The MacKenzie Moment And Imperial History: Essays In Honour Of John M. MacKenzie 303024458X, 9783030244583, 9783030244590

This book celebrates the career of the eminent historian of the British Empire John M. MacKenzie, who pioneered the exam

1,366 104 6MB

English Pages 424 Year 2019

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

The MacKenzie Moment And Imperial History: Essays In Honour Of John M. MacKenzie
 303024458X,  9783030244583,  9783030244590

Table of contents :
Contents......Page 6
Notes on Contributors......Page 9
List of Figures......Page 15
List of Tables......Page 17
Part I Introduction......Page 18
Chapter 1 Introduction: The ‘MacKenzian Moment’ Past and Present......Page 19
Chapter 2 Foreword: The Moving Frontier of MacKenzie’s Empire......Page 31
Part II The Cultural Impact of Empire......Page 39
Chapter 3 Exhibiting the ‘Strangest of All Empires’: The East India Company, East India House, and Britain’s Asian Empire......Page 40
1 Architecture and East India House......Page 45
2 East India House and Material Culture......Page 50
3 Later Manifestations......Page 55
Chapter 4 “Jumboism Is Akin to Jingoism”: Race, Nation, and Empire in the Elephant Craze of 1882......Page 61
1 ‘Literally and Figuratively the Biggest Thing of the Season’: Jumbo and Jumbomania......Page 65
2 ‘Tamed, Dare We Say Civilised?’: Jumbo as Imperial Metaphor......Page 72
3 ‘Black as I Am’: Discourses of Slavery and Humanitarian Imperialism......Page 77
Chapter 5 Popular Imperialism and the Textual Cultures of Empire......Page 89
1 Empire, Adventure, Environment: Popular Imperial Fiction......Page 90
2 Imperial Myth and the Icons of Empire: Heroic Biography......Page 95
3 Witnessing the World: Guide Books and the Missionary Record......Page 100
4 New Directions......Page 105
Chapter 6 Projections of Empire: The Architecture of Colonial Museums in East Africa......Page 111
1 Architecture in the British Empire......Page 112
2 Building Museums in the Empire......Page 115
3 Establishing Museums in East Africa: Memorialisation and Community Fundraising......Page 119
4 Zanzibar: An Eclectic and Flawed Oriental Vision......Page 121
5 The Coryndon Memorial Museum: A Classical Vision in Nairobi......Page 126
6 Dar es Salaam: A Museum ‘Arabic in Character’......Page 131
7 Conclusion......Page 133
Introduction......Page 135
I. ‘The Quagmire of Apathetic Degeneracy’......Page 143
II. ‘The Last of the Legions’......Page 149
III. ‘The British Position’......Page 154
IV. ‘The King’s Road Grenadiers’......Page 159
V. ‘Throbbing Rhythms of Africa’......Page 167
VI. ‘Year of the Guru’......Page 172
Conclusion......Page 176
Part III Four-Nations History......Page 183
Chapter 8 Scottish Landed-Estate Purchases, Empire, and Union, 1700–1900......Page 184
1 Country Houses, British Identities, and Empire......Page 185
2 The Scottish Case......Page 191
3 Comparison to Ireland......Page 197
Chapter 9 Electoral Politics and Lord Seaforth as a Landed Proprietor in Scotland and as Governor of Barbados......Page 202
1 Political Management in Ross-Shire......Page 205
2 Difficulties in Political Management in Barbados......Page 209
3 Degree of Personal Esteem for Seaforth and Support of His Policies in Barbados......Page 214
Chapter 10 Making John Redmond ‘the Irish [Louis] Botha’: The Dominion Dimensions of the Anglo-Irish Settlement, c. 1906–1922......Page 223
Chapter 11 Pro-Empire Sentiment in Twentieth-Century Scotland Before Decolonisation......Page 248
1 The Empire Societies in Scotland......Page 253
2 Trade and Commerce......Page 259
3 Civic Honours and Empire......Page 264
4 Conclusion......Page 269
Chapter 12 What Has the Four Nations and Empire Model Achieved?......Page 272
1 The Political and Historiographic Origins of the Four Nations and Empire Model......Page 273
2 Tracing the Genealogy of the Four Nations and Empire Concept......Page 281
3 The Four Nations and Empire Framework: Criticisms, Successes and Opportunities......Page 283
Part IV Global and Transnational Perspectives......Page 295
Chapter 13 Brothers in Arms: Crossing Imperial Boundaries in the Eighteenth-Century Dutch West Indies......Page 296
1 Weilburg......Page 304
2 The Berbice Slave Revolt......Page 305
3 Managing the Weilburg Estate......Page 309
Chapter 14 Chartism in the British World and Beyond......Page 319
1 Overseas Ideological and Political Inspiration......Page 322
2 Chartists’ Comments on the British Empire......Page 324
3 Emigrants and the Overseas Legacies of Chartism......Page 328
4.1 France......Page 334
4.2 Belgium......Page 338
4.3 Germany......Page 340
Chapter 15 Lumumba’s Ghost: A Historiography of Belgian Colonial Culture......Page 344
1 Belgian Overseas Rule and Colonial Culture in Europe......Page 346
2 The ‘Imperial Turn’ in Belgian Colonial Historiography......Page 352
Chapter 16 ‘The Brightness You Bring into Our Otherwise Very Dull Existence’: Responses to Dutch Global Radio Broadcasts from the British Empire in the 1920s and 1930s......Page 367
1 Pioneering the Ether, 1917–1927......Page 371
2 Broadcasting ‘PCJ’: Peace, Cheer, Joy......Page 379
3 Conclusion......Page 385
Chapter 17 MacKenzie-ites Without Borders: Or How a Set of Concepts, Ideas, and Methods Went Global......Page 388
1 Empire and the ‘Cultural Turn’......Page 390
2 Exporting the ‘Cultural Turn’......Page 394
3 Some Comparisons......Page 402
Chapter 18 Afterword......Page 407
Index......Page 412

Citation preview


The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History Essays in Honour of John M. MacKenzie edited by

Stephanie Barczewski · Martin Farr

Britain and the World Series Editors Martin Farr School of History Newcastle University Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK Michelle D. Brock Department of History Washington and Lee University Lexington, VA, USA Eric G. E. Zuelow Department of History University of New England Biddeford, ME, USA

Britain and the World is a series of books on ‘British world’ history. The editors invite book proposals from historians of all ranks on the ways in which Britain has interacted with other societies from the sixteenth century to the present. The series is sponsored by the Britain and the World society. Britain and the World is made up of people from around the world who share a common interest in Britain, its history, and its impact on the wider world. The society serves to link the various intellectual communities around the world that study Britain and its international influence from the seventeenth century to the present. It explores the impact of Britain on the world through this book series, an annual conference, and the Britain and the World peer-reviewed journal. Martin Farr ([email protected]) is General Series Editor for the Britain and the World book series. Michelle D. Brock ([email protected] edu) is Series Editor for titles focusing on the pre-1800 period and Eric G. E. Zuelow ([email protected]) is Series Editor for titles covering the post-1800 period. More information about this series at

Stephanie Barczewski · Martin Farr Editors

The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History Essays in Honour of John M. MacKenzie

Editors Stephanie Barczewski Department of History Clemson University Clemson, SC, USA

Martin Farr School of History Newcastle University Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Britain and the World ISBN 978-3-030-24458-3 ISBN 978-3-030-24459-0  (eBook) © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover credit: The Wickerman Photography This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland


Part I  Introduction 1

Introduction: The ‘MacKenzian Moment’ Past and Present 3 Stephanie Barczewski


Foreword: The Moving Frontier of MacKenzie’s Empire 15 Stuart Ward

Part II  The Cultural Impact of Empire 3

Exhibiting the ‘Strangest of All Empires’: The East India Company, East India House, and Britain’s Asian Empire 25 John McAleer


“Jumboism Is Akin to Jingoism”: Race, Nation, and Empire in the Elephant Craze of 1882 47 Peter Yeandle


Popular Imperialism and the Textual Cultures of Empire Justin D. Livingstone






Projections of Empire: The Architecture of Colonial Museums in East Africa 97 Sarah Longair


Swinging Imperialism: Days in the Life of the Commonwealth Office, 1966–1968 121 Martin Farr

Part III  Four-Nations History 8

Scottish Landed-Estate Purchases, Empire, and Union, 1700–1900 171 Stephanie Barczewski


Electoral Politics and Lord Seaforth as a Landed Proprietor in Scotland and as Governor of Barbados 189 Finlay McKichan

10 Making John Redmond ‘the Irish [Louis] Botha’: The Dominion Dimensions of the Anglo-Irish Settlement, c. 1906–1922 211 Donal Lowry 11 Pro-Empire Sentiment in Twentieth-Century Scotland Before Decolonisation 237 Esther Breitenbach 12 What Has the Four Nations and Empire Model Achieved? 261 Andrew Mackillop Part IV  Global and Transnational Perspectives 13 Brothers in Arms: Crossing Imperial Boundaries in the Eighteenth-Century Dutch West Indies 287 Douglas Hamilton



14 Chartism in the British World and Beyond 311 Fabrice Bensimon 15 Lumumba’s Ghost: A Historiography of Belgian Colonial Culture 337 Matthew G. Stanard 16 ‘The Brightness You Bring into Our Otherwise Very Dull Existence’: Responses to Dutch Global Radio Broadcasts from the British Empire in the 1920s and 1930s 361 Vincent Kuitenbrouwer 17 MacKenzie-ites Without Borders: Or How a Set of Concepts, Ideas, and Methods Went Global 383 Berny Sèbe 18 Afterword 403 John Darwin Index 409




Stephanie Barczewski is Carol K. Brown Scholar in the Humanities and Professor of history at Clemson University. Her most recent book is Heroic Failure and the British (2016). She is currently writing books about country houses and Englishness and the role played by historical rhetoric in the Brexit debate. Fabrice Bensimon  is Professor in British history at Sorbonne Université (Paris). He is the author of several studies on the emigration of British workers in the nineteenth century. Esther Breitenbach is Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. She has written widely on women in Scotland, including on women and politics and on Scottish women’s history, and is a member of the Committee of Women’s History Scotland. In recent years, her research has focused on Scottish participation in the British Empire and its impact at home. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Her publications include: Empire and Scottish Society: The Impact of Foreign Missions at Home, c.1790–c.1914 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009); ‘Scots Churches and Missions’ in John MacKenzie and T. M. Devine (eds.), Scotland and the British Empire (Oxford University Press, 2011); ‘The Impact of the Victorian Empire’ in T. M. Devine and Jenny Wormald (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History (Oxford University Press, 2012); ‘For workers’ ix



rights and self-determination? The Scottish labour movement and the British empire from the 1920s to the 1960s’, in Scottish Labour History, 51 (2016); and ‘The making of a missionary icon: Mary Slessor as “Heroine of Empire”’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 37:2 (2017). John Darwin is currently Senior Research Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, writing a book on port cities in the period 1830–1930. His publications include After Tamerlane (2007), The Empire Project (2009), and Unfinished Empire (2012). Martin Farr is Senior Lecturer in contemporary British history at Newcastle University. His teaching and research concern politics and public life in Britain since the turn of the twentieth century. He has published on the First and Second World Wars, general elections, UK prime ministers and US presidents, biography, cultures of tourism and imperialism, party politics, and Thatcherism. Douglas Hamilton is Professor of history at Sheffield Hallam University. He is a historian of the British Empire in the eighteenthcentury Atlantic World, with a particular focus on the Caribbean and slavery. He is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, where John MacKenzie examined his Ph.D. thesis. He has written extensively about the connections between Scotland and the Caribbean, including the books Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World, 1750–1820 (2005) and (edited with Allan I. Macinnes) Jacobitism, Enlightenment and Empire, 1680–1820 (2014). Vincent Kuitenbrouwer is Assistant Professor of history of international relations at the University of Amsterdam. He is a specialist in nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries imperial history and has a special interest in colonial media networks. He currently works on Dutch international radio broadcasting in the late colonial period and the era of decolonisation. Recent publications include: ‘Radio as a Tool of Empire. Intercontinental Broadcasting from The Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies in the 1920s and 1930s’, Itinerario, vol. 40: 1 (2016) 83–103 and ‘“From Heart to Heart”: Colonial Radio and the Dutch Imagined Community in the 1920s’, in G. Blok et al. eds., Imagining Communities: Historical Reflections on the Process of Community Formation (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) 113–131.



Justin D. Livingstone is Lecturer in English literature at Queen’s University Belfast. He is a literary critic and cultural historian with interests in Victorian travel writing (particularly the record of African exploration), colonial and postcolonial literature, and the digital humanities. Previously, Justin was Queen’s University Research Fellow in English literature (2015–2019) and Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Research Fellow in critical studies at the University of Glasgow (2012–2015). He is the author of a reputation study of the explorer David Livingstone entitled Livingstone’s ‘Lives’: A Metabiography of a Victorian Icon (published by Manchester University Press, 2014) and the director of a digital critical edition, Livingstone’s Missionary Travels Manuscript (1857) (published by Livingstone Online, 2019). Justin has also published articles in journals including Literature and Theology, Studies in Travel Writing, Victorian Literature and Culture, English in Africa and Journal of Victorian Culture. Sarah Longair is Senior Lecturer in the history of empire at the University of Lincoln, having previously worked at the British Museum for eleven years. Her research explores British colonial history in East Africa, South Asia, and the Indian Ocean world through material and visual culture. Her first monograph, Cracks in the Dome: Fractured Histories of Empire in the Zanzibar Museum, was published in 2015, and she has published several book chapters, articles, and books including co-editing Curating Empire: Museums and the British Imperial Experience (2012) with John McAleer. Donal Lowry is a Senior Member of Regent’s Park College in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has been an editor of the Journal of Southern African Studies and has published on the history of southern Africa, the Commonwealth, and Ireland’s relationship with the British Empire. Among his publications in the Studies in Imperialism series are ‘Ulster resistance and loyalist rebellion in the Empire’, in Keith Jeffery (ed.) An Irish Empire? Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire (1996) and an edited collection, The South African War Reappraised (2000). His other publications include ‘The Captive Dominion: Imperial Realities behind Irish Diplomacy’, 1922–1949, Irish Historical Studies, XXXVI, 142 (2008), ‘Rhodesia, 1890–1980: “The Lost Dominion”’, in Robert Bickers (ed.), Settlers and Expatriates (2010), and ‘The Boer War and Great Power Relations’, in John MacKenzie (editorin-chief), The Encyclopedia of Empire (Oxford, 2016). His forthcoming



publications include: ‘Holding Closer to “Our Shrunken Empire” in Crisis: The Crown and Gubernatorial Authority in Northern Ireland since 1945’, and ‘The Queen of Rhodesia versus the Queen of the United Kingdom: Conflicts of Allegiance in Rhodesia’s UDI’; both in H. Kumarasingham (ed.), Viceregalism: The Crown and Its Representatives in Political Crises in the Post-War Commonwealth (Cambridge Imperial and Post-Colonial Studies Series). Andrew Mackillop is a Senior Lecturer in Scottish history at the University of Glasgow and is an historian of post-Union Scotland, the Scottish Highlands, and of the place of Ireland, Scotland and Wales within British imperial and commercial expansion in Asia prior to 1815. His recent publications include: ‘As Hewers of Wood and Drawers of Water: Early Modern Scotland as an Emigrant Nation’, in Angela McCarthy and John M. Mackenzie (eds.), Global Migrations: The Scottish Diaspora Since 1600 (Edinburgh, 2016); ‘Subsidy State or Drawback Province? Eighteenth-Century Scotland and the British Fiscal Military Complex’, in Aaron Graham and Patrick Walsh (eds.), The British Fiscal Military States, 1660–1783 (London, 2016). John McAleer is Associate Professor of history at the University of Southampton. His work explores the British encounter and engagement with the wider world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, situating the history of empire in its global and maritime contexts. His recent monograph, Britain’s Maritime Empire: Southern Africa, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, 1763–1820 (2016), focuses on the relationship between British maritime power, the East India Company, and the crucial strategic locations at the gateway to the Indian Ocean World. He was previously Curator of Imperial and Maritime History at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. His ongoing interests in the role of material culture and museums in representing the history of empire have been developed through two collections of essays published in the ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series: Curating Empire: Museums and the British Imperial Experience (2012), co-edited with Sarah Longair, and Exhibiting the Empire: Cultures of Display and the British Empire (2015), co-edited with John M. MacKenzie. Finlay McKichan is a retired Senior Lecturer in the School of Education of the University of Aberdeen. He first became seriously interested in the Scottish Highlands in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries when he wrote a schoolbook on the Highland



Clearances in the 1970s. This led him to research Lord Seaforth’s management of his estate on the island of Lewis and in mainland Ross-shire (1783–1815) and later his governorship of Barbados in the period leading to the abolition of the British slave trade (1801–1806). Seaforth played a major part in the politics of each of these territories. McKichan has published two articles on Lord Seaforth in the Scottish Historical Review and one in Northern Scotland. In 2018, he published a biographical monograph, Lord Seaforth: Highland Landowner, Caribbean Governor, and a chapter on Peter Fairbairn, Seaforth’s estate factor and plantation attorney, in Rees, Reilly, and Tindley, eds., The Land Agent 1700–1920 (both Edinburgh University Press). Berny Sèbe (D. Phil. Oxon., FRHistS, FRGS, FHEA) is Senior Lecturer in colonial and post-colonial studies at the University of Birmingham. He is the author Heroic Imperialists in Africa: The Promotion of British and French Colonial Heroes, 1870–1939) and has co-edited Echoes of Empire: Identity, Memory and Colonial Legacies and Decolonising Imperial Heroes: Cultural legacies of the British and French Empires. His forthcoming projects include Empires of Emptiness: Fortresses of the Sahara and the Steppe (with Alexander Morrison) and Decolonising Europe? Popular Responses to the End of Empire (with Matt Stanard). He has contributed chapters to two volumes edited by John MacKenzie: European Empires and the People (2009) and Exhibiting the Empire (2015). His website is Matthew G. Stanard is Professor of history at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia, USA. He teaches courses on world and modern European history, as well as a course on the history of imperialism, nationalism, and decolonisation. His most recent book is The Leopard, the Lion, and the Cock: Colonial Memories and Monuments in Belgium (Leuven, 2019). He is also the author of European Overseas Empire, 1879–1999: A Short History (Wiley, 2018) and Selling the Congo: A History of European Pro-Empire Propaganda and the Making of Belgian Imperialism (Nebraska, 2011). He earned his Ph.D. in Modern European History at Indiana University-Bloomington, where he worked with the late William B. Cohen. Stuart Ward is Professor and Head of the Saxo Institute for History, Ethnology, Archaeology and Classics at the University of Copenhagen, specializing in imperial history, particularly the political and social



consequences of decolonization and its aftermath. His forthcoming monograph Untied Kingdom: A World History of the End of Britain will be published by Cambridge University Press. Peter Yeandle is Lecturer in history at Loughborough University. He has published widely on aspects of imperialism and British popular culture, including essays on pantomime, music-hall ballet, visual iconographies of race in illustrated advertising and the cultural afterlives of imperial heroes. Citizenship, Nation, Empire: the politics of history teaching in England was published in Manchester University Press’s ‘Studies in Imperialism’ Series in 2015. With Kate Newey and Jeffrey Richards, he edited Politics, Performance, and Popular Culture: theatre and society in nineteenth-century Britain (Manchester University Press, 2016).’

List of Figures

Chapter 4 Fig. 1 Fig. 2

‘Jumbo’s Journey to the Docks’, Illustrated London News, 1 April 1882 (Author’s collection) ‘The Attempted Removal of Jumbo from the Zoological Gardens’, Graphic, 25 February 1882 (Author’s collection)

48 64

Chapter 6 Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3 Fig. 4 Fig. 5

Original elevation of the Peace Memorial Museum, 1920, Zanzibar. Drawing by Livia Wang Revised elevation of the Peace Memorial Museum, 1923, Zanzibar. Drawing by Livia Wang Peace Memorial Museum, Zanzibar. Photograph Author’s own Nairobi National Museum, formerly the Coryndon Memorial Museum, Nairobi. Photograph Author’s own National Museum of Tanzania, formerly the King George V Memorial Museum, Dar es Salaam. Photograph Author’s own

109 110 111 115 118

Chapter 8 Chart 1 Landed-estate purchases from imperial wealth by nation, 1700–1930 179 Chart 2 Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits, 1700–17500 182 Chart 3 Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits, 1750–1800 183




Chart 4 Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits in England and Scotland, 1750–1800, adjusted for population 184 Chart 5 Landed-estate purchases from imperial wealth by decade, 1700–1930 186 Chart 6 Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits, 1800–1900 187

Chapter 14 Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Membership card of the Fraternal Democrats, c. 1845, with the slogan ‘All men are brethern’ in twelve languages. (Source Private collection; copy in The Democratic Review, April 1850, p. 450) 319 A page from the French magazine L’Illustration, 22 April 1848. The same picture of the Chartist meeting at Kennington Common on 10 April had been published by the Illustrated London News 327 The Chartist Cooperative Land Company was founded by Feargus O’Connor in 1845. This settlement near Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, became known as ‘O’Connorville’ (Photo credit: British Library) 329 August Bebel (top left), Wilhelm Liebknecht (top right), and Ferdinand Lassalle (bottom right), along with the German Social Democrat Carl Wilhelm Tölcke, surround Karl Marx in this late-nineteenth-century engraving (Source Public domain) 334

Chapter 15 Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3

Gérard Koninckx Frères building (1927) (Photo by the author, 2013) 348 Chéri Samba’s Porte de Namur Porte de l’Amour (Photo by the author, 2013) 350 Monument to Leopold II, Place du Trône, December 2009 (Photo by the author, 2013) 353

List of Tables

Chapter 9 Table 1 Barbados Assembly members who supported the Slave Protection Bill and still owned slaves 1817 204 Table 2 Barbados assembly members who opposed the Slave Protection Bill and still owned slaves in 1817 206

Chapter 14 Table 1 The People’s Charter (1838) and the Ballarat Reform League (1854) 323 Table 2 Political reforms in the Australian colonies and in the UK 324





Introduction: The ‘MacKenzian Moment’ Past and Present Stephanie Barczewski

As this collection is intended to summarise the career of John MacKenzie, this introduction will begin by doing so simply and succinctly: he changed how British imperial history is conceived, researched, and written about. The evolution from the understanding of the British Empire as something that the dominant metropolis imposed upon the colonial periphery to something that had, via culture rather than political or military power, a massive impact upon that selfsame metropolis, has been enormous, so much so that its momentum has yet to be arrested, despite the best efforts of some of MacKenzie’s doubters.1 The way that British imperial history is approached today is still heavily influenced by his original vision, now a third of a century old, but as vital as it has ever been.

1 See in particular Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

S. Barczewski (*)  Department of History, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



By the mid-1980s, when the ‘MacKenzian moment’ began with the publication of Propaganda and Empire (1984) and the edited volume Imperialism and Popular Culture (1986), the scholarly study of the British Empire was in danger of becoming moribund.2 While in the rest of the historical profession, the traditional emphasis on political, military, and diplomatic topics had given way to newer foci on social and cultural forces, imperial history had retained its long-standing concentration on the men who built the British Empire, the battles they won, and the administrative structures they created. The ‘MacKenzian moment’ was, in this context, a revolution, as British imperial history would never be the same thereafter. It took some time, to be sure, for its full impact to be felt; more than a decade after the publication of Propaganda and Empire, David Cannadine noted ‘the general lack of interest shown in the British Empire by historians of Britain’.3 In the last two decades, however, imperial history has swept all before it. So great was the change that we now refer to the ‘new imperial history’, a protean term that encompasses many things—including post-colonial approaches about which MacKenzie had serious qualms.4 But at its core, it refers to the recognition of the mutual relationship between the culture of the colonial ‘periphery’ and that of the British metropolis, something that MacKenzie’s work has been crucial in bringing to the fore. MacKenzie’s work had such impact because it was simultaneously revolutionary and in alignment with broader trends in the historical profession. For the cultural artefacts that he highlighted were not canonical texts by authors who still feature on university syllabi today, but rather popular cultural productions that had previously have been dismissed as ephemera. 2 The term ‘MacKenzian moment’ was coined by Stuart Ward, in his essay ‘The MacKenzian Moment in Retrospect (or How One Hundred Volumes Bloomed)’, in Andrew Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 29–48; John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984); and John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986). For a summary of MacKenzie’s views, see his ‘The Persistence of Empire in Metropolitan Culture’, in Stuart Ward, ed., British Culture and the End of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), 21–56. 3 David Cannadine, ‘Review Article: The Empire Strikes Back’, Past and Present 147 (1995), 184. 4 See Stephen Howe, The New Imperial Histories Reader (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), 1–21.



As their validity as windows into the past has long since been confirmed, I will not belabour the point here, but from today’s perspective, in which the unearthing and examination of such sources has become commonplace, it is easy to forget just how novel an approach this was. The first section of this volume confirms the enduring impact and value of MacKenzie’s approach. MacKenzie’s position as the primary architect of the new imperial history would, were it to be his only achievement, be a staggering one. But it is far from his sole contribution to scholarship. In 1975 in the Journal of Modern History, J. G. A. Pocock issued one of the most famous manifestos in British historiography: a rousing diatribe directed against both the arrogance of Anglocentric British historians and the nationalist isolationism of their Celtic counterparts. Pocock called for the ‘separate historiographical traditions’ of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland to be merged into a single, cohesive British history, which he defined as ‘the plural history of a group of cultures situated along an Anglo-Celtic frontier and marked by an increasing English political and cultural domination’.5 Initially, some historians acknowledged the validity of Pocock’s clarion call, but others resisted mightily. Citing ‘competing research priorities’, Michael Hechter subjected the study of the non-English parts of the British Isles to a cost-benefit analysis in which the study of ‘peripheral groups’ such as the Welsh, Scottish, and Irish came out very much the loser.6 The historians of the non-English parts of the British Isles, meanwhile, remained reluctant to relinquish their independence7: Gradually, however, Pocock’s ideas began to wield greater influence, as British historians began to tamp down their Anglocentrism and acknowledge the existence—and importance—of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. This led to the emergence of the ‘new British history’, 5 J. G. A. Pocock, ‘British History: A Plea for a New Subject’, Journal of Modern History 47 (1975), 604–5. 6 The use of this term is contentious, and though I acknowledge that it is severely problematic regarding Ireland in particular, I am using it because the alternatives are even less satisfactory. ‘Atlantic archipelago’ is both insufficiently specific and a clunky avoidance that only further highlights the problem, while ‘British archipelago’ seems a less desirable substitute that changes the non-offending word but leaves the offending one. 7 Gordon Donaldson, for example, insisted that ‘despite some assimilation into England, Scotland preserved and developed its own institutions’. A. J. P. Taylor, Gordon Donaldson, and Michael Hechter, ‘British History: A Plea for a New Subject: Comments’, Journal of Modern History 47 (1975), 622–26.


which attempted to show how the histories of the four nations of the British Isles had interacted over the centuries. The new British history’s signature work was Hugh Kearney’s The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (1989), which began by stirringly declaring that ‘this is not a piece of national history’, by which Kearney meant that ‘no single national interpretation, whether English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh, can be treated as self-contained’.8 A bevy of other similarly themed works followed in its wake.9 Still, not everyone was convinced. In 1994, John Brewer wrote that he found it ‘hard to imagine a history of the British state that was not written from the point of view of the metropolitan or of one or several of the putative subordinate powers’.10 Historians of the non-English constituents of the British Isles, meanwhile, continued to protest that the new British history exaggerated the unity of the four nations and ignored the real power imbalances and constant pushes for independence among them. In 1995, Nicholas Canny protested that ‘much of what appears as “new British history” is nothing but “old English history” in “Three-Kingdoms” clothing, with the concern still

8 Hugh Kearney, The British Isles: A History of Four Nations, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 1. 9 See Brendan Bradshaw and John Morrill, eds., The British Problem, c. 1534–1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996); Brendan Bradshaw and Peter Roberts, eds., British Consciousness and Identity: The Making of Britain, 1522–1707 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Lawrence Brockliss and David Eastwood, eds., A Union of Multiple Identities: The British Isles, c. 1750–c. 1850 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997); R. R. Davies, ed., The British Isles, 1100–1500: Comparisons, Contrasts and Connections (Edinburgh: Donald, 1988); Steven G. Ellis and Sarah Barber, eds., Conquest and Union: Fashioning a British State 1485–1735 (London: Longman, 1995); Alexander Grant and Keith J. Stringer, eds., Uniting the Kingdom? The Making of British History (London: Routledge, 1995); Ronald Hutton, The British Republic 1649–1660 (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1990); Alexander Murdoch, British History, 1660–1832: National Identity and Local Culture (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998); and David L. Smith, A History of the Modern British Isles 1603–1707: The Double Crown (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). As this list suggests, the new British history was most successful in recasting the early modern period, less so the modern. 10 John Brewer, ‘The Eighteenth-Century British State: Contexts and Issues’, in Lawrence Stone, ed., An Imperial State at War: Britain from 1689 to 1815 (London: Routledge, 1993), 66. See also Tony Claydon, ‘Problems with the British Problem’, Parliamentary History 16 (1997), 221–27.



being to explain the origin of events that have always been regarded as pivotal in England’s historical development’.11 Today, almost a half-century on, both high-handed declarations of English supremacy and dismissals of the possibility of a truly four nations approach seem quaint relics. No historian would now use the terms ‘English’ and ‘British’ interchangeably and certainly not founded upon the assumption that England’s political and cultural supremacy merits such fungibility. The term ‘Celtic fringe’ is equally unacceptable as intrinsically marginalising, and most British historians now endeavour to incorporate some degree of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish perspectives into their research and teaching. But at the same time, they continue to struggle with how best to do so and how not be exhausted by the need to provide four perspectives instead of one. And Canny, too, had a point. The danger of trying to write ‘British’ history is that it can elide the separate and distinctive experiences of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland; it thus becomes, as Glenn Burgess has noted, ‘a covert form of Anglocentrism’.12 Delving into the issue with greater specificity, British historians still tend to treat Irish history with particular trepidation, as if the green-flagwaving nationalists will descend upon them in a fit of republican wrath for daring to dip a toe into their historiographical waters. Wales, meanwhile, tends to make only an occasional appearance relating to its romantic preservation of its language or its post-industrial economic struggles. Only Scotland has succeeded in making itself in a major way onto the British historical agenda, as the current debate over independence has

11 Nicholas Canny, ‘Irish, Scottish and Welsh Responses to Centralization, c. 1530–c. 1640’, in Alexander Grant and Keith J. Stringer, eds., Uniting the Kingdom? The Making of British History (London: Routledge, 1995), 147–48. See also T. C. Barnard, ‘British History and Irish History’, in Glenn Burgess, ed., The New British History: Founding a Modern State 1603–1715 (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1999), 201–37; Keith M. Brown, ‘Seducing the Scottish Clio: Has Scottish History Anything to Fear from the New British History?’, in Glenn Burgess, ed., The New British History: Founding a Modern State 1603–1715 (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1999), 238–65; and Nicholas Canny, ‘The Attempted Anglicization of Ireland in the Seventeenth Century: An Exemplar of “British History”’, in R. G. Asch, ed., Three Nations—A Common History? (Bochum: Brockmeyer, 1993), 49–82. 12 Glenn Burgess, ‘Introduction: The New British History’, in Glenn Burgess, ed., The New British History: Founding a Modern State 1603–1715 (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1999), 13.


compelled us to consider the contours of Scottish history since 1707 anew. And as we have done so, both English condescension towards Scotland’s contribution to British history and the ‘Braveheart’ vision of Scotland as the victim of English oppression have given way to new interpretations that grapple with the true complexity of Anglo-Scottish relations over the centuries. This process has led to reassessments of many of the key points of intersection between England and Scotland that both change our perspective and reveal that, even if power imbalances existed, negotiation was as important to the construction and sustenance of the UK as was coercion and resistance. Recent examinations of the Act of Union with Scotland in 1707, for example, have emphasised its voluntary nature and the degree to which the Scots succeeded in extracting key concessions, in particular the continued independence of their Presbyterian Kirk.13 Perhaps the most fruitful area of inquiry, however, has been the increasing attention paid to the role of the Scots in building the British Empire, which is now recognised to be central and which brings us back to MacKenzie’s work.14 This confluence of the new British and imperial history is no coincidence, but rather a merging of two strands of historical inquiry that simultaneously moved to the forefront of British studies in the 1990s. In the final pages of his essay, Pocock linked the history of the four nations of the British Isles to that of the British Empire. He did this in two ways. Firstly, he pointed out that the establishment of English control over nearly the entire British Isles by 1700 allowed a ‘commercial expansion beyond the oceans into North America and Southern Asia’. Secondly, he noted that the new colonies were settled not only by the English but also by people from other parts of the British Isles.15 Pocock was using the Empire to bolster his case that British history needed to move away from its traditional Anglocentrism and towards a more unified approach. He showed how the Empire, by providing a zone in 13 See Michael Fry, The Union: England, Scotland and the Treaty of 1707 (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2006); and Christopher Whatley, The Scots and the Union: Then and Now (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014). 14 See, as an introduction to what has become a large historiography, T. M. Devine, Scotland’s Empire 1600–1815 (London: Allen Lane, 2003); Michael Fry, The Scottish Empire (Edinburgh: Tuckwell Press and Birlinn, 2001); John M. MacKenzie and T. M. Devine, eds., Scotland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 15 Pocock, ‘British History’, 617.



which all the inhabitants of the British Isles were engaged in a common enterprise, was a place in which the unity and diversity of the UK could be seen on full display. The rise of the new imperial history, to be sure, was not a direct outgrowth of the new British history. Instead, it was motivated by other forces. As the world became more global and the centrality of the nationstate to its history seemed to diminish, British historians turned to the Empire as a means of aligning their field of study with these changes. The academic job market, particularly in the United States, responded to the same pressures, with British imperial historians offering the advantage of being able to provide teaching coverage of both a European and a non-European area. But although they arose from different imperatives, once they had both arrived on the scene, the new British history and the new imperial history quickly found points of convergence. Looking at the history of Britain from an imperial perspective, as James Thompson observes, places ‘metropole and periphery within the same analytical frame’.16 In other words, it does exactly what Pocock had called for and what MacKenzie ultimately accomplished: it makes the ‘periphery’ part of the ‘metropole’, indicating in the process just how constantly in flux those two categories were. The new imperial history shares with the new British history a desire to blur boundaries and to show how realms that were previously thought to be distinct bled into one another.17 As the impact of the British metropolis on the colonies has never been in doubt, for British historians this has translated into a project of tracing the impact of empire on metropolitan culture, and thereby reversing the traditional trajectory of influence and replacing it with one of mutual constitution. We have thus now arrived at a conception of British history that asserts that we can regard neither the boundaries separating the nations of the British Isles nor those separating the metropolis from the colonial periphery as immutable. And here, too, MacKenzie has had something of major importance to say, by calling attention to the role of Scotland and 16 James Thompson, ‘Modern Britain and the New Imperial History’, History Compass 5 (2007), 455. 17 Antoinette Burton has been at the forefront of calls to rethink the category of ‘nation’ by dissolving the conceptual division between the metropole and the colonial periphery. See Antoinette Burton, ‘Who Needs the Nation? Interrogating “British” History’, Journal of Historical Sociology 10 (1997), 227–48.


the Scots in building the British Empire. In so doing, he has shown how the Empire, by providing a zone in which its inhabitants were engaged in a common endeavour, was a place in which the kingdom was in some ways a truly united one. In MacKenzie’s work, the ‘new British’ and the ‘new imperial history’ thus merge; he shows how both the colonial and the Celtic ‘peripheries’ were part of the ‘metropole’, indicating in the process just how constantly in flux those categories were. In his work, the new imperial history shares with the new British history the ability to show how realms once thought to be distinct were all part of a whole. At the same time, however, MacKenzie always acknowledges the real imbalances of power that existed between England and the other nations of the British Isles, as well as their separate identities. He has built, in short, a framework for British history that can encompass the way in which all four nations of the British Isles were engaged in the imperial project, but can still account for both their distinctiveness from one another and the power disparities between them. The ‘MacKenzian moment’ began in and continued through an era in which the European Union matured from an economic partnership into a political union, a development that some observers interpreted as pointing towards the end of the nation-state as Europe’s primary political entity. MacKenzie was never deceived by this: his work always reserves a prominent place for the nation as an actor in global affairs. Thus, if on the one hand his work blurs the boundary between nation and empire, on the other it preserves the agency of the nation. In his skilled hands, this is not an inconsistency: it is a recognition of the massive complexity of the history of Britain and its empire. MacKenzie’s contribution has, of course, not gone unchallenged. In particular, his work has been the focal point of two historiographical debates that remain staple topics for discussion in graduate seminars. The first of these debates was with Bernard Porter, a fellow historian of the British Empire. With the publication of his book The Absent-Minded Imperialists (2004), Porter launched a direct attack on MacKenzie’s claim that the presence of the Empire in Victorian culture was both multifaceted and deep. Challenging this argument head-on, Porter contended that the lives of the vast majority of nineteenth-century Britons were scarcely touched by imperial concerns. MacKenzie has continued to make the case for a potent imperial presence in the metropole via his own work and that of dozens of disciples, many of whom have chosen to publish in Manchester University Press’s Studies in Imperialism series,



which he edited until the task was taken over by Andrew Thompson in 2015. Porter, meanwhile, has pressed his own line of argument further, to the empire beyond Britain’s shores, which he claims was far smaller and less powerful than is conventionally thought.18 The second historiographical debate saw MacKenzie on the attack rather than on the defence, as he joined battle against the eminent post-colonial scholar Edward Said.19 MacKenzie objected to Said’s categorisation in his massively influential Orientalism (1979) of all Western depictions of ‘the East’ as demeaning and controlling.20 Instead, he argued for the possibility of a genuine admiration for and influence of Eastern art, architecture, music, and other cultural genres in the West. In MacKenzie’s eyes, Orientalism was not solely, an attempt to essentialise Eastern peoples as ‘other’ in the eyes of the West. Rather, though complex, it could take the form of an expression of a basic appreciation of Eastern cultural productions.21 Both of these debates, it should be noted, rely on clear-cut distinctions between two diametrically opposed and monolithic points of view. There is little room for compromise between MacKenzie and Porter: the British Empire either was of vast importance in Victorian British culture or none. Nor can much middle ground be found between MacKenzie and Said: Orientalism was either broadly positive in its view of Eastern culture or broadly negative. It is in this regard that MacKenzie’s work sits somewhat uneasily within the current state of play in British imperial historiography, in which the Empire is seen not as a single powerful entity, but rather a sprawling, inchoate mass riven with contradictions and conflicts. It was neither monolithic nor guided by an overarching vision that defined its function and objectives; its colonies and other zones of interest were acquired and administered very differently and 18 Bernard Porter, ‘Further Thoughts on Imperial Absent-Mindedness’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 101–17; John M. MacKenzie, ‘“Comfort” and Conviction: A Response to Bernard Porter’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 659–68; and Bernard Porter, British Imperial: What the British Empire Wasn’t (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2016). 19 Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993). 20 Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1979). 21 John M. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory, and the Arts (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995). Somewhat ironically, Said’s later book Culture and Imperialism (1993) out-MacKenzied MacKenzie in making an argument for the pervasive presence of empire in British culture in the nineteenth century.


had little, if anything, in common with each other beyond the fact that the Union Jack flew over them. In asserting that ‘world-system’ is a better term than ‘empire’ for Britain’s overseas possessions and interests, John Darwin’s The Empire Project (2009) has been lauded as the best recent scholarly attempt to get a handle on this mess.22 Other recent historians of the British Empire, meanwhile, have emphasised that the Empire rested on shaky foundations less because of its structural incoherence than because of the violence or the constant threat of rebellion that were essential components of its make-up.23 This inchoate empire is not one with which MacKenzie’s work coexists particularly well, as the argument that it was powerful in its impact at home would seem to imply that it was powerful beyond Britain’s shores as well.24 In addition, the fact that MacKenzie has focused much of his attention on Scotland, the part of the UK most intensively engaged in empire and most intensively impacted by it, might be viewed as having a distorting effect on his conclusions. And finally, MacKenzie’s focus on the impact of empire on the metropolis, and relative lack of concern with its impact on colonial peoples, societies, and cultures, is out of alignment with current concerns. The fact that John Darwin has written the conclusion to our collection reveals that we will address these tensions and will introduce some notes of nuance into the MacKenzian approach—and offer occasional criticisms—while still paying it the homage that it is due. The essays that follow will accomplish these tasks in three ways. First, they will not only follow MacKenzie in assessing the impact of the Empire on the metropolis, but also the impact of metropolitan culture on the colonies. Peter Yeandle’s close analysis of the story of Jumbo the elephant reveals much about British attitudes to race, nation, and empire in the early 1880s; as a case study in popular affection for the ‘exotic’, Yeandle makes the

22 John Darwin, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830– 1970 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). 23 Richard Gott, Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt (London and New York: Verso, 2011); and Antoinette Burton, The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2015). 24 MacKenzie’s successor as the editor of the Studies in Imperialism series, Andrew Thompson, has taken a much more sceptical view of the impact of empire both abroad and at home. See Andrew Thompson, The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2005).



case that Jumbomania affords an opportunity to explore themes central to MacKenzie’s work on imperialism, popular culture, environmental history, and the commodification of heroes. Justin Livingstone maps MacKenzie’s influence on the critical trajectory of scholarship on popular imperial writing and calls for further attention to be paid to some still-neglected literary genres that he has championed, including heroic biography, colonial administrative fiction, and various forms of missionary textuality. John McAleer examines how the physical presence of the East India Company, in the form of its headquarters and the objects it collected, provided a key lens through which empire was viewed, even after the Company’s demise in 1858. Reversing the lens to gaze from metropolis to the colonies—a perspective that MacKenzie is sometimes accused of under-emphasising—Sarah Longair makes a detailed examination of the museums built in Nairobi, Zanzibar, and Dar es Salaam between 1919 and 1939. She situates them within their local, regional, and global context to investigate the diverse influences of British officials, architects, museum progenitors, and local populations on these projections of empire in East Africa in the first half of the twentieth century. Martin Farr looks at how imperialism manifested itself in popular culture in the 1960s, when it was just becoming apparent that the Empire was gone for good. Secondly, this volume will re-assess and extend MacKenzie’s contribution to the new British—or as it is more commonly called today ‘four-nations’—history. As befits a volume celebrating MacKenzie’s work, several chapters focus on Scotland. Esther Breitenbach examines new evidence of Scottish support for empire in the first half of the twentieth century by focusing on various forms of its manifestation in the cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Finlay McKichan contrasts the experiences of Francis Humberston MacKenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth, as a political operator in Scotland and Barbados; McKichan finds that the former was much more susceptible to elite control via methods such as electoral manipulation and patronage than the latter. Stephanie Barczewski explores the large and disproportionate number of landed-estate purchases made by Scottish colonial merchants, Indian nabobs, and West Indian planters after 1750. Her data demonstrate the links between imperial engagement and loyalty to the Union, thereby showing how MacKenzie’s work has led scholars not only to consider the role of non-English nations in building and maintaining the Empire, but also to comprehend the very identity of the British nation and the


contexts in which it was united and disunited. Barczewski also compares Scotland’s role as a venue for estate acquisition from imperial profits to that of Ireland. The Irish example is examined in more detail by Donal Lowry, who looks at how precedents from the dominions, and from South Africa in particular, played a key role in the Anglo-Irish constitutional negotiations that ultimately led to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The consideration of Ireland as a point of comparison to Scotland allows an examination of just how exceptional Scotland was, and an assessment of whether the impact of empire on the metropolis diminishes depending on which part of that metropolis we consider. Finally, Andrew MacKillop considers the achievements—and limitations—of four nations history more broadly. Thirdly, this collection introduces newer global and transnational approaches that attempt to move past the use of metropolitan Britain as what Stuart Ward terms in his framing essay ‘the core unit of analysis’, in order to gain a better understanding of ‘the many transnational phenomena that made the empire tick’. Douglas Hamilton traces the story of the Scottish brothers James and Robert Douglas, who were among a number of British investors who bought plantations in Dutch Demerara, pushing us in the process to re-envision eighteenth-century empires as entities that transcended national boundaries. Fabrice Bensimon examines the interaction between the most popular of all nineteenth-century British political movements, Chartism and the British (and non-British) world. Matthew Stanard uses the ‘MacKenzie model’ to assess the cultural ramifications of the colonial experience for Belgium, a subject that until very recently has garnered little attention. And finally, Berny Sèbe shows how MacKenzie’s work has inspired scholars of other European empires to look for the legacy of imperialism in metropolitan cultures. The chapters in this volume will thus show that the ‘MacKenzian moment’ is thus ongoing and evolving. They demonstrate that the richness of MacKenzie’s work lies in its ability to inspire both emulators and challengers, and that its influence on the study of the British Empire shows no sign of abating.


Foreword: The Moving Frontier of MacKenzie’s Empire Stuart Ward

Writing in the late 1970s, Peter Calvocoressi surveyed the immediate after-effects of Britain’s precipitate decline as an imperial power, noting the striking absence of any tangible popular legacy: The loss of empire has not, one opines, cut deep; and the reason is that having an empire did not cut deep either. It did not transform the British way of life or even the British ruling class to the same extent as, for example, the Roman empire transformed its possessors … Empire was external to most British people. The British empire was more apparent to foreigners than to the British themselves. Loss of empire was loss of purpose and perspective, temporarily, for a few.1

As the Karachi-born descendant of a Greek family with worldwide connections, Calvocoressi’s perspective bore a distinctly authoritative stamp. 1 Peter Calvocoressi, The British Experience, 1945–75 (London: Bodley Head, 1978), 224–25.

S. Ward (*)  University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


16  S. WARD

If the empire could seem a remote distraction to someone with his pedigree, how much more ‘external’ must it have been to the broader mass of British society, particularly in retrospect. Here were the hallmarks of a logic that had become an entrenched orthodoxy by the late 1970s—if the loss of empire barely punctured the surface of the British body politic, surely the empire itself must always have been an arms-length affair, never garnering any deeper popular sympathy or support. Viewed from the other side of decolonisation, there was something vaguely reassuring in ascribing the entire empire project to a narrow, self-interested clique of imperial zealots—with little or no wider popular purchase or legitimacy.2 Yet signs of an alternative view were already beginning to emerge. In the same year that Calvocoressi passed judgement, Edward Said’s Orientalism appeared (1978), advancing a thesis diametrically opposed in virtually every respect. For Said, the presence of empire was not merely ‘apparent’ to the British and the French but permeated virtually everything they said and did. Indeed, the very perception of the empire’s ‘external’ quality was testimony to how thoroughly it had become internalised, whether in literature, music, the arts, or multiple other discursive registers that formed part of a deeper culture of colonial possession and control.3 Said’s influence would spawn an entire generation of post-colonial theoretical readings of the metropole–colony divide, rendering Calvocoressi’s verdict increasingly difficult to uphold. Within a few years, yet another approach appeared—largely independent of Said and with its own distinctive slant—that tackled more squarely the question of ‘popular imperialism’. The catalyst was the Falklands War of 1982, and the surge in ideologically driven claims and counterclaims about the allegedly imperial strains of Thatcher’s wartime rhetoric and the jingoistic response of the tabloid press. These were the earliest shots in what would become a sustained polemical battleground, with left-wing critics like Anthony Bartlett and E. P. Thompson condemning 2 Calvocoressi’s view had been foreshadowed in earlier studies such as Richard Price, An Imperial War and the English Working Class (London: Kegan Paul, 1972); and Max Beloff’s, Imperial Sunset, Vol. 1: Britain’s Liberal Empire, 1897–1921 (London: Methuen, 1969). Jan Morris reached a broadly similar conclusion in ‘The Popularisation of Imperial History’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 1 (1973), 113–18. 3 Edward W. Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (London: Patheon, 1978).



the war as a late-imperial throwback and more conservative commentators equally vehemently insisting that it was nothing of the sort.4 Here in microcosm were the outlines of a much wider debate about the empire’s metropolitan resonances that was only beginning to emerge— an argument, indeed, about the extent to which the empire ‘cut deep’ into British society with a capacity to reverberate years after its ostensible decline. It was into this politically charged dispute that John M. MacKenzie lobbed the first of many pioneering forays with the publication of Propaganda and Empire in 1984, advancing what was then an entirely novel thesis about the ‘centripetal effects’ of the nineteenth-century empire in ‘creating for the British a world view which was central to their perceptions of themselves … and which came to infuse and be propagated by every organ of British life in the period’.5 MacKenzie made no bones about the ‘presentist’ anchoring of his claims, identifying the Falklands War as evidence of a more recent stirring of the imperial ‘sediment in the consciousness of the British people’.6 What distinguished his approach from Barnett’s polemics or Said’s epistemology was his empiricists’ concern with the intricacies and ironic texture of the imperial past. He proceeded, not from a theoretical or ideological proposition but from fine-grained analyses of imperial influences in multiple walks of British life, ranging from the theatre to cinema, radio, imperial exhibitions and institutions, school curricula, and juvenile literature. In that sense, MacKenzie canvassed not only the interpretative optics but also the methodological toolkit of what was to become a fully fledged publishing enterprise: his prestigious Studies in Imperialism series with Manchester University Press. My own initial encounter with these new departures was—somewhat surprisingly in retrospect—neither Propaganda and Empire nor any of the Studies in Imperialism volumes but MacKenzie’s stand-alone critique of Edward Said published in 1994: Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts. The book marked the first instance of sustained engagement between two hitherto distinct traditions of ‘post-empire’ scholarship, 4 See Ezekiel Mercau, The Falklands War: An Imperial History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). 5 John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), 2. 6 MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 258.

