assimilating them to white Australian culture constituted genocide, and breached the human rights of Indigenous people.60 The Report presented many tragic, deeply 58
‘Mr. T. B. Clegg Dead’, The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 20 June 1945, p. 5; Thomas Clegg, ‘An Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, Cassell’s Family Magazine, September 1888; ‘The Magazines for September’, Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 8 October 1888, p. 3. Isabelle White, ‘The Uses of Death in Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, American Studies 26 (1985), 5–17. Australian Human Rights Commission, History of the Separation. www.humanrights.gov.au /publications/bringing-them-home-chapter-7.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
affective individual and family stories of loss and destruction, indicating the effects of assimilation across the nation. The report also exposed a history of denying or derogating Aboriginal emotions, evident both in historical justiﬁcations for assimilation policies, as well as present-day rejection of its import. An often-cited example comes from travelling Aboriginal Protector James Isdell, responsible for removing children to institutions under the Western Australian Aborigines Act 1905, which made the Chief Protector the legal guardian of ‘every Aboriginal and half-caste child’ under sixteen years. In 1909, Isdell wrote that he ‘would not hesitate for one moment to separate any half-caste from its aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic her momentary grief might be at the time. They soon forget their offspring.’61 This fantasy of primitive emotions, in which excessive Indigenous responses disguises an underlying lack of familial affection, (contrasting with views of the African American ‘romantic racialism’) acted to divert empathy from the victims of these policies and excluded them from full humanity. Similarly, when Bringing Them Home was released, the Aboriginal affairs minister John Herron said the report was ‘very emotive’ and ‘one-sided,’ and focused ‘only on one view of the separation process’. His government refused to acknowledge responsibility for policies of forced removal, or to apologize to those affected by them.62 Nonetheless, outrage, shock and shame were widely expressed across the mainstream community, as a collective ‘counter-public response to Indigenous suffering’ and a means of moving toward Reconciliation. For example, by signing ‘Sorry Books’ following the public revelation of the history of the Stolen Generations, Australians constituted themselves as a witnessing public, acknowledging the ethical claims of Aboriginal citizens. However, scholars have been cautious in their assessments of such popular, emotional responses to the Stolen Generations: Rosanne Kennedy’s analysis of the Sorry Book campaign suggested that the campaign ‘created conditions for a more inclusive practice of citizenship beyond the law’ and ‘by coming out in numbers and signing Sorry Books, and revealing their own intimate feelings and thoughts about the treatment of Indigenous people, non-Indigenous Australians placed themselves in the frame of reconciliation’. However, she concluded that 61 62
Australian Human Rights Commission, History, Christina Choo, submission 385, p. 14. Senator John Herron, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Answer to Question on Notice: Aborigines: Stolen children, Senate, Debates, 4 March 1998, p. 435; See also Coral Dow, ‘Sorry: the Unﬁnished Business of the Bringing Them Home Report’ (Canberra: Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, 2008), www .aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pu bs/BN/0708/BringingThemHomeReport#_ftnref7.
The Politics of Empathy Today
apologies to the Stolen Generations may have contributed to the ‘healing of the nation’ only in ‘a small way’.63 Sara Ahmed’s view is even more qualiﬁed, in arguing that Australians’ expressions of shame about the past – such as the Sorry Books – are acts that align one with other well-meaning individuals and transfer bad feeling to the subject of shame, quickly allowing one to move on, absolved. Such a move may have the unfortunate effect of allowing white citizens to draw a line between past and present, victim and self; that is, to once again distance the victim and sustain the ‘violence of appropriation’. Like African American scholar Saidiya Hartman, whose critique of sentimental anti-slavery stresses the limits of empathy, Ahmed argues that forms of ‘fellow-feeling’ such as charity and compassion involve fantasy, in that ‘one can “feel for” or “feel with” others, but this depends on how I “imagine” the other already feels’.64 What is dangerous is that feeling bad about the other’s suffering allows the West to forget its complicity in creating the conditions that caused the suffering. Expressing shame becomes evidence of the ‘restoration of an identity of which we can be proud’.65 Where structural disadvantage continues, we must acknowledge that historical injustice lives on in present suffering. Removal of Aboriginal children has not ceased in Australia: instead, rates of removal are higher now than in 1997, at the time of the HREOC inquiry.66 Ofﬁcial justiﬁcations are no longer grounded upon principles of racial or cultural segregation – but rather welfare issues related to poverty and inequality. Yet clearly a tragic historical genealogy leads from the history of racialist assimilation policies, to the present circumstances of dysfunction and disadvantage for many Aboriginal people. Legislation passed in 2014 in the Northern Territory provides for ‘permanent care orders’, a form of adoption for white foster carers, and critics of the system suggest that ‘“welfare” decisions are taken in a policy context of
Rosanne Kennedy, ‘An Australian Archive of Feelings: the Sorry Books Campaigns and the Pedagogy of Compassion’, Australian Feminist Studies 26 (2011), 257–79, quotation p. 279. Ahmed, Cultural Politics of Emotion, 41. See also Sara Ahmed, ‘The Politics of Bad Feeling’, Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association Journal, 1 (2005), 72–85. Ahmed, ‘The Politics of Bad Feeling’, 77, and see Martha C. Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought: the Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Megan Boler, ‘The Risks of Empathy: Interrogating Multiculturalism’s Gaze’, Cultural Studies, 11 (1997): 253–73. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stolen Generations and Descendants: Numbers, Demographic Characteristics and Selected Outcomes (Canberra: Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report, 16 August 2018). www.aihw.gov.au /reports/indigenous-australians/stolen-generations-descendants/formats.
Australian Uncle Tom’s Cabins
assimilation, where Aboriginal culture is pathologized, communities are impoverished and Aboriginal people lack meaningful access to the courts’.67 Despite these limitations, it is clear that some are indeed moved by their encounter with Aboriginal stories to implement positive changes. Aboriginal people continue to demand acknowledgement of their history and a process of truth-telling, as Chapter 7 explores further. In 2014, Chief Judge John Pascoe established a section within the Federal Circuit Court to address Aboriginal family law matters as a result of hearing Aboriginal stories about the continuing impact of assimilation policies. He said he had become convinced change was needed in the court when he met a group of elders, many of them grandmothers, in Dubbo and heard stories about the Stolen Generations and wariness when it comes to accessing justice. ‘One grandmother I spoke to told me she would spend many days walking up and down outside her grandchildren’s school to make sure nobody took the children,’ Chief Judge Pascoe said. ‘That was just so upsetting and I wanted to know what it was a court could actually do to make a real difference and not just make a token gesture.’68
Conclusion UTC’s affective narrative was eagerly consumed in Australasia, and at key moments of scandal comparisons between its fragmented slave families and Indigenous Australians were harnessed by white sympathizers seeking to ameliorate black oppression. Nonetheless, its sentimental domestic ideology was implicated within visions of assimilation that underwrote the Stolen Generations. While not suggesting that Bringing Them Home is the Australian UTC, I note their shared affective strategy, constituted by personal stories of child removal and broken family ties, and sanctioned by structures of race. Both had profound emotional and political impacts as public ‘reading events’. In both America and Australia these assaults were permitted by contemporary cultural prejudice against black people and the racial hierarchies it supported. For many, it is the question of action that is most troubling in our age of globalized media: the ‘spectator’s dilemma’, as distance impedes the 67
Padraic Gibson, ‘Removed for being Aboriginal: Is the NT Creating Another Stolen Generation?’, The Guardian, 4 March 2015. Accessed 1 November 2017, www .theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/04/removed-for-being-aboriginal-is-thent-creating-another-stolen-generation. Rick Morton, ‘Roving Court Will Go to Aborigines’, The Australian, 1 April 2014, www .theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/roving-court-will-go-to-aborigines/sto ry-fn9hm1pm-1226870381649.
‘imperative to action’ in the face of distant suffering in a condition ‘dramatized’ by the intense development of media over the last decades of the twentieth century. Most white Australians do not interact with or encounter Aboriginal people in their daily lives, relying on media accounts of Indigenous communities, people and issues. Luc Boltanski suggests that in a ‘politics of pity’, sentimental responses emerge as spectators are able to sympathize with the experience of the sufferer. Boltanski asks, ‘On what conditions is the spectacle of distant suffering brought to us by the media morally acceptable?’ and argues for speaking about what one has seen, in ways that establish a relationship with the other.69 His position echoes postcolonial theorist Gayatri Spivak’s argument for attaining knowledge, or working to ‘occupy the subject position of the other’ and to learn how to speak with those outside the academy. ‘Liberal guilt’ is closely linked to sentimentality, but in Spivak’s argument, the intellectual labour of acquiring speciﬁc knowledge about others and un-learning one’s own privilege confers the right to speak.70 Rather than foreclosing ongoing engagement, we must acknowledge our own responsibilities as witnesses and participants, and in this way move beyond passive feeling. Instead of deeming sentimental narratives such as UTC either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I suggest that we must not lose sight of empathy’s radical social potential, which remains a ubiquitous social relationship and contains the possibility for change. Despite the manipulation, re-working and stereotypical devices that limit the uses and effects of sentimental narratives, mobilizing empathy with the suffering of others may prompt questions, and offer opportunities to address unequal relationships and outcomes in our own time. Contrary to the sceptical scholarly stance that warns us of the potentially troubling effects of empathy, we must not assume that sympathy has the same meaning or effects everywhere. The risks of empathy’s complicity with oppression are surely lesser than those entailed by a lack of sympathy for other peoples’ suffering and feeling for Aboriginal Australians who remain disadvantaged across so many aspects of their lives.
Luc Boltanski, Distant Suffering: Morality, Media, and Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 7. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, The Postcolonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues (New York: Routledge, 1990), pp. 121–2. See also Julie Ellison’s discussion of 1990s US politics, which maps these affective dilemmas on to an opposition between the ambivalent, sympathetic Democratic, and the rational, tough-minded libertarian: Ellison, Cato’s Tears, 171–94.
The Homeless of Empire: Imperial Outcasts in Bleak House
When Harriet Beecher Stowe received the ﬁrst edition of her new novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life among the Lowly (UTC) in March 1852, she immediately mailed out ﬁve lavender-bound copies to famous Britons: Prince Albert, Charles Dickens, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Charles Kingsley and Lord Carlisle. To Dickens, she wrote, TO THE AUTHOR OF ‘DAVID COPPERFIELD’. The Author of the following sketches offers them to your notice as the ﬁrst writer in our day who turned the attention of the high to the joys and sorrows of the lowly. In searching out and embellishing the forlorn, the despised, the lonely, the neglected and forgotten, lies the true mission which you have performed for the world. There is a moral bearing in it that far outweighs the amusement of a passing hour. If I may hope to do only something like the same, for a class equally ignored and despised by the fastidious and reﬁned of my country, I shall be happy.
In a somewhat ambivalent reply, Dickens wrote, If I might suggest a fault in what has so charmed me, it is that you go too far and seek to prove too much. The wrongs and atrocities of slavery are, God knows! case enough. I doubt there being any warrant for making out the African race to be a great race, or for supposing the future destinies of the world to lie in that direction; and I think this extreme championship likely to repel some useful sympathy and support.1
Dickens himself published the ﬁrst of his twenty serialized instalments of Bleak House (BH) the same month, continuing until September 1853, when they were compiled as a book. Like some contemporaries, I suggest that Dickens’s argument for caring about the white waif instead of the distant black – a stance denoted by his term ‘telescopic philanthropy’ – constitutes an explicit riposte to Stowe’s anti-slavery argument. The authors’ personal relationship reﬂected this antagonism: Stowe’s own letter to Dickens acknowledges him as a source of her literary inspiration, yet while Dickens’s public comments on Stowe’s novel were warmly 1
Harriet Beecher Stowe, ‘Introduction’ to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Boston: Houghton, Mifﬂin & Co., 1878).
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admiring, in private – perhaps partly prompted by jealousy – he took issue with her picture of ‘ebony perfection’, and by the time of his death he had come to view her with violent antipathy.2 The emotional – and racialized – strategies of each novel, so similar in some ways, yet diametrically opposed in their affective objects, imply that Bleak House was a direct retort to Stowe’s anti-slavery novel. The two novels both work to prompt pity for those evicted from their homes, but feature competing objects of compassion: the slaves of Uncle Tom’s Cabin are sold away from home, breaking the sacred ties of family; Dickens’ urban waifs are neglected in favour of the distant black. Many literary theorists have argued that ﬁctional domesticity is premised upon an opposition with the foreign, itself deﬁned in terms of distance from home, and was fundamental to imperial expansion. Famously, Edward Said pointed out that the seemingly autochthonous English domestic space of Jane Austen’s novel Mansﬁeld Park was founded upon the Bertram family’s West Indian slave plantations.3 Homi Bhabha terms those moments where the foreign is recognized as intruding into the domestic as ‘unhomely’, signalling the entanglement of these supposedly distinct domains.4 Through their unhomely reversal of a bourgeois ideal of domesticity as their protagonists search for sanctuary, both Bleak House and Uncle Tom’s Cabin produce a racialized subjectivity in imperial scope. Each story, as signalled by its title, takes a longed-for home as its moral and narrative touchstone: the cosy cabin from which Uncle Tom is evicted early in Stowe’s novel ﬁnds its equivalent in Dickens’ ironically named ‘bleak’ house, in fact a warm and loving refuge for the orphaned Esther Summerhayes – but providing a grim contrast indeed with the plight of Jo the homeless crossing-sweep, who is relentlessly ‘moved on’ until his death from exposure. In this chapter, I explore the affective power of Jo the crossing-sweep and his many incarnations in the context of Dickens’s opposition between white waif and black ‘heathen’, for which he coined the term ‘telescopic philanthropy’. I follow Jo to the colonies of Australia and New Zealand, exploring the ways his compelling 2
Dickens hinted in a letter to a friend that Stowe had been ‘a leetle unscrupulous in the appropriatin’ way’, and that ‘I seem to see a writer with whom I am very intimate (and whom nobody can possibly admire more than myself) peeping very often through the thinness of the paper’. Dickens, letter to Mrs. Richard Watson, 22 November 1852, The Letters of Charles Dickens, ed. Madeline House et al., 12 vols. [Oxford, 1965–2002], vol. 6, p. 808. Their relationship is admirably reviewed by Harry Stone, ‘Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe’, Nineteenth-Century Fiction 12(3) (1957), 188–202, quotation p. 189. Kaplan ‘Manifest Domesticity’, 582. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Vintage, 1994), pp. 95–116. Homi Bhabha, ‘The World and the Home’, Social Text, 31(32) (1992), 141–53.
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story was understood and deployed in local political and social circumstances. Feeling Sorry for Jo In May 1868, a Miss Aitkins presented several readings to a packed house at the inner-city St. Barnabas Church of Parramatta Street in Sydney. It was reported that she ‘gave one of the most – of the many – affecting episodes in Charles Dickens’ story of “Bleak House” – the death of Jo, the crossing sweeper. The delivery of the dying lad’s pathetic utterances was exquisitely natural, and brought tears to the eyes of many.’5 Although a minor character in Dickens’s 1852–3 novel, Jo quickly became a popular ﬁgure in his own right, escaping from the original plot to feature in stage performances, photographs and art, and becoming an emblem of the homeless waif. Audiences loved the pathos of his story: homeless, penniless, continually ‘moved on’ by the police, he existed on the verge of starvation and disease, eventually dying in a long-drawn-out scene that ended with a direct appeal to the reader’s sympathy. When Forster’s third and ﬁnal volume of his biography of Dickens was published in 1874, a Melbourne reviewer declared that ‘we agree with the good Dean Ramsay’, that ‘nothing in the ﬁeld of ﬁction is to be found in English literature surpassing the death of Joe (sic), the poor crossing-sweeper.’6 Dickens himself not only wrote many novels but became a popular performer of his works. He was considered by his contemporaries to be a ‘prince of charity dinner speakers’, possessed of a ‘witching tongue that struck direct to men’s hearts’. It was recalled ‘how he pleaded the cause of the poor actor, making the women’s laughter ripple from their lips while the tears streamed from their eyes: but above and before all how he spoke for the sick poor children!’7 Charles Dickens had several reasons to care about the plight of the homeless child. His own childhood had featured an unhappy period working in a blacking factory during his father’s imprisonment for debt, and his indelible feelings of abandonment, loneliness and degradation reverberated vividly through subsequent literary works – such as David Copperﬁeld and Oliver Twist.8 He was not alone in his moral emphasis on ‘the ruined family, and the representation of homelessness’, 5 6 7 8
‘Miss Aitken’s Readings’, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 May 1868, p. 4. ‘Forster’s Life of Dickens’, The Argus, Saturday 11 April 1874, p. 4. Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold, London: A Pilgrimage (London: Grant and Co., 1872), pp. 183–4. John Bowen, ‘The Life of Dickens 1: before Ellen Ternan’, in Sally Ledger and Holly Furneaux (eds.), Dickens in Context, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 3–10.
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given the social and environmental upheavals caused by the industrial revolution that transformed British cities into poverty-stricken wildernesses.9 The publication of Bleak House as a novel in 1853 overlapped with the emergence of a popular genre of urban ethnography and reform represented by Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1851). Drawing upon sociology, anthropology and photography, this genre adopted the perspective of the tourist exploring a foreign land and its people, in arguing for the need for uplift and relief. Viewed in sociopolitical context, Jo emerges not simply as a focus of sentiment in BH, but quickly came to symbolize principled compassion focused on the white child. Bleak House establishes an affective and moral opposition between the satirically drawn ‘humanitarian’ Mrs Jellyby, whose ‘telescopic philanthropy’ represents the improper expenditure of empathy for those in distant lands, and Jo, the novel’s ‘proper’ and most powerful object of compassion. Dickens’s explicit opposition between imperial evangelization and local urban reform emerges repeatedly within the novel – for example, when Jo sits down to eat his ‘dirty bit of bread’ on the door-step of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), an Anglican missionary organization founded to spread the gospel throughout the British Empire. Jo ‘admires the size of the ediﬁce, and wonders what it is all about. He has no idea, poor wretch, of the spiritual destitution of a coral reef in the Paciﬁc, or what it costs to look up the precious souls among the cocoa-nuts and bread-fruit.’10 Dickens’s attack closely paraphrases a stinging denunciation of the SPG that concluded Mayhew’s section on costermongers: Indeed, the moral and religious state of these men is a foul disgrace to us, laughing to scorn our zeal for the ‘propagation of the gospel in foreign parts’, and making our many societies for the civilization of savages on the other side of the globe appear like a ‘delusion, a mockery, and a snare,’ when we have so many people sunk in the lowest depths of barbarism round about our very homes. It is very well to have Bishops of New Zealand when we have Christianized all our own heathen; but with 30,000 individuals in merely one of our cities utterly creedless, mindless, and principle-less, surely it would look more like earnestness, on our part if we created Bishops of the New-cut, and sent right Reverend Fathers to watch over the cure of souls in the Broadway and the Brill.11 9
Murray Baumgarten ‘Staging the Ruins: David Roberts’s Paintings of the Holy Land and Charles Dickens’ London Theatre of Homelessness’, in Murray Baumgarten and H.M. Daleski (eds.), Homes and Homelessness in the Victorian Imagination, (New York: AMS Press, 1998), pp. 127–66. Charles Dickens, Bleak House (London: Vintage, 2008), p. 221. Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (London: George Woodfall and Son, 1851), p. 472.
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Mayhew gave his account authenticity by drawing from the developing scientiﬁc conventions of a nascent anthropology to classify his human ‘types’, as well as the new medium of photography. In his use of engravings to illustrate various occupations – many, such as ‘the London sweep’, captioned ‘from a daguerreotype by [Richard] Beard’ – he also introduced what was becoming an important anthropological visual tool in the photographic type portrait, making supposedly signiﬁcant visual differences between races observable and real.12 Such images brought the miserable waifs of the slum vividly into public view, their ﬁne-grained realism lending gravity to the often-sensational text. Professional photographers also responded to the popular interest in street urchins. Swedish-born Oscar Rejlander (ﬂ.1855–75) was one of the ﬁrst photographers to address urban poverty, combining his interest in pictorial effects such as montage and re-touching with the theme of beggar children to create narrative vignettes reminiscent of literature and stage performances.13 Of the ﬁfteen ‘urchin’ portraits he made between 1859 and 1871, most were produced in London during the 1860s, and his most famous was ‘Night in Town’ (or ‘Homeless’), showing a boy slumped on a doorstep, head bowed to his ragged knees, sleeping or exhausted.14 In 1863, photography critic Alfred H. Wall praised Rejlander’s narrative images, detailing his technique of ‘group[ing] his ﬁgures and pos[ing] them with admirable skill, [he] raises somehow in his subjects the very look, action, and point required, and catches the happy moment with the quickness of a lightning-ﬂash.’ Equally laudable was Rejlander’s ability to arouse emotion: His ‘Street-ﬁddler’ and his ‘Night in Town’ are powerfully painful . . . the poor ragged boy sleeping on the door-step his comfortless night in town becomes the more touching from the incident that gives rise to the picture: ‘Take him away’, unfeelingly ordered the well-to-do tradesman returning in the small hours of the night from his carousal, directing the policeman to the poor shivering outcast.15
Victorian viewers immediately recognized this study as Jo the crossingsweep from one of Bleak House’s most famous passages, in which Jo is ‘moved on’ by the police, despite his desperate protestations that he has nowhere to go. Wall told viewers how to receive the image, which was
13 14 15
Elizabeth Edwards, ‘Ordering Others: Photography, Anthropologies and Taxonomies’, in Chrissie Iles and Russell Roberts (eds.), Visible Light (Oxford: Museum of Modern Art Oxford, 1997), pp. 54–68. Stephanie Spencer, O.G. Rejlander: Photography as Art (Ann Arbor, Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1985). The Photographic News, 8 October 1886. Alfred Wall, ‘Photographic Pictures and Illustrations’, Photo Journal 8 (137), (15 September 1863), 359.
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Figure 4.1 ‘The London Sweep’, in Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor (1851). Engraving. © Museum of London. full of the most eloquent pathos and expression . . . There the poor desolate outcast sleeps upon the cold damp stone, forgetting even those dreaded persecutors, the churlish voice and heavy foot which will assuredly bid him ‘move on’, whining and shivering, to some poor shelter equally unsafe and uninviting.16 16
Wall, ‘Photographic Pictures’, 359.
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Figure 4.2 Oscar Rejlander, ‘Poor Joe’. Negative about 1860; print later. Carbon print, 84.XA.828.6.13. Getty Museum.
Rejlander retouched the upper part of the portrait to give the theatrical effect of a bull’s eye lantern beam – re-creating the moment of discovery that was the focus of dramatized stage versions of Jo’s pathetic death, as I explore further. In a later review of Rejlander’s work, Wall also expressed the prevailing contemporary belief in the morally improving effect of sympathy, and that feeling sorry for others was a sign of virtue and kindness. He praised the way that the image created a narrative and thereby aroused a particular, empathetic response in the viewer. It told a story that ‘awakens pity, sets the imagination ajog, inducing one to think about the original lad, and the life he led, making one the better and more sympathetic for having seen it’.17 Rejlander’s images were highly effective in arousing compassion, as demonstrated by their use or imitation for publicity by the Shaftesbury Society and other philanthropists.18 Rejlander explicitly sought to create 17 18
Alfred Wall, ‘Rejlander’s Photographic Art Studies’, Photo News, 29 (24 September 1886), 619–20. Lydia Murdoch, Imagined Orphans: Poor Families, Child Welfare, and Contested Citizenship in London (Chapel Hill NC: Rutgers University Press 2006), pp. 21–25.
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art from the still experimental medium of photography through his elaborately staged allegories and dramatic vignettes. Yet the touching glimpse of Jo, dramatically revealed in his neglect, was lent authority by the medium’s factuality and veracity. Gustave Doré and Blanchard Jerrold’s lavish and richly illustrated London: a Pilgrimage (1872) combined the urban ethnography’s authoritative tone with the picturesque in claiming an ‘amiable, scholarly out-look upon London’, yet also pledging themselves to ‘a painful sympathy with the distresses of others [that] becomes a part of the very health of our minds’.19 Although primarily a tour of the city’s places of commerce and leisure, the book ends on a sombre note: the misery of the poor and especially the plight of homeless children. Doré’s engraving, ‘Found in the Street’, theatrically focused candle-light on the faces of a little boy and his rescuers, and cast the solemn audience into shadow, a melodramatic scenario emphasizing the moment’s pathos. This chiaroscuro was powerfully evocative of photographic precedents and speciﬁcally Oscar Rejlander’s urchin portraits. Jerrold described how the child, A worn-out, prostrate Arab – a baby in years – has been dragged in from the wintry streets. His face is livid yellow; his lips are black; and when they uncover him we see how hard the world has been to the little heart. His infant fellow-sufferers look on, while he lies upon the old man’s knees, and one of the ofﬁcials (the outer world does not know how gentle and compassionate these poorly paid servants of the poor are, as a rule) pours out a restorative.20
This passage details the feeling of the ‘gentle and compassionate’ actors, but also guides the viewer’s emotional response to the sight of the suffering child through detailing Jerrold’s own, as he writes, ‘Such scenes, upon which my eyes have been led to fall so often – I hope not uselessly – lift the heart almost to the throat.’21 Although lacking the hardedged realism of Rejlander’s photograph of Jo, what both versions shared was a combination of ﬁne-grained verisimilitude with a sense of revelation: the lost outcast was presented as if dramatically revealed to the viewer, the moment of discovery and the theatrical lighting mimicking the night-policeman’s bullseye lantern characteristic of stage versions. Their visual melodrama evoked the affect at the heart of Dickens’s worldview. British painters such as William Powell Frith (1819–1909), considered the ‘great Victorian painter of modern life’, also developed an interest in 19 21
Doré and Jerrold, London, 5–16. Doré and Jerrold, London, 184.
Doré and Jerrold, London, after p. 184.
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Figure 4.3 Gustave Doré, ‘Found in the Street’, London: A Pilgrimage, 1872.
documenting the ‘types’ of London. Art critic John Ruskin summed up Frith’s contemporary appeal as ‘a kind of cross between John Leech and
Feeling Sorry for Jo
Figure 4.4 William Powell Frith, The crossing sweeper, 1858. © Museum of London. Image number 000783.