18  S. WARD

the one practised predominantly in literary and critical theory circles and the other more the preserve of the archive-based methods and practices of historians. Perhaps inevitably, the initial encounter was more of a polemical collision (more so than was perhaps strictly warranted for two scholarly traditions with such broadly similar aims). But from my own perspective as a relatively young historian working in an English department, charged with the task of initiating undergraduates into the theoretical and lexical abstractions of Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, here was a book prepared to take leading theorists to task for ‘failing to anchor their work in the empirical depths of the imperial experience, tending to generalize in strikingly airy ways’. For whatever reason this struck a chord, not out of any antipathy for theoretical insight per se but the apparent proliferation of theory as a self-sufficient enterprise—or as MacKenzie himself termed it, ‘an intellectual superstructure wrenched from its empirical base’.7 Henceforth, I made a point of familiarising myself with MacKenzie’s wider project, finally contriving a reason to contact him personally in 1997. With what I came to know as his typical generosity towards younger scholars, he not only warmly endorsed my vague ambitions for a collection of essays on popular imperialism and the end of empire, but also agreed to write the opening chapter. British Culture and the End of Empire (2001) thus marked my own initiation into the MacKenziean fold—a book self-consciously modelled on the series standard-bearer, Imperialism and Popular Culture (1986).8 Having devoted most of my early career to the history of Britain’s successive attempts to join the European Economic Community, it was the camaraderie and common endeavour of this particular venture that would anchor my subsequent work more squarely in the realm of imperial history. By the early 2000s, the historiographical landscape of empire and metropolitan culture had changed almost beyond recognition. The cumulative weight of two decades of post-colonial and ‘MacKenziean’ scholarship had stripped much of the persuasive force from the earlier convictions of Calvocoressi and others, producing a new set of insights

7 John M. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), 11 and 38. 8 Stuart Ward, British Culture and the End of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001).



and assumptions about the ‘sheer porousness’ of the metropole–colony divide.9 Indeed, it was the perception of a pendulum that had swung too far that prompted several historians around this time—Bernard Porter most prominently—to mount a rearguard action, taking aim principally at the ‘Saidists’ (on largely similar grounds as MacKenzie) but also at MacKenzie himself for what his critics deemed his flawed brand of empiricism.10 At issue was the question of evidence, and how much of it was needed to mount a persuasive case for a deeply ingrained metropolitan culture of empire. In Porter’s critique, scholars working in the MacKenziean mould had merely ‘corralled together’ the scattered and largely ephemeral evidence for popular imperialism, presenting it as a seamless barrage of unrelenting imperial propaganda. Porter averred that it was only from the privileged perspective of the archive and the selective eye of the historian that this material acquired a wholly unwarranted significance. When examined in the context of the wider issues and aspirations that affected most of the people most of the time, however, the culture of empire assumed its proper, diminished proportions as the marginal preserve of an out-of-touch elite. Thus, the curtain was raised on the ‘MacKenzie-Porter debate’, played out across a range of periodicals and conference round tables to become a standard feature of many a graduate school syllabus around the world.11 Although the debate itself eventually reached something of a stalemate, with neither party giving any quarter amid seemingly endless exemplification of their respective positions, the dispute nevertheless wrought subtle changes to wider research agendas, forcing historians 9 MacKenzie,

Orientalism, 208. Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: What the British Really Thought About Their Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 12–13. Porter’s intervention was presaged to some extent by P. J. Marshall, ‘No Fatal Impact? The Elusive History of Imperial Britain’, Times Literary Supplement, 12 March 1993, 8–10. Ronald Hyam, Ian Phimlister, and Richard Price have voiced sympathy for Porter’s approach in varying degrees; see Richard Price, ‘One Big Thing: Britain and Its Empire’, Journal of British Studies 45 (2006), 602–27; and Ronald Hyam, Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918–1968 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 2. 11 For a representative sample, see Porter’s ‘Further Thoughts on Imperial AbsentMindedness’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 101–17; and MacKenzie’s, ‘“Comfort” and Conviction: A Response to Bernard Porter’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 659–68. 10 Bernard

20  S. WARD

to think harder and more broadly about the questions they posed.12 Certainly, the series itself (now approaching its 200th volume) has branched out considerably in interpretative and empirical scope since its original proposition that ‘imperialism as a cultural phenomenon had as significant an effect on the dominant as on the subordinate societies’. Yet one need only peruse the current deluge of historical analogy flowing from the Brexit debate—where barely a day goes by without an opinion piece ascribing Britain’s contemporary ills to the lingering allure of empire—to see the ongoing relevance of the imperial past as an active agent in Britain’s contemporary social and political formation. What does appear to be changing, however, is the way these questions are contextualised and the assumptions on which they are founded. Here, the recent impact of transnational and global approaches to historical scholarship more generally has played a part. Whereas earlier scholarship was heavily invested in the idea of metropolitan Britain as the core unit of analysis, scouring its surface for traces of imperial ‘impact’ (oftentimes for the implicit purpose of gauging the extent of popular culpability for colonial crimes), more recent work is more likely to explore the interface between colony and metropole with a view to identifying and understanding the many transnational historical phenomena that made the empire tick.13 Thus, the field has become less of a zero-sum game between rival claims of minimal and maximum ‘impact’, and more attuned to differences over time and across region, class, political persuasion, and multiple other variables. It might even be said that some of the absolutes of the MacKenzie–Porter debate are giving way to new subtleties and nuances. Even the once-crucial issue of whether the metropolitan British public should be understood as passive imperial bystanders or active empire agents has been superseded by new approaches that tend to blur these binary distinctions. Recognising that these positions may not be as 12 See, for example, Simon Potter’s astute survey: ‘Empire, Cultures and Identities in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Britain’, History Compass 5 (2007), 51–71; and Andrew Thompson, Britain’s Experience of Empire in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 13 Among many examples from the Studies in Imperialism series, see Zoe Laidlaw, Colonial Connections 1815–45: Patronage, the Information Revolution and Colonial Government (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005); Tamson Pietsch, Empire of Scholars: Universities, Networks and the British Academic World, 1850–1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).



mutually contradictory as they superficially seem invites historians to consider the ever-changing rhetorical, ideological, and emotional registers of empire that structured dynamic patterns of popular response. Recent work on the rhetoric of empire by Martin Thomas and Richard Toye has shown how imperial language and imagery were locked in a complex and evolving dialogue with popular sentiment—and not simply a straightforward mirror of ‘public opinion’.14 This is particularly the case with popular attitudes to imperial decline, where a resigned rhetorical shrug of the shoulders could serve as a means of deflecting heavily freighted historical expectations and disappointments. This points to further interdisciplinary possibilities with the newly emerging technologies for studying shifting patterns of imperial language by recourse to ‘big data’. In stark contrast to the 1980s when questions about popular attitudes to empire were first being broached, we now have huge digital corpora of words—whether it be parliamentary sources, newspaper archives, or digital libraries—which can map out broader shifts in the semantic field of imperial culture over time and provide new insights into changing popular perceptions of Britain’s place in the world (which need not be confined to the circumscribed subject of ‘metropolitan culture’). The field of corpus linguistics in particular provides a way of analysing large amounts of data, drawing inferences about how changing language use affects the meanings attached to social and political concepts—in short, furnishing a ‘powerful ability holistically to assess the typicality, scope and power of key issues, ideologies, personalities and ideas’.15 The influence of global history has also sparked a broadening of the lens beyond Britain, to examine empire and metropolitan culture in a comparative European setting. This is partly due to the need for a broader yardstick for ascertaining the reach and extent of imperial culture in any given metropolitan context, but more importantly it recognises that the imperial maritime states of Western Europe were as heavily influenced by each other as their respective imperial hinterlands. Elizabeth Buettner’s ambitious work in particular has demonstrated the

14 Martin Thomas and Richard Toye, Arguing About Empire: Imperial Rhetoric in Britain and France, 1882–1956 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). 15 Luke Blaxill, ‘Quantifying the Language of British Politics, 1880–1910’, Historical Research 86 (2013), 313.

22  S. WARD

multiple, mutual influences and cross-currents that effortlessly traversed Europe’s sovereign boundaries, underscoring the pitfalls of studying any single, national imperial experience in isolation.16 Here, too, John MacKenzie has played an agenda-setting role in mentoring a new generation of historians who continue to stake out this vast and complex territory.17 Determining whether the empire ‘cut deep’ seems less pertinent today than the interpretative possibilities presented by the multiple forms of imperial culture that transcended the empire-metropolitan divide. It is doubtless the case that we can no longer reduce public perceptions of empire to a balance sheet of indifference versus wholesale endorsement, or indeed arrive at any generalised verdict on popular imperialism that can be applied confidently to any given time frame. But to look back on the transformations of the historiographical terrain over the last forty years is to recognise the initiative, energy, and enduring influence of John MacKenzie. The essays in this volume are an overdue acknowledgement of his life’s work, largely composed by a younger generation of scholars who have learned much from his example as they continue to adapt and develop the field in exciting new directions.

16 Elizabeth Buettner, Europe After Empire: Decolonization, Society and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016). 17 John M. MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People: Popular Responses to Imperialism in France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Italy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011).


The Cultural Impact of Empire


Exhibiting the ‘Strangest of All Empires’: The East India Company, East India House, and Britain’s Asian Empire John McAleer

The East India Company disappeared from public view in the early 1860s, when the imposing building that housed its headquarters on London’s Leadenhall Street was demolished.1 Some of the magnificent interiors were relocated, impressive furnishings and fittings were sold at auction, and the eclectic collection of objects comprising the Company’s museum was dispersed to other institutions. By 1868, as one contemporary report put it, ‘the local habitation of a company with a name once so great’ was on Moorgate Street, with its moniker ‘painted on the side of a doorway, amongst the names of sundry occupants of premises having a common entrance’.2 It was an underwhelming end for what was once described as ‘the wealthiest and most powerful commercial 1 Nick Robins, The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational (London: Pluto, 2006), 10. 2 ‘The Ghost of John Koompanee’, Leisure Hour, 1 June 1868, 397.

J. McAleer (*)  University of Southampton, Southampton, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


26  J. McALEER

corporation of ancient or modern times’.3 Today, there is no plaque to commemorate the existence of the Company on the site of its headquarters, and nothing ‘to mark the tumultuous impact of this once mighty corporation’.4 The Company’s former presence in London and its impact on British and Indian lives and society is recalled only by relatively brief mentions in museum galleries or by occasional temporary exhibitions.5 It is, in the words of Nick Robins, a ‘strange invisibility’ for an institution that was once so powerful and influential.6 This situation is less surprising, however, when the ways in which the Company is most frequently interpreted and analysed by scholars are considered. The historiography of the East India Company has most often focused on its role as a business entity or as the key player in the expansion of British interests in Asia through its administration of large swathes of the Indian subcontinent. Indeed, the economic, commercial, and political importance attributed to the Company might account for its relative neglect as a cultural reference point for generations of people in Britain. The Company was a body of merchants, a business corporation, and an imperial government at one and the same time. But it was also an institution that expressed its power and authority through the architecture and design of its buildings; that collected and displayed art and artefacts; and that acted as an institutional focal point for illustrating and conveying ideas about the empire in India. In short, then, the exhibition of the Company’s empire on the interior and exterior of its headquarters, and the objects housed and displayed there, offer insights both into the ways in which this ‘empire’ operated and how people in Britain understood and related to it. The emphasis on the economic and political impact of the Company, which has tended to reinforce the idea of an eighteenth-century heyday followed by a slow decline into oblivion by the middle of the nineteenth, has influenced not only popular perceptions but also how scholars have approached the built heritage and material culture of the Company in 3 ‘The

East India House’, Leisure Hour, 5 September 1861, 567. The Corporation That Changed the World, 7. 5 John McAleer, ‘Displaying Its Wares: Material Culture, the East India Company and British Encounters with India in the Long Eighteenth Century’, in Gabriel Sánchez Espinosa, Daniel Roberts, and Simon Davies, eds., Global Connections: India and Europe in the Long Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2014), 212–15. 6 Robins, The Corporation That Changed the World, 5. 4 Robins,



London. Walter Thornbury and a succession of authors since have made us aware of East India House and its eighteenth-century programme of decoration and adornment.7 As a result, historians have been inclined to assume that East India House only had meaning and impact in the halcyon days of the Company, following its acquisition of the right to collect taxes in the populous provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa from the Mughal Emperor in 1765. In some ways, however, the Company’s role as a key political and military force in the subcontinent fomented the conditions for its decline by exacerbating financial strain and political tension in both Britain and Asia, ultimately leading to progressively greater government oversight and a consequent diminution of the Company’s status and position. For many nineteenth-century visitors, the shifting nature of the Company and its involvement in Britain’s Asian empire—from crucial commercial and cultural broker to, in some interpretations, anachronistic relic of a bygone age—was writ large on the Company’s headquarters. Guidebooks, visitors’ accounts, and reports in the periodical press offer rich insights into the ways in which East India House was perceived by contemporaries.8 These sources suggest that the East India Company was never far from the public gaze or the historical imagination in Britain at a time when the nature, purpose, and perceived value of Empire was changing: a focus on trade and commerce was now infused with notions of a ‘civilising mission’. The Company and the buildings, objects, and accoutrements associated with it helped to mediate information and ideas about the history and legacy of the East India Company, and the subsequent development of Britain’s Asian empire. Even in the last fifty years of its existence, when the Company had been denuded of much of its economic and political power, East India House still ranked as one of the ‘sights of London’, where architecture, interior decoration, and material culture combined to impress visitors with 7 See Walter Thornbury, Old and New London (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878), 183–94; William Foster, The East India House (London: John Lane, 1924); Mildred Archer, ‘The East India Company and British Art’, Apollo 82 (1965), 401–9; Joan Coutu, Persuasion and Propaganda: Monuments and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006), 270–321; and John McAleer, Picturing India: People, Places and the World of the East India Company (London: British Library, 2017), 179–205. 8 Inderpal Grewal, ‘Constructing National Subjects: The British Museum and Its Guidebooks’, in Lisa Bloom, ed., With Other Eyes: Looking at Race and Gender in Visual Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 44–57.

28  J. McALEER

a careful articulation of Britain’s extensive empire in the East, and its growth from small commercial beginnings to extensive political significance. In some ways, reactions to East India House approximate the kinds of ‘multimedia experience’ in which historians of tourism in the period have become increasingly interested. These types of locations harnessed visual and material culture to stimulate memories and evoke associations.9 The record of a visit to East India House documented how this particular aspect of the British Empire was exhibited. But it also, in its turn, exhibited something of the visitor’s own ideas and preconceptions about that empire and its role in the wider world. The approach taken in this chapter owes much to John MacKenzie’s work. It corresponds to his long-standing commitment to elucidate the ‘centripetal effects of Empire’ on domestic British culture, society, and history.10 More specifically, the chapter relates to his work on propaganda and empire, as well as the relationship between museums and the exhibiting of empire. The role played by objects, and the buildings in which they are displayed, as ‘emissaries’ of meaning, as MacKenzie elucidated in his pioneering book on museums and empire, has shaped much of what follows.11 The belief that a fundamental aspect of the cultural history of empire is the history of display and reception is a theme that we explored together in editing a collection of essays on Exhibiting the Empire.12 But this chapter also relates to a number of scholarly developments in the history of empire’s ‘sites of memory’.13 The first is a renewed interest in the role of architecture: buildings undoubtedly offer pathways to help us to understand ‘aspects of Britain’s imperial story’.14 Specifically 9 Peter Mandler, ‘“The Wand of Fancy”: The Historical Imagination of the Victorian Tourist’, in Marius Kwint, Christopher Breward, and Jeremy Aynsley, eds., Material Memories: Design and Evocation (Oxford: Berg, 1999), 125–42. 10 John MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), 2. 11 John MacKenzie, Museums and Empire: Natural History, Human Cultures and Colonial Identities (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), 11. 12 John McAleer and John MacKenzie, eds., Exhibiting the Empire: Cultures of Display and the British Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015). 13 Dominik Geppert and Frank Lorenz Müller, eds., Sites of Imperial Memory: Commemorating Colonial Rule in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015). 14 Ashley Jackson, Buildings of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), viii.



in relation to the East India Company, important new research has highlighted the exhibition of empire in, and the impact of the Company on, private dwellings and domestic interiors.15 In addition to its role as a business headquarters, East India House also housed and displayed a great variety of material culture. In its careful placement of paintings, its extensive sculptural programme, and its architectural details, East India House mirrored the decorative schemes of the great country houses that Stephanie Barczewski has considered.16 The chapter also builds on recent academic interest in visitors’ experiences of and in multi-sensory sites such as museums and country houses.17 Scholars such as Victoria Carroll have argued for the possibility and desirability of understanding how these displays were variously viewed, interpreted, and appropriated by the people who went to see them.18 Another development, nurtured by the Manchester University Press Studies in Imperialism series established by MacKenzie, are those innovative analyses that have explored the afterlives of imperial icons.19 These individuals made significant contributions to the development and expansion of the British Empire in their lifetimes. More importantly, however, historians have explored how their ‘afterlives’—the ways in which their activities were understood, evaluated, and commemorated, and the means by which narratives and myths were woven around their biographies—contributed to wider interpretations of empire. To the lives of individuals such as David Livingstone, Charles Gordon, and Horatio Nelson, this chapter adds another: John Company. The East India Company’s nickname alerts us to the fact that it had a big 15 Margot Finn and Kate Smith, eds., The East India Company at Home, 1757–1857 (London: UCL Press, 2018). 16 Stephanie Barczewski, Country Houses and the British Empire, 1700–1930 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014). 17 Samuel J. M. M. Alberti, ‘The Museum Affect: Visiting Collections of Anatomy and Natural History’, in Aileen Fyfe and Bernard Lightman, eds., Science in the Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century Sites and Experiences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 371–403. 18 Victoria Carroll, ‘Natural History on Display: The Collection of Charles Waterton’, in Fyfe and Lightman, eds., Science in the Marketplace, 271. 19 Paul Maylam, The Cult of Rhodes: Remembering an Imperialist Icon in Africa (Claremont: David Philip, 2005); Berny Sèbe, Heroic Imperialists in Africa (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013); and Justin Livingstone, Livingstone’s ‘Lives’: A Metabiography of a Victorian Icon (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014).

30  J. McALEER

personality, and that its activities, legacies, and physical sites played a vital role in shaping the interpretation and understanding of empire for many Victorians. And if the Company can be regarded as an individual, then the building on Leadenhall Street was the ‘house in which Mr. John Company lived and died’.20 As such, then, it plays a crucial part in understanding John Company’s imperial life and career. The discussion that follows is developed in three sections. The first explores the representation of East India House as a building in the nineteenth century. Even when its administrative and political wings were clipped by ever-greater involvement from Westminster, the Company’s principal place of accommodation excited interest and attention from a variety of visitors. It also inspired a range of reflections and musings on the nature of the British Empire in India and, more broadly, on the state of Britain’s imperial possessions, including its aspirations for them and the discharge of its imperial duties and responsibilities. The second and third sections consider the objects commissioned or collected by the Company, which were on view in East India House before its demolition, and the ways in which they were subsequently displayed in the later nineteenth century. The final section is also concerned with the ways in which the history of the Company, and its empire in Asia, was represented in the second half of the nineteenth century. In exploring these themes, the chapter seeks to resuscitate ‘the ghost of John Koompanee’ and put it back at the heart of interpretations of Britain’s Victorian empire.21

1  Architecture and East India House From its earliest days, the East India Company employed architecture and the built environment to present an image of itself in its home city. The coronation of Charles II in 1661 encouraged the directors to ‘beautify the front of this house’, thereby demonstrating the Company’s ‘loyal gratitude to His Majesty’.22 The Company’s headquarters went through a number of changes and alterations over the next hundred years, and by the end of the eighteenth century, the ‘stately home of merchants’

20 John

Kaye, ‘The House That John Built’, Cornhill Magazine 2, no. 7 (1860), 113. Ghost of John Koompanee’, 397. 22 Quoted in Foster, East India House, 41. 21 ‘The



described by the essayist Charles Lamb, who worked there as a clerk for twenty-five years, dominated Leadenhall Street.23 The building elicited a variety of responses from those who saw and experienced it. Some were enthusiastic and positive: in 1770, for example, one writer opined that ‘as a public structure’, East India House ranked ‘amongst the most magnificent in the city’.24 Others were less enthralled, especially before the renovations of the late eighteenth century. Daniel Defoe described it as ‘an old but spacious building very convenient, though not beautiful’.25 Reactions to the building—both positive and negative—often hinged on interpretations of empire. Positive responses suggested that visitors were impressed by the imperial associations of the commercial enterprise it housed. Negative reactions often expressed surprise that the Company was accommodated in such humble quarters, or disappointment that it failed to convey the appropriate impression or display a suitably august exterior. These critical commentators doubted that the building’s appearance matched the Company’s status. Sir John Kaye, secretary of the Political and Secret Department at the India Office from 1858 until 1874, observed that ‘what was a splendid abode for a corporation of merchants was held to be a mean asylum for the sovereigns of a great empire’.26 Commenting on the building before its renovation and expansion by Richard Jupp at the end of the eighteenth century, the topographer John Noorthouck noted that it was a widely held opinion that ‘the appearance of the building is nowise suited to the opulence of the Company, whose servants exercise sovereign authority in their Indian territories and live there in princely state’.27 And Sir John Fielding, in his Description of London published in 1776, was equally unimpressed:

23 Foster,

East India House, 185. Lewis, ed., A Topographical Dictionary of England (London: Samuel Lewis, 1831), III, 131. 25 Daniel Defoe, in P. N. Furbank and W. R. Owens, eds., A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724–26) (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), 146. 26 Kaye, ‘The House That John Built’, 115. For more on Kaye’s professional career, see Arnold P. Kaminsky, The India Office, 1880–1910 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986), 45–46. 27 John Noorthouck, A New History of London Including Westminster and Southwark (London: R. Baldwin, 1773), 663. 24 Samuel

32  J. McALEER East India House (Leadenhall Street) is a plain Doric structure, on a rustic base, in which there is not much to praise or much to censure, though deemed by persons of perhaps over-nice taste inadequate to the Wealth, Consequence and Power of the Proprietors. It must be confessed that the House is too small in front, when we consider the importance of the … business carried on there.28

The Topographical and Historical Description of London and Middlesex (1816), meanwhile, noted that the building was sometimes criticised due to the ‘want of general allusion to the Asiatic Possessions’ of the Company.29 Even with Jupp’s alterations, the historian Edward Nolan was not impressed by the building. His disappointment emanated from the divergence between his preconceived notion of what should constitute a grand clearing house of empire and what he actually found. East India House was, for Nolan, ‘a building inferior in architectural pretension, and calculated by its long and gloomy corridors to give a mean idea of a place eminent in its associations and as the seat of a power which has decided the destinies of so many oriental nations, and bid defiance to the greatest states of Europe’.30 Another observer, Peter Cunningham, took particular issue with the pediment that crowned the façade. The work was begun by John Bacon the Elder, one of the most eminent sculptors of the period, and completed after his death by his son John the Younger.31 For Cunningham, who mistakenly attributed it entirely to the ‘younger Bacon’, the pediment was ‘a poor thing’ for ‘the largest and most magnificent Company in the world’.32 Despite its relatively recent renovation, some nineteenth-century commentators saw a crumbling edifice on Leadenhall Street and interpreted this as a symbol of the wider political and business malaise in which the Company found itself. 28 Quoted in Georgina Green, Sir Charles Raymond of Valentines and the East India Company (Hainault: Hainault Press, 2015), 79–80. 29 Topographical and Historical Description of London and Middlesex (London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1816), II, 762. 30 Edward Henry Nolan, The Illustrated History of the British Empire in India and the East (London: James Virtue, 1858), I, 299. 31 Ingrid Roscoe, Emma Hardy, and M. G. Sullivan, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660–1851 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), 43. 32 Peter Cunningham, Handbook of London, Past and Present (London: John Murray, 1850), 171.



A correspondent to the East India Magazine in 1841 observed that East India House had ‘a very deserted appearance’. Although the surrounding city exuded business and busy-ness, the Company’s headquarters ‘strongly recalls to mind the gloom which overspread the India house of Holland, when they were palsied and paralysed, as our monopoly now is, in its turn, the last of all the India companies of Europe’.33 Others were more forgiving, however. George Mogridge often ‘stood in front of the India House to admire its handsome Ionic portico, and to gaze on the emblematic group of figures above’.34 The Indian naval architects Jehanger Nowrojee and Hirjeeboy Merwarjee, who travelled to Britain in the 1830s, were also impressed and used East India House to frame their account of the history of the Company. Here, architecture acted as a foil for interpretations of the British Empire in Asia. Although the history of the East India Company was ‘unparalleled and unprecedented in the annals of nations’, constraints of time, space, and knowledge meant that they were only able to offer, in their words, ‘a very imperfect sketch of this great body’. But the headquarters acted as a surrogate. East India House was a ‘stately edifice’ with a ‘noble central portico’, which gave the façade ‘an air of magnificence and splendour quite worthy and becoming the great and influential body to whom it belongs, and the vast and important transactions that are carried on within its walls’. The interior of the building was ‘quite as magnificent as the exterior’.35 London, a series of guidebooks edited by Charles Knight and reprinted many times, offered a similarly weighty interpretation, highlighting the ‘historical recollections which attach to the edifice in connexion with Anglo-Indian power’: ‘History presents nothing more strongly calculated to impress the imagination than the progress of English dominion in the east under Clive and Warren Hastings, and Cornwallis and Wellesley’.36 Following the demise of the Company, an article published in Leisure Hour in 1868 harnessed the symbolic power of architecture to convey a broader point about its rise and precipitous fall. The pride, power, and 33 ‘India

Museum, East India House’, East India Magazine, 21 March 1841, 219. Mogridge], Old Humphrey’s Walks in London and Its Neighbourhood (London: Religious Tract Society [1843]), 149–50. 35 Journal of … Jehanger Nowrojee and Hirjeeboy Merwarjee of Bombay (London: William H. Allen, 1841), 343, 342–43, and 354. 36 Charles Knight, ed., London (London: Charles Knight, 1843), V, 50. 34 [George

34  J. McALEER

wealth of the Company ‘when enthroned in Leadenhall Street’ were contrasted sharply with its current unprepossessing position ‘somewhere along Moorgate Street’. In its former premises, ‘the Chairman then sat with as much dignity and authority as the Speaker of the House of Commons. The business before the Court was often as momentous as that which occupied the imperial parliament’.37 As this writer’s rueful tone indicated, the sale of the East India House in the summer of 1861 engendered nostalgia for this ‘relic’ of ‘the most celebrated commercial association of ancient or modern times’. The Illustrated London News published a view of the façade and quoted a description from John Timbs’s Curiosities of London in August 1861.38 Further reflections followed the next month. Here was a building ‘before whose portico ministers and statesmen, military chiefs, civic magnates, and merchant princes have so often alighted from their carriages on occasions of high festival in honour of successful Indian governors and generals’. The ‘richly adorned’ interior was the location where ‘a knot of Directors once sat in serene plenitude and secret conclave, deciding upon questions of peace and war, indemnities and annexations, with multifarious measures affecting the interests of a hundred millions of human beings’.39 Leisure Hour lamented the fact that this ‘palatial edifice’ had been ‘surrendered to the summary handling of the auctioneer’ who moved through the rooms with ‘dealers in curiosities, lovers of relics, and graspers at every chance of a good bargain’.40 Perhaps the most heartfelt lament for ‘the great, solemn, suggestive pile, with all its historical associations’, was that issued by John Kaye: When Mr Company’s once famous residence is blotted out, like another Carthage, Leadenhall Street will not be Leadenhall Street; the City will not be the City to me. I, indeed, who have ascended the steps of that venerable mansion, man and boy, every week-day (holiday excepted), for fifty years, can hardly realise the idea of a London without Mr Company’s house.41

The cultural currency of East India House, and its role as a visual shorthand for the Company’s activities, power, and prestige, can also 37 ‘The

Ghost of John Koompanee’, 398. East India House’, Illustrated London News, 3 August 1861, 115 and 125. 39 ‘The East India House’, Leisure Hour, 566. 40 ‘The East India House’, Leisure Hour, 568. 41 Kaye, ‘The House That John Built’, 113. 38 ‘The



be seen in prints and ephemera. The antiquary James Brook Pulham, who compiled a collection of material with the intention of writing a history of the Company in the 1820s, recognised the importance of its physical headquarters. His unpublished documents contain not only extracts of proceedings and minutes, but also several engravings of East India House.42 Even after the end of the Company’s monopolies, in 1813 and 1833 respectively, its headquarters exuded legitimacy and gravitas. A textile bale label from the 1830s depicts East India House underneath a blank square framed by an elaborate array of swags and Chinese lettering and surmounted by the Company’s coat of arms.43 The same impulse is evident in a mid-nineteenth-century advertisement for Clarkson’s ‘Golden Tea Chest’, based in Oxford Street, which used East India House to promote its ‘teas, coffees, foreign fruits and preserves’.44 The scene below shows a group of Chinese savouring tea surrounded by various boxes. The group is framed by two columns, which stand on bases labelled ‘tea’ and ‘hyson’ respectively, advertising ‘fine new fruit’ and ‘spices of all kinds’. These extraordinary architectural elements are topped by a coffee canister and a sugar cone. In between, forming a sort of pseudo-lintel is the imposing façade of East India House. But connections between the built environment and material culture extended beyond the realm of advertising, and it is to objects and their interpretation that we now turn.

2  East India House and Material Culture Objects always played an important role in mediating encounters between Europe and Asia. They offered a way of presenting cultures and making connections more tangible and immediate. From its earliest days, the East India Company maintained a storehouse or museum comprised

42 British

Library, Add.MS 24934, ff. 190–95. Library, University of Oxford, John Johnson Collection [JJC]: Labels 17(80): fulltextimgsrc&PageNumber=1&ItemNumber=49&ItemID=20080716155726kg& shelfNumber=1&ResultsID=151BAEFBB62C7D507 [accessed 24 May 2017]. 44 JJC: Tea and Grocery Papers 3(1): [accessed 24 May 2017]. 43 Bodleian

36  J. McALEER

of objects and specimens sent back by its employees working and travelling on its business abroad.45 Material culture illustrative of Britain’s empire in India was not only to be seen at East India House, however. A number of repositories in and around London exhibited collections that conveyed to visitors a sense that Asia was a key arena for British overseas activities. The curiosities at the Indian Museum and Exhibition, displayed at the intriguing address of 80½ Pall Mall, were ‘not very splendid or brilliant’ according to the Asiatic Journal, but the collection nonetheless contained ‘many interesting objects’, ranging from musical instruments and paintings to costumes and animals preserved in spirits.46 The Tower of London housed a variety of Indian arms and armour, many of which were originally donated by the Company, as were many of the natural history specimens held at the Linnæan Society. For a shilling, the public could marvel in the Exeter Hall at a twenty-four-footsquare temple full of statues of the Buddha, while seventy-eight life-sized figures representing ‘the principal images of Hindu worship’ were on display at St Katherine’s Dock.47 At the Great Exhibition of 1851, the British political presence in the subcontinent was powerfully represented by an exhibition of regalia including palanquins, thrones, and sceptres, as well as the crown of the Raja of Oudh and the regal dress of the Raja of Bundi. The ivory throne of the Raja of Travancore, a present to Queen Victoria, was even used by Prince Albert for the closing ceremonies.48 In the first half of the nineteenth century, however, the largest collection of material was to be seen at East India House. Opening its doors helped to present an image of the Company as a responsible manager of Indian affairs to audiences in Britain, in line with new priorities in imperial policies and practices.49 Indeed, when the Company was stripped of its trading monopolies and business concerns, East India House

45 Anna Winterbottom, Hybrid Knowledge in the Early East India Company World (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 16. 46 Anonymous, ‘The Indian Museum’, Asiatic Journal 15 (1823), 203. 47 Ray Desmond, The India Museum, 1801–1879 (London: HMSO, 1982), 35. 48 Desmond, India Museum, 203–4. 49 Tillman Nechtman, ‘Mr Hickey’s Pictures: Britons and Their Collectibles in Late Eighteenth-Century India’, in Barry Crosbie and Mark Hampton, eds., The Cultural Construction of the British World (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015), 187.



was given over largely to the exhibition of objects and specimens.50 Contemporaries recognised that these displays offered insights into the Company’s career in India. Even Peter Gordon, a bitter opponent of the Company, claimed that he wanted to see East India House opened ‘to the Public as a second National Museum’ because of its association with India, that critical arena for British imperial ambitions.51 The Penny Magazine spelled things out even more clearly in May 1841: Those who are acquainted with the general contents of the British Museum will perceive … that the curiosities deposited in the India House are of a different character, on account of their peculiar relation to Asiatic countries. The British Museum is by no means largely supplied with Oriental curiosities and rarities, and on that account the [India] Museum … is well worth a visit.52

The Company itself recognised that objects and material culture could shape interpretations of its involvement in and contribution to the history of the British Empire in Asia. In a dispatch to its representatives in Bengal in 1805, the authorities in Leadenhall Street requested that ‘choice specimens of all the different coins of India and the neighbouring countries, both ancient and modern whether in gold, silver or copper’ be transmitted to London. These should be accompanied ‘by a proper list in English and Persian containing their legends, the name of the country where coined or current, age or date’ and whatever other information was available. Taken together, these objects and this interpretative material would be ‘illustrative of [the] history’ of the subcontinent and the place of the Company in that long continuum.53 By 1817, East India House and the objects housed within it were open to the general public. The librarian and curator, Charles Wilkins, found ‘the immense crowds of persons of all classes, who by various means obtain leave to visit the Library and Museum every day in

50 Jessica Ratcliff, ‘The East India Company, the Company’s Museum, and the Political Economy of Natural History in the Early Nineteenth Century’, Isis 107 (2016), 508–10. 51 Quoted in Desmond, India Museum, 28. 52 Quoted in Desmond, India Museum, 33–35. 53 Quoted in Desmond, India Museum, 19–20.

38  J. McALEER

the week except Sunday’ more than he could cope with.54 Four thousand people visited in 1833, prompting further discussion about public access.55 The Company eventually agreed to build an extension to display their collections to their greatest advantage, a development welcomed by the Times in May 1846. The newspaper thought that it would ‘prove a great accommodation to the public, who during the sultry days of summer were, among other oriental curiosities, furnished with a practical specimen of the Black Hole of Calcutta’.56 A few years later, in 1851, a guidebook to the museum was printed to coincide with the Great Exhibition; its author was confident that the public would enjoy viewing the ‘rarest treasures of the East’ on display there.57 ‘The crowded masses of treasures with which the chambers are filled’ convinced one visitor that there was ‘occupation here for weeks of profitable study, and the Directors of the East India Company have conferred a boon on the public by giving them access to such an exhibition’.58 Just as the architecture and decoration of the building prompted reflection, visitors to East India House often commented upon the objects to be seen there. Many contemporary guidebooks listed objects and relics as a way of expressing the breadth of the Company’s activities. The Picture of London for 1820, for example, was impressed by the ‘curious museum of eastern curiosities and literature, which will afford the most enlightened hours of amusement’.59 In 1815, Joseph Ballard, a young merchant from Boston, made a clear connection between the objects on display and imperial possessions: ‘The opulence of the company and the power they have acquired by their conquest in India have thrown into their possession the greatest and richest collection of eastern curiosities in the world’.60 A visit to East India House was ‘certainly calculated to render impressions concerning the east more vivid and striking’.61 The status of the museum as a cultural destination even 54 Quoted

in Desmond, The India Museum, 27. The India Museum, 28. 56 Quoted in Desmond, The India Museum, 39. 57 Guide to the East India Museum (London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851), 1 and 3. 58 ‘A Visit to the East India Museum’, Leisure Hour, 29 July 1858, 473. 59 The Picture of London for 1820 (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, 1820), 165. 60 Joseph Ballard, England in 1815 as Seen by a Young Boston Merchant (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1913), 144. 61 Knight, London, 64. 55 Desmond,



percolated into fiction. In Dombey and Son (1848), Charles Dickens described it as ‘teeming with … precious stuff and stones, tigers, elephants, howdahs, [and] hookahs’.62 Emily, the heroine of Barbara Hofland’s novel A Visit to London (1814), marvelled at ‘the fine specimens of shells and insects, which had never met her eye before’, until she was ‘startled from her contemplation by a harsh moaning sound’ emanating from Tipu’s tiger, a near-life-sized mechanical reproduction of a tiger savaging a European man that was created for Tipu Sultan, ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore.63 In the 1840s, George Mogridge explained that the India Museum contained ‘curiosities from this far distant land; natural and artificial productions, mingled with the spoils of warfare’.64 As with the building in which they were housed, these objects represented Britain’s rise to imperial dominion in the East. Edward Nolan also believed in the power of objects to represent history and the history of the Indian empire in particular. As the author of a two-volume doorstopper on the British Empire in India, Nolan’s interest was greater than that of a passing sightseer. But like many other visitors, he too extolled the virtues of the India Museum: ‘No books on Indian commerce, and no histories, can convey the vivid impressions, or afford the ample information on this class of subjects, which the inspection of these products of nature and art from our Eastern empire imparts’.65 Nolan’s observations coincided with yet more building work at East India House, undertaken with the intention of making the collections and their display more accessible. The Illustrated London News lauded the transformation—attributed in part to ‘the magic wand of Mr Digby Wyatt, the Company’s architect’— where the first floor was ‘carefully arranged for the display’ of objects.66 In 1857, a report in the Times was equally impressed and reiterated the power of objects to impart information about the subcontinent. An hour spent in the ‘model room’ would ‘convey clearer ideas of Indian life and 62 Quoted in G. Alex Bremner, ‘Nation and Empire in the Government Architecture of Mid-Victorian London: The Foreign and India Office Reconsidered’, Historical Journal 48 (2005), 734. 63 Quoted in Desmond, India Museum, 26. 64 [Mogridge], Old Humphrey’s Walks in London, 152. 65 Nolan, British Empire in India, I, 390. 66 ‘The New Museum at the East India House’, Illustrated London News, 6 March 1858, 228 and 230.

40  J. McALEER

Indian customs than would be gained by the perusal of many dreary volumes’.67 In a year of momentous change for the Company, due to rebellion and its bloody suppression in India, the focus on objects and their display demonstrates the power of material culture to move and to inform.

3   Later Manifestations The use of architecture and objects to illustrate and exhibit the history of Britain’s empire in India, and the role of the East India Company in that process, continued into the late nineteenth century, extending well beyond the demise of the Company itself. Nor did the demolition of East India House bring about an end to its role in representing empire. Even when it was no more than a vague memory or architectural spectre in Leadenhall Street, the Company and its headquarters impinged on interpretations of Britain’s Asian empire. The most obvious example of this can be seen in the new the Foreign and India Office buildings in Whitehall, where the transplanted sculptural decoration of the Leadenhall Street headquarters was deployed to illustrate, explain, and exhibit the Company’s rise to power. As Alex Bremner has shown, the cortile of the Foreign and India Office presented a series of ‘striking incidents’ and ‘heroes of recent historical renown’ associated with the British Empire in India.68 The desire for continuity with the East India Company and the need to maintain a connection with an illustrious history was manifest through this decorative scheme. Many of the objects once housed in the rooms and corridors of East India House continued to be used to illustrate British involvement in Asia and to evoke the history of that encounter. Immediately after the demise of the Company, its collections were accommodated in Fife House in Whitehall.69 This ‘temporary depot’ was ill-suited to serve as a display space, but it sufficed ‘for the extensive collection of silks, jewels, metal wares, and other produce and manufactures which illustrate

67 Times

(London), 7 April 1858, 10. in Bremner, ‘Nation and Empire’, 732–33. 69 Robert Skelton, ‘The Indian Collections, 1798–1978’, Burlington Magazine 120 (1978), 297–304. 68 Quoted



the wealth of our Indian empire’.70 Although the author of the India Museum and the Department of the Reporter (1864) acknowledged the role of scientific specimens and the economic and commercial imperatives underpinning their display in the new India Museum in Whitehall, they recognised that ‘throughout the museum will be found various objects, interesting from their associations with the history of India’.71 As the nineteenth century neared its end, industrial, imperial, and international exhibitions became important forums for presenting the history of empire through objects. India, the East India Company and East India House’s former collection played a significant role in these shows. At the International Exhibition in London in 1862, there were some 7000 Indian exhibits, occupying 277 pages of the official catalogue. All of the other colonies combined took up only a quarter of the space devoted to India.72 The International Exhibition in Dublin in 1865 provided a venue for the India Museum to exhibit some of its treasures in a new setting. Ranjit Singh’s gold throne and Tipu Sultan’s crimson carpet went on display, as did a spectacular marble model of the sarcophagus of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of the Emperor Shah Jehan.73 These exhibitions and others that followed attempted to set the British Raj in the wider context of Indian history and the two and a half centuries of the East India Company’s involvement in the subcontinent. Just as the new Foreign and India Office appealed to history for legitimacy, so the organisers of exhibitions also tried to commandeer the Company and its history. Perhaps the most sustained engagement with the history of the East India Company in the late nineteenth century took place at the Empire of India Exhibition, held at Earl’s Court in 1895. It was the brainchild of Imre Kiralfy, a leading theatre impresario and exhibition director.74 Kiralfy solicited and displayed a host of material culture, including manuscripts, seals, medals, trophies, battle engravings, petitions, and portraits of influential Anglo-Indians, as well the ‘intensely interesting collection’ amassed by Robert Clive and his descendants and housed at Powis 70 ‘India Museum at Fife House, Whitehall’, Illustrated London News, 3 August 1861, 125. 71 India Museum and the Department of the Reporter (London: Knight & Co., 1864), 7. 72 MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 98. 73 Desmond, India Museum, 104. 74 MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 102.

42  J. McALEER

Castle.75 The number of ‘relics and memorials of the late Honourable East India Company’ totalled 529.76 That the exhibition should elicit patriotic pride from those who attended was made clear from the outset of the accompanying publication: ‘It should be noted with pride by every Englishman that this immense Empire has a population more than double that of all the various peoples and nations which, according to Gibbon, obeyed the mandates of Imperial Rome when at the zenith of her power’.77 The role of the East India Company was explicitly acknowledged. Its establishment was ‘the first step in the prodigious political development of England’, and ‘it proved the chief corner-stone of our unabated mercantile prosperity and naval supremacy’. The catalogue presented a positive view of the Company’s ‘glorious career’.78 It acknowledged its importance in founding the British Empire in Asia and gave readers and visitors a potted history. This summary was supplemented by the displays at Earl’s Court. Although the exhibition was ostensibly intended to present the contemporary state of India and its economy as an aid to manufacturing and industry, history also played its part. Exhibition organisers were keen not to neglect objects that would remind visitors ‘of a past in which India has been the theatre of some of the most magnificent exploits of the English race, and which has had an influence on the development of the nation not yet fully realised’.79 To that end, an extensive process of research and investigation was undertaken with the aim of identifying suitable historical ‘relics’. Open letters to the Times and intense lobbying amongst ‘old India hands’ elicited support and items from lenders such as the India Office, the Duke of Wellington, Earl Powis, Lord Roberts of Kandahar, and the Worshipful Company of Skinners. According to the Official Catalogue, ‘a large, and perhaps the most interesting, portion of the collection consists of objects which derive their chief value from their connection with the history of the Company’.80 75 Imre Kiralfy, ‘General Introduction’, in Official Catalogue of the Empire of India Exhibition, Earl’s Court, London, SW, 1895 (London: J.J. Keliher, 1895), 11. 76 Official Catalogue, 53–67. See also Journal of Indian Art and Industry 6 (1896), 89–90; and ‘Relics of the EIC at Earl’s Court’, Morning Post, 9 October 1895. 77 Official Catalogue, 17. 78 Official Catalogue, 19 and 21. 79 Official Catalogue, 53. 80 Official Catalogue, 54.



East India House was strongly represented, with views of the building in ‘various stages of expansion, from the day of small things when there was a carpenter’s shop on the ground-floor … to the long façade of the stately building by Jupp, which many people remember as one of the sights of London’.81 Approximately ten per cent of the objects on display related directly to East India House or to the Company’s other buildings in London. There were architectural drawings of the principal elevation, coloured engravings, and photographs depicting the interior of the building before its demolition.82 But there were ‘disappointingly few’ objects from the interior. The exhibition organisers attributed this dearth to the convulsions that had accompanied the dissolution of the Company in the late 1850s and early 1860s, when ‘a huge mass of miscellaneous articles were dispersed in all directions’. Indeed, they had hoped that the exhibition in Earl’s Court would be the ‘means of temporarily recovering many of these and of this affording some quaint glimpses into the interior economy of the Leadenhall Street establishment’. Although the response was ‘far from satisfactory’, the exhibition organisers tried their best.83 There was a miscellany of relics and eccentricities: a silver tankard contained in a case ‘made from the timbers of Tipu Sultan’s house’, together with his walking stick, which was made from the upper jawbone of a swordfish and taken from Tipu’s palace after the storming of Seringapatam.84 Of more direct relevance to East India House itself, there was ‘a quaint old timepiece … formerly in the shipping department’; a brass blunderbuss kept in the Bullion Room; a ‘constable’s staff’ marked with the coat of arms of the City of London and ‘the bale mark of the Company’; a silver teapot marked with the crest of the Company and ‘said to have been used by the Court of Directors upwards of 100 years ago’; and a ‘pair of scissors, from the India House … baring the bale mark of the Company’.85 Although these hardly ranked as star attractions, the chair occupied by the Deputy Chairman of the Company at meetings of the Court was more promising. The Official Catalogue proclaimed that it still fulfilled a 81 Official

Catalogue, 65. for example, Official Catalogue, catalogue numbers 110, 115, 125, 222, 226, 276, 278, 282, 283, and 284. 83 Official Catalogue, 65. 84 Official Catalogue, 136 and 138. 85 Catalogue numbers 68, 152, 203, 359, 393. Official Catalogue, 85, 105, 108, 140, and 145. 82 See,

44  J. McALEER

role in shaping the future of the subcontinent because it was ‘now carefully preserved at the India Office, where it is used, appropriately enough, by the Secretary of State when he presides over the meetings of his Council’.86 It would appear that the relative paucity of objects encouraged Kiralfy and the organisers of the exhibition to indulge in some surprisingly modern museum-display tactics, as they tried their hand at some judicious recreation of the historic environment of East India House. Attendants at the exhibition wore a uniform that ‘faithfully reproduces that of the beadle who watched at the portals of the India House’. The Official Catalogue was keen to underline the accuracy of this intervention by pointing out that the garb was replicated from a photograph of Henry Girard, one of ‘the last of these worthies’.87 The East India Company has tended to slip from view when historians have examined the exhibitions and trade fairs of the nineteenth century. The understandable focus on India as a place where British manufactured goods could be sold or whence Indian products were derived has obscured the Company’s role in such exhibitions.88 But even after its dissolution, the Company and its story still formed a key component of Victorian interpretations of the British Empire in Asia. Objects and artefacts collected from the Company’s territories, and associated with its history, were used to exhibit the Empire in various imperial and international exhibitions at the end of the century. Even an exhibition held in 1895, over thirty years after the demolition of East India House, devoted a great deal of physical space and interpretative energy to the Company’s physical location and the headquarters in which it transacted its business. The history of the Company offered crucial historical context for Victorian Britons, who were acutely aware of the trajectory and antecedents of their empire.89 The Company—and by association its headquarters and related material culture—represented the triumph of commerce while simultaneously auguring the perils of monopoly and imperial overreach. Nineteenth-century representations trod a careful path between 86 Official

Catalogue, 65. Catalogue, 66. See catalogue number 277. 88 See Lara Kriegel, ‘Narrating the Subcontinent in 1851: India at the Crystal Palace’, in Louise Purbrick, ed., The Great Exhibition of 1851: New Interdisciplinary Essays (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), 146–78. 89 For general reflections on this theme, see Vanessa Brand, ed., The Study of the Past in the Victorian Age (Oxford: Oxbow, 1998). 87 Official



celebrating the Company’s achievements and bemoaning its inadequacies. The Company offered powerful lessons and evocative narratives, which could be harnessed by exhibition organisers and experienced by visitors. The history of the East India Company manifested a tension between celebrating success and pondering failure. For contemporaries, the Company, its once-grand headquarters, and its material legacies provided a heady Victorian cocktail of world-beating triumph, overweening hubris punished by a fall into ruin, and, ultimately, salvation at the hands of the British Government in Westminster. A contributor to the Penny Magazine in 1834 believed, as did many people in nineteenth-century Britain, that the history of the East India Company, and the rise of the British Empire in Asia, had ‘no parallel in the history of nations’: ‘To trace steps by which a company of merchants have mounted the throne of Aurungzebe, before which the representatives of their predecessors appeared kneeling, with their hands bound before them, is a subject requiring the most extensive and various knowledge’.90 Historians have often been more interested in the personalities who operated behind the walls of East India House than in thinking about what was on those walls. But we should not discount the Company’s interest in architecture and display. If the East India Company played a key role in expanding the global horizons of the British Empire, East India House was the place where that was most obviously manifest. The building, and the objects associated with it, led many to conclude that the Company was ‘a sort of commercial republic, of vast possessions, extensive influence, great riches, and commanding power’.91 John Kaye perhaps summed it up best, combining an interest in the building, its contents, and their commemoration in an elegiac piece that appeared in the Cornhill Magazine in 1860. He treasured ‘a fragment—a few cubic inches—of the house itself’, which he decided to place ‘under a glass case’, in the ‘best room’ of his ‘humble villa’ in Islington. This personal effort at curating empire, this pseudo-museum piece with ‘an inscription engraved upon it’, was ‘suggestive alike of the dear old mansion and the dear old master’: ‘a brick of the House that John built’.92

90 Penny

Magazine, 1 March 1834, 84. Britton and Augustus Pugin, Illustrations of the Public Buildings of London (London: J. Taylor, 1828), II, 77. 92 Kaye, ‘The House That John Built’, 121. 91 John


“Jumboism Is Akin to Jingoism”: Race, Nation, and Empire in the Elephant Craze of 1882 Peter Yeandle

On 25 January 1882, Abraham Bartlett—the superintendent of London’s zoological gardens (hereafter ZSL)—announced in the Times that a decision had been made to sell Jumbo the African elephant to the renowned American showman P. T. Barnum for £2000.1 Bartlett could not have anticipated that this seemingly sensible decision would, within a few weeks, lead to a national uproar. Bartlett’s decision had been deemed appropriate by the ZSL committee because Jumbo had reached elephant adolescence (musth) and was displaying signs of aggression. Better to sell the elephant that he might keep company of other pachyderms, Bartlett reasoned, than risk a serious safety incident. For sixteen years, Jumbo had been presented as a gentle ‘city pet’, curtseying to royalty as well as giving hundreds of thousands of rides on his back to children and adults

1 Times,

25 January 1882.

P. Yeandle (*)  Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



Fig. 1  ‘Jumbo’s Journey to the Docks’, Illustrated London News, 1 April 1882 (Author’s collection)

from all social classes.2 When, on 17 February, Jumbo refused his ‘expatriation’ by resisting enchainment, appearing visibly disturbed by whips, and refusing to enter a box specially designed for his transportation (see Fig. 1), a media sensation—‘Jumbomania’—was born. For six weeks, the news cycle was saturated with Jumbomania in spite of the significance of concurrent political events, which included Irish land reform, the atheist Charles Bradlaugh’s refusal to swear an oath in Parliament, the Egyptian Question, and a failed attempt to assassinate Queen Victoria.3 ‘But of 2 Susan Nance, Animal Modernity: Jumbo the Elephant and the Human Dilemma (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 12. Other ‘national pets’, including chimpanzees and hippopotamuses, are described in Harriet Ritvo, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 226–32. 3 Jumbo’s image was used in the satirical press to reference these events. ‘The Political Jumbo’, Funny Folks, 11 March 1882, depicted the elephant as representative of the immovable House of Lords. If the Americans were desperate for a unique beast, asserted Punch, then they should leave the British Jumbo where he is and take Bradlaugh instead. ‘Arcades Jumbo; Or, Br-Dl--Gh and the Elephant’, Punch, 4 March 1882.



all the sensations that have lately agitated the public mind’, according to the Times of India correspondent’s bemused retrospective analysis, ‘all must pale before the “Jumbo Sensation”’.4 Jumbo, ‘a beast as massive as the mastodon’, was widely acclaimed to be the nation’s favourite animal, a collectively adored British possession.5 The elephant sensation was, in the words of the Telegraph, a ‘spontaneous and universal outcry’ of patriotic emotion.6 Despite protestation from his tens of thousands of human advocates, Jumbo gave his final rides in London on 20 March, before setting sail two days later and arriving in New York on 9 April. He would become the living centrepiece of Barnum’s circus—‘The Greatest Show on Earth’—and remain so until his death in a train accident three years later. While Jumbo’s story is relatively well known, this essay analyses the political and cultural upheaval caused by the Jumbomania in London in early 1882. The elephant craze, treated as a substantial, sentimentally charged patriotic sensation, provides a significant opportunity to observe the reach of imperialism into public life in a key moment in British imperial history. As a case study in public affection for the ‘exotic’, Jumbomania enables analysis of themes central to John MacKenzie’s work on imperialism and popular culture.7 Much has been written about Jumbo’s fascinating story, which is unsurprising given Jumbo’s centrality to histories of leisure generally and the making of Barnum’s status as celebrity specifically.8 The relevant scholarship includes several ‘biographies’ pitched to a general readership.9 Jumbo retains a sizeable media footprint, including a recent

4 Times

of India, 18 April 1882. 2 March 1882. 6 Telegraph, 22 February 1882. 7 John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984); and John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986). 8 See, for instance, Bluford Adams, E Pluribus Barnum: The Great Showman and the Making of U.S. Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997). 9 W. P. Jolly, Jumbo (London: Constable, 1976); Les Harding, Elephant Story: Jumbo and P. T. Barnum Under the Big Top (New York: McFarland, 1999); Paul Chambers, Jumbo: The Greatest Elephant in the World (London: Andre Deutsch, 2007); and John Sutherland, Jumbo: The Unauthorised Biography of a Victorian Sensation (London: Aurum Press, 2014). 5 Telegraph,


ratings-topping television documentary and museum exhibition.10 Jumbo’s experience has provoked interest from those working in the fields of environmental history and critical animal studies (CSA).11 The story of Jumbomania, however, is worth detailed investigation from the perspective of scholars interested in popular imperialism.12 Nigel Rothfels writes that ‘to an extent we make our elephants – they are part of human culture’, and that the study of elephants, historical or otherwise, is a valuable exercise since it reveals human cultural attitudes and reflects human perceptions of themselves.13 Jumbo was both ‘gentle beast’ and ‘giant pet’.14 Humans cast him as an emblem of both imperial greatness and national fragility. Jumbo embodied the paradox of late Victorian imperialism: he was wild and tame, emblematic of both control 10 Humblebee Films, ‘Attenborough and the Giant Elephant’, BBC1, 10 December 2017, #Jumbo was one of the top five trending topics on Twitter. Jumbo was also at the heart of the Wellcome’s Making Nature exhibition (1 December 2016–21 May 2017) MakingNature [accessed 12 November 2017]. 11 Susan Nance argues that Jumbo was the ‘first international nonhuman celebrity in world history and a profoundly modern creature’; symptomatic of capitalist consumerism, Jumbo’s modernity exposed power relations between man and the natural world. Nance, Animal Modernity, 6. Jumbo features in other studies of animal histories. See Ritvo, Animal Estate, 220 and 232; Helen Cowie, Exhibiting Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Empathy, Education, Entertainment (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 9–10 and 142–54; Wilfred Blunt, The Ark in the Park: The Zoo in the Nineteenth Century (London: Hamilton, 1976), 178–88; and Robert Jones, ‘“The Sight of Creatures Strange to Our Clime”: London Zoo and the Consumption of the Exotic’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 2 (1997), 1–26. 12 Seeking to position animal agency as central to accounts of environmental, sociological, and historical study, Critical Animal Studies scholars borrow from and extend feminist and postcolonial methodologies. The struggle for animal liberation and women’s liberation shares similar theoretical standpoints and objectives, often relating to the exercise of power within patriarchal capitalist societies. Although this approach has confronted several methodological problems, not least the fact that animals do not leave their own written or oral documents for analysis (much like historically overlooked humans), the work of CAS scholars has been innovative. See Erica Fudge, ‘A Left-Handed Blow: Writing the History of Animals’, in Nigel Rothfels, ed., Representing Animals (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), 3–18; and Hilda Kean, ‘Challenges for Writing Animal-Human History: What Is Really Enough?’ Anthrozoos, 25 (2012), 57–72. 13 Nigel Rothfels, ‘Elephants, Ethics, History’, in Christen Wemmer and Catherine Christen, eds., Elephants and Ethics: Toward a Morality of Coexistence (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2008), 117. Emphasis in original. 14 Telegraph, 20 February 1882.



of the ‘savage’ and the success of the civilising mission.15 Jumbo’s African ethnicity was regularly emphasised, but he was simultaneously depicted as culturally English. The sale of the prized imperial asset was symbolic of imperial decline, exposing English economic weakness in the face of transatlantic commercial rivalry. Jumbo’s coerced Atlantic crossing, moreover, invoked slavery discourses: here was an enchained African body, naturalised by English culture, sent against its will into the service of an American known to British audiences for the indiscriminate use of the whip. It is not surprising that the intense emotional response to Jumbo’s condition tapped into contemporaneous abolitionist discourses regarding British commitments to combatting slavery in Africa. The following chapter is in three parts. The first outlines the deep reach of the Jumbomania into popular culture and explains how the elephant craze triggered intense emotional reactions, serving as a v­ehicle for the expression of patriotic sentiments. The second section analyses Jumbo as both symbol of imperial power and embodiment of ­civilising mission: Jumbo—often anthropomorphised—articulated imperial values. The final section explores Jumbomania in the context of late Victorian discourses of anti-Americanism and antislavery. Thousands spoke on behalf of Jumbo, and Jumbo was attributed a human voice. Listening to what Jumbo said (or was made to say) about Britain and its empire, and examining Jumbomania itself, exposes concerns about Britain’s condition as an imperial nation and the ethics of its foreign policy.

1   ‘Literally and Figuratively the Biggest Thing of the Season’: Jumbo and Jumbomania Jumbo was well known before ‘Jumbomania’. In his sixteen years at the zoo, he was renowned for his size, gentleness, and intelligence.16 Dignitaries—including royalty, Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt—recalled riding in the elephant’s giant howdah in their youth.17 Charles Jamrach, Britain’s premier exotic animal trader (and 15 Patrick Brantlinger, Taming Cannibals: Race and the Victorians (London: Cornell University Press, 2011), 2.  16 Matthew Scott, Jumbo’s Keeper; and, Jumbo’s Biography (Bridgeport: Trow’s, 1885), 61; and Chambers, Jumbo, 105. 17 Sutherland, Jumbo, 90.


a celebrity in his own right), emphasised Jumbo’s popularity in 1874, eight years before the mania: ‘Jumbo is as popular as the Prince of Wales … he is an English institution and national glory’.18 During Jumbomania, however, interest in the elephant peaked as Jumbo became both symbol and agent of patriotism. He embodied stubborn British resistance, sentimental attachment to nation and enthusiastic national pride. Like all sensations, Jumbomania was very much of its specific moment in time. The study of ‘sensations’ as media events most commonly focuses on responses to literary or theatrical productions, violent crime, or national scandal.19 The late Victorian period, however, was defined by a series of sentimental patriotic outbursts that merit definition as specifically empire-related ‘sensations’. The chronological combination of the new imperialism and the sensation-seeking new journalism created a context ripe for a ‘mass media’ and leisure culture that would seek to profit from stories of overseas adventure, military endeavour, and colonial drama.20 Empire-related sensations were episodic, each revealing how the press could both fuel popular imperialism yet was in turn fuelled by patriotic emotion. MacKenzie has labelled these episodes ‘bouts of popular excitement and agitation’ and lists among their number: the disappearance and death of David Livingstone; the Ashanti campaign of 1874; the Russo-Turkish war of 1878, with its famous jingoistic outburst; the Afghan and Zulu ‘disasters’ of 1879; the Egyptian and Sudanese crises of 1882, 1884-5, and 1896; the Emin Pasha relief expedition of 1887-9; the Portuguese treaty of 1890; the anxieties surrounding

18 Chambers, Jumbo, 119. On Jamrach, see Elle Larsson, ‘Charles Jamrach’s Exotic Menagerie and the Victorian Wild Animal Trade’, Animal History Museum Online. http:// [accessed 12 January 2017]. 19 See, amongst others, Kevin Williams, Get Me a Murder a Day!: A History of Media and Communication in Britain (London: Bloomsbury, 2009). 20 MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 16. On the relationship between jingoism and the newsprint media, see Simon Potter, ‘Jingoism, Public Opinion, and the New Imperialism: Newspapers and Imperial Rivalries at the fin de siècle’, Media History 20 (2014), 34–50.



the possible imperial retreat of Gladstone’s fourth ministry of 1892; the Jameson Raid; and the Boer War, among others.21

Jumbomania in 1882 more than merits inclusion in that list. Contemporaries used words such as ‘frenzy’, ‘craze’, ‘madness’, ­‘hysteria’, and ‘fervour’ to describe a situation in which the story of an elephant became the leading news item for several weeks.22 Jumbo’s patriotic love for his ‘friends’ and ‘home’ and his ‘passive resistance’ was much celebrated and narrated as representative of a patriotic attachment to the nation and its values—even if that designated ‘home’ and those values, in common with much other late Victorian language, elided England and Britain and English and British.23 Given voice in a children’s book, The Farewell of the Zoo Pet (1882), a tearful Jumbo declared in rhyme: ‘I love the brave old British flag; of it, my boys, I’ll always brag / And you must clearly understand, I do not care for Yankee-land’.24 A ‘Penitent Fellow’ of the ZSL published an open letter in the Standard: ‘I feel deeply ashamed of the unpatriotic and mercenary decision’.25 Newspaper editorials agreed: the Telegraph condemned it as a ‘really ridiculous’ decision, and the Standard berated ‘the barbarous act of selling’ a ‘friend to strangers’.26 The Pall Mall Gazette wondered if a Royal Commission should be constituted.27 By 22 March, despite significant further resistance from the elephant and his human friends— all meticulously documented by the press—the ‘expatriation of Jumbo’ was physically underway.28 Press reporting focused on the minutiae of how Jumbo was transported from zoo to ship, enchained against his will within a mobile crate, and led by a team of dray horses from Regents 21 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Introduction’, in John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 2–3. 22 Herbert Kendrick, Barnum: The Mahomet of Humbug. An Address Read before the Liverpool Philomathic Society (Liverpool: D. Marples and Co. Printers, 1933), chapter entitled ‘National Hysteria’, 3–25. 23 Standard, 21 February 1882. 24 Quoted in Ritvo, Animal Estate, 232. 25 Standard, 22 February 1882. 26 Telegraph, 2 March 1882; and Standard, 23 February 1882. 27 Pall Mall Gazette, 23 February 1882. 28 Standard, 23 February 1882; Saturday Review, 25 February 1882; and Pall Mall Gazette, 24 February 1882.


Park to the Millwall Docks (see Fig. 1). R. H. Gretton, in his chapter on 1882—entitled ‘Ireland, Egypt, and Jumbo’—in his Modern History of the English People [1913], noted, ‘Jumbo practically filled the ordinary man’s mind until … the departure took place. It was described as fully as if it had been the departure of a prince’.29 Reflecting on ‘Jumboism’ once the elephant had eventually set sail for the United States, the Era pointed out that ‘up to the present time a far more minute record has been kept of Jumbo’s doings than of the Queen’.30 This was a matter of special concern since the Queen had survived an assassination attempt earlier that month. The fanfare occasioning Jumbo’s last day in England certainly merits comparison to an elite spectacle. Thousands of people, ‘kept in order by a strong detachment of police’,31 lined the streets. Chants of ‘Groan for Barnum’ and ‘Bravo for Jumbo’ rang out. ‘Rule Britannia’ was sung and the Union flag flown.32 It is no surprise that the public was fascinated. The Times produced near-daily reports, detailing visitor numbers and updating its readers on Jumbo’s physical and psychological health. Jumbo was a ‘four-legged goldmine’ as visitor numbers to the zoo soared: in the month leading up to 18 March, 151,158 admissions had been recorded, an increase from 21,333 at the same time the previous year.33 This equated to an increase in revenue from £433 16s. 1d. to £3077 4s. 6d—enough to cover the cost of eighteen months’ feed for all the zoo’s animal population.34 Sensing an opportunity to increase readership, the Standard employed additional newsboys to sell specially printed evening editions to Londoners hungry for up-to-the-minute news.35 The Telegraph, seeking to speak on behalf of a nation reluctant to relinquish its gentle giant to an uncouth American, offered Barnum a blank cheque for the return sale of the elephant.36 Vanity Fair launched a fund to buy Jumbo 29 R. H. Gretton, A Modern History of the English People—Volume I: 1880–1898 (London: Grant Richards, 1913), 94. 30 Era, 25 March 1882. See also Chambers, Jumbo, 143. 31 Morning Post, 23 March 1882. 32 See also Telegraph, 23 March 1882; Standard, 24 March 1882; Illustrated London News, 1 April 1882; and Times, 23 March 1882. 33 Harding, Elephant Story, 48. 34 Chambers, Jumbo, 160. 35 Jolly, Jumbo, 77. 36 Telegraph, 21 and 22 March 1882.



back from Barnum—to ‘save Jumbo for the Nation’.37 Barnum declined both offers, calling British Jumbomania ‘the best advertisement in the world’ since it would better help him promote Jumbo to American audiences.38 Not even an (alleged) personal intervention from the Queen would budge Barnum, though the showman used the royal intervention to further fuel his promotional machine.39 The controversy threatened transatlantic diplomatic relations. James Lowell, the American minister in London, complained that ‘the only burning question between England and America is Jumbo’.40 Jumbo’s fate was raised in Parliament, and the legality of his sale considered in Chancery. Such was the extent of public affection for Jumbo that—when Justice Chitty adjudicated that the sale was legitimate—one correspondent reported that ‘the breath of thousands of worthy people hung upon the decision of the Judge, and thousands of lips are now declaring the name of Chitty is synonymous with injustice [and a] lack of humanity and patriotism’.41 Jumbomania was clearly fed by a press hungry to report on sensation, and that sensation was fed by—and fed into—Victorian consumer and performance culture. Describing human behaviour, Funny Folks captured the bewilderment of many observers: ‘The Jumbo topic continues to be literally and figuratively the biggest thing of the season … the whole thing is more zoo than logical’ (italics in original).42 So intense was the sensation that, in the words of a bemused columnist in the Spectator: ‘London went crazy … elephants appeared on note-paper, on wall-paper, on antimacassars, in ivory, in metal, in cakes, in butter, everywhere that they could possibly be placed, and especially in inappropriate situations’. The paper thought the person who ‘christened his son “Jumbo” … ought to be fined’.43 Jumbo’s fans sent him cakes, buns, and oysters.44 The craze influenced fashion for men and women, including Jumbo

37 Blunt,

Ark in the Park, 181. Elephant Story, 44; Nance, Animal Modernity, 25; and Kendrick, Barnum,

38 Harding,

20–21. 39 Telegraph, 20 February 1882. 40 Pall Mall Gazette, 2 March 1882; and Daily News, 7 March 1882. 41 Quoted in Jolly, Jumbo, 77. 42 Funny Folks, 15 March 1882. 43 Spectator, 25 March 1882. 44 Telegraph, 16 March 1882.


hats, coats, cravats, earrings, brooches, neckties, fans, and dresses.45 The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News thought the woman who sent Jumbo some of her wedding cake had ‘gone too far’, adding ‘the confines of idiocy have been crossed’.46 Jumbo received thousands of personally addressed letters, along with seasickness pills to help with the Atlantic crossing.47 Several topical references to Jumbo were noted in reviews of the Easter pantomimes, including a humorous song—an ‘immense hit’—in Robinson Crusoe at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (a performance the Prince and Princess of Wales attended).48 Music hall comedians, including the Great Vance and Charles Murray, made well-publicised humour out of public outrage in their skits.49 Jumbo’s story inspired popular music hall songs. Jumbo’s Jinks; The Jumbo and Alice Polka played on Jumbo’s relationship with his ‘little wife’. G. H. MacDermott’s, Why Part with Jumbo, the Pet of the Zoo? responded rapidly to the craze, its first performance dated only a few days after Jumbo’s refusal to be transported.50 G. W. Hunt, who had produced the music for MacDermott’s 1878 War Song that introduced the exclamation ‘By Jingo’ into the national lexicon during the conflict with Russia in the Balkans, composed his own song, Jumbo, Jumbo, Jumbo.51 According to advertisements in the theatrical press, it was Hunt’s ‘greatest success in songwriting’.52 It was no surprise that ‘Jumbo’ and ‘Jingo’ became synonymous terms. ‘I have a shrewd suspicion’, wrote the sketch writer in the Penny 45 Harding,

Elephant Story, 48. Sporting and Dramatic News, 11 March 1882. 47 Jolly, Jumbo, 81–82. 48 Standard, 2 March 1882; Lloyd’s Illustrated, 5 March 1882; Daily News, 27 February 1882; and Era, 4 March 1882. On pantomime as topical referencing to imperialism more generally, see Peter Yeandle, ‘Performing the Other on the Popular London Stage: Exotic People and Places in Victorian Pantomime’, in Tiziana Morosetti, ed., Staging the Other in Nineteenth-Century British Drama (Bern: Peter Lang, 2015), 125–52. 49 Era, 4 and 11 March 1882, 1 April 1882. 50 Era, 25 February 1882; Graphic, 29 April 1882; Jolly, Jumbo, 70; and Michael Diamond, Victorian Sensation: Or The spectacular, the Shocking, and the Scandalous in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London: Anthem, 2003), 281–84 51 See Jeffrey Richards, Imperialism and Music: Britain, 1876–1953 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), 325–26. 52 See advertisement in the Era, 25 March. See also advertisements on the 11th and 18th. 46 Illustrated



Illustrated Paper once Jumbo had set sail, that ‘now one can regard the expatriated elephant in a cool frame of mind – that “Jumboism” is akin to “Jingoism”’.53 ‘Jumboism’ was indeed equivalent to ‘Jingoism’, according to the Times of India, because the arrogance of ‘a Yankee showman’ was ‘an outrage to the British flag’ and was ‘too much for the pride of John Bull’.54 Jumbomania clearly merits inclusion in any list of late Victorian sensations. MacKenzie claims it ‘would be a mistake … to concentrate too much on these imperial climacterics’ and ‘dramatic displays of chauvinistic emotion’, because they ‘were merely the surface ripples, occasionally whipped up into storms, of a much deeper intellectual and social current’.55 Naturally, emotional outbursts such as these can only exist if they tap into deeper (though not always explicit) discourses of home, nation, and empire. This essay, however, argues that deep analysis of public responses to a specific sensation can be valuable. Analysis of emotional displays of sentimental attachments, even if fleeting and exaggerated through the lens of a hyperbolic media, nonetheless help us interrogate the imperial dynamics of those imperial discourses in precise moments of time. As Richard Fulton has shown in his study of the ‘Sudan Sensation’ of 1898, seemingly overemotional outpourings can be used to read ‘serial entertainment’ as political commentary and therefore as speculative indicators of public opinion.56 Moreover, whereas most late Victorian patriotic sensations were inspired by military events occurring overseas, Jumbo was a physical embodiment of imperialism at the heart of empire. That Jumbomania precipitated emotional responses like the national grief articulated in response to heroic deaths (such as those of Livingstone or Gordon) signifies its importance as a manifestation of an imperialism defined more by civilising mission than conquest. Jumbomania is especially significant because it revealed imperial attitudes to empire and the exercise of global power before the partition of Africa.

53 Penny

Illustrated Paper, 1 April 1882. of India, 18 April 1882. 55 MacKenzie, ‘Introduction’, 17. 56 Richard Fulton, ‘The Sudan Sensation of 1898’, Victorian Periodicals Review 42 (2009), 37 and 59. 54 Times


2   ‘Tamed, Dare We Say Civilised?’: Jumbo as Imperial Metaphor The ZSL intended its ‘star’ animals ‘to be viewed as metonyms for imperial triumph’.57 Jumbo’s story bears this out. In a mock-up of a new national coat of arms, Dieu et Mon Jumbo, Fun replaced the Lion with the elephant: ‘On account of the national interest … we presume the “British Lion” is for now forgotten’.58 Fun’s intent may have been to mock Jumbomania, yet its satire is suggestive. As Susan Nance explains, ‘extraordinary animals had long served as emblems of imperial, monarchical, or national power’.59 Possession of the largest elephants connoted imperial prestige; the recent displays of elephants during Victoria’s investiture as Empress of India, the Prince of Wales’s Indian tour of 1875–6 and the 1877 Delhi Durbar would have been fresh in public memory.60 Newspapers associated Jumbo’s size with his status as a prized imperial asset. According to the Telegraph, he was ‘certainly the largest of his race in Europe, and is believed to be the largest captive specimen either in Africa or Asia’.61 The Standard, over the course of the sensation, repeatedly reminded its readers of Jumbo’s phenomenal size: Jumbo ‘overtops the stature of his species by nearly two feet and a quarter, and is more colossal than the beast with which Caesar terrified the Britons’. He was the ‘largest beast of his kind ever yet known in captivity’ and the ‘most valuable’, according to a letter received from the renowned elephant hunter Samuel Baker.62 Size clearly mattered because size lent prestige: indeed, Barnum only sought to purchase Jumbo in the first place because he was the biggest of his kind and therefore the most commercially attractive. Jumbo’s stature embodied the power of the imperial possession; his sale the loss of that power.

57 Jones,

‘“Sight of Creatures Strange to Our Clime”’, 5. 15 March 1882. 59 Nance, Animal Modernity, 11. 60 Sutherland, Jumbo, 91–93. See H. Hazel Hahn, ‘Indian Princes, Dancing Girls and Tigers: The Prince of Wales’ Tour of India and Ceylon, 1875–6’, Postcolonial Studies 12 (2009), 173–92. 61 Telegraph, 20 February 1882. 62 Standard, 21 February 1882, 7 March 1882, and 22 March 1882. 58 Fun,



Jumbo’s ‘home’ was London zoo, an institution described as a living ‘exhibition of empire’ and ‘a national and imperial forum’.63 The ZSL, according to Harriet Ritvo, was ‘the emblem of British dominion over its colonial empire’: emblematic of global power through control of geographical and environmental diversity and at the forefront of both the scientific examination of the natural world and the consumption of exotic animals as leisure spectacle.64 The gathering of hundreds of different species from the world over in one setting meant ‘the empire was’, in Helen Cowie’s summary, ‘in a very tangible sense, brought home’.65 Contemporaries certainly thought so: the Times described the ZSL as ‘the thriving colony over which Mr Bartlett presides’.66 If the Times’s use of ‘colony’ was ambiguous, for colony might also mean settlement of people outside their own place of origin, then there was no ambiguity in the Daily News: The Queen’s rule is as extensive over the races of beasts as of men. Every sort of wild creature in every zone, from the Arctic regions to the tropics, and from the tropics to the Antarctic, inhabits her Empire. A visit to the Zoological Gardens illustrates the variety of fauna which we may count in a certain sense as our fellow subjects.67

Accounts by travel writers and information about popular explorer heroes had helped fill the ‘cartographic blankness’ that once characterised British knowledge of the continent of Africa.68 New knowledge of the ‘dark continent’ was given physical form by natural history museums, theatres, and zoological exhibitions. Zoos not only showcased specimens but sought through guidebooks, souvenirs, and enclosure design to educate visitors about the landscape and cultures from which the animals derived.69 Jumbo—‘the finest animal in the world in the finest city in the 63 Sarah Amato, Beastly Possessions: Animals in Victorian Consumer Culture (Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2015), 106–7. 64 Ritvo, Animal Estate, 231. 65 Cowie, Exhibiting Animals, 5 66 Times, 11 April 1882. 67 Quoted in Amato, Beastly Possessions, 114. 68 Robbie McLaughlin, Reimagining the ‘Dark Continent’ in Fin de Siècle Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 10. 69 Helen Cowie, ‘“An Attractive and Amusing Place of Resort”: Zoos, Community, and Civic Pride in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, Cultural and Social History 12 (2015),


world’—was understood to be an imperial body at home in an imperial institution.70 Zoos exhibited more than British power over the natural world, however. They also signified how the British were able to domesticate the exotic, bringing the wildness of the world under control by transforming wild beasts ‘into imperial subjects’.71 Jumbo’s refusal to leave the zoo was understood at the time as a patriotic display of pride in home, nation, and his fellow British imperial subjects. He exhibited ‘almost human distress … at the separation of him from his home and family’, according to the Times, ‘and appealed in all but human words’ to stay.72 ‘He won’t go’, reported the Pall Mall Gazette, because he ‘is evidently as unwilling to part with his London friends as they, if they have any sense or feeling, will be desolate at the thought of losing him’.73 Jumbo was one of ‘most intelligent and moral of brutes’, according the Standard. ‘He understands words of command, appreciates kindness, forgets injuries, and has a keen memory for old friends’. The next day, the paper explained that the ‘love of London’ exhibited by zoo animals—labelled ‘compatriots’—accounts for why they are ‘tamed—dare we say civilised’.74 The Illustrated London News dealt with Jumbo’s ethnicity and cultural assimilation directly: ‘Born in Africa, he is a Londoner by youthful education and friendly associations’.75 The Telegraph explained in more detail how an African elephant could become ‘Englished’ (note the uptake and adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, which had provoked a cultural sensation only a few years previously): Even the African descent of Jumbo has not prevented him from being taken to our hearts. His reluctance to leave appeals to our best prejudices. It is gratifying to find that patriotism has penetrated his pachydermatous

365–84. See also Amato, Beastly Possessions, 132–34; and Nigel Rothfels, Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2002), 81–142. 70 Standard, 23 February 1882. 71 Amato, Beastly Possessions, 114. 72 Times, 21 February 1882; and Telegraph, 20 February 1882. 73 Pall Mall Gazette, 21 February 1882. 74 Standard, 21 and 22 February 1882. 75 Illustrated London News, 25 February 1882.



hide, and that, though – ‘he might have been a Rooshan, a Frenchmen, Turk, or, Prooshan, or perhaps, Italian, yet in spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations, he remains an English’ – elephant … Constant intercourse with a kindly people, occasional visits from members of the most occupied Legislature in the world, the patronage of our Princes, and the exhilarating neighbourhood of a vast metropolis have so ‘Englished’ him that he belongs to us and may be called naturalised.76

Jumbo’s assimilation into the host culture (note once more the elision of English and British), and frequent displays of patriotic credentials, meant that his emotions could be deployed as representative of human feelings. Indeed, Jumbo’s civilisation and ‘almost human’ characteristics enabled humans to identify with him and share in his emotional life. The notion that Jumbo was capable of sharing and expressing human sentiment was not improbable in the context of late Victorian knowledge of elephant psychology. When Darwin published his groundbreaking The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals (1872), in part researched by the observation of elephant enclosures at the ZSL, he argued that humans and nonhuman animals not only shared feelings but shared the physical means by which to express those emotions.77 Darwin observed that facial and bodily responses in man and animal revealed five dominating emotions affecting both: fear, disgust, anger, sadness, and happiness. He also considered surprise, grief, joy, love, grumpiness, and hatred to be secondary emotions that man and animal might share.78 Jumbo displayed a full range of human-animal emotion, but representations of him emphasised his sadness as the embodiment of a collective grief and his love of family (see next section) as indicative of

76 Telegraph, 23 February 1882. On the use of Pinafore as linguistic shorthand for debates about empire, see Derek Scott, ‘English National Identity and the Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan’, in Peter Horton and Bennett Zon, eds., Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies: Volume III (London: Routledge, 2017), 137–52. 77 Ritvo, Animal Estate, 39. 78 Charles Darwin, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animal (London: John Murray, 1872), 167. See Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals (London: Jonathan Cape, 1994). On the evidence of Peta Tait’s study of nineteenth and early twentieth-century circuses and zoos, animal handlers and keepers were aware of how to manipulate animal emotions in their training. Tait, Wild and Dangerous Performances: Animals, Emotions, Circus (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 26–29.


his humanity. A tearful anthropomorphised Jumbo was given a full-page feature in the Moonshine series on ‘Days with Celebrities’.79 A cartoon strip in Fun was divided into two scenes: ‘The Departure – grief, grief, grief’ in which humanlike elephants are shown hysterically weeping as an enchained Jumbo is led away, and ‘The Return – Joy!! Joy!! Joy!!’ depicting a freed Jumbo, embracing trunks and dancing with happiness.80 He wrote in the first person in the mainstream and satirical press. His adaptation of well-known songs and literature playfully underpinned his cultural Englishness. He rewrote Shakespeare for Moonshine: Wolsey’s monologue in Henry VIII, ‘A long farewell to all my greatness’, was recast as Jumbo mourned his loss of influence and relegation to crude circus employee.81 In ‘Jumbo’s Lament’, published in Punch, the weeping elephant is pictured playing the trumpet and singing a variation of the abolitionist hymn ‘Why did my master sell me?’ Jumbo sings of being ‘doom[ed] to exile far away … Will they, devoid of pity / haul me away with winches / force me, without compunction / far from my well-loved zoo’?82 Although these examples from the satirical press allude to a certain incredulity, they nonetheless amplified Jumbo’s status as sentient creature capable of expressing and sharing human emotion.83 Jumbo’s patriotism was both rational and visceral. As an imperial object and civilised subject, he was both symbol of patriotism and vehicle of patriotic emotion for others. This is significant when Jumbomania is analysed as a mirror of contemporaneous attitudes to the United States and slavery. Indeed, Jumbo’s imputed anti-Americanism enabled him to be positioned as an abolitionist—such as was expressed in his ‘Lament’— embodying a distinctive set of imperial values. While the loss of Jumbo conjured explicit fears of the ‘weary titan’ being overtaken commercially by the United States, Jumbomania also evoked antislavery discourses, which was significant given anxieties in the early 1880s about the moral purpose of the British empire, especially Britain’s role in pre-partition Africa.84 79 Moonshine,

11 March 1882. 8 March 1882. 81 Moonshine, 18 March 1882. 82 Punch, 18 March 1882. 83 On Jumbo as sentient creature, and the ramifications of that for questions of animal agency, Susan Nance’s Animal Modernity is invaluable. 84 Daily News, 23 February 1882. 80 Fun,



3   ‘Black as I Am’: Discourses of Slavery and Humanitarian Imperialism Jumbo, born Sudanese, was thus depicted as exhibiting patriotic English personality traits because he had successfully integrated into London life and customs. Nowhere was this seeming paradox of wild-but-civilised more explicit than in depictions of the giant elephant as threatened with enslavement. Imagery of a manacled African body resisting forced transportation across the Atlantic was bound to invoke comparisons to transatlantic slavery. Accounts of Jumbo’s figurative enslavement deliberately played on public fears about animal cruelty and fed into British anxieties about the rise of the United States as a competitor nation. The previous section included some examples of how the satirical press used pastiche and comedic cartoon to exaggerate both Jumbo’s emotional well-being and his supporters’ sentimental attachment to him. The naturalism of representation evident in Figs. 1 and 2, however, depicts Jumbo’s pain at his coerced confinement in the mainstream graphic press. In Fig. 2, Jumbo is shown in chains as Barnum’s agents try to strongarm him into a transportation box. Other illustrations emphasised Jumbo’s resistance to attempts to enchain him, depicting him bound as he is dragged against his will through the streets of London and hoisted aboard ship.85 Newspapers described multiple attempts to restrain Jumbo, giving detailed accounts of ‘chains around his back’, ‘iron grips’, ‘shackles on his legs’ and face, and resultant scars and injuries to face, trunk, and torso.86 Some zoo visitors were witness to these repeated attempts at incarceration. Once initial efforts to manoeuvre him into the transportation crate had failed, Barnum’s men decided to leave Jumbo in chains in full view of tens of thousands of visitors.87 The Telegraph wrote that the ZSL had ‘doomed this gentle beast to slavery’.88 The Pall Mall Gazette, in a particularly evocative passage, asked: ‘Is he to be turned out to tramp the world homeless and unbefriended, the mere chattel of a wandering showman? What a reward for

85 Illustrated

Sporting and Dramatic News, 1 April; and Graphic, 1 April. detailed descriptions, see Chambers, Jumbo, 53; and Harding, Elephant Story, 59. 87 Standard, 22 March 1882. 88 Telegraph, 2 March 1882. 86 For


Fig. 2  ‘The Attempted Removal of Jumbo from the Zoological Gardens’, Graphic, 25 February 1882 (Author’s collection)



old and tried service! What a commentary on our pennyworths of insincere affection!’89 The power of representing Jumbo’s emotional understanding of his situation was deliberately enhanced by his faux marital status. Jumbo’s ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ allowed the press not only to exaggerate his human emotions but also to draw further parallels to the enslavement of Africans via the Atlantic trade. Jumbo was not the only African elephant in London’s zoo. Alice arrived in London in 1865, only a few months after Jumbo. Like Jumbo, she was captured in the Sudan as a calf. It was hoped that they might breed. She was regularly referred to as his ‘little wife’, a moniker seemingly designed to make her as popular to visitors as her giant ‘husband’. The two elephants were apparently fond of one another, but the keepers became convinced there would be no offspring.90 Nonetheless, once Jumbomania was underway, Jumbo and Alice’s relationship was used to bolster emotional demands for Jumbo’s retention. Funny Folks published several cartoon strips under the title: ‘Sold into Slavery’. Alice had given birth and cared for the calves while Jumbo went to work, thus completing Jumbo’s transition from savage animal to breadwinning family man. As Jumbo was wrenched from home, the cartoon strip depicted a grieving widow and distraught fatherless children.91 The illustrated press pictured Alice in a widow’s cap, deliberately evoking Queen Victoria’s mourning after the death of Prince Albert.92 Music hall songs also adopted the theme: The Jumbo and Alice Polka invoked the story of ‘a hero and heroine in tears’, torn apart by factors beyond their control.93 Their relationship was at its most evocative, however, when set in the context of slavery. Another Victorian sensation, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was co-opted to invite comparison to the forced separation of slave families. Matthew Scott, Jumbo’s keeper at the zoo, recalled in his autobiography the separation of ‘the poor slaves’ (he likened them to his children): ‘I assure you that no parent, seeing his son and daughter sold to separate owners in the slave-market of South Carolina, and torn apart, one to go to one place and the other to another, could have suffered more 89 Pall

Mall Gazette, 21 February 1882. Jumbo, 70–74. 91 Funny Folks, beginning 4 March 1882. 92 See Penny Illustrated, 25 March 1882. 93 Graphic, 29 April 1882. 90 Chambers,


heart-rending pain and fear than my soul underwent on that occasion’.94 ‘When a southern slave owner put in force his legal right of separating a family at the auction block’, wrote the Standard correspondent, ‘the world rang with anathema against the inhumanity of the deed. Surely, to tear this aged brute from a home to which he is attached … is scarcely less cruel’. The next day, the paper invoked the sale of Tom: ‘The scene reminds us of Mr Selby disposing of Uncle Tom’.95 Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, originally published in 1852, had sold more copies in Britain than America; according to Douglas Lorimer, it was ‘the most widely-read moral tract and textbook on nineteenth-century race relations’.96 As Richard Huzzey explains, ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin created a phenomenon that amazed contemporaries and has intrigued cultural historians’. Within a year, the book had sold ‘1,500,000 copies in Britain and her colonies … British society embraced hundreds of derivative books, theatrical adaptations, lectures about the novel, Staffordshire figurines of Stowe’s characters, toy theatres, Uncle Tom wallpaper, and Topsy dolls’.97 Uncle Tom mania reinforced the link between British antislavery and anti-Americanism in the mid-nineteenth century.98 Literary reprints and theatrical adaptations remained popular for decades, as British abolitionists mobilised the text as a resource in their campaigns demanding intervention in Africa in the late 1870s and 1880s. It is reasonable to assume that when Uncle Tom was related to Jumbomania, the British public would understand the allusion.99 That Jumbo for some symbolised Britain relinquishing its mantle as imperial titan by giving up its prize asset to a former colony and commercial rival was clearly significant.100 Commentators 94 Scott,

Jumbo’s Keeper, 68. 20 and 21 February 1882. 96 Douglas Lorimer, Colour, Class and the Victorians: English Attitudes to the Negro in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1978), 82. 97 Richard Huzzey, Freedom Burning: Anti-slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012), 21. 98 Sarah Meer, Uncle Tom Mania: Slavery, Minstrelsy, and Transatlantic Culture in the 1850s (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005), 202. 99 Diamond, Victorian Sensation, 221. 100 At the time of Jumbomania, papers were reporting on how British export trade was hamstrung by American protectionist policies. British free traders attacked protectionism ‘on a politico-moral basis’, according to Edmund Rogers, ‘adducing the United States as proof of the corrupting effects of tariffs on democracy and liberal values’. Rogers, 95 Standard,



were quick to couch their disappointment over the imminent loss of Jumbo in an anti-American frame. In a clear nod to American failures to enforce emancipation legislation, the Standard described Jumbo as ‘devoid of civil rights’.101 Funny Folks mocked American ‘I-dollartry’.102 In Jumbo’s ‘diary’, published in Punch, he positioned himself as an English aristocrat pitched against Barnum’s savage.103 One letter-writer was aghast at the ‘refined cruelty’ to which Jumbo would be subjected, pointing out that ‘the almighty dollar can buy up a deal in Europe, but we must not let it assert itself to the extent of purchasing our bit of humanity’.104 By framing Jumbo’s plight in the context of animal cruelty and slavery, however, Jumbomania highlighted the moral dynamic of British anti-Americanism. Fears that Jumbo was be subjected to brutality were widespread. Barnum was alleged to mistreat circus animals, which the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News and other papers declared ‘would not be tolerated in this country’.105 Barnum sent William Newman, aka ‘Elephant Bill’, to London to secure Jumbo’s transport; yet Newman stoked immediate animosity when—in response to Jumbo’s refusal to leave the zoo—he insisted that ‘Jumbo is to go to New York’ whether ‘Living or Dead’.106 Barnum’s agent, James Davis, did not help matters: in a letter published in the Morning Post, Davis explained that the British ‘definition of cruelty is not quite the same as ours’, since Americans used chains and starvation methods to break the will of their elephants (‘fasten him up and keep him on a short diet’).107 The Telegraph reassured its readers that Jumbo had been

‘The United States and the Fiscal Debate in Britain, 1873–1913’, Historical Journal 50 (2007), 596. 101 Standard, 7 March 1882. This was a timely reference given ongoing debate in America about immigration and citizenship that would take legislative form in the Chinese Exclusion Act that became law a few months later. See Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2014). 102 Funny Folks, 11 March 1882. 103 Punch, 4 March 1882. 104 Standard, 22 February 1882. 105 Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 11 March 1882; and Standard, 23 February 1882; and Daily News, 1882. 106 Telegraph, 22 March 1882. 107 Morning Post, 10 March 1882.


supplied ‘with a copy of Martin’s Act, and is aware of his privileges’.108 Martin’s Act, made law in Britain in 1822, made it a criminal offence deliberately to inflict cruelty on domesticated animals. Contrasted to the cruel American, Jumbo’s British keeper Scott was depicted as a paragon of virtue. Emphasis was placed on how he refused to use the whip.109 So intense was public fury at the thought of Jumbo’s vulnerability to American violence, that the ZSL felt compelled to assuage public concern by recruiting a member of the RSPCA to oversee Jumbo’s transfer from zoo to dock and to travel with him aboard the ship.110 The fusion of Uncle Tom mania and Jumbomania served to reinforce British moral superiority over Americans. The appropriation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin is significant when understood in the context of debates about the extent of Britain’s commitment to the abolition of the slave trade in Africa. Those reading about Jumbo in the newspapers would also have been reading about concurrent diplomatic incidences in Egypt and the Sudan, as bulletins provided updates about the elephant alongside news on ‘the Egyptian question’.111 In early 1882, Britain was entangled in attempts to subdue the trade in humans in Egypt and the Sudan. The 1877 Anglo-Egyptian Convention, which attempted to halt slavery in Egypt and the Sudan, met with mixed results: it was clear to many that Britain’s allies were not doing enough. A naval blockade prevented trade across the Red Sea, but thousands of men and women were being trafficked overland through the Sudan. Colonel—later General—Gordon had not only failed to suppress the trade in the Sudan, but resentment against European intervention had fostered support for the Islamic Mahdist revolution there. Indeed, Gordon—who would after his death in 1885 come to be immortalised as an antislavery campaigner in another episode of intense emotional patriotism—had earlier ‘found himself vilified for his un-English compromise with slavery’ when he had proposed recruiting the notorious slave trader Zobeir to rule in Britain’s interest in the Sudan.112 Mahdist forces had defeated 108 Telegraph,

23 February 1882. 7 March 1882. 110 Chambers, Jumbo, 146–47. 111 Morning Post, 17 March 1882; Daily News, 23 February 1882; Standard, 21 February 1882; and Pall Mall Gazette, 7 March 1882. 112 Huzzey, Freedom Burning, 161. See also William Mulligan, ‘British Anti-slave Trade and Anti-slavery Policy in East Africa, Arabia, and Turkey in the Late Nineteenth Century’, 109 Standard,



the British-backed Egyptians in December 1881, and—to much alarm— Egyptian leaders resorted to purchasing slaves to rebuild their military. By February 1882, Urabi Pasha had taken control of Egypt, an act of rebellion that led to direct if reluctant British involvement. As Jumbo was crossing the Atlantic in early April, British gunships were headed towards the Egyptian coast; a few months later in July, the bombardment of Alexandria had begun; and within the year, British forces had occupied Egypt. Antislavery measures were enforced, but the Mahdist uprising proved difficult to defeat. It was by no means clear in early 1882 that the primary impetus for British intervention in north and east Africa was a moral commitment to abolition; it was only afterwards that British action was characterised as primarily humanitarian. Whereas news about Jumbo was often explicitly framed in the context of slavery, reports from Egypt and the Sudan tended to focus on economic, diplomatic, geostrategic, and political issues; slavery was only rarely mentioned. Indeed, so intense was Jumbomania that the Anti-Slavery Reporter, mouthpiece for the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS), bemoaned that the African elephant received more media attention than the plight of the African people.113 The Reporter’s May 1882 edition, for instance, reproduced a speech by Robert Felkin, a prominent explorer, missionary and antislavery activist. Felkin outlined the ‘horrors’ of the slave trade in equatorial Africa, urging British intervention and public support, but sombrely concluded: Yet the people of England would not assert themselves. If they heard of Jumbo’s leaving the Zoological Gardens, the newspapers were filled with the occurrence, and a reporter was sent out to see if he slept on the voyage. The newspapers would, however, only devote a few lines to the Slave Trade. Could no words move the people of England when thousands of

in Brendan Simms and D. J. B Trim, eds., Humanitarian Intervention: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 271–74. 113 The BFASS, founded in 1839, ‘was neither the first nor the only anti-slavery body but it was the only one to survive into the 1870s’ and beyond. Suzanne Miers, Britain and the Ending of the Slave Trade (London: Longman, 1975), 31.

70  P. YEANDLE their brothers and sisters were suffering inhuman horrors, or were their hearts of stone?114

Abolitionist societies were not alone in making such observations. At a meeting of the British Association in August 1882, Ernst Georg Ravenstein presented the Royal Geographical Society’s new map of ‘Eastern Equatorial Africa’ and emphasised David Livingstone’s importance as antislavery activist as well as explorer. Ravenstein invoked Jumbo’s Sudanese heritage in wishing that more people were aware of his fellow Africans: ‘It might be some consolation to Jumbo if the money we received from him were spent in increasing our knowledge of the land of his birth’.115 It would appear from such accounts that public fascination with Jumbo’s sale did not increase knowledge of or concern about the trade of human Africans. It could be argued, however, that Jumbomania was part of an entrenched abolitionist discourse that presupposed that intervention in Africa had to be humanitarian—part of that civilising mission of which Jumbo was an exemplar. There is insufficient space in this essay to offer detailed analysis of the debate about what motivated British involvement in pre-partition Africa, but some recent research suggesting that a moral commitment to antislavery shaped emotional justifications for intervention is worth noting. Indeed, it is only relatively recently that historians have begun to apportion equal significance to the moral dynamics of public opinion in determining intervention alongside, rather than instead of, economic and geostrategic factors. The chronological and geographical boundaries of the abolition movement have been expanded, in Amalia Ribi Forclaz’s words, to include scholarly analysis of ‘the interdependent and mutually formative relationship between antislavery activism and imperialism in Britain’.116 Joanna Lewis’s work on the intellectual culture and popular memory of David Livingstone connects histories of 114 The

Anti-Slavery Reporter 2, no. 5 (May 1882), 140. 28 August 1882. 116 Amalia Ribi Forclaz, Humanitarian Imperialism: The Politics of Antislavery Activism, 1880–1940 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 3. See also the special issue ‘Empire and Humanitarianism’ in the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 40 (2012); Kevin Grant, A Civilised Savagery: Britain and the New Slaveries in Africa, 1884–1926 (London: Routledge, 2005); Seymour Drescher, ‘Emperors of the World: British Abolitionism and Imperialism’, in Derek Peterson, ed., Abolitionism and Imperialism in Britain, Africa, and the Atlantic (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2010), 144–46. 115 Times,



the emotions to histories of popular imperialism. For Lewis, ‘the imperial policy of intervention in Africa needed to manipulate human emotion’; ‘public opinion could easily be ignited’ by those advocating intervention if they cited evidence that ‘Britain’s duty in Africa – humanitarianism – was being neglected’.117 Although abolitionists were dismayed that there was no wide-scale media outrage about slavery, there was—as the frequent reference to Uncle Tom and the willingness to identify Jumbo as at risk of becoming a slave testify—a prevailing mood in which the British remained horrified by the trade, although that horror was more commonly expressed through greater knowledge of the Atlantic trade rather than its ongoing practice in Africa. Indeed, Lewis argues persuasively that the ‘emotional economy’ of the Victorian period sustained a ‘popular understanding of an empire of Christian duty, humanitarianism and heroic sacrifice’ and that, once mobilised, this emotional economy was able to explain British action in colonial Africa as predominantly moral.118 On the evidence presented thus far in this essay, it could be argued that Jumbomania was part of that emotional economy. Although he was African, and notwithstanding the fact that his home at the zoo was a cage, representations of Jumbo did not depict him as a slave so much as under threat of being made one. Thus, Jumbo could be positioned as a critic of slavery for two reasons. First, he was an African who had become civilised and thus embodied the menace of the slave trade; his imminent oceanic crossing connected him to vivid public memories of the Atlantic trade specifically. Second, Jumbo’s acculturation gave him an abolitionist voice. In one example, Jumbo’s civilisation was completed by his elision with David Livingstone—perhaps Britain’s most famous ­antislavery activist. Readers of Funny Folks were expected to draw comparisons between Jumbo and Livingstone. The cartoon ‘Jumbo among the Yankees’ reconstructed the famous meeting between Livingstone and Stanley. Jumbo was positioned as the abolitionist humanitarian while Barnum, in the role of the fame-hungry Stanley, welcomed the elephant 117 Joanna Lewis, Empire of Sentiment: The Death of David Livingstone and the Myth of Victorian Imperialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 13 and 16. See also Joanna Lewis, ‘Empires of Sentiment; Intimacies from Death: David Livingstone and African Slavery “at the heart of the nation”’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 42 (2015), 210–37. 118 Lewis, Empire of Sentiment, 57.


to New York with the words: ‘Mr Jumbo, I presume’.119 Livingstone’s legacy had been mobilised to confirm British perceptions of themselves as moral arbiters. Berny Sèbe maintains that the ‘full use of the evocative power of the Livingstone legend’ was mobilised in the early 1880s ‘in support of British imperial intervention’ in Egypt.120 As John MacKenzie explains in an essay on imperial heroes, it was only decades after his death that Livingstone became ‘the harbinger and patron of the partition of Africa’; before that, biographies and other cultural artefacts were ‘concerned primarily’ to document his ‘campaign against slavery and continued geographical exploration’.121 Jumbo could be used to depict both the African at risk of being sold into slavery and the abolitionist. Among hundreds of letters to the Standard from outraged members of the public, the paper includes an ‘epistle’ penned by Jumbo himself: ‘I am quite English now. The Queen knows me, but she has so much on her mind at present I do not like to trouble her with my case, or I might ask her if she did not think, as I did, that no one, though he may be black, as I am, is to be made or sold as a slave where she reigns’.122 This ‘epistle’ confirms both Jumbo’s blackness but also—‘I am quite English now’—his cultural integration. Jumbomania clearly provided emotional space for humanitarian justifications for imperial intervention. Situated on a continuum between the deaths of Livingstone and Gordon, it was the affection for Jumbo as well as Jumbo’s patriotic displays of affection for Britain—and by extension its citizens and its empire—that meant that when he spoke it was in the voice of imperial Britain. Abolitionist campaigners may have lamented the lack of direct newspaper coverage of the trade in humans in Africa, but Jumbo nonetheless was positioned as an advocate for their cause.

119 Funny

Folks, 22 April 1882. Sèbe, ‘The Making of British and French Legends of Exploration, 1821– 1914’, in Dane Kennedy, ed., Reinterpreting Exploration: The West in the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 117. See also Berny Sèbe, Heroic Imperialists in Africa: The Promotion of British and French Colonial Heroes, 1870–1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 143–48; and Justin Livingstone, Livingstone’s Lives: A Metabiography of a Victorian Icon (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014), 84–85 and 131–33. 121 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Heroic Myths of Empire’, in John M. MacKenzie, ed., Popular Imperialism and the Military (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), 125. 122 Standard, 23 February 1882. 120 Berny



The appropriation of Jumbo’s voice confirmed colonial control: Jumbo was depicted as free, but his freedom came at the cost of his becoming unrepresentative of his homeland, his species, or others similarly suffering from a lack of defined citizenship. Domesticated and naturalised, Jumbo’s humanity embodied the principles of the civilising mission: he was a black African, but he was English, by acculturation and by choice. When Jumbo was attributed human characteristics, those characteristics did not represent his fellow Africans but rather the achievement of the imperial project. Jumbo sailed to New York on the Assyrian Monarch, a vessel that also carried around eighty Jewish refugees to the United States. Commentators were quick to point out that Jumbo and the refugees shared the status of statelessness migrants.123 Despite the emphasis on Jumbo’s forced removal from his home, his status contrasted with those fleeing persecution and seeking a new life given that all focus was on the elephant’s comfort, not that of the humans with whom he shared the journey. For Barnum, however, Jumbo was an economic migrant, not chattel labour, travelling to where his labour was most valued and where he could live and breed among other elephants in an open space rather than a cramped cage. For Barnum, Jumbo embodied that other characteristic of British imperialism: free trade and the right to move goods and workers around the globe. Nor was Jumbo representative of his species. Jumbo, despite fear of musth, was not authentically wild. His naturalisation tamed him. Emphasis on his docility reinforced his pedigree as pet, not a savage beast. Yet, there is a further irony to note. The demand for slaves in the Sudan was partly due to the demand for porters to transport ivory. Jumbomania promoted a love for all things elephant, including items manufactured from elephant bodies. Contemporaries worried that so intense was the demand for ivory from the tusks of African elephants that captive elephants would become the last examples of their kind.124 One estimate from the Animal World, the official magazine of the RSPCA, suggested that up to 25,000 African elephants lost their lives in 1882

123 Telegraph,

20 February 1882. Nigel Rothfels, ‘Killing Elephants: Pathos and Prestige in the Nineteenth Century’, in Deborah Denenholz Morse and Martin A. Danahay, eds., Victorian Animal Dreams: Representations of Animals in Victorian Literature and Culture (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 53–62. 124 See


to satisfy public demand for ivory in Britain alone.125 Connections were drawn between the famous elephant and his faceless fellow pachyderms: noting the rising price of ivory in response to increased demand during Jumbomania, several newspapers warned that ‘the race of Jumbo may ere long become as extinct as the mastodon’.126 As the Illustrated Police News noted later that year: ‘[I]f the recent national grief for the loss of one elephant, albeit the biggest of his kind, furnishes any index of human sentiment with regard to the “huge earth-shaking beast”, we may look for great sorrow and lamentation in the future, when the last Jumbo shall have fallen. Which will society elect to keep – its elephants, or its ivory knife-handles?’127 So complete was the making of Jumbo into an imperial body, however, that his mortality was also linked to the longevity of the empire itself. As noted above, the editor of Vanity Fair launched a Jumbo Defence Fund. In arguing that Jumbo should be retained by the British for reasons of national prestige, he noted that elephants live so long that Jumbo ‘will probably survive the British Empire’.128 Had he lived to his life expectancy, Jumbo would indeed have outlived the British empire in Africa. But even though he died prematurely in 1885, his celebrity endured, as he became a taxidermised exhibit still subject to the human gaze. Even in death Jumbo served entertainment purposes. But it was in life that we witness the power of emotional engagement with the elephant. The elephant craze therefore more than qualifies for inclusion in MacKenzie’s list of sentimentally charged patriotic sensations. The patriotism provoked by the Jumbomania was multifaceted: it was a patriotism specifically stirred by the possession of a unique global phenomenon and the fear of its loss, but it was also a patriotism that created emotional space for the projection and articulation of imperial values germane to the early 1880s. Jumbo was an imperial possession; he signified British control and compassion and, in doing so, justified to the British their right to rule.

125 Animal World, 151 (April 1882). On the ivory trade, see John M. MacKenzie, The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation, and British Imperialism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), 121–27. 126 Nance, Animal Modernity, 33. 127 Illustrated Police News, 16 December 1882. 128 Quoted in Jolly, Jumbo, 70.


Popular Imperialism and the Textual Cultures of Empire Justin D. Livingstone

In 1984, John MacKenzie published his influential Propaganda and Empire. Arguing for the importance of popular culture to the study of British imperialism, the book was swiftly recognised as a major intervention in reshaping the field of imperial history. Addressing sources that historians had for the most part ignored, such as popular literature, theatre, cinema, and educational texts, MacKenzie argued that imperialism constituted a dominant ideology in late-nineteenth-century Britain, and one that was deployed in a wide range of media. It was an ideology, moreover, that showed ‘extraordinary durability’, persisting in popular culture until the mid-twentieth century—a much later juncture than might be expected.1 There has, of course, been widespread recognition of MacKenzie’s reorientation of imperial history. As Berny Sèbe puts it, ‘Propaganda

1 John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), 12.

J. D. Livingstone (*)  Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



and Empire initiated a historiographical turn, emphasizing for the first time the cultural consequences of imperialism on the British Isles themselves.’2 Stuart Ward goes so far as to speak of a ‘MacKenziean moment’ in the historical discipline. At a time when imperial history was in decline, and when historians widely assumed that the British public had displayed an ‘ingrained ignorance … towards their empire’ during the imperial period, MacKenzie insisted on the intersections between ‘empire and metropolitan culture’ and paved the way for a wave of studies arguing that ‘imperialism as a cultural phenomenon had as significant an effect on the dominant as on the subordinate societies’.3 Certainly, as Cherry Leonardi points out, even critics of his approach acknowledge the widespread impact of the ‘MacKenzie school’ of imperial history.4 MacKenzie’s historiographical influence is undeniable, but it has also been much debated. This chapter, however, pursues a different approach. The aim here is to read MacKenzie from the perspective of a literary critic and to examine his work for its important contribution to the study of popular imperial literature. This chapter offers no comprehensive account of his engagement with literary sources, but rather focuses on several key interventions, while also drawing on his insights in order to sketch possibilities for future research.