Wilkie, with a dash of daguerreotype here and there, and some pretty seasoning with Dickens’ sentiment’.22 He exempliﬁes the focus in British 22
Art Journal, March 1864, p. 64, cited in Mark Bills, ‘William Powell Frith’s “The Crossing Sweeper”: An Archetypal Image of Mid-Nineteenth Century London’, The Burlington Magazine (2004–2005), 301.
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art of this period on the lives of ordinary people and their emotional reactions.23 Frith’s wildly popular crowd pictures such as ‘Ramsgate Sands’, and ‘Derby Day’ relied upon photography as well as studio models to depict a range of human characters in a technique of hardedged naturalism. In 1856, Frith described his difﬁculties in locating ‘the exact type wanted’ for his ‘small picture’, The crossing sweeper.24 Frith’s young model came from ‘a family of thieves’ and stole his watch, conﬁrming Frith’s belief in physiognomy.25 Although Frith’s painting focuses on the distracted, richly dressed noblewoman – to the extent, according to some contemporaries, of showing too much ankle – the key visual markers of ragged, torn clothing, bare or worn-through shoes, the sturdy broom and an anxious deference identify Jo, as he guides Lady Dedlock through the slums. Jo the Crossing-Sweep Goes to the Colonies In the enlarged context of BH’s imperial circulation and reception, however, as the novel spiralled outward and around the globe, only increasing in popularity, its emotional arguments were put to diverse and contingent local uses. Daniel Hack’s nuanced analysis of the reworking and appropriations of Victorian literature by African Americans notes the ideological friction between Bleak House and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, highlighted in speciﬁc ways by BH’s reserialization in Frederick Douglass’ Paper. Hack argues that Dickens’s exclusion of blacks did not prevent Douglass’s and his co-editor Julia Grifﬁths’ use of the novel as ‘a material and imaginative resource for their own efforts to tell the stories they want to tell and build the communities they seek to build’. Hack argues that the editors chose to overlook BH’s racialist exclusions because they believed in its universal emotional and moral appeal on behalf of the socially marginal, arguing that they ‘simply ignor[ed] its racial speciﬁcity’. In one instance, the black editors actually reversed it to argue for attention to local slaves in ‘a kind of strategic anti-essentialism’ in which Douglass ‘rejects the notion that racism is intrinsic to localism or Bleak House, treating that racism instead as merely a surface phenomenon, skin deep.’ Hack also shows that BH was a model for Hannah Craft’s The Bondwoman’s Narrative in which the white orphan Esther 23 24 25
Pamela Fletcher, ‘Human Character and Character-Reading at the Edwardian Royal Academy’, Visual Culture in Britain, 14 (1), 21–35. William Powell Frith, My Autobiography and Reminiscences (London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1887), vol. II, pp. 215–16. Frith, My Autobiography.
Jo the Crossing-Sweep Goes to the Colonies
Summerhayes is recast as a black slave, thus renovating its purpose completely.26 Conversely, the colonial reception of BH reveals that it was easily applied to support settler interests. Dickens was greatly loved in the colonies of Australia and New Zealand, and as Kylie Mirmohamadi and Susan K. Martin argue, loomed large in ‘the transmission, circulation and renegotiation of the English language and English literature, which was so key in the cultural work of imperialism, and the concomitant shifts in reading subjectivities that occurred in the Southern lands.’ In particular, their collective English inheritance, and a new-forged colonial sensibility maintained by the intense cross-Tasman circulation of print, commodities and people, gave rise to an awareness of colonial fraternity that continues into the present. Not only did colonial audiences enjoy Dickens, but they drew upon his work in fashioning their new home as ‘something familiar and yet transformed’.27 His concerns ‘matched’ theirs, and transmitted values and language shared with those at home in England. Dickensian visual culture and stage performances also circulated across the colonies, and the dramatization of Jo’s death became popular in Australia from 1862.28 From 1876, the British actress Jennie Lee made a career out of playing the lead in Jo, an 1882 adaptation of BH by John Pringle Burnett. Critics sometimes objected to the translation of Dickens’ complex plot and myriad characters into a compressed stage version, but the shift reveals that what contemporary audiences relished most about the work was Jo’s miserable life and especially his pathetic death. For example, in 1879, one actor was criticized for omitting the most pathetic parts: ‘the gasping for breath, the long-drawn almost inarticulate whisper that made him so long in saying the few detached sentences . . . till the moral sermon of his death was preached to right reverends and wrong reverends of every order’.29
Daniel Hack, ‘Close Reading at a Distance: The African Americanization of Bleak House’ Critical Inquiry 34 (4) (2008), 729–53, quotation p. 731 (741–2). Interestingly, the interpretation of BH as primarily a critique of the British Court of Chancery has led some readers to assume that the two novels are complementary in addressing injustice for the socially marginal: e.g., Elizabeth McHenry, Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies (Duke University Press, 2002), pp. 125–6. Kylie Mirmohamadi and Susan K. Martin, Colonial Dickens: What Australians Made of the World’s Favourite Writer (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2012), quotations pp. 2, 3. See also Regenia Gagnier, ‘The Global Circulation of Charles Dickens’s Novels’, Literature Compass 10/1 (2013), 82–95, 10.1111/lic3.12021; Philippa Mein Smith and Peter Hempenstall, ‘Australia and New Zealand: Turning Shared Pasts into a Shared History’, History Compass, 1 (1) (2003). ‘Five Dock’, Freeman’s Journal, Saturday 13 September 1862, p. 6. ‘The Critic: Dramatic and Musical’, Australian Town and Country Journal, Saturday 1 March 1879, p. 14.
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Visual images of Jo also travelled to the colonies via professional and family networks. Thomas William Couldery (1838–1902) was a littleknown British artist whose work, like Frith’s, was highly typical of the late nineteenth-century interest in urban types, as well as the popular themes of poverty and children.30 His work was donated and lent to the nascent cultural institutions of Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart, where they were exchanged and displayed during the 1890s.31 In 1887, his watercolour ‘The ’Prentice Hand’, or ‘Her First Lesson’ was included in the Melbourne Grosvenor Gallery Intercolonial Exhibition of British contemporary art, within what one colonial patron termed the ‘Crossingsweeper Group’.32 The Intercolonial Exhibition was a private venture of the Anglo-Australian Society of Artists, its ranks drawn predominantly from the Society of British Arts, capitalizing on the thriving colonial economy of the mid-1880s. It offered a comprehensive overview of British art that attracted large attendances – a total of 33,000 paying viewers in ten weeks. Art historian Alison Inglis notes that it signiﬁcantly inﬂuenced local taste, and was perceived by the colonial establishment as an important means of reconnecting the local population’s sentimental attachment to Great Britain.33 Organizer and patron, the Earl of Buckinghamshire, declared at the time: ‘No better collection of pictures has ever left London’ and explained that its purpose was ‘to encourage the growth of art in the colonies, and to promote federation in art as a part of the greater scheme of Imperial federation’.34 When the Queensland Art Gallery was established in 1895, its ﬁrst acquisitions were predominantly Victorian social realist works such as Blandford Fletcher’s Evicted and T. W. Couldery’s The Legitimate Drama.35 In 1896, both works were lent 30
‘TW Couldery’ File, Rosemary Pearson, Lincoln Joyce Fine Art, Surrey, UK; ‘TW Couldery’ File, Witt Library, Courtauld Institute, London; Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts. A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work from Its Foundation in 1769 to 1904, (Kingsmead Reprints and Hilmarton Manor Press, 1989 ), vol. 1, p. 179. Couldery’s brother, William Henry Couldery and family connection Richard Thomas Hall both lent works to colonial galleries during the 1890s, including the Art Galleries of Queensland, NSW and Victoria. Richard Thomas Hall to James Dalgarno, 19 November 1890; Richard Thomas Hall to the Trustees of the National Gallery, New South Wales, 25 November 1890. Archives, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Alison Inglis, ‘Aestheticism and Empire: The Grosvenor Gallery Intercolonial Exhibition in Melbourne, 1887’ in Kate Darian-Smith, Richard Gillespie, Caroline Jordan and Elizabeth Willis (eds.), Seize the Day: Exhibitions, Australia, and the World (Melbourne: Monash University ePress, 2008), pp. 1–16. ‘The Grosvenor Gallery Intercolonial Exhibition’, The Argus, Monday 26 September 1887, p. 6. Jennifer Craik, Re-visioning Arts and Cultural Policy: Current Impasses and Future Directions (Canberra: ANU ePress, 2007), p. 8.
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to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and were considered ‘amongst the most popular in their collection’.36 ‘The ’Prentice Hand’ strikes a note of gentle amusement, showing a match-girl, crossing-sweep and puppy lounging by the Thames, smiling as they watch a very small girl learning to sweep with the borrowed broom. The urban waifs of London might be thought to have lost their desperate edge here, their rags and shabbiness countered by their whimsical emulation of their betters. Another of Couldery’s favoured themes was ‘Jo the Crossing Sweeper’, as indicated by two extant examples, one now held in a private collection in Brisbane, Queensland. Couldery’s ‘Jo’ is a jolly, poised ﬁgure, characterized by an almost photographic realism. Couldery’s light clear watercolour tints also work against pathos, showing scenes that are sunny and open by contrast with the dramatic night-time chiaroscuro of Rejlander’s and Dore’s waifs. Yet, for contemporary viewers, the urban life this imagery evoked remained redolent with Dickensian pathos. Couldery’s drawings and engravings, some based on his paintings, circulated within a thriving global print culture comprising magazines, illustrated newspapers and books.37 In 1888, a New Zealand paper reviewed an engraving of Couldery’s watercolour ‘What They Saw at the Play’, a scene that brought together elements of both extant paintings (Figures 4.5 and 4.6) in showing two ragged, bareheaded London crossing-sweepers, forgetful of the cold and poverty, reproducing in mimic style what had doubtless delighted their hearts during a visit to the theatre. One boy is sitting on an upturned basket, his broom doing duty for a violin, a stick for the bow, while his companion is dancing between his broom-handle and a stick, with his bare toes sticking out of his boots.38
The reviewer contrasted the life of the urchins, who no doubt slept beneath the bridges across the Thames, with ‘lovely mansions replete with every luxury and triumph of art’ where ‘creatures of the same clay’ nonetheless ‘grow callous to such sights as these’. Invoking Jo, she explored the power of such scenes to awaken empathy in the colonial viewer, leading a far more comfortable existence: 36 37
‘Queensland National Art Gallery: New Pictures from Sydney’, The Brisbane Courier, Monday 2 November 1896, p. 6. Couldery illustrated for periodicals such as Cassell’s Family Magazine, Illustrated London News and English Illustrated Magazine between 1888 and 1894, as well as books, including Charles Reade’s A Woman-hater (London: Chatto and Windus, 1887). ‘The Illustrated Almanacs’, Otago Witness, 13 January 1888, p. 33. I have been unable to locate this image, although the original watercolour was sold at auction by Blouin in 2005: http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/asi/lots/2229976.
The Homeless of Empire
Figure 4.5 Thomas William Couldery, ‘The ’Prentice Hand’, 1887, Art Gallery of New South Wales. To us New Zealanders such sights are unknown in our own country, but I have often noticed how pictures of this class attract, especially when represented upon the stage. Everyone who goes to a theatre at all went to see, and cried over, ‘Joe’; and I am sure that colonial visitors at Home do not pass by with unmoved hearts such like wretched creatures. ‘No food to eat!’ the colonial children cry when the story is told them, and bright eyes grow misty with sympathetic tears.39
And echoing Wall’s comments on Rejlander’s Jo, the reviewer concluded that ‘Indeed, I think the contemplation of such a picture would do us all good occasionally when we are in a discontented frame of mind.’40 Although sharing Dickens’s and Couldery’s pity for the urban waif, this Otago writer reversed the metropolitan viewpoint, in feeling for distant – white – others. While many British urban reformers – and Dickens himself – relegated the colonies merely to an outlet or solution to metropolitan problems, from an antipodean perspective a consciousness of progress and improvement is evident. In this way, some settlers explicitly asserted colonial superiority over conditions at ‘home’, for which ‘Dickensian’ was becoming shorthand. In a strategy of ‘splicing’ Dickens ‘into the local political and social scene’, one journalist lamented 39
‘The Illustrated Almanacs’, p. 33.
‘The Illustrated Almanacs’, p. 33.
Jo the Crossing-Sweep Goes to the Colonies
Figure 4.6 Thomas William Couldery, ‘Jo the Crossing-sweep’, 1879, Private Collection, Brisbane, Queensland.
The Homeless of Empire
the arrival of ‘[t]he crossing-sweeper in Melbourne’, ‘a very apt way to develop a race of street beggars – a British institution which we are better without’.41 Continuing the long Arcadian tradition of regarding the colonies as a utopian experiment offering an opportunity to conquer old world ills, New Zealand in particular was imagined as inheritor of the British Empire.42 In Australia too, white settlers, many having migrated as a consequence of hardship and poverty, often argued for the higher standard of living in the colonies. They urged emigration to those left behind, like the South Australian settler ‘Municep’ who quoted Mayhew to prove the inferior condition of workers at ‘home’, and forecast that ‘this colony will advance with rapid strides to that perfection which every lover of it so earnestly and devoutly desires’.43 However, perceptions of Australia as a ‘working-man’s paradise’ were undermined by deteriorating conditions over the course of the century in the cities of Melbourne and Sydney.44 Many drew upon Dickens’s imagery in framing Australian discussions about poverty and crime, including discourses about child welfare and poverty in cities of Melbourne and Sydney from the 1850s onward. Oliver Twist, for example, functioned ‘as a shorthand reference for failed systems of charity and law’.45 In 1890, even residents of the youthful township of Brisbane, established only sixty years earlier, argued that ‘It is impossible that the public who have lately been shedding tears of sympathy over the dramatized “Jo” of Dickens, can read without emotion the account appearing in yesterday’s issue of the actual condition of boy waifs in our own city, and of the efforts made for their reclamation.’46 As colonial slums developed, Australian debates about urban reform drew upon the earlier metropolitan genre to ‘diagnose’ the colonists’ ‘own milder domestic ills’. Historian Graeme Davison’s classic history of Melbourne argued for two contrasting styles of ‘urban sociography’, both based on London antecedents and a perception of London as the cultural epicentre; Marcus Clarke modelled his studies of Melbourne low life, such as his ‘Sketches of Melbourne Bohemia’ upon Dickens, Mayhew, Cruickshank and Sala to argue for 41 42
43 44 45 46
Mirmohamadi and Martin, Colonial Dickens, 2; The Australasian, Saturday 27 July 1878, p. 17. Deirdre Coleman, Romantic Colonisation and British Anti-Slavery (Cambridge University Press, 2005); Coral Lansbury, Arcady in Australia: The Evocation of Australia in Nineteenthcentury (Melbourne University Press 1970); James Belich, Paradise Reforged: A History of the New Zealanders from the 1880s to the Year 2000 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2001). ‘The Labour Question’, South Australian Register, Saturday 10 December 1853, p. 3. See the debate prompted by Russell Ward, The Australian Legend (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1978). Mirmohamadi and Martin, Colonial Dickens, pp. 89–90. The Brisbane Courier, Saturday 12 April 1890, p. 4.
Not Feeling Sorry for Blacks
local reform. By contrast, the more genteel Richard Twopeny registered colonial progress toward a metropolitan standard.47 Not Feeling Sorry for Blacks Jo was a lynchpin in an emotional economy that argued for the priority of the white homeless child over the distant black. Although I have focused, as contemporaries did, on the affective power of Jo, the critical implication of telescopic philanthropy was that the white waif took precedence over the distant heathen, in a critique of imperial missionizing and a derogatory racialized view of Indigenous humanity. In broad terms, Lillian Nayder argues that for Dickens imperialism – like telescopic philanthropy – was an ‘ideological safety valve’, a means of preventing rather than promoting social change by diverting working class radicalism away from home.48 Some contemporaries certainly interpreted BH as a direct attack on the abolitionist cause, and compared it unfavourably with UTC. Abolitionist and former Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Denman, reviewed them together and attacked Dickens’s obstruction of ‘the great cause of human improvement . . . We do not say that he actually defends slavery or the slave trade; but he takes pains to discourage, by ridicule, the effort now making to put them down’. Denman termed ‘false’ the ‘disgusting picture’ of Mrs Jellyby, ‘who pretends zeal for the happiness of Africa, and is constantly employed in securing a life of misery for her own children’. Denman, like other reviewers, compared the two novels, praising Stowe’s ‘graphic skill and pathetic power in which she has so far surpassed all living writers’, but attacking Dickens’s literary strategies and merit, and his position on slavery. In December 1852, Dickens wrote a long letter defending himself and reiterating his criticism of UTC as a ‘very overstrained conclusion and a very violent extreme, and a damaging absurdity to the slave himself, to set up the Colored race as capable ever of subduing the White’.49 As Laura Peters has argued, throughout his career, Dickens moved between the twin poles of ‘exotic fancy’ and the racialized, dehumanized, 47 48
Graeme Davison, The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2004). Lillian Nayder, ‘Class Consciousness and the Indian Mutiny in Dickens’s “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners”’, Studies in English Literature 32 (4) (Autumn 1992), 689–705. Thomas Denman, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Bleak House, Slavery and Slave Trade (London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1853), pp. 9, 28–29. Stone, ‘Charles Dickens and Harriet Beecher Stowe’, reproduces this letter in full, pp. 194–7.
The Homeless of Empire
savage.50 Dickens’s attacks upon black, and speciﬁcally African capacity re-emerged over many years, such as in his satirical August 1848 review of the philanthropic, disastrous, African Colonization Expedition (the ‘Niger Expedition’) of 1841, organized by the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and for the Civilization of Africa. His conclusion anticipated his later coinage of ‘telescopic philanthropy’ in arguing that The stone that is dropped into the ocean of ignorance at Exeter Hall must make its widening circles, one beyond another, until they reach the negroes’ country in their natural expansion. There is a broad, dark sea between the Strand in London, and the Niger, where those rings are not yet shining; and through all that space they must appear, before the last one breaks upon the shore of Africa. . . . Church of England Missionary, and all other missionary societies! The work at home must be completed thoroughly or there is no hope abroad. To your tents, O Israel! but see they are your own tents! . . . Between the civilized European and the barbarous African there is a great gulf set.51
Like many others, Dickens’s awareness of contemporary scientiﬁc theories surely strengthened hardening views of biological difference over the second half of the nineteenth century, and was reﬂected in his writing. The contest between polygenists, who argued for distinct biological ‘races’ of men, and monogenists who advocated the biblical unity of humankind, waxed during the 1840s. Such ideas were expressed by a popular visual culture that denigrated Indigenous peoples across the empire.52 The prominent 1849 debate between the political theorists Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill deﬁned this increasingly rigid view, as Dickens’s great friend Carlyle challenged what he perceived to be a hypocritical philanthropic movement for the emancipation of West Indian slaves that overlooked the problems faced by men of the British empire.53 In ‘Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question’, Carlyle contrasts ‘beautiful Blacks sitting there up to the ears in pumpkins, and doleful Whites sitting here without potatoes to eat’, and attacked Exeter Hall, ‘Sunk in deep froth oceans of “Benevolence,” “Fraternity”, “Emancipation-principle”, “Christian Philanthropy”, and other most amiable-looking, but most baseless, and in the end baleful and all-bewildering jargon’.54 Carlyle republished this essay in an expanded form in 1853, coinciding with Dickens’s notorious essay of June 1853, ‘The Noble Savage’, in which he termed ‘a savage something highly desirable to 50 51
Laura Peters, Dickens and Race (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013); Holly Ferneaux, Dickens in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 297–9. Charles Dickens, ‘Review: Narrative of the Expedition Sent by Her Majesty’s Government to the River Niger in 1841, Under the Command of Captain H.D. Trotter, RN’, The Examiner, 19 August 1848. Jane Lydon, Eye Contact: Photographing Indigenous Australians (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005). Carlyle, ‘Occasional discourse’, 670–9. 54 Carlyle, ‘Occasional discourse’, 670–9.
Telescopic Philanthropy in the Colonies
be civilised off the face of the earth.’55 While some scholars wish to see Dickens’s essay as an aberration, and others, conversely, as ‘genocidal’, Peters argues persuasively that it can be seen as part of a ‘continuum of thinking about race that spans more than twelve years’ in which Dickens had long been antagonistic to people of other races. While Dickens’s antipathy to Stowe and her novel have long been noted as a matter of biographical interest, Grace Moore suggests that the virulence of his 1853 diatribe may even have been a response to UTC and the consequent resurgence of the idea of ‘noble savages’.56 In these key texts of the early 1850s we see Dickens’s articulation of metropolitan social tensions and ideas about race, fuelled by literary rivalry. This literary exchange assumes even greater interest when we consider the impact of Dickens’s stance within an imperial framework. Telescopic Philanthropy in the Colonies The affective and moral inference of telescopic philanthropy was also appropriated in the colonies, where relations with Indigenous peoples were an abiding source of tension, to support a range of positions. Most rarely, missionaries applied it to argue for helping Aboriginal people, upholding the biblical injunction often glossed as ‘charity begins at home’ but reversing its original racial logic.57 Protestant missionary John Brown Gribble’s book Black But Comely, or Glimpses of Aboriginal Life in Australia was indeed a product of Exeter Hall, written and published with the encouragement of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge during Gribble’s visit to London in 1884, as I explore in Chapter 5. Very unusually in the Australian context, Gribble applied this doctrine to Indigenous Australians in arguing that, While we have been engaged in stretching forth the arms of our Christian charity to regions far away, and while we have greatly rejoiced at the success attending Missionary effort in distant parts of the earth, what has been taking place amongst the poor heathen in our midst?58 55 56
Charles Dickens, ‘The Noble Savage’, Household Words, 11 June 1853. Peters, 55; Grace Moore, Dickens and Empire (Abingdon: Ashgate, 2016), 43–74; for ‘genocidal’, see Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988), p. 207. For this antagonism as expressed in performances in London over these months, see Richard Altick, The Shows of London (Harvard University Press, 1978), p. 283. Following the biblical injunction, ‘Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever’, 1 Timothy 5:8, Bible: New International Version 8. John Brown Gribble, Black But Comely, or Glimpses of Aboriginal Life in Australia (London: Morgan and Scott, 1884), p. 19.
The Homeless of Empire
He highlighted Aboriginal neglect and misery in a country with a ‘Christian government’ and whose churches ‘contribute large sums annually toward the support of Missionary enterprises in far distant lands!’59 Gribble was tightly bound into imperial evangelical networks, both through travel and especially his immersion in print culture. In West Australia in late 1886, this formulation was given a new inﬂection in contrasting the ‘miserable wrecks of natives’ living in settled regions with those involved in the interracial violence raging on Western Australia’s north-west frontier. This was a time of intense racial conﬂict that led to British insistence on retaining control over Indigenous affairs, with the effect of delaying responsible government. The West Australian, pastoralist-owned and deeply invested in settlement of the north-west, suggested that ‘Mrs. Jellaby still reigns supreme’ and that ‘emotion is much more easily aroused by appealing to imagination than by pointing to commonplace and patent fact’. Referring to the Aboriginal people of the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of West Australia’s north-western frontier, he argued that stories of picturesque heathen living a savage life in distant lands, and yearning for ‘The Truth,’ combined with beads and pocket handkerchiefs, open the hearts and purse-strings of hundreds of thousands of our countrymen and women, who are, it would seem, comparatively callous to the wretchedness of the debased and starving multitudes amongst whom they live.60
Prompted by self-interest, the writer advocated attention to local missions, for the ‘already-conquered tribes’ nearer to the capital city of Perth, rather than oversight of those still under siege in the north. It was, however, far more common to invoke telescopic philanthropy in denigrating black Australians, and advocating concern for whites. In 1857, for example, one Queensland settler, ‘Ormly of Ipswich’, argued for the separation of church and government on the grounds of the Church of England’s – in his view misguided – mission work, and cited Mayhew’s attack (quoted at footnote 12) on church hypocrisy for neglecting those close to home – that is, white settler congregations.61 Ormly pursued the opposition between poor white and black subject underlying telescopic philanthropy to its explicitly racialist conclusions in arguing that ‘wherever any of our race becomes ignorant, sensual, and unreﬂecting, all desire for knowledge is dead. . . . The aborigines of Australia are a proof of this.’62 59 61 62
Gribble, Black But Comely, 24. 60 West Australian, 27 November 1886, p. 2. ‘Audi Alteram Partem [Hear the other side]: State Endowments’, The Moreton Bay Courier, Saturday 17 January 1857, p. 2. ‘Audi Alteram Partem’, 2.
Following this reasoning, telescopic philanthropy with its inference of hypocrisy sometimes became shorthand for the ‘immorality’ of humane treatment of local Aboriginal people at the expense of white settlers. In 1899, the West Australian fulminated that ‘What Dickens calls “telescopic philanthropy” as truly exists in the antipodes as it did in Mrs. Jellaby’s slovenly parlor.’ The journalist argued for the innocence of two white men accused of murder, suggesting that ‘[h]ad they been convicted of one of the fashionable foibles indigenous to the colony’ such as ‘nigger ﬂogging, they would have been privileged prisoners and the objects of inﬂuential sympathy’.63 In its Dickensian incarnation, the logic of telescopic philanthropy was grounded in the Christian precept that ‘charity begins at home’ – although drawing power from the racialized correspondence between white child and black heathen. In its colonial appropriation this principle was supplanted by a sense of racial contiguity, simply substituting racial for distant others, with the effect of excluding Aboriginal people as undeserving of philanthropy or protection. Conclusion The emotional power of Dickens’s pathetic homeless child quickly made Jo an emblem of urban reform, aided by the vast popular culture that sprang up around him. The Otago reviewer who pictured the colonial children’s empathetic tears for their metropolitan fellows, in one sense marked the reversal of the point of view represented by Dickens and his fellows – offering instead a view from the other end of the telescope. But white settlers also participated in Dickens’s emotional economy in feeling pity for white homeless children and the urban poor whether in London or Brisbane. Colonial Australia’s eager consumption of metropolitan literature, stage performances and art circulated across the British Empire and promoted ‘federation in art as a part of the greater scheme of imperial federation’, as the Earl of Buckinghamshire argued in 1887, contributing to a shared anglophile culture and identity. Telescopic philanthropy, with its moral and sentimental focus upon Jo the crossing-sweep, can be seen in the context of a broader mid-century shift from the cosmopolitan humanitarianism that had earlier underwritten foreign missionary work, toward a view of Indigenous people as improper objects of imperial benevolence. As Susan Thorne notes, by the end of the century, missionaries and their supporters shifted from a strategy of asserting the sameness of colonized people and the working poor to dissociating them, producing a new regime of racial difference 63
‘A Local Dreyfus Case’, West Australian Sunday Time, Sunday 11 June 1899, p. 5.