1  Empire, Adventure, Environment: Popular Imperial Fiction In Propaganda and Empire, MacKenzie ranges widely in delineating forms of imperial propaganda, which he defines as those mechanisms that serve ‘the transmission of ideas and values … with the specific intention of influencing the recipients’ attitudes in such a way that the interests of its authors will be enhanced’. For literary studies, a crucial part of this work is the chapter on juvenile literature, in which he traces the emergence of writing imbued with the ‘patriotic, racial, and militarist 2 Berny Sèbe, Heroic Imperialists in Africa: The Promotion of British and French Colonial Heroes, 1870–1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 5. 3 Stuart Ward, ‘The MacKenziean Moment in Retrospect’, in Andrew S. Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 30–31. 4 Cherry Leonardi, ‘The Power of Culture and the Cultures of Power: John MacKenzie and the Study of Imperialism,’ in Andrew S. Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 49.



elements’ of the ‘new popular imperialism’.5 Identifying children’s journals as key instruments of influence, MacKenzie follows their increasing secularisation from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and their increasing inclusion of nationalist and imperialist content. Exemplified by the Boys’ Own Paper and other popular journals of the 1880s, ‘adventure stories and historical romances’ soon became mainstays of the juvenile market. MacKenzie’s discussion encompasses the growing ascendancy of boys’ authors—the likes of W. H. G. Kingston, Robert Louis Stevenson, G. A. Henty, and R. M. Ballantyne—whose work frequently featured colonial settings. Adventure writers, many of whom had ‘experience of colonial life’, became ‘exemplars’ as well as ‘propagandists’, acting as ‘recruiters’ to the military and colonial service and promoting ‘nationalist and patriotic ideals’.6 In addressing these developments, MacKenzie places emphasis on the media revolution of the late nineteenth century. The growing popularity of imperial-themed literature lay partly in expanded literacy and more efficient publishing, which together brought a new popular readership into existence. It was further facilitated by the rise of publishers such as Thomas Nelson, Blackie and Son, and Macmillan, who made these genres their speciality, while the ‘prize system’ used by schools and Sunday schools functioned as a key mechanism of distribution.7 Since over thirty years have passed since the publication of Propaganda and Empire, there are inevitably aspects of MacKenzie’s analysis that contemporary scholarship might question. For instance, his approach to popular literature could seem instrumentalist. Ward observes that MacKenzie’s early work—and the first volumes in the Studies in Imperialism series—tended to read popular culture as an effective means of ‘social control’. Influenced by contemporary formulations of a ‘dominant ideology’ thesis and Gramscian political theory, MacKenzie employed a vocabulary that posits a strategic, ‘conscious and deliberate’ effort to orchestrate public opinion.8 Today, literary scholars tend to resist such an approach and argue for a less straightforward deployment of ideology in popular forms. Current reader-response approaches,

5 MacKenzie,

Propaganda and Empire, 3 and 199. Propaganda and Empire, 203 and 207–8. 7 MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 199, 206, and 209. 8 Ward, ‘MacKenziean Moment’, 42; and MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 3. 6 MacKenzie,


moreover, highlight the subtleties of reception by readers, who are rarely passive consumers of texts. Indeed, Leonardi notes that recent research has developed MacKenzie’s investigation by taking up this question of readerly reception and ‘appropriation’, engaging with ‘the complexity of individual responses to and relations with empire’.9 In his later work, MacKenzie has refined his own approach by considering the interactions between ideology and individuals that his earlier ‘top-down’ model of propaganda made little space for, and by adopting the language, as Ward points out, of ‘internalised imperialism’ and the ‘colonisation of consciousness’.10 In the wake of such refinements, it is possible to miss the powerfully polemical nature of Propaganda and Empire. Part of what makes the work so striking is the disconcerting picture of Britain that it presents. Challenging the popular belief that ‘propaganda does not come easily to the British’, MacKenzie argued that in the case of imperialism this was simply not true.11 In the context of Thatcherite Britain, and the resurgence of imperialist language that accompanied the Falklands War, his exposure of the pervasive nature of imperial ideology served to puncture an enduring national myth.12 It was also deeply significant that MacKenzie took a range of neglected sources and subjected them to serious analysis. Although he would later distance himself from postcolonial scholarship, his work played a key role in the developing critique of imperial ideology by augmenting its scope to include—for the first time—the products of popular culture.13 Indeed, MacKenzie’s foray into juvenile literature contributed to the opening up of a new corpus for close reading. While Propaganda and Empire began the process of analysing such texts, he enhanced his approach significantly five years later in his essay ‘Hunting and the Natural World in Juvenile Literature’. In this piece, MacKenzie set out 9 Leonardi,

‘Power of Culture’, 60. S. Thompson, ‘Introduction’, in Andrew S. Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), p. 15; and Ward, ‘MacKenziean Moment’, 43. 11 MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire, 2. 12 Ward, ‘MacKenziean Moment’, 31 and 36. 13 In his riposte to Edward Said’s Orientalism, MacKenzie argues that popular culture was a critical omission from Said’s project. John M. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory, and the Arts (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), 14. 10 Andrew



to investigate the ideological nature of the representation of the natural world in children’s adventure fiction depicting the ‘hunt’. Hinging on the encounter between ‘civilisation’ and ‘savagery’, the hunting narratives that loomed large in Victorian boys’ books were ‘laden with symbolic significance’. At the most basic level, they served to valorise cherished characteristics, such as ‘endurance and stamina… stoicism, application, command of self’.14 But as MacKenzie showed, the adventurous activities of the hunt were bound up in more complex ways with the formation of imperial character. In the works of Mayne Reid and R. M. Ballantyne, for instance, the hunt provides ‘trials of knowledge, skill, and courage through which boys become men’ and ‘a rite of passage between adolescence and adulthood’.15 In MacKenzie’s reading, moreover, the narration of big-game hunting was also preoccupied with questions of race and difference. Hunting became ‘a marker of racial character’, with European methods and technologies construed favourably in opposition to the less civilised techniques employed by indigenous peoples. By signifying an appropriate exploitation of natural resources, in opposition to the supposed mismanagement of the land by locals, representations of hunting could be used to legitimise European territorial claims.16 As in Propaganda and Empire, MacKenzie’s approach took a long view of the genre under examination. Following hunting narratives into the twentieth century, he traced their development in the context of new ‘sensitivities’ to animal life and emerging conservationist mentalities, while also exploring connections with the discourses and practices of scientific collection, sport, and trade, which served to justify vivid descriptions of animal slaughter. And yet, despite such complexities, juvenile hunting fiction ultimately remained a genre in the service of empire. Across a considerable period, argues MacKenzie, the hunt was consistently ‘a mark of the fitness of the dominant race’, ‘an emblem of imperial rule’, and ‘a metaphor of conquest’.17 14 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Hunting and the Natural World in Juvenile Literature’, in Jeffrey Richards, ed., Imperialism and Juvenile Literature (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989), 146–47. 15 MacKenzie, ‘Hunting and the Natural World’, 147 and 154. 16 MacKenzie, ‘Hunting and the Natural World’, 150 and 157–58. 17 MacKenzie, ‘Hunting and the Natural World’, 165, 168, and 170. Imperial hunting and the development of game conservation receive monograph-length treatment


What is particularly notable about MacKenzie’s interpretation of adventure fiction is the richness of his close reading; historicising texts from a genre widely considered inconsequential, he disclosed the ideological implications of their recurring thematics. MacKenzie’s serious approach to texts that might otherwise be dismissed as simplistic or ephemeral has been very influential. The emphasis on the gendered nature of adventure writing that emerges in this discussion, for instance, helped to inform scholarship on the construction of imperial masculinity.18 MacKenzie’s analysis, moreover, influenced the recent development of ‘ecocritical’ and ‘zoocritical’ approaches to imperial literature, as interest in the environmental contexts of empire has intensified.19 In John Miller’s Empire and the Animal Body, MacKenzie’s delineation of ‘the Hunt’ as ‘a ritualised demonstration of mastery of colonial space’ serves as a launching pad for Miller’s own investigation of adventure narratives. In exploring their ‘ecological imagination’—their vision of nature, land use, and representation of animal–human relations—Miller emphasises the ‘tensions, disturbances and complications’ that emerge in seemingly transparent celebrations of the hunt.20 Nevertheless, even if scholarship is increasingly addressing the complexities of imperial fiction, returning to MacKenzie’s work reveals continued gaps. As Miller observes, the vast majority of writing on the adventure genre, or the ‘imperial romance’, confines itself to a small number of

in MacKenzie’s, The Empire of Nature: Hunting, Conservation and British Imperialism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988). 18 For other research on imperial fiction and masculinity, see Joseph Bristow, Empire Boys: Adventure in a Man’s World (London: Harper Collins, 1991); Richard Phillips, Mapping Men and Empire: A Geography of Adventure (London: Routledge, 1997); and Bradley Deane, Masculinity and the New Imperialism: Rewriting Manhood in British Popular Literature, 1870–1914 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014). Other key works addressing imperial masculinity include Graham Dawson, Soldier Heroes: British Adventure, Empire, and the Imagining of Masculinities (London: Routledge, 1994); and John Tosh, Manliness and Masculinities in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Essays on Gender, Family, and Empire (Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2005). 19 On the emerging field of ‘postcolonial ecocriticism’, see Graham Huggan and Helen Tiffin, Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment (London: Routledge, 2010). 20 John Miller, Empire and the Animal Body: Violence, Identity and Ecology in Victorian Adventure Fiction (London: Anthem Press, 2012), 3, 11, and 31.



now-canonical authors.21 A writer like Haggard attracts considerable attention for his works of ‘imperial gothic’, which support dominant literary narratives about the manifestation of anxieties in the popular culture of the fin-de-siècle.22 For different reasons, Joseph Conrad equally sustains a scholarly industry, as his critical dialogue with the adventure tradition and his complex narration inspires literary scholars who embrace radical perspectives and experimental styles.23 But many other adventure authors who do not so easily appeal to contemporary academic proclivities suffer continued disregard. Although Miller has turned towards Ballantyne, Henty, and others, arguing for their surprising ‘negotiation of space, identity, literary form and colonial power’, much work remains to be done on the wider corpus of adventure literature that stimulated and sustained interest in imperial domains.24

2  Imperial Myth and the Icons of Empire: Heroic Biography MacKenzie has consistently been preoccupied by the significance of what he calls ‘heroic myths’ of empire. While his work on juvenile fiction marks a key intervention into scholarship on popular literary culture, his interrogation of iconic imperial heroes who developed powerful reputations may seem of less obvious significance to literary studies. Yet across 21 Miller,

Empire and the Animal Body, 24. a discussion of the ‘imperial gothic’, see Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830–1914 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1988), 227–53. Among the better-known discussions of Haggard’s fiction are Anne McClintock, ‘Maidens, Maps and Mines: King Solomon’s Mines and the Reinvention of Patriarchy in Colonial South Africa’, in Cherryl Walker, ed., Women and Gender in Southern Africa to 1945 (Cape Town: David Philip, 1990), 97–124; and Laura Chrisman, Rereading the Imperial Romance: British Imperialism and South African Resistance in Haggard, Schreiner, and Plaatje (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 23–119. For monograph-length treatment, see Gerald Monsman, H. Rider Haggard on the Imperial Frontier: The Political and Literary Contexts of His African Romances (Greensboro, NC: ELT Press, 2006). 23 Important works on Conrad and imperialism include Andrea White, Joseph Conrad and the Adventure Tradition: Construction and Deconstructing the Imperial Subject (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); and Christopher GoGwilt, The Invention of the West: Joseph Conrad and the Double-Mapping of Europe and Empire (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1995). 24 Miller, Empire and the Animal Body, 30. 22 For


a number of essays, his discussions of the reputations of T. E. Lawrence, Sir Henry Havelock, General Gordon, and particularly of the missionary explorer David Livingstone have engaged important questions of textual production and literary representation. In examining such familiar figures, MacKenzie’s emphasis is emphatically not on their lives, but on what he calls their ‘afterlives’.25 Drawing a distinction between the ‘hero’ and the ‘heroic myth’, he aims to shift attention away from biographical discussions of imperial figures to the process by which such individuals acquire archetypal status and ‘instrumental power’ that could be invoked by contemporaries and later generations. For MacKenzie, myths have active political agency, serving a role in justifying policy and even in ‘the rise of the imperial state’ itself.26 They provide a powerful means of achieving ‘unity’ and ‘consensus’, and generally uphold the ‘dominant ideology’.27 And yet, he argues that the myths surrounding imperial heroes had a certain flexibility. They were sufficiently open to interpretation to be mobilised across changing contexts and by a variety of interest groups.28 The literary significance of the turn to imperial heroes lies in MacKenzie’s account of the means by which their legacies were created and maintained. His investigation of Lawrence’s reputation, for example, reveals that it was propagated by a network of media, including newspaper journalism, educational textbooks, and both ‘serious’ and popular biography.29 In identifying the significance of the last of these, MacKenzie directs attention to a crucial imperial genre: the heroic life. 25 For his most recent discussion of imperial ‘afterlives’, see John M. MacKenzie, ‘Afterword’, in Max Jones, Berny Sèbe, John Strachan, Bertrand Taithe, and Peter Yeandle, eds., Decolonising Imperial Heroes, special issue of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 42 (2014), 969–79. 26 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Heroic Myths of Empire’, in John M. MacKenzie, ed., Popular Imperialism and the Military (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992), 112 and 114. 27 MacKenzie, ‘Heroic Myths’, 112 and 115; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘David Livingstone: The Construction of the Myth’, in Graham Walker and Tom Gallager, eds., Sermons and Battle Hymns (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1990), 27. 28 MacKenzie, ‘David Livingstone: The Construction of the Myth’, 27; and MacKenzie, ‘Heroic Myths’, 115. 29 John M. MacKenzie, ‘T. E. Lawrence: The Myth and the Message’, in Robert Giddings, ed., Literature and Imperialism (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1991), 151.



This staple of Victorian publishing was both a product and perpetuator of the Carlylean approach to world history as ‘the biography of great men’.30 These texts, furthermore, were a manifestation of the contemporary emphasis on the educational and moral value of what Geoffrey Cubitt calls the ‘exemplary life’.31 Designed for younger and popular readerships, they upheld their subjects both as key historical actors and as inspirational models for emulation. In assessing the ‘heroic life’ genre in various publications, MacKenzie delineates some of its major features. For the most part, these biographies do little to present complexity, instead distilling life narratives to iconic elements that maximise the symbolic potential of their subjects.32 As in much biography of the age, unpalatable episodes and character flaws are downplayed. They are also, he argues, highly repetitive in nature. Reiteration served to compound heroic myths, with the market for such subjects sustaining biography after biography that largely covered the same body of material.33 Yet as MacKenzie shows in his study of Livingstone’s afterlife, these texts routinely appeared because of— rather than in spite of—their ‘tendency to obsolescence’; popular biographies often had immediate concerns, as they revisited heroic lives in search of their relevance to the contemporary imperial moment. Indeed, MacKenzie’s most interesting finding is perhaps the evolving nature of particular ‘biographical industr[ies]’, which over the long durée could significantly reshape the meaning of politically powerful myths.34 From this key observation emerges a picture of a genre with considerable longevity. In MacKenzie’s discussions of imperial afterlives, it becomes clear that the heroic life remained a mainstay of imperial literature until decolonisation, albeit with constant adaptation to the needs

30 MacKenzie,

‘T. E. Lawrence’, 151. Cubitt, ‘Introduction: Heroic Reputations and Exemplary Lives’, in Geoffrey Cubitt and Allen Warren, eds., Heroic Reputations and Exemplary Lives (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 1–21. 32 MacKenzie, ‘David Livingstone: The Construction of the Myth’, 31; and MacKenzie, ‘Heroic Myths’, 115. 33 MacKenzie, ‘Heroic Myths’, 124. 34 MacKenzie, ‘David Livingstone: The Construction of the Myth’, 33; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘David Livingstone and the Worldly Afterlife: Imperialism and Nationalism in Africa’, in John M. MacKenzie, ed., David Livingstone and the Victorian Encounter with Africa (London: National Portrait Gallery, 1996), 203. 31 Geoffrey


of the moment. This perspective on the genre has been elaborated upon in subsequent scholarship. My own survey of Livingstone’s posthumous reputation situates the numerous biographies of the explorer in their sociopolitical contexts over a long period, showing how the imperial and national mise en scène influenced his textual reconstruction.35 Adopting a ‘metabiographical’ methodology, this work focuses on what Nicolaas Rupke calls the ‘ideological embeddedness of biographical portraits’. It is interested not simply in the subjective interpretations of individual biographers, but in the broader ‘collective’ patterns of meaning active in particular periods.36 At the same time, my study of Livingstone’s ‘lives’ aims to do more than identify prevailing images by also interrogating the political stakes of diverging representations. Competing versions of Livingstone co-existed at the same time, but they shared an interpretive context and took their meaning in relation to their imperial environment. MacKenzie’s account of heroic reputations—and the heroic life genre—has also been further developed by Berny Sèbe. In his comparative study of imperial heroes in Britain and France, Sèbe investigates the ‘mechanics of hero making’, or the ways in which they were ‘promoted’ and ‘disseminated’ by the development of print capitalism and mass media in the late nineteenth century.37 While Sèbe emphasises that the heroic cult depended on a range of ‘promotional channels’, he articulates the critical role that heroic publications played as improvements in mechanisation facilitated cheaper and quicker printing. If the press— with the rise of the new journalism and the illustrated newspaper—was instrumental in the initial formation of imperial heroes, it was printed books that prolonged their activity and turned ‘an ephemeral reputation into an enduring one’.38 What Sèbe particularly adds to the discussion is an account of the ‘business’ of hero-making, the ‘capitalist drive’ that underpinned the culture industry responsible for perpetuating imperial myths. Alongside ideological and moral motivations, the construction of reputations was often a commercial enterprise for authors and publishers

35 Justin D. Livingstone, Livingstone’s ‘Lives’: A Metabiography of a Victorian Icon (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014). 36 Nicolaas A. Rupke, Alexander von Humboldt: A Metabiography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), 208 and 215. 37 Sèbe, Heroic Imperialists, 3–4. 38 Sèbe, Heroic Imperialists, 66–67, 132.



alike; heroic texts were efforts to negotiate the literary market and meet consumer preference.39 Despite this scholarship that has built on MacKenzie’s work, however, heroic and imperial ‘lives’ have received little attention from scholars interested in biographical writings. This is perhaps surprising, given that the theory and practice of biography has become a major area in literary studies. Critical discussions have, for instance, opened up questions of form, examining the proximity between biography and fictional and historical narratives. Biography is sometimes cast as a ‘hybrid’ or in-between genre with conflicting imperatives; biographers may operate on an empiricist basis and aim to represent accurately the life in question, but they are also under a creative obligation to construct a compelling narrative.40 The impossibility of neutrality, moreover, and the inevitably incomplete record from which a life-narrative is constructed, mean that even the most ambitious biography is selective and partial.41 These discussions, however, have seldom engaged with the sort of popular and often transient biography on which imperial reputations thrived. Since much of this scholarship has developed under the auspices of ‘life-writing’, a field largely composed of literary scholars, attention has primarily been devoted to literary biography and autobiographical discourse; the nature of the field has resulted, suggests Ben Pimlott, in the wider neglect of ‘biographies of scientists or statesmen’ in the developing scholarly literature.42 There is, then, opportunity for greater conversation between imperial history and literary studies in order to produce more critical work on biographies of public and political figures, in particular those whose reputations were most ideologically charged. Taking a MacKenziean long view of heroic biography highlights the scope for historicist literary analysis. The persistence of the genre invites critics to assess the ways that the 39 Sèbe,

Heroic Imperialists, 17, 296. for example, Michael Benton, Literary Biography: An Introduction (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), xv–xvi, 30, and 35. 41 Hermione Lee, Biography: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 12; and Miranda Seymour, ‘Shaping the Truth’, in Peter France and William St. Clair, eds., Mapping Lives: The Uses of Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 255 and 264. 42 Ben Pimlott, ‘Brushstrokes’, in Mark Bostridge, ed., Lives for Sale: Biographers’ Tales (London and New York: Continuum, 2004), 166. 40 See,


changing aesthetic and literary modes of biographical practice affected the narration of empire’s heroes. Critics might also follow biographical afterlives beyond the end of empire. In a recent volume, Max Jones and his co-authors prompt us to consider the ‘decolonising of imperial heroes’, or the process of reappraisal in the post-imperial period, which proves more complex and multidirectional than might be anticipated. Examining more recent patterns of ‘memorialisation and reinvention’ in biographical form, which range from postcolonial critique to imperial nostalgia, would offer fresh insight into the ongoing remembrance of the imperial past.43

3   Witnessing the World: Guide Books and the Missionary Record MacKenzie’s scholarship devotes attention to textual forms that witness the wider world and mediate it to domestic audiences. While this theme emerges in the juvenile adventure fiction and historical ‘lives’ already discussed, it is clearer in his examination of two literary modes designed to provide on-the-spot accounts of distant arenas. In his study of both Protestant missionary writings and British travel guides, MacKenzie examines crucial imperial genres that had previously received little substantial critical assessment. MacKenzie’s work on these genres reveals a preoccupation with spatial imaginations; ‘imaginative geographies’—the meanings that texts give to place and landscape—are at the centre of his analysis.44 In ‘Missionaries, Science and the Environment in Nineteenth-Century Africa’ (2003), MacKenzie examines how, ‘in memoirs and biographies, missionaries constructed the African environment in ways they clearly regarded as

43 Max Jones, Berny Sèbe, John Strachan, Bertrand Taithe, and Peter Yeandle, ‘Decolonising Imperial Heroes: Britain and France’, in Max Jones, Berny Sèbe, John Strachan, Bertrand Taithe, and Peter Yeandle, eds., Decolonising Imperial Heroes, special issue of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 42 (2014), 809. 44 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Missionaries, Science and the Environment in NineteenthCentury Africa’, in Andrew Porter, ed., The Imperial Horizons of British Protestant Missions, 1880–1914 (Grand Rapids, MI: W. B. Eerdmans, 2003), 130. On ‘imaginative geographies’ as ‘representations of other places – of peoples and landscapes’, see Derek Gregory, ‘Imaginative Geographies’, in Derek Gregory, Ron Johnston, Geraldine Pratt, Michael J. Watts, and Sarah Whatmore, eds., The Dictionary of Human Geography, 5th edn (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009), 369–71.



central to their religious message’. He notes, for example, that much late-nineteenth-century African missionary writing drew on the garden as a ‘powerful environmental metaphor’.45 For missionaries, the ‘garden represented geometric order, hydrographic and botanical experimentation’. It signified the arrival of modernity, the imposition of European orderliness, and the domestication of a resistant landscape. Yet the garden was primarily ‘horticultural rather than agricultural’. It was a space that was aesthetic in nature rather than devoted solely to subsistence, signifying the nurturing investment that missionaries were making in the betterment of Africa and its peoples. Rich in biblical resonance, it inevitably recalled the book of Genesis; in bringing cultivation to a metaphorical desert, the emergence of a garden ‘represented the rediscovery of an Edenic vision’.46 MacKenzie also explores the metaphorical value of European engineering and architecture in their appearances in the missionary record, where the European preference for straight lines is contrasted to the southern African tendency to construct circular buildings. To missionaries in Nyasaland, linear constructions ‘negat[ed] the unbridled circularity of nature’; ‘the road, the bridge, and the brick building’ were structures with ‘the power to keep nature at bay’. There was, moreover, a metaphysics at work in which straightness signified the ‘rational and logical’ as well as ‘simple and revelatory theology’.47 For MacKenzie, a moral geography underpinned missionary design. In some writings, buildings were ‘described as books’ bearing ‘lessons and messages’ for the local populace. The ‘siting’ of missionary buildings, as well, could be endowed with moral significance. Where the land had previously been the site of ‘dark deeds’, missionaries could capitalise on the distinction between past and present and overlay the landscape with the redemptive meanings brought by new churches and buildings.48 MacKenzie was thus among the first scholars to take missionary textuality seriously.49 He did not simply draw on missionary records as 45 MacKenzie,

‘Missionaries, Science’, 107 and 109. ‘Missionaries, Science’, 110. 47 MacKenzie, ‘Missionaries, Science’, 116. 48 MacKenzie, ‘Missionaries, Science’, 120–21. 49 MacKenzie was also among the first to address the connections between nineteenth-century missionaries and modern science. See also David N. Livingstone, ‘Scientific Inquiry and the Missionary Enterprise’, in Ruth Finnegan, ed., Participating in the Knowledge Society: Research Beyond the University Walls (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave 46 MacKenzie,


repositories of historical information, but rather paid close attention to their representative practices and significant metaphors. Indeed, although scholarship on missionaries has been developing steadily for several decades, there is still little work devoted specifically to their writings.50 There have, to be sure, been some important contributions, notably Anna Johnston’s discussion of the ‘hybrid genres’ of missionary discourse, which in her view incorporate ‘ethnography, linguistics, and geographical description’.51 But assessment of the diversity and longevity of missionary output, including memoir, journalism, and fiction, has been in short supply, in spite of the fact that such publications were long among the most significant sources of information about distant parts of the globe.52 MacKenzie positioned his own work in a developing body of scholarship that was complicating previous studies of missionaries that had reduced them without qualification to agents of imperialism.53 Future research might take a similar approach to missionary textuality,

Macmillan, 2005), 50–64. For another discussion of missionary science in southern Africa, see Georgina H. Endfield and David J. Nash, ‘Drought, Desiccation and Discourse: Missionary Correspondence and Nineteenth-Century Climate Change in Central Southern Africa’, Geographical Journal 168 (2002), 33–47. Endfield and Nash examine missionary records as repositories of climate data and analyse the interpretive frameworks through which missionaries understood environmental change. 50 The Comaroffs, who situated missionaries as ideological agents of colonialism, did much to lead research on missions and empire. See Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution, I: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). Other important contributions include Brian Stanley, The Bible and the Flag: Protestant Missions and British Imperialism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Leicester: Apollos, 1990); A. N. Porter, Religion Versus Empire?: British Protestant Missionaries and Overseas Expansion, 1700–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004); and Norman Etherington, ed., Missions and Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). 51 Anna Johnson, Missionary Writing and Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 32. For other discussions of missionary literature, see Esme Cleall, Missionary Discourse: Negotiating Difference in the British Empire, c. 1840–95 (New York: Palgrave, 2012); and Robbie McLaughlan, Re-imagining the ‘Dark Continent’ in Fin De Siècle Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 24–39. 52 Jeffrey Cox suggests that across the nineteenth century, the ‘most important popular source of information about non-Western people…came from churches, chapels, and Sunday Schools’. Jeffrey Cox, ‘Were Victorian Nonconformists the Worst Imperialists of All’, Victorian Studies 46 (2004), 246. 53 MacKenzie, ‘Missionaries, Science’, 129.



attending to its participation in imperial discourse while remaining alert to its complicated sociopolitics. Reading missionary writings requires attention not only to their investment in an imperial worldview—and their preoccupations with religious and social conversion—but to what Dana Robert identifies as an aspiration to ‘convert’ the institutions and ideologies of colonialism itself.54 MacKenzie’s interest in spatial representation emerges once more in his recent work on British guide books. These texts, which flourished from the 1830s, ‘unveil a complete mindset’ in their aspiration to ‘offer the first complete descriptions of the territories and regions to which they were devoted’. What particularly interests MacKenzie are the meanings that the ‘gazetteering gaze’ of guide books work to establish.55 Taking the handbooks to India published by John Murray as an example, he argues that their organisation by railway tour had the effect of mapping a British ‘network’ onto the subcontinent; as depicted in the guidebook, India was to be experienced through a western technology of modernisation. The destinations that were prioritised, moreover, tended towards those that were closely connected to the British presence; in privileging ‘imperial sites of memory’ in architecture and sculpture, the guidebooks imposed a British geography of significance on the Indian landscape.56 These priorities were clearly shaped by a British view of history. The guidebooks continually historicised the locations of the tour, and by zeroing in on sites of imperial import endorsed a narrative of progress and modernity that provided ‘legitimating reassurance’ to British readers. For MacKenzie, the travel guide was an imperial genre that manifested a ‘relentless textualisation of dominion’.57 As in his discussion of missionary discourse, MacKenzie once again investigated the cultural functions of a body of texts that had received little analysis for their expression of imperial ideology. Over the past twenty years, work on colonial travel and empire has flourished, with 54 Dana L. Robert, ‘Introduction’, in Dana L. Robert, ed., Converting Colonialism: Visions and Realities in Mission History, 1706–1914 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 4 and 20. 55 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Empires of Travel: British Guide Books and Cultural Imperialism in the 19th and 20th Centuries’, in John K. Walton, ed., Histories of Tourism: Representation, Identity, and Conflict (Clevedon, Buffalo: Channel View, 2005), 21. 56 MacKenzie, ‘Empires of Travel’, 24–25. 57 MacKenzie, ‘Empires of Travel’, 25–26.


travel genres serving as fertile sources for both those committed to postcolonial reading practices and those concerned with exploring their limitations.58 Yet while the prescriptive gaze of the guidebook has interested scholars of tourism, the imperial contexts of the genre’s development have not been given the scrutiny they deserve.59 In part, this is because the field of travel-writing studies has generally privileged subjective experience, showing preference for modern travel books with strong prose narratives and first-person retrospective narration. What Carl Thompson identifies as ‘functional forms of travel account’ are either excluded on the basis of a restricted definition of ‘travel writing’ or overlooked in favour of narratives with more stylistic appeal.60 MacKenzie’s effort to dissect the ‘geographical exhibitionary complex’ at the heart of the guidebook, then, marks an important effort to evaluate one such functional form and the means by which it transmitted imperialist mentalities.61 It is also significant that his discussion is not confined solely to the cultural and political effects of the travel guide during the period of high empire. In turning to an understudied genre, MacKenzie once again argues for its protracted duration and for the longevity of the ideology it conveys. Since imperial guidebooks remained largely consistent in form and perspective until the 1950s and 1960s, they consolidate his longstanding argument that the imperial worldview continued beyond the Second World War and even into the era of decolonisation.62 58 See, for example, Steve Clark, ed., Travel Writing and Empire: Postcolonial Theory in Transit (London: Zed Books, 1999); James S. Duncan and Derek Gregory, eds., Writes of Passage: Reading Travel Writing (London: Routledge, 1999); and Julia Kuehn and Paul Smethurst, eds., Travel Writing, Form and Empire; The Poetics and Politics of Mobility (New York: Routledge, 2009). 59 For scholarship on the guidebook, see Barbara Schaff, ‘John Murray’s Handbooks to Italy: Making Tourism Literary’, in Nicola J. Watson, ed., Literary Tourism and Nineteenth-Century Culture (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 106–18; and Gráinne Goodwin and Gordon Johnston, ‘Guidebook Publishing in the Nineteenth Century: John Murray’s Handbooks for Travellers’, Studies in Travel Writing 17 (2013), 43–61. 60 Thompson astutely notes that the distinction between ‘aesthetic and functional’ forms of travel text is simplistic and problematic. He also discusses the respective merits and problems of ‘exclusive and inclusive’ definitions of travel writing. Carl Thompson, Travel Writing (New York: Routledge, 2011), 15 and 13–27. 61 MacKenzie, ‘Empires of Travel’, 35. 62 MacKenzie, ‘Empires of Travel’, 35–36. See also John M. MacKenzie, ‘Empire Travel Guides and the Imperial Mind-Set from the Mid-Nineteenth to the Mid-Twentieth



In his discussions of both missionary writing and guidebooks, MacKenzie reveals an impetus to interrogate textual forms that would not conventionally attract imperial historians or indeed literary c­ritics. Yet his analyses of these overlooked source materials afford insight into the moral and political meanings that they overlay on the landscapes that they purport to witness. Ultimately, MacKenzie is attentive to the ways that these genres order and mediate the world for their readers. By taking an extended historical view, he is attuned to the implicit politics that they carry across the long durée, as their representative practices and formal features retain significant continuities over time.

4  New Directions Engagement with textuality has long been a feature of MacKenzie’s work; in one of his earliest books, The Railway Station: A Social History (1986), co-authored with Jeffrey Richards, he offers a synoptic survey of the representation of the train station in literature and film from Émile Zola to contemporary cinema.63 Under MacKenzie’s editorship, moreover, Manchester University Press’s Studies in Imperialism series has frequently included literary perspectives, such as Robert H. MacDonald’s The Language of Empire (1994), Jeffrey Richard’s edited collection Imperialism and Juvenile Literature (1989), and Tim Youngs’s Travellers in Africa (1994).64 Such titles are in the minority amidst a preponderance of more traditional historical works, but their presence reflects MacKenzie’s interest in literary representation and tendency to range widely across textual sources.

Centuries’, in Martin Farr and Xavier Guégan, eds., The British Abroad Since the Eighteenth Century, II: Experiencing Imperialism (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 116–33. 63 Jeffrey Richards and John M. MacKenzie, The Railway Station: A Social History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 340–83. 64 Robert H. MacDonald, The Language of Empire: Myths and Metaphors of Popular Imperialism, 1880–1918 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994); Jeffrey Richards, ed., Imperialism and Juvenile Literature (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989); and Tim Youngs, Travellers in Africa: British Travelogues, 1850–1950 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994). More recent literary perspectives include my own Livingstone’s ‘Lives’ and Carol Polsgrove’s Ending British Rule in Africa: Writers in a Common Cause (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012).


In this chapter, my aim has been to disclose something of MacKenzie’s literary imagination. In reading his work from the perspective of a literary critic, I have sought to chart a course through his scholarship that both registers his influence on the study of popular imperial literature and identifies areas where more work is needed. By addressing imperial fiction, MacKenzie launched research into a neglected genre and fostered discussion of imperial masculinity, the culture of adventure, and the ideological work enacted by juvenile and popular texts. His analysis of the heroic myth likewise provoked discussions of the print media that promoted imperial reputations and of particular biographical ‘industries’ that sustained them. In exploring the missionary record and travel guides, MacKenzie exposed the imaginative power of seemingly unimaginative texts, and stimulated the interrogation of cultural forms that mediated the imperial world to domestic audiences. MacKenzie’s work, of course, is less a point of termination than one of invitation; it does not conclude discussions but rather offers directions for future research. Indeed, MacKenzie’s contributions highlight areas of imperial textuality that require further scrutiny and which might be taken up in literary studies. Despite a general turn towards popular culture, literary scholars are yet to devote significant attention to the wider corpus of imperial adventure fiction, to the commemorative and political function of imperial biography, or to artefacts like the missionary memoir or travel guide. Following the declaration in the 1990s that ‘all texts are our province’, literary studies has not been restrictive in its purview, but the relative disregard of such sources perhaps reflects a misplaced sense that they offer few challenges or rewards to practitioners of close reading.65 It is also due, no doubt, to the fact that literary scholars interested in empire have been more inclined to take direction from postcolonial criticism than imperial history. Such orientation, I would suggest, is a legacy of the polarisation of colonial discourse analysis and imperial history that resulted from their early interactions, following what many historians perceived as an unwelcome intrusion into their discipline.66 65 Catherine Belsey, ‘All Texts are our Province’, Times Higher Education Supplement, 30 January 1988. 66 For a nuanced early discussion of what some historians saw as the ‘colonisation of imperial studies’ by postcolonial scholars, see Dane Kennedy, ‘Imperial History and PostColonial Theory’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 24 (1996), 345–63.



In MacKenzie’s case, despite the fact that his early work on popular literature anticipated later postcolonial scholarship, his book-length riposte to Edward Said ensured that he was interpreted in some quarters of literary and cultural studies as an exemplar of conservative and traditional imperial historiography.67 There is, of course, an irony in this perception, given that MacKenzie’s emphasis on the influence of empire on British metropolitan culture was widely regarded within imperial history as a new and radical departure. As Leonardi has recently argued, moreover, MacKenzie’s relationship with postcolonialism is actually more complex than simply oppositional. His challenge to Edward Said should be read as refinement rather than outright rejection, an effort to ‘complicate rather than to reverse Said’s depiction’.68 Although MacKenzie’s criticism of a field that he sees as homogenising and insufficiently historicist should not be minimised, his insistence on the pervasive and implicit effects of imperial power and his ‘understanding of imperialism and colonialism as culture’ clearly resonate with perspectives in postcolonial studies.69 More widely, of course, the boundaries between postcolonialism and imperial history have become increasingly porous. The ‘new imperial history’, which has developed over the past two decades, emerged out of the postcolonial turn and brought with it a new ‘theoretical and political orientation’.70 This interdisciplinary research has sought to challenge 67 Bart Moore-Gilbert, for instance, suggests that MacKenzie’s response to postcolonialism reveals ‘the deep antipathy which the conservatives feel towards what they view as an upstart’. Bart Moore-Gilbert, ‘Postcolonial Cultural Studies and Imperial Historiography: Problems of Interdisciplinarity’, Interventions 1 (1999), 399. Ali Behdad sees in MacKenzie ‘a marked suspicion of theory’. Ali Behdad, ‘Orientalism Matters’, Modern Fiction Studies 56 (2010), 710. Taoufiq Sakhkhane describes MacKenzie as representative of an ‘exclusivist mentality prevalent in Western academia’, where disciplines are ‘privileged fiefdoms’. Taoufiq Sakhkhane, Spivak and Postcolonialism: Exploring Allegations of Textuality (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 11. For a discussion of the quite different representations of MacKenzie that emerged in response to his criticism of Edward Said and during his debate with Bernard Porter, see Leonardi, ‘Power of Culture’, 58–60. 68 Leonardi, ‘Power of Culture’, 58. 69 Leonardi, ‘Power of Culture’, 51 and 63. 70 Alan Lester, ‘Spatial Concepts and the Historical Geographies of British Colonialism’, in Andrew S. Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 120–21. A detailed assessment of the influence postcolonial studies has had on imperial history is offered in Dane Kennedy, ‘Postcolonialism and History’,


established modes of historical enquiry and expand their remit, not least by foregrounding concerns including gender, race, class, and space.71 But if the result of this work is that postcolonial studies and imperial history can no longer be regarded as entirely distinct approaches to empire’s past, literary scholars could extend this exchange on their part by developing research avenues on textuality promoted by historians. As I have sought to show in this chapter, taking a cue from MacKenzie’s approach to popular imperial writing would encourage a wider interrogation of genres that seldom receive critical analysis and currently occupy only marginal space in literary histories.72 Taking these texts more seriously as sites of colonial discourse, and securing their place in postcolonial literary studies, would enrich our perspective on the imperial archive and the textual cultures of empire. Closer convergence between literary studies and imperial history would also open several more specific avenues for research on popular imperial literature. For instance, the ‘four-nations’ approach to empire that MacKenzie has done much to champion could equally be opened to questions of literary production and representation. This project complicates the subject of ‘British’ imperial history by emphasising the distinctive relationships that each of Britain’s constituent nations had with empire and with each other. Arguing that involvement in empire consolidated distinct national identities rather than dissolving them in favour of a broader British identity, the four-nations approach moves beyond ‘simple bilateral metropole–periphery relations’ and instead orients analysis to the ‘multilateral relationships’ that constituted the imperial project.73 Critical approaches to imperial texts might do more to identify the similarities and differences among the respective imperial literary traditions of each of the British archipelago’s four nations. Without overlooking the

in Graham Huggan, ed., Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 467–88. 71 Lester discusses the overlap and tensions between the ‘new imperial history’ and approaches in the Studies in Imperialism series. Lester, ‘Spatial Concepts’, 120–24. 72 Brantlinger’s Victorian Literature and Postcolonial Studies is notable for its range of sources, which include missionary records, emigration narratives and historical biography. Patrick Brantlinger, Victorian Literature and Postcolonial Studies (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009). 73 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? A Four-Nation Approach to the History of the British Empire’, History Compass 6 (2008), 1244.



patterns of racial othering that have occupied criticism (for good reason), they might also investigate the ways in which imperial settings and plots provide space to negotiate intra-British identities.74 In a similar vein, MacKenzie’s efforts to develop comparative work on empires could also provoke further study. This comparative perspective has primarily addressed European imperialisms in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but has also begun to range across historical periods and national contexts.75 Literary critical work could extend this research, by situating modern British imperial literature in an international environment in a period of competing imperialisms. Such work would compare the forms and genres that disseminated imperial ideology in particular nation states, as well as their respective thematic concerns and representational practices. It would, moreover, identify trans-European patterns of composition, publication, and consumption, as well as the distinguishing features of various national traditions. Ultimately, such comparison would serve to highlight shared imperial sensibilities and to focalise the construction of distinctive national-imperial identities.76 In following MacKenzie’s directive that imperialism did not consist only of dominative racial relationships, both four-nations and comparative approaches to imperial literary production might productively supplement prevailing postcolonial perspectives. 74 Simon Potter has developed a four-nation approach to the press as a means of reporting the British Empire. See Simon J. Potter, ‘Introduction: Empire, Propaganda and Public Opinion’, in Simon J. Potter, ed., Newspapers and Empire in Ireland and Britain: Reporting the British Empire, c. 1857–1921 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2004), 11–22. In the same collection, MacKenzie argues for the importance of ‘pluralistic’ analysis of Irish, Scots, Welsh, and English newspaper coverage of empire. John M. MacKenzie, ‘The Press and the Dominant Ideology of Empire’, in Simon J. Potter, ed., Newspapers and Empire in Ireland and Britain: Reporting the British Empire, c. 1857–1921 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2004), 37. 75 For MacKenzie’s interest in comparative studies of European imperialism, see John M. MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People: Popular Responses to Imperialism in France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011). His inclination towards a broader comparative approach is exemplified by the recent Encyclopedia of Empire, which covers empires from the ancient to the modern world. John M. MacKenzie with Nigel R. Dalziel, eds., The Encyclopedia of Empire (Chichester: Wiley, 2016). 76 Elements of a comparative perspective appear in Martyn Cornick, ‘Representations of Britain and British Colonialism in French Adventure Fiction, 1870–1914’, French Cultural Studies 17 (2006), 137–54. Cornick examines the ways in which French adventure fiction constructed a national-imperial identity in opposition to the British.


Finally, literary studies might engage more fully with scholarship that argues for the ‘persistence of empire in metropolitan culture’.77 This is perhaps the most significant theme interweaving its way through MacKenzie’s work on imperial textuality. His varied analyses—of adventure fiction, heroic biography, missionary writing, and travel guides—directly signal the diverse genres that transmitted and popularised the imperial ethos. But the importance of this approach is heightened by his recurring claim that these genres were enduring phenomena whose later manifestations should not be discounted. Critics might follow MacKenzie’s prompting by embarking on a more serious investigation of what we could call late imperial genres than has been undertaken to date. Research on British literature at the ‘end of empire’ is only now developing apace. Matthew Whittle observes in his recent work on postwar fiction that responses to the complex contexts of decolonisation and Britain’s uneven imperial decline—often by former members of the colonial service—have generally been regarded as peripheral to the literary developments of the 1950s and 1960s and accordingly afforded little consideration.78 While postcolonial criticism has focused on the depictions of empire in British writings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the subsequent development of anticolonial literature in postcolonial states, it has done much less to interrogate the impact that Britain’s declining empire had on the metropolitan literature of the late imperial period.79 The situation is of course compounded in the case of neglected genres like adventure narratives, imperial biographies, and missionary memoirs which all persisted, often in nostalgic forms, into the mid-twentieth century and beyond. Much more work is certainly needed on their iterations in the context of decolonisation. If decolonisation is best understood not as a direct or continuous passage towards imperial retreat but rather one marked by ‘unevenness and uncertainty’—or, as MacKenzie puts it, by a ‘complicated mix of implosions, explosions, and small sputterings’ over several decades—literary studies might offer critical accounts of how late imperial forms registered and responded to this changing global environment.80 77 John M. MacKenzie, ‘The Persistence of Empire in Metropolitan Culture’, in Stuart Ward, ed., British Culture and the End of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), 21–36. 78 Matthew Whittle, Post-War British Literature and the ‘End of Empire’ (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 4 and 8. 79 Whittle, Post-War British Literature, 5–6. 80 Whittle, Post-War British Literature, 12; and MacKenzie, ‘Persistence of Empire’, 23.


Projections of Empire: The Architecture of Colonial Museums in East Africa Sarah Longair

Many museum buildings constructed in former imperial territories remain in use today. The ‘decolonising’ of such institutions has been a significant aspect of the post-colonial project of reclaiming local narratives and forging national ones. Museum buildings held a central role within the colonial landscape: often they were monumental edifices that simultaneously embodied the imperial mission and housed collections that sought to order and exhibit colonial knowledge. As John MacKenzie highlights in Museums and Empire (2009), the architecture of the museum ‘came to evoke civic, colonial, national and imperial power’ and made ‘statements about the “progress” exhibited in the colony in relation to the rest of the world’.1 Although MacKenzie notes the importance of the architecture of colonial museums, fuller treatment of them was beyond the scope of that particular study.

1 John M. MacKenzie, Museums and Empire: Natural History, Human Cultures and Colonial Identities (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009), 6.

S. Longair (*)  University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



The built environment more broadly, however, has been a constant concern in MacKenzie’s work. His first book devoted to the subject is currently in preparation, and throughout his work he has been highly attentive to its significance in understanding the dissemination of ideologies of empire and the experience of colonialism. He addressed architecture most directly in Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (1995), which will be discussed below in more detail, and elsewhere in writings about exhibitions, music halls, and other cultural venues. He is insistent on our need to understand the power that buildings constructed in the service of empire exerted over colonising and colonised populations. This chapter will explore these themes through an analysis of the buildings of three museums in East Africa: in Zanzibar, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam.

1  Architecture in the British Empire A rich body of scholarship has developed around colonial architecture. While early forays into the subject were of a more popular variety or concerned with a single type of building, such as Anthony King’s study of the bungalow, it was Thomas Metcalf’s The Imperial Vision (1989) that brought wider scholarly attention to this vital facet of colonial expansion.2 Metcalf’s work was specifically not a study of architectural history, but rather used the debates surrounding what style of buildings the British should erect in India to show how Britain sought to represent its empire. Mark Crinson’s Empire Building: Orientalism and Victorian Architecture (1996) examined the architecture of the informal empire and the buildings constructed by the British in Egypt, Istanbul, and Jerusalem. Of particular relevance here is Crinson’s insistence on recognising the importance of ‘failure, contingency and incompetence’ within British Orientalist architecture overseas, in buildings that were shaped by both

2 Jan Morris and Robert Fermor-Hesketh, eds., Architecture of the British Empire (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986); Anthony D. King, The Bungalow: The Production of a Global Culture (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984); and Thomas R. Metcalf, An Imperial Vision: Indian Architecture and Britain’s Raj (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989). Other early studies include Gavin Stamp, ‘British Architecture in India, 1857–1947’, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 129 (1981), 357–79; and Philip Davies, Splendours of the Raj: British Architecture in India, 1660 to 1947 (London: John Murray, 1985).



British attitudes and local realities.3 More recently, Alex Bremner has invigorated the field with his groundbreaking Imperial Gothic (2013), in which he makes a powerful argument for the incorporation of buildings constructed across the empire into the field of British architecture, from which they have previously been excluded.4 Recognising the importance of architecture to the study of the British Empire, Bremner has recently edited Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire (2016), a companion volume to the Oxford History of the British Empire series, which examines how empire took architectural form across the world. In Bremner’s introduction to this long-overdue scholarly overview of the subject, he offers some useful definitions, including a distinction between ‘colonial’ and ‘imperial’ architecture. While acknowledging that this is a complex issue, Bremner regards a domestic dwelling, for example, as a ‘colonial’ building in that it rarely represents ‘an imperial statement’. ‘Imperial architecture’, in contrast, conveys and embodies in some way an idea of imperial rule.5 Buildings associated with governance, the law, and trade fit within this category, as do monuments, memorials, and museums. One element of MacKenzie’s work on architecture that is relevant to this discussion is his analysis of Orientalism with respect to buildings. He notes there was not what could be described as a ‘movement’ in Orientalist architecture in Britain.6 He highlights that while there was ‘eclectic experimentation’ with exotic forms, debates revolving around the ‘climatic and cultural, religious and geographical suitability’ of Orientalist styles prevented their having a serious and enduring impact upon European architecture.7 He suggests that eastern forms in Britain were predominantly used for ‘the architecture of leisure’ and were only

3 Mark Crinson, Empire Building: Orientalism and Victorian Architecture (London: Routledge, 1996), 7. 4 G. A. Bremner, Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, c. 1840–70 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), xiii, 431–36. 5 G. Alex Bremner, ‘Stones of Empire: Monuments, Memorials and Manifest Authority’, in G. Alex Bremner, ed., Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 86–87. 6 John M. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory, and the Arts (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), 71. 7 MacKenzie, Orientalism, 71.


‘passionately embraced’ by designers, not architects.8 MacKenzie also notes that oriental styles were often used for explicitly modern structures, such as factories and cinemas. In this way, he challenges the Saidean notion of Orientalism as invoking a sense of ‘backwardness’. Rather, ‘oriental forms, however, misinterpreted, were a repeated source of inspiration, offering new routes out of architectural reaction’.9 While this statement refers to architects working in Britain, it highlights the importance of questioning in what way eastern forms were used and for what purpose. Architects working in the colonial world had, of course, a different set of influences and responses to local architecture. They moved beyond the simple addition of decorative features to the incorporation of structural and formal elements of local designs into their buildings. Debate about the suitability of style to function occurred in the colonial world and reached architectural circles in Britain. William Emerson, who worked in India and was known for his embrace of Indo-Saracenic styles, wrote in 1884 that building ‘for any purpose connected with the natives, whether for administration, education or charity, should show a distinct British character, at the same time adopting the details and feeling of the native architecture, and suiting it to the particular requirements of the case’.10 Museums were prime examples of this philosophy—institutions in which, ideally, the colonial regime categorised and exhibited local culture and encased it in a building which reflected styles drawn from both traditions. MacKenzie’s warning against dismissing Orientalists, in the original meaning of the word, is also relevant when considering the meaning of architecture. If we are to decode buildings to make any contribution to an understanding of imperialism, we must do so by the values of those in the past: ‘The deciphering of the message is, of course, immensely difficult, but of one thing we can be sure: it can only be done in terms of the meanings of its own age and not those of others’.11 Establishing what meaning buildings held for local people is notoriously hard, although the case of the museum in Zanzibar offers some tantalising clues. We must

8 MacKenzie,

Orientalism, 71 and 72. Orientalism, 104. 10 Quoted in Metcalf, An Imperial Vision, 82. 11 MacKenzie, Orientalism, xvii. 9 MacKenzie,



also not forget that colonial structures shored up the confidence of the coloniser. An example from East Africa exemplifies this. The cathedral in Mombasa, Kenya, was the first building by John Sinclair (later architect of the Zanzibar museum). After visiting the cathedral, Reverend B. G. O’Rorke, chaplain to the armed forces, recorded that: ‘A wellknown British officer, who visited this cathedral with me, and who knew Mombasa in the [eighteen] eighties when the present cathedral close was mere jungle, remarked that it convinced him more than ever that we English are destined to rule the world’.12 Architecture could reinforce British imperial identity and duty—the ‘imagined community’ of empire realised in physical form.13

2  Building Museums in the Empire As noted by MacKenzie, there has been no comprehensive study of colonial museum architecture, although numerous studies touch upon this subject, whether as in the case of Metcalf and Bremner in a wider study of imperial architecture or in the form of individual studies of particular institutions.14 Museums represent a potentially illuminating aspect of imperial architecture, as they housed imperial interpretations of local cultural and natural objects.15 It is not my intention to present an overview of the entire sub-field of colonial museum history and architectural history. In order to understand the museums in East Africa,

12 Quoted in P. J. Frankl, ‘Mombasa Cathedral and the CMS Compound’, History in Africa 35 (2008), 221. 13 Ann Laura Stoler, ‘Rethinking Colonial Categories: European Communities and the Boundaries of Rule’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 31 (1989), 137; Benedict R. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, revised edn (London: Verso, 1991); and Bremner, Imperial Gothic, 1–20. 14 See Roger Summers, A History of the South African Museum, 1825–1975 (Cape Town: A. A. Balkema, 1975); and Sarah Longair, Cracks in the Dome: Fractured Histories of Empire in the Zanzibar Museum, 1897–1964 (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2015). 15 Michaela Giebelhausen and Suzanne MacLeod have addressed the question of museum architecture more broadly, drawing our attention to the particular requirements of museums, many of which, as we will see, were overlooked by architects working in the colonial world: Michaela Giebelhausen, ‘Museum Architecture: A Brief History’, in Sharon Macdonald, ed., A Companion to Museum Studies (Chicester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 223–44; and Suzanne Macleod, Museum Architecture: A New Biography (London and New York: Routledge, 2013).


which were new institutions constructed in the 1920s, however, I will discuss precedents elsewhere in the British Empire. Colonial museum buildings—as houses of cultural and scientific knowledge—in some respects epitomised the colonial project and have certainly been held up as such in the post-colonial era. Following MacKenzie’s insistence that we trace carefully the more complex history of their construction and evidence of their reception and use at the time, I shall argue that they were also riven with tensions, exposing the realities of colonial rule. As MacKenzie’s Museums and Empire demonstrated, there are recognisable phases in the construction of museums across the empire, as this process was influenced by political and economic circumstances and the development of scholarly disciplines. Each institution was the result of the combined efforts of motivated individuals, a local scholarly community, and the local government, along with the existence of a collection and a space either already in existence or planned. The confluence of these forces is significant when we consider the construction of the buildings. If influential figures in power supported these scholarly endeavours, government support for a major building project was more likely to be forthcoming. In the absence of such support, museums might remain in unsuitable buildings until a change of regime or an event, such as a memorial project, provided the excuse to channel funds into a facility which was a desirable but not essential part of colonial administration. Whether governments would commit funds not only for construction but also for staff was another question that plagued smaller museums in the colonies.16 In Britain, the classical style that was preferred for museum buildings in the early nineteenth century gradually gave way to the neo-Gothic. Museums in the colonial world, however, were more architecturally varied. Metcalf notes that Indian museums in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century were almost invariably Indo-Saracenic in style, including the Albert Hall in Jaipur (1887) and the Prince of Wales Museum in Bombay (1914).17 Metcalf argues that IndoSaracenism allowed British designers to pick and choose elements as they wished, which provided a sense of ‘mastery’ and a distinctly ‘European

16 See, for example, discussions over the appointment of a permanent curator for the Zanzibar Museum. Longair, Cracks in the Dome, 128–39. 17 Metcalf, An Imperial Vision, 96.



perspective on India’s past’.18 Such an image created an impression of ‘an efficient order imposed on a backward and divided society’.19 Indo-Saracenic styles did not, however, entirely prevail. George Wittet, architect of the Prince of Wales Museum, disliked the Indo-Saracenic style, but upon receiving the commission from John Begg, Consulting Architect to the Indian Government, he was asked to revise his classical design to correspond with Begg’s Indo-Saracenic General Post Office.20 Wittet’s later designs returned to his preferred classical style. Here, we can see that in spite of Emerson’s pronouncements about the suitability of hybrid styles for colonial buildings, architects did not use a consistent style for particular types of building. In keeping with the early-twentieth-century revival of neoclassicism in India, Emerson’s Victoria Memorial (which later became a museum) in Calcutta was ‘the first major classically styled monument in India in half a century’, although Emerson ensured that it had Saracenic touches.21 We can identify some similar elements in architectural projects in East Africa, but across the different colonial territories, the style selected to represent colonial order varied. Perceptions of the needs of African populations differed widely, and we see a distinct shift in style from buildings constructed in the Swahili coastal region compared with inland Nairobi. To understand the designs of these buildings, we must also consider the varied circumstances under which museums were constructed. MacKenzie highlights how they often emerged out of scholarly societies, such as the Asiatic Society of Bengal or one of the countless others from Mauritius to Nairobi. Many early museums were originally housed in a room within one of these institutions or an adjoining building. In other cases, the colonial government decided that such an institution was worth the investment. The architect in these cases would most likely be a member of the Public Works Department, such was the case in Ceylon, where J. G. Smither designed the National Museum in Colombo in an Italianate style. The particular needs of a museum—wall space, top-lighting, ample storage, office, and laboratory 18 Metcalf,

An Imperial Vision, 86. An Imperial Vision, 86. 20 DSA Architect Biography Report: George Wittet, Dictionary of Scottish Architects, [accessed 23 May 2017]. 21 Metcalf, An Imperial Vision, 199. 19 Metcalf,


space—presented challenges to architects who sought to make monumental marks on the colonial townscape. Tensions therefore existed in marrying the needs of museums to the ambitions of their architects. The museums in Nairobi, Zanzibar, and Dar es Salaam, the three examples to be investigated in this chapter, were founded between 1909 and 1939. As such, they reflect a particular phase of colonial museum construction in the first half of the twentieth century. Coming late in the history of imperial expansion, the foundation of these institutions responded to precedents elsewhere in the Empire as well as particular political, economic, educational, and museological concerns at the local, regional, and imperial level. The emphasis upon colonial development in the interwar years offered opportunities for museum staff to highlight the valuable contributions museums could make to development initiatives. They were, however, still far from fully professional institutions and had to fight to persuade governments of their value. The design of these buildings varied considerably. Architecturally, there were a plethora of designs from across the empire as well as local influences on which to draw. The diverse and often contentious histories of their construction clearly demonstrate the need, previously identified by MacKenzie, to look beyond an Orientalist lens in our analysis of imperial architecture. At first glance, the Zanzibar museum in particular may seem to represent an imitation of eastern forms, yet once we examine closely the circumstances of its construction a far more complex picture emerges. While architectural historians might dismiss these buildings as poorly constructed or lacking coherence, for historians of empire, they offer fresh insights into the colonial project and expand MacKenzie’s focus on architecture in metropolitan context. I shall first discuss some common elements of the construction of the three museums, followed by an analysis of each one individually, with particular attention to Zanzibar. I shall argue that each museum building reflects contemporary perceptions of indigenous societies, as well as an attempt to reinforce the confidence of the coloniser. I use an examination of the building process and final result to illuminate the multiplicity of factors influencing the construction of what could be seen merely as self-serving monuments to empire. I shall also demonstrate the great extent to which the outcome of each museum building project was contingent upon local, regional, and imperial forces; veiling tensions; and flaws in the imperial project behind their apparently unified facades.