The Homeless of Empire
that grounded new metropolitan as well as colonial social controls.64 While racial theories provided an inﬂuential frame of reference for such ideas, popular ﬁction such as Dickens’s also circulated globally along imperial networks with tremendous impact. The affective visual discourse of telescopic philanthropy regulated historically and culturally speciﬁc forms of compassion, casting the British poor as worthy recipients of pity and displacing concern for Indigenous peoples. Where the conﬂation of the London nomade and Indigenous blacks across the Victorian arts had ﬁrst signalled their similarity and potentially their rival claims to sympathy, by the late nineteenth century the emotional regime symbolized by Jo the crossing-sweeper effectively consolidated racial exclusions.
Thorne, Congregational Missions, pp. 90–2.
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
‘The Parson Stuck Up’ In February 1879, the legendary Australian bushranger Ned Kelly and his ‘terrible and dastardly gang of outlaws’ stuck up (attacked) Jerilderie, a country town in New South Wales. The story of those two terrifying days has become part of Australian national mythology.1 But the raid was also a deﬁning moment for the missionary, Reverend John Brown Gribble, whose courage in standing up to the wild Kelly Gang served him well in his ambition to protect Aboriginal people and become a Christian hero. Gribble later told how he boldly approached Kelly and introduced himself, saying, My name is Gribble, and I am the parson of this town; and I am given to understand that you have taken the horse of a lady friend of mine . . . well, Kelly, I have come to have a little talk with you about this horse. . . . Kelly, I want to speak to you about this matter as to a reasonable man. Do you think, now, that it is right or gentlemanly of you to take a young lady’s horse?’ ‘Well, sir, I must say it isn’t.’ ‘Will you do one thing for me, then? ‘What’s that?’ ‘Ride to the Traveller’s Rest and see McDougall about it.’ ‘Yes, I will sir.’ Vaulting into his saddle, and giving spurs to the horse, he was soon at the hotel.
Next, seeing Gang member Steve Hart coming toward him, Gribble told how he ‘at once walked towards them, never for a moment thinking of 1
‘History of the Outlaws’, South Australian Register, Saturday 10 July 1880, p. 2; Russel Ward, The Australian Legend (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1958); B. Tranter and J. Donoghue, ‘Bushrangers: Ned Kelly and Australian identity’, Journal of Sociology 44 (2008), 373–90, https://doi.org/10.1177/1440783308097127; Willa McDonald and Kerrie Davies, ‘Creating History: Literary Journalism and Ned Kelly’s Last Stand’, Australian Journalism Review, 37 (2015), 33–49.
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
personal danger’, although ‘I plainly saw the revolver in the bushranger’s hand and the repeating riﬂe strapped to his back.’ Hart demanded his watch, and ‘feeling annoyed’, Gribble said, ‘I think it is very mean of you to take a parson’s watch’. But the watch was taken. He then found Kelly in the bar surrounded by ‘roughs’, and pushing his way through the ‘scowling crowd’ put his hand on Kelly’s shoulder and asked for his help. Kelly responded by shouting ‘excitedly’, ‘One of my chaps has stuck you up! Come and show me the man that took your watch’. Gribble confessed, ‘If I ever felt fear in my life I certainly felt it at that moment. Knowing what a cruel villain Steve Hart was, and what he was capable of doing, I thought it was all up with me.’ They confronted Hart, and Kelly ‘roared out’, ‘I say, Hart, did you take this man’s watch? ‘Yes, I did.’ ‘What made you take it?’ ‘Because I wanted it, of course.’ ‘Where is it? Let me see it.’ The watch being produced, Kelly examined it very minutely, saying, ‘Where is the watch you took from the other fellow this morning? [the bank manager] Holding the watches side by side, Kelly said, ‘Look here, this man’s watch is only a common silver one, not nearly as valuable as the one you’ve got. Isn’t that good enough for you? Isn’t it good enough for you? If you’re going to stick a man up for a watch, why can’t you stick him up for a ﬁrst-class one?’
Hart returned the watch. In Gribble’s narration of this encounter, he tamed the wild Kelly Gang, notorious for the ambush and ‘cold-blooded murder’ of three policemen at Stringybark Creek just three months earlier. Gribble emphasized the emotional dynamic of the encounter, intensifying the ‘widespread terror’ caused by the bushrangers, ‘owing to their cool daring’, and contrasting his own courage with the terror of the townspeople.2 Signiﬁcantly, Gribble confessed his own fear but also his determination to persist nonetheless, a trait that has deﬁned him in historical evaluations. Despite Kelly’s violence toward the town’s menfolk in general, he treated Reverend Gribble with ‘kindness’ and respect, showing Gribble to be physically brave but also morally ascendant; Gribble’s stature was recognized by Kelly himself. The episode was widely circulated in newspapers, which dubbed it ‘the parson stuck-up’. In the story of their encounter, two stereotypes of masculinity were brought into dialogue: what Kelly himself 2
J. B. Gribble, ‘A Day with Australian Bushrangers’, Leisure Hour: a Family Journal of Instruction and Recreation (London: W. Stevens printer) March 1885, 191–8.
‘Not a Stuck-Up Kind of Fellow’
described as a bush tradition that was ‘fearless free and bold’, and Gribble’s ‘sensibility of manliness’, as the muscular Christian missionary.3 These complex forms of gendered sensibility appealed to very different emotional communities. In this chapter, I examine Gribble’s participation within an imperial humanitarian network, and a religious literary tradition characterized by narratives of Christian heroism featuring persecution, self-sacriﬁce and redemption, that were ultimately modelled upon the life of Jesus Christ himself. Chapter 3 examined the role of frontier violence in erasing indigeneity and diverting empathy toward colonists, in turn shaping settler identity during the 1830s and 1840s. In seeking to counter this orientation, and mobilize compassion for Aboriginal people on the frontier, Gribble exempliﬁes the emotional strategies deployed by evangelical Christian missionaries, for whom anti-slavery sentiment remained a powerful force throughout the nineteenth century. In this battle for sympathy, local settler arguments for their own pitiable situation again confronted the emotional regime of metropolitan humanitarianism and its concern for Indigenous peoples. ‘Not a Stuck-Up Kind of Fellow’ When Gribble subsequently reached north-western Western Australia’s frontier in 1886, he introduced himself by re-telling the story of his meeting with Ned Kelly. On his arrival in the Gascoyne River district, where he was to missionize, he stayed in a squatting homestead, and ‘during the evening I read an account from Leisure Hour of my own adventures with the notorious Kelly gang, and gave them a short address, which I hoped might not be in vain’. The manager then said he was glad that Gribble ‘was not a stuck-up kind of fellow’, as he had been led to believe, and made him welcome.4 Gribble himself had authored this story, titled ‘A Day with Australian Bushrangers’, which had appeared in the popular English weekly magazine Leisure Hour: a Family Journal of Instruction and Recreation. Published by the Religious Tract Society, the magazine had a large audience for its combination of ﬁction and historical and topical Christian literature. Masculinity was a primary concern of the Leisure Hour, aimed at teaching readers how to make a moral and religious 3
Gribble’s ‘eyewitness’ version was widely reproduced, e.g., ‘The Kelly Gang. Latest Particulars from an Eye Witness’, Bendigo Advertiser, 19 February 1879, p. 3; Kelly’s views are expressed in his famous 56-page manifesto, delivered to the public at Jerilderie: Jerilderie Letter transcription, p. 37, National Museum of Australia www.nma.gov.au/e xplore/features/jerilderie_letter/page_3. John Brown Gribble, Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land, or, Blacks and Whites in North-West Australia (Perth, WA: Stirling Bros, 1886), p. 8; The Daily News, 8 January 1886, p. 3.
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
home, and especially focused upon the role of the father in raising the family.5 Gribble’s role at Jerilderie conformed to this patriarchal framework. In re-enacting his taming of the wild Ned Kelly for his squatter audience, Gribble was doubtless also hoping that he would soon repeat his triumph on the Western Australian frontier. Sadly, within six months, Gribble had antagonized the pastoralists, church, government and conservative residents of Western Australia by alleging that a system of slavery prevailed in the north, and was forced to depart. Gribble’s storytelling points toward the power of textual accounts to deﬁne masculine identities, and his aspiration to what is often termed ‘muscular Christianity’ or ‘Christian manliness’, a profoundly gendered cultural construction that linked ethical and spiritual activism to more secular values of bravery and heroism.6 Building upon the ‘earnest, expressive manliness of the Evangelicals’, that John Tosh argues was foundational to the ‘dominant code of Victorian manliness with its emphasis on selfcontrol, hard work and independence’ in early to mid-nineteenth century, this form of manhood often emphasized physical conﬂict, sometimes considered innate to man’s animality.7 Gribble and the Imperial Commons Gribble has been viewed as an unusual ﬁgure in Western Australian history, an ‘obsessive personality’ whose persistence and outspokenness in challenging the colony’s conservative authorities was aberrant, if heroic.8 However it is important to understand his career in the context of his immersion in evangelical literary culture and especially latenineteenth-century traditions of muscular Christianity, and a diffuse discourse of anti-slavery. A range of critiques of the treatment of Aboriginal people in Western Australia’s north-west were mounted during the late nineteenth century, from ofﬁcials such as Government Resident Robert 5
Gribble, ‘A Day with Australian Bushrangers’; Stephanie Olsen, Juvenile Nation: Youth, Emotions and the Making of the Modern British Citizen, 1880–1914 (London: A&C Black, 2014), p. 84 Norman Vance, The Sinews of the Spirit: the Ideal of Christian Manliness in Victorian Literature and Religious Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1985); Donald E. Hall, ‘Introduction: Muscular Christianity: Reading and Writing the Male Social Body’ in Donald E. Hall (ed.), Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 3–13. Tosh, Manliness and Masculinities, 2, 5; David Rosen, ‘The Volcano and the Cathedral: Muscular Christianity and the Origins of Primal Manliness’ in Donald E. Hall (ed.), Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age (Cambridge University Press, 2006), pp. 17–44. Henry Reynolds, This Whispering in Our Hearts (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1988), p. xiv.
Gribble and the Imperial Commons
Fairbairn, and the letters, reports and protests of private individuals and ofﬁcials.9 Members of the public and two Western Australian newspapers supported Gribble’s position throughout the 1886 ‘scandal’ and afterward. Gribble’s apparent singularity fades when we recognize his critique as exemplary of the emotional tactics of imperial evangelical networks. The Gribble affair was largely a battle of representations in the press and in print, in which the pastoralist lobby sought to ridicule Gribble’s claims for sympathy toward Aboriginal people, and assert their own. Considerable research over the last two decades has explored the nature of imperial networks forged across settler colonies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Particularly important were the imperial humanitarian connections made through shared religious and reformist aims.10 As scholars such as Susan Thorne and Anna Johnston have argued, one of the primary tools of evangelical missionary effort was mastery of imperial print cultures.11 Recent scholarship underlines the magnitude of religious publishing in Britain in the early nineteenth century and the ways in which evangelicals reshaped cultures of print production and reading.12 In 1832, an observer at a meeting for the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge is recorded as saying that ‘[t]he population of this country [was] for the ﬁrst time becoming a reading population, actuated by tastes and habits unknown to preceding generations, and particularly susceptible to such an inﬂuence as that of the press’.13 Missionary texts 9
Robert Fairbairn, Western Australia, Instructions to, and Reports from the Resident Magistrate Despatched by Direction of His Excellency on Special Duty to the Murchison and Gascoyne Districts, Presented to the Legislative Council by His Excellency’s Command, Perth, Richard Pether, Government Printer, 1882; WAPD Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Council before 1890, Report of Commission to Inquire into the Treatment of Aboriginal Native Prisoners of the Crown, Perth, Richard Pether, Government Printer, 1884. Lester, Imperial Networks, 23–44; Lester, ‘Thomas Fowell Buxton; Grimshaw and May, Missionaries, Indigenous Peoples and Exchange Cultural (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2010); Penelope Edmonds, ‘Travelling “Under Concern”: Quakers James Backhouse and George Washington Walker Tour the Antipodean Colonies, 1832–41’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 40 (5) (2012), 769–88; Laidlaw, Colonial Connections; Laidlaw, ‘Heathens, Slaves and Aborigines; Bayly, Imperial Meridian; Colley, Britons; Hall, Civilising Subjects. Anna Johnston, The Paper War: Morality, Print Culture, and Power in Colonial New South Wales (Perth, 2011); Johnston, Missionary Writing and Empire; Thorne, Congregational Missions. William St Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 562; Scott Mandelbrote, ‘The Publishing and Distribution of Religious Books by Voluntary Associations: From the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to the British and Foreign Bible Society,’ in Michael F. Suarez and Michael L. Turner (eds.), The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain: Volume V, 1695–1830, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 613–30. Quoted in Louis James, English Popular Literature: 1819–1851 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), p. 18.
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
circulated the ‘imagery and vocabulary’ of emotion in aiming to elicit ‘right feeling’ and construct social relations amongst missionaries, bible women and converts; they were a powerful means of creating emotional communities, and constructing social relationships in imperial scope.14 Printing presses functioned as ‘engines of sympathy’, argues Tony Ballantyne, and paper, in ‘its lightness, portability and plasticity’, was a vital element of an assemblage that enabled and sustained the operation of British humanitarianism. As noted already, the imperial commons was also an important means of deﬁning ideas of manhood across the empire: books were translated across temporal and cultural contexts, such as the bestselling The Pilgrim’s Progress which became a key evangelical text.15 Gribble’s Youth: Activism in Victoria and New South Wales From an early age, Gribble was an active consumer of this literary culture. Born in 1847 at Redruth, Cornwall, Gribble was the son of Methodists who emigrated to Port Phillip when he was a year old as part of Cornwall’s Great Migration – a free emigration scheme administered in Britain by the Colonial Land and Immigration Commissioners. Redruth had been the centre of the 1814 ‘Great Revival’, a form of spiritual re-awakening experienced during highly emotional evangelistic meetings, that remained a prominent feature of spirituality in Cornwall. At age twentynine, Gribble joined the Congregational Union of Victoria and became a home missionary (to white settlers) in the Riverina region of New South Wales. Gribble’s circle was activist, working closely with Aboriginal communities, and often critical of ofﬁcial policy. His wife Mary Bulmer came from a missionary family based at Lake Tyers, among the Gunai people. When the 1886 Aborigines Act was passed, forcing so-called ‘half-castes’ to leave the reserves and their so-called ‘full-blood’ relatives, her father, missionary John Bulmer protested its injustice to ofﬁcials and refused to implement the law for four years.16 Also signiﬁcant was Gribble’s relationship with Daniel Matthews of Maloga Mission, among the most radical missionaries in Australia. Matthews established Maloga on the 14 15 16
Haggis and Allen, ‘Imperial Emotions’; Ballantyne, ‘Moving Texts’. Ballantyne, ‘Moving Texts’; Ballantyne, ‘Contesting the Empire of Paper’; Hofmeyr, Portable Bunyan, 76–97. ‘Gribble, John Brown (1847–1893)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University), http://adb.anu.edu.au/ biography/gribble-john-brown-3668/text5727; David Bebbington, Victorian Religious Revivals: Culture and Piety in Local and Global Contexts (Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 92; Peter Carolane, ‘Instinct for Mission: John Bulmer, Missionary to the Aborigines of Victoria, 1855–1913’, PhD thesis, University of Melbourne, 2010.
traditional country of the Yorta Yorta and Bangerang peoples in 1874, working without ofﬁcial funding for nine years until in 1883 he began to receive support from the new Board.17 Gribble had early success in securing public opinion, writing A Plea for the Aborigines of New South Wales in 1879, which argued for the need for a Central Station on the Murrumbidgee in the newly formed Diocese of Riverina.18 Gribble’s decision to become a missionary to Aboriginal people – his own conversion story – is central to the work’s structure. Gribble was successful in securing the support of ofﬁcial and church authorities and with his wife founded Warangesda Aboriginal Mission on the Murrumbidgee River. With Matthews, Gribble also successfully prompted the Parkes government to appoint an inquiry in 1882.19 Warangesda remained Gribble’s success story, and he relied upon it for his credibility, and as a means of attracting public interest in Australia and in Britain. London Pilgrimage Gribble’s struggles to establish Warangesda affected his health, and he left for London in March 1884 on the advice of his medical doctor, but later also referred to his aim ‘to create a greater interest in the Aboriginal Mission of Australia’ and raise funds. On board the ship, Gribble found time to read the lives of eminent missionaries and church-men, such as the ‘life of Dr Moffatt African missionary. How my poor labours and trials sink into nothing before the Christian heroism of such an apostolic man.’ Robert Moffat was a famously muscular missionary and explorer of Africa – and father-in-law of David Livingstone whose many publications included the very popular Missionary Labours and Scenes in South Africa (1842). Gribble also made some useful contacts, such as fellow traveller, the Rev. Thompson, who promised to give him an introduction to the secretary of the London Tract Society.20 Clearly Gribble was thinking ahead to the organizations and individuals he hoped to meet – and 17
18 19 20
Nancy Cato, Mister Maloga: Daniel Matthews and His Mission, Murray River, 1864–1902 (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1976); Claire McLisky, ‘Settlers on a Mission: Faith, Power and Subjectivity in the Lives of Daniel and Janet Matthews’, Ph.D. thesis, Melbourne: University of Melbourne, 2009. John Brown Gribble, A Plea for the Aborigines of New South Wales (Jerilderie, 1879), pp. 4–5. Heather Goodall, Invasion to Embassy: and in Aboriginal Politics in New South Wales, 1770–1972 (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996), p. 105. John Brown Gribble Papers, 1873–1905, Box MS 1514/1, Item 5: Parts 1 and 2, 1 April 1884, Diaries, p. 10. Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (hereafter AIATSIS).
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
particularly the world of religious publishing. Christian celebrity ‘lives’ were the literary currency of his circle. Arriving in London in July, Gribble’s diary tells how he plunged into religious society with enthusiasm, recording the places, people and events that occupied him over his sojourn. For example, he noted ‘Met Mrs Grattan Guinness. She was deeply interested in my account of our Australian Aborigines. She gave me a most hearty invitation to stay with them near Shefﬁeld.’ Henry Grattan Guinness was the great preacher of the Ulster Evangelical awakening, and his East London Institute for Home and Foreign Missions sent hundreds of ‘faith missionaries’ all over the world. In 1877, he founded the Inland Mission, and his son Dr. Henry Grattan Guinness followed David Livingstone to Africa where he founded the Congo-Balolo Mission in 1888.21 Like these inﬂuential ﬁgures, Gribble was inspired by the work of David Livingstone, as his encounter with the missionary-explorer’s tomb in Westminster Abbey reveals. Livingstone was the most famous of all muscular Christians, combining the roles of heroic African explorer, missionary martyr, anti-slavery reformer and advocate of colonial commerce, who made contributions to geography, medicine and science. His lavishly illustrated 1857 book, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa, sold 70,000 copies and earned £12,000. Livingstone’s text infused an ancient tradition of representing Africa as Europe’s ‘other’ with the new goal of ‘commerce’, that Livingstone argued would ‘open’ up the continent to Christianity and the abolition of slavery.22 Livingstone’s life and works were intensively circulated and promoted by the late Victorian missionary movement. Soon after arriving in London, Gribble went to Westminster Abbey, to see the monuments and tombs of the illustrious dead in that famous resting place of England’s celebrated sons. But nothing touched the deepest cords [sic] of my heart like the tomb of that Christian hero David Livingstone. There in the very middle of the ﬂoor of the nave lies his sacred remains covered with a red marble slab. In reading his name my heart gave a peculiar kind of throb. I could have 21
Gribble, Diaries, AIATSIS; Joseph Conley, Drumbeats That Changed the World: a History of the Regions beyond Missionary Union and the West Indies Mission, 1873–1999 (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2000). David Livingstone, Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa; Including a Sketch of Sixteen Years’ Residence in the Interior of Africa, and a Journey from the Cape of Good Hope to Loanda on the West Coast (London: John Murray, 1858); L. Henderson, ‘David Livingstone’s Missionary Travels in Britain and America: Exploring the Wider Circulation of a Victorian Travel Narrative’, Scottish Geographical Journal, 129 (2013), 179–93. See contributions to National Portrait Gallery, David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa, (London, 1996).
poured forth my soul in tears if I had been alone. what an inspiration new and full came to me as I stood there. I afresh gave myself to Livingston Master for the very same kind of work for Australia’s black sons and daughters which he prosecuted for Africa’s children had helped me to him as he followed them.23
In this deeply emotional, almost feverish, passage, Gribble expresses his own renewal of faith and commitment to mission work, mediated by his hero. A number of elements included in Livingstone’s biography resonate with Gribble’s own life story and were typical of the genre of missionary lives, including a nonconformist working-class background, conversion experience, recruitment via pamphlet and the missionary network, including a transformative encounter with a hero, and enthusiasm to explore foreign lands. The ‘halo of romance’ that surrounded Livingstone was only enhanced by the reception of his life and works after his death, when his journals were edited by his disciple Horace Waller to render him a saintly, Christ-like ﬁgure.24 Gribble also travelled to Lichﬁeld Cathedral in Staffordshire where he visited Bishop George Augustus Selwyn’s monument, the ﬁrst Anglican Bishop of New Zealand, and another famous Christian hero. Charles Kingsley dedicated his 1855 novel Westward Ho! to Selwyn because he embodied ‘that type of English virtue, at once manful and godly, practical and enthusiastic, prudent and self-sacriﬁcing, which he has tried to depict in these pages . . . exhibited in a form even purer and more heroic than that in which he has drest it.’25 Kingsley helped popularize this concept, in which ‘manliness’ was synonymous with moral and physical strength – for example in a series of sermons he gave in Cambridge in 1866 on King David, in which every mention of ‘muscular Christianity’ produced ‘loud cheers of approval’.26 In this cultural tradition, deﬁned by ﬁgures as diverse as Rousseau and Carlyle, moral principles created the emotions which fostered courage, lying deeper than outward comportment.27 Gribble’s subsequent work in Western Australia was to follow in this tradition. While in London, Gribble frequently attended meetings in Exeter Hall, the building on the north side of The Strand, London, England, used for 23 24
25 26 27
Gribble, Diaries, AIATSIS. Although Cox argues that the reality was rather of family-based mission-work dominated by women and non-Europeans, especially over the later nineteenth century. Jeffrey Cox, The British Missionary Enterprise since 1700 (New York: Routledge, 2008) p. 150; John M. MacKenzie, ‘David Livingstone and the Worldly After-Life: Imperialism and Nationalism in Africa’, in National Portrait Gallery, David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa, (London, 1996), pp. 201–17. Gribble, Diaries, 68; Charles Kingsley, Westward Ho! (London: Macmillan, 1855), p. vii. Rosen, ‘The Volcano and the Cathedral’. E.g., Thomas Carlyle, On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (New York: Thomas Crowell, 1841).
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
holding religious and philanthropic meetings from 1840 onward. The phrase ‘Exeter Hall’ had become a synonym for the anti-slavery lobby, and for humanitarianism more generally. It hosted ‘many encampments of distinct tribes. Wesleyan, Church, Baptist missionary societies’ all maintained a certain degree of reserve toward each other, all are jealous of the claims of rival sects, and yet all are attracted by a common sense of religious earnestness.’28 Gribble detailed the many religious events he attended, and the church ﬁgures he met with, visited, or whose sermons he heard, including the Church Missionary Society, where he ‘Heard Archbishop of York and Bishop Ryle. He spoke splendidly. He is a man of the right stamp. Some returned missionaries spoke two or three spoke well and to the point others made lame attempts.’ He travelled to several regional British towns such as Norwich where he was ‘kindly entertained by the Bishop and Mrs Linton’, shortly to depart for their new (and Gribble’s former) mission ﬁeld, the Diocese of Riverina. They were ‘much interested in all I told them about their prospective ofﬁce of labour. 14th Preached in St Phillip’s Church for the Bishop.’ Gribble’s friendship with the Lintons continued in Australia.29 Twice Gribble went to listen to American evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody and gospel singer Ira Sankey’s meetings on their fourth British tour, noting of one gathering that ‘“The love of God” was the subject considered. My soul was greatly blessed. Every word was for me. . . . The illustrations were very apt and touching.’30 Moody and Sankey became famous in Britain where they successfully adapted the democratic populism of the American revivalist tradition for a respectable urban audience. During their ﬁrst tour in 1872 they preached almost a hundred times and attracted huge audiences of 20,000–30,000. Together they published books of Christian hymns. Moody himself had quickly become friends with many leading evangelical ﬁgures in London, and his biographer James Findlay suggests that his entry-point was the Young Mens’ Christian Association (YMCA).31 Gribble too found the YMCA a useful network within evangelical London – as it had been for him in Sydney – and he met with its ofﬁcials and attended prayer meetings at its headquarters in Aldersgate Street. Founded in 1844 for young working 28 29 30 31
John Timbs, Curiosities of London: Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis, (London, 1867), p. 334. ‘Death of the Bishop of Riverina’, South Australian Register, 17 May 1894, p.5. Gribble, Diaries, 64. Timothy George (ed.), Mr. Moody and the Evangelical Tradition (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2005); David Bebbington, ‘Moody, Dwight Lyman (1837–1899)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004). www.oxforddnb.com /view/article/53843; James F. Findlay, Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist, 1837–1899 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2007), p. 128.
men, the organization aimed to put Christian principles into practice by developing a healthy ‘body, mind, and spirit’, and promoting good sportsmanship. Values of hard work, self-control, independence and strength were promoted by such organizations, as well as closely linked to a thriving literary market.32 Gribble sought out key ﬁgures in the Aborigines Protection Society (APS), formed in 1837 at a high point of humanitarian inﬂuence in Britain. A New South Wales branch of the APS had supported Warangesda since 1881. Gribble met with the Society’s Secretary, Frederick Chesson, and noted in his diary, ‘Pleased to see he advised me to write a book on Australian Aborigines. Presented me with the life of John Woolman, the friend of the slave.’ Chesson was an English journalist and prominent anti-slavery campaigner in Britain and in North America, and oversaw the APS’s publishing program, which included tracts, pamphlets, Annual Reports and, from 1847, a journal entitled The Aborigines’ Friend, or Colonial Intelligencer.33 He presented Gribble with The Journal of John Woolman (1774), a North American merchant, journalist, and itinerant Quaker preacher, and an early abolitionist. As well as the APS, Gribble met with Reverend Edmund McClure, Editorial Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) from 1875 to 1915. The SPCK concentrated on distributing religious literature and supporting charity schools in England, while its offshoot, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) was responsible for coordinating overseas missionary work. Gribble also spoke at the annual meeting of the SPG’s Bristol and Clifton Branch, with the Rev. S. Cood Hore, from British Guiana, ‘as a Deputation to advocate the claims of the Society’. Gribble also visited the Religious Tract Society, a major British publisher of Christian literature, and promised to write an article, no doubt the account of his adventure with the Kelly Gang that subsequently appeared in the Leisure Hour.34 32
Dominic Erdozain, The Problem of Pleasure: Sport, Recreation and the Crisis of Victorian Religion, (Suffolk: Boydell, 2010); Olsen, Juvenile Nation, 23; John Springhall, Youth, Empire and Society: British Youth Movements, 1883–1940 (London: Croom Helm, 1977); Gribble, Diaries, 65. Gribble, Diaries, 66; H. C. Swaisland, ‘Chesson, Frederick William (1833–1888)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004), www .oxforddnb.com/view/article/38853. Gribble was also presented by a Revd Scott with the Memoirs of Bishop McKenzie – another muscular Christian and a follower of Livingstone’s who opposed the slave trade in Nyasaland, and died of malaria in 1862. Gribble, Diaries, 68–70; William Osborn Bird Allen and Edmund McClure, Two Hundred Years: the History of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1698–1898 (London: SPCK, 1898). The Society’s founders were drawn from of the same group of
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
In sum, Gribble’s London sojourn immersed him within the evangelical community, allowing him to meet key ﬁgures within the major religious organizations and prominent clergymen in the Anglican and nonconformist church, including the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Palace Lambeth; he heard them preach, and gave sermons himself, representing mission-work in the distant colonies. Although the 1830s climax of the British anti-slavery movement was long past, anti-slavery sentiment and argument remained strong, if diffusely expressed through a proliferation of diverse cultural forms.35 During Gribble’s sojourn, he published a book, Black But Comely, with Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, a predominantly Baptist press that also published Sankey’s hymns. This work’s more prominent gilt subtitle read, Aboriginal Life in Australia, and would have been understood by readers as a general overview of mission work in Australia. Gribble’s aim was to persuade unsympathetic readers to the Aboriginal cause, so ‘that those who now possess uncharitable feelings respecting the Australian blacks may be led to alter their opinions, and pity a people to whom we owe so much’.36 He detailed the pitiable state and urgent needs of Aboriginal people in New South Wales, and provided an account of the Warangesda Mission, from its foundation, when he encountered Aboriginal people ‘in a condition most shocking to contemplate’, his struggles to win ofﬁcial support, clashes with white neighbours, to its eventual success. Gribble emphasized the ‘happy deaths’ of the converted, completing his account of the mission ‘by referring to the experience of two or three of those who have died in the faith of Christ.’ The book was illustrated with engravings based on photographic portraits of Christian Aboriginal people, such as Billy Foote from Warangesda and Amelia from Poonindie.37 Gribble’s text is typical of the popular genre of ‘conversion narrative’, contrasting a former state of savagery with a subsequent elevated Christianity; it is structured by a narrative of encounter, shock and revelation, followed by personal internal struggle and dedication, and then the mission’s gradual success mixed with continuing struggle against secular interests and immorality. The theme of intense hostility toward his work from white neighbours and even the government, followed by
35 36 37
evangelicals who founded the London Missionary Society in 1795, and the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804. Gribble, ‘A Day with Australian Bushrangers’. Gribble, Diaries, 70; Richard Huzzey, Freedom Burning: Anti-Slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012), p. 7. Gribble, Black But Comely, 18. Gribble, Black But Comely, 48; Sari Braithwaite and Jane Lydon, ‘Photographing “the Nucleus of the Native Church” at Poonindie Mission, South Australia’ Photography and Culture, 8 (2015), pp. 37–58.
Gribble Goes West: the Gribble Affair
steady progress and eventual success, provides a precedent for Gribble’s later persistence in the North-west. As late as April 1885, it was said of Warangesda mission in newspaper reports that What was at ﬁrst characterised as a madman’s freak, and opposed tooth and nail by almost all sides, is now all but let alone by enemies, and deemed true wisdom. Difﬁculties there are and will be, disappointments and trials, how could it be otherwise? But it is not in vain – that hand is stretched out in the name of Christ to the fallen brother or sister.38
The ultimate model for this narrative of struggle, personal sacriﬁce and redemption was of course the life of Jesus Christ as recounted in the New Testament, but it was re-enacted in Victorian popular culture by many others, Livingstone being only the most famous. Gribble Goes West: the Gribble Affair Gribble returned to Australia in January 1885, declaring that his sojourn in the old country had created ‘much interest’ on behalf of his work. A few months later he announced that ‘being so fully convinced of the reality of the results of six years’ work, I am anxious to set the same machinery in motion in the more extensive sphere of Western Australia.’39 However, his ambitions for Western Australia were to end in tragic failure. In August, Gribble arrived in a colony already characterized by tense relations between pastoralists and those concerned for Aboriginal welfare, represented by the church and the British crown. By this time, the Anglican Bishop of Perth, Henry Parry, and Governor William Robinson had been working toward Aboriginal policy reform for some years. In June 1883, the new Governor, Frederick Napier Broome, arrived and in August introduced an Aboriginal Native Offenders Bill to a hostile Council. In September 1883, Broome appointed John Forrest to head a committee of inquiry, which recommended an Aboriginal policy of increased governance through a Protection Board and a supporting network of local protectors. In 1884, Broome reserved 150,000 acres (60,704 ha) in the Murchison and Gascoyne area for a mission, and invited Gribble to superintend it.40
38 39 40
‘The Bishop’s Visit to Warangesda’, The Riverine Grazier, 29 April 1885, p. 2. ‘News of the Day’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 January 1885, p. 7. A year went by before the committee submitted its report to Council, and when it was, in August 1885, the Council immediately referred it to a Select Committee, which then rejected its key suggestions. Stephen Churches, ‘Put Not Your Faith in Princes (or Courts) – Agreements Made from Asymmetrical Power Bases: the Story of a Promise Made to Western Australia’s Aboriginal People’, in Peter Read, Gary Meyers and
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
Gribble departed for the Gascoyne on Tuesday 25 August 1885. At this stage, the press, including pastoralist-owned West Australian’s editorial was cordial, praising his ambition, but warning that he would need tact, and ‘a practical, unprejudiced and sympathetic understanding of the relative positions of the whites and of the blacks’. Within two months it reported the ﬁrst stirrings of dissatisfaction from the north, in the form of an indignation meeting of Gascoyne settlers demanding Gribble’s ejection. Gribble returned to Perth, and gave a public lecture, ‘Only a black fellow, or the conditions and needs of our aborigines’, in which he questioned labour practices in the north, and criticized the way Aboriginal prisoners at the Junction police station were ‘chained round the neck, and a long chain attached them to each other’. When he returned to the Gascoyne, the settlers boycotted him, and held further indignation meetings in December 1885 and January 1886.41 Gribble’s insistence on publishing his views lost him the support of both the West Australian and the Mission Committee. However the Daily News, published by the Stirling family, and the Fremantle-based The Herald remained sympathetic throughout. February was an especially trying time for Gribble, as not only was he attacked while travelling to Perth aboard the SS Natal, but his three-year-old son died, and his bank failed, leaving him destitute. As one observer noted of his Perth sermon, ‘The tremor of emotion almost painfully audible in Mr. Gribble’s voice throughout the service made it plain to all that, though as a Christian his faith rose above his trials, as a father, a husband, and a man he felt them most acutely.’42 Over the following few months, Gribble continued his attempts to establish his mission, but by June he was again lecturing in Perth and Fremantle, supported by anti-establishment factions. In June, encouraged by the liberal faction, including the Inquirer, he published his ‘pamphlet’ Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land, which, as historian Su-Jane Hunt
Bob Reece (eds.), What Good Condition? Reﬂections on an Australian Aboriginal Treaty, 1986–2006, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 2006), pp. 1–14. ‘Vigilans et Audax’, The West Australian, 26 August 1885, p. 3. The West Australian was established in 1885 and was co-owned by Irish-born lawyer and journalist John Winthrop Hackett and WA-born pastoralist and politician Charles Harper. The West Australian, 26 November 1885, p. 3; ‘Lecture by the Rev. J. Gribble’, The West Australian, 11 December 1885, p. 3; ‘Local Telegrams. Carnarvon’, The Daily News, 18 December 1885, p. 3; ‘Local Telegrams’, The Inquirer and Commercial News, 6 January 1886, p. 2. For overviews, see Su Jane Hunt, ‘The Gribble Affair: a Study in Colonial Politics’, Studies in Western Australian History, 8 (1984), 42–51; Reynolds This Whispering, 138–58. ‘Items of News’, The Herald, Saturday 23 January 1886, p. 3; ‘Vigilans et Audax’, West Australian, 14 January 1886, p. 3. ‘News of the Day’, The Daily News, Thursday 11 February 1886 p. 3. ‘News of the Day’, The Daily News, Monday 1 March 1886, quotation p. 3.
Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land
commented, was received with ‘a tone bordering on hysteria’ by the Perth community.43 In Sydney, however, the Church of England Primate issued Gribble with a general preaching license and employed him to lecture for three months throughout the colony. The eastern press was highly critical of Western Australian affairs, which enraged the editors of the West Australian. They termed Gribble a ‘lying, canting humbug’, an insult that provoked Gribble to sue the newspaper for libel. As Hunt suggests, the trial became a contest between the colony’s notoriously conservative, elite population which the newspaper represented, including Governor Broome, who had aligned himself closely with the settlers, and the more liberal residents, many of whom had more recently arrived. Testimony revealed that Aboriginal people were indeed often treated like slaves in the north, for example, when they were literally bought and sold with cargo on pearling luggers. For example, George Bush, an important Gascoyne settler and member of the Anglican Church, told the court that he had ‘tamed my 40 natives more or less . . . I have heard of natives out of my own (property) being run down and unlawfully taken and I believed they were chained up . . . I have heard that nigger hunting in the northern parts of the colony has been a proﬁtable employment.’ Bush also explained that he had ‘sent the [Aboriginal] women off to the white men myself. The probable consequences of such is that the women will be used as the white man wishes’.44 Gribble’s accusations were challenged by his pastoralist opponents, who focused on his sources, his own experience, and whether his criticisms were exaggerated or reasonable. Gribble’s ready insertion of frontier injustices into a framework of slavery, as well as the intensely affective evangelical language common in his writing and speech, seemed sensational and excessive to many in frontier Western Australia, undermining his credibility. The judge found against Gribble, who, unable to pay costs, ﬂed the colony. Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land Dark Deeds explicitly framed the treatment of Aboriginal people in northwestern Australia as slavery, drawing upon the abolitionist tradition so immediate to Gribble. This pastiche combined quotations, previously published journal entries and articles, and a fresh denunciation. The pamphlet opened with two quotations, ‘Her Majesty the Queen’s Mandate re Aborigines’ of March 1861, that called for the twin goals of promoting religion and civilization ‘among the native inhabitants’ of her 43
Hunt, ‘The Gribble Affair’, p. 48.
Hunt, ‘The Gribble Affair’, p. 48.
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
colonies, followed by an extract from a famous anti-slavery speech made by Lord Chancellor Henry Brougham on the 13th of July, 1830. Here titled ‘Lord Brougham’s opinion of dark deeds’, this began, ‘Tell me not of rights – talk not of the property of the Planter in his Slaves. I deny the right – I acknowledge not the property’, and concluded, ‘While men despise fraud, and loathe rapine, and hate blood, they shall reject, with indignation the wild and guilty fantacy (sic), that man can hold property in man.’ His preface went on to deﬁne ‘dark deeds’ as those of oppression and cruelty, evidence for which was provided by ‘Africa’s long and sad catalogue of woes’, including ‘capture, chains, long marches, whipping, exhaustion, death on the road-side’. Invoking American abolitionism and speciﬁcally the 1852 best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, he wrote, ‘Let Mrs Harriet Beecher Stowe, with her graphic pen, sketch the revolting picture to our minds’, and referred to the ‘holy exertions’ for abolition of Wilberforce, Fowell Buxton, Lord Brougham, Abraham Lincoln, John Woolman and other British and American abolitionists. And he brought the colony of Western Australia into this framework, writing, ‘But that Australia itself, professedly the new home of liberty and light, should also have become the theatre of the dark deeds of oppression and cruelty . . . constitutes the foulest blot that could possibly rest upon the escutcheon of Australia’s fame’. To prove that ‘The Native Labor System on the Gascoyne’ was ‘bond service bordering on slavery’, he detailed the oppressive system of assignment that forced Aboriginal people to work for stations, so that ‘once assigned he is forever a slave in effect’, and argued further that ‘assignment of native females against their will for purposes of immorality is a sign of slavery.’45 Gribble also gave voice to a range of contemporary criticisms, drawing upon corroborating evidence such as the earlier 1882 Fairbairn report, several cases of ill-treatment that had reached the courts, and the allegations of Roebourne resident David Carly (or Carley). Much of this pamphlet constituted personal justiﬁcations of his behaviour in the west, and accusations against Bishop Parry and the Committee of the Board of Missions of ‘yielding’ to the ‘popular outcry’ so that he was ‘virtually persecuted “in the house of my friends”’. Gribble refused to be censored by the Mission Committee, citing Jesus’s response to the Pharisees when they warned him that Herod would kill him: ‘Woe unto ye Pharisees, hypocrites, how shall ye escape the damnation of hell? . . . Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’46 This 45 46
Gribble, Dark Deeds, 4, 34, 35. Gribble, Dark Deeds, 15–16, 26. Gribble’s case was mixed up with the growing antagonism between Broome and senior colonial ofﬁcials such as Onslow.
identiﬁcation with Christ and especially his sacriﬁcial persona is signiﬁcant – Gribble was driven by a need to show himself as wronged and yet steadfast. He reproduced his own letters of rebuke to the Bishop, and to the Colonial Secretary, both complaining that Broome had deliberately prevented him from seeking justice against his attackers on the Natal. In sum, his pamphlet was a mix of allegations combined with evidence for Gribble’s own ill-treatment, portraying himself as a Christian hero who had sacriﬁced himself for his ideals. He embarked on a lecture tour of the eastern colonies and, in August 1886, as Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land was ‘commanding a great sale throughout the colony’, Governor Broome introduced an Aborigines Protection Bill into Council. Contemporaries saw this as a direct response to the scandal, but this legislation had been in train for some years, and there had been a range of criticisms and exposures of the treatment of Western Australian Aboriginal people since the 1870s, exerting pressure upon the church and government.47 In debates leading up to proclamation of Western Australia’s new constitution in 1890, Gribble was no longer cited directly, but in both Australia and Britain the humanitarian view-point was signalled by the term ‘Exeter Hall’. It is probable that Gribble’s critique contributed signiﬁcantly to the Crown’s decision – humiliating to Western Australians – that it would retain control over Indigenous affairs. Section 70 of West Australia’s new Constitution provided a sop to the British humanitarian conscience in ameliorating the worst effects of settler conquest.48 Conclusion Alongside other bush ‘types’, Ned Kelly contributed to the powerful ‘Australian legend’ ﬁrst explored by Russel Ward in 1958. Since then, many have pointed out that the social reality underlying the stereotype was less wild, more feminine, and that the myth expressed a narrow urban fantasy.49 In Gribble’s story, however, we see the bushranger’s cultural 47 48
‘Opening of the Western Australian Legislature’, The Argus, 23 June 1886, p. 6; ‘Intercolonial’, Brisbane Courier, 23 June 1886, p. 5. See contributions to Ann Curthoys and Jane Lydon (eds.), Governing Western Australian Aboriginal People: Section 70 of WA’s 1889 Constitution Studies in Western Australian History 30 (2016). Ward, The Australian Legend, 145–79; critiques include Marilyn Lake, ‘The Politics of Respectability: Identifying the Masculinist Context’, in Susan Magarey, Sue Rowley and Susan Sheridan (eds.), Debutante Nation: Feminism Contests the 1890s (St Leonards, NSW: Allen and Unwin, 1993), pp. 1–16; Richard White, Inventing Australia: Images and Identity 1688–1980 (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1981), pp. 63–109; Graeme Davison,
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
power in symbolizing the wild white frontiersman that the missionary wishes to tame, and how compassion was directed toward the frontier’s Aboriginal victims, framed as slaves. In Gribble’s unsuccessful battle with the Western Australian pastoralists, white settlers seeking to defend their conquest of Aboriginal land and people were uniﬁed in opposition to Gribble, representing metropolitan humanitarian critique. It was not until a royal commission in 1905 documented continuing ill-treatment in the north that a majority of settlers expressed public guilt, and the desire for atonement.50 Historians often overlook the distinctive history of Western Australian colonization, and the way that its northern frontier invaded indigenous country much later than in other colonies. In this way, the wild north-west provided a focus of concern and difference for humanitarian observers based in the cities of south-eastern Australia, whose own histories of violent invasion were by now safely in the past. As suggested in Chapter 2, frontier violence was thoroughly imbricated in creating colonial ideas of manhood and in shaping settler identities.51 This process continued on the Western Australian frontier into the ﬁrst decades of the twentieth century, as pastoralists defended their treatment of Aboriginal people. In assessing Gribble’s role in 1880s Western Australia, historians have continued to recapitulate the terms of Gribble’s own textual accounts, in emphasizing his singularity and his fanatical opposition to the ofﬁcial forces of church and state. However, by understanding Gribble’s attempts to emulate Christian heroism within a religious literary tradition of persecution, hardship and self-sacriﬁce, his behaviour can be understood as conforming to a familiar missionary agenda. Without denying his personal commitment and impact, we must acknowledge both the speciﬁc rhetorical effects of portraying himself as a self-sacriﬁcing martyr within a broader range of contemporary viewpoints sympathetic to Aboriginal people on the frontier. While this shift may require us to adjust our conception of Gribble as a Christian hero, it opens up our view of Western Australia during the 1880s to a more complex and interesting analysis entailing a broader array of forces and processes. Gribble went on to work as a missionary in Queensland until his death in 1893, as Chapter 6 explores.
‘Sydney and the Bush: an Urban Context for the Australian Legend’, Historical Studies 18 (1978); Richard Waterhouse, ‘Australian Legends: Representations of the Bush, 1813– 1913’, Australian Historical Studies, 31 (2000), 201–21. Lydon, The Flash of Recognition; Owen, Every Mother’s Son. Tosh, Manliness and Masculinities, 2, 5; Woollacott, ‘Frontier Violence and Settler Manhood’; Wood, ‘Frontier Violence and the Bush Legend’.
The late nineteenth century was a pivotal period in British anti-slavery protest, bridging the gap between the Victorian era of abolition and the rise of human rights protest under international government. In the intersection of imperialist and abolitionist ideologies, a variety of opinions, methods and deﬁnitions could be accommodated around a core set of beliefs regarding the immorality of slavery. The language of the abolitionists was used by other social reformers such as feminists and working-class labour reformers, by contrast with diminished concern for the former objects of concern, slaves in Caribbean plantations.52 The distinction between free labour and slavery was of crucial importance to British humanitarianism, and by the turn of the century, safeguarding free labour was of central importance in Britain’s African colonies, as a marker of progressive colonial rule that distanced Britain from an earlier era of slavery. Both evangelical philanthropists and advocates of human rights shaped British responses to ‘the new slaveries’ of European imperialism in Africa, illustrating the important role of British humanitarianism in establishing the foundations of twentieth-century international government under the League of Nations.53 The ‘scramble for Africa’ contrasted with Britain’s willingness to barter away land and Indigenous rights in Western Australia: when the Western Australian Constitution Bill was debated in the British House of Commons in June 1890, the Member for Kirkaldie, George Campbell, noted these contrasting imperial views of the two regions in commenting that ‘We are engaged in a strange policy, grabbing new territory in Africa, while we give away this vast territory in Australia.’54 Yet the transatlantic slave trade as the canonical form of unfreedom continued to loom large in the British imperial and humanitarian imagination, deﬁning a tradition of abolition in African terms. Gribble’s attempts to deﬁne conditions in Western Australia as ‘slavery’ were structured by this African-oriented tradition, and he saw himself as a heroic Christian ﬁgure modelled upon predecessors such as David Livingstone. Yet despite his attempts to apply the language, imagery and emotional power of African slavery to Aboriginal people, the agenda of responsible government and 52 53
Huzzey, Freedom Burning, p. 8. Frederick Cooper, ‘Conditions Analogous to Slavery: Imperialism and Free Labour Ideology in Africa,’ in Frederick Cooper, Thomas C. Holt and Rebecca J. Scott, (eds.), Beyond Slavery: Explorations of Race, Labor and Citizenship in Post-Emancipation Societies (Chapel Hill: University of North Caroline Press, 2000), 111–12; Kevin Grant, A Civilised Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884–1926 (New York: Routledge, 2005). George Campbell, 30 June. 346 Parliamentary Debates (3d. series) (1890), p. 375.
Christian Heroes on the New Frontier
expanding imperial territory trumped concern for local Indigenous rights. Aboriginal treatment in Western Australia was seen as an imperial embarrassment, hindering British attempts to provide humanitarian international leadership in Africa in the ﬁrst years of the twentieth century.
Charity Begins at Home: Philanthropy, Magic Lantern Slides and Missionary Performances
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 5:8)
In 1891, the London-based Barnardo’s orphanages sent their representative Mr. A. R. E. Burton, also Secretary to the Victorian Scripture Instructional League, throughout the Australasian colonies giving lantern slide performances. In January, Burton spoke to a large audience in Adelaide’s Victoria Hall. The London winter had been particularly severe, imparting extra urgency to his illustrated lecture on the ‘Waifs and Strays of London and Life in the Slums’. Burton talked about his personal experiences of ‘the back slums’, and used the magic lantern slide to good effect in offering his Adelaide audience a tour of the metropolis. He began with a large number of views of London life, such as the Houses of Parliament at Westminster, ‘and every picture was accompanied by interesting explanations’. In ‘marked contrast’, this was followed by scenes showing ‘that part of London in which so much poverty and dire wretchedness exist’ – ‘the squalid courts and alleys, the miserable “ﬂoors” of the dens called houses, and their occupants, who seemed to be in keeping with their fearful surroundings. Then Burton gave graphic details of the hundreds of men who daily seek work at the docks’. Using a common visual tactic of exposure and revelation, he explained that ‘[g]roups of men, women, and children were seen to be huddled together in tunnels, where they sought shelter from the night’s cold, and by the light of the lantern used by the policeman on the beat could be seen the utter despair upon their haggard faces.’ Finally, told the Register, Mr. Burton said that this was just the time that this wretchedness was at its height, and on this account Dr. Barnardo had appealed to Australians for help. He then told of the great work that Dr. Barnardo was doing amongst the London poor, and gave illustrations of the young people in their homeless and friendless state, and subsequently in the happier mood, which was brought about by the kindly ofﬁces 143
Charity Begins at Home
of the benevolent doctor and his willing helpers. . . . He was listened to attentively, and at the close of the lecture was heartily applauded.1
Barnardo’s raised £10,000 from this tour, suggesting that many Australasian colonists felt for the distant waifs of London just as if they lived nearby – that is, in the eyes of white settlers, the plight of London’s waifs was immediate and universal, and deserved their help.2 In this chapter, I explore the visual and rhetorical strategies of lantern slide performances given in the Australasian colonies during the early 1890s by the London-based Barnardo’s orphanages, and the Australian missionary John Brown Gribble, in aiming to divert public sympathy toward their very different causes. The competing emotional strategies of Barnardo’s Homes and Australian missionaries such as Gribble point toward the central role of children, and speciﬁcally children at risk or at need of rescue, within Victorian culture. The problem of neglected or impoverished children in Britain’s cities was frequently resolved through institutionalization, and emigration to the colonies, seen as surrogate families where they would be Christianized and educated. As Shurlee Swain and Margot Hillel have shown, these ideas were applied both to metropolitan waifs such as Jo the crossing-sweep, as well as to Aboriginal children who were the focus of policies of assimilation.3 A ‘before and after’ visual narrative of transformation was used by both Barnardo and Gribble in seeking to demonstrate the efﬁcacy of their program of transformation and mission work – one, among the white waifs of the slums; the other, among Indigenous Australians on the remote frontier. This mirroring points toward the mutual constitution of class, race and gender across empire, shaping both British and colonial identities. Nineteenth century ‘grammars of difference and hierarchies of inequality’ engendered new forms of colonial rule that required systems of classiﬁcation, using categories that ‘legitimated inequalities of power’, especially race.4 While most scholarship addressing this process has focused on its impact upon metropolitan cultures, here I examine its uses by colonists, as the competing but interrelated categories of class and of race were constructed through the lantern slide performances of 1 2 3
South Australian Register, 9 January 1891. Barnardos, History of Barnardos Australia Monograph 22 (Sydney: Barnardos Australia, 2015) Shurlee Swain and Margot Hillel, Child, Nation, Race and Empire: Child Rescue Discourse, England, Canada and Australia, 1850–1915 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010); Gillian Wagner, Barnardo (London: Weidenfeld And Nicolson, 1979); Murdoch, Imagined Orphans; Laura Peters, Orphan Texts: Victorian Orphans, Culture and Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000). Hall and Rose, ‘Introduction’, 3.