3  Establishing Museums in East Africa: Memorialisation and Community Fundraising Museum development in East Africa began in Uganda with the creation of the Protectorate Museum in Kampala in 1908. Used until the 1950s, the small classical temple located on Kampala Hill was designed to house ‘local curios of all kinds’.22 Two years later in 1910, the Natural History Museum of Kenya in Nairobi was founded to house the collections of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society, following the common model from India and elsewhere. It was first located in a small building, then moved to a larger one on Kirk Road in 1922.23 It grew greatly in significance after its reestablishment in 1930 as the Coryndon Memorial Museum. The museum in Zanzibar was commissioned in 1919 to commemorate the fallen of the Great War and eventually opened in 1925 as the Peace Memorial Museum, or Beit al Amani. Finally, the King George V Memorial Museum in Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika, was commissioned in 1936 following the death of George V and opened in 1939. The memorial element of the three museums in question is notable and underlines the importance of fundraising. The projects in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam both took advantage of pan-imperial memorialisation initiatives to realise long-held local plans for museums. In Nairobi, meanwhile, the death of the Governor Sir Robert Coryndon in 1925 provided the opportunity to raise funds for a memorial. The specific event or person being ‘memorialised’ was not represented in any of the three museums other than with a plaque or statue. Only in the case of the Zanzibar museum, which held an annual Armistice Day ceremony, did a memorial activity actually occur. Thus, even if their role as memorials to George V and the First World War brought these museums into an empire-wide imagined community, their normal functions as museums

22 Circular from the Deputy Commissioner, announcing founding of the Uganda Museum, 15 January 1908. Facsimile reproduced in the Uganda Museum. It was rebuilt in a modernist style in 1952–54 by German architect Ernst May. Alison Bennett, a Ph.D. student at University College London, is currently researching the early history of this institution. In 2006, when the Gaddafi mosque was constructed on this site, the old museum building was taken apart and rebuilt in a new location. 23 National Museums of Kenya Archive (NMK hereafter), 001/ADM/5/7/2/4, National Museum of Kenya Report for 1977–1979, 10.


superseded their status as lieux de mémoire.24 In the absence of central funding from the colonial government or a colonial policy on the establishment of museums, such memorial projects tended to be spontaneous local developments, usually resulting from the enthusiasm of determined individuals with shared scholarly interests. Finding the large sums necessary to build a new building was inevitably challenging, particularly when other needs, such as schools and hospitals, were more pressing for public works departments. Memorials could also take many forms. The Memorial Committee in Dar es Salaam, for example, considered erecting statues in every marketplace but decided this would scatter the available funds so that ‘no one would feel the benefit’.25 The potential educational, cultural, and scientific value of museums rendered them suitable as memorials, as they were perceived to have a lasting impact upon the local community. In all three of these cases, the museum projects were long in gestation, and the calls for memorialisation were utilised to fund them. All relied upon public donations to the respective memorial funds, a common practice in Britain, where local populations were frequently asked to subscribe to museum initiatives. It has been argued that in this process, the middle classes demanded that the working classes pay for institutions for their own improvement.26 This phenomenon can be transferred to the colonial context, where British officials asked the locals to donate money for the construction of new institutions with which they were unfamiliar, but which were intended for their benefit. In all three examples, a portion of the costs of building the museums was publicly funded. In the Zanzibari and Tanganyikan cases, hundreds of contributions of

24 For further discussion of memorials in the colonial sphere, see Robert Aldrich, Vestiges of the Colonial Empire in France: Monuments, Museums, and Colonial Memories (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); and Dominik Geppert and Frank Lorenz Müller, eds., Sites of Imperial Memory: Commemorating Colonial Rule in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015). 25 National Museum of Tanzania archive (NMT hereafter), AM101.D33 R46, English translation of G. K. Whitlamsmith, ‘Ukumbusho wa Marehemu King George V, Dar es Salaam’, Mambo Leo, 6 January 1941, 44–45. 26 Amy Woodson-Boulton, ‘Victorian Museums and Victorian Society’, History Compass 6 (January 2008), 109–46.



one or two rupees were received from the local Swahili population.27 ‘Public ownership’, however, could create legal and political challenges in the future, as it did in Zanzibar.28 Another problem with memorialisation projects for creating museums is that they did not cover the ongoing costs of maintaining the institution. Governments and officials involved in founding the museums were often enthusiastic, yet the case of Zanzibar showed that during straitened economic times the lack of understanding of museums by the colonial administration meant that they could become critically underfunded.

4   Zanzibar: An Eclectic and Flawed Oriental Vision The museum building in Zanzibar is the earliest of the three examples considered here. It serves to alert us to many common themes and challenges in the creation of monumental architecture and museums in the colonial world. The idea of a museum in Zanzibar was first mooted in the 1900s, in the wake of the Zanzibar Exhibition of 1905. It was nearly realised by one enthusiastic British Consul General, Edward Clarke, but first his death and then the First World War led to the abandonment of the project. It was not until the decision to create a memorial to those who had lost their lives in the war that an opportunity arose to revive the project. At a public meeting ‘representative of all communities’ on Tuesday 24 June 1919, John Sinclair, Acting Resident of the Zanzibar Government and Chairman of the Peace Memorial Committee, proposed that the memorial take ‘form of a Public Hall comprising also a Museum … and be open to the free use of all communities’.29 Dr. Alfred Spurrier, its first curator, suggested that the museum should focus upon education and that its programme should include public lectures. Spurrier was a long-term resident and proponent of public health whose ultimate desire was ‘to afford instruction to the natives’ and 27 Zanzibar National Archives (ZNA hereafter), AB41/2, Management of the Zanzibar Museum, May 1934 to Sept 1936, handwritten document listing Public Subscriptions to the Peace Memorial Museum Hall. 28 Sarah Longair, ‘“A Gracious Temple of Learning”: The Museum and Colonial Culture in Zanzibar, 1900–1945’ (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of London, 2012), 158–61. 29 Official Gazette of Zanzibar: Supplement to the Official Gazette XXVIII, no. 1431 (30 June 1919), 165.


‘to ameliorate the lot especially of the labouring classes in these Islands’.30 A call was made for funds that brought in Rs. 57,886 from the local community. Shaped by Spurrier’s personal vision, the ­project rapidly moved from simply being a hall including a museum to a museum devoted to the education of the local community. Unlike museums established to present the collection of a scholarly society, the building project preceded the amassing of objects; therefore, little knowledge existed of what displays it needed to house. Acting Resident Sinclair was also to be the building’s architect. Prior to joining the colonial service, Sinclair had trained in the offices of the eminent Victorian architect John Loughborough Pearson, whose notable buildings included Truro Cathedral and St. John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, Australia. Sinclair also recorded his admiration of the work of Richard Norman Shaw, a notable proponent of architectural eclecticism.31 He did not complete his training, however, and decided that, as he wrote, since he had ‘little hope of emulating Sir Christopher Wren’, he would take a position as an auditor for the Uganda Railway.32 But after arriving in Mombasa, his architectural training was put to use in designing the new cathedral and several government buildings. He continued to design public buildings after his arrival in Zanzibar in 1898. His eclectic designs were characterised by their fusion of European, Swahili, Arab, and South Asian architectural styles, reflecting the different communities present in the Zanzibar archipelago and on the coastal mainland of East Africa.33 In the design for the Peace Memorial, Sinclair had an opportunity to create a monumental building that should have been the pinnacle of his long career in Zanzibar. The design he proposed in 1919 was an imposing two-storey domed building on a hexagonal plan (Fig. 1). The central section resembles a neo-Gothic cathedral, with pointed arches narrowing as the registers ascend, surmounted by a rose 30 ZNA AB41/1, Peace Memorial Buildings: Edward Northey, Zanzibar High Commission, to Winston Churchill, Secretary of State for the Colonies, 9 June 1922; ZNA AB 41/1, Peace Memorial Buildings, Memorandum on the Peace Memorial Research and Education Museum by Alfred Spurrier, 31 January 1923. 31 Royal Commonwealth Society Library (RCSL hereafter), RCMS 180, John Houston Sinclair, ‘Senex Africanus: Reminiscences of Early Days in England, Kenya, Zanzibar and Tangier’, n.d. [c. 1955], 10. 32 RCMS 180, 12. 33 Longair, Cracks in the Dome, 81–88.



Fig. 1  Original elevation of the Peace Memorial Museum, 1920, Zanzibar. Drawing by Livia Wang

window.34 Sinclair also included striped masonry, towers resembling minarets, poly-lobed arches, crenellations, and a large dome. The latter was to be over ninety feet high, and Sinclair hoped it would be visible from the sea. A domed building of this height met the long-held desire by the British for the improvement of Zanzibar’s cityscape, which had been criticised for its plainness by British writers from Richard Burton onwards. The dominant Ibathi Muslim sect in Zanzibar built plain and unostentatious mosques. As Francis Pearce, Sinclair’s predecessor as British Resident, explained: ‘[Zanzibar] might be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Built as it is on a low promontory, jutting out into the bluest of seas, it has every advantage of site. But alas! One looks in vain 34 Longair, Cracks in the Dome, 98–102. A similar arrangement can be seen on Truro Cathedral, a Pearson design that Sinclair may have known from his time in the offices there.


Fig. 2  Revised elevation of the Peace Memorial Museum, 1923, Zanzibar. Drawing by Livia Wang

for the domes and minarets and clustered pinnacles which an eastern city should possess’.35 Sinclair therefore designed the domed structure to celebrate his and Britain’s contribution to Zanzibar and to make the cityscape conform to the British image of an ‘eastern city’. Sinclair’s original design was, however, doomed. Midway through the construction in June 1922, one of the walls collapsed, killing one workman and injuring others.36 In the turbulent years that followed, Sinclair resigned and left Zanzibar with the building half-complete. The new government architect redesigned the building, reducing its height by a storey and creating a very different edifice (Fig. 2). Some decorative elements were erased, such as the ‘minarets’, narrow pointed arches, and striped masonry. The rose windows were reduced in

35 F. B. Pearce, Zanzibar: The Island Metropolis of Eastern Africa (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1920), 146. 36 Official Gazette of Zanzibar: Supplement to the Official Gazette XXXI, no. 1588 (3 July 1922), 381.



Fig. 3  Peace Memorial Museum, Zanzibar. Photograph Author’s own

size and are only just visible when looking at the building from ground level (Fig. 3). The overall effect of these changes gives the museum a much stronger horizontal emphasis, which has led to its being compared to a mosque. Although many of the more overtly eastern elements had been removed, the building thus retained a sense of being an Orientalist pastiche. Indeed, the name ‘Beit al Amani’—‘house of peace’—was selected by the new resident Claud Hollis after the Chief Secretary overheard it being called ‘Muskiti ya Bwana Sinclair’—‘Mr Sinclair’s mosque’—by local inhabitants, an intriguing anecdote which hints at how local people viewed British architecture.37 Sinclair’s ambitious and grandiose design was not wholly suitable as a museum. The carpenters struggled to create cases for the hexagonal 37 For further discussion of the source of this name, see Longair, Cracks in the Dome, 100, 149–52.


building, and there was very little storage space for the rapidly expanding collection.38 The removal of a storey reduced the available floor space, and within two years an annexe was deemed necessary due to the overflow of exhibits. Sinclair’s design did not offer opportunities for expansion, and there was little space for the planned research laboratories. The plain rectangular annexe of 1930 proved more suitable for creating the dark conditions necessary for lantern slide lectures. The flat roof over the entrance pooled with water during the monsoon; the first leaks occurred within four years, and it regularly required whitewashing.39 It was thus a building riven with difficulties, which recalls Crinson’s description of British architecture in the near east as typified by ‘failure, contingency and incompetence’.40 Perhaps this should not be surprising given that Sinclair was a semi-trained architect who left midway through the construction. Yet it is still regarded today as a colonial icon in Zanzibar. Rather than a monument to imperial dominance, the history of its construction more readily represents the compromise and contestation present in colonial building projects. The museum remains a complicated and compelling landmark of the British architectural endeavour in Zanzibar.

5  The Coryndon Memorial Museum: A Classical Vision in Nairobi In contrast to the museum in Zanzibar, the Coryndon Memorial Museum was the first bespoke building constructed for a collection which had for fifteen years been housed in unsuitable locations. The first museum was instituted in 1910 following the foundation of the Natural History Society of East African and Uganda.41 Chaired by the governor of the protectorate, the society reflected the great interest of the white settler population in the natural history of the region, which generally expressed itself in hunting expeditions. The group brought together both amateur and professional scientists, who collected and studied 38 Official Gazette of Zanzibar: Supplement to the Official Gazette XXXIV, no. 1754 (5 September 1925), 322. 39 ZNA CA1/7, Spurrier personal papers: Spurrier to Museum Committee Chairman, 25 October 1929. 40 Crinson, Empire Building, 7. 41 NMK 001/ADM/5/7/2/4, National Museum of Kenya Report for 1977–1979, 10.



regional flora and fauna. In August 1910, a space was allocated to them in a building on Kirk Road that had been erected by a wealthy member of the Asian community, Aladina Visram.42 The room, originally rented merely for storage, soon became a museum, while the collections grew rapidly due to the members’ enthusiasm for hunting. In 1914, the society employed its first paid curator, Arthur Loveridge, a leading expert on African reptiles who later obtained a post on the faculty of Harvard University.43 In 1923, the collection moved to a larger building, but it was still insufficient. In addition to the collections of the society, several government departments, such as the agricultural and medical department, had their own museums. Sir Robert Coryndon, Governor and Commander-inChief of Kenya from 1922 to 1925, believed that the collections should be brought together in a proper public institution with an emphasis on international-standard research.44 Coryndon died in 1925 before he could achieve this objective, but the memorial committee established soon afterwards decided to rebuild the museum in his memory. According to Coryndon’s successor Sir Edward Grigg: ‘It was because he was a field naturalist with a high realisation of the valuable economic uses to which knowledge acquired in the field may be put, that all have agreed that his memory should be perpetuated by something in the nature of a museum’.45 The administration hoped that the museum would serve as a research centre and be of real economic benefit beyond its educational function. As in Zanzibar, funds were sought through a public appeal, which brought in £6500, £3000 of which was contributed by the government and £2000 by the Natural History Society.46 This was insufficient to build a research laboratory, and that part of the scheme had to be abandoned. Securing an appropriate site on Ainsworth Hill took years of negotiation, but by the late 1920s construction finally began.

42 NMK

001/ADM/5/7/2/4, National Museum of Kenya Report for 1977–1979, 10. R. Odhiambo, ‘Letter from the Chairman’, Kenya Past and Present, 1 (December 1971), 2. 44 Kenya National Archives (KNA hereafter), KW/24/40, Appeal for funds by Sir Edward Grigg, 11 February 1926. 45 KNA KW/24/40, Appeal for funds by Sir Edward Grigg, 11 February 1926. 46 NMK 001/ADM/5/7/2/4, National Museum of Kenya Report for 1977–1979, 10. 43 Thomas


This was one of many building projects in the late 1920s which sought to bring a sense of uniformity to the young city. Nairobi had developed from a camp set up to build the Uganda Railway to a colonial capital in less than three decades. The city grew in a haphazard fashion: a fire in 1905 required much of the new town to be rebuilt, while the undulating land presented numerous challenges.47 The inconsistency and incoherence of Nairobi’s buildings led a writer in the East African Standard to note that it had been described ‘not without adequate justification, as “a builder’s back yard”’.48 Unlike coastal East Africa and Zanzibar, which had a long architectural tradition of building in stone and coral, there were few structures in central Kenya which European architects saw as worthy of emulation. Sir Edward Grigg invited Herbert Baker to design the new Government House in Nairobi, as well as regional government buildings and schools across Kenya.49 Baker, who had worked with Edwin Lutyens in New Delhi and designed major public buildings in South Africa and India in his own right, was one of the most influential architects in the British Empire in the early twentieth century. According to Metcalf, Baker reinvigorated the classical style for the twentieth-century empire and his buildings expressed the ‘ideals of law, order, and government’.50 The sense of proportion and order in classical architecture, as well as its allusion to the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome, rendered it a suitable style for government buildings. Associations between the British Empire and the Roman Empire were commonplace by the late nineteenth century, and comparisons were drawn by politicians and encouraged through classical education. Baker insisted, however, that his classical designs respond to the local environment.

47 Maurice N. Amutabi, ‘Buildings as Symbols and Metaphors of Colonial Hegemony: Interrogating Colonial Buildings and Architecture in Kenya’s Urban Spaces’, in Fassil Demissie, ed., Colonial Architecture and Urbanism in Africa: Intertwined and Contested Histories (Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2012), 328. 48 East African Standard, 31 March 1928, 11. 49 Grigg’s personal secretary at this time was Eric Dutton, later Chief Secretary in Zanzibar (1942–52), who took a great interest in architecture. See Garth Myers, Verandahs of Power: Colonialism and Space in Urban Africa (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2002). 50 Metcalf, An Imperial Vision, 247.



Fig. 4  Nairobi National Museum, formerly the Coryndon Memorial Museum, Nairobi. Photograph Author’s own

Jan Hoogterp, with whom Baker had worked in South Africa, directed the Kenyan projects, working within and developing Baker’s classical idiom. In spite of demands from Nairobi-based architects that a local firm be chosen, Hoogterp was selected as the architect for the new Coryndon Memorial Museum.51 With its solid, almost severe façade, the Coryndon Memorial Museum exemplifies early-twentieth-century classicism (Fig. 4). It has clear relationships with the earlier work of Lutyens and Baker, in particular the portico in antis, a deep-set portico flush with the façade, which is similar to the recessed portico on the façade of Lutyens’s Viceroy’s House in New Delhi. The deep, overhanging eaves were also typical of Baker’s work in India and Kenya. The capitals of the four columns forming a simple entrance colonnade feature lotus symbols, a reference to ancient Egypt and perhaps alluding to Lake Victoria 51 KNA 1/469, Minutes of Coryndon Memorial trustees meetings, minutes of meeting on 8 February 1928.


on the border of western Kenya as the source of the Nile. Along the sides is a giant order of engaged piers with rounded windows above, providing light and ample wall space inside for exhibits. In the interior, lunette windows increase the amount of light and give a less severe aspect to the spaces. The hall, a large single space, includes a balcony providing additional space for exhibits and a grand staircase at the far end. The walls were lined with display cases and hunting trophies. Display space was, at a late stage in the design, a point of contestation. In 1929, the curator Dr. V. G. L. van Someren requested Hoogterp to remove every other column supporting the balcony and reinforce it with steel girders in order to create space for exhibits of large game. Hoogterp’s assistant L. G. Jackson protested that from ‘the aesthetic point of view such revision could not possibly be recommended’ and complained that such a request had been made so far into the project.52 Although the sources do not indicate the outcome, it appears from the ground plan that a compromise was reached, as there are large spaces of over ten feet between the columns. A further issue arose when the architects inscribed the wrong wording on the plaque over the entrance. An enraged Grigg informed the architect that he would personally have to pay for the re-inscription—the one we see today. Not only did the design of the Coryndon Memorial Museum fit with the prevailing style Baker and Hoogterp used elsewhere in Nairobi, but it also had significant advantages as a museum building. Its main rectangular hall provided a flexible space, and the simple plan provided opportunity for expansion, which occurred in the 1950s and 2000s. The use of the classical style was in part determined by its frequent deployment in the effort to improve Nairobi in the 1920s. Due to Kenya’s status as a settler colony, the museum did not, as in Zanzibar and Tanganyika, seek to target a local audience, but rather it catered primarily to the growing white population. The form of the Coryndon Memorial Museum demonstrates the flow of styles from the metropole via New Delhi and Pretoria to Nairobi.

52 KNA 1/469, Minutes of Coryndon Memorial trustees meetings, L. G. Jackson to van Someren, 23 March 1929.



6  Dar es Salaam: A Museum ‘Arabic in Character’ The George V Memorial Museum in Dar es Salaam sheds additional light on elements of both previous examples. Dar es Salaam is a coastal town with, like Zanzibar, a Swahili majority and influential South Asian and Arab minorities. Unlike Zanzibar, it had previously been subject to European rule: German control of the city lasted from the 1880s until Tanganyika became a League of Nations mandate administered by the British after the First World War. Examples of European buildings were therefore inherited, providing a pre-existing model of imperial architecture. Although it made its own mark upon the landscape, the British administration also responded to these earlier precedents. German buildings, for example, used horseshoe arches—a Moorish form with no local architectural precedent in East Africa. The museum project, too, originated during the German era. A permanent museum of ethnography was proposed in 1914 but was, as in Zanzibar, delayed by the outbreak of war.53 After the British takeover, as in Kenya, several smaller museums were created. It was not until the governorship of Sir Harold MacMichael, who took up the post in 1934, that a museum for the whole territory was proposed. Soon after his arrival, MacMichael ‘infected a group of willing helpers with his enthusiasm, and objects for exhibition commenced to pour in from all parts of the country’.54 These objects were stored ‘unsatisfactorily in an old Arab building, far too dark and dusty for the purpose’, specifically the Seyyid Barghash building on the waterfront. In 1936, a fund was established to mark the death of King George V with no specific mandate as to what form a memorial might take. Various suggestions were made, including the erection of statues of the king across the territory. The fund amassed £5000, with the majority of the donors, as in Zanzibar, local subscribers who gave small contributions. Under the influence of MacMichael, the Tanganyikan Government provided matching funds and proposed that the memorial should take the form of a museum.55 53 Paul Msemwa, From King George V Memorial Museum to House of Culture: Royalty to Popularity (Dar es Salaam, 2005), 3. 54 Clement Gillman and Ailsa Nicol Smith, ‘A Museum in Tanganyika: King George V Memorial Museum, Dar Es Salaam’, Museums Journal 41 (November 1941), 169. 55 B. S. Hoyle, Gillman of Tanganyika, 1882–1946: The Life and Work of a Pioneer Geographer (Aldershot: Avebury, 1987), 348.


Fig. 5  National Museum of Tanzania, formerly the King George V Memorial Museum, Dar es Salaam. Photograph Author’s own

The design of the museum in Dar es Salaam shares common features with both of the predecessors discussed above (Fig. 5). Claude Michael Boys Hinderer, a Nairobi-based architect, was commissioned ‘to design a building costing not more than 8000 pounds, the architecture to be Arabic in character but not too ornate’.56 Boys Hinderer drew up a simple two-winged plan with a central entrance and atrium. Windows at the upper level and roof-lighting provided ample but indirect light for the exhibition halls. His interpretation of ‘Arabic’ character was clearly drawn from Moorish designs: the central hall is heavily adorned with North African-style tiles surrounding a large horseshoe arch, while the smaller windows repeat the same form. Horseshoe arches originated in North Africa and were then used widely in Moorish Spain. They were first used 56 NMT:AM101.D33 R46, Architects’ Report on Proposed Museum, July 1938. Lt Col C.M. Boys Hinderer had lived in East Africa since 1912, died 1953. He was part of Henderson and Partners, working in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kampala. Journal of Royal Institute of British Architects 61 (1954), 207.



in East Africa in German administrative buildings constructed around the turn of the century. John Sinclair had designed the British Residency in Dar es Salaam with long colonnades of horseshoe arches; they were thus by the 1930s familiar components of European imperial architecture in Tanganyika. It seems that for Boys Hinderer, Moorish North African motifs met the generic brief of ‘Arabic in character’. A carved door typical of the Swahili coast was installed at the main entrance, the principal reference within the design to East African indigenous architectural styles. With its rectangular exhibition space, the design was practical, although the curator of the Zanzibar Museum, Ailsa Nicol Smith, who set up the first exhibitions and trained the staff, and Clement Gillman, the first curator, felt that the building had ‘two defects’. Firstly, there was insufficient storage, which as noted earlier was a frequent frustration for museum administrators. Secondly, they remarked upon ‘the unfortunate predilection of the architect for the Alhambra, which he has shown in tile-work ornamentation’. They believed that in spite of these shortcomings, however, it would ‘otherwise function very well as a museum’.57

7   Conclusion As noted in the opening of this chapter, many museums constructed in the colonial era remain in use, as is the case with all three of the buildings discussed here. In Zanzibar, the Peace Memorial Museum lay unused for many years after the collections were rehoused in a large former sultan’s palace on the seafront. Due to the collapse of a corner of that building in 2012, however, some displays have been returned to the original museum site. In both Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, major investment has extended and modernised what have grown into large museum complexes. In these cases, their collections and buildings retain their colonial core, but sustained government interest has overlain these origins with significant architectural and scholarly developments. In Zanzibar, the museum and its collection have endured a chequered history, as its curators have continued to struggle with environmental and economic challenges. Sinclair’s museum building, which seemed moribund eight years ago, has been given a new lease on life due to the ­collapse of another building.

57 Gillman

and Nicol Smith, ‘A Museum in Tanganyika’, 171.


Each building responded to the perceived needs of the colony and the form of architecture deemed suitable for these diverse populations. The classical vision conceived for Nairobi sought to attract its white settler population with little regard for the local culture or people. It reflected the wider movement to impose order upon the young city, forged from the expansion of colonial modernity via the Nairobi railway. The force of this vision is underlined by the fact that Sinclair, attached as he was to eclecticism in Zanzibar, later designed a classical building for Nairobi. A different approach was taken in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, both pre-colonial cities with an indigenous architecture that the British acknowledged, albeit to differing degrees. Sinclair’s museum building represents the culmination of his career in Zanzibar, where he had experimented with eclectic forms from local and global sources for two decades. He sought to improve the skyline and create a notable local monument. Like the architects in Britain discussed by MacKenzie, he embraced rather than denigrated local and eastern architectural forms. His eclectic monuments represent his attempt to ‘master’ these styles, as Metcalf observed in the case of the Indo-Saracenic architects. Yet the troubled history of the museum’s construction and use demonstrates the limits of such mastery. The Dar es Salaam example certainly shows a greater acknowledgement of the needs of a museum—functionally it can be regarded as a success. The incorporation of Moorish elements, however, shows a less discriminating use of eastern forms. While Sinclair adopted a free approach and drew on a variety of architectural styles, he also engaged with local designs. The original buildings reflected visions of empire from the periphery, but all were formed by intra-imperial connections. Influence emanated as much from other parts of the empire as from the metropole. A South African architect designed a museum in Nairobi that was influenced by neoclassical designs for India; a Nairobi-based architect conceived a museum in Dar es Salaam that was inspired by Moorish styles; and in Zanzibar, a British administrator-architect created an eclectic fusion of a cathedral and a mosque. There was no simple monolithic idea of Orientalist or classical model of imperial architecture; trans-imperial influences ensured this was not the case. This study of three buildings demonstrates the multiple ideological, practical, imperial, museological, and accidental influences upon their designs. As such they reflect what museum workers across the world know well: that museums are compelling, complex, and sometimes chaotic places.


Swinging Imperialism: Days in the Life of the Commonwealth Office, 1966–1968 Martin Farr

To me, it’s to do, funnily enough, it may sound ridiculous, with the loss of the British Empire as such. Michael Caine, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London, 1967.1

Introduction On 10 May 1966, the Prime Minister announced the creation of the Commonwealth Office; on 15 March 1968, he announced its closure.2 During its short life less reversible decisions were also taken, few freely: devaluation of sterling; withdrawal of forces from the Middle and Far East; Guyana, Botswana, Lesotho, Barbados, Yemen, Nauru, Mauritius, and Swaziland gained independence. Empire, and the end of empire, and 1 Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London, Peter Whitehead, Lorrimer Films, London, 1967. This ‘pop concerto for film’ was marketed as the ‘definitive statement on the swinging city’ and has remained one of several such, entering lore. After a prolonged psychedelic ‘happening’, Caine’s are the first words heard, and frame the documentary, although—and

M. Farr (*)  School of History, Newcastle University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


122  M. FARR

Commonwealth, and the ends of Commonwealth, were foregrounded in public life in such concentrated coincidence as there had been no occasion for them to be before and no reason to be after. In public discourse, a duality was evident: a preoccupation with national decline at the same time as new registers of exuberance and absurdism. To no subject did it apply more than to imperialism. Imperialism was so prominent that its sensibilities permeated domestic life at a time when the empire was a memory, and, increasingly, not even that. A still-fresh post-Suez ambivalence towards what once had made Britain great for some betokened national lassitude; for others the very archaism of this is at one with the apparently haphazard nature of the enterprise—he had not known that the interview he had given Whitehead would be included in the film (Candidly Caine, London, 1990, 104). Caine’s breakthrough had been in a red field tunic three years earlier in Zulu, an, as it was prove, untypical 1960s film about the loss of the British Empire; in Tonite his words entitle the concerto’s ‘First Movement’: ‘1 Loss of the British Empire’. Marching guardsmen in red ceremonial tunics are juxtaposed with a shuffling youth in a red vintage tunic. The working-class Caine memorably attributed his opportunity in Zulu as being only due the fact that the director, Cy Endfield, was a social class-blind American. The money to make the movie was also American, and the only non-British-based ‘movement’ in Tonite was the seventh [sic]: ‘As Scene from U.S.A’. From the USA, the film was ‘an impressionistic view of “the land of the mod” as seen by a sympathetic participant’ (Variety, 4 October 1967, 12). It was also the only film by a British director to be screened at the 1967 New York Film Festival, where it shone (Variety, 4 October 1967, 20; 20 December 1967, 41). New York was always likely to provide a more spellbound audience than would London. ‘Caine has only to mention the British Empire and there’s a cut to a Guardsman on parade, and a few moments later the camera is zooming in and out with a trombone slide. We are invited to laugh and laugh we do, but it’s a facile and fatuous kind of humour’, Monthly Film Bulletin thought. Most damningly, Tonite was ‘the ephemera of today recorded in an ephemeral way, of interest to the social historian of the future perhaps’ (Monthly Film Bulletin, 1 January 1968, 30). Caine returned to the same subject, in the same medium, in the same format, and with some of the same footage from the same director, fifty years later. My Generation (David Batty, XIX Entertainment, London, 2017), of which Caine was presenter, narrator, and co-producer, was screened at the 2017 London Film Festival. But for all the overlap of structure and subject, the difference between Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London and My Generation was half a century. Compared with 1967, in 2017 a social historian expecting references to the British Empire would be at a loss. 2 The creation of the Commonwealth Office was announced on 10 May 1966, and the department was operational from 1 August 1966; its closure was announced on 15 March 1968 and took place on 17 October 1968. This article somewhat opportunistically takes the ‘lifespan’ as being May 1966–October 1968. The author is grateful to Kate Barnes, Kevin Flanagan, Felix Fugh, Tom Mills, Richard Smith, and his co-editor for their comments on earlier drafts of this chapter, and to Allan Barnes.



imperialism was its allure. There was now a youth, and one too young to have known Empire Day as its members conferred their own ubiquity on the Union Jack, gaily desecrating it on bikinis, wigs, and underpants; daily reminding of the contraction of ‘England’: that ‘jolly pattern’ amid much solemnity being lowered for the last time somewhere in the world; morning newspaper obituaries of the warriors, administrators, and chroniclers of empire. During the days in the life of the Commonwealth Office, the official mind could be said to have turned off, and the popular mind tuned in, however fleetingly. As a period in the culture of imperialism, that which followed the mid-century ‘extraordinary Indian summer in the popular culture of Empire’, as John MacKenzie has noted, has been relatively underappreciated.3 Given its social revolutions, and the undermining of the authority of the British state first through the debunking of the political classes, then devaluation of the currency, and, eventually, devolution to the nations, the richness of the cultural implications and registers of decolonisation at the same time as the promotion of Commonwealth allow for consideration of post-imperialism as an enduringly ‘pervasive theme’ in public life. ‘As Britain has declined in the world, Englishmen [sic] have devoted more and more attention to defining her role’, the American political scientist Kenneth Waltz noted from London at the time. ‘The contradiction between Britain’s global pretensions and her material insufficiency often leads that practical nation to retreat into mysticism’.4 Then as before, there was a modern ‘imperial nationalism, compounded of monarchism, militarism, and Social Darwinism, through which the British defined their own unique superiority vis-à-vis the rest

3 John M. MacKenzie, ‘The Popular Culture of Empire in Britain’, in Judith M. Brown and Wm. Roger Louis, eds., The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume IV: The Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 212–31, 212, and 229; John M. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1995); John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986); and John M. MacKenzie, general editor’s introduction, in Stuart Ward, ed., British Culture and the End of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001), vi and 1–17. 4 Kenneth N. Waltz, Foreign Policy and Democratic Politics: The American and British Experience (London: Longmans, 1967), 241 and 242.

124  M. FARR

of the world’.5 The ‘imperial turn’ and ‘conceptual revolution’ between them relegated older, more hubristic, approaches by looking at the impact of imperialism on metropolitan societies, placing gender, race, and culture centre.6 Admittedly this culture is in large part metropolitan, not merely as in the conventional sense of Britain, but of London.7 Even more than the pervasive misapplication of ‘England’ for ‘Britain’ was the capital city of both which became employed as a synonym for each. Yet, as with earlier imperial capitals, the metropoles, and their peripheries, London radiated ‘through reconstruction and a renaissance in cultural production’.8 In narrative terms, it was an almost high baroque moment of indulgence after the sobrieties of post-war reconstruction and before the existential crises of the 1970s. ‘Swinging London’ was, not unlike the ‘Isles of Wonder’ fifty years later, ‘a particular form of British national fantasy designed for global positioning/consumption’.9 American, predominantly.10 Familiar narratives of the ‘media Sixties’ of swingin’ stereotype are of generational change as propelled by fashion, music, class, sexuality, and attitudes towards authority. Experiences from the frontiers of empire were borrowed and adapted conspicuously by an urban society with ‘one foot in 5 John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), 253; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘“In Touch with the Infinite”: The BBC and the Empire, 1923–53’, in MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism, 165–91. 6 Antoinette Burton, ‘Imperial Optics’, 1–23 and 2; C. A. Bayley, ‘Afterword’, 293–301 and 293; both in Antoinette Burton, Empire in Question: Reading, Writing, and Teaching British Imperialism (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011). 7 Steve Chibnall, ‘Standing in the Shadow: Peter Whitehead, Swinging London’s Insider/Outsider’, Framework 52, no. 1 (2011), 246–27; Kevin M. Flanagan, ‘Whitehead’s London: Pop and the Ascendant Celebrity’, Framework 52, no. 1 (2011), 278–98; and Robert Opie, Rule Britannia: Trading on the British Image (Harmondsworth: Viking, 1985). 8 Simon Rycroft, ‘The Geographies of Swinging London’, Journal of Historical Geography 28, no. 4 (2002), 566–88 and 566. 9 Michael Silk, ‘“Isles of Wonder”: Performing the Mythopoeia of Utopic MultiEthnic Britain’, Media Culture & Society 37, no. 1 (2015), 69; and Marlie Huisman, ‘Representations of Swinging London in 1960s British Cinema: Blow-up (1966), Smashing Time (1967), and Performance (1970)’ (Unpublished M.A. Thesis, Brock University, 2011), 15. 10 See H. L. Malchow, Special Relations: The Americanization of Britain? (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011).



the future and the other in the past’.11 Moreover, twenty years of immigration from the Caribbean and the subcontinent meant that West Indian and Indian culture was now indigenous. For all the fixation on youth, swinging was built on establishment foundations accoutred by empire: history, myth, uniforms, and Arcadian childhood regression.12 The original concept behind the uniformed, moustachioed, avatars of the moment, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, was childhood. Richard Lester, a key (American) auteur, not least with the band’s four creators, frantically blurred distinctions: gender, function, form, even expectation, in order to ‘put a silly grin on our face and then punch it off’.13 In cinema, history was fused with comedy to re-envision Britain’s martial identity.14 The military uniform, be it ersatz, vintage, or faux, became a fashion fundamental, with the promotion of a distinctive masculine style nourished by a decidedly non-masculine immersion in boutique culture.15 The uniforms were, moreover, from regiments which did not so much accommodate but demand a preoccupation with personal appearance.16 Roles were being played, or sought,

11 Michael Bracewell, England Is Mine: Pop Life in Albion from Wilde to Goldie (London: Harper Collins, 1997), 133; Thomas S. Abler, Hinterland Warriors and Military Dress: European Empires and Exotic Uniforms (Oxford: Berg, 1999), 157; Michael Langkjaer, ‘Not Entirely Subversive: Motivations for “Rock Military Style” from c. 1960 to the New Millennium’, in Alissa de Witt-Paul and Mira Crouch, eds., Fashion Forward (Freeland: InterDisciplinary Press, 2011), 123–36; Nik Cohn, Today There Are No Gentlemen: ‘The Changes in Englishmen’s Clothes Since the War (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971); Michael A. Langkjær, ‘“Then How Can You Explain Sgt. Pompous and the Fancy Pants Club Band?” Utilization of Military Uniforms and Other Paraphernalia by Pop Groups and the Youth Counterculture in the 1960s and Subsequent Periods’, Textile History 41, no. 1 (2010), 182–213. 12 Matthew Bannister, ‘“Going In and Out of Style”: Sgt Pepper as Avant-Garde Nostalgia’, [27 July 2018]. 13 John Coleman, New Statesman, 20 October 1967, 517. 14 Kevin M. Flanagan, ‘The British War Film, 1939–1980: Culture, History, and Genre’ (Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Pittsburgh, 2015), 130 and 157. And see his War Representation in British Cinema and Television: From Suez to Thatcher, and Beyond (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019). 15 Alistair O’Neill, ‘John Stephen: A Carnaby Street Presentation of Masculinity 1957– 1975’, Fashion Theory 4, no. 4 (2000), 487–506 and 487. 16 Philip Hoare, ‘I Love a Man in Uniform: The Dandy Esprit de Corps’, Fashion Theory 9, no. 3 (2005), 263–82 and 272.

126  M. FARR

and John MacKenzie has linked the ‘legendary figures’ of empire such as David Livingstone and T. E. Lawrence to ‘explain and justify its rise, personify national greatness, offer examples of self-sacrificing service to a current generation, [and] provide warnings for the future to an elite fearful of decline’.17 In their own ways, Sgt Pepper, Lord Kitchener, and the Khasi of Kalabar were each part of ‘the solid institutions, traditions, and even architecture of the receding Empire’.18 Real or not, theirs were imperial afterlives; the high sixties, too, has such an afterlife. The present chapter will not presume to base a historical theory on such popular excitements; its concern is less to say that the two explain each other than to consider where they did, at a time and in ways when so many foundation myths of Britishness were overlaid. It is concerned with asking, through a perhaps capricious example, what the empire did do to ‘us’.19 It is about popular culture less as a propagandistic or an educational process than as what George Melly at the time called ‘that gap between art and life’.20 It is about imperialism both as irony and as valediction; to play and also to condemn. It is circumscribed by a department of government which, unlike its time, has garnered minimal attention, and that short-lived department’s political and cultural context (Sect. I). It then reflects on the disassembling of a martial mentality at the same time as its popular reimagining (Sect. II). The related geostrategic uncertainties of the retreat from empire are considered (Sect. III), as is perhaps the most colourful manifestation of imperial iconoclasm: the fashion of the young for the donning of its trappings (Sect. IV); these eclectic elements were married most enduringly in music (Sect. V). In the midst of such plenty came the need to find truth and self-knowledge, and popular fevers moved—as one might impertinently put it—from Zulu to Guru. Separating the sections are

17 John M. MacKenzie, ‘T. E. Lawrence: The Myth and the Message’, in Robert Giddings, ed., Literature and Imperialism (London: Macmillan, 1991), 150–81 and 151. 18 David Michaelis, ‘Rereading Sgt Pepper’s Words’, The American Scholar 71, no. 4 (2002), 130–35 and 133. 19 Shula Marks, ‘History, the Nation and Empire: Sniping from the Periphery’, History Workshop Journal 29, no. 1 (1990), 111–19. 20 George Melly, Revolt into Style: The Pop Arts in Britain (London: Allen Lane, 1970), 123.



vignettes about colour (in a newly but still-unfamiliarly multi-ethnic country), commercialism (that country desperately trying to monetise itself), cricket (‘one of the most exemplary cultural and aesthetic categories inherited from colonialism’), character (heroic lives as an imperial genre), and contestation (where the swinging was sometimes literal).21 Of his ‘potent educator[s]’, J. A. Hobson’s ‘fumes of the music-hall’ had been supplanted, in form if not effect.22 The popular culture of imperialism had become pop music, fashion, television, and cinema, and their purposeful exportation could appear akin to the fearless ‘civilising’ missions of a century before; a new expansion of ‘England’. Technological advance and generational egress filled the short gap between empire and Europe, when, and not for the last time, Britain sought to settle its place in the world.

21 Simon Gikandi, Maps of Englishness: Writing Identity in the Culture of Colonialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 9. 22 J. A. Hobson, The Psychology of Jingoism (London: G. Richards, 1901), 3 and 5.

128  M. FARR

Michael Cummings, Daily Express, 23 September 1964



I. ‘The Quagmire of Apathetic Degeneracy’ There can rarely have been a greater contrast between a country’s objective situation and the mood of its people. Anthony Lewis, New York Times, 8 June 1966, 10.

On or about April 1966, the Commonwealth changed. In late March, three weeks after the passing of the Commonwealth Secretariat Act, Harold Wilson’s Labour government was re-elected, to that end having both co-opted popular culture and effectively claimed ownership of the Commonwealth as a political issue. In early May, the ‘Center of Fading Empire Ends its Long History’, as the New York Times, which had a keen interest in such matters, described the government’s closing of the Colonial Office, ‘without tears or ceremony as another vestige of the old British Empire passed away’.23 The Colonial Office, created in 1854, and the Commonwealth Relations Office, established in 1947 through the earlier merger of the Dominions Office and the India Office, were absorbed by the new Commonwealth Office. However it may have appeared, ‘[t]here have been so many ends of eras in Britain since World War II that the passing of the Colonial Office seems an anti-climax’, felt the equally attentive Washington Post; it was ‘no occasion for tears; on the contrary, it was the orderly and magnanimous end of an empire begun in conquest and exploitation’.24 In August, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games took place in Kingston, Jamaica; it was the last time ‘Empire’ would appear in the title. The new era was presided over for 393 days by the new Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, Herbert Bowden; his successor, George Thomson, lasted all of 414; Wilson intended to dominate a department at risk of being ­dominated from afar by Ian Smith. In the Wilsonian paradigm, there was a sense of if not quite panic then certainly of reactivity. ‘A lot depends on the speed with which we are able to agree the terms of independence for a very considerable number of countries at present enjoying colonial status but which will become independent’, the Prime Minister told MPs.25 The ‘new Britain’ 23 New

York Times, 1 August 1966, A17. Washington Post, 4 August 1966, A20. 25 Harold Wilson, 10 May 1966, House of Commons Debates, Hansard, fifth Series, volume 728, column 214. 24 Editorial,

130  M. FARR

he had promised in the election, would embrace those ‘who wish to free themselves from any Colonial stigma yet remain in close association with Britain’.26 This accorded with the Royal Commonwealth Society’s moderate, practical, conception of the Commonwealth—that it should be ‘about people rather than politicians’—as well as absolving Britain (the ‘toothless bulldog’) from having to try to exert leadership.27 1966 was the only year when there were two Commonwealth summits, and the first time one met outside Britain. The reason was Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, with which Wilson could neither cope nor be trusted, as he knew but did not admit.28 Notwithstanding the unpopularity of London’s position on Salisbury, and the ‘insulting tirades’ the former Colonial, and Dominions, secretary Malcolm MacDonald described it as having attracted from other members, Commonwealth membership actually expanded (Guyana, Botswana, Lesotho, Barbados, Nauru, Mauritius, Swaziland) as the Empire contracted; indeed, the Commonwealth correspondent Brian Lapping commented that ‘[w]ithout a crisis to bite on, the Commonwealth could have broken up from sheer boredom’.29 What was a new means of the new Britain facing the world was also an occasion for the world—and particularly America—to view the new Britain. Piri Halasz’s seminal Time cover story that started it all consecrated the accentuation of tradition and modernity and informed its American readers that ‘Britain lost an Empire and lightened the pound’.30 When the Wilsons visited the Johnsons at the White House in February 1968, Lady Bird Johnson remarked to the British Ambassador Sir Patrick Dean how often she saw ‘the imprint of Great Britain’ on their travels: in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia. ‘On the whole, perhaps, it would have been better for the world if we could have stayed around a little longer’, Sir Patrick replied. Lady Bird found it ‘impressive and admirable the way the Britishers I know look with a cool clarity, a lack of bitterness, a sort of detachment, at the breakup of the British Empire’.31 Other Britishers 26 Time

for Decision: Manifesto of the Labour Party, General Election 1966, 23. Ingram, The Commonwealth at Work (Oxford: Pergamon, 1969), 134. 28 The Commonwealth at the Summit: Communiqués of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings 1944–1986 (London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 1987). Lagos final communique, 117. 29 Malcolm MacDonald, The Evolving Commonwealth, Ditchley Foundation Lecture IX, 25 September 1970; and Brian Lapping, New Society, 1 September 1966, 340. 30 Piri Halasz, Time, 15 April 1966, 20, 21, and 32–41. 31 Lady Bird Johnson, A White House Diary (New York, 1970), entry for 8 February 1968, 630–31 27 Derek



were busily detaching themselves. In his ‘wistful good-by to all that’, James Morris told his American readers of ‘the humiliation of the British … a long, unremitting retreat, stanched only intermittently by a best-selling record from the Beatles, a coronation, a new John Osborne play or a World Cup football match’.32 Less wistfully invoking the fiery rain of Gomorrah, Henry Fairlie, who had said his good-by the year before, remonstrated with his American readers that ‘decline need not mean decadence’.33 ‘Nowhere more than in England do I feel as if I were on a great ocean liner going down with all lights blazing’, Vernon Young told his American readers.34 ‘Surely never in history has so great a nation or empire collapsed so ignominiously in so short a time’, Richard Hilton told the world in general. ‘We may have to sink a bit lower yet into the quagmire of apathetic degeneracy before rock bottom is reached’.35 Most striking was the jarring contrast of resurgence and declension. ‘Behind the mini-skirted facade of “swinging England”, continued economic stagnation casts a dark cloud over this great nation’s future’, the Washington Post thought. ‘Having very nearly completed the traumatic chore of casting off the burdens of empire, Britain seems unsure of its ability to compete in the international business world’.36 ‘Coupled with a substantial and perhaps ill-based euphoria is a certain amount of spiritual malaise’, attributed by John Gunther to ‘the departure of the old imperial hegemony’.37 ‘Gone are the stiff upper lips and the thin red line, gone with the empire. And what do we have in their place?’ Russell Baker asked. ‘Men with women’s hair. Women with men’s hair. After all those years of bearing the white man’s burden, the English are entitled to act a bid oddly’.38 It was consistent with an American impression of ‘Britain for export’: commodified and whitened, marketed via the London Tourist Board as a kind of cultural theme park in which they roamed and from which inspiration was drawn and counsel taken, that in 1966 75 per cent of British films were made with American money; 32 James

Morris, New York Times Magazine, 18 February 1968, 33. Fairlie, New York Times Magazine, 12 June 1966, 28. 34 Vernon Young, Hudson Review, Spring 1968, 159 and 159–65. 35 Richard Hilton, Imperial Obituary: The Mysterious Death of the British Empire (Chumleigh: Britons, 1968), 155. 36 Washington Post, 27 April 1967, A21. 37 John Gunther, Harper’s Magazine, July 1967, 51. 38 Russell Baker, New York Times, 29 May 1966, E12. 33 Henry

132  M. FARR

by 1968 it was 90 per cent.39 Devaluation helped, providing greater incentives for foreign investors, but still there had to be, as Variety saw it, ‘Britain as the catalyst which jells, crystallizes, promotes, inspires, or just plainly makes more easily possible the impossible parlay which is putting an idea, inspired or not, on film and getting it across to aisle-sitters throughout the world’.40 Once the tourists arrived however, ‘[o]ne of the things they may find is a lot of puzzled talk about what it is that is supposed to be swinging about London’, Anthony Lewis wrote; there ‘is a pervasive feeling that what Britain does no longer matters in the world – and that it is just as well to be relieved of the burden’.41 These perspectives on the nation caused concern for the state. ‘There has been a spate of articles recently in the East Coast Press on the theme of “swinging London”’, Sir Patrick reported back to the capital. ‘Implications of frivolity and even, to a slight degree, of decadence were detectable’. The impact of Piri Halasz’s seminal Time cover story ‘was such that it set off a chain reaction, the results of which have created damaging effects’. Americans were being given a picture of a country whose young people are bent on pleasure and are unwilling to face the realities of the economic situation of the country, and whose senior citizens appear incapable of doing anything about it. What began as a change, not unwelcome, from the popular British image of a serious-minded (not to say stuffy) people nostalgically living in a glorious past, is rapidly becoming a picture of a frivolous nation unconcerned about the present or the future and bent on making the most of a prosperous but dangerously overheated economy and falling behind at an accelerated rate in the race for survival as a great power with worldwide commitments.