Charity Begins at Home
Barnardo and Gribble. These visual, emotional performances deﬁned ideas and social categories that circulated across the empire, seeking to arouse compassion for their different objects of compassion – the white waif and the Aboriginal ‘heathen’. Where Barnardo’s campaign was tremendously successful in raising funds and attracting support across Australia and New Zealand, the missionary Gribble was challenged by white colonists who re-asserted a racialist hierarchy and ridiculed humanitarianism toward Aboriginal people. Responses to these performances deﬁne crucial demarcation within the emotive impact of such performances, so often considered to be unitary in their effects. They reveal how compassion was deployed in the colonies to afﬁrm racial solidarity with the distant white child, and to exclude Indigenous people. This dynamic shows how emotional narratives worked to construct imperial relations, and constitute metropolitan and colonial cultures. In the hands of social reformers, late nineteenth-century lantern slide performances were intended to persuade, move and inform mass audiences through these spectacular events.5 Victorian sentiment, sometimes criticized as vulgar, could also serve as a powerful tool to prompt compassion and practical action.6 The emotional narratives central to these spectacular performances were a primary means of creating relationships between the viewer and distant others, telling audiences who to feel for and with across the British empire, bringing distant peoples into communication, and fostering new relationships that opposed near and distant, and familial and universal claims to affection. Originating in London, a vast genre of urban reform focused on Britain’s slums emerged over the second half of the nineteenth century, expressed in popular ﬁction, art and performance as well as sociological, medical and political contexts. As explored in Chapter 4, a prominent theme from around 1850 opposed local and foreign, national and cosmopolitan interests, linked to a backlash against non-white peoples,. This was expressed via the detestable Mrs Jellyby’s ‘telescopic philanthropy’, evoking the biblical injunction cursing those who do not ‘provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household’ (1 Timothy 5:8), often glossed as ‘charity begins at home’ (and see Figure 6.1). How was this affective and moral opposition applied in the colonies by magic lantern lectures? In Australasia, a thriving lantern slide culture saw the production and display of diverse and sophisticated performances 5 6
Ludwig Vogl-Bienek and Richard Crangle (eds.), Screen Culture and the Social Question 1880–1914 (London: KINtop Studies in Early Cinema, John Libbey Publishing, 2014). Karen Eiﬂer, ‘Between Attraction and Instruction: Lantern Shows in British Poor Relief’, Early Popular Visual Culture 8 (2010), 363–84; Julie-Marie Strange, ‘Tramp: Sentiment and the Homeless Man in the Late-Victorian and Edwardian City’, Journal of Victorian Culture 16 (2011), 242–58.
Charity Begins at Home
Figure 6.1 Introduction. ‘Neddie’s Care’. James Bamforth, 1887, Yorkshire. PLM-00147–001 (Coll. Cinémathèque française).
such as the 1900 Salvation Army’s Soldiers of the Cross. As Martyn Jolly has argued, the use of such intensely affective recitals by evangelical reformers signalled a radical shift from the experience of listening to a sermon, to ‘the eye and to the retina; from the phenomenological architecture of the church to the dominating address of the projection sheet; from the magical ritual of the service to the retinal power of the projected image’.7 Using these strategies, local missionaries attempted to arouse compassion for Aboriginal people, and competed with British campaigners pleading for the metropolitan waif. Between 1888 and 1892, Australian missionary John Brown Gribble travelled widely to tell the story of his mission work and raise funds for his new settlement, Yarrabah, in north Queensland. During these years, he competed with the Londonbased Barnardo’s orphanages, also successfully raising funds in the Australian colonies through travelling performances aiming to arouse pity for the metropolitan poor by combining slum sensation with documentary force. 7
Martyn Jolly, ‘Soldiers of the Cross: Time Narrative and Affect’, Early Popular Visual Culture 11 (2013), 293–311, quotation p. 307.
The Waifs of London in the Colonies, 1891
The Waifs of London in the Colonies, 1891 Australian audiences were keen consumers of the imperial commons, including literature, stage performances and print media. The increasing popularity of magic lantern performances over the 1880s were an integral element of the inter-relationship of colonial modernity, the cinema and new forms of mass entertainment, bringing widely dispersed people and contexts into contiguity.8 In this way, colonial audiences were closely familiar with the British slummer genre, as explored in Chapter 4, and especially the plight of the urban waif, distant but brought near by affective imagery and story. This theme easily encompassed other aspects of reform, and especially the temperance movement. For example, in April 1890, the very popular story Neddie’s Care, about London waifs Neddie and Dickie, aged eleven and nine years, was told through a magic lantern entertainment to a largely juvenile audience in the Church of England schoolroom in the New South Wales country town of Bowral (Figure 6.2).9 The Rev. Noake used this story to raise funds in aid of the Church of England Temperance Society, recounting how, Dickie was represented in the last stages of illness, when he was discovered, in one of the lowest slums of London, by a mission lady connected with Dr. Barnardo’s homes. The mission lady accosted Neddie in the street; there learned something of her history, and was taken by her to the cellar where Dickie was lying on the ﬂoor.
In other performances of this story the philanthropic role might be played by colonial organizations such as the Melbourne Ladies Benevolent Society.10 The Bowral reporter described how The story was read by the Rev. Noake, and the pictures came on to the screen as illustrations in a book. The pictures ﬁrst represented Neddie in the street, then Dickie in his cold, comfortless habitation, then Nellie met in the street by the missionary, and so on until Dickie’s peaceful happy death in one of the Homes, and the death of Neddie also (as the result of an accident), after an earnest wish she had given to the nurses in the home (where Neddie was also kept) to die ﬁrst so that she would be able to meet Dickie when he had passed through the valley and the shadow of death.11 8 9 10
Robert Dixon, Photography, Early Cinema and Colonial Modernity: Frank Hurley’s Synchronized Lecture Entertainments (London: Anthem Press, 2013). Minn, Neddie’s Care, or, Suffer the Little Children (London: Joseph Masters, 1871); Bowral Free Press and Berrima District Intelligencer, 23 April 1890. Elizabeth Hartrick, The Magic Lantern in Colonial Australia and New Zealand. (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2017), p. 121; G. A. Household (ed.), To Catch a Sunbeam: Victorian Reality through the Magic Lantern (London: Michael Joseph, 1979). Bowral Free Press and Berrima District Intelligencer, 23 April 1890.
Charity Begins at Home
Figure 6.2 ‘Only a penny, Sir, please give me a penny’, James Bamforth, 1887, Yorkshire. PLM-00147–007 (Coll. Cinémathèque française).
We don’t know exactly how the children of Bowral reacted to this sad story, but it certainly aimed to create the sense of identiﬁcation with distant suffering that today we would term empathy – and that has been argued to be a fundamental aspect of humanitarianism.12 The pathetic sick, neglected, children make a universal plea that still has the power to move the viewer. Yorkshire-based James Bamforth’s 1887 life model slide series could be used by a range of reformers, advertising their own work, and pointing out the effects of drink, neglect, and poverty. By this time, the London-based Dr. Thomas Barnardo’s (1845–1905) astute use of lantern slide performances had already become a major means of philanthropic fund-raising, helping to popularize visual strategies focusing upon themes of temperance, homelessness and child neglect across the English-speaking world. Barnardo was one of many contemporary social reformers who drew upon popular ‘slummer’ representations to promote their work. Barnardo founded his East End Juvenile Mission (Barnardo’s) in 1871, and was imitated by other organizations aiming to help poor children over the following two decades, including 12
Hunt, Inventing Human Rights; Burdett, ‘Is Empathy the End of Sentimentality?’
The Waifs of London in the Colonies, 1891
the 1879 National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society in 1881.13 Each set up networks of homes and workshops to train children, becoming known for vocational training.14 Across a wide range of visual media, these organizations represented children as abused and neglected to increase donations, in collectable cards, leaﬂets, magazines, books and staged spectacles. However Barnardo was unique among social workers in his clever and sometimes controversial methods of deploying photography to further his cause. Not least because they were the subject of a notorious court case, Barnardo’s visual strategies have attracted substantial scholarly attention from researchers concerned with Victorian visual culture, exploring the complex mix of simultaneously sensational, repressive and charitable impulses incited by ‘slummer’ culture.15 From around 1870, Barnardo began commissioning ‘before’ and ‘after’ images, with around eighty of these published in pamphlets or pairs of cards, sold in packs of twenty for 5s., or singly for 6d. each (Figure 6.3). He opened a Photographic Department at his ﬁrst Stepney boys home in May 1874. However, in 1876 a local Baptist minister, the Rev. George Reynolds, charged Barnardo with several counts of misconduct. Of his before and after pairs, Reynolds claimed that He is not satisﬁed with taking [photographing] them as they really are, but he tears their clothes, so as to make them look worse than they really are. They are also taken in purely ﬁctitious positions. A lad named Fletcher is taken with a shoeblack’s box upon his back, although he never was a shoeblack.
Ultimately, he claimed that they had ‘a tendency to destroy the better feelings of the children’.16 The Times reported the arbitrators’ judgement – exonerated of all charges except for producing ‘ﬁctitious representations of destitution’ for ‘the purposes of obtaining money’, stating that ‘The use of artistic ﬁction to represent actual facts is, in our opinion, not only 13 14 15
Wagner, Barnardo; June Rose, For the Sake of the Children: Inside Dr Barnardo’s: 120 Years of Caring for Children (London: Futura, 1987). Katrina Honeyman, Childhood and Child Labour in Industrial England: Diversity and Agency, 1750–1914 (London: Routledge, 2016); Murdoch, Imagined Orphans. Tanushree Ghosh, ‘Gifting Pain: the Pleasures of Liberal Guilt in London, A Pilgrimage and Street Life in London’, Victorian Literature and Culture 41 (2013), 91–123; Seth Koven, Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); John Tagg, The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographies and Histories (The University of Minnesota Press, 1988); Jennifer GreenLewis, Framing the Victorians: Photography and the Culture of Realism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996); Lindsay Smith, The Politics of Focus: Women, Children and Nineteenth-Century Photography. (Manchester University Press, 1998). Valerie Lloyd, The Camera and Dr Barnardo (London: Barnardo School of Printing, 1974), p. 12.
Charity Begins at Home
Figure 6.3 ‘Before and After’, Barnardo’s archives.
morally wrong as thus employed, but might, in the absence of a very strict control, grow into a system of deception dangerous to the cause on behalf of which it is practiced.’17 Barnardo defended himself by arguing that aside from the technical challenges of wet-plate photography at this time, it was usually dark by the time they found the children, and they were ragged and infested with vermin – requiring immediate attention that entirely changed their appearance. He claimed that he aimed to portray not individuals but a certain class of child, and cited artistic precedents, including Rejlander’s photos (see Chapter 4), and the paintings of Barnett Samuel Marks. As explored in Chapter 4, Oscar Rejlander helped to popularise the theme of urban poverty through vignettes such as his famous ‘Night in Town’ (Figure 4.2). The portraitist Marks had himself been inspired by Barnardo’s work, and his diptych oil paintings received highly favourable critical attention (Figure 6.4). It is not surprising, therefore, that Barnardo drew from the rich cross-media concern with issues of urban homelessness and reform of this period.18
The Times, 19 October 1877. Spencer, O.G. Rejlander; The Photographic News, 8 October 1886.
The Waifs of London in the Colonies, 1891
Of particular note is that this ‘before and after’ visual technique was shared with missionaries, also making central use of such contrasts to advocate for their work of transformation.19 Scholars have emphasized the function of missionary photography as a genre of ‘propaganda’, incorporated into longer textual narratives for distant European audiences.20 However such photographs can also be viewed within a long tradition of humanitarian imagery, aiming to show foreign people and their difﬁcult circumstances in order to invoke sympathy and intervention. Typically, missionaries contrasted the state of savagery, linked to paganism, with civilization and Christianity. As Chapter 3 argued, the sentimental investment in the home and family was the basis for the project of assimilation, and ultimately underwrote imperialism. Showing the incorporation of waifs into Barbardo’s loving homes simulated the ‘natural’ family in precisely the same way that Indigenous people were transformed into respectably dressed residents of middle-class households.21 Barnardo is (mistakenly) said to have ceased this practice of staged transformations after 1877, but continued to record children on entry and exit, forming an archive now numbering more than 21,000 images. His photography department subsequently became the ‘Photography and Lantern Slide Department’ and he orchestrated many elaborate public spectacles at annual fêtes, bazaars and dinners, ‘incorporating aspects of popular theatrical genres, from sensation theatre to freak and baby shows’.22 He was not alone – for example, between 1884 and 1887 Rev. Charles Spurgeon, Minister in Greenwich, commissioned a set of slides of waifs and the poor of the parish for illustrating lectures and sermons, and a performance was given in 1890 at the Annual General Meeting of the Homes, in the Albert Hall, showing children. Barnardo’s phenomenal success in Britain perhaps naturally prompted him to expand his work to the colonies. Throughout 1891, Barnardo’s representative Burton, former assistant to Barnardo in London, travelled throughout Australia and New Zealand giving lantern slide performances. At the same time, a contingent of boys referred to as ‘Dr Barnardo’s Boys’, travelled across Australia under the 19 20
Braithwaite and Lydon, ‘Photographing “the nucleus”’. See, for example, P. Jenkins, ‘The Earliest Generation of Missionary Photographers in West Africa’, Visual Anthropology 7 (1994), 115–45; Elizabeth Edwards, ‘Thinking Materially/Thinking Relationally’, in M. Albrecht, V. Arlt, B. Muller and J. Schneider (eds.), Getting Pictures Right: Context and Interpretation (Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, 2004), pp. 11–23; S. Murray, ‘From Album to Archive: Context, Meaning, and Two Photographic Albums from an India Mission’, Archivaria: The Journal of the Association of Canadian Archivists 65 (2008), 39–60. Wexler, Tender Violence. Susan Ash, ‘“Panoramas” and “Living Pictures”: Dr Barnardo’s Annual Meetings’, Early Popular Visual Culture, 8(2010), 432.
Charity Begins at Home
Figure 6.4 Barnett Samuel Marks, ‘Saved from the Streets, Portraits of Boys on Board the “Chichester” Training Ship’, Diptych Painted c.1872. L8215 (a) In deep mire where there is no standing. National Maritime Museum (UK).
management of Rev. W. J. Mayers, giving musical performances accompanied by ‘100 limelight views’.23 These were considered recreational, as indicated, for example, by the Launceston Examiner, which assured its readers that ‘[w]e have a plentiful supply of entertainments past and promised. On Saturday the Indian juggler, to-night a variety company, on Wednesday the Palace Circus, and on Thursday a magic lantern entertainment in aid of Dr. Barnardo’s London Homes.’24 As I have described, in January, Burton also spoke to a large audience in Adelaide’s Victoria Hall. Despite the 1876 scandal regarding his staged images, clearly Barnardo continued to use the ‘before and after’ child transformations for which he had become notorious, in combination with the staple slum scenes.25 In May 1891, the Bishop of Adelaide, Dr. Kennion, clariﬁed their appeal; he ‘mentioned three reasons why the people of Australia should assist Dr. Barnardo. 1st. Because the children were worth saving. 2nd. Because, to assist in the work would be a beneﬁt to ourselves. 3rd. Because Dr. Barnardo appeared to be doing a sensible work in a sensible way.’26 He might have been speaking of the local children of Adelaide, rather than of London. The performances were clearly effective in moving his colonial audiences, judging from the tour’s ﬁnancial success. 23 25
Christian Colonist, 15 May 1891. 24 Launceston Examiner, 14 January 1891. South Australian Register, 9 January 1891. 26 Christian Colonist, 15 May 1891.
The Waifs of London in the Colonies, 1891
Figure 6.4 (b) Escape as a bird out of the snare of the fowler. National Maritime Museum (UK).
Others, in pitying the urban waif, reversed the metropolitan viewpoint, and expressed a sense of superiority or improvement. While many British urban reformers – including Dickens – considered the colonies merely a solution to metropolitan problems, from an antipodean perspective there was a consciousness of progress beyond the parent. Some settlers explicitly asserted colonial superiority over or improvement upon conditions at ‘home’, for which ‘Dickensian’ was becoming shorthand. The South Australian Chronicle lamented the arrival of street-sweepers in Melbourne, ‘a British institution which we are better without’, and the Brisbane Courier bemoaned Queensland’s ‘boy waifs’. As the South Australian Chronicle noted, the Rev. Mayer himself argued that there are two good reasons for South Australians supporting these homes. The ﬁrst was, because the children whom Dr. Barnardo sets himself to rescue and help are worthy of the work, for if we went into the ﬁlthy and dismal alleys of London there was just one thing that gives brightness to the surroundings, and that thing was the play and rippling laughter of the children whom one sees. The second reason was that we in South Australia see so very little of real want that its absence may tend to make us selﬁsh, and it was therefore our bounden duty to stretch out a helping hand to those in suffering and want. It was for us to try and prevent the prisonhouse from closing around these young lives and to do anything in our power to help them, and to foster Dr. Barnardo’s great work (Hear, hear.)27
Australian audiences were very receptive, and postcards documenting this successful tour were produced over the following year, such as 27
South Australian Chronicle, 16 May 1878; Brisbane Courier, 12 April 1890.
Charity Begins at Home
a photo-collage of the Rev. Mayers, ‘Senior Deputation Secretary, Mr H. Aaron, ‘Musical Instructor’, and the ten boys in their uniform, against a painted background of wattle blossom (Figure 6.5). Barnardo continued to look for opportunities in the colonies. In 1883, an unofﬁcial party of boys left Barnardo’s Stepney Home for Fremantle, Western Australia, while Barnardo maintained contact with Australia by sending a party of eight ‘Musical Boys’ to tour Australia and New Zealand in 1891–2. Their performances provided proof of Barnardo’s work, and raised £10,000 from this tour. A subsequent tour in 1902–3 was used to build the Australasian Hospital at the Girls’ Village at Barkingside.28 The Reverend Gribble’s Magic Lantern Tour 1889–92 Across the same period as Barnardo’s boys, in many of the same religious and civic venues, and to much the same audiences, the Anglican missionary Rev. John Brown Gribble also gave fund-raising lantern slide performances. In February 1889, for example, Gribble gave a lecture in the Goulburn Mechanic’s Institute, on the subject ‘Nine Years Among the Blacks’. By now near the end of his career, Gribble had much to reminisce about. In this talk, as the Goulburn Herald reported, he told the story of his successful mission Warangesda, on the Murrumbidgee River, in western New South Wales between 1880 and 1884, and his more recent trials in Western Australia between 1885 and 1886. In conclusion, he exhibited a number of lantern views describing Aboriginal mission work, and several ‘comic slides for the amusement of the juvenile portion of his audience’.29 Gribble was then aged 42 and, with his family, had endured a life of mobility, illness, public notoriety and personal unpopularity in the pursuit of his vision of humanitarian aid to Australian Aboriginal people. As noted in Chapter 5, Gribble’s hero was the African explorer and missionary David Livingstone, whose famously adventurous career inspired generations of young idealists. However, following his failure to establish a mission in the Gascoyne district of Western Australia, by October 1891, Gribble was again searching for a place to establish a remote Aboriginal mission, this time in northern Queensland.30 Like his hero Livingstone, he turned to lantern slide performances as a means of raising funds for his new venture. At this time, the ‘wild’ and ‘savage’ Queensland Aboriginal was the focus of much scientiﬁc and popular scrutiny, as the frontier 28 30
Barnardos, History, 10. 29 Goulburn Herald, February 1889. D. Jones, Cardwell Shire Story (Brisbane: Jacaranda Press, 1961); J. Thompson, Reaching Back: Queensland Aboriginal People Recall Early Days at Yarrabah Mission (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1989).
The Reverend Gribble’s Magic Lantern Tour 1889–92
Figure 6.5 Dr Barnardo’s Homes Australasian deputation, ca. 1892. Photographs by Hammer & Co. Adelaide. PIC/14735, National Library of Australia.
Charity Begins at Home
pushed northward. Shortly before Gribble, in September 1891, Queensland ofﬁcial and showman Archibald Meston also presented two lectures on Aboriginal ethnology at Brisbane’s Theatre Royal under the patronage of the Aborigines Protection Society, with proceeds to go to the local Bribie Island Mission and the Brisbane Hospital. These ‘illustrated lectures’ had a backdrop of recreated gunyahs and stuffed native animals, and formed a multi-media combination of lantern slides, artefacts and living people from the Moreton Bay region.31 Arriving back in Brisbane, Gribble gave a lecture and magic lantern entertainment in the St. Paul’s Church Sunday School room, to a packed audience. The new mission (Yarrabah) in the Bellenden Kerr district was announced, ‘this being the ﬁrst mission to the aboriginals that had been undertaken by the Church of England in the colonies.’ Again Gribble told of his work, illustrating his remarks by means of the magic lantern illustrations. One of the ﬁrst pictures shown was the teacher and his native assistants, felling trees by means of axes with very long handles, in order to form a clearing for the ﬁrst missionary station out in the wild haunts of the natives. The original bark huts of the mission station were then shown, and the gradual replacement of these by more improved buildings until the most modern shape of a mission township, with most creditable ediﬁce for a church was reached. Many interesting portraits of natives who had rendered great assistance in the work, were also exhibited. The speaker said that any person once becoming acquainted with one of these would never again say that the Aborigines were devoid of intellectual abilities, were not susceptible to the teaching of Christianity. . . . among the slides exhibited were views of the Barron Falls, the Red Bluff, the Surprise Creek Bridge on the Cairns Herberton line, and others illustrative of the magniﬁcent scenery of that portion of the colony and also a few comic views that greatly amused the children.32
By February 1892, he was in Melbourne, conducting Sunday evening service at the Coburg Holy Trinity Church and collecting for his ‘Queensland Mission to the Blacks’ at Yarrabah. It was announced that Gribble would give another lecture on the following Monday evening, at eight o’clock, entitled, ‘Amongst Cannibals’ – clearly capitalizing upon Norwegian Carl Lumholtz’s book of that title published in 1889, as well as contemporary reports of cannibalism in early 1892 in Victorian newspapers. His southern urban audience would have greatly enjoyed the frisson of danger and wildness this practice would have evoked.33 It was 31 32 33
Judith McKay and Paul Memmott, ‘Staged Savagery: Archibald Meston and His Indigenous Exhibits’, Aboriginal History 40 (2016), 181–203. Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser, 17 October 1891. Noel Loos, ‘Aboriginal–European Relations in North Queensland, 1861–1897’, unpublished PhD thesis, James Cook University (1976), pp. 716–17.
The Reverend Gribble’s Magic Lantern Tour 1889–92
noted that ‘[h]is black boy, Pompey, will be in attendance. From the Yarrabah region, Pompey was presumably a Gunggandji man; he sang solos and repeated the Lord’s prayer in good English.’34 Although we do not have detailed accounts of his performance from these reporters, the wealth of Gribble’s published accounts provide a ﬁrm basis for his narrative and the images he used. While in London in 1884, Gribble had published Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia – an overview of mission work in Australia, including accounts of his own NSW mission Warangesda, as well as contributions telling the stories of Ebenezer mission (Victoria) and Poonindie (South Australia). His chapter about Warangesda told the story of the mission in some detail, and emphasized the happy deaths of the converted, completing his account of the mission ‘by referring to the experience of two or three of those who have died in the faith of Christ.’ Gribble also aimed to transform his readers, so ‘that those who now possess uncharitable feelings respecting the Australian blacks may be led to alter their opinions, and pity a people to whom we owe so much’.35 It seems that Gribble’s performances used slides based on this book’s engraved illustrations showing a combination of ‘wild’ Aboriginal people and culture (Figure 6.6), contrasting with the transformed and successful mission landscapes (Figure 6.7), and photographic portraits of Christian Aboriginal people, such as Billy Foote from Warangesda and Amelia from Poonindie (Figures 6.8 and 6.9). As I have noted, images of ‘wild blacks’ provided the classic foil for visual missionary narratives, and express the tension within the humanitarian enterprise between its governing and incorporative forces: on the one hand, they reﬂect the popular and scientiﬁc orientations of contemporary British culture, of which missionaries formed part, that placed Indigenous people at the bottom of a racial hierarchy, needing to be ‘civilised’ and taught; on the other, they express a view of Indigenous capacity and humanity that attempted to ameliorate the excesses of colonialism and even to argue for their equality and rights. These extremes were often counter-posed to form a visual ‘before’ and ‘after’ narrative that argued for the successful taming and ‘civilization’ of the new land and its peoples. Such strategies showed the transformation of Indigenous people from wild and primitive, to civilized – as signiﬁed by clothing, a digniﬁed demeanour, a reﬁned interior studio setting and frequently markers of education such as a posy of ﬂowers (for women),
The Coburg Leader, 24 February 1892.
Gribble, Black But Comely, 48, 18.
Charity Begins at Home
Figure 6.6 ‘Wild Blacks of Australia’, in John Brown Gribble, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia, London, 1884, facing p. 20.
Figure 6.7 ‘Warangesda Aboriginal Mission, Murrumbidgee River’, frontispiece in John Brown Gribble, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia, London, 1884.
The Reverend Gribble’s Magic Lantern Tour 1889–92
Figure 6.8 Billy Foote, of the Warangesda Mission, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia, London, 1884, facing p. 40.
or a book, often a bible.36 In a sense, such tensions map the ambivalent place of humanitarianism within the larger colonial project itself, between conquest and civilization, subordination and uplift.37 In broad terms, ‘telescopic philanthropy’ was frequently applied in Australia to oppose the interests of Indigenous people. Sometimes telescopic philanthropy was used to argue for the claims of local Aboriginal people as opposed to those ‘wild’ heathens in remote parts of the colonies. Rarely, missionaries such as John Brown Gribble applied it to argue for helping Aboriginal people, upholding the biblical injunction often glossed as ‘charity begins at home’ (Holy Bible, 1 Timothy 5:8) in order to reverse its original, British racial logic. Gribble (1884, 24) highlighted Aboriginal 36
See, for example, Lydon, Eye Contact; T. Jack Thompson, Light on Darkness: Missionary Photography of Africa in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Michigan: William B. Eerdmanns, 2012). See, for example, Jenkins, ‘The Earliest Generation’; K.T. Long, ‘“Cameras Never Lie”: the Role of Photography in Telling the Story of American Evangelical Missions’, Church History 72 (2003), 820–51.
Charity Begins at Home
Figure 6.9 Amelia, of the Poonindie Mission, Black But Comely: Aboriginal Life in Australia, London, 1884, facing p. 76.
neglect and misery in a country with a ‘Christian government’ and whose churches ‘contribute large sums annually toward the support of Missionary enterprises in far distant lands!’38 Most often, however, as Chapter 4 explored, the application of this moral logic transformed geographic into social space, as when, for example, one Queensland settler attacked church hypocrisy for neglecting those close to home – that is, white settler congregations.39 In its colonial appropriation, the principle of ‘closeness’ as familial or neighbourly was supplanted by a sense of racial contiguity, simply substituting racial for distant others, with the effect of excluding Aboriginal people as undeserving of philanthropy or protection. This more cynical view was expressed by the Cairns Post, which ran a series of lengthy articles on the mission over several months attacking the idea that Aboriginal people were capable of civilization and 38 39
West Australian, 27 November 1886. ‘Ormly of Ipswich’, The Moreton Bay Courier, 17 January 1857.