‘And one must admit, I suppose’, he admitted, ‘that there is more than a grain of truth in most of the articles’.42 Prime-time television programmes, despite their ‘astronomic cost’, were commissioned to try to redress the distortions.43 It was part of a broader 39 Illustrated

London News, 13 April 1968, 13. 8 May 1968, 93. 41 Anthony Lewis, New York Times, 8 June 1966, 10. 42 Sir Patrick Dean to Sir John Nicholls, 28 June 1966, ‘Foreign Office comment on adverse articles appearing in US press on “Swinging London”’, The National Archives, London (henceforth TNA), FO 953/2407. 43 Domestic television initiatives did not go further than co-operation with documentaries: ‘it would be very helpful if’, the head of the diplomatic service requested of one 40 Variety,



approach. ‘It may be that we are no longer relatively so powerful economically and that we do not enjoy the same capacity for political influence’, the Foreign Secretary confided in Sir John Henniker on his fateful appointment as Director-General of the British Council. ‘But the influence that we can exert through our intellectual achievements and, still more perhaps, through the example we afford of stability and toleration remains, I believe, unimpaired’.44 Peter Preston spoke to Board of Trade civil servants. ‘Tradition, they carefully explained, was no longer enough these days; they’d found it needed an element of self-parody. Britain wasn’t on top of the world any longer, so we had to make do with what we had: a past nobody treats seriously now, and a present filled with nymphets, rock groups, satire shows and Lord Kitchener’s Valet’.45 Quintin Hogg, of all people, called for calm. ‘When will we learn that it is spirit and not material resources which makes a nation viable? …You do not have to govern a quarter of [the world] to retain your self-respect. It is the greatest of all possible errors to retreat from imperialism to self-abasement’.46 In this retro-futuristic dichotomy—tightly furled brollies alongside shiny spandex catsuits in TV’s kinky, campy, Avengers (the denouement of each episode to American eyes ‘is invariably the feeling that what’s left of the British Empire, or all that’s fine in the British Way of Life, has been preserved and left intact for the tourist trade’47)—there was much talk of a ‘storied realm’ and monarchical distraction, at the same time as a new, young, egalitarian, aristocracy, which shopped in the new, young, Lord John and Lady Jane. ‘This new aristocracy business is true, and I’m received in some places like I was the Duke of Cockney’, Michael Caine said. ‘I suppose it’s because we’ve now seen that Britain has no natural resources beyond the creative power of our young people’.48

producer, ‘you could get rid of a few hoary clichés, notably elderly Ambassadors with monocles.’ Sir Paul Gore-Booth to [J. D.] Campbell, 31 July 1967, TNA, FCO 79/68. 44 Michael Stewart to Sir John Henniker, 28 June 1968, TNA, FCO 13/131; and John Henniker, Painful Extractions: Looking Back at a Personal Journey (Eye: Thornham Books, 2003), 140–50. 45 Peter Preston, Punch, 30 July 1969, 169. 46 Quintin Hogg, Punch, 22 November 1967, 775. 47 Stanley Price, New York Times, 13 March 1966, X19. 48 Jonathan Aitken, The Young Meteors (London: Secker & Warburg, 1967), 24–25 and 268.

134  M. FARR

Colour On 15 August 1966, Asquith Xavier, from Dominica, became the first black person to be employed at Euston station, thereby overturning a colour bar. ‘The staff representatives’, the divisional manager explained, ‘were not so much anti-colour as pro-white’.49 On 7 February 1967, the British National Party and the League of Empire Loyalists merged to form the National Front, the Racial Preservation Society preferring to remain segregated. On 28 March, Norwell Roberts, from Anguilla, became the first black person to be an officer in the Metropolitan Police. On 4 February 1968, ninety-six Asians, from Kenya, arrived at Heathrow airport; in response, on 1 March, and against the wishes of George Thomson, hurriedly Parliament passed the Commonwealth Immigration Act. The New Statesman dubbed it the ‘White Passport Act’, and Private Eye ran a mocked-up Times obituary of the Labour Party.50 Anthony Burgess had told his American readers of British hospitals being (well) ‘staffed mostly by immigrants from the liberated British colonies’ when on 20 April, the man who as minister of health had brought them there, Enoch Powell, publicly offered his reflections on the wider consequences of immigration.51 On 25 October, Parliament passed the anti-discrimination Race Relations Act. On 31 December, Sir Learie Constantine, from Trinidad, who sixty years earlier at Lord’s had taken West Indies’ first wicket in Test cricket (and Herbert Sutcliffe’s, at that), and was later appointed High Commissioner, and member of the Race Relations Board, became the first black person to be a member of the House of Lords, as Baron Constantine of Maraval and Nelson, Maravel being in Trinidad and Tobago, and Nelson in Lancashire.

49 Times,

16 July 1966, 9. New Statesman, 1 March 1968, 41; ‘The Labour Party: Chequered Career of Service to the Country’, Private Eye, 15 March 1968, 8. 51 Anthony Burgess, Hudson Review, Autumn 1967, 454 and 454–58. 50 Editorial,



II. ‘The Last of the Legions’ Historians do not like precise dates for the start of great and imprecise events, but last Tuesday will do better than any other as closing day for the British Empire. Patrick O’Donovan, The Guardian, 21 January 1968, 2.

To the annoyance of the British Legion, on 7 November 1967 at Church House, Westminster, the Church Assembly passed a resolution that Remembrance Day should be reconsidered on the grounds that it ‘glorified’ war.52 Twelve days later, the British economy proved to be a more consequential accomplice in demilitarisation. Devaluation immediately threatened undertakings of domestic aspiration and overseas expectation: the raising of school-leaving age was delayed and prescription charges reintroduced; arms orders were cancelled and bases east of Suez and in the Persian Gulf closed. Even before then, on 21 February 1966, Denis Healey had announced a Defence Review—‘imperial nostalgia jostles incongruously with UN “peacekeeping”’, the New Statesman sniffed, ‘as if Rudyard Kipling had joined forces with Beatrice Webb’— in which capacity was cut.53 On 18 July 1967, with further deterioration in the economy, commitments were cut: withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore.54 ‘Nobody’, the Washington Post editorialised, ‘can honestly pretend to be surprised’.55 Yet, ‘[i]f Mr Wilson, for once, means what he says, then the devaluation is a very good thing indeed. For it announced that Britain has at last adjusted to the role of a post-imperial power’.56 So intoxicating was the sense of release that on 16 January 1968 the Prime Minister announced, against the wishes of George Thomson, that withdrawal would actually be accelerated, to 1971. ‘There is no military strength whether for Britain or for our alliances except on the basis of economic strength’, Mr. Wilson told MPs, ‘and it is on this basis that 52 British Legion Annual Report and Accounts 1967–1968, British Legion, London, 1968, 8–9 and 59. 53 The Defence Review, February 1966, Cmnd 2901; 22 February 1966, House of Commons debates, fifth series, volume 725, column 240; editorial, New Statesman, 25 February 1966, 1. 54 Supplementary Statement on Defence Policy, 1967, Cmnd 3357. 55 Editorial, Washington Post, 20 July 1967, A16. 56 Joseph Kraft, Washington Post, 21 November 1967, A19.

136  M. FARR

we best ensure the security of this country’.57 It was, for the Guardian, the day ‘the Empire closed down’.58 Britain had reached, as Henry Luce put it, ‘the effective end of her long process of imperial liquidation’.59 ‘Our own young men see before them no comparable task of defending Gibraltar, Malta, or even the pound … Why should we lead the Top Ten in Teenology after failing to make the Second Fifteen in Foreign Affairs?’ asked naval historian C. Northcote Parkinson. ‘We of the older generation had some of the responsibilities of power. We felt answerable for all that might happen in Palestine or Malaya … Ours was the discipline of the garrison’.60 There would now be fewer garrisons: 1968 brought regimental amalgamations. ‘More perhaps than any other group in the community, the Armed Forces were shaped by the problems of the Empire’, Michael Howard commented. ‘Now the last of the legions are coming home’.61 In a century of conflict 1968 became the first, and remained the only, year without a British operational mortality. It was also the year of the most expensive British film ever made, about an engagement synonymous with operational mortality. The Charge of the Light Brigade intended Tony Richardson to direct from an original script by John Osborne. Inevitably, they fell out. ‘T.R. is hell-bent on making an antiwar film’, Osborne diarised. ‘I am losing heart. T. R. is tampering with history … I think they should forget me and get in Charles Wood. He’s not only a proper writer but a professional soldier’.62 They got in Charles Wood, who had indeed been a professional soldier—17/21st Lancers— but who, George Melly demurred, ‘is a very serious writer, obsessed, like the Goons, with our Imperial past’.63 Richardson had intended a reaction against the celluloid representations of the legendary figures of empire in self-sacrificing service to our Imperial past. By almost 57 Harold

Wilson, 16 January 1968, House of Commons Debates, Hansard, fifth series, volume 756, column 1580; Supplementary Statement on Defence Policy, 1968, Cmnd 3701. 58 Guardian, 21 January 1968, 2. This was the headline for the Patrick O’Donovan article. 59 Henry Luce, Life, 4 March 1968, 20. 60 C. Northcote Parkinson, Illustrated London News, 28 January 1967, 16. 61 Michael Howard, Listener, 25 July 1968, 99. 62 John Osborne, Almost a Gentleman: An Autobiography (London: Faber and Faber, 1991), 250. 63 Melly, Revolt into Style, 168.



parodying Boy’s Own imperial epics such as Lives of a Bengal Lancer with C. Aubrey Smith, King of the Khyber Rifles with Tyrone Power, and Clive of India with Ronald Colman, Richardson’s film sought to be closer to the reality. To illustrate the wider illusion of imperialism, the film employed elements of fantasy and melded formulaic genre and modernism, with added nudity and profanity, most protractedly Trevor Howard’s Lord Cardigan, wheezing in his own corset, endeavouring to rip off that of Jill Bennett (married to Osborne). Consistency, certainly, was not swinging. Vanessa Redgrave (married to Richardson) was appointed by the sovereign at Buckingham Palace a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, four weeks before joining the Grosvenor Square ‘riot’ against American imperialism, en route to filming Oh! What a Lovely War, another historical fantasy, blending music hall with condemnation of jingoism and militarism. That month T. R.’s anti-war film found the army ‘giving maximum co-operation to theatre managers for recruiting campaigns and gala openings’.64 Another front opened up typical of the fabric of the time. ‘The Charge-of-the-Light-Brigade Look thundered into London yesterday’, reported the Daily Mail. ‘Designers gambling on a revival of the 1850s look, following the film, staged a fashion show at the Duke of York’s headquarters’.65 ‘The fashion link with the film provides an extra selling platform’, the studio explained hopefully.66 ‘Aldine Honey models a coat with matching hat and gaiters’, the Times reported, while ‘Trooper G. Grimes, wears the uniform of the 11th Hussars at the time of the Crimean War’.67 At the Moscow premiere, a Russian journalist spat on Richardson’s shoe ‘and accused me of turning the great Kardiganovich into a warmongering British neo-colonial pervert’.68 At the London premiere, another Duke, of Edinburgh, attended alongside the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, fresh from Aden, and the 11th Hussars, in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund, and ruined the massive cinematic assault, the director felt, by insisting that the volume be turned down.69 64 The

Charge of the Light Brigade Exhibitors’ Campaign Book, 3. Mail, 29 May 1968, 11. 66 Exhibitors’ Campaign Book, 6. 67 Times, 29 March 1968, 3. 68 Tony Richardson, Punch, 1 May 1968, 638. 69 Tony Richardson, Long Distance Runner: A Memoir (London: Faber and Faber, 1993), 200–201. 65 Daily

138  M. FARR

Before flying out to be directed by Richardson on location in Turkey, Redgrave and co-star David Hemmings had been prominent occupiers after the ‘British invasion’ in Los Angeles (‘the redcoats have risen again and are virtually transforming California’s movie colony into the most recent acquisition of the British Empire’70), where C. Aubrey Smith’s Southern California Cricket Association still played at Griffith Park. But appearances were misleading. The Charge of the Light Brigade was another British overseas expedition possible only with American money. What for some remained an ironic commentary on military disaster with its roots in class-stratified society was for others a ‘hysterical philippic’ of ‘baffling facetiousness’.71 A ‘well-nigh intolerable mess’ though it may have been, thought another reviewer, ‘the irony of this monumental chaos from the critical point of view is that a bungled film about a bungled subject turns out in the last resort to be not entirely inappropriate’.72 Notwithstanding the extra selling platforms, the film failed to recover even half of its costs. A month after it was released, the Ministry of Defence announced that the 11th Hussars were to be amalgamated.73

70 Digby

Diehl, New York Times, 21 May 1967, D15. Visions, 126; and Richard Mallett, Punch, 24 April 1968, 614. 72 Monthly Film Bulletin, 1 January 1968, 98. 73 Daily Telegraph, 6 May 1968, 16. 71 Richards,



Commerce On 3 March 1966 a wealthy American, David Bruce, went for whisky with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whisky with the Prime Minister, and then whisky with the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, before cocktails at the Commonwealth Relations Office.74 The offices of the hosts for the intoxication of the American ambassador were significant; there was ‘paramount need for the Diplomatic Service to concentrate at the present time on activities designed to improve Britain’s balance of payments’.75 A month later another wealthy American, Henry Luce, blamed Britain’s poor salesmanship on imperialist complacency begat by ‘the Empire’s enormous captive market’.76 Swinging needed to be monetised. The Foreign Office was keen that ‘the new trend can be shown as evidence of renewed vigour and inventiveness’ and sought ‘propaganda dividends from the Beatles and Carnaby Street’.77 Producing more goodwill than orders were British Weeks in foreign cities, with, variously, replica Piccadilly Circuses and Britannia Inns, and actual double decker buses (shipped, dock strikes permitting), Guards’ bands, and the Whitbread Shire horses Pomp and Circumstance, festooned with Union Jacks often hoisted the right way up.78 The Beatles were inveigled to help with an exports drive led by Princess Margaret, the Earl of Snowden, and Viscount Watkinson; their (the Beatles’) 1966 tour of Japan was regarded as ‘a very successful visit in every way’ by the Diplomatic Service, improving Britain’s balance of payments by around £50,000.79 Of their latest release it was asked ‘Did the disc jockeys approve? Did the Board of Trade?’80

74 David Bruce, Ambassador to Sixties London: The Diaries of David Bruce, 1961–1969, ed. Raj Roy and John W. Young (Dordrecht: Republic of Letters, 2009), entry for 3 March 1966, 249–50. 75 Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Merger of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office, 1968 (London: HMSO, 1968), 9. 76 Henry Luce, Life, 4 March 1968, 20. 77 G. S. Littlejohn Cook, memorandum, 5 August 1966, TNA, FO 953/2407. 78 Peta Fordham, Illustrated London News, 28 September 1968, 24. 79 New York Times, 31 October 1965, F1; and ‘The Beatles in Tokyo’, 19 July 1966, TNA, FCO 371/187127. 80 Patrick Skene Catling, Punch, 23 November 1966, 770.

140  M. FARR

III. ‘The British Position’ Now that the British Empire is becoming little more than a memory there are signs of a growing nostalgia where it is concerned, and it is well that the facts of its inefficiency in only too many instances should be appreciated. Sir Charles Petrie, Illustrated London News, 10 February 1968, 28.

The premise was intentionally surreal, obviously without possible expression in real life. In Richard Lester’s How I Won the War, British soldiers are expended building a cricket pitch 300 miles behind German lines; a scoreboard replaces runs scored with soldiers killed (as it would the following year in Oh! What a Lovely War). The month before Lester’s film was released, in September 1967, in the ‘sand-blown little remnant of the British Empire’ of Aden, with Britons being assassinated daily and statues of Victoria being removed in preparation for independence, an American journalist watched in astonishment, and in between mortar attacks, as a helicopter protected colonial officials playing cricket against Commonwealth journalists, with ‘a bearded African tribesman carrying a machine gun’ wandering round the outfield. ‘In the end, Brigadier Croft’s “slow spin” (curve ball) pitch helped the Imperialists to prevail’.81 Having deployed the Beatles alongside the Army on Salisbury Plain in Help!, Charles Wood now had John Lennon as Private Gripweed in the Army in the desert, party to military incompetence, as Michael Hordern’s Colonel Grapple muttered about the ‘wily Pathan’, and Michael Crawford’s Lieutenant Goodbody wandered to the theme from Lawrence of Arabia. Wood and Osborne were experienced adaptors, and Lester and Richardson were celebrated auteurs; less so, it proved, was Denis Healey. 1967 was the beginning of what culminated in Operation Sheepskin, or as it more informally became known, Operation Pig’s Ear: an improbable invasion by paratroopers and policemen of a Caribbean island with a population of 6000. Offering ample opportunities (as Sir Charles Petrie, former editor of Empire Review, put it) to appreciate inefficiency, it was also something of hot buffet for satirists. ‘In one of the most amazing reversals in modern military history, tiny, helpless, and, up to now, ineffectual Great Britain defeated the powerful forces 81 Eric

Pace, New York Times, 2 September 1967, 2.



of Anguilla and conquered this impregnable island fortress’, wrote Art Buchwald. ‘“Anguilla can no longer be considered a major power,” a State Department man at the bar said’.82 Not only the counterculture reversed and debunked, there was a similar scene in the second most popular film of 1968.83 Climaxing with arrayed British manhood intimidating Randy Lal, the wily Khasi of Kalabar, and his Burpas into headlong retreat, Carry on up the Khyber marked the summit of the series, after which its own flaccidity set in. Carry Ons had begun in the military—Carry on Sergeant—and became an institution which lampooned others, and their blending of pre-war music hall and post-war satire was never more pronounced. The imperial movie genre had become bloated most recently by excesses such as Khartoum. Khyber (or The British Position in India) duly sent up Khartoum, and Zulu, not unlike How I Won the War which ‘was not so much directly anti-war, as anti-other war movies’.84 On television 1968 brought Dad’s Army with Corporal Jones’s frequent references to his experiences at Omdurman, and its own pastiche of a C. Aubrey Smith classic: Two and a Half Feathers. In Khyber, Kenneth Williams’s blacked-up Khasi was no less ridiculous than Laurence Olivier’s blacked-up Mahdi had been in Khartoum two years earlier. Impervious to fashions in foreign finance, rarely considered worthy of critical consideration, as ever the significance of the Carry Ons lay merely in their enduring popularity, and the reasons for it. In Khyber Wales stood in for Pakistan, round which marched a Highland regiment apparently without a Scotsman. The year before, Sgt Pepper’s band had sung about the ‘English army’; that there had been no such thing for 260 years may not have occurred to them, but should have to their (war veteran) producer. But it was not unusual for ‘English’ and ‘British’ effectively to be synonyms; as Kenneth Waltz demonstrated, for Americans it was and remained the norm. The limits of the tolerance of those Britons who were not English had however finally been met. At the same time as the Beatles were normalising— even glamorising—regional accents (the head of the diplomatic service himself wanted ‘someone with a North of England background’

82 Art

Buchwald, Washington Post, 25 March 1969, A21. Mail, 8 December 1969, 9; and Sunday Times, 27 September 1970, 27. 84 Penelope Houston, Sight and Sound, Autumn 1967, 202. 83 Daily

142  M. FARR

to be the focus of a BBC television documentary on Her Majesty’s Ambassadors85), respective parliamentary by-election triumphs on 14 July 1966 and 2 November 1967 meant that Welsh and Scottish nationalisms were ‘no longer a joke’.86 The former triumphed again in 1967 and in 1968. ‘Having just witnessed the dismemberment of the British Empire, an event which at one time many found unthinkable, we are soon to witness the dismemberment of the United Kingdom’, the newly nationalist Scotsman Ludovic Kennedy predicted; independence almost daily for other territories of the Crown heightened the imperative for Home Rule at home. ‘It was primarily the British Empire that made and kept us British, and now that it has gone, the word is almost devoid of meaning’.87 Within weeks, midway between those clarions to its own dismemberment, were three other milestones. On 11 May 1967, ‘in a single sentence which set no conditions’ and did not mention the Commonwealth, Britain sought formally to become part of Europe.88 Then, for six days in June, and ‘[f]or the first time in a century, Britain was little more than a spectator as a major conflict shook the Arab world’, the Washington Post noted. ‘The contrast with the past could hardly be more dramatic’.89 The almost coterminous loss of Hamilton to Scottish, and Aden to Arab, nationalism, was connected. ‘The British Empire was supported by the Scots as long as it paid them’, the Scotsman Denis Brogan wrote. ‘That gloomy pipe tune, “The Barren Rocks of Aden,” sounded tolerable when Aden was a necessary way station to India’.90 To add to the growing sense of indeterminacy, on 27 November 1967 Britain’s application formally to become part of Europe was rejected. Left to their own devices, and with the export opportunity offered by devaluation, early in 1968 some Britons took it upon themselves to save the country. I’m Backing Britain saw workers, from Bootle to Burnley,

85 Sir

Paul Gore-Booth to Thomas Brimelow, n.d. [1967], TNA, FCO 79/68. Lewis, New York Times, 17 November 1967, 1. 87 Ludovic Kennedy, Spectator, 10 November 1967, 8. 88 Daily Telegraph, 12 May 1967, 36. 89 Karl E. Meyer, Washington Post, 11 June 1967, C6. 90 Denis Brogan, Spectator, 17 November 1967, 12. 86 Anthony



as its chairman, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Caspar John, said, working harder, Backing Britain. (‘Engine driver Trevor Grope of Southern Region is to get the 9.23 from Whitstable to Charing Cross out of the sidings half an hour earlier than usual’, Private Eye reported. ‘It will now leave at 11.27’. ‘Every little helps’, said Driver Grope.91) Gifts small yet large were sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. A Pakistani shop owner in Leeds sent a week’s wages (£21.3s.6d), as did a Pakistani bus conductor in Rawtenstall, near Nelson in Lancashire (£15.0.0): ‘I wish that Great Britain should remain a great nation in the world as it was in the past’.92 The Admiral asked the Prime Minister for the £50,000 he deemed essential to funding the campaign for a year.93 Avowed ‘movement from below’ as it had always been, even £10,000 was refused; as an official wrote ‘the sole reason for putting up the money would be to avoid the Government being criticised for letting the campaign die’.94 Withstanding schism (with the breakaway Help Britain campaign), and boasting the support of both Bruce Forsyth and Lyndon Johnson (only one of whom recorded a patriotic, non-charting, anthem for the cause), I’m Backing Britain was run from offices gifted by an American company and was kitted out in Union Jack T-shirts made in Portugal.95 Relating it to the historical trope of prevailing over adversity, explicit reference to I’m Backing Britain inaugurated Dad’s Army and culminated Carry on Up the Khyber, the former linking it with the existential dread of 1940, the latter to the pyrrhic triumphs of the 1890s: the British, having repulsed the Burpas from the Residency compound, resume their battle-interrupted black-tie dinner and finally are able to partake of dessert (strawberry mousse). Peter Butterworth’s Brother Belcher breaches the fourth wall. ‘Of course, they’re all raving mad, you know’.

91 Private

Eye, 19 January 1968, 8. Hussain to Roy Jenkins, 11 January 1968 [copy], TNA, T 276/88; Daily Mirror, 10 January 1968, 12–13. 93 Sir Caspar John to Harold Wilson, 18 March 1968 [copy], TNA, EW 3/3. 94 IBB Situation Report, 19 April 1968; John Groves to Alexander Currall, 28 April 1968 [copy] TNA, EW 3/3. 95 Guardian, 13 January 1968, 1; Times, 22 March 1968, 25; and New York Times, 11 February 1968, E6. 92 Khalid

144  M. FARR

Cricket On 29 November 1967, at Lord’s, the Advisory County Cricket Committee recommended the relaxation of the 1873 rules on county qualification for overseas players.96 The 1968 English season thus featured Majid Jahangir and Asif Iqbal of Pakistan, Barry Richards and Mike Procter of South Africa, Rohan Kanhai and Gary Sobers of West Indies, Farokh Engineer of India, and Greg Chappell of Australia. Wisden felt that the players from the Commonwealth ‘brought a breath of life’ into the County Championship.97 1968’s was also an Ashes summer, at the end of which B. L. D’Oliveira scored 167 against Australia at the Oval in the final Test. So well-timed a performance in the late-summer long shadows of Lambeth ordinarily would be expected to lead to a place on that winter’s MCC tour. That winter’s MCC tour was to South Africa. Basil D’Oliveira, South African by birth, was ‘coloured’. John Vorster, South African Prime Minister, was adamant: no team with D’Oliveira in it would be admitted. After protracted debate, and a rancorous meeting at Church House Westminster, on 24 September 1968, MCC not only cancelled the tour, but announced that ‘no further tours to or from South Africa be undertaken until evidence can be given of actual progress by South Africa towards non-racial cricket’.98 ‘Nothing will be quite the same in English cricket’, said the Reverend David Sheppard (Sussex and England) after winning the vote. The following summer, D’Oliveira was appointed an Officer of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

96 TNA,

HO 344/356. Preston, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 1969 (London, 1969), 90. 98 MCC statement, Wisden, 78. 97 Norman



IV. ‘The King’s Road Grenadiers’ What used to be done by Lord Cardigan is now being done by Lord John of Carnaby Street. The Charge of the Light Brigade Exhibitors’ Campaign Book, London, United Artists [1968].

Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, last seen on the deck of HMS Hampshire as it sank off Orkney, reappeared fifty years later at Piccadilly Circus. Ian Fisk and John Paul’s original branch of I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet had opened on the Portobello Road in 1966, a thoroughfare with ‘Little shops so full of Union Jacks, Boer War uniforms and Victorian shaving mugs … it could have been the Morning After the Relief of Mafeking’ where Patrick Ryan witnessed ‘a Stone Age head protruding from a Dragoon Guard’s tunic’.99 Other retailers in retrospection included Michael Raney’s Hung on You, and Nigel Waymouth’s Granny Takes a Trip, on the King’s Road. Gear and Kleptomania sold second-hand ephemera, and the Portobello, King’s, and Chepstow roads effectively became recycling centres, the go-to places for bargains in military dress, with ‘real drummers’ jackets cut like mess jackets with the frogging still intact, ‘real Guards uniforms of true scarlet (not just red) with quilted linings, superb artillery jackets with gold lace on the sleeves’.100 Newness in the form of old uniforms meant regression; for at least one popinjay it unfortunately also meant impetigo.101

99 Patrick Ryan, Punch, 6 September 1967, 338; and Tom Salter, Carnaby Street (Hobbs, Walton-on-Thames, 1970), 21. 100 John Crosby, Observer, 23 October 1966, 38. 101 Sara Maitland, ed., Very Heaven: Looking Back at the 1960s (London: Virago, 1988), 39.

146  M. FARR

Not that it was a strategic objective, but Crimea had proven to be a more on-trend imperial endeavour than had Khartoum, Omdurman, or Mafeking. Indeed, it was last dandy war, fashioning the balaclava, raglan sleeve, and cardigan; the 11th Hussars were known by their crimson trousers as the ‘cherry bums’. For Tony Richardson’s re-mounting of the Light Brigade, 147 greatcoats were shipped from London to Turkey, but had to be cut off at the knee as they were too long for the Turkish extras.102 What was being donned on Carnaby Street was transmogrified on Madison Avenue: unimpressed by the women’s clothing in the movie, Michael Mott designed a twenty-seven-piece women’s range based on the men’s.103 ‘Surround yourself with enough distraction in the way of Chelsea Pensioners, mournful basset hounds, Mini-Mokes, Scots pipers and poised moppets and nobody will notice whether your clothes are good, bad or boring’, Serena Sinclair reported from the Associated Fashion Designer’s show back in London. ‘There is plenty of military dash – with, in addition to the capes with their overtones of Lord Kitchener’s valet, scrolls of gold braid whirling round the wrists of black flannel dresses, and epaulettes, regimental buttons and polished buckles all over the barrack square’.104 Where pop could be said to appeal to the masses, satire to the intelligentsia, art and design to the artistic, John Stephen, whose meteoric rise had started at Moss Bros hiring out military uniforms (and litigated against Lord John for it implying his imprimatur), told Jonathan Aitken that ‘the fashion revolution has been the most significant influence on the mood and mores of the younger generation in Britain’.105 (‘It can’t be called a fashion because it’s old clothes’, Mary Quant protested; ‘it’s always depressing to wear the clothes of the past’.106) Bunny Roger, not

102 New

York Times, 20 October 1968, D15. York Times, 3 October 1968, 58. 104 Serena Sinclair, Daily Telegraph, 25 April 1967, 16. 105 Jonathan Aitken, Daily Telegraph, 9 April 1967, 6. 106 Jeff Nuttall, Bomb Culture (London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1968), 121. 103 New



unknown to have sported a chiffon scarf himself when serving in the Rifle Brigade, was revered. The contrast between the martial nature of outfits and their almost feminine lace and braid was arresting. ‘Our shop, in pop jargon, would be described as very camp’, Waymouth explained. ‘Camp is taking the mickey out of sex by being theatrical. Sort of playing out fantasies in real life’.107 The new dandyism embraced the clothes revolution but also revived Beau Brummell—the founder of dandy—with Edwardian and Regency dress; others went back to the Restoration. ‘If Congreve were born now he would come into his own. The way fashion and talk change so quickly now is very 18th century’, Hilary Spurling wrote, regretting however that ‘[w]e have no playwrights to put on the stage the kind of remarks the Beatles make’.108 ‘And what of the trousered girls…?’ asked couturier C. Northcote Parkinson. ‘It is often surmised that trousers for women are a sign of emancipation … But, historically at least, trousers for women mean, not emancipation, but work [and also] reflect the loss of Empire’ where rank as denoted by dress mattered’.109 1968 was the fiftieth anniversary of votes for (some) women, and James Laver noticed the overlooked overlapping of gender, ‘the end of the patriarchal system’ during which time ‘the dominant male imposed on women clothes which were as different as possible from his own’, and elsewhere that ‘[t]he clothes of young women represent the repudiation of paternalism; the clothes of young men represent the repudiation of gentility … During the long reign of Gentility, the first duty of a gentleman was to be inconspicuous – unless he happened to be a soldier’.110 As it was, for John Crosby, ‘[e]veryone wants a uniform – provided it is different from everyone else’s’.111 There was a revolution in which young people appeared

107 Aitken,

Young Meteors, 24–25. Spurling, Illustrated London News, 26 November 1966, 23. 109 C. Northcote Parkinson, Illustrated London News, 28 January 1967, 16. 110 James Laver, Dandies (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968), 114; and James Laver, Daily Telegraph, 25 March 1967, 8. 111 John Crosby, Observer, 23 October 1966, 38. 108 Hilary

148  M. FARR

united in a desire for difference, with ‘Union Jack clothes contradicting their mutiny’.112 Crosby tried to explain the phenomenon of ‘the King’s Road Grenadiers’. ‘Theories abound. Too long a peace … Others think it might be simple nostalgia for Britain’s days of imperial glory’. Military uniform is the ultimate in conformity, but the craze was anything but conformist. ‘One way of saying no to authority is to parody it’, Michael Ingrams said in an altogether more conformist contemporary documentary than Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London, and to ‘buy uniforms of the past to affront the uniformity of the present’.113 John Taylor, a tailor, said it was ‘a sartorial rather than a physical manifestation of a latent belligerence’.114 The irony was not lost that the wearers ‘if conscription were reintroduced, would probably be conscientious objectors to a man’.115 Mundane though it may have appeared, army surplus was another commentary on a rapidly unravelling empire. Michael Wharton, better known as Peter Simple, diagnosed a problem: ‘one field in which the nationalistic, anti-colonial, emerging nations of Africa have allowed themselves to fall sadly behind is that of military uniform. Disappointingly enough, they still cling to the uniforms of their old oppressors, almost unmodified’.116 It could have been even worse: the Prime Minister had regretfully to decline two Conservative MPs’ suggestion of gifting the Ghanaian army spare British Army uniforms owing to the ‘over-riding need for economy in all forms of Government expenditure’.117 If selling, rather than gifting, Britain abroad was a

112 British Pathé, Swinging Britain in the 60s: A Psychedelic Dream, film ID655.06 (1967). 113 Michael Ingrams, Look at Life: In Gear, The Rank Organisation, 1967. 114 Observer Magazine, 12 March 1967, 28. 115 James Laver, Daily Telegraph, 25 March 1967, 8. 116 ‘Peter Simple’, Daily Telegraph, 12 July 1966, 16. 117 Harold Wilson to John Tilney [and John Cordle], 3 August 1966 [copy], TNA, DO 195/226.



priority, John Stephen wondered aloud, ‘why I haven’t got the OBE for services to export!’118 (Mary Quant had.) Rather than vent at it, Sir Arthur Bryant—whose Protestant Island was published in 1967 and he made a Companion of Honour—was hopeful that ‘the lovely uniforms’ may acquaint the wearer with ‘the bright shining virtues which the soldiers of the Queen showed in their lives of peril, endurance, and sacrifice’.119 Anti-establishmentarianism was more typical, exemplified by Harry Fox’s and John Paul’s buying and selling of replica Coats of Arms from the Coronation.120 ‘It’s something more than just a send up’, one Ephraim Trimbitt said, in Private Eye; ‘these kids haven’t been in a war you see. They’ve seen pictures of their dads in uniforms. And like all kids they want to rebel. So they dress up in these old uniforms. It’s heroic’. Barnaby Crutch established his own boutique ‘Get thee behind me, Lord Baden-Powell’, which closed a week after it opened as it had already ‘gone out of fashion’.121

118 Jonathan

Aitken, Daily Telegraph, 9 April 1967, 6. Arthur Bryant, Illustrated London News, 15 April 1967, 14. 120 Daily Telegraph, 25 November 1967, 11. 121 Private Eye, 31 March 1967, 9. 119 Sir

Quentin Blake, ‘Swinging Government Surplus’, Punch, 4 January 1967

150  M. FARR



152  M. FARR

Character On 7 July 1967, the Queen broke with precedent by conferring a knighthood in public; moreover, to honour Sir Francis Chichester, she used the sword of Sir Francis Drake. ‘It seemed to some observers as if this nation were determined to extract memories of its faded greatness from an archaic ceremony deliberately patterned on the knighting of Drake aboard the Golden Hind 386 years ago’, observed one from the New World.122 To address falling numbers, that year the Boy Scouts Association, of Baden-Powell, the hero of Mafeking, was renamed the Scout Association, and Kipling was forsaken (‘Cub Law should no longer depend on the Jungle Story’). The Association pondered, a month after the death of Siegfried Sassoon, what challenges in life there could be for boys without ‘the demands of empire and war’.123 What they did have was the increasingly kinky jingoism of the James Bond franchise. Another new worlder, ‘who saw the British Empire built on Saturday afternoons in the nineteen-thirties while we sat in the dark’, lamented the change. ‘C. Aubrey Smith, alas, is gone with the empire, and the only man left standing between England and total minipower is John Lennon [who] can never inspire us with the confidence we felt in Ronald Colman, the conqueror of India, or in Tyrone Power, the founder of Lloyd’s of London’.124 Horatio Hornblower’s creator C. S. Forester died on 2 April 1966, missing by three months England actually conquering the world: on a playing field of Brent, in an age otherwise of masculine emasculation, as the Football Association itself put it, ‘World Cup Willie was really swinging’.125

122 Karl

E. Meyer, Washington Post, 8 July 1967, A1. G. Simpson, note, 23 October 1967, TNA, ED124/273; and Boy Scouts Association, The Advance Party Report 1966, 18. 124 Russell Baker, New York Times, 21 January 1968, E14. 125 The Football Association, World Cup Report 1966 (Harold Mayes) (London: William Heinemann, 1967), 44. 123 J.



V. ‘Throbbing Rhythms of Africa’ With the burden of Empire cast aside, our adolescents can turn with relief to the Beatles, the Watusi, and the Twist. Theirs is the relief of athletes who have dropped out of the race. Illustrated London News, 28 January 1967, 16.

On 23 July 1966, before a bank of microphones, looking a little like Neville Chamberlain at Heston Aerodrome, sounding a little like Pitt the Elder speaking of the Bostonians, and, unlike either of them, flanked by Ken Dodd and Bessie Braddock, Harold Wilson reopened the Cavern Club. During his address, he informed the Liverpudlian audience and the national media how much he enjoyed such ‘exotic forms of national culture’.126 Keen for association, Wilson it was who the year before had admitted to the fifth rank of imperial honour, as Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, four natives of the former slave capital of the world, for which, moreover, Wilson happened to be a Member of Parliament. ‘The whole Pop movement comes immediately from Liverpool’, mused pop-picker C. Northcote Parkinson. ‘Liverpool is a place of significance today because its decline antedates that of Britain as a whole’. He went on. ‘The people on Merseyside who set the fashion in song and dance are Welsh, Irish, Jewish and mongrel, a population of mixed seaport origin … But why, we might ask, must the dances be African? … The throbbing rhythms of Africa appeal essentially to folk whose own culture has become insipid’. To make matters worse, throbbing tala were soon also to be of India, with sitars, tablas, and tamburas infusing recordings. But his point was made. ‘Granted that the Negro of past centuries was enslaved and ill-treated, sold and re-sold, worked to death or bred for profit, the Negro of today has been all too horribly avenged’.127 Over the Atlantic, and across Broadway from the nudity and profanity of Hair, could be found the Household Cavalry. Their show, ‘The Queen’s Guards’, featured 160 men and forty-seven horses nimbly undertaking, among other things, an intricate ‘musical ride’ to Yellow Submarine.

126 Harold

Wilson, Illustrated London News, 30 July 1966, 7. Illustrated London News, 28 January 1967, 16.

127 Parkinson,

154  M. FARR

But for some in the audience the past trespassed on the present. ‘With magnificent uniforms reviving memories of the old British Empire, too often the pomp slips into the awkward area of pomposity, reflecting more the England of Colonel Blimp’, the Wall Street Journal felt, ‘than the land of the Beatles and Prime Minister Wilson’.128 For those who had made the trip to see them in their normal surroundings, ‘[t]he Guards now change at Buckingham Palace to a Lennon and McCartney tune’.129 One unlucky man who lost the grade was Major General James Melville Babington (1854–1936). Commissioned by Queen Victoria, Babington served in the 16th Queen’s Lancers in the Bechuanaland Expedition and the Second Boer War before commanding the New Zealand Defence Forces and served throughout the First World War. In the spring of 1967, he was summarily decommissioned by Paul McCartney and renamed Sgt Pepper. Geoffrey Dickinson’s seminal Time cover illustration rendered soldiers as Beatles, as, a year later, Beatles—Ringo and John had only just missed National Service—were conscripted by their American director and studio to play soldiers. As their 1967 imperial army band alter egos, all four sported Kitchener moustaches, Paul and George displayed their MBEs—John always having been a reluctant imperialist—and John wore the Kipling spectacles of Private Gripweed. Later that year they were uniformed once more in the promotional film for Hello Goodbye, and all manner of imperial paraphernalia and militaria featured in the chaotic Magical Mystery Tour, a monument as to what can be achieved in a fit of absence of mind. The following year the four moved their headquarters to the historic heart of London military tailoring: Savile Row. Military uniforms were worn by Cream, the Yardbirds, Jimi Hendrix, and when Mick Jagger wore a tunic on Ready Steady Go shops sold out the following day.130 Promotional films featured real soldiers interspersed with Stone Age heads protruding from Dragoon Guards tunics. Such self-promotion on the part of the warriors against convention was seen as another extension of British imperialism, ‘a throwback’, one American correspondent thought ‘to the days when youth could acquire this asset

128 Wall

Street Journal, 3 October 1968, 18. 15 April 1966, 30. 130 Rave, 1 December 1966, 16. 129 Time,



through foolhardy behaviour on the battlefield’.131 Colonel Blimp and Sgt Pepper properly were brothers in arms, in ‘a country where knighthood and the atomic age overlap’.132 George Melly, a fellow Liverpudlian of an earlier generation, thought that ‘The Beatles are at their happiest when celebrating the past’.133 But the vogue for Victoriana and Edwardiana was part of a more pervasive retro culture. In 1968, Jo Durden-Smith commissioned a pop opera on the loss of the Empire for Granada Television with music by Ray Davies and a script by Julian Mitchell. Though the programme was never made, the Kinks recorded the music as Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Their manager, Robert Wace, had already made his own eloquent expression of the spirit of the age, as the ‘Marquis of Kensington’, warbling on his harpsichord-led hit single that The Changing of the Guard is part of our tradition But now we find it’s been applied to us The changing of the guard presents a different picture To when Britannia used to rule the waves

Before concluding If our ancestors could see the way were living They’d be turning in their graves.134

Suitably enough, the B-side was entitled Reverse Thrust: the A-side played backwards. Another two-minute opera bouffe marrying the past and present performed in an upper-class accent—and possibly a singular example of a song inspired by a second-hand clothing shop—was I was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, included on their London-themed album Finchley Central by the New Vaudeville Band, and as a single by Peter Fenton ‘wearing Lord Kitchener’s old clothes and struggling to find situations to rhyme with “valet”. The result was “pally”, and “chalet”, which

131 Henry

Luce, Life, 4 March 1968, 20. Heinzerling, Washington Post, 13 October 1968, K11. 133 Melly, Revolt into Style, 115. 134 Mike Leander and Gordon Mills, The Changing of the Guard, Immediate Records, IM 052, 1967. 132 Lynn

156  M. FARR

took some hard work’. Aptly he was ‘backed by some deserters from the Wembley Boy Scouts’.135 Pointedly they all, straining to scan, sang Oh Lord Kitchener, what a to-do Everyone is wearing clothes that once belonged to you If you were alive today I’m sure you’d explode If you took a stroll down Portobello road

Before explaining I know that you’ve forgiven me if I tell you on my knees Your wardrobe is a victim of the economic squeeze.136

The New Vaudeville Band’s 1920s pastiche Winchester Cathedral actually won ‘best contemporary song’ at the 1967 Grammys (their lead singer on the subsequent US tour was ‘Tristram, Seventh Earl of Cricklewood’) and the ‘British invasion’ of America even managed, second time around, to co-opt Paul Revere and the Raiders. On screen, Adam Adamant Lives! transposed an Edwardian gentleman to 1966– 67 London for two campy series, with Union Jacks and capes prominent, and in the cinema, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London—which included The Changing of the Guard—featured a ‘pull back to wide shot of the Palace and zoom up to the British Flag, hopefully not at half-mast mourning another African Independence Day’, and the obligatory fainting Guardsman.137

135 Melody

Maker, 4 February 1967, 11. Martin and Phil Coulter, I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, Fontana Records, STL 5430, 1967. 137 Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London, promotional trailer. 136 Bill



Contestation On 29 May 1967 the British Legion met in Blackpool for its annual conference. A resolution condemned the ‘mockery of the uniforms we were so proud to wear. These uniforms are being worn in London today. And what London does today Blackpool, Manchester and the rest will do tomorrow’.138 In London, it had probably seemed a good idea at the time for the British Legion Metropolitan Area South-West headquarters to move to the King’s Road. By 1967 however it had Granny Takes a Trip as its neighbour. ‘We must do something to stop this cult’, said a far from indifferent Edwin Careless, four days after Sgt Pepper was released. ‘Only today I saw two 20-year-old long-haired trogs wearing the red frock coats of the Chelsea Pensioner’.139 One trog was arrested. Manzin Zeki admitted that he ‘did wear part of a uniform of the Scots Guards without Her Majesty’s permission’. Asked why, he replied ‘Because it is fashionable and I think it looks smart’.140 ‘If these young men wish to wear military uniforms without Her Majesty’s permission’, opined Lord Rideau, a hereditary warrior, ‘they should be accepted for training without delay’.141 At one screening of the pacifistic How I Won the War at the London Pavilion a carpet of stink bombs heralded an offensive by the British National Liberation Front. A riot ensued.142 The summer of love had become a memory. John Paul received a warning, and publicity, from the Lord Chamberlain to stop selling his replica royal coats of arms; by the time the case was resolved he had sold out.143 With the world already on the brink of conflagration, the renegade Scout Action Group, which transmuted into the Baden-Powell Scouts’ Association, threatened to repeat the great global scout schism of 1909.

138 Daily

Telegraph, 30 May 1967, 22. Express, 30 May 1967, 7. 140 Times, 22 September 1966, 10. 141 Daily Telegraph, 29 March 1967, 19. 142 Daily Mail, 24 October 1967, 1. 143 Times, 25 November 1967, 2. 139 Daily

158  M. FARR

VI. ‘Year of the Guru’ For generations, perhaps centuries, troubled people from the Occident have been going to India in search of spiritual respite, of answers in Hinduism to their own soul-searches. Neville Maxwell, The Times, 14 October 1967, 9.

On 2 March 1968, the Illustrated London News effectively juxtaposed clean-shaven young men from the Lancashire Regiment at Buckingham Place receiving awards for gallantry alongside other, unshaven, young men from Lancashire on their haunches on the bank of a river: the Beatles were at Rishikesh, Uttar Pradesh.144 The venerable journal unwittingly had highlighted the widely vaunted disaffection of some British youth with authority, and the absence of leadership gave scope for the guru. The pilgrimage route from the Mersey to the Ganges had begun in 1966 when George Harrison, at the London home of Ayana Deva Anghadi, founder of the Asian Music Circle, met the sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar.145 Having read Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga, Harrison went to India to study under Shankar that autumn. After the Beatles attended a lecture by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on 24 August 1967, they appointed him their spiritual adviser; in February 1968, and to ‘escape from publicity, to the appointment with self’ they and a large entourage flew from London to study at the Maharishi’s Ashram in India.146 The Maharishi’s explanation for the soul-searches of spiritual respite was ‘spiritual poverty in the midst of material plenty’.147 The Maharishi had a habit of ‘punctuating the most enigmatic of his utterances with a prolonged falsetto giggle’.148 The Sunday Telegraph went too. ‘The intellectual level was Rotarian’.149 Before long however the Maharishi had become the ‘Guru of the West’, guiding followers out of the jungle of post-Judaeo-Christian

144 Illustrated

London News, 2 March 1968, 8. Harrison, I, Me, Mine (Guildford: Genesis, 1980; 1990) 55; and Ravi Shankar, Raga Mala (Guildford: Genesis, 1997), 189–90. 146 Neela D’Souza, Times of India, 4 June 1968, 8. 147 Times, 14 October 1967, 9. 148 Francis King, Financial Times, 4 October 1967, 26. 149 Harold Sieve, Sunday Telegraph, 18 February 1968, 28. 145 George



civilisation.150 1968 was the ‘Year of the Guru’, with world peace scheduled for 1978, a timetable that met with approval from U Thant, the beleaguered United Nations Secretary-General.151 ‘It may be that the Maharishi will reap similar honours’, Karl Miller speculated, ‘thus following in the footsteps of his decorated disciples’.152 Indeed, before the Beatles, the Maharishi’s Spiritual Regeneration Movement was loss-making; afterwards his hall-filling world tours aroused the interest of the tax authorities.153 Other gurus materialised, advertising their services; Bhagawan Soham, offered to ‘send vibrations all over the world to maintain peace’, from Wandsworth.154 More materially still, ‘[i]f exported at the opportune moment’, the Times of India advised, ‘our handicrafts can cash in on a sudden ‘fad’ and become very much a la mode’.155 The Government of India Tourist Office promised the ‘peaceful wisdom of the guru’s smile’ as an inducement to take what it grandiloquently proclaimed to be ‘the most unforgettable holiday in the sterling area’.156 With ‘[t]he cult of the Maharishi’, Mildred Archer observed, grew ‘an enthusiasm for all things Indian’.157 Fashion shifted from militaria to the ‘Asian look’: Jodhpur jackets and kaftans, and escapist interest in swamis.158 Gurus were prominent in Christopher Isherwood’s A Meeting by the River, and Ethel Mannin’s Lady and the Mystic, both published in 1967. On that year’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band the Asian Music Circle performed, and on the cover, alongside David Livingstone and T. E. Lawrence, were Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, and the Yogis Shyama Charan Lahiri, Mahavatar Babaji, and Paramahansa Yogananda. Gandhi peered out, albeit briefly: EMI, the Beatles’ record company, in whose Bombay studio Harrison would record with Indian musicians the following year, forbade inclusion of the Mahātmā ‘[b]ecause some people respect him’.159 (Within the year, the band had set up its own, 150 Times,

25 January 1968, 4. Times, 11 February 1968, 6. 152 Karl Miller, Listener, 21 September 1967, 360. 153 Times, 24 January 1968, 4 154 Sunday Times, 17 March 1968, 4. 155 Editorial, Times of India, 22 October 1967, 8. 156 Guardian, 29 July 1967, 4. 157 Mildred Archer, Times Literary Supplement, 6 June 1968, 572. 158 Times of India, 25 October 1967, 8. 159 Derek Taylor, Fifty Years Adrift (Guildford: Genesis Publications, 1984), 364. 151 Sunday

160  M. FARR

postcolonial—and punning—record company: Apple Corps.) Charles Dodgson’s inclusion was less controversial, and indeed the centenary of Lewis Carroll’s most famous work was marked by the BBC with Jonathan Miller’s Alice in Wonderland which featured as Alice AnneMarie Mallik, daughter of Joypaul Mallik, of the Indian nationalist Vasu Mallik family of Calcutta. The soundtrack was composed and performed by Ravi Shankar, with the early, easily most effective, sequences, shot in the soon-to-be-demolished Netley Hospital, the Victorian world’s longest building and site of Florence Nightingale’s ministering to the Cherry Bums of Crimea. Signposting the conflation of Raj and Empire, Paul Scott’s The Jewel in the Crown came out that year, to be widely reviewed, and widely accused of both glamorising empire, and of reviving its agonies.160 When The Day of the Scorpion was published in 1968, Scott spoke of ‘cultural shock’, by which he meant primarily that of the British in India during the Raj, but also the British in Britain during post-war Commonwealth immigration.161 The Commonwealth Institute and the Caribbean Artists’ Movement promoted Commonwealth artists, and Avinash Chandra’s Hills of Gold became the first modernist work by an Indian artist to enter the national collection at the Tate, while the Asian Music Circle found itself upscaling from the Commonwealth Institute on Kensington High Street to concert halls.162 All were connected, far and wide, by the BBC World Service’s Urdu and Hindi services.163 At the same time as the Victoria and Albert Museum promoted ‘Paintings of the Sikhs’, round the corner at the Albert Hall Arnold Smith, Commonwealth Secretary-General, told 5000 Sikhs at a festival marking the 300th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, ‘the need for the Commonwealth and the world to keep faith with his vision is more imperative than ever’.164 Sardar Khushwant Singh, speaking in front of 160 Paul Scott, Behind Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet: A Life in Letters, volume II: The Quartet and Beyond (1966–78), ed. Janis Haswell (Amherst: Cambria, 2011), 27–30. 161 Paul Scott, ‘India: A Post-Forsterian View’, 1968, in Paul Scott, Essays by Divers Hands; Being the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature, ed. Mary Stocks (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), 113–32 and 129; and Paul Scott, ‘Enoch Sahib: A Slight Case of Cultural Shock’, 1969, in Paul Scott, My Appointment with the Muse: Essays 1961– 75, ed. Shelley C. Reece (London: Heinemann, 1986), 91–104 and 95–96. 162 Times, 26 September 1967, 11. 163 Saeed Jaffrey, Saeed: An Actor’s Journey (London: Constable, 1998), 155–56. 164 Daily Telegraph, 28 January 1967, 13.



British Army officers who had served in Sikh regiments in both world wars said ‘[y]our children must imbibe the teachings of Guru Gobind Singh so they can say with pride: “I am a Sikh and Englishman”’.165 Enoch Powell, a figure of some public prominence in 1968, and who had served in the Indian Army, went from harbouring the ambition of being appointed by the King Viceroy of India to being publicly anointed by the Prime Minister ‘the right-wing guru from Wolverhampton’.166 Further pots of face paint blemished 1968: Marlon Brando blacked-up as a fake guru in Candy, and Peter Sellers—a former Goon obsessed with his Imperial past—blacked-up as a hapless Indian actor appearing in a Gunga Din-style epic in Blake Edwards’ The Party; Sellers had become friends with Shankar and Harrison, and thereafter became a yogi.167 But The Party flopped, too late for Twentieth Century Fox which had liked Ismail Merchant’s Shakespeare Wallah so much that the studio funded The Guru, with Utpal Dutt as a Shankar character and Michael York a Harrison. On trend, filming began in January 1968, on location in India, but by ‘by the time the film was released’ the following year, Merchant rued, ‘the West’s preoccupation with the subcontinent had played out, and The Guru was already passé’.168 One of the Gurus was prostrate. ‘It hurts me to see them making Indian music into a fad’, Ravi Shankar said. ‘I simply didn’t know what I was getting into when I took on George Harrison’.169

165 Daily

Telegraph, 28 January 1967, 13. 2 October 1968, 4. 167 Shankar, Raga Mala, 204. 168 Ismail Merchant, My Passage to India: A Filmmaker’s Journey from Bombay to Hollywood and Beyond (London: Penguin, 2002), 71. 169 Ravi Shankar, in David Bailey and Peter Evans, Goodbye Baby & Amen: A Saraband for the Sixties (London: Condé Nast, 1969), 89. 166 Guardian,

162  M. FARR

Conclusion I always assumed that the British Empire was merely a lot of Englishmen trying to get warm: perhaps it is because there is now no more Empire for them to go to that we are having central heating in this country. Viscount Samuel, House of Lords, 29 May 1968.170

The Commonwealth Office was of its time; and, it could be seen, of its government. On 17 October 1968, as the new Foreign and Commonwealth Office itself put it in its public information booklet on the merger, ‘for the first time in modern British history one Secretary of State became responsible for our relations with all other countries’.171 Though that outcome was the ultimate aim of the Plowden report four years earlier, the amalgamation had opportunistically been announced, to general surprise, on 15 March, occasioned by the Foreign Secretary’s impetuous resignation and the Wilsons’ ignominious return from their visit to the Johnsons.172 The British government’s ending of the separate institutional identity of the Commonwealth was, like much else pertaining to it, made without consultation with the Commonwealth. Max Beloff was moved to reflect that ‘[i]n the world, for the first time, there is no member of the Commonwealth with an accepted claim to a significant place in the ordering of international life’.173 Or even national life: concerned members of the moderate, practical, Royal Commonwealth Society promptly established the NUDGE Committee to convey, privately and publicly, ‘the concern felt in Commonwealth countries that the merger was yet one more example of lack of interest shown in the

170 Hansard, fifth series, volume 292, column 1201. As a child Samuel had gone to Palestine with his father, who was High Commissioner 1920–25. He stayed in the warm for the rest of his life. 171 Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Merger of the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office, 1968 (London: HMSO 1968), 2. Michael Steward to Harold Wilson, 1 October 1968, TNA, PREM 13/2693. 172 Harold Wilson to Michael Stewart, 19 March 1968, TNA, FCO 77/31. 173 Max Beloff, ‘A New Kind of Realism’, The Round Table 58 (1968), 225–28, 231, and 225.



Commonwealth by Great Britain’.174 That Britain ‘has been the only member of the Commonwealth to maintain two separate departments for overseas affairs’ meant that the name of the new department caused apprehension in Whitehall (‘there is very strong support for the suggestion “Overseas Office”. This makes a good opposite number to the Home Office but there was some feeling that the initials O.O. would give too negative an impression’.).175 The merger, the new Foreign Secretary was anxious to reassure High Commissioners, ‘is indeed a recognition that the importance of the Commonwealth in world affairs today requires that all our ministers and officials dealing with overseas affairs should have an intimate contact with the Commonwealth as well as with foreign countries’.176 It was, therefore, politic for the Prime Minister to speak at the Royal Commonwealth Society when it reopened after refurbishment. On the wall above the rostrum, the plaster medallion had however not been retained: ‘Imperium et Libertas’.177 The new administrative arrangement had more prosaic ­ imperatives ‘[g]iven the ever-growing importance of the domestic economy in the conduct of our external policy’, as the Prime Minister’s foreign affairs private secretary admitted, privately.178 Devaluation was no bad thing, some outsiders thought, if it depleted Britain’s ‘feeling of undimmed superiority’, and the head of the diplomatic service himself confided ‘we are a middle as opposed to a great power’.179 The view from

174 Nudge Committee minutes, 8 April 1968, Archives of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Cambridge University Library, ARCS 11/18/1. 175 Report of the Sixty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Labour Party, Blackpool 1968, (London, 1968), 70. ‘We have considered the possibilities of “Foreign and Commonwealth Office”, “Commonwealth and Foreign Office” and “Foreign Office”’, Sir Paul Gore-Booth, noted. ‘The first two of these suggestions raise awkward problems whether “Foreign” or “Commonwealth” should come first’. [Sir Paul Gore-Booth] ‘Merger of the Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Office, 1968’ [n.d., July 1968], TNA, FCO 73/16. 176 Michael Steward, telegram, 18 October 1968, PREM 13/2693. 177 Daily Telegraph, 25 April 1968, 18. 178 Michael Palliser to Keith Oakeshott, 23 April 1968, TNA, FCO 73/104. 179 Joseph Kraft, Washington Post, 21 November 1967, A19; [Sir Paul Gore-Booth] ‘Merger of the Commonwealth Office and the Foreign Office, 1968’, [n.d., July 1968], TNA, FCO 73/16.

164  M. FARR

Washington, DC, of the Prime Minister’s visit that ‘its uneventfulness and lack of import, made palpable what had been known but not truly registered – that Britain, once the center of its own empire, later an estimable partner of the United States, is now a single and modest state turned somewhat painfully upon itself’.180 The new administrative arrangement was therefore a chance to claw back some of what had been lost. ‘Now is the time to set up a proper U.S. Department’, Wilson’s private secretary told the head of the diplomatic service. ‘The decay of the special relationship means we cannot get on without one’.181 The contradiction between Britain’s global pretensions and her material insufficiency was another way of interpreting Wilson’s refusal to be involved in Johnson’s war; other indications of dissociation were available. A year earlier Wilson’s principal domestic adversary, his own gaze fixed firmly across the Channel, crossed the Atlantic to rubbish the very idea of ‘the so-called special relationship’.182 In contrast to the apparent disinterest of the American government, there had at least been the enduring fascination of the American consumer. Then, dramatically, wounded by the Charge of the Light Brigade, the American legions mounted a full retreat from British cinema (and, as The Avengers were to discover, British television).183 The British legions had had enough of British cinema too; when the army, which had co-operated with How I Won the War, saw the film—and its casual referencing of calamities such as Dunkirk, Dieppe, and Arnhem—it declined to assist Virgin Soldiers, whose very purpose was to get a rise out of the fall of the British Empire.184 The Beatles drifted away from the Maharishi’s Ashram,

180 Editorial, Washington Post, ‘Remember Britain’, 13 February 1968, A12; Miscellaneous No. 5 (1964) Report of the Committee on Representational Services Overseas (London: HMSO, 1964), Cmnd. 2276, 12. 181 Richard Baker to Sir Paul Gore-Booth, 2 April 1968, TNA, FCO 73/104. 182 Edward Heath, Old World, New Horizons: Britain, Europe, and the Atlantic Alliance (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), 63 and 66. 183 Variety, 14 August 1968, 1, 10; 6 November 1968, 7 and 12. 184 Ned Sherrin, A Small Thing—Like an Earthquake (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1983), 133.



disillusionsed. British Week in Basle was cancelled over protests against British policies in Biafra.185 That, and British policy over Johnson’s war, prompted Private Gripweed, ‘beginning to be ashamed of being British’, to return his MBE to the Queen.186 The first MBEs that were ever returned to Buckingham Palace had been from servants of empire protesting against the Beatles having been awarded them in the first place. At least one now asked for his back.187 The one demonstrable achievement of I’m Backing Britain, albeit unintended, was the deprecation of the Union Jack.188 Leaving London after eighteen years, the Pakistani writer Zulfikar Ghose felt ‘youth became a cult and sycophancy towards youth one more nauseating trait acquired by the mass media … A garish patriotism backed Britain, making the Union Jack a jolly pattern to print on carrier-bags and chamber-pots, while imports continued to increase’.189 It was a stillborn cultural imperialism. Even allowing for licensed journalistic hyperbole, Henry Fairlie warrantably could consider it a ‘sad, sad epitaph’.190 One journalist who had not said good-bye thought ‘half the bulldog breed appears to be making whoopee, and the other half wallowing in the most extraordinary orgy of self-denigration in the sceptred isle’s entire history’, William Davis wrote; ‘having discarded an empire, we have become wildly irresponsible and addicted to laughing our heads off at our misfortune’.191 It may merely have been fashion to move from one

185 Times,

20 September 1968, 7. Emerson, New York Times, 26 November 1969, 2. 187 Guardian, 27 November 1969, 1. 188 Tom Salter, Carnaby Street (Hobbs: Walton-on-Thames, 1970), 21. 189 Zulfikar Ghose, Hudson Review, Autumn 1969, 374–88 and 376. 190 Henry Fairlie, New York Times Magazine, 12 June 1966, 28. 191 William Davis, Punch, 9 April 1969, 514. 186 Gloria

166  M. FARR

style—uniforms—to another—kaftans—yet if Quintin Hogg was right that it was spirit and not material resources which make a nation viable, there was much evidence that the view was shared by the youth. Michael Caine may have been right that the ‘creative power of our young people’ should be thought to be the main corrective to decline, but the immediate post-imperial British cultural renaissance was not much longer lived than was the Commonwealth Office. Swinging Imperialism, as it was never called, was more a fabrication minded to attract foreign contributions to the exchequer; Piri Halasaz’s seminal Time cover piece that started it all had been researched and written in nine days. In New York.192 Reviewing Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London, in which the Duke of Cockney thought, however ridiculously, that it was to do with the loss of the British Empire, Raymond Durgnat saw through Swinging London as a ‘minority way of life falsified into a city’s brand image by journalists, advertisers, and everyday dreamers’.193 John MacKenzie has argued that imperialism was a core ideology that served to unify identity by ameliorating class differences. It was striking that where working-class lives were absent from the master narrative of the British Empire, they were central to the reshaping of Britishness that attended its decline. There were those to whom imperialism was central, and those to whom it was peripheral, merely a passing reference, and, increasingly, not even that. Commercial opportunism was almost always at least as important; in such ways were imperial and post-imperial Britain connected. The imperial signifiers in popular culture were prominent as Britain became global once more; thereafter, Britain receded strikingly from the international gaze.194 It was said of Tony Richardson’s directing of The Charge of the Light Brigade, but could equally be said of the country at large, that it was ‘little more than an amorphous catalytic agent in a melee of wildly disparate

192 Piri Halasz, A Memoir of Creativity: Abstract Painting, Politics & the Media (New York: iUniverse, 2009), 115–16. 193 Raymond Durgnat, Films and Filming, February 1968, 24. 194 The attention paid by the international press to the 1966 and 1970 general elections respectively is instructive. The former—which was a one-sided foregone conclusion—was a world event; the latter, which was much closer and ending up producing the greatest shock outcome of the century, was by comparison almost entirely ignored.



elements’.195 Not every expression of popular culture in that melee could directly be related to the Commonwealth Office. Indeed, little in the way of obviously imperially-inspired dress or deportment could reasonably be said to have been intended to offer commentary on Britain’s rapidly contracting outwardness. Nor did those expressions begin in 1966 and end in 1968. But infuse and saturate public life they did. It was as if a sudden whiff of death provoked, by way of denial, a vigorous state of animation, a colourful reaction which, further, highlighted a spirited contrariness: ushering a period of reversion at the same time as experimentation. The goings-on may have been nostalgic, satiric, ironic, subversive, transgressive; certainly they were inconsistent, their cadences ambiguous. For all the apprehension elsewhere, there remained a sense of superiority in this neo-cultural imperialism which the world—and, Americans, predominantly—consumed; little in one’s expression of self ever is vainer than self-deprecation. Be they camp or political, those representations of imperialism were, depending on one’s experience, original, adaptive, or revisionist. As the British ambassador in Washington had warned London, ‘what matters in this context is not so much what is true but what is thought to be true’.196 The Commonwealth Office had been a traditional response to an affair of state: the creation of a department to run it. That it did not take long to realise that the affair of state in question was not sufficient to warrant a department of its own was one thing; that the affair of state in question concerned what remained of what had largely defined modern Britain—empire—added to a sense of time having passed. The import of the present and the future that it implied was disguised by the vitality of popular culture, located though it was in large part for a short time in the imperial recessional. It was a time best understood through dualities. So much that was new seemed to have been born of the past. It was inevitable, perhaps, that just as the acquisition of empire may have encouraged a feeling of undimmed superiority, so the loss of the British Empire provoked overreaction; that, not unlike Richard Lester with How I Won the War, in Penelope Houston’s estimation, one may have been stubbing one’s ‘toes by kicking ferociously at an open door’.197

195 Monthly

Film Bulletin, 1 January 1968, 98. Patrick Dean to Sir John Nicholls, 28 June 1966, TNA, FO 953/2407. 197 Penelope Houston, Sight and Sound, Autumn 1967, 202. 196 Sir

168  M. FARR

During the days in the life of the Commonwealth Office, the contrasts between the past and the present lent themselves to overreaction, and any number of moments being deemed the final end of empire, of imperialism, of power; of purpose. Increasingly, official attention as to Britain’s place in the world turned to greater involvement west of Suez. In just over a year, there would be a new decade, and the first Prime Minister with instinctively greater sympathy for the Common Market than for the Commonwealth, that sympathy being born of his having fought in the war that preceded, and inspired, the idea of European integration: the settled future for Britain. But still was there the twitch upon the thread. Newly stationed at the CBS London bureau, Bob Simon found himself on the wet pavement outside Apple Corps interviewing members of the public evidently quite suffering from cultural shock. Simon told his American viewers that ‘the small gathering on Savile Row is only the beginning. The event is so momentous that historians may one day view it as a landmark in the decline of the British Empire. The Beatles are breaking up’.198

198 Bob

Simon, CBS News, London, 10 April 1970.


Four-Nations History


Scottish Landed-Estate Purchases, Empire, and Union, 1700–1900 Stephanie Barczewski

On the occasion of what was only my second encounter with John MacKenzie, at a conference in 2015, he graciously congratulated me on the publication of my book Country Houses and Empire, one of the last volumes he edited for Manchester University Press’s Studies in Imperialism series, which of course MacKenzie himself had founded in 1984, and which had significantly altered the way in which empire was studied in both Britain and North America. John told me what he had liked most about the book: that in doing the research for it, I had, as he put it, ‘got out of London’, by which he meant that I had looked at archival records in not only English county archives but also in collections in Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and—doubtless most importantly from his point of view—Scotland. His point, however, was not merely a reflection of his own academic predilections, because, as usual, he was absolutely right: understanding the connections between country houses and empire required not only getting beyond London, but beyond England. And in the process, he was bringing together the two main

S. Barczewski (*)  Department of History, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



strands of his own remarkable career: first, the assertion that the cultural impact of the British Empire was as significant for the metropolis as it was for the colonies; and second, the recognition that this impact was not felt solely in London or even in England, but in all parts of Britain and Ireland. In this essay, I hope similarly to intertwine these two strands, by showing how the study of country houses can simultaneously reveal the impact of empire in the metropolis, where they served as both economic and cultural embodiments of empire in the British and Irish landscape, and the widespread geographical distribution of that impact, as houses constructed from imperial profits and reflecting imperial influences can be found from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands and from East Anglia to the west of Ireland. It would not be a true tribute to MacKenzie’s career, however, if I failed to conclude that that impact was greater and that geographical presence more concentrated in Scotland, the part of the United Kingdom in which he was born and still lives, and which has been the focal point of so much of his work. By viewing Scottish country houses in comparison with their English, Welsh, and Irish counterparts, we can begin to comprehend just how much greater Scotland’s level of imperial participation was than any other part of the British Isles. And, perhaps, we can begin to glean some understanding of Scotland’s long and complex relationship with the United Kingdom, a relationship that remains, in the wake of the independence referendum of 2014 and the Brexit vote of 2016, a complex, fraught, and far from entirely settled one.

1   Country Houses, British Identities, and Empire I will begin with the conventional way in which country houses are presented in popular culture as historical artefacts, by television programs such as ITV’s Downton Abbey or by organisations such as the National Trust. As David Cannadine has written: All too frequently the contemporary cult of the country house depicts the old landowning classes as elegant, exquisite patrons of the arts, living lives of tasteful ease in beautiful surroundings. Of course, there is some truth in this. But as a representation of the totality of patrician existence, it misleads and distorts, by failing to recognize them for what they really were: a



tough, tenacious and resourceful elite, who loved money, loved power and loved the good life.1

As Cannadine indicates, conventional representations of the country house tend to focus on the beauty of their architecture, the rarity and value of their contents, or the biographies of their owners. In addition, country houses have generally been interpreted in an insular manner, particularly those in England. Peter Mandler has observed that ‘the stately homes of England, it is now often claimed, are that country’s greatest contribution to western civilisation. They are the quintessence of Englishness: they epitomise the English love of domesticity, of the countryside, of hierarchy, continuity and tradition’.2 This essay, as do Cannadine and Mandler, will challenge both of those formulations, the first because it is too limiting and the second because it is inaccurate. Far from being arcadian retreats isolated from real-world concerns about wealth, status, and power, country houses reflected the diligent, pragmatic, and often ruthless efforts of their owners to acquire and maintain them: the funds that built them came from a variety of sources, many of them untethered to traditional agricultural enterprise, and the profits they produced, if and when they actually produced them, were the result of focused and aggressive management. And far from embodying a cultural autarky that kept the external world at bay, they reflected a wide range of influences, from the Renaissanceinspired Elizabethan ‘prodigy houses’ such as Burghley and Longleat to their Italian-inspired baroque, Palladian, and neoclassical successors. In the eighteenth century, elite young men on the Grand Tour of the European continent acquired rare antiquities and works of fine art that they installed in special picture and sculpture galleries in their houses upon their return home. Even the invocation of more superficially English historical references by the Jacobethan houses of the Victorian era must be viewed as part of the broader ‘Renaissance Revival’ that was occurring all over Europe, while the Gothic Revival, which is often interpreted as English in origin and inspiration, was paralleled by similar movements in France and Germany. Were there aspects of country-house 1 David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990), 4. 2 Peter Mandler, The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999), 1.


architecture, design, and décor that were unique to each nation of and to the British Isles as a whole? Absolutely. But were they ever entirely isolated from external influences, from both within and outside of the United Kingdom? Absolutely not. In particular, claims about the essential ‘Englishness’ of the country house ignore the fact that many of these—often architecturally indistinguishable—houses were located in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, nations that have distinctive and unique relationships with both the United Kingdom and the British Empire. Their owners displayed complex and often conflicting loyalties, as the belief in the political, social, and economic advantages of the Union and of access to the British Empire evinced by many members of the landed elite did not preclude them from maintaining strongly patriotic attitudes towards—and from at times supporting the independence of—their native countries. This was particularly true of Scottish country houses, which reflected the nation’s history as both an independent entity and as a part of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, as they were often built from the profits obtained via inclusion in the latter but at the same time proudly displayed expressions of cultural and political nationalism that were directed against English sovereignty. As one example of this duality, there hangs in the dining room of Dunvegan Castle, Clan MacLeod’s seat on the Isle of Skye, a portrait by Allan Ramsay. Dating from the late 1740s, it shows Norman MacLeod, 22nd chief of the clan, clad from head to toe in red tartan, in defiance of the proscription of traditional Highland dress after the failure of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. It is unclear why MacLeod chose to have himself depicted in this way, because he was emphatically not a Jacobite. On the contrary, he had refused to join Bonnie Prince Charlie and had instead raised a company for the British forces that had been soundly defeated by Lord Lewis Gordon’s men at the Battle of Inverurie in December 1745. After the Jacobites were decisively beaten at Culloden the following year, he had participated in the efforts to lay waste to the lands of the lairds who had supported the rebellion, including his own kinsmen on the Isle of Raasay, where his men destroyed houses and slaughtered much of the livestock. When not harrying Jacobites, MacLeod spent his time squandering the family fortune: he left his heir £50,000 in debt, earning himself the sobriquet the ‘Wicked Man’ from his dismayed and impoverished heirs. (In an attempt to relieve this debt, he hatched a scheme to sell around



a hundred residents of Skye into indentured servitude in America for £3 each. As further demonstration of the quality of his character, local tradition holds that he locked his wife Janet in the dungeon of Dunvegan Castle and starved her to death.) Why, then, did MacLeod have himself painted in Jacobite garb? Because once the rebellion had been suppressed, it was politically expedient to display himself as a patriotic Scotsman. It was, in essence, a shameless and blatantly inaccurate act of reputation repair. When MacLeod, doubtless not much mourned, died in 1772, he was succeeded as clan chief by his namesake grandson, who had been raised in England and who was appalled to discover the combined effects upon the family fortunes of his forebear’s profligacy and a recent epidemic of cattle plague. It was, as he later recalled, ‘the most gloomy period of my life. Educated in a liberal manner, fired with ambition, fond of society, I found myself in confinement in a remote corner of the world; without any hope of extinguishing the debts of my family, or of ever emerging from poverty and obscurity’.3 The 23rd chief, however, was, at least in his youth, a more responsible character than his grandfather, and, though only eighteen at the time he came into his inheritance, he set about attempting to restore the family fortune. But after a few years of diligent effort yielded minimal result, in 1775 he asked his kinsman Simon Fraser, Lieutenant Colonel of the 24th Regiment of Foot, to secure for him a ‘considerable rank’ in the forces being assembled to put the bumptious Americans in their place. At the age of twenty-one, he became a captain in the 71st Regiment of Foot. His career as an anti-revolutionary was to be short-lived, however, as while en route to America in April 1776 his ship was captured by a privateer, and he spent three years as a prisoner of war. Following his release, he was dispatched to India, where he served with distinction in the Second AngloMysore War against Tipu Sultan in the early 1780s. MacLeod eventually rose to the rank of brevet major-general and second-in-command of the British Army in India, which earned him a salary of £6000 a year, but after being deprived of his brevet rank and reduced to a lieutenant-colonelcy in 1788, he resigned his commissioned and returned home, bringing with him by some estimates as much as £100,000 in prize money. Sometime after his return to Scotland, MacLeod commissioned Henry Raeburn to paint companion portraits of himself and his wife 3 [accessed 4 January 2018].


Sarah, who was the daughter of Nathaniel Stackhouse, a member of the governing council of Bombay. The paintings now hang in the same room of Dunvegan Castle as Ramsay’s of his tartan-clad grandfather. The fortune MacLeod had amassed in India was sufficient not only to clear the estate’s debts but also to transform what had been a decaying medieval castle into a comfortable modern residence. The changes were most visible in Dunvegan’s drawing room, which was converted from a medieval great hall into an elegant neoclassical space. Also in the room can be found another portrait of General MacLeod, this one by Johann Zoffany and painted while he was still in India. It shows him in full-dress uniform, with Indian battle scenes of soldiers mounted on elephants in the background. On the adjacent wall is Zoffany’s portrait of Sarah standing before a Mughal temple. Dunvegan’s portraits thus provide a vivid reminder of Scotland’s rapid transformation in the middle decades of the eighteenth century, from bitter division over Jacobitism and rebellion against England to active and eager participant in the British Empire. As such, they serve as a reminder that expressions of nationalism and active partaking of the spoils of union and empire were not at all incompatible. Another Scottish house, Blair Castle in Perthshire, further confirms this reconciliation of apparent opposites. In the mid-eighteenth century, it was the family home of two brothers who took opposite sides in 1745: James Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl, who supported the Union, and Lord George Murray, one of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s most prominent generals. In March 1746, Lord George lay siege to the castle, which stood in a strategic position guarding the Pass of Killiecrankie, a key route between the Lowlands and Highlands; this event has given Blair Castle a ­modern-day claim to fame as ‘the last house to be besieged in Britain’. It also resulted in a number of Jacobite relics ending up among its contents, including a white cockade—a Jacobite emblem—from Lord George’s hat, a shield and set of bagpipes from the Battle of Culloden, and several portrait miniatures of Bonnie Prince Charlie of the type that were distributed to his followers. In addition, a contemporary portrait of Lord George by an unknown artist displays him in full Highland dress, while letters to his brother William, also a Jacobite, declare his intent to destroy the castle if necessary. In the following century, when Scottish patriotism became less politically charged, the Murray family was less divided on the



subject. At the famous Devonshire House fancy-dress ball in 1897, John Stewart-Murray, Marquess of Tullibardine and later 8th Duke of Atholl, and his brother George dressed in full regalia as Highland gentlemen. By this point, the Murrays were fully committed to the Union via service to the Empire. In 1892, Tullibardine had received a commission in the Royal Horse Guards. He served in Lord Herbert Kitchener’s expedition to the Sudan against the forces of the Mahdist revolt in 1898, during which he fought in the battles of Omdurman, Khartoum, and Atbara, earning the Distinguished Service Order and promotion to captain. At Omdurman, superior British weaponry had done its brutal work, as 12,000 of the Sudanese troops had lost their lives, as opposed to only fifty men from the British and Egyptian side. After the battle, Tullibardine rode around the field with the young war correspondent Winston Churchill, who described both the scene and his companion’s generosity towards the wounded: The scenes were pathetic. Where there was a shady bush four men had crawled to die. Someone had spread a rag on the thorns to increase the shade. Three of the unfortunate creatures had attained their object; the fourth survived. He was shot through both legs. The bullet — a MartiniHenry bullet — had lodged in the right knee-cap. The whole limb was stiffened. We gave him a drink. You would not think such joy could come from a small cup of water. Tullibardine examined his injury. Presently he pulled out his knife, and after much probing and cutting extracted the bullet — with the button-hook. I have seen, and shall see perchance again, a man with a famous name worse employed.4

Tullibardine went on to fight in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War and in the Dardanelles campaign in the First World War, eventually rising to the rank of Brigadier General. He brought back souvenirs from these conflicts, many of which are still held and displayed at Blair Castle, including drums, spears, banners, and most spectacularly a finial taken from the Mahdi’s tomb, which adorns one of the towers. Like Dunvegan, Blair Castle thus combines Scottish patriotism and imperial service, without, for its owners, conflict, or contradiction.

4 Winston Churchill, The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (London: Longmans, Green, 1899), II, 223–24.


2  The Scottish Case The remainder of this essay will tell the story of Scottish country houses and their relationship to the British Empire in broader terms. This festschrift volume celebrates the career of an eminent historian who has devoted some of his life work’s to remind us just how actively the Scots participated in imperial endeavour, a fact that I will confirm, but I hope that what follows casts that participation in a new light by comparing it in a very specific and detailed way to that of England, Wales, and Ireland. In so doing, I hope to move past, as a number of my distinguished colleagues do elsewhere in this volume, the ‘maximalist/minimalist’ debate on the presence of empire in British metropolitan culture and to provide a more nuanced perspective regarding the regional and national distribution of empire’s impact. Since the ‘Mackenzian moment’ began in the early 1980s, there has been a vast amount of work done on Scottish, Welsh, and Irish engagement with empire. The enthusiasm for this line of research has sometimes been so great that it can become amusing: I once gave a paper at a conference in which I was accused of failing to give Welsh slave traders their due, which I thought a peculiar argument for an apparent Welsh nationalist to make. In Ireland, meanwhile, coming to grips with the island’s imperial past has marked a key step in creating a more complex and complete picture of Irish history, transcending traditional nationalist views.5 But if we now know that all parts of the United Kingdom participated in empire, we still lack the ability to quantify this participation in ways that allow us to compare one nation to another. Nor do we fully understand the role that this engagement played in each nation’s development as both a constituent of the United Kingdom and as a separate entity. Towards these ends, then, I will indulge in my conclusion in a bit of speculation about what differences in imperial engagement—at least as it was reflected in country-house purchases—can tell us about loyalty to the Union. First, though, I will briefly trace the links between imperial engagement and landed-estate acquisition in broad terms. In my book Country 5 See, as the leading examples of a growing body of scholarship, Keith Jeffery, An Irish Empire?: Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998); Kevin Kenny, ed., Oxford History of the British Empire: Ireland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); and Timothy McMahon, Michael de Nie, and Paul Townend, eds., Ireland in an Imperial World: Citizenship, Opportunism, and Subversion (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).



Ireland 5%

Scotland 25% England 66% Wales 4%

Chart 1  Landed-estate purchases from imperial wealth by nation, 1700–1930

Houses and Empire (2012), I identified around 1100 landed estates in Britain that were purchased by men who made their money in the Empire between 1700 and 1930. This means that between 6 per cent and 16 per cent, depending on which figures you use for the total number, of all the country houses in Britain were at some point in this span purchased from imperial profits, which had been amassed via colonial trade (including the slave trade), service to the East India Company, sugar planting in the West Indies, military service, or other activities. These profits and purchases, however, were larger and more frequent in some parts of the United Kingdom than in others, as Chart 1 illustrates. At first glance, England appears dominant, as it had by far the largest percentage of houses. This proportion, however, is about equal to its average share of the population of the United Kingdom over the entire period, which ranged from 55 per cent in 1800 to 75 per cent in 1930. The Welsh proportion of 4 per cent does not initially look very impressive, but as Wales never made up more than 5 per cent of the United Kingdom’s population between 1700 and 1930, it was not seriously


under-represented. Ireland, however, is under-represented. Prior to the famine in the mid-nineteenth century, Ireland comprised between onefourth and one-third of the United Kingdom’s population, and even though that percentage had fallen to 8 per cent by the early twentieth century, Ireland’s share of estate purchases was barely half of even this lowest figure. There were approximately two thousand country houses in Ireland in total, but I have identified only fifty-two (2.6 per cent) that passed through the hands of men who made their money in the Empire between 1700 and 1930. This suggests, as an ancillary point to my argument today, that the Irish participation in empire that has been increasingly noted by historians was of a different character than in other parts of the United Kingdom.6 Scotland’s 25 per cent, meanwhile, is disproportionately large, reflecting the enthusiastic participation of the Scots in imperial endeavour. Between 1700 and 1930, Scotland’s population was never more than 13 per cent of the United Kingdom’s as a whole. How do these statistics help us comprehend the relationship between Scotland and empire? Answering this question requires a brief refresher course in the relationship between empire and Union in British history. In the seventeenth century, in order to ensure that its economic position remained unchallenged, England imposed a series of Navigation Acts restricting Scottish and Irish trade with its colonies. Dissatisfied by their subordinate economic status within the Union of the Crowns that existed after 1603, the Scots attempted to circumvent these restrictions by building their own colonial empire, a salutary reminder that they did not meekly acquiesce to England in this arena as in many others. But in the 1690s, the failure of the Darien scheme, combined with the Little Ice Age and a series of famine-inducing poor harvests in Scotland’s already agriculturally marginal northern latitudes, convinced many Scots that union with England was at least worth contemplating. At the time of the Act of Union in 1707, many Scots recognised that England was the most viable potential partner in advancing their nation’s commercial interests; even its opponents proposed some sort of economic 6 This is consistent with other studies of Irish participation in empire. Nicholas Draper finds that ‘given the size of the Irish population …, and the size of the Irish elites, the proportion of slave owners appears lower than that of England and certainly lower than in Scotland’. Nicholas Draper, ‘Slave Ownership and the British Country House: The Records of the Slave Compensation Commission as Evidence’, in Madge Dresser and Andrew Hann, eds., Slavery and the British Country House (Swindon: English Heritage, 2013), 5–6.



partnership with their southern neighbour as an alternative to a continued struggle against its economic and naval might. The Act of Union was thus at heart a purely pragmatic arrangement, rather than a partnership of fond neighbours; as one Scottish pamphleteer wrote, ‘A union of Interest is the likeliest way to procure ane union of affections’.7 What Scottish merchants really wanted was free access to transatlantic trade and the ability to build their own empire, but in the end they proved willing to settle for admission into England’s mercantilist system. Things do not, however, always work out as planned, at least initially. In the half-century after 1707, the Union remained tenuous, as major Jacobite rebellions in 1715 and 1745 and a number of smaller-scale uprisings threatened to undo it. Its precariousness was in some ways because the promised benefits proved stubbornly slow to appear: in the short term, the Union diminished rather than increased Scottish trade with Asia, thanks to the disbandment of the Company of Scotland.8 As a result, the imperial profits that flowed back to Scotland were initially limited, and this was reflected in the number of landed-estate purchases. Prior to 1750, as Chart 2 shows, the number of purchases in England exceeded those in Scotland by a total of eighty-four to nineteen, which meant that there were 4.4 purchases in England for every one in Scotland. As Scotland’s population was approximately a quarter of England’s in this period, the data shows that Scotland was slightly under-represented relative to its size. By the 1720s, however, that arch-puppeteer Robert Walpole was dangling East India Company patronage in front of the Scottish elite, in order to lure them into reliable support of the Hanoverian regime.9 A few decades later, the advantages of Union had become manifest to a broad range of Scottish society. Middle-class Scots enjoyed unprecedented opportunities for wealth acquisition and social advancement through colonial trade, as the lavish lifestyles of Glasgow’s tobacco merchants demonstrated. Whereas 7 Quoted in David Armitage, The Ideological Origins of the British Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 160. 8 See Andrew Mackillop, ‘Accessing Empire: Scotland, Europe, Britain and the Asia Trade, 1695–c. 1750’, Itinerario 29 (2005), 7–30. Mackillop, however, generally supports the idea that imperial and economic considerations played a significant role in bringing about the Act of Union. 9 See George McGilvary, East India Patronage and the British State: The Scottish Elite and Politics in the Eighteenth Century (London: I.B. Tauris, 2008).

182  S. BARCZEWSKI    England


Wales Ireland


Colonial Merchants

Indian Nabobs

West Indian Planters

Chart 2  Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits, 1700–17500

relatively few English peers and members of the gentry participated directly in imperial commerce, north of the border the top ranks of society were more heavily involved in empire, a reflection of the loss of wealth that some had suffered due to their support for Jacobitism and the relative paucity of their incomes from agriculture when compared to their English counterparts. T. M. Devine concludes that ‘there could have been few gentry families in Scotland after c. 1760 which did not reap some benefit from the profits of empire’.10 This broadly based participation in empire meant that by the end of the eighteenth century, over half of the East India Company’s employees were Scottish, and Scots were well represented among the ranks of West Indian planters and army officers as well.11 10 T. M. Devine, Scotland’s Empire and the Shaping of the Americas 1600–1815 (Washington: Smithsonian, 2003), 68. 11 Douglas Hamilton writes, ‘To a people with education and aspiration, but relatively few domestic opportunities, empire appeared to be a panacea. For their English counterparts, patronage systems created more chances at home and this fostered a greater reluctance among them to take a chance on an imperial career. This should not be overplayed: the Empire was not short of English adventurers; but empire was more important to a greater proportion of Scots’. Douglas Hamilton, ‘The Empire in Scotland’, in T. M. Devine and Jenny Wormald, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 434–45.





Wales Ireland


Colonial Merchants

Indian Nabobs

West Indian Planters

Chart 3  Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits, 1750–1800

This dramatic influx of Scots into the empire, and the resulting flow of capital back to Scotland, can be seen by comparing the number of landedestate purchases made from imperial profits between 1750 and 1800 to that of the previous half-century. Chart 3 shows a dramatic increase for the United Kingdom as a whole and an even greater one for Scotland. The total number of purchases almost quadrupled from 108 in the previous half-century to 419. And not only did Scotland close the gap with England in absolute terms, but the total number of English purchases now outnumbered those in Scotland by only 286–110, or a ratio of 2.6–1, as compared to 4.4–1 in the previous half-century. At the same time, England’s population of approximately 9 million in this period outnumbered Scotland’s of 1.6 million by a ratio of 5.6–1, which meant that Scotland was now seriously over-represented in its number of estate purchases. Taking England as the baseline, the Scots purchased more than twice as many estates from imperial profits between 1750 and 1800 as they should have based on their relative population figures. Chart 4 shows the same table adjusted for population.

184  S. BARCZEWSKI   England

Scotland Wales


Colonial Merchants

Indian Nabobs

West Indian Planters

Chart 4  Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits in England and Scotland, 1750–1800, adjusted for population

3   Comparison to Ireland To anyone familiar with MacKenzie’s work, the conclusion thus far—that the Scots were extremely active participants in empire—is hardly a revelation. In the final paragraphs of this essay, I will venture onto more novel, but also more speculative, ground by advancing some ideas about the unity—or lack thereof—of the United Kingdom. In order to comprehend what has brought the four nations of United Kingdom (including Ireland from 1800 to 1922 and Northern Ireland since) together, scholars generally start from the premise of trying to identify what unites them internally. This immediately runs into a problem, however, because of the departure of the least enthusiastic partner, the twenty-six counties that now comprise the Republic of Ireland. They thus fall back on conceptions of ‘British’ unity, a more comprehensible subject in which those troublesome Irish, who never seem to fit whatever model is proposed, can be largely ignored. The approach taken by Linda Colley in her still massively influential Britons is typical of this approach, which has obvious value in light of the United Kingdom’s ultimate inability to accommodate the Catholic-majority parts of Ireland.12 12 Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992).



It does not, however, provide much insight as to why those parts of Ireland did remain within the United Kingdom for almost a centuryand-a-quarter; nor does it suggest that factors beyond religion could serve as the glue, even temporarily, that bound the four nations of the British Isles into a single political entity. Could it be, perhaps, that external rather than internal factors have a role to play here? This is, of course, a novel way of conceiving national identity in British context, for geography, and island status in particular, has often been seen as insularity-breeding destiny. But what of the observe side of being an island: the surrounding seas as conduit to rather than barrier from the outside world? The British Empire, the primary destination to which that conduit led, bound the Union together by providing economic incentives to join and remain within it, and as an outgrowth of that by creating identities that were mutually constituted as Unionist and imperial, as the MacLeod and Murray families demonstrate above. Tracing the profits of empire is a contentious business among British historians, but certainly purchases of landed estates from imperial proceeds can serve as one measure of calculating the financial rewards that flowed back to individuals and thereby helped to cement their loyalty to the Union, even as they did not entirely eradicate their patriotic sentiments towards the countries of their birth. To comprehend this point, one more data point is useful. Chart 5 shows that there were relatively few purchases from imperial wealth prior to 1760, and then a sharp increase that lasted until 1810, with an equally sharp decline thereafter. The chronology revealed by this chart in relation to the timing of Scotland’s adherence to the Union is potentially revealing. As we have previously seen, it was not until after the mid-eighteenth century that the Scots began to aggressively seek the benefits of Union via widespread imperial activity. What this data shows is that this increase in Scottish participation in empire coincided with the period in which the greatest number of individuals was converting imperial wealth to landed status. This chronological coincidence paved the way for a reconciliation of nationalism and unionism, a combination of apparent opposites that is essential to understanding Scottish identity even today. By the end of the eighteenth century, the Scots were emphasizing their contribution to the Empire as the great equaliser in the imbalance of power with England, and therefore as a point of pride in conceptions of Scottish national identity. Thanks to the Scots and their prominent role in building the

186  S. BARCZEWSKI         

Chart 5  Landed-estate purchases from imperial wealth by decade, 1700–1930

Empire, the argument went, England had benefited enormously from the Union, as much if not more so than Scotland. In this way, Scottish unionism and imperialism was rendered entirely compatible with Scottish nationalism: Scotland was no longer a junior partner taken under England’s wing, but the leading architect of the British Empire. It is easy to dismiss this as so much nationalist hyperbole, but those canny Scots were on to something: empire can indeed provide a means of overturning the traditional Anglocentrism of British history. Because of course their view was largely true: the Scots had played a massive role in building the Empire, in proportion a far larger one than the English when the relative population size of the two countries is taken into account. As a comparative case, let’s look briefly at Ireland, where unionism failed to garner the support of the majority of the population, leading to discontentment and rebellion, and ultimately to the granting of dominion status to the Irish Free State in 1922 and the establishment of the Republic of Ireland in 1949. In contrast to Scotland after 1707, there was no surge of landed-estate acquisitions from imperial proceeds in Ireland in the century after the Act of Union of 1800. As Chart 6 shows, between 1800 and 1900, there were 166 total ­purchases in England, ninety-two in Scotland (once again a disproportionately large number relative to respective population sizes), and twelve








Colonial Merchants

Indian Nabobs

West Indian Planters

Chart 6  Landed-estate purchases from colonial profits, 1800–1900

in Wales (also disproportionately large), but only thirteen in Ireland, despite the fact that its population was almost twice that of Wales in 1900. After 1800, Scotland had thus continued to close the gap with England in absolute terms and to increase its over-representation in relative terms. There were now only 1.8 English purchases for every Scottish one, at a time when England’s population was around six times that of Scotland. Ireland, meanwhile, did not close the gap to any significant extent. In this period, there were 7.1 estate purchases in Scotland for every one in Ireland, despite the fact that Ireland’s population was three times greater than that of Scotland even after the Famine. There are a variety of reasons why this was the case. Prior to 1800, Irish landowners were more prosperous than their Scottish counterparts, diminishing the need for them to find gainful employment for themselves or their heirs via empire. After 1800, however, the profitability of Irish estates began to diminish, a decline that would accelerate after the Famine, but by that point the Irish were too late to get in on the ground floor of imperial commerce and administration. In the second half of the eighteenth century, as we have previously seen, Scotland was integrated into the United Kingdom in part via the widespread participation of Scots in imperial commerce, administration, and military service. The Act of Union with Ireland, however, came too late for a similar


process of integration into imperial service and economic activity to take place there. The landed-estate data shows that the greatest concentration of purchases from imperial profits took place from 1760 to 1800, suggesting that this was the period in which individual fortunes could most easily be made. The Scots were thus positioned to take advantage of imperial opportunities, while for the Irish the ‘imperial moment’, at least for men seeking individual gains, had largely passed by the time they joined the Union. Landed-estate purchases, of course, do not reveal everything there is to know about imperial economics and the flow of capital back to the British metropolis. The striking disparities between Scotland and Ireland, however, hint at some fundamental differences between the two nations in terms of the timing of participation in colonial commerce and the inflow of colonial profits. It is conventional to argue that the Union with Ireland disintegrated because of the failure to integrate the Catholic majority into it and because of its more coercive nature when compared to its Scottish counterpart, and, and no historian would deny that Catholicism massively complicated Ireland’s place in the Union or that the nature of the British administration in Ireland differed in important ways from that in Scotland. Perhaps, however, it was not so much that Catholicism prevented the development of a Unionist and imperial identity in Ireland, and more that the appeal of such an identity failed to manifest itself via a perception of economic advantage, thereby making it difficult for the religious barrier to be overcome. The data regarding landed-estate purchases suggests that the period in which the proceeds of empire flowed most generously to individuals was a relatively brief one that began in the final decades of the eighteenth century and was over by the early nineteenth. This coincided with the period when Jacobitism ceased to be a meaningful political force and the majority of Scots reconciled themselves to the Union; instead, they began to focus on seeking the advantages that Union offered, in particular opportunities for capital accumulation in the Empire. For the Irish, however, union came too late: by the time they were in position to take advantage of the opportunities that the Empire offered, those opportunities had diminished in both number and scope. This does not mean that we should embrace a simplistic ‘economics of loyalism’, but it does suggest that the perception of economic benefit was an essential precondition for the development of a Unionist identity, and that the British Empire was a primary conduit through which that economic benefit was perceived to flow.


Electoral Politics and Lord Seaforth as a Landed Proprietor in Scotland and as Governor of Barbados Finlay McKichan

In 1993, John MacKenzie noted that many former Jacobite families were keen to restore their fortunes by taking up positions in the British Empire; that such opportunities expanded during the Napoleonic Wars; and that until at least the mid-nineteenth century Scots secured governorships at a higher rate than their numbers warranted.1 An example of all these trends was Francis Humberston Mackenzie, proprietor of the Seaforth estate from 1783 to 1815, first Baron Seaforth from 1798, and Governor of Barbados from 1801 to 1806. His ancestor, the 5th Earl of Seaforth, fought for the Jacobites against King George I in the risings of 1715 and 1719. The Seaforth estates were consequently

1 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Essay and Reflection: On Scotland and Empire’, International History Review 15 (1993), 718–19.

F. McKichan (*)  University of Aberdeen (retired), Aberdeen, Scotland, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


190  F. McKICHAN

forfeited, but bought back in 1741 for £25,000.2 They were never financially sound thereafter, making it necessary for their owners to seek additional income. Lord Seaforth received his colonial governorship in part as a reward for raising two of the earliest line battalions for the French Revolutionary War.3 MacKenzie suggests that, while Scots in the Empire were not always progressive, there were Scottish governors who were influenced by ideas derived from the Scottish Enlightenment.4 Seaforth can certainly be classed as a progressive governor. Against the opposition of planters, he struggled hard in Barbados to increase the legal rights of free people of colour and enslaved labourers.5 Was he influenced by Enlightenment ideas? At a time when many Highland proprietors were evicting their small tenants to make way for sheep farms, Seaforth was loath to do so. He thus exemplified the views of Adam Ferguson, author of Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), who disapproved of the individual who ‘considers his community only so far as it can be rendered subservient to his personal advancement and profit’.6 The reading matter he ordered from London when the governor of Barbados included the Edinburgh Review, which was edited by Francis Jeffrey and written by former students of the celebrated professor at Edinburgh University Dugald Stewart.7 To be sure, Seaforth did not share their wish for reform of the British political system. As will be shown, he thrived through traditional methods of political management. He did demonstrate in Barbados, however, a wish to improve the political administration of the island by what Stewart called ‘the science of legislation’. Seaforth was not the only 2 Alexander Mackenzie, A History of the Clan Mackenzie (Inverness, 1894), 281–83, 291–98, 324, and 326. 3 Finlay McKichan, ‘Lord Seaforth (1754–1815): The Lifestyle of a Highland Proprietor and Clan Chief’, Northern Scotland, new series 5 (2014), 58–59. 4 MacKenzie, ‘On Scotland and Empire’, 732–33; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘The British Empire: Ramshackle or Rampaging: A Historiographical Reflection’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 43 (2015), 108. 5 Finlay McKichan, ‘Lord Seaforth: Highland Proprietor, Caribbean Governor and Slave Owner’, Scottish Historical Review 90 (October 2011), 209–13, 220–22, and 231–32. 6 Arthur Herman, The Scottish Enlightenment: The Scots’ Invention of the World (London: Fourth Estate, 2003), 212. 7 National Records of Scotland [henceforth NRS], GD46/7/6/57, Accounts and Estimates of Lord Seaforth’s Barbados establishment; and Michael Fry, The Dundas Despotism (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2004), 278–79.



political conservative to be influenced by Stewart. Walter Scott took his classes and later became friends with him and the other future authors of the Edinburgh Review.8 Seaforth, when in Edinburgh, was a member of the convivial social circle that included Scott and would certainly have been exposed to Stewart’s views. How, then, did these ideas influence Seaforth’s political career in both Scotland and Barbados? Seaforth dominated the politics of Ross-shire for thirty years, but throughout his governorship had serious problems with the Barbados Assembly, most notably over his attempts to pass a Slave Protection Bill. Barbadians had argued from the early days of settlement that they were freeborn English subjects who should have the same rights to representative government as metropolitan Englishmen, and their Assembly the same powers as the House of Commons.9 Seaforth, however, regularly alleged to the Secretary of State that the Assembly was trying to exercise control over the island’s executive. In 1802, for example, he complained of the ‘inordinate desire the Assembly has for some years shown to grasp every power of the executive as well as legislative functions’.10 This exceeded the powers of the House of Commons as then understood.11 The purpose of this chapter is to make a transimperial case study of political activity, contrasting Seaforth’s success in Rossshire parliamentary elections to his problems as governor in Barbados, and seeking to explain the difference by comparing the two systems.

8 Herman,

Scottish Enlightenment, 78, 262–63, 279, and 339. P. Greene, ‘The Transfer of British Liberty to the West Indies’, in Jack P. Greene, ed., Exclusionary Empire: English Liberty Overseas, 1600–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 55; and Michael Watson, ‘The British West Indian Legislatures in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: An Historiographical Introduction’, in Philip Lawson, ed., Parliament and the Atlantic Empire (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995), 90–91. 10 NRS, GD46/7/7/49, Lord Seaforth to Lord Hobart, 27 October 1802. 11 In a constitutional treatise written in 1765, and still in print in 1802, Blackstone declared that, ‘if the legislature were to make continual encroachments and gradually assumed to its self the rights of the executive, this would be productive of tyranny’, and that ‘the true excellence of the English government [is] that all parts of it form a mutual check upon each other’. Quoted in E. Neville Williams, ed., The Eighteenth-Century Constitution, 1688–1815: Documents and Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960), 74–75. 9 Jack

192  F. McKICHAN

1  Political Management in Ross-Shire One way in which the House of Commons was very different from the Barbados Assembly was that its tenure could legally last for seven years. The Septennial Act of 1716 frankly stated in its prologue that the previous limit of three years had ‘proved very grievous and burdensome by occasioning much greater and more continued expenses in … elections of members to serve in parliament, and more violent and lasting heats and animosities among the subjects of this realm’.12 In other words, a sevenyear Parliament was cheaper to elect and gave less frequent opportunity for the electors to exercise influence. A second difference from Barbados was that (especially in Scottish counties) the small size of electorates made it easy for a powerful man to control elections. How this worked is shown by a petition presented in 1782 by a group of minor landowners in Rossshire. They complained that, of eighty-three electors in the county, only half were legitimate and independent. This had happened because: that most noble privilege of choosing a commissioner to represent them in the Great Council of the Nation, to which …they have a clear and exclusive title [has been given to] persons who have not even a shadow of interest in the real landed property of Scotland…By the ingenuity of lawyers, co-operating with views of interested men, the spirit of the enactments has been perverted.13

Francis Humberston Mackenzie was the principal ‘interested man’ of whom they complained. Acting in 1782 for his absent elder brother William Frederick, and after 1783 on his own behalf, he was able to create fictitious qualifications. Scottish county voters were supposed to be the owners of land valued at £400 Scots. In the late eighteenth century, lawyers frequently crafted documents which purported to give plots of land of sufficient value to nominees of great landowners like Seaforth. In reality, the land remained firmly in the magnate’s possession; all that was granted was a right to vote in parliamentary elections, which was expected to be exercised in favour of the patron’s candidate.14 12 Williams,

Eighteenth-Century Constitution, 189. GD427/183, minutes of freeholders etc. of the county of Ross and Cromarty, 6 November 1782. 14 Fry, Dundas Despotism, 46–47, 61, and 84. 13 NRS,



The document had to be carefully framed to survive legal scrutiny, and there were regular challenges, but Seaforth’s lawyers were particularly successful in creating these fictitious qualifications.15 By 1788, he was believed to control twenty-four votes and to have ‘by far the most considerable estate and interest’ in Ross-shire.16 A third way in which the British political system differed from that of Barbados was that in Britain almost all patronage was in the hands of the government. In the 1780s, Seaforth was a Whig and enthusiastic supporter of Charles James Fox. He was thus in opposition to the government of William Pitt and his trusted lieutenant and Scottish political manager Henry Dundas. This was not a good strategy for securing posts for the sons and friends of his electors. This changed in 1793, however, when the French Republic declared war on Britain and Seaforth made peace with Pitt and Dundas in, as he saw it, the national interest.17 His change of parties enabled him to become an expert manipulator of the levers of patronage for his electoral advantage.18 In 1808, when his brother-inlaw General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser was MP for Ross-shire, Seaforth declared to another brother-in-law, Sir Vicary Gibbs, that ‘after the frank and honourable support both the general and I have shown … while we support Government we should ourselves be furnished with the means of affording that support in the bounds of our own operations.’19 The expectation was that, in return for support in Parliament, ministers would provide posts for the connections of Ross-shire electors who could be relied on to vote for Seaforth’s candidate. The expectations of electors were made clear in letters written by Thomas Traill, the Provost of Kirkwall, in 1809. Kirkwall, Wick, Dornoch, Tain, and Dingwall were grouped together as a parliamentary constituency known as the ‘Northern Burghs’. Seaforth aimed to influence this election and had an agreement with the Countess of Sutherland

15 Alistair Mutch, ‘A Contested Eighteenth-Century Election, Banffshire, 1795’, Northern Scotland, new series 2 (2011), 28–29. 16 Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The House of Commons 1754–1790 (London: HMSO, 1964), I, 495. 17 McKichan, ‘Lifestyle of a Highland Proprietor’, 56. 18 Finlay McKichan, ‘Lord Seaforth and Highland Estate Management in the First Phase of Clearance (1783–1815)’, Scottish Historical Review 86 (April 2007), 56–57. 19 NRS, GD46/17/28/68-70, Lord Seaforth to V. Gibbs, 4 December 1808.

194  F. McKICHAN

to nominate a candidate at alternate elections.20 Traill reported to William Mackenzie, Seaforth’s legal agent, that the Collector of Customs at Kirkwall was very ill and asked for Seaforth to apply to the Treasury to secure the appointment in the event of the Collector’s death. He should do so on the grounds that ‘the borough [sic] is his at the next General Election and … of course he is entitled to recommend to any vacancies occurring within this district’. Seaforth was expected to secure the appointment for a relative or connection of a member of the town council, which controlled the burgh’s vote. Traill hinted that, if he was tardy, a political opponent might jump in. Even more pointed hints came from Traill six months later. His son Gilbert had recently been made a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Traill ‘hoped your friends have it soon in their power to give him a step forward, but that I will not look for so soon’. More immediately, he asked for a local lawyer, Mr. Fotheringham, to be made the new sheriff substitute and for a parish church in the gift of the crown in Orkney to be given to the son of a Mr. Logie, who was ‘a worthy good young man’, though it was really his father who ‘deserves our attention’.21 Enough jobs must have been provided, because by 1811 Seaforth was confident that he had a ‘decided majority’ among the Kirkwall town councillors, and his candidate was elected to the Northern Burghs seat at the next general election in 1812.22 Another important difference between Ross-shire and Barbados was the high personal regard in which Seaforth was held by many of the electors. This was tested in the general election of 1796. Seaforth had made a deal with Henry Dundas in which he would receive a peerage in return for giving his Ross-shire seat to Sir Charles Ross, previously his rival in the county (and to be so again), but also Dundas’s relative.23 Colin Mackenzie, Seaforth’s political manager, was concerned that Sir Charles might be unpopular in the western parts of the county where Seaforth’s 20 R. G. Thorne, The House of Commons 1790–1820 (London: Secker and Warburg, 1986), II, 621–22. 21 At the time, the majority of Church of Scotland ministers were appointed by the leading landowner/s in the parish, an issue which was to become enormously divisive in nineteenth-century Scotland. The request here was for young Logie to be presented to one of the minority of parishes of which the crown was patron. NRS, GD46/17/35/15, T. Traill to W. Mackenzie, 9 January 1809; and NRS, GD46/17/35/69, 10 June 1809. 22 Thorne, House of Commons, II, 619–21. 23 NRS, GD46/14/2/2, H. Dundas to F. H. Mackenzie, 23 April 1796.



particular strength lay. Nevertheless, he hoped that ‘since Sir C has your patronage his election will be unanimous’.24 So it turned out.25 In a display of deference, Sir Hector Mackenzie of Flowerdale, a West Coast elector, wrote to Seaforth that ‘you cannot be benefitted in any way that will not add to my happiness – with regard to Sir Charles Ross I will do as you wish’.26 This personal regard for Seaforth was clearly an electoral asset. One reason for it was his position as chief of Clan Mackenzie. This may seem anomalous, as historians such as Allan Macinnes have shown that the influence of chiefs had for many years been declining among humbler clansmen.27 The political value of clanship among elite voters, however, is shown clearly in the 1809 Ross-shire by-election, which was occasioned by the death of General Mackenzie Fraser. Seaforth wanted the seat to be available for his son William Frederick when he came of age in 1812, but it was difficult to find an established Ross-shire figure willing to accept these terms.28 Seaforth’s nominee was Hugh Innes, who had no Ross-shire link prior to buying the estate of Lochalsh from him in 1801, and whose popularity was not increased by the extensive clearances he had carried out.29 A West Coast elector saw ‘with infinite regret … the estate of Lochalsh and the representation of the county walk together’.30 Like 1796, therefore, this was a potentially difficult election for the Seaforth interest, and Colin Mackenzie thus made clanship a rallying cry, often using postal canvassing.31 For example, his mother wrote to Mackenzie of Letterewe that ‘now becomes us all to rally … that nothing can overcome the good old fashioned feeling of sticking to our Chief … after which I trust our young chief may

24 NRS,

GD46/17/15, Colin Mackenzie to F. H. Mackenzie, 8 May 1796. House of Commons II, 572. 26 NRS, GD46/4/119/6, H. Mackenzie to F. H. Mackenzie, 26 May 1796. 27 Alan I. Macinnes, Clanship: Commerce and the House of Stuart, 1603–1788 (East Linton, East Lothian: Tuckwell, 1996), 210–11. 28 NRS, GD46/17/35/111-12, Colin Mackenzie to H. Davidson, 30 September 1809; and NRS, GD46/17/35/155 Colin Mackenzie to Lord Seaforth, 17 October 1809. 29 For example, NRS, GD46/17/35/157, H. Ross to Lord Seaforth, October 1809. 30 NRS, GD46/17/35/174, J. Matheson, Attadale, to W. F. Mackenzie, 7 October 1809. 31 NRS, GD46/17/35/144, Colin Mackenzie to F. H. Mackenzie, 5 October 1809. 25 Thorne,

196  F. McKICHAN

be the candidate for Ross-shire’.32 Letterewe was unwilling to travel from London to Tain to vote, but advised his nephew to use his vote ‘in favour of Lord Seaforth’.33 Innes won by the narrow margin of twentythree votes to nineteen.34 It is likely that the appeal to clanship was decisive; the result thus confirms Andrew Mackillop’s argument that ‘concepts of elite kindred clearly influenced [the] political sensibilities’ of freeholders.35 Seaforth served personally as MP for Ross-shire between 1784 and 1790 and 1794 to 1796, and every other MP for the county between 1784 and his death in 1815 was either his nominee or elected by means of his support.36 He achieved this partly by his use of fictitious qualifications and patronage and was assisted by septennial parliaments, but it seems clear that these mechanisms of political control were cemented by the personal regard and clan loyalties of the electors.

2  Difficulties in Political Management in Barbados Seaforth’s unwillingness to evict his small tenants, together with inherited debts and his own extravagance, meant that his finances were constantly stressed. Accordingly, he used his political influence to secure the governorship of Barbados. Consideration will now be given to the Barbados Assembly franchise, to the amount of patronage available to the Governor, and to loyalty to Seaforth and support for his policies in Barbados. A comparison will thus be made to the sources of support which it has been argued underpinned his political strength in Ross-shire. After four years of hard experience, Seaforth complained to the Under Secretary of State that ‘the constitution of the Assembly of Barbados is such as to make it extremely difficult to manage’.37 Why was this so? 32 NRS, GD46/17/35/182, Mrs. A. Mackenzie, Edinburgh, to Mackenzie of Letterewe, 13 October 1809. 33 NRS, GD46/17/35/180, A. Mackenzie of Letterewe, London, to Mrs. A. Mackenzie, n.d. [October 1809]. 34 Thorne, House of Commons II, 572. 35 Andrew Mackillop, ‘The Political Culture of the Scottish Highlands from Culloden to Waterloo’, Historical Journal 46 (2003), 529. 36 Namier and Brooke, House of Commons I, 494; and Thorne, House of Commons II, 572. 37 The National Archives, London [henceforth TNA], CO28/73, Lord Seaforth to E. Cooke, 25 October 1805, 108.



As has been seen, there were about eighty parliamentary electors in Ross-shire in the early 1780s. In contrast, the electorate of the Barbados Assembly was much larger. The electors comprised all white Christian males over twenty-one years of age who owned ten acres of land or who had property with an annual taxable value of £10. It has been estimated that, of Barbados’s substantial white population of about 16,000, a quarter were an upper class of planters, professionals, and merchants and another quarter less substantial merchants and owners of smaller landholdings that were still large enough to qualify for the franchise.38 If we assume that three-quarters of the total white population were women, minors, or others not qualified to vote, this suggests an electorate of around 2000, dwarfing that of Ross-shire. As in Scotland, there was a history of manufacturing votes in Barbados. Seaforth claimed that legislation in 1805 had stopped this practice, but only three years earlier a rejected candidate in the parish of St. Lucy had petitioned the Assembly, unsuccessfully, on the grounds that some of a winning candidate’s votes had been invalid. One, he argued, voted on the basis of a landholding worth less than £10, and a second on a parcel of land carved from another’s holdings, but not as ‘a real and bona fide consideration’.39 Ironically, Seaforth, the creator of fictitious qualifications in Ross-shire, described these similar practices in Barbados as a ‘great abuse’. He feared that the practice had the effect of creating poor white voters. In addition, he claimed the ten-acre qualification was too lax, admitting voters whose lands were not worth even ten shillings per annum, far less the ten pounds required by the alternative qualification. This, he argued, deprived gentlemen of influence in the elections and gave it to people who ‘have not the shadow of any interest in the Colony’. He defined ‘interest’ as owning ‘no sugar works or cane and seldom cotton’.40 To make matters worse, towns had no specific representation. For example, Bridgetown, the capital, was treated as part of the parish of St. Michael. Seaforth argued to his London masters that, not only had the merchants there no direct representation, but this kept ‘much information and liberality of sentiment’ out of the Assembly, ‘as the mercantile people here 38 David Lambert, White Creole Culture, Politics and Identity During the Age of Abolition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 18–19. 39 TNA, CO28/69, 13–14 and 18–21, Barbados Assembly Minutes 6 April, 11 and 12 May 1802. 40 TNA, CO28/73, Lord Seaforth to E. Cooke, 25 October 1805, 108.

198  F. McKICHAN

as elsewhere are generally speaking men of better information and more enlarged views than the mere cultivators.’41 Two members were elected to the Assembly for each of the eleven parishes. Elections were held annually, making it easier for electors to bring pressure to bear on assembly members. There was a long tradition of asserting independence from Westminster and of conflict with governors. The Barbados Assembly first met in 1639, and the colonists were soon engaged in a struggle between legislature and executive that paralleled contemporary events in England, but which continued into the following century.42 In particular, they argued they should not be taxed without representation. After a series of running battles with governors in the 1770s and 1780s, the Assembly won the power to demand that accounts be submitted for its inspection before payment. Frederick Spurdle has suggested that ‘this practically destroyed every vestige of discretionary authority which still remained to the Governor in financial affairs’.43 This power rested with an assembly whose franchise, as has been shown, was much wider than in Ross-shire and thus beyond the control of the governor. Were there other ways in which he might hope to influence assembly members? From at least 1793 access to patronage was one of the levers with which Seaforth was able to influence parliamentary elections in Scotland. By contrast, his control of patronage in Barbados was limited. D. J. Murray argues that the governor had unrestricted control only over his private secretary, and Seaforth claimed that ‘I knew before I came out the Governor had no patronage’.44 Neither statement was correct, however. In reality, the patronage of the island’s official posts was controlled by a patchwork of jurisdictions. It is true that control over finances had put in the gift of the Assembly the appointment of officials, most significantly the island’s treasurer, who was involved in the collection and 41 TNA,

CO28/68, Lord Seaforth to Lord Hobart, 6 June 1802, 51. ‘British West Indian Legislatures’, 90–91. 43 Frederick G. Spurdle, Early West Indian Government Showing the Progress of Government in Barbados, Jamaica and the Leeward Islands, 1660–1783 (Palmerston North, NZ: The Author, 1962), 92–93. 44 D. J. Murray, The West Indies and the Development of Colonial Government, 1801–1834 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), 19; and TNA, CO28/71, Lord Seaforth to Lord Camden, 13 November 1804, 147. For Seaforth’s relations with Barbados officials see Finlay McKichan, Lord Seaforth: Highland Landowner, Caribbean Governor (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), 153–55. 42 Watson,



disbursement of local taxation.45 In 1802, the Assembly appointed a total of thirty-five officials, including magazine storekeeper, harbour master, eleven liquor officers, twelve cotton inspectors, and three weights and measures inspectors.46 Many of these appointees were of poor quality. The local journalist John Poyer complained to Seaforth about the Assembly bestowing ‘presents undeserved, salaries not earned, remuneration for undertakings imperfectly executed, compensations for services imperfectly performed’.47 Seaforth believed that appointment of the treasurer and storekeeper by the Assembly tended ‘in a most unconstitutional manner to the endangering not only democratical [sic] principles, but democratic practices.’ But when questioned by the Committee of the Privy Council for Trade, he pointed out that appointment by the Assembly ‘has been so long submitted to that it is grown into a common usage, and… my instructions from the King explicitly forbid me to encroach on the patronage of the Assembly’.48 What Seaforth objected to most actively was the appointment of officers via patents issued by the British government in London. They did not serve personally, but rather appointed as their deputies colonists who were often connected to planter families. It was alleged that these patentees effectively auctioned the offices to the highest bidder with no regard to their qualifications.49 A list of island officials drawn up in 1802 includes fifteen appointed by patent, including such important posts as Attorney General, Secretary of the Island, Judge of Vice admiralty, Registrar in Chancery, and a considerable number of court officials.50 Seaforth did not claim to have the power to appoint these officials, but argued that only he should be able to remove them. If the patentee could remove at pleasure ‘it would be of little or no consequence if the King sent out a Governor or not as the patentees would be to all intents the real ruling power of the colony’.51 The patentees, however, had received their posts as political patronage dispensed 45 Spurdle,

Early West Indian Government, 198. GD46/17/21, ‘Officers Appointed by the General Assembly’, 1802. 47 A Letter Addressed to His Excellency the Right Hon. Francis Lord Seaforth by a Barbadian (Bridgetown, 1801), 4. 48 TNA, CO28/71, Lord Seaforth to Sir Stephen Cotterell, 2 March 1804, 242–45. 49 Murray, West Indies and Development of Colonial Government, 22, 34. 50 NRS, GD46/17/21, Establishment of Island of Barbados, 1802. 51 TNA, CO 28/69, Lord Seaforth to Sir Philip Gibbes, 18 December 1802, 124. 46 NRS,

200  F. McKICHAN

by influential persons in the UK, and thus the British government maintained that the patentee was entitled to appoint and remove his deputy as he saw fit. It was conceded, though, that the governor was the judge of whether a suitably qualified person had been nominated, and that he had the power to reject or suspend an inadequate deputy.52 Other island officials were appointed directly by the British government, including the Solicitor General and fifteen customs officers selected by the Lords of the Treasury.53 Seaforth complained in 1804 that offices in the gift of the British government had been given to members of the Barbados Assembly and their friends ‘most distinguished for opposition to every measure I have from home been ordered to carry through the Assembly’.54 This meant that not only was he denied influence in making these appointments, but also that people inferred from them that the government in London did not support him.55 In this fluid situation, it is difficult to establish exactly how much patronage Seaforth controlled, but it was not negligible. Spurdle notes that at the end of the eighteenth century all judges in Barbados were appointed by the governor except those in the Court of Vice Admiralty (which set the prize money from captured ships).56 In the Court of Chancery, the governor and Council (vacancies to which were nominated by Seaforth) served as the judges, while in the Court of Exchequer the role was filled by the Chief Baron and three Under-Barons, who were appointed by the governor. He also appointed the Deputy Registrar of Vice Admiralty, the King’s Solicitor in the Court of Exchequer, and the Auditor General.57 Some of the governor’s other appointments, however, may not have increased his effective patronage. For example, as Commander-in-Chief, he appointed the officers in the militia, but as the Assembly laid down minimum property qualifications for these commissions, his choice was seriously limited.58 He also appointed the rectors 52 TNA,

CO28/70, Spencer Percival to Lord Hobart, 6 May 1803, 165. GD46/17/21, Crown Officers etc., island of Barbados, Officers of H.M.Customs, 1802. 54 TNA, CO28/71, Lord Seaforth to Lord Camden, 13 November 1804, 147. 55 TNA, CO28/72, Lord Seaforth to Lord Camden, 4 May 1805, 125. 56 Spurdle, Early West Indian Government, 199. 57 NRS, GD46/17/21, Courts of Chancery, Vice Admiralty and Exchequer, 1802. 53 NRS,

58 One of the governor’s titles was ‘Commander-in-Chief’, but the commanders of the royal forces on the island resolutely denied that he had any right to give them orders, and



of the eleven parish churches, but none of the rectors in 1802 had the same surname as an assembly member, which implies that church livings were not sought for their relatives.59 In summary, it was not the case that Seaforth had no patronage to dispose of, as he claimed in 1804, but a large number of the most important officials were appointed by the Assembly, by patentees in Britain, or by government offices in Whitehall. He thus controlled insufficient patronage with which to influence assembly members, in contrast to his use of it to buy votes in Scotland.

3  Degree of Personal Esteem for Seaforth and Support of His Policies in Barbados A significant reason for Seaforth’s political dominance in Ross-shire was personal esteem for him and loyalty to Clan Mackenzie. How far was he able to draw on esteem and loyalty in Barbados? He was profoundly deaf, and John Poyer reported that people were offended when they first heard that they were to have a ‘Commander in Chief … with whom no communication could be maintained but by writing or the fingers’.60 Difficulties of communication may have made it hard to establish warm personal relationships, but there were more fundamental issues. Seaforth believed, and often argued, that he was entitled to loyalty and obedience as the representative of the king to whom the Barbadians professed allegiance.61 As we have seen, their oft-expressed British patriotism was combined with a long-established determination to control their own affairs. Seaforth’s popularity suffered from their fierce commitment to the latter, exacerbated by policies that offended many white Barbadians. For the greater part of his governorship, Seaforth campaigned for and ultimately carried a bill intended to make the killing of a slave by a white person a felony and thus a capital offence. This issue

were generally backed by London. Spurdle, Early West Indian Government, 199; and NRS, GD46/17/21, Militia Field Officers, Commanders of Fortifications, 1802. 59 NRS, GD46/17/21, Court of Common Pleas, Clergy, Church Wardens and Coroners, General Assembly, 1802. 60 John Poyer, ‘History of the Administration of the Rt. Hon. Lord Seaforth, Late Governor’, from Barbados Chronicle, 3 August 1808, reproduced in the Journal of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society 21 (1954), 160. 61 For example, NRS, GD46/7/12/127, Lord Seaforth to E. Cooke, 29 August 1805.

202  F. McKICHAN

provides a case study of Seaforth’s problems in attracting and retaining loyalty in Barbados. Such legislation had already been enacted by the assemblies of other British Caribbean islands, and Seaforth arrived as governor bearing instructions to extend it to Barbados, as metropolitan campaigners for the abolition of the slave trade were making an issue of the island. The British government wished to use amelioration of these laws as a means of dampening pro-abolition sentiment and to prevent slave revolts in islands whose sugar production was helping to finance the war against Napoleonic France. Moreover, Seaforth had a strong and undiplomatically expressed personal commitment to the Slave Protection Bill.62 He proposed the measure only four months after his arrival, arguing that it was ‘evidently conducive with Honour, Honesty and Christianity for none but villains can be benefited by the want of such an Act’. He claimed that ‘nothing would more contribute to the Governor’s own ambition of happiness’ than the passing of the Act.63 It is likely that his humanitarian enthusiasm for carrying out his instructions deepened his unpopularity among the planters. Robert James Haynes, who was a leader of the opposition to the bill, was quick to complain of a ‘European Governor’s interference between the white inhabitants of the Island and their slaves’.64 This issue went deeper than the economic interests of slaveholders. Christer Petley has pointed out that the rise of humanitarian abolitionist sentiment challenged their self-image as loyal and free members of the British world, and raised fundamental questions about nationality and the constitution.65 The Slave Protection Bill finally passed the Assembly on 9 April 1805, albeit weakened by a provision that conviction would require the evidence of a white person.66 How did it get through an Assembly which had previously opposed it? The British government expressed strong support for the bill, and there was concern that Parliament might legislate 62 McKichan, ‘Highland Proprietor, Caribbean Governor and Slave Owner’, 209–13; and Lambert, White Creole Culture, 53. For a fuller account see McKichan, Lord Seaforth: Highland Landowner, Caribbean Governor, 198–200, 204–14. 63 TNA, CO28/68, Barbados Council Minute, 28 July 1801, 29. 64 TNA, C028/68, Barbados Assembly Minutes, 13 October 1801, 21. 65 Christer Petley, ‘“Devoted Islands” and “That Madman Wilberforce”: British Proslavery Patriotism During the Age of Abolition’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39 (2011), 393. 66 TNA, CO30/17, Act for Better Protection of Slaves of this Island, 9 April 1805, 161–63.



it into law, which would establish a precedent deeply worrying for the Barbadians.67 In 1804, the former French colony of St. Domingue had become the independent black republic of Haiti, a cause for serious concern to planters throughout the Caribbean. Rumours—which proved accurate—had reached Barbados in April 1805 that an enemy fleet was heading for the Caribbean. In the event of an invasion of Barbados, the attitude of slaves might be critical, and it was thus expedient that they should be placated. Hilary Beckles has argued that the slaves were becoming more restless as their knowledge of campaigns against slavery made freedom appear a more realistic prospect.68 In 1804, Seaforth’s concerns were increasing about ‘a spirit of insolence and insubordination’ among the slaves, especially in Bridgetown, and asked for help from London in pressuring the Assembly.69 These factors contributed to the bill being passed by thirteen votes to eight.70 Can this be taken as evidence that Seaforth was now attracting support and loyalty of the sort he commanded in Ross-shire? To answer this question, it is necessary to analyse the economic status, views, and loyalties of individual assembly members, and to consider their subsequent attitudes to him. What sort of men were the thirteen who approved the Slave Protection Bill, and what sort the eight who opposed it? Lambert has identified growing divisions within the white Barbadian community at the turn of the nineteenth century. Was the division over the bill along the class and party lines he describes: between the more substantial planters, who were in the process of forming the ‘Pumpkin’ party, and the owners of smaller land holdings, the ‘Salmagundis’? They shared a common interest in preserving slavery, but had different views about how best to do this.71 Many of the wealthier planters were resident and creole, and some had been educated in England. They tended to have a 67 TNA,

CO29/29, Earl of Camden to Lord Seaforth, 21 January 1805, 46–47. Beckles, Black Rebellion in Barbados: The Struggle Against Slavery, 1637–1838 (Bridgetown: Antilles, 1987), 68 and 83. 69 TNA, CO28/71, Lord Seaforth to Earl of Camden, 1 and 30 September, 13 November 1804, 92, 94, and 147. 70 TNA, CO28/72, Barbados Mercury and Bridge-Town Gazette, 18 April 1805, 123. 71 Lambert, White Creole Culture, 18–20 and 170–71; Karl Watson, ‘Salmagundis vs Pumpkins: White Politics and Creole Consciousness in Barbadian Slave Society, 1800 to 1834’, in Howard Johnson and Karl Watson, eds., The White Minority in the Caribbean (Kingston and Oxford: Ian Randle, 1998), 22–25. 68 Hilary

204  F. McKICHAN Table 1  Barbados Assembly members who supported the Slave Protection Bill and still owned slaves 1817a Name


Beckles, John Grasett, William Haynes, Robert Hinds, Benjamin Hinds, William Jordan, Joseph Mayers, John Pollard Pinder, John Hothersall Trotman, Thomas Clark

St. Michael St. Philip St. John St. Peter St. Peter St. Andrew St. Philip St. John St. George


Slaves owned


252 321 430 26 380 498 260 135 429

182 194 476 120


Total 435 515 906 26 500 498 260 325 429

CO28/72, 131–32; and TNA, T71/520, 521, and 522

wider world view and to see amelioration of the conditions of enslaved labourers as a means of resisting the campaigns of metropolitan abolitionists. Are they the ones who voted for the bill? That Seaforth, despite his humanitarian instincts, was not an opponent of slavery may have increased his credibility with them.72 Were those who voted against the bill, meanwhile, the owners of smaller holdings? They tended to be men with a more limited understanding of the world outside Barbados and opponents of any concessions to slaves. There are two principal sources which make it possible to analyse the backgrounds of the assembly members who supported and opposed the Slave Protection Bill. The first is a long letter sent by Seaforth to Lord Camden to explain the bill’s success, which was accompanied by a list of its supporters and opponents.73 The second source is the three enormous volumes of the Slave Register drawn up in Barbados in 1817.74 The British government, concerned that the abolition of the British slave trade in 1807 was not being fully observed, threatened to compel all slave-owning colonies to compile a register listing plantations, owners, and slaves’ country of birth. The Barbados Assembly decided to forestall 72 NRS, GD46/7/7/34, Lord Seaforth to M. Bertin, Prefect of Martinique, 12 September 1802. 73 TNA, CO28/72, Lord Seaforth to Earl of Camden, 4 May 1805, 125–27 and 131–32. 74 TNA, T71/520, 521 and 522, Barbados Slave Registers, 1817.



the danger of Westminster legislation by adopting its own slave-registration scheme, which was implemented in 1817.75 Fifteen of the twentyone assembly members who voted on the Slave Protection Bill appear in the registers, which thus give worthwhile evidence on the economic background of those who supported and opposed Seaforth over the bill. Table 1 lists the nine assembly members who supported the Slave Protection Bill in 1805 and who still owned slaves in 1817. It shows the number of slaves they owned, as well as in five cases the number they managed as plantation attorneys, in most cases for absentee proprietors. Eight of the nine assembly members who supported the bill were large-scale slave owners, meaning they controlled at least 200 slaves. The ninth, Benjamin Hinds, was the brother of a substantial owner. This confirms the hypothesis that the more substantial planters tended to support the bill. All nine supporters of the bill were from families that had owned Barbados plantations over several generations, and were thus far from being ‘sojourners’. John Beckles was a long-standing Seaforth ally, Attorney General, and Speaker of the Assembly. His family had owned plantations on Barbados since at least 1727, and he thus had a strong economic interest in the continuance of slavery.76 Beckles made the principal speech on behalf of the bill, pointing out that in an earlier invasion scare in February 1805, slaves had ‘come forward with the greatest cheerfulness and alacrity to fight by our sides in defence of our lives and properties’. He argued that slaves should be kept loyal, as another invasion threat might be imminent. He claimed that if the Assembly again rejected this measure, the British Parliament was likely to impose it. John Pollard Mayers made a similar argument. If Westminster’s right to legislate was exercised, he asserted, ‘There is no saying to what extent it might be carried.’77 Slavery itself could be under threat. The Hinds family had owned the Collins plantation since at least 1743. According to Seaforth, William and Benjamin Hinds had been in opposition to the governor prior to his arrival, but were now ‘among 75 Lambert, White Creole Culture, 113–14 and 139; Barbados Mercury, 11 February 1817 and 26 April 1817 (British Library [henceforth BL], MC1888); and B. W. Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 1807–1834 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), 11. 76 Black Rock, St. James, Barbados Department of Archives (BDA), Planters Name Index. 77 TNA, CO28/72, Barbados Mercury and Bridge-Town Gazette, 18 April 1805, 123.

206  F. McKICHAN Table 2  Barbados assembly members who opposed the Slave Protection Bill and still owned slaves in 1817a Name


Bowen, John Snr Culpepper, William A. Haynes, Robert James Payne, James Williams, George Williams, Thomas

St. Lucy St. Joseph St. Joseph St. Andrew St. Thomas St. Thomas


Slaves owned 160 219 445 5 90 118



Total 160 219 460 5 90 118

CO28/72, 131–32; and T71/520, 521, and 522

the best and honestest [sic] supporters Government has’. Thomas Clark Trotman had ‘stood firm’ despite the hostility of his constituents to the bill, whereas Robert Haynes was a late convert. Of this group, Haynes owned and managed the largest number of slaves. He had spent time in the USA as a young man and had achieved business success by adopting a novel variety of sugar cane. Despite his apparent open-mindedness, according to Seaforth, he suffered from ‘a little old prejudice and still more fear of his constituents’.78 His ‘old prejudice’ was perhaps understandable. His family had owned land in Barbados from at least 1643 and the Newcastle plantation from at least 1680. He had a long record of unenlightened racial views and had in 1802 proposed a bill to restrict the amount of landed property and the number of slaves which could be owned by free people of colour. He was initially opposed to the Slave Protection Bill, but was possibly influenced by the arguments in the debate and by the concession made regarding testimony by a white.79 Table 2 lists the six assembly members who opposed the Slave Protection Bill in 1805 and who still owned slaves in 1817. Four of them were smaller proprietors who owned less than 200 slaves. Not many years previously, John Bowen Senior had been the gravedigger for the parish he now represented. James Payne was, according to Seaforth, ‘a common vulgar man’ who represented the parish of St Andrew, part of the ‘Scotland’ district, which had the largest proportion of poor whites 78 TNA,

CO28/72, 125–27 and 131–32. Johnson, Reading to Barbados and Back: A Narrative of the Tudor Family of Haynes of Reading (Brighton: Book Guild, 2011), 293–94, 295, and 300. 79 Stewart



on the island.80 William Culpepper’s failure to support the bill had come as a surprise to Seaforth, as his family had owned plantations as far back as 1680, and in 1817 he owned 219 slaves.81 His parish of St. Joseph was, however, also part of ‘Scotland’ and thus had poorer voters. Seaforth commented that they were ‘among the most prejudiced’, and he believed Culpepper was afraid of them. The other representative for St. Joseph, Robert James Haynes (a cousin of Robert Haynes), was another large planter who followed the views of his constituents in opposing slave protection. He shared his cousin’s suspicion of amelioration. We have seen how he accused Seaforth of being a European coming between the Barbadian planters and their slaves, and he remained a bitter foe of the governor, to whom he anticipated he would ‘always… be in opposition’.82 The other opponents of the bill were Thomas Williams and his son George. They were wealthy, but their parish of St. Thomas adjoined Scotland and, according to Seaforth, contained no gentlemen. Seaforth described Thomas as ‘of low origin’ and ‘weak and fond of low popularity’. He was unwilling to resist the pressure from his poorer constituents, and George was seen as being influenced by his father.83 The opponents of the Slave Protection Bill in the Assembly thus had a more varied set of motives than its supporters. Those who approved it were plantocrats from long-established families who understood British politics. They hoped amelioration would serve to prolong the system of slavery on which the prosperity of their families had been built. The six who voted against the Slave Bill in 1805, meanwhile, had one or more of the following factors in common. They harboured personal antagonism for Seaforth, were from lowly origins themselves, or represented parishes with a significant number of impoverished constituents who opposed any concessions to slaves. Seaforth managed to persuade a majority of the Assembly to support the Slave Protection Act in April 1805. But could he rely on their continued support moving forward? This was tested only a month later. On 16 May 1805, a combined French and Spanish fleet arrived

80 Lambert,

White Creole Culture, 78. Planters Name Index. 82 TNA, CO28/72, 125–27 and 131–32. 83 TNA, CO28/72, 125–27 and 131–32. 81 BDA,

208  F. McKICHAN

at Martinique with orders from Napoleon to invade British Caribbean islands.84 Two days later, Seaforth advised the Council that Sir Francis Laforey, commander of the small British squadron based at Barbados, had reported ‘that six sail of the line, one of these a three decker, had been seen near the island’. Under pressure from the military commander Sir William Myers, he persuaded the Council to declare martial law, which came into force on 19 May and continued till 25 May.85 This turned out to be a highly controversial decision. As an election was pending, there had been no Assembly in session to give its consent. The Militia Act stated that for martial law to be declared the enemy had to actually be in sight and that it could last for only 48 hours after the enemy disappeared.86 Its prolongation for 6 days represented a hardship for poor whites, who were called up to serve in the militia and were thus temporarily unable to earn a living. Planters, meanwhile, lost the labour of their male slaves, who were also called up. The new Assembly, when it met on 29 May, resolved that the declaration of martial law was contrary to law and requested from the governor an explanation of his conduct.87 After Nelson chased the Combined Fleet from the Caribbean, the Assembly returned to the attack on 16 July. Seaforth, however, refused to explain his conduct, claiming he was only answerable to the king. With only four voting against, the Assembly carried a highly critical resolution declaring that ‘the answer of His Excellency … is unsatisfactory and highly disrespectful to this Honourable House’. Among those in favour were nine of the 13 who had supported the Slave Protection Bill only three months before.88 Seaforth’s support among the substantial planters in April had thus

84 N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649–1815 (London: W. W. Norton, 2004), 535. 85 NRS, GD46/17/25/204, Lt. Gen. Sir W. Myers to Lord Seaforth, 17 May 1805; and Barbados Mercury and Bridge-Town Gazette, 25 May 1805 (BL microfilm MC1888). 86 TNA, CO30/17, Barbados Militia Act, 9 April 1804, 169. For a fuller account of the Martial Law crisis see McKichan, Lord Seaforth: Highland Landowner, Caribbean Governor, 222–28. 87 TNA, CO28/72, Assembly resolutions of 29 May recorded in Council Minutes of 7 June 1805, 211–12. 88 BDA Microfilm BS7, Barbados Assembly Minutes, 16 July 1805; and Barbados Mercury, 2 November 1805, report of Assembly meeting 16 July (Bridgetown, Barbados National Library, microfilm 20).



evaporated by July. This reflected not only opposition to the declaration of martial law, but also a pent-up resentment against him among many planters. In addition to the Slave Protection Bill, he had promoted several measures which appeared to threaten their interests. Many feared that increased rights for free people of colour would make it easier for them to lead a black uprising. Militia reform threatened military titles and sinecures which sometimes gave exemption from field service. Attempts to enforce the Navigation Acts threatened supplies from the United States of timber for sugar barrels and corn to feed slaves.89 Seaforth had to be rescued by a message from the Secretary of State Lord Castlereagh authorising him to dissolve the Assembly if necessary, a threat which persuaded the members, having made their point, to drop the matter.90 Castlereagh’s message, however, was accompanied by a private message from his deputy telling Seaforth that he should have given the Assembly an explanation and been more cautious in handling his opponents.91 Lord Seaforth was able to dominate the politics of Ross-shire for thirty years by the creation of votes through loopholes in the law, the use of patronage to procure government posts for the electors, and by a combination of personal popularity and clan loyalty. The Septennial Act meant that the electorate had to be faced only infrequently. In Barbados, in contrast, there were annual elections, the electorate was too large to be manipulated by the Governor, the patronage available to him was limited, and his popularity, and thus loyalty to him, suffered because he promoted a series of policies which threatened the interests of the planters. Consequently, he failed to redress the balance of power between the island legislature and executive as he had hoped. His example thus shows how electoral politics in the Scottish Highlands and in Barbados functioned very differently in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

89 McKichan,

‘Highland Proprietor, Caribbean Governor and Slave Owner’, 220–28. CO29/29, Lord Castlereagh to Lord Seaforth, 6 September 1805, 59–63; and TNA, CO28/73, Lord Seaforth to Lord Castlereagh, 21 October 1805, 99–100. 91 TNA, CO28/73, E. Cooke to Lord Seaforth, 7 September 1805, 72. 90 TNA,


Making John Redmond ‘the Irish [Louis] Botha’: The Dominion Dimensions of the Anglo-Irish Settlement, c. 1906–1922 Donal Lowry

In 2016, the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising, much was made of the global impact of Irish nationalism on the process of decolonisation in India and, later, Black Africa.1 Such influences can indeed be traced, particularly in the case of India, but for most contemporary observers the most prominent parallels appeared to be drawn with the white settler Empire.2 In the decades before the Great War, most British

1 Enrico Dal Lago, Roísín Healy, and Gearóid Barry, ‘Globalising the Easter Rising: 1916 and the Challenge to Empires’, in Enrico Dal Lago, Roísín Healy, and Gearóid Barry, eds., 1916 in Global Context: An Anti-Imperial Moment (London: Routledge, 2018), 3–17. 2 David Brundage, ‘Lala Lajpat, Indian Nationalism and the Irish Revolution: The View from New York, 1914–1920’, in Dal Lago, Healy, and Barry, eds., 1916 in Global Context, 62–75; Stephen McQuillan, ‘“Revolutionaries, Renegades and Refugees”: Anti-British Allegiances in the Context of World War I’, in Enrico Dal Lago, Roísín Healy, and Gearóid

D. Lowry (*)  Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


212  D. LOWRY

officials and constitutional nationalists looked to the colonies of settlement, rather than the dependent empire, for political analogies. The creation in 1867 of the Dominion of Canada, which appeared to reconcile francophone and anglophone Canadians within a confederal system, provided the Prime Minister, William Gladstone, with some of his pioneering ideas for Irish home rule.3 Several years later, in 1893, the diamond magnate-turned-premier of the Cape Colony, Cecil John Rhodes, was largely responsible for ensuring continuing Irish representation at Westminster in the second Home Rule Bill, not least through his donation of £10,000 to the Irish leader, Charles Stewart Parnell, in support of his idea of imperial federation. The principle of continuing representation in the Imperial Parliament continued to be embodied in all subsequent home rule legislation, including the establishment of Northern Ireland in 1921.4 ‘The Irish position within the British state up to the 1920s always seemed to be more “colonial” than that of any of the other non-English peoples’, John MacKenzie and Tom Devine have noted: ‘Thus, in a constitutional sense, there can be little doubt that empire and the British state were closely connected, not least through the Irish question’.5 Indeed, Canada would ultimately provide the constitutional template of the Irish Free State as a

Barry, eds., 1916 in Global Context: An Anti-Imperial Moment (London: Routledge, 2018), 117–30; and James McConnell, The Irish Parliamentary Party and the Home Rule Crisis (Dublin: Four Courts, 2013), 246–47. 3 Deryck Schreuder, ‘Locality and Metropolis in the British Empire: A Note on Some Connections Between the British North America Act (1887) and Gladstone’s First Home Rule Bill (1886)’, in J. A. Benyon, C. W. Cook, T. R. H. Davenport, and K. S. Hunt, eds., Studies in Local History: Essays in Honour of Winifred Maxwell (Cape Town: Oxford University Press, 1976), 48–58. 4 Elaine Byrne, ‘Irish Home Rule: Stepping Stone to Imperial Federation?’, History Ireland 20, no. 1 (2012), 25–57; G. P. Taylor, ‘Cecil Rhodes and the Second Home Rule Bill’, Historical Journal 14 (1971), 771–81; James McConnel and Matthew Kelly, ‘Devolution, Federalism and Imperial Circuity: Ireland, South Africa and India’, in Duncan Tanner, Chris Williams, Andrew Edwards, and W. P. Griffith, eds. Debating Nationhood and Governance in Britain, 1885–1939: Perspectives from the Four Nations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006), 172–76; Alan E. O’Day, ‘Federalism, Home Rule and Self-Government: Ideas of Irish Nationalism in the Age of Isaac Butt and Parnell’, in Andrea Bosco and Alex May, eds., The Round Table, the Empire/Commonwealth and British Foreign Policy (London: Lothian Foundation Press, 1997), 267–82. 5 John M. MacKenzie and T. M. Devine, ‘Introduction’, in John M. MacKenzie and T. M. Devine, eds., Scotland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 5.



member of the British Commonwealth after 1922 following the AngloIrish Treaty, which event, as MacKenzie has also noted, ‘arguably began … the decolonization process’.6 Running largely parallel with these constitutional developments was, of course, a tradition of violent resistance, which touched on the British Empire at large. In the nineteenth century, the Empire faced many real and potential enemies, but none seemed as existentially menacing or as persistent in the imperial imagination as Irish republicanism. From the 1790s, the ideology of Irish resistance had evolved from Catholic Jacobitism and unrequited monarchism into a much deadlier French revolutionary-inspired secularist republicanism, somewhat anti-clerical in character and all the more dangerous for having been pioneered by renegade Presbyterian dissenters and Anglicans. As the British Empire expanded, Irish republicanism, along with a contrary Irish loyalism, followed it to its farthest frontiers.7 The Canadian insurgent, Louis Riel, was inspired to incorporate a shamrock on his rebel flag by his Irishborn lieutenant, William O’Donoghue. In 1868, an Irish law clerk attempted to assassinate Prince Alfred on a visit to Sydney, Australia. In 1875, Alfred Aylward, the leader of the Black Flag Rebellion on the diamond fields of Kimberley in the Cape Colony, was an Irish republican. While Irish Fenians attempted an invasion of Canada in 1866, another Irish republican, Thomas Francis Meagher—‘Of the Sword’—governed Montana on the still ill-defined frontier of Prince Rupert’s Land. Meagher, together with John Mitchell, another Fenian, illustrated the global reach of Irish republicanism, both having been confined in Van

6 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? The Historiography of a Four-Nations Approach to the History of the British Empire’, in Catherine Hall and Keith McClelland, eds., Race, Nation and Empire: Making Histories, 1750 to the Present (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 133. 7 Niall Whelehan, The Dynamiters: Irish Nationalism and Political Violence in the Wider World, 1867–1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015); M. J. Kelly, ‘Irish Nationalist Opinion and the British Empire in the 1850s and 1860s’, Past and Present 204 (2009), 127–54; H. V. Brasted, ‘Irish Nationalism and the British Empire in the LateNineteenth Century’, in Oliver McDonagh, W. F. Mandle, and Pauric Travers, eds., Irish Culture and Nationalism, 1750–1950 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1983), 83–103; Scott W. See, ‘“A Colonial Hybrid”: Nineteenth-Century Loyalism as Articulated by the Orange Order in the Maritime Provinces of British North America’, in Allan Blackstock and Frank O’Gorman, eds., Loyalism and the Formation of the British World, 1775–1914 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell, 2014), 181–200.

214  D. LOWRY

Dieman’s Land, before escaping to America with their Anglophobia undimmed. For those deemed to be traitors or informers to their cause, there was no mercy. Thomas D’Arcy McGee, an Irish republican gun runner who later became a constitutional monarchist and founder of the Dominion of Canada, met his end in 1868 by an assassin’s bullet in an Ottawa street, ‘the dog’s death that he deserved’, declared Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, the inveterate leader of American fenianism.8 In 1883, James Carey paid the price for informing on his comrades, who had assassinated the Irish Chief Secretary and Undersecretary, when he was shot by an Irishman on board ship off the coast of the Cape Colony. For the remainder of the century, Irish-American Fenians plotted further attacks on Canada and the fomentation of uprisings in British India, as well as actively supporting the Boers against the British. In 1881, at a time of acute crises in Egypt, Ireland, and the Transvaal, the New York Times reported that ‘500 wild Irishmen, well armed with four gatling guns’, were heading to Mozambique to assist the Boers.9 This proved to be a false alarm, but in 1899–1902, Ireland was electrified by the South African War, with Catholic bonfires in Belfast celebrating Boer victories and jingoistic crowds revelling in imperial triumphs. Roy Foster has highlighted ‘the galvanic effect of the Boer War – in this area as in others nearly as crucial an event for Irish nationalism as the death of Parnell’.10 The action of the Irish brigades fighting for the Boers was keenly followed, while at home advanced nationalists, led by Arthur Griffith, a journalist who had lived in South Africa, were inspired by Boer resistance. The war could also be used to embarrass Irish separatists. ‘Boers have no sentimentality in them’, the cultural nationalist, D. P. Moran, wrote: ‘We have little else … The Transvaal is led by men, and not by ranters and exploded heroes’.11 An Irish Transvaal Committee became a defining measure of nationalism, later evolving into the nucleus of

8 David

Wilson, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Vol. II: The Extreme Moderate (Montreal: McGillQueen’s Press, 2011), 189. 9 D. M. Schreuder, Gladstone and Kruger: Liberal Government and Colonial ‘Home Rule’ 1880–85 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969), 152. 10 R. F. Foster, Modern Ireland, 1600–1972 (London: Penguin, 1989), 448. 11 D. P. Moran, ‘If the Boers Were Irish’, The Leader, 15 September 1900. I am grateful to Professor Roy Foster for this reference.



the Sinn Fein movement, in 1905.12 Meanwhile, Irish and, especially, Ulster, unionism took on a more avowedly and stridently imperialist character. Nationalism—or, more specifically, sympathy for Boer republicans—rather than religion thus divided Irish society. This is why mostly Catholic Irish nationalists could support Afrikaner Calvinist republicans against a Protestant but monarchist Empire.13 The Irish parliamentary party, fractured by the fall of Parnell, reunited under John Redmond largely as a result of the conflict, while Unionists would long hold nationalist solidarity with the Boers as symptomatic of Irish betrayal. In 1903, the death sentence for high treason, later commuted, on Arthur Lynch, commander of the Second Irish Transvaal Brigade, kept the conflict in view; all the more so because the case was prosecuted by the celebrated Irish lawyer, Edward Carson, who had defended Leander Starr Jameson for his eponymous raid into the Transvaal.14 The Chinese labour scandal, which contributed to the landslide victory of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman’s Liberals in 1906, also found an echo in Ireland.15 The new Liberal government soon appeared to represent a new direction in imperial policy, however, away from the centralising and aggressive strategy of the Unionists and towards a more conciliatory approach sympathetic to the nationalisms within the Empire, whether near, in the form of Irish, Scottish, Welsh identities, or far, in the case of the Boers.16 The architect of the change in policy in South Africa, Lord Selborne, the British High Commissioner, had not been sanguine about either the Boers or the Irish. ‘Personally, I like [the Boers] … he wrote to Baron Northcote, the Governor-General of Australia:

12 Donal McCracken, Forgotten Protest: Ireland and the Anglo-Boer War (Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation, 2003); and Senia Paseta, ‘Nationalist and Unionist Responses to Two Royal Visits: 1900 and 1903’, Irish Historical Studies 32 (1999), 488–504. 13 Alvin Jackson, ‘Irish Unionists and the Empire, 1880–1920’, in Keith Jeffery, ed., ‘An Irish Empire’? Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), 132. 14 H. M. Hyde, Carson: The Life of Sir Edward Carson, Baron Carson of Duncairn (London: Heinemann, 1953), 176–77. 15 Emmet O’Connor, ‘William Walker, Irish Labour and “Chinese Slavery” in South Africa, 1904–6’, Irish Historical Studies 37 (2010), 48–60. 16 John Ellis, ‘Reconciling the Celt: National Identity, Empire and the 1911 Investiture of the Prince of Wales’, Journal of British Studies 37 (1998), 391–418.

216  D. LOWRY They have got very good natural manners, they are very hospitable, very plausible, apparently very frank. This makes them like the Irishmen, very pleasant to meet as friends, but when you do business with them, particularly political business, you must use a very long spoon.17

This transformation was soon evident in the restoration of responsible government to the Transvaal and Orange River Colony in 1907, widely lauded as a ‘magnanimous gesture’.18 This strategy, in turn, led many to believe over the succeeding decade that a similar change might be effected in Anglo-Irish politics.19 In that year, elections were held in both territories. The new Transvaal government included General Louis Botha and General Jan Christiaan Smuts. Botha had fought the British until the bitter end, before surrendering under terms at the Treaty of Vereeniging, while Smuts, equally resolute, precociously clever, and widely regarded as one of the cleverest law students to graduate from Cambridge, became his trusted lieutenant. Botha was seen as charismatic and warm-hearted, while the cerebral Smuts was well-connected and highly respected in metropolitan society. ‘History writes the word “Reconciliation” over all her quarrels’, he told the British governor, Lord Milner, in 1905.20 The new Orange River Colony cabinet included General J. B. M. Hertzog, a republican-minded lawyer-turnedcommandant, and General Christiaan de Wet, who had been one of the most effective guerrilla commandants and a most bitter of Boer bitterenders. Hertzog and de Wet, however, became increasingly alienated from the conciliatory policies of Botha and Smuts, whom they regarded as too subservient to the British—indeed, as Boer poachers turned 17 Quoted in Kent Fedorowich, ‘The Weak Link in the Imperial Chain: South Africa, the Round Table and World War One’, in Andrea Bosco and Alex May, eds., The Round Table, the Empire/Commonwealth and British Foreign Policy (London: Lothian Foundation Press, 1997), 137. 18 Nicholas Mansergh, South Africa 1906–61: The Price of Magnanimity (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1962), 97 and 99; Ronald Hyam, ‘“The Magnanimous Gesture”: The Liberal Government, Smuts and Conciliation’, in Ronald Hyam and Ged Martin, eds., Reappraisals in British Imperial History (London: Macmillan, 1975), 169. 19 Ronald Hyam, Elgin and Churchill at the Colonial Office, 1905–1908 (London: Macmillan, 1968), 55, 113, 165, and 183; Nicholas Mansergh, The Unresolved Question: The Anglo-Irish Settlement and Its Undoing (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), 39; and Pat Walsh, The Rise and Fall of Imperial Ireland (Belfast: Athol, 2003), 132–45. 20 Antony Lentin, General Smuts (London: Haus, 2010), v.



imperial gatekeepers. Botha’s new-found loyalty to the British connection appeared to be encapsulated in his presentation on behalf of the Transvaal Government of the Cullinan Diamond to King Edward VII on the occasion of his sixty-sixth birthday. The leadership of Botha and Smuts proved crucial in meetings of the South African Convention, which met in 1908–09 and led to the creation of the Union of South Africa as a British dominion in 1910. Among British Liberals, something of a cult developed around the duarchy of Botha and Smuts as exemplary embodiments of this new and ‘enlightened’ imperial policy. They were the Old Testament figures of David and Jonathan come to life; they were the George Washington and Alexander Hamilton of a new South Africa; they were heroic warrior enemies turned statesmen. Like the patrician of classical Rome, Cincinnatus, who had reluctantly left his plough to defend the virtues of the republic, the two generals now appeared to stand between imperial order and secessionist anarchy, represented by the heightened republicanism of generals Hertzog, de Wet and other recalcitrants.21 It is only against this background of a divided Afrikanerdom, between ‘moderate’ advocates of a ‘benign’ imperialism and unreconcilable republicans, that the apparent significance of South Africa for Anglo-Irish politics can be understood. Sir Robert Ensor (1877–1958) was a leading English writer and journalist of the first half of the twentieth century. As a leader writer for the Manchester Guardian in 1900–05 and later as a journalist with the Daily News and Daily Chronicle, he was in a prime position to observe and record British politics in the Edwardian decade. In his best-selling and magisterial England, 1870–1914, he describes the wider impact of the South African post-war settlement, and the restoration of responsible government in the Transvaal and Orange River Colony in particular on the Liberal Party thus: About [Irish home rule] the liberals had been comparatively apathetic in 1906, but quite a new feeling had come to pervade their ranks since the brilliant success of [Sir Henry] Campbell-Bannerman’s policy in bestowing

21 Patrick Kirkland, ‘Alexander Hamilton and the Early Roman Republic in Edwardian Imperial Thought’, Britain and the World 12 (2019), 28–50; and Donal Lowry, ‘“The Boers Were the Beginning of the End”? The Wider Impact of the South African War’, in Donal Lowry, ed., The South African War Reappraised (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 207.

218  D. LOWRY self-government on the Transvaal. Their slogan now was ‘to make Redmond the Irish Botha’. And, indeed, [Redmond] had many qualities for the part; he led a united party…; his dignified eloquence expressed a generous and conciliatory temper; and unlike Parnell, he had, apart from the Irish grievance, a warm admiration for England and Englishmen. Had their hand been extended to him as it was to the Boer leader, he would have grasped it in the same spirit.22

Newspapers were not slow to seize on this parallel during the Liberal Government’s introduction of an Irish Councils Bill which proposed devolution that was short of home rule in May 1907. The Irish Freeman’s Journal highlighted a speech given by Campbell-Bannerman on Ireland to the Manchester Liberal Federation and his references to ‘the most significant political event of last year – the establishment of complete self-government to the Transvaal’. There had never been in the history of their country ‘a finer example [or]…a grander achievement’. He went on to ask whether there was not a country closer to home where a similar solution might be applied. Turning to Ireland, he referred to the Irish Councils Bill as the beginning of ‘a little tiny, humble effort’ to concede ‘administrative power to the Irish people’. He dismissed the Unionist opposition to the bill on the grounds that it would be the thin end of a home rule wedge: The Empire is in danger, of course, not so much on account the bill as because of another and wider scheme, which it is thought would be dangerous, and which would, just imagine, give the people of Ireland almost as much control over their own affairs as the people of the Transvaal now enjoy.

Responding to Campbell-Bannerman, Winston Churchill, the Undersecretary for the Colonies (and responsible, inter alia, for South Africa), declared that ‘British Statecraft would prove capable of making the Irish people real partners in the Empire’.23 A year later, following Campbell-Bannerman’s sudden retirement and replacement by Asquith, Churchill was promoted to be President of the Board of Trade. The

22 R. C. K. Ensor, England, 1870–1914 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1936), 418–19. 23 Freeman’s Journal, 10 May 1907.



Freeman’s Journal, an important leader of and vehicle for nationalist opinion, opined that Churchill might prove to be a useful ally in the campaign for home rule, due to his direct experience of South Africa, where trust had been crucial in ending ‘hopeless dissensions [and] bloody struggles’.24 The paper nonetheless continued to advocate an application of South African conciliatory methods in Ireland. Redmond used the Transvaal and Botha parallel in his efforts to keep Herbert Asquith’s attention focused on home rule, reminding opponents that Botha had also been regarded as ‘disloyal’ until self-government was conceded to him. Canada, Australia, and the Transvaal were alike regarded as disloyal when their rights were being eroded by the imperial government. ‘All we ask from you’, he asserted, ‘is this – that what you have done for the Frenchmen in Quebec, what you have done for the Dutchmen in the Transvaal, you will now do for Irishmen in Ireland…’.25 This appeal reflected Redmond’s ambiguous position, as both heir to Parnell and ally of the Liberal government which offered the only prospect of home rule. The Botha analogy enabled him to skirt around the anti-British sentiment that had marked Parnell’s speeches, while avoiding complete integration in the Liberal Party. ‘Our stake in the Empire is too large for us to be detached from it’, he told the Liberal-leaning and non-conformist Daily News: ‘We Irish have peopled the waste places of Greater Britain. Our roots are Imperial as well as national’.26 Significantly, Botha was thought to have a poignant Irish connection through his wife, Annie Emmet, who claimed to be a kinswoman of the executed patriot, Robert Emmet, a connection much publicised by Michael Davitt, the Irish Land League leader and enthusiastic pro-Boer.27 He was believed to be a personal friend of John Dillon, Redmond’s senior colleague.28 Moreover, Redmond knew that many of his supporters revered in Botha and the Boers those idealised 24 Freeman’s

Journal, 25 April 1908. Journal, 31 March 1908. 26 Daily News, 16 May 1908. 27 Michael Davitt, The Boer Fight for Freedom (New York: Funk, 1902), 546; and Carla King, ‘Michael Davitt, Irish Nationalism and the British Empire in the Late-Nineteenth Century’, in Peter Gray, ed., Victoria’s Ireland? Irishness and Britishness, 1837–1901 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2004). 28 Des Ryan, ‘The Munster Fusiliers in the South African War, 1899–1902, Part III’, Old Limerick Journal 36 (1999), 13. 25 Freeman’s

220  D. LOWRY

characteristics they most admired in themselves: ‘a rural, agricultural and deeply religious people’.29 If only, he believed, these sentiments could be harnessed to the cause of Irish self-government. Redmond’s Botha strategy, therefore, seemed to increase his continuing leverage with the Liberal government, while outmanoeuvring more radical nationalist opinion at home. The 1911 Imperial Conference of colonial premiers offered a further opportunity to raise his profile as both leader of the Irish nation and potential imperial statesman. His parliamentary party hosted a banquet at Westminster on the fringes of the conference, when the speeches of various colonial statesmen in support of home rule were recalled. Such a policy seemed fruitful with the appearance following the conference at the Investiture of the Prince of Wales of General Botha, the only colonial statesman thus to be invited and another symbol of a changed attitude towards Boer, Welsh and— potentially—Irish nationality.30 The South African analogy also began to attract the attention of journalists. These included Erskine Childers, who recalled from the time of his service in the City Imperial Volunteers in the South African War an encounter with soldiers of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, who struck him as ‘loyal, keen and simple soldiers’. He went on to argue in The Framework of Home Rule (1911) that ‘the whole history of South Africa bears a close relationship to the history of Ireland’, which would be solved by self-government within the Empire, even if he would later fatefully revise this opinion.31 Lionel Curtis of the Milner Kindergarten and J. L. Garvin, editor of The Observer, also began to take a keen interest.32 Events in Ireland, however, began greatly to frustrate these developments, with ripple effects across the Empire. In 1912, the