The Reverend Gribble’s Magic Lantern Tour 1889–92
lampooning Gribble’s methods. The writer, ‘OTB’ made frequent references to Exeter Hall – sceptical shorthand for the London-based philanthropic movement – and suggested that ‘The Revd. GRIBBLE prates of Bellenden Ker, yet he has never seen it unless through a telescope’, writing: The charming ingenuousness displayed by the reverend gentlemen who recently ﬂashed like meteors on North Queensland in the mission line is amusing but melancholy. These peripatetic pilgrims, who perform the great globe-trotting act at the expense of certain silly old women of both sexes, visit a district for a few hours, and in the shortest time on record pretend to acquire an accurate knowledge of the aborigines, lock, stock and barrel. And then, lo! they go South with some cheaply acquired photographs of tame niggers, and some doubtfully obtained native weapons, and they give a magic lantern entertainment and lure the half-pence from the pockets of unsuspecting youth. . . . and the dear old ladies say ‘Oh what terrible risks the dear missionaries run [on account of] the poor dear blacks.’40
Historian Matthew Richards suggests that one likely ‘cheaply acquired photograph’ was First Aborigines at Yarrabah Mission, in front of shelter, some with spears, 1892 (Figure 6.10), which he estimates is the single most reproduced image of Aboriginal people from early Cairns.41 Seeming to show ﬁrst contact with the Gungganydji, the image’s posed and staged arrangement suggests that the photographer sought to emphasize primitivism, appealing to the popular stereotype of the Queensland ‘savage’. For Gribble, this category of photograph provided an excellent contrast with his images of ‘civilized’ Aboriginal people and the mission regime. In attacking Gribble’s narrative, the Post suggested that he was an outsider and hypocrite – like Mrs Jellyby, gazing through a telescope at people he knows nothing about. By contrast with Gribble’s humanitarian view, the Post asserted an explicitly modernist biological concept of race, terming the ‘Queensland myall [wild Aboriginal]’ as ‘by instinct a thieving, treacherous, murderous, irreclaimable savage . . . doomed to utter annihilation and extinction.’ The Post at this time was owned by Frederick Wimble, local member of the Queensland Legislative Council and entrepreneurial sugar grower, whose original proposal for an Aboriginal reserve had cast it as a labour depot for the plantations. Unsurprisingly, the inaccessible and protected reserve of Yarrabah did not suit Wimble’s plans at all. As in Western Australia, Gribble’s attempt to appeal to humanitarian sentiment, concentrated in the southern urban 40 41
Cairns Post, 30 September 1891. Matthew Richards, ‘Race around Cairns: Representations, Perceptions and Realities of Race in the Trinity Bay District 1876–1908’, unpublished PhD thesis, James Cook University (2010), p. 112.
Charity Begins at Home
Figure 6.10 Alfred Atkinson, ‘First Aborigines at Yarrabah Mission, in front of shelter, some with spears’, c.1892. Cairns Historical Society.
centres, antagonized settlers on the Queensland frontier who despised him as a foreigner pretending local knowledge, transposing the critique of hypocrisy onto local city–country, humanitarian–settler relations. Here telescopic philanthropy was invoked to re-assert a racialist hierarchy and ridicule humanitarianism. Conclusion: Grammars of Difference As I have shown, a key factor in excluding Aboriginal people from settler society, from the mid-nineteenth century, was the emergence of concepts of modernist biological race. By the 1870s, evolutionism was becoming scientiﬁc orthodoxy and was applied to human difference, especially through the use of Australian evidence in the form of Aboriginal ethnographies and material culture. As race became the classifying principle of
Conclusion: Grammars of Difference
national and imperial communities, Indigenous peoples were further distanced from them. Instead, by the 1880s, the transnational project of whiteness had begun to govern the transnational circulation of ideas and people, racial knowledge and technologies.42 In 1890, Henry Parkes told the banquet for the ﬁrst Federation Conference in Melbourne that ‘the crimson thread of kinship runs through us all’, evoking the powerful familial metaphor of blood as well as tradition.43 Focusing on the colonial end of the telescope reveals the ways that these competing but interrelated categories of class and of race were constructed through the lantern slide performances of Barnardo and Gribble in shared ‘grammars of difference and hierarchies of inequality’.44 Swelling beyond the speciﬁc local context that seemingly gave each their meaning, these visual, emotional narratives deﬁned ideas and social categories that circulated across the empire. These two contemporary philanthropic campaigns deployed emotive visual strategies in their lantern slides performances that sought to arouse compassion for very different causes: Barnardo’s tour worked on behalf of the white metropolitan poor far away in Britain, while Gribble’s performances urged relief for Indigenous people on the remote Queensland frontier. Barnardo aimed to rescue the abandoned child and turn him or her into industrious, respectable young Christians. Gribble too aimed to educate and ‘civilize’ Aboriginal people and bring them to the gospel. In demonstrating their success and modelling the transformation they imagined, they both used a visual ‘before and after’ technique, harnessing the authenticity and power of these multi-sensorial performances to move their audiences to pity for their different objects. They told their audiences who to feel sorry for, and whose lives were therefore valuable or grievable. Australasian audiences were quick to respond to the plight of the distant white waif, generously donating money to Barnardo’s performers. Gribble too found it worthwhile to mount his touring performances, although his message was challenged by fellow colonists who preferred to denigrate Aboriginal people and their capacity in furthering their own claims to possession. Seen in global scope, these performances helped to deﬁne and articulate competing but interrelated cultural categories of class and race, helping to create and justify the hierarchy of class, race and gender that supported imperialism.
Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the Question of Racial Equality (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2008); Jeremy Martens, Empire and Asian Migration: Sovereignty, Immigration Restriction and Protest in the British Settler Colonies, 1888–1907 (Perth: University of Western Australia Publishing, 2018). McKenna, The Captive Republic, 121. 44 Hall and Rose, ‘Introduction’, 3.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism: ‘a Strange Reluctance to Actually Shout at the Queen’
The present-day counterpart of Macaulay’s New Zealander, or the future tourist (see Chapter 1), is constituted by the republic, a vision of Australian independence from Britain. Where Macaulay’s New Zealander constituted a spectre of future decay used to urge metropolitan reform, the republic offers a counter-vision – equally futuristic – of descendant maturity. As historian Mark McKenna suggested in 1996, a republic has always been considered ‘the end point of the colonies’ political development – an ideal that would be fully realised when Australia ﬁnally matured into an independent nation’. Yet for more than two centuries the notion of inevitability has been used to delay the coming of a republic as much as to urge its arrival.1 While the concept of a republic has been elastic and emotional, it has not always entailed anti-British feeling – on the contrary, Australian nationalism and loyalty to the Crown have frequently been intertwined and mutually supportive. This chapter explores these emotional ties and particularly the affective power of the Royal Family, representing a domestic ideal that continues to evoke admiration and affection. Even at Bicentennial protests, marking a climax of popular and Indigenous challenge to the state, respect for the monarchy, as historian Jane Connors noted, meant that ‘large sections of the protest crowd – including me – had felt a strange reluctance to actually shout at the Queen’.2 The public emotion expressed by ‘royal-watching’, or ‘popular royalism’ has usually been seen by both public commentators and by historians as frivolous, overly feminine, and a form of ‘sentimental fascism’ or hegemony that disguises class or imperial oppression. Such contempt continues to characterize arguments made against the retention of constitutional monarchy in Australia. The gendered and emotional nature of republican visions (nationalist, masculine, future-oriented and optimistic) stands in discursive opposition to the monarchy (familial, female, 1 2
McKenna, The Captive Republic, 1. Jane Connors, ‘The Glittering Thread: The 1954 Royal Tour of Australia’, UTS PhD thesis, 1996, p. 26.
nostalgic). Popular royalism extends our understanding of the role of the emotions in public life, revealing the limitations of Australian political culture and the continuing ‘double bind’ for women who wish to contest the masculine sphere but are expected to behave in stereotypically female ways to do so. The status of Indigenous Australians destabilizes the parent–child imperial relationship, and has become more pressing than ever. Only recently have historians recognized that the nationalist story of Australia’s establishment of a free society with democratic institutions is integrally structured by the counter-story of Indigenous dispossession. Aboriginal people have been excluded from national histories and identity, and Aboriginal appeals to the state have frequently been dismissed because they are too emotional, in seeking to communicate the experience of dispossession, assimilation, the loss of culture and family. As I noted in Chapter 3, when the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report into the separation of Aboriginal children from their families was released in 1997, opponents termed the report ‘very emotive’ and ‘one-sided’. One consequence of this denial has been that Indigenous people have often sought to invoke royal sympathy as a transcendent and more just authority than the state. Today, many consider that visions of a national future must begin with reconciliation with Indigenous people, and that constitutional change must address Indigenous views. As I have argued throughout this book, such relations and identities have been deﬁned by emotions. The movement of empathy between these three communities – an imperial British relationship symbolized by the royal family, an independent Australian nation, and Aboriginal Australia – continues to shape debates about identity and the future. Royal-Watching The monarchy remains the most powerful symbol of British identity in the modern world. Popular monarchism, or affection for the royal family, is expressed through public celebrations and events, and private activities such as collecting memorabilia, or following royal news. From the midnineteenth century the monarchy’s political power diminished as it was transformed into a primarily symbolic institution, displacing earlier religious beliefs in the infallibility and rights of kings, in part by concentrating its efforts on ceremony and regular royal appearances.3 The rise of the 3
W. Kuhn, Democratic Royalism: The Transformation of the British Monarchy, 1861–1914, (Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1996), pp. 28–31; M. Homans, Royal Representations: Queen Victoria and British Culture, 1837–1876 (University of Chicago
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
popular press and a globalized print culture facilitated the mediatization and commodiﬁcation of images, memorabilia and information about the royal family, and allowed colonial participation in an imperial emotional community. Since the 1860s, a major element of the imperial bond has also been constituted by performative public spectacles, and especially royal visits to Australia, allowing public participation and direct encounters with members of the royal family. This emotional relationship reached its zenith in both nations in the decade after the end of World War II, fuelled by shared participation in war and loyalty to an ideal of empire. The ‘independence’ of the Australian nation has grown only slowly since that time, a distance that has remained qualiﬁed by deeprooted and powerful emotions attached to traditional British values and identity. The category of Australian citizen was created in 1949, when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 was passed, but subjects were still required to declare their nationality as British until 1969, when ‘Australian nationality’ was recognized. Australian citizens ceased to be British subjects only in 1984.4 As ‘Britishness’ – a term that obscures the diversity and contestation within this category – weakened as a focus for collective sentiment from the 1960s to the 1980s, the ‘remaking’ of nation has prompted self-reﬂection, a search for new symbols and considerable anxiety.5 In 2019, Australia is governed under a form of constitutional monarchy in which the monarch of the United Kingdom is also the Australian monarch – since February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen reigns over one hundred million people in her sixteen realms, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, she is represented by a Governor-General and state Governors, and acts in relation to Australian affairs only on the advice of Australian ministers.6 Until the late 1980s, the meaning and role of British royalty in the modern world was not a signiﬁcant object of academic research. Such scholarly interest as existed, focused upon the public and spectacular role
Press, 1988), pp. 3–7; Jude Davies, Diana, A Cultural History: Gender, Race, Nation and the People’s Princess, (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 6–7. David Dutton, One of Us? A Century of Australian Citizenship (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2002); David Dutton, Citizenship in Australia: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records, (Canberra: National Archives of Australia, Commonwealth of Australia, 2000). James Curran and Stuart Ward, The Unknown Nation: Australia after Empire, (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2010); Stuart Ward, British Culture and the End of Empire (Manchester University Press, 2001); Deryck Schreuder and Stuart Ward (eds.), Australia’s Empire (Oxford University Press, 2008); Robert Manne (ed.), The Australian Century (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 1999). Connors, ‘The Glittering Thread’; Vernon Bogdanor, The Monarchy and the Constitution (Oxford University Press, 1997); Ilse Hayden, Symbol and Privilege: The Ritual Context of British Royalty (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987).
of rituals such as coronations, royal weddings and funerals, in reafﬁrming collective sacred values and appearing to re-enact and sustain ancient traditions.7 More critical analysis then began to consider how, in a country which proclaims itself to be the home of democracy, this ancient institution of inherited status still thrives. Why is the British public obsessed with a family possessing incalculable wealth? One answer is that, since the 1860s, the royal family has served a key purpose in making constitutional monarchy intelligible to ordinary people. Many have suggested that the tension between identiﬁcation and difference functions to allow the unprivileged to accept their position in relation to extraordinary wealth and status. Judith Williamson, for example, has argued that ‘the key to the great signiﬁcance and popularity of Royalty is that they are at once like us, and not like us’. Seemingly natural, universal and timeless, the structure of family prompts affection for royalty – based on identiﬁcation – but simultaneously obedience – based on their difference – with the effect of resolving social inequality.8 The nineteenth-century feminization of the monarchy through its association with the private, loving, domestic realm, and a fascination with royal women, heightened the importance of private female roles more generally underrated by society, but also underwrote the Crown’s diminishing political responsibility.9 In the late 1980s, social psychologist Michael Billig conducted a series of qualitative surveys with ‘average British citizens’, exploring continuing public interest in the monarchy. Billig suggested that deference no longer plays a signiﬁcant part in this relationship, as a consequence of the increasing ‘ordinariness’ and familiarity of the royal family; however, in a society in which everyone must earn their way, their job is to ‘be a family’ by setting an example of duty, and moral and polite behaviour. Yet this was simply the Thatcher-era rationalization of a traditional role: in 1859, when the Prince of Wales came of age, the Times wrote that ‘It is the happiness of a King of England that we require from him . . . Let him set to 7
E. A. Shils and M. Young, ‘The Meaning of the Coronation’, Sociological Review, 1 (1953), 68–81; David Cannadine and S. Price, (eds.), Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Society (Cambridge University Press, 1992); David Cannadine, ‘The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and The Invention of Tradition c. 1820–1977’, in E. Hobsbawn and T. Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 101–64. Judith Williamson, Consuming Passions: The Dynamics of Popular Culture (London: Marion Boyars, 1986), pp. 75–80, quotation p. 75; Julia Kinzler, Representing Royalty: British Monarchs in Contemporary Cinema, 1994–2010 (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018), pp. 28–30; Rosalind Coward, Female Desire: Women’s Sexuality Today (London: Paladin, 1984), pp. 161–71. Kuhn, Democratic Royalism; Homans, Royal Representations; Davies, Diana, A Cultural History, 6–7.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
his people an example of domestic life’.10 Today, potential public resentment and envy is contained by noting the hard work and high standards required of the royals’ personal behaviour, including great emotional restraint, and especially the constant media persecution they endure, which have instead become prompts to pity and sympathy.11 A key element of the royal job is the display of an appropriate emotional style, characterized by restraint and dignity. Biographies of Queen Elizabeth emphasize her life-long sense of duty, piety and control over her emotions. Famously, as a ten-year-old at Windsor Castle in 1940, during a night-time air-raid evacuation, ‘Lilibet’ calmly told her anxiously waiting nanny, Marion Crawford, through the door, ‘We’re dressing, Crawﬁe. We must dress.’ In her 1950 memoir, Crawford noted that she could not remember ‘a single instance of the child allowing her guard to drop. She is always royal.’12 Public duty has required the Queen to closely control her emotions, which, inappropriately expressed, would compromise her role. Other members of the royal family – although less important than the Queen – have been less successful in this regard, and have therefore attracted criticism. The Queen’s customary expressions of emotions, including cordiality and kindliness, and more importantly her suppression of emotions such as anger, are behaviours that mark her as aristocratic. For younger members of the royal family, a more informal emotional style has emerged, although the role remains characterized by friendliness, and the compassionate emotions associated with humanitarianism, conservation and protection. These meanings overlap substantially with Australian views, fed by royal visits and mediated by ever-more-accessible communication technologies, although their strong association with British nationalism undermines their local power. Some critics continue to emphasize the monarchy’s popularity as a form of hegemony, in masking social inequalities and conservatism, invoking notions of ‘indoctrination’, or the ‘para-social’ in seeking to account for its popularity.13 However, by the early 1990s, some historians had begun to examine the monarchy’s place in political culture. In an echo of British analyses, Peter Spearitt suggested that many Australians saw the Queen as a ‘mystical embodiment of family life, goodness, security, quality, position: a guarantee that democracy cannot and perhaps should not be taken to extremes’, and ‘an assurance of continuity at the 10 12
Times, 11 December 1859, 11 Billig, Talking of the Royal Family. Marion Crawford, The Little Princesses: The Story of the Queen’s Childhood (London: Hachette UK, 1950/2012); B. Pimlott, The Queen: Elizabeth II and the Monarchy (London: Harper Collins, 2002). E.g., Tom Nairn, The Enchanted Glass (London: Verso, 2011).
apex of society’.14 In her brilliant analysis of Queen Elizabeth II’s 1954 Royal Tour, Jane Connors traced its extraordinary success across all classes, noting that, ‘[m]any of the people I have heard from or spoken to in the course of research tell me that they remember this event with more clarity and emotion than any other public occasion.’ Writing in 1996, Connors suggested that academic indifference was shaped by a 1970s nationalist historiography, as well as the 1980s concern with ‘history from below’, focused upon the active negotiation or resistance of dominant culture. Most of all, she identiﬁed the enduring perception of royal-watching as trivial because it has been labelled a ‘female interest’ with ‘hysteric’ tendencies.15 This traditional association between the emotional, female and inconsequential has been enhanced by the prominence of Britain’s queens. As Margaret Homans argued of Queen Victoria, the decline of royal power that took place during her reign would have happened anyway, but she dramatized her era’s debates regarding a ‘women’s sphere’, as Queen and gender ideal were equally characterized by ‘passivity, moral power, duty, and being and appearing in lieu of originating or executing politically engaged action.’16 In recent Australian debate about the British monarchy and the imperial relationship, little attention has been paid to its popular appeal, and many analyses continue to dismiss the signiﬁcance of this cultural, emotional and gendered relationship. As the history of republicanism in Australia demonstrates, popular opinion has long been tensioned between those who see the monarchy as a valued part of Australians’ history, identity and governance, and those who see the institution as oppressive, frivolous and a shameful sign of national immaturity. Mark McKenna has shown that there has been a persistent ‘duality’ in Australian nationalism, in picturing ‘a limited form of self-government retaining an identiﬁcation with the English Constitution and the British sovereign’.17 In 1828, E. S. Hall of the Monitor expressed the widespread idea that the colony was not yet mature enough for independence through a local, familial, analogy, writing, If England were to withdraw her protecting arm, our situation would be almost as helpless and pitiable, as that of the embryo kangaroo, whom its mother, in her terror to escape from the hunter and in order to lighten her weight and aid her speed, casts out of her bag and leaves to shift for itself.18 14
15 17 18
Peter Spearritt, ‘Royal Progress: the Queen and Her Australian Subjects’, in John Arnold, Peter Spearritt and David Walker (eds.), Out of Empire: The British Dominion of Australia (Melbourne: Mandarin Australia, 1993), pp. 211–40, quotations pp. 211, 212. Connors, ‘The Glittering Thread’, 21. 16 Homans, Royal Representations, xx. McKenna, The Captive Republic, 93. [No title], The Monitor, Monday 25 February 1828, p. 4.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
Gradually, over following decades, ideas of democracy and demands for independence were separated from ideas of republicanism. The 1850s were a period of intense debate regarding a republic, and the romantic nationalist John Dunmore Lang became the ﬁrst prominent advocate of an independent Australian nation. Inspired by the Chartist movement in Britain and by the 1848 revolution in France, he founded (with Henry Parkes and James Wilshire) the Australian League, considered to be Australia’s ﬁrst political party. Lang’s manifesto, The Coming Event! Or, the United Provinces of Australia, predicted an independent Australian federal republic, and he followed this in 1852 with Freedom and Independence for the Golden Lands of Australia, in which he proposed the federation of the eastern Australian colonies, the establishment of a fully democratic government and an Australian republic. However, at the same time that he demanded freedom and independence, he declared his ‘unfeigned respect and reverential admiration’ for the Queen, ‘that pattern of every domestic, every royal virtue’.19 Even in 1850s Victoria, with its gold-rush inﬂux of young literate itinerants, and during a decade focused on convictism, gold-ﬁelds taxes and responsible government, most remained committed to traditional British institutions.20 Aboriginal ‘Loyalty’ to the Crown In telling the triumphant nationalist story of Australia’s establishment of a free society with democratic institutions, its shameful obverse has often been omitted: that is, the history of Indigenous dispossession. As Ann Curthoys and Jessie Mitchell have recently shown, these processes are not distinct, but rather deeply imbricated, as the establishment of liberal and democratic institutions such as universal male suffrage and the secret ballot, and debates about liberty, self-determination and independence, relied upon the process of excluding and denying the rights of Indigenous people.21 Throughout this process, Aboriginal people consistently sought to make their voices heard, frequently seeking to appeal to ‘a higher authority’ to provide justice – as a more sympathetic and moral power 19
John Dunmore Lang, The Coming Event! Or, the United Provinces of Australia (Sydney: D.L. Welch, 1850); John Dunmore Lang, Freedom and Independence for the Golden Lands of Australia (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longman, 1852), p. 48. McKenna, The Captive Republic, 107; Geoffrey Serle, Golden Age: a History of the Colony of Victoria (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1963); John Hirst, The Strange Birth of Colonial Democracy (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1988). Ann Curthoys and Jessie Mitchell, Taking Liberty: Indigenous Rights and Settler SelfGovernment in Colonial Australia, 1830–1890 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 410–11; Angela Woollacott, Settler Society in the Australian Colonies: SelfGovernment and Imperial Culture (Oxford University Press, 2015).
Aboriginal ‘Loyalty’ to the Crown
that might transcend the limitations of colonial or state authority. In a form of statesmanship that bridged cultural traditions, many colonized peoples asserted claims to land and rights through establishing a direct relationship with the Crown, standing for cultural authority – often by participating in public performances such as royal celebrations and tours.22 Australian Aboriginal protocols had always involved sophisticated formal negotiations between tribal groups, and entities such as the Kulin nations confederacy of southern Victoria quickly grasped the signiﬁcance of the Crown as political force. In May 1863, for example, a deputation of Wurundjeri and Taungerong men, from the newly established Kulin community at Coranderrk, north-west of Melbourne, attended a public levee in Melbourne celebrating the Queen’s birthday and the marriage of the Prince of Wales. The Kulin presented Governor Barkly, as the viceregal agent of Queen Victoria, with weapons for the Prince and rugs and baskets for the Queen – all traditional objects.23 Wurundjeri leader Simon Wonga spoke in Woiwurrung, explaining that the deputation ‘desired to present an address to her Majesty the Queen, and to accompany it with presents’. The secretary of the Board for the Protection of the Aborigines then read the address, interpreted as ‘Blacks of the tribes of Wawoorong, Boonorong and Tara-Waragal send this to the Great Mother Queen Victoria’, with ‘many thanks . . . for many many things. Blackfellow now throw away all war-spears. No more ﬁghting but live like white men almost.’. . . Blackfellows hear that your ﬁrst son has married. Very good that! Blackfellows send all good to him, and to you, his Great Mother, Victoria. Blackfellows come from Miam and Willam to bring this paper to the Good Governor. He will tell you more. All Blackfellows round about agree to this. This is all.
Wonga took a ‘large and beautifully worked’ opossum skin rug which he spread out, and they ‘laid on the rug a number of spears, a wimmera, shield and waddy’. An engraved image shows the digniﬁed deputation on a footing of equality with the assembly’s other delegates, but belongs to an iconographic tradition which formulaically represents defeated peoples 22
Ravi de Costa, A Higher Authority: Indigenous Transnationalism and Australia, (Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2006); Jim Miller, ‘Petitioning the Great White Mother: First Nations Organizations and Lobbying in London,’ in Jim Miller (ed.), Reﬂections on NativeNewcomer Relations: Selected Essays (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), pp. 217–41; Ian Radforth, ‘Performance, Politics, and Representation: Aboriginal People and the 1860 Royal Tour of Canada’, Canadian Historical Review, 84 (2003), 1–32; Sarah Carter and Maria Nugent (eds.), Mistress of Everything: Queen Victoria in Indigenous Worlds (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016). Diane Barwick, Rebellion at Coranderrk, (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1997), pp. 266–7.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
paying tribute to their conqueror.24 Wonga’s speech was received by Europeans as an expression of loyalty and submission, subsumed into a model of conquered peoples surrendering to imperial might, as the Queen’s reply demonstrates, expressing the lively sense entertained by their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales of the kind feeling which prompted the Aborigines to make them an offering of so much interest. I am desired to add that their Royal Highnesses have received many tokens of good will and affection from the subjects of Her Majesty the Queen, but conspicuous in their estimation are those which show, as in the present instance, that these sentiments animate the native population of so distant and loyal dependencies.25
The Queen’s letters to Coranderrk had a double meaning, equally satisfying to black and white. To colonists and ofﬁcials, it appeared that Aboriginal people were expressing loyalty to the Crown. To the Kulin, the relationship symbolized their rights to the land. As Diane Barwick ﬁrst pointed out, the reservation of Coranderrk’s land one month after the levee may have been coincidental, but its timing and the Queen’s letters helped ‘to establish their belief, still voiced by descendants in the 1970s, that Coranderrk was the direct gift of the Queen and Sir Henry Barkly and belonged to them and their heirs in perpetuity’. As Maria Nugent and others have shown, this theme was repeated in claims to land across south-eastern Australia well into the twentieth century, reﬂecting the conviction that Aboriginal rights to land had been recognized at the highest levels of the British state.26 The changing nature and representation of encounters between visiting British royalty and Australian Indigenous people over their long history, as well as their meaning within Aboriginal communities, remains an intriguing question. In 1954, for example, a group of six men from Milingimbi, in Arnhem Land, travelled to Toowoomba to perform white cockatoo, emu and brown hawk dances for Queen Elizabeth II. In 2011, a group of artists, including relatives of the original performers, travelled to Toowoomba to perform the same series of dances, both honouring an important relative who had performed for the Queen and asserting the status of the participants from the Gupapuyngu clan within 24 25
Illustrated Melbourne Post, 18 June 1863; Board for the Protection of the Aborigines, Third Report, (Melbourne: John Ferres, 1863), p. 11. Despatches from Duke of Newcastle to Governor Sir Charles Darling, 18 September 1863 and 17 November 1863, reproduced in Board for the Protection of the Aborigines, Third Report, Appendix VI. Barwick, Rebellion at Coranderrk, 66; Lydon, Eye Contact, 39–50; Goodall, Invasion to Embassy, 103; Reynolds, The Law of the Land, 146; Maria Nugent, ‘The Politics of Memory and the Memory of Politics: Australian Aboriginal Interpretations of Queen Victoria, 1881–2011’, in Carter and Nugent, Mistress of Everything, pp. 100–21.
Aboriginal ‘Loyalty’ to the Crown
their own community. Following Princess Diana’s death in 1997, these dances were performed again, this time in Milingimbi by Gupapuyngu women within a traditional funeral ceremony.27 This remarkable Aboriginal performance points toward the community’s affection for Diana, as participants within a vast global community of mourning, as I explore further below. But more, the ceremony was a distinctively local expression of grief, again asserting the dancers’ clan leadership, reﬂecting the gendered nature of the meaning of Diana’s death in the context of mourning and re-enacting the original royal encounter. Most recently, in October 2018, as part of Prince Harry’s and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s tour of Australia, the royal couple visited K’gari (Fraser Island), in Queensland, and met with members of the Butchella people, its traditional owners. The forests of K’gari are included in the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy conservation project, launched in 2015, comprising a network of forest conservation initiatives across all ﬁfty-three countries of the Commonwealth. Bunjalung lawyer Dani Larkin noted that ‘it feels as though the royals represent a sense of modernization and progression compared to the “representative democratic” regime that governs Australia’, and argued, Seeing a modern royal couple prioritise our own land conservation more than the Australian government does is the ultimate example of just how disrespected and politically powerless we truly are. For the Australian polity to progress, the political and legal sovereignty of the Crown and Indigenous Australians must be realised and embraced as two co-existing sovereignties that are not at odds with each other, but have a relationship built on mutual respect, and work together. The Crown’s Canopy projects are one example of how this relationship can work.28
These sentiments point toward the way that some Aboriginal people continue to perceive the monarchy as a transcendent power, mediated by members of the royal family. Aboriginal people continue to cite the monarchy as a higher source of non-Aboriginal authority, and an alternative model for such a relationship, both in seeking to negotiate with or around the Australian state, and within their own communities.
Louise Hamby with Joe Gumbula, ‘Development of Collecting at the Milingimbi Mission’, in Peter Toner (ed.), Strings of Connectedness: Essays in Honour of Ian Keen (Canberra: ANU Press, 2015), pp. 187–214; Betsy Wearing, Beulah Lowe and the Yolngu People (Terrigal, NSW: Author, 2007); ‘Yolngu Follow Father’s Footsteps’, Toowoomba Chronicle, 12 July 2011, www.thechronicle.com.au/news/yolngu-follow-fathers-footsteps /903562/. Dani Larkin, ‘Royal Visit’s Model for Aboriginal Sovereignty’, Eureka Street 28 (21), 24 October 2018, www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/royal-visit-s-model-for-aboriginalsovereignty.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
White Male Nation During the decade leading up to federation in 1901, an aggressively anti-British nationalism emerged. The 1890s were a time of social and industrial upheaval, and nurtured a ﬂourishing radical culture featuring anarchists, socialists, single taxers, feminists and republicans, prompting the creation of the Labour Party, ﬁrst-wave feminism, a national literature and utopian communities.29 Various republican movements appeared, prompted by the clash between capitalism and labour. A ‘belligerent minority’ now associated the British monarchy with the clash between labour and capital, and the wealthy Queen had become a symbol of inequality. The aggressively masculinist Bulletin magazine argued, in 1892, that ‘The Royal family exists to play baccarat and lay foundation stones, and make dreary speeches at dreary institutes . . . to yawn vacuously over addresses from bumpkin corporations and to be fat and stupid and unutterably dreary.’30 The Jubilee Year, celebrating the ﬁftieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession featured such dissent, although re-afﬁrmations of ‘loyalty’ also showed that for most Australians the Queen was a symbol of freedom rather than oppression. Visions of national independence were profoundly gendered. Feminist Rose Scott was a ﬁerce opponent of the federalist movement, and, in 1899, told the story of visiting socialist leader William Lane’s party of colonists on board their ship before it sailed to Paraguay, where they were to establish a ‘New Australia’. Scott was struck most, she said, by the fact that ‘the women . . . were wretched and did not want to go and all the men were in the seventh heaven of enthusiasm and joy. I often think of that when I hear men raving over this scheme of Federation and its glorious possibilities and I consider “is it not better to endure and try to amend the ills we have, than to ﬂy to others we know not of”’.31 Women’s feelings about the nationalist future have often been overlooked, yet also emerged a century later in 1990s debates leading up to the republic referendum. Nonetheless, loyalty to Britain was the common bond that enabled 29
John Docker, The Nervous Nineties (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991); Bruce Scates, A New Australia: Citizenship, Radicalism and the First Republic (Cambridge University Press, 1997); Luke Trainor, British Imperialism and Australian Nationalism: Manipulation, Conﬂict and Compromise in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 1994); W. G. McMinn, Nationalism and Federalism in Australia (Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand, 1994); Helen Irving, The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation (Cambridge University Press, 1999). The Bulletin, 16 January 1892, p. 6. Cited in Helen Irving, To Constitute a Nation: A Cultural History of Australia’s Constitution (Cambridge University Press, 1999), 43.
The 1954 Royal Tour of Australia
federation of the Australian colonies in 1901, and an intense Empire worship prevailed over the ﬁrst half of the twentieth century.32 The 1954 Royal Tour of Australia Imperial sentiment climaxed in the 1954 Royal Tour by Queen Elizabeth II, attended by seven million Australians over eight weeks. The Tour was the last great public spectacle before television was launched in Australia in 1957, and became a symbol of cold war unity. Connors explained the absence of protest or dissent during the Tour in terms of royalty’s perceived lack of real power, its close identiﬁcation with white supremacy, the still-recent national war effort, and family – all elements of workingclass conservatism; because the Crown was represented by a woman; and because it was associated with the rich symbolism of tradition and fairytale. Even the left actively participated in or at least acquiesced to events in recognition of public sentiment.33 While royal-watching is now most strongly identiﬁed with women’s interests, in the 1950s, the close association of the royal family with national defence and politics powerfully engaged male emotions as well. As Connors noted, tears are an acculturated practice, not an objective measure of emotion. There were many occasions on which men displayed different outward signs of intense feeling. A visit to the Concord Repatriation Hospital in Sydney provided a strong example of this: the only tears reported were those of a war widow who was found sobbing with happiness after speaking to the Queen. But a trio of blokes had found other interesting ways of being beside themselves – Frank Perina, 18, a gunner from Brisbane, had dropped his camera practically on her feet; Sydney Brock of Anzac Parade could remember that he’d said something to her but had no idea what it was; and Jack Reynolds from Bondi was so excited to be greeted by the Queen that he’d replied with ‘Hello, Sister’, as if she was a nurse.34
Typically, politicians at all levels made use of the tour to enhance their own standing. Prime Minister Robert Menzies, for example, used the tour as means of demonizing the left, and outdid everyone in his protestations of love for the Queen. In a foreword to a book marking the tour, Menzies wrote that ‘In the person of the Monarch such as the young and lovely 32
Benjamin T. Jones, This Time: Australia’s Republican Past and Future (Melbourne: Black Inc., 2018); Paul Strangio, Paul ‘t Hart and James Walter, Settling the Ofﬁce: The Australian Prime Ministership from Federation to Reconstruction (Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing, 2016); Judith Brett, The Enigmatic Mr Deakin (Melbourne: Text Publishing, 2017); John Hirst, The Sentimental Nation: the Making of the Australian Commonwealth (Oxford University Press, 2000). Connors, ‘The Glittering Thread’. Jane Connors, ‘Betty Windsor and the Egg of Dukemburg: Men, Women and the Monarchy in 1954’, Journal of Australian Studies, 20 (1996), 67–80.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
Elizabeth the Second the Crown is also the focus of a profound nationwide emotion which promotes far more than any mere legal or political symbolism can do the sense of kinship among all the Queen’s people.’ Simply, he wrote, ‘We love the Queen. We honour the Queen. We serve the Queen.’35 Returned soldiers found their encounter with the Queen a highly emotional experience, and expressed their values of loyalty and sacriﬁce, such as when Mr. Alan Treloar, of Glenferrie Rd, Malvern, and ex-Tobruk Rat, cried when he saw the Queen at the M.C.G. ex-service rally. ‘I just couldn’t help it’, he said afterward. ‘The sight of our young Queen makes you realise that everything you’ve ever fought for is worthwhile.’36 The ‘Rats of Tobruk’ was the name given to the soldiers of the garrison that held the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Corps, a German–Italian army commanded by General Rommel between April and November 1941. Radio Berlin’s pro-Nazi radio broadcasts derisively referred to the garrison as ‘poor desert rats of Tobruk’, and the Australians subsequently reclaimed the name as a badge of pride. Mr Treloar’s tears expressed his devotion to a lived imperial ideal, symbolized by the monarch, and incorporating the meanings and experiences of the recent war. Royal popularity was never again to reach the heights of the 1954 Tour, as imperial ties subsequently weakened in economic, defence and diplomatic spheres.37 The identiﬁcation between the monarchy and national defence gradually diverged, even as military conﬂict expanded its emotional meanings for Australians. Yet the Tour demonstrated how royalist ‘sentiment’, so often dismissed as trivial, traditionally forms an important aspect of the imperial relationship. For many, emotional attachments to empire were increasingly transferred from the 1960s to the landscape of war memorials and associated civil ceremonies, which became a sacred national space or religion, or, in historian Ken Inglis’s term, the cult of Anzac. For many Australians, military valour and sacriﬁce has increasingly provided a focus for the modern culture of nationalism. Benedict Anderson’s archetypal collective symbolic representation of the nation was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, an open and undeﬁned space to be ﬁlled by the emotional conception of ‘every’ citizen. In this way the modern nation gives death continuity and meaning – and also locates this imagined entity in linear time. A key shift from an imagined community 35 36 37
R. G. Menzies, ‘The Function of the Crown’, foreword to Rex Ingamells, Royalty and Australia (Melbourne: Hallcraft Publishing, 1954), unpaginated. Connors, ‘Betty Windsor and the Egg of Dukemburg’, 74. Stuart Ward, Australia and the British Embrace: The Demise of the Imperial Ideal (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001).
The 1954 Royal Tour of Australia
focused on empire to an Australian nation took place in 1993, when a local unknown soldier was ‘returned’ from Villers-Bretonneaux to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, for the ﬁrst time providing a local monument instead of the tomb in Westminster Abbey.38 By the time of the next tour in 1963, a note of cynicism had appeared, evident, for example, in criticism of its expense.39 Broader factors in this shift include the weakening position of British imperialism in south-east Asia, an increasingly secular society and the retirement of Menzies as the end of the British era.40 The search for a unique identity began.41 A landmark that hastened this gradual process was ‘The Dismissal’, the constitutional crisis of 1975 in which Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed from ofﬁce by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, following deadlock over legislation required to ﬁnance government expenditure.42 Widely perceived as an abuse of constitutional power and an expression of contempt for national independence, this event did much to spur a republican movement. The general view was that the Queen ‘didn’t know’, a position serving to distance her from blame and the deep unpopularity that subsequently dogged Kerr. However, recent research by Whitlam’s biographer, historian Jenny Hocking, has uncovered correspondence revealing that Kerr had raised the prospect of dismissing Whitlam as early as September 1975, in a conversation with Prince Charles and subsequently with the Queen’s private secretary, Sir Martin Charteris. Further ‘palace letters’ between the governor general and the Queen, her private secretary and Prince Charles in the weeks before the dismissal are held by the Australian National Archives in Canberra, but are under embargo on the instruction of the Queen. Legal proceedings in the federal court continue.43 This secrecy points to the monarchy’s continuing power and inﬂuence in ways that breach its supposed constitutional role and limits, and which remain hidden from the Australian public.
39 41 42
Ken Inglis and Jan Brazier, Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1998); Anderson, Imagined Communities, 9–36; Curran and Ward, Unknown Nation; Ken Inglis, ‘The Unknown Australian Soldier’, Journal of Australian Studies 23(60) 1999, 8–17. Spearritt, ‘Royal Progress’, 211, 212. 40 Curran and Ward, Unknown Nation, 9. White, Inventing Australia. Jenny Hocking, Gough Whitlam: His Time (Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2012); Jenny Hocking, The Dismissal Dossier. The Palace Connection: Everything You Were Never Meant to Know about November 1975 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2017); Graham Freudenberg, A Certain Grandeur: Gough Whitlam’s Life in Politics (Camberwell, VC: Viking, 2009); Paul Kelly, The Dismissal (Sydney: Angus & Robertson Publishers, 1983). Hocking, Dismissal Dossier.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
The 1990s The decade preceding the turn of the millennium marked tremendous changes in these relations, both in Britain and in Australia. In the late 1980s, republicanism was ‘an eccentric response’ in Britain, and, as Billig notes, ‘to assert that Britain would be well-shot of the Windsors was an easy way of being shockingly naughty.’ At this time, the royal family had successfully negotiated continuity and change, in providing access to both the national heritage but also ‘comfortingly the heritage of the future’. Associated with traditional values that many believe to be under threat, royalty today represents both heritage and also its renewal, as represented by the younger royals, and adjustments to social change.44 The element of imminent loss is fundamental to heritage in the twenty-ﬁrst century, as nostalgia frames our understanding of the value of the past; memory scholar Andreas Huyssen points out that there has been a shift since the 1980s to looking backward and inward in Western societies, reversing the privileging of the future that was so characteristic of twentieth century modernity.45 As I explored in Chapter 1 with respect to Aboriginality, this nostalgic stance entails a sentimental view of the past, frequently tinged with sadness or melancholy in the face of imminent loss. By the early 1990s, however, growing numbers of Britons began to express dissatisfaction with the royal family, and to consider a republic a possibility. Factors in this shift included the break-down of three royal marriages, rising numbers of media stories about their sexual liaisons, debate regarding the Queen’s level of taxation, and especially the highly public, acrimonious divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales (Princess Diana) in 1996.46 These signs of dysfunction and ﬂawed personal behaviour – and especially lack of self-restraint in their emotional and domestic lives – seemingly undermined the monarchy’s balance between tradition and change. With the death of Princess Diana in November 1997, and the extraordinary international expression of emotion that followed, scholars for the ﬁrst time acknowledged the cultural impact of popular monarchism, even if many responded with condemnation of the ‘cloyingly sentimental effects of media manipulation and populist reaction’.47 As with the 44
45 46 47
N. Couldry, ‘Everyday Royal Celebrity’, in D. Morley and K. Robins (ed.), British Cultural Studies: Geography, Nationality and Identity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 221–33; Billig, Talking of the Royal Family. Andreas Huyssen, ‘Present Pasts: Media, Politics, Amnesia’, Public Culture, 12 (2000), 21–38. Billig, Talking of the Royal Family, ix–x. Adrian Kear and Deborah Lynn Steinberg, ‘Introduction’, in Adrian Kear and Deborah Lynn Steinberg (eds.), Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture and the Performance of Grief
phenomenon of popular royalism more generally, the denigration of this phenomenon was strongly shaped by the perception that is trivial, feminine and unrestrainedly emotional. However, some pointed out the operation of a gendered double standard, contrasting ‘counter voices’, usually male, that expressed disgust at the attention paid to Diana’s death, with media coverage of competitive sport, and the ‘irrational and passionate identiﬁcations many men around the world act out in relation to soccer or football stars, games and animal races [which] are treated as normal, real and noble’.48 Jude Davies argues that Diana’s life story exempliﬁes this dilemma, as her femininity is understood as both the transformation of politics, and as non-political, raising a central question of second-wave feminism: ‘how to contest the male and masculine domination of politics but also the essentialist and unitary construction of gender and other identities?’49 Responses to Diana’s death suggest that the familial, sexual and emotional dimensions of life once consigned to the private, domestic domain should be acknowledged as legitimate concerns for the public and political sphere.50 Within postmodernist scholarship, extensive analysis has now pointed toward the complex and ambivalent cultural work performed by Diana’s death: for example, in Britain, she was associated with a sense of cultural transformation, heightened by election of a Labour government for the ﬁrst time in twenty-three years. However, where the British Prime Minister Tony Blair drew on her affective power to signify the modernization of authority, by contrast, Australia conservative Prime Minister John Howard distanced himself from these qualities in seeking to evoke a more comfortable 1950s ideal. Diana’s death prompted an enormous response in Australia. It has been suggested that she was simply a ‘media simulacrum’ for this distant audience, but her relationship with the British public was also heavily mediatized, a key element of the monarchy’s successful appeal to its distant constituencies since the 1860s.51 As
(London: Routledge, 1999), p. 3. For examples of this mocking reaction, see contributions to Mandy Merck (ed.), After Diana: Irreverent Elegies (London: Verso, 1998). Zoë Sofoulis, ‘Icon, Referent, Trajectory, World’ in Ien Ang, Ruth Barcan, Helen Grace, Elaine Lally, Justine Lloyd and Zoë Sofoulis (Re: Public), (eds.), Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning (Kingswood, NSW: Research Centre in Intercommunal Studies, University of Western Sydney, 1997), pp. 13–18. Davies, Diana, A Cultural History, 13. 50 Sofoulis, ‘Icon, Referent, Trajectory, World’. Jean Duruz and Carol Johnson, ‘Mourning at a Distance: Australians and the death of a British Princess’, in Adrian Kear and Deborah Lynn Steinberg (eds.), Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture and the Performance of Grief (London: Routledge, 1999), 126–54; contributions to Ien Ang, Ruth Barcan, Helen Grace, Elaine Lally, Justine Lloyd and Zoë Sofoulis (Re: Public) (eds.), Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning, (Kingswood, NSW: Research Centre in Intercommunal Studies, University of Western Sydney, 1997).
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
a modern celebrity, Diana’s popularity evaded institutional power structures, expressing the grassroots expansion of celebrity from below, and an increasingly demotic culture of media consumption. Practices of ‘global mourning’ allowed widely separated individuals to participate within a community that reinforced ties with Britain, even as these were reworked and contested.52 Many shared popular British views of Diana as ‘one of the family’, with attendant political effects. Diana’s troubled marriage revealed a dysfunctional royal family, but it has been suggested that the perception of her as vulnerable and victimized by the monarchy, as well as her media proﬁle as a humanitarian, prompted the public to offer itself as her carers. In a signiﬁcant shift of emotional style, Diana’s seeming warmth, emotional freedom and informality were favourably contrasted with the formality, coldness and restraint of the royal family. Diana’s highly mediated story transcended class and nation and offered multiple meanings to her audience, as she moved from her initial role as the aristocratic yet ordinary ‘English rose’, through a trajectory of female empowerment that redeﬁned whiteness and Englishness. Prominent amongst the mourners were many ‘blacks, Asians, gays, single mothers and others who located themselves outside mainstream British culture and identiﬁed in some way with the oppressed and vulnerable’, suggesting a new multicultural Britain to some observers. Her ‘modern interracial romances’ with non-British Moslems Hasnat Khan and Dodi Al Fayed also opened up possibilities for ‘transforming conservative white English attitudes to racial and national “others”’ seeming to offer a moment of racial inclusiveness.53 As historians have noted of imperialism more generally, such interracial couples constitute a ‘marital middle ground’ that challenges and fragments European racial taxonomies.54 Diana’s death also draws our attention to a key meaning of the monarchy, ‘the acceptance of the inevitable limits of mortality as much as the 52
Graeme Turner, Understanding Celebrity (London: Sage, 2013), 101–2; Marc Augé, ‘Diana, Patron Saint of the Global Village’, in Mandy Merck (ed.), After Diana: Irreverent Elegies (London: Verso, 1998), 207–12; Susanne Greenhalgh, ‘Our Lady of Flowers’, in Adrian Kear and Deborah Lynn Steinberg (eds.), Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture and the Performance of Grief (London: Routledge, 1999), pp. 40–59; Anne Bickford and Siobhan Lavelle, ‘Places to Mourn Diana’ in Ang, Barcan et al., (eds.), Planet Diana: Cultural Studies and Global Mourning (Kingswood, NSW: Research Centre in Intercommunal Studies, University of Western Sydney, 1997), pp. 61–6. Mica Nava, ‘Diana and Race: Romance and the Reconﬁguration of the Nation’, in Adrian Kear and Deborah Lynn Steinberg (eds.), Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture and the Performance of Grief (London: Routledge, 1999), 108–25, quotations p. 111; Davies, Diana: A Cultural History, 4; Jatinder Verma, ‘Mourning Diana, Asian Style’ in Adrian Kear and Deborah Lynn Steinberg (eds.), Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture and the Performance of Grief (London: Routledge, 1999), 120–5. McGrath, Illicit Love, 8; Stoler, Carnal Knowledge; Ballantyne and Burton, Moving Subjects.
contingent limits of society.’ As Judith Brett argued of Queen Elizabeth II, ‘[i]n Australia, where her meaning as a symbol of inherited privilege is not particularly salient, she appears more starkly as a symbol of the limits of human choice and aspiration, and of the ultimate fatality of existence.’55 In this way, the monarchy, like the nation, offers an answer to death and immortality, and the exigency of human life. As Anderson argues, the great religions once provided answers to the great questions of human suffering, and over millennia transformed ‘fatality into continuity’. Their decline during the eighteenth century did not erase suffering, which became the burden of the new nation, emerging as a secular transformation of contingency into meaning.56 While the institution of the monarchy may have lost its divine sanction, its successful transformation in Britain into a secular and familial form has retained many of these associations, intertwined with but distinct from the magic of nationalism. In Australia, the 1990s were a decade of intense republican debate, led by Prime Minister Paul Keating, and Malcolm Turnbull of the Australian Republican Movement. Between 1990 and 1995, historians and political scientists began to explore a republic as vehicle of ‘inclusion’ but McKenna points out that there were few signs of women or Aboriginal people, nor did the campaign speak to social justice or equality.57 Antirepublican leader (and later PM) Tony Abbott argued in January 1994 that ‘[r]epublicans cite our ethnic diversity and multi-cultural achievements as the high points of Australian life without mentioning the Anglo-Celtic heritage’ – a very telling opposition to the national policy of multi-culturalism which maps continuing cultural and political fault-lines. Women remained highly critical of the republican vision. In 1996, historian Marilyn Lake suggested that Australian women were cautious about such proposals, because while the proposed republic had prompted ‘a new engagement with Australian history, a new interest in stories about who we are and how we came to be’, these pertained to the ‘founding fathers’ of the imagined political community – whether they ‘be federalist politicians or soldiers at Gallipoli or Kokoda’, and, Invariably, these have been boys’ own stories. Republicanism in Australia points up the collusive relationship of history and nationalism, and the masculinist dynamic of both. The discourse on republicanism – in its assertions of manly independence – voices masculine yearnings and fantasies. . . . Conversely,
55 56 57
Judith Brett, ‘From Monarchy to Republic: Into the Symbolic Void?’, Journal of Australian Studies 20 (1996), 17–32. Anderson, Imagined Communities, 50–1. Mark McKenna, Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future’, Quarterly Essay, 69 (2018), 1–86.
The Republican Debate and Popular Royalism
monarchists in Australia are often discredited for being unable to separate from the mother or for being, literally, old women.58
With irony, Lake noted that ‘[a]gainst the rule of foreign women abroad and the blue-rinse set at home, republicans offer us the possibility of a rebirth into a rejuvenated manhood. . . . Republican discourse constructs the national story as . . . a white man’s story.’ Among the symbolic and discursive barriers to women’s participation in the republican movement was the ‘entrenched belief that politics is the realization of masculine self-interest. For better or worse, the Queen is perceived by many as a non-political ﬁgure motivated solely by the sort of selﬂess duty that is still required of the majority of women.’59 Lake’s critique may be linked to continuing controversy regarding the highly masculinist nature of Australian political culture. An opposition persists between the supposedly feminine, emotional, private sphere, symbolized by the monarchy and its adherents, and the rational male public domain. However as this book has argued, emotions, supposedly so closely linked to the private domain, in fact pervade all aspects of life, and perform the epistemological function of deﬁning gendered, public and many other social categories. As Julie Ellison shows in her study of 1990s Anglo-American political culture, a long tradition of ‘masculine tenderheartedness’ normalized a form of male sensibility in which ‘emotional reserve and sentimental display became mutually legitimating roles’.60 Women however, could not participate in this domain on the same terms, an emotional binary that continues to pose a dual challenge, or ‘double bind’ for women who wish to contest the masculine sphere but are at the same time expected to remain essentially ‘feminine’. For example, in October 2012, Australia’s ﬁrst female Prime Minister Julia Gillard responded to a question by Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott during parliamentary questions with a rousing ﬁfteen-minute speech drawing attention to the opposition’s double standards on sexism and misogyny. The speech quickly attracted international attention, going viral on social media, being reported in the international press, and receiving praise from world leaders including US President Obama. A dominant framing of her speech in the Australian media, however, was as an uncontrolled emotional outpouring.61 This political culture underlines the importance 58 59 61
Marilyn Lake, ‘The Republic, the Federation and the Intrusion of the Political’, Journal of Australian Studies, 20 (1996), 5–15. Lake, ‘The Republic’. 60 Ellison, Cato’s Tears, 10. K. A. M. Wright and J. Holland, ‘Leadership and the Media: Gendered Framings of Julia Gillard’s “Sexism and Misogyny” Speech’, Australian Journal of Political Science, 49 (2014), 455–68; Ngaire Donaghue, ‘Who Gets Played by ‘The Gender Card’? a Critical Discourse Analysis of Coverage of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Sexism and
of gender as a means of naturalizing social hierarchies and the differential distribution of power in Australian politics. In a broader critique of the republican movement, Judith Brett identiﬁed a widespread public feeling that ‘politicians are not to be trusted’, as the constitutional monarchists’ strongest argument. Brett argued that the opposed emotions of trust and cynicism shaped more narrowly political arguments on either side, and that It is not the monarchy’s relationship to Australian culture or society which is at the core of the Australian constitutional monarchists’ position, but its relationship to our political institutions; and the emotions to which they appeal are the negative ones of cynicism and distrust of elected politicians, rather than the positive ones of loyalty and reverence for the crown.62
By contrast, Brett argued, the Australian republican tradition lacks any ‘broadly accepted and emotionally rich symbols of the people or the nation’ comparable with the Crown as a symbol of ‘impersonal service, of leadership, beyond politics’.63 Sure enough, in a two-question referendum to amend the Constitution of Australia in 1999, Australian voters rejected a proposal to establish a republic with a parliament-appointed head of state. This was a surprise to many, in seeming to contradict opinion polls which suggested that a majority of the electorate favoured a republic. Extensive subsequent political analysis emphasizes a lack of bi-partisanship and division among republicans on the method proposed for selection of the president.64 However few analysts have seriously attended to the familial, emotional and traditional aspects of imperial ties, either reducing them to ‘sentiment’ or ignoring them altogether. Typical of the continuing disparagement of this emotional, female domain is historian Mark McKenna’s analysis of arguments for retention of constitutional monarchy in Australia. McKenna, the foremost historian of Australian republicanism, characterizes the popular response to the
62 63 64
Misogyny Speech in the Australian Print Media. Australian Feminist Studies, 30 (2015), 161–78. Brett, ‘From Monarchy to Republic’, 27; cf, Michael Kirby,’ The Australian Referendum on a Republic: Ten Lessons’, Australian Journal of Politics and History 46 (2012), 510–35. Brett, ‘From Monarchy to Republic’, 27. John Warhurst and Malcolm Mackerras (eds.), Constitutional Politics: the Republic Referendum and the Future (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 2002); John Higley and Ian Mcallister, ‘Elite Division and Voter Confusion: Australia’s Republic Referendum in 1999’, European Journal of Political Research 41 (2002), 845–61; Malcolm Turnbull, Fighting for the Republic: the Ultimate Insider’s Account (South Yarra: Hardie Grant Books, 1999); Luke Mansillo, ‘Loyal to the Crown: Shifting Public Opinion towards the Monarchy in Australia’, Australian Journal of Political Science, 51 (2016), 1–23; Jones, This Time.
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2014 royal tour as ‘replete with detailed discussion of fashion trends and gushing protestations of loyalty’ and argues that it is methodologically difﬁcult to ‘disentangle the celebrity culture with which contemporary monarchy is entwined’ from ‘genuine support for the institution of monarchy itself’.65 This opposition between ‘media celebrity’ and ‘genuine’ support for the institution, and the language of emotional incontinence – royal-watchers are ‘gushing’, ‘drooling’, or ‘slavering’ – signals the institution’s perceived falsity, which he considers to mask the ‘real’ business of politics. This stance continues to characterize responses to popular royalism, such as in a recent Australian media story about the 2018 visit to Australia of Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, when the newlyweds announced their ﬁrst pregnancy. Ian Warden wrote, What turbulent emotions are set seething in a sincerely republican Australian’s bosom by the spectacle of our nation slavering and gibbering at the news of the royal pregnancy! How quickly the royal pregnancy delirium set in, weaving its malignant magic. Even two of my favourite ABC Radio National news and current affairs presenters, women with sharp, sceptical, agnostic minds when it comes to politics and politicians, embarked on serial droolings about the magic of the duchess’s pregnancy, at the spellbinding possibility of her sporting a visible regal ‘bump’.66
Yet for McKenna, the monarchy is barren of meaning. Neatly reversing arguments such as Brett’s that a republic is the ‘void’ that lacks cultural meaning, McKenna argues that ‘the strongest arguments for the continuation of constitutional monarchy are . . . for what it is not (political) rather than for what it is (a hereditary head of state)’.67 However, as we have seen, this is not the case for many Australians, as the monarchy does not simply and narrowly denote ‘Britishness’ (itself a diverse and contested category), but instead continues to represent simultaneously the familiar and unattainable, personal honour and a transcendent moral and political authority. The authenticity of this imagined community rivals or exceeds that of the modern nation – equally constructed and emotional – and cannot be assumed to be ‘false’ or empty of meaning.68 Reframing the unavoidably triangular structure of republicanism, multiculturalism and treaty in terms of affect reveals how even McKenna’s argument 65
Mark McKenna, ‘Waiting to Die? the British Monarchy in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, 1991–2016’, in Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery (eds.), Crowns and Colonies: European Monarchies and Overseas Empires (Manchester University Press, 2016), pp. 309–24, quotation p. 310; and see Mark McKenna, ‘Monarchy: from Reverence to Indifference’, in D. Schreuder and S. Ward (eds.), Australia’s Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 261–87. Ian Warden, ‘Monarchy given bump of popularity’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2018. McKenna, ‘Waiting to Die?’, 310. 68 Anderson, Imagined Communities, 49–50.
The Last Queen?
unwittingly depends on a (gendered) binary of legitimate masculine political sensibility, and women’s uncritical attraction to celebrity, spectacle and glamour. Since 1999, the popularity of the royal family has only increased. During a visit by Prince William to Australia in 2009, a poll found that support for Australia losing its status as a constitutional monarchy had dropped from 55 per cent during the 1990s to 44 per cent.69 Polling shows that support for a republic has stalled, and conservative leaders, including Scott Morrison, Prime Minister in early 2019, are not in favour of change. Nostalgic in orientation, yet also constantly renewed by the younger generations with their marriages and babies, surely this sentiment is difﬁcult – and the 1999 defeat suggests, foolish – to dismiss. As I have suggested, popular royalism is deﬁned against the broader masculinization of emotions in the political sphere, and the challenge or ‘double bind’ for women who wish to participate. Serious consideration of these gendered emotional regimes remains a glaring absence in the present debate. By overlooking or denigrating the monarchy’s complex cultural meanings, as well as ignoring women’s reservations regarding its proposals, the republican movement severely limits its capacity to engage many Australians. The Last Queen? Only recently have historians recognized that the nationalist story of Australia’s establishment of a free society with democratic institutions is integrally structured by the counter-story of Indigenous dispossession.70 One implication of this recognition is that we must bring together debates about a future Australian nation, and the omnipresent vision of a republic, with those regarding the status of Aboriginal people.71 This is certainly the view of Aboriginal people, whose May 2017 ‘Uluru Statement from the heart’ seeks constitutional reforms, and the establishment of a Makarrata (reconciliation) Commission to supervise a process 69
Bonnie Malkin, ‘Julia Gillard Wants Australia to Become a Republic at End of Queen’s Reign’, The Telegraph, 17 August 2010, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/theroyalfam ily/7949751/Julia-Gillard-wants-Australia-to-become-a-republic-at-end-of-Queensreign.html. Curthoys and Mitchell, Taking Liberty, 411; see also Zoë Laidlaw, ‘Imperial Complicity: Indigenous Dispossession in British History and History Writing’, in Catherine Hall, Nick Draper and Keith McClelland (eds.), Emancipation and the Remaking of the British Imperial World (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), pp. 131–148; Tom Lawson, The Last Man: a British Genocide in Tasmania (London: I.B. Taurus, 2014). Mark McKenna, This Country: a Reconciled Republic? (Sydney, NSW: University of New South Wales Press, 2004); McKenna, ‘Moment of Truth’, 1–86.
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of agreement-making between government and First Nations, and ‘truthtelling’ about Australian history. Aboriginal lawyer Megan Davis argues that ‘[r]epublicanism, in its legal and political potential, invites the nation to engage in a discussion of a much grander vision of nationhood and structural reform than the 1999 version’.72 However, a key implication of recognizing that democracy and Indigenous dispossession are intertwined is that Britain, seemingly so remote from the grim business of dispossession, has escaped recognition of its profound complicity. In the process of creating and beneﬁtting from colonialism, Britain applied a wide range of policies toward Aboriginal people, including policies of ‘dispossession, displacement, punishment, exploitation, child removal and assimilation’, and ‘held the interests of Britain to be paramount, even when the rights, livelihoods and indeed very existence of Aboriginal people were threatened’.73 By focusing the authority of the British empire upon the affective relationship between the people and a loved and respected member of a family, these political meanings may be evaded or disguised. Emotional ties between colonists, and between Britain and colonies, relied upon the exclusion of Aboriginal people, as this book has argued. Only by ignoring the claims of Indigenous people could the legitimacy of colonization be asserted. Feelings of anxiety, guilt and shame were ultimately soothed by the countervailing stories of shared values that created sympathy for whites and suggested that Aboriginal people were not deserving of empathy. This history cannot be understood merely in terms of political institutions, because it is profoundly emotional, imbricated with fundamental ways of understanding oneself and one’s society. Part of the process of addressing the meaning of the monarchy and understanding its continuing signiﬁcance must entail acknowledgement of the ways that the upright and dutiful representative of the British monarchy, the Queen, may conceal political inﬂuence and complicity. By continuing to dismiss the importance of the monarchy as simply ‘trivial’ or emotionally excessive, we mask its links to historical and continuing complicity in the processes of empire and nation-building, and dispossession. Rather than dismissing popular royalism, by paying attention to this domain we may better understand how it has served to secure acquiescence and displace responsibility. This history of complicity in Australian colonization must be part of truth-telling. 72
Megan Davis and George Williams, Everything You Need to Know about the Referendum to Recognise Indigenous Australians (Sydney: NewSouth Publishing, 2015); Gabrielle Appleby & Megan Davis, ‘The Uluru Statement and the Promises of Truth’, Australian Historical Studies, 49 (2018), 501–9. Curthoys and Mitchell, Taking Liberty, 411; Laidlaw, ‘Imperial Complicity’.
The Last Queen?
The counterpart to the mid-nineteenth-century vision of the future tourist who gazes upon the ruins of London is represented by the prospect of an Australian republic, symbol of the colonial inheritor’s maturity and independence. Like the future tourist, for Britain, a republic perhaps symbolizes the threat of obsolescence and its own decline. However, the affection with which the monarchy is regarded in Australia has shaped and qualiﬁed the republican movement, which McKenna suggests is deﬁned by its own perpetual futurity, as a moment to be endlessly deferred. Prime Minister Julia Gillard ﬁrst suggested that a republic should be timed to follow Elizabeth’s death, and this has been taken up by many as a genuine resolution – such as former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, for example, who had previously led the failed republican campaign in 1999.74 Understandably, this proposal was greeted with disquiet by the Queen, whose view is that if Australia wants to be a republic, it should ‘get on with it’ rather than impose ‘this lingering death-watch’ upon her.75 It is perhaps not too far-fetched to liken this situation, of waiting for the ‘last of the Australian monarchs’ to die, to the way that the ‘last of the Tasmanians’, Truganini, was regarded during the 1870s. For many colonists, Truganini’s death constituted the mournful, even tragic, yet inevitable disappearance of an outdated people before the march of British progress and modernity. In the same way, a royal ‘deathwatch’ signiﬁes the view of many Australians that the British royal family no longer plays a legitimate role in modern Australia and the current queen should be the last. Yet the future tourist has not yet started the journey toward London Bridge, and an Australian republic remains a distant dream.
Malkin, The Telegraph, 17 August 2010. Robert Hardman, Queen of the World (London: Century, 2018), p. 212.
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Abbott, Tony, 181, 182 Aboriginal people. See also frontier conﬂict; Tasmanian Aborigines apologies to Stolen Generation, 96–7 assimilation policies and institutions, 95, 97 dehumanization by settlers, 89 dispossession, 165, 170, 185–7 extinction discourse, 48–9 impact of colonization on, 75 Port Phillip Protectorate, 11 reception of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 91 recognition of rights to land, 172 relationship to the Crown, 170–3 removal of children, 94–8 slavery, 89, 137–9 status in future Australian nation, 185 as undeserving of philanthropy or protection, 121, 160 Aboriginal Reconciliation, 96, 165 Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 (Qld), 93 Aborigines Act 1886 (NSW), 128 Aborigines Act 1905 (WA), 96 Aborigines Protection Act 1909 (NSW), 93 Aborigines Protection Society (APS), 10, 133, 156 anti-imperialism debates, 43–5 Antipodes, as great future empire, 35–40 anti-slavery discourse and protection of indigenous people’s rights, 12, 19–20, 137–9 use by social reformers, 141 anti-slavery movement backlash against, 15, 83 humanitarianism and, 25–7 impact of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 91 Anzac, cult of, 176 art, naturalism in British art, 110 Arthur, Walter George, 86, 87 assimilation policies and institutions, 95, 97
Australia. See also frontier conﬂict; Western Australia as Arcady, 34 as Australia Felix, 64 debates about urban reform, 116 masculinist nature of political culture, 182–3 recognition of Australian nationality, 166 Australian legend, 139 Australian nationalism federalist movement and anti-British nationalism, 174–5 loyalty to the Crown, 164, 169 republicanism and, 164, 170 Australians, British jokes about, 25 Bagehot, Walter, 21 Barnardo, Thomas, 154 Barnardo’s orphanages, 20, 143, 148–51 Bates, Daisy, 49 biological difference, debates over, 19, 31, 49, 56, 89, 118, 161–63 Black But Comely (Gribble), 119, 134, 157 The Black Police (Vogan), 90 Blair, Tony, 179 Bleak House (Dickens) (BH) backlash against anti-slavery feeling, 15, 83, 101, 117 challenge to ‘telescopic philanthropy’, 15, 35, 70 colonial reception of, 110–17 emotional and racialized strategies of, 101 imperial evangelization versus local urban reform, 15, 103 meaning of Jo’s death, 24, 102 reworkings and appropriations of, 110 stage performances, 111 use to justify frontier violence, 7 use to support settler interests, 110–17 visual images, 112–16 Bonney, Charles, 64
Index Bringing Them Home Report, 95–6, 98, 165 Britain complicity in Indigenous dispossession, 186–7 as ‘home’ or Mother Country, 27–9, 34 British art, naturalism, 110 British Empire changing emotional regimes, 8–15 British royalty. See also Royal Family; Royal Tours Indigenous peoples relationship to, 170–3 role in modern world, 166–70 British–Australian relations, tensions in, 25–7 Britishness, 166, 184 Broome, Frederick Napier, 135, 137, 139 Browne, Hablot Knight (’Phiz’), 61, 62 Bulmer, John, 128 Bulmer, Mary, 128 Burke, Edmund, 32 Burton, A.R.E., 143, 151–2 Butler, Samuel, 28 Buxton, Thomas Fowell, 12 Campbell, George, 141 cannibalism, 156 Carlyle, Thomas, 14, 68, 118 charity begins at home, 119, 121, 145 Charles, Prince of Wales, 177, 178 Chesson, Frederick, 133 children colonists as, 33 death of, 95 role in Victorian culture, 144 Christian heroism, 140 Christian manliness, 19, 125, 126 Christianity. See also missionary activity muscular Christianity, 19, 125, 126, 130, 131 Cochrane, Mary Ann, 87 Colenso, William, 35–40, 45 colonial conﬂict. See frontier conﬂict colonial social upheaval and degradation, 42 colonists. See also settler identity as children and inheritors of empire, 33 as future tourists, 32–5, 41 Commonwealth Canopy conservation project, 173 Comte, Auguste, 44 conversion narratives, 134 Cooper, William, 87
Coranderrk, 171–2 cosmopolitanism British ideas about, 32 of Labillardière, 35–40 Couldery, Thomas William, 112–16 cult of sensibility, 8–15, 29–32 cynicism, 21 Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land (Gribble), 19, 136, 137–9 d’Entrecasteaux expedition, 37, 39–40 Diana, Princess of Wales, 173, 178–80 Dickens, Charles. See also Bleak House (Dickens) correspondence with Stowe, 100 early life, 102 ideas on race, 119 on imperialism, 117 ‘The Noble Savage’, 118 obstruction of abolitionist cause, 117 Oliver Twist, 116 on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 83, 100, 117 as performer of his works, on ‘telescopic philanthropy’, 15, 35, 68–71, 101, 118 difference debates over biological difference, 19, 31, 49, 56, 89, 118, 161–63 grammars of, 26, 144, 163 racialized grammars of, 26 Dismissal of Whitlam Government, 177 domesticity, and imperialism, 15–17 Doré, Gustave, 33, 35, 37, 107 Elizabeth II, Queen, 166, 168, 169, 172, 175–7, 187 emotion, reason and, 22, 29 emotional communities, 5 emotional discourse, role within imperial relations, 2–3 emotional economies, 4, 117 emotions as practices, 5–7 researching history of, 3–8 stance taken in scholarly writing on, 20–2 empathy limits of, 97 meaning and use of term, 2, 30 politics of, 83–5, 94–8 radical social potential of, 99 Erewhon (Butler), 28 evolutionism, 162
Exeter Hall, 19, 66, 70, 75, 118, 119, 132, 139, 161 experience versus expression question, 4 extinction discourse, 48–9 Eyre, Edward John, 1, 64, 67, 73 fellow feeling, 29–32, 97 Fitzroy, Charles, 55 foreign philanthropy. See also telescopic philanthropy backlash against, 35 France, Paciﬁc expeditions, 38, 39–40 French Revolution, 9, 32 Frith, William Powell, 107 frontier conﬂict blamed on convicts, 59–62 emotions aroused by, 1 Major Nunn’s Campaign, 51–3 masculinity and racial violence, 55–8 Myall Creek Massacre, 53, 57 north-west Western Australia, 120, 126, 136, 137–9, 140 Overlanders and, 72 Rufus River Massacre, 1 settler identity and, 74 visual images of, 54, 59–62, 68 white heroism and, 73 future tourists colonists as, 41 Labillardière’s New Zealander, 35–40 Macaulay’s New Zealander, 32–5, 41, 43 North Americans, 41 vernacularizing of, 45–8 Gibbon, Edward, 32, 33 Gillard, Julia, 182, 187 grammars of difference, 26, 144, 163 Grattan Guinness, Henry, 130 Grey, George, 63, 72 Gribble, John Brown background and early activism, 128–9 Black But Comely, 119, 134, 157 Christian heroism, 140 Dark Deeds in a Sunny Land, 19, 136, 137–9 encounter with Kelly Gang, 123–6 Gribble affair, 127, 135–7 immersion in British evangelical community, 129–35 imperial commons and, 126–8 magic lantern tour, 154–62 on slavery of Aborigines, 89, 137–9 Gulliver’s Travels (Swift), 27
Hamilton, George, 7, 53, 71, 72, 73 Harry, Prince, 173, 184 Hart, Steve, 123–5 hierarchies of inequality, 26, 144 history wars, 74 history, Whig interpretation of, 33 Hodgkin, Thomas, 10 Howard, John, 179 human development, stadial view of, 31 humanitarianism anti-slavery movement and, 25–7 challenges to, 14–15, 68–71 cult of sensibility and, 8–10 expansion of missionary activity, 25–7 historiography of, 10–15 as ‘telescopic philanthropy’, 15, 35, 68–71, 117 humanitarians, 10, 13–14 Hume, David, 8 identity. See settler identity imagined communities, 27–9 imperial anxieties, 28 imperial categories, racialized grammars of difference, 26 imperial commons, 6, 8, 58, 78, 126–8, 147 imperial family emotive familial ties within, 47 ideas of, 44 imperial nostalgia, 28, 48–9 imperialism, and domesticity and, 15–17 indentured labour, 94 indigenous peoples. See also Aboriginal people anti-slavery discourse in support of, 12, 19–20, 137–9 protection of rights, 11–13 inequality, hierarchies of, 26, 144 interracial relationships or marriage, 17, 180 Isdell, James, 96 Jerrold, Blanchard, 107 K’gari (Fraser Island), 173 Keating, Paul, 181 Kelly, Ned, 123–5, 139 Kerr, John, 177 Kingsley, Charles, 131 Labillardière, Jacques-Julien Houtou de, 35–40 Lang, John Dunmore, 170 Leisure Hour (magazine), 125
Index Livingstone, David, 19, 20, 129, 130–1, 154 London Labour and the London Poor (Mayhew), 15, 103–4 Macaulay, Thomas Babington, 33, 34, 40, 41, 100 Macaulay’s New Zealander, 32–5, 41, 45–8, 164 Mackenzie, Henry, 32 magic lantern slide performances, 20 ‘before and after’ visual narratives, 144–52 by Barnardo’s in Australian colonies, 143–4, 151–2 by Barnardo’s in London, 148–54 by Gribble, 145, 146, 154–62 popularity, 147 use by social reformers, 145 waifs of London in the colonies, 147–54 Maloga Mission, 87, 128 The Man of Feeling (Mackenzie), 32 masculinity conﬂation with class, 73 muscular Christianity or Christian manliness, 19, 125, 126, 130, 131 racial violence and, 55–8 sensibility of manliness, 67, 125, 182 stereotypes, 124 Matthews, Daniel, 128 Mayhew, Henry, 15, 103, 120 Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, 173, 184 Menzies, Robert, 175, 177 Meston, Archibald, 156 Mill, John Stuart, 118 missionary activity application of telescopic philanthropy, 119–20 backlash against, 14–15 emotional strategies deployed, 125 humanitarianism and expansion of, 25–7 mastery of imperial print cultures, 127 pity as justiﬁcation for intervention into Indigenous lives, 18 salvation by love, 17–20 Moffat, Robert, 129 Moody, Dwight Lyman, 132 Morrison, Scott, 185 Mundy, Godfrey, 26, 42, 52, 55–8, 62 muscular Christianity, 19, 125, 126, 130, 131 Myall Creek Massacre, 53, 57
nationalism. See also Australian nationalism British ideas about, 32 Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, 166 new imperial histories, 12 new transnational histories, 26 The New Zealander (Trollope), 41 ‘The New Zealander’ (Doré), 33, 37 Oliver Twist (Dickens), 116 Our Antipodes (Mundy), 26, 42, 52, 55–8 Overlanders, 72 Parkes, Henry, 163, 170 philanthropists, use of term, 13–14 philanthropy. See also telescopic philanthropy backlash against foreign philanthropy, 35 Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne), 61, 62 photographic images. See also magic lantern slide performances ‘before and after’ visual narratives, 144–52 missionary photography, 151 photographic type portraits, 104–7 of ‘wild blacks’, 157 Piron, Jean, 40 pity contrasted with sympathy, 30–1 as justiﬁcation for missionary intervention, 18 politics of, 99 politics of empathy, 83–5, 94–8 politics of pity, 99 popular monarchism, 165, 178 popular royalism, 164, 165–70, 179, 184, 185, 186 protectorates of Aborigines, 11 Queensland-Paciﬁc labour trade, 94 racial violence, masculinity and, 55–8 reason, and emotion, 22, 29 Rejlander, Oscar, 104–7, 150 republicanism Australian republican debate in 1990s, 181–3 British republicanism, 178 declining support for, 185 duality in Australian nationalism, 164, 169 gendered and emotional nature of, 164, 181–5 referendum in 1999, 183 status of Aboriginal people and, 185 Ricoeur, Paul, 21
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 40 Royal Family affective power of, 23 British dissatisfaction with, 178 celebrity culture and, 184 popularity since 1999, 185 role in modern world, 166–70 Royal Tours in 1954, 169, 175–6 in 1963, 177 in 2014, 184 in 2018, 173, 184 royal-watching, 5, 164, 165–70, 184 Rufus River Massacre, 1 Rundle, Guy, 25 Sankey, Ira, 132 Select Committee on Aboriginal Tribes (British Settlements), 12, 51, 62 Selwyn, Augustus, 131 sensibility of manliness, 67, 125 sensibility, cult of, 8–15, 29–32 sentimental domestic ideology, 98 sentimentalism, and assimilation policies, 94 settler colonies, transnational links and synergies, 12 settler identity common identity shared across colonies, 57 Dickensian imagery and, 111–17 frontier violence and, 74, 140 slavery. See also anti-slavery discourse; anti-slavery movement Aboriginal people and, 89, 137–9 free labour distinguished from, 141 Queensland-Paciﬁc labour trade and, 94 Slavery Abolition Act 1833, 51 Smith, Adam, 2, 8, 30–1 Smith, Goldwin, 43–4 Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 119, 133 Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), 103, 133 Sorry Book campaign, 96 Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 15, 100, See also Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe) suffering, contest over meaning of, 14 Swift, Jonathan, 27 sympathy content over proper objects of, 14 contrasted with pity, 30–1 meaning and use of term, 2 as modality of power, 19
Tasmanian Aborigines death of Truganini, 48, 187 at Oyster Cove, 87 representation by members of d’Entrecasteaux’s expedition, 39–40 so-called extinction, 48 telescopic philanthropy application to oppose or support interests of Indigenous people, 159–62 humanitarianism as, 15, 35, 68–71, 117 in the colonies, 119–21 missionary activity, 119–20 ‘Telescopic Philanthropy’ (Tenniel), 33, 36 Tenniel, John, 34, 35 texts, consumption as emotional practice, 5–7 The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Smith), 30–1 The Black Police (Vogan), 90 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 176 Treloar, Alan, 176 Trollope, Anthony, 41, 43 Turnbull, Malcolm, 181, 187 Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Stowe) (UTC), 15 Aboriginal reception of, 89 impact on abolitionist debate, 78 introduced to Australia, 79–83 meaning of Little Eva’s death, 24 plot and literary strategies, 78–9, 101 popularity, 82, 83 sentimentalism and assimilation, 94 settler reception of, 94 stage performances, 82, 88 use to frame abuses of Aboriginal people, 94 visual culture around, 79 urban ethnography and reform genre, 103, 104–10, 145 Victoria, Queen, 169, 171–2 visual culture and access to contemporary emotions, 53 interpreting images, 8 visual images. See also magic lantern slide performances, photographic images arousal of emotions, 8 blind spots, 53–5 Dickensian visual images in colonies, 111–17 empathy and, 54 of frontier conﬂict, 54, 59–62, 68 Vogan, Arthur, 89, 90 Voyage in Search of La Pérouse (Labillardière), 35–40
Index Warangesda Aboriginal Mission, 129, 134, 157, 158 Western Australia British control over indigenous affairs, 139, 141 Gribble Affair, 135–7 history of colonisation, 140 treatment of Aborigines on north-west frontier, 120, 126, 137–9, 140
Whig interpretation of history, 33 Whitlam, Gough, 177 Wimble, Frederick, 161 Wonga, Simon, 171–2 Yarrabah Mission, 156–7 Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), 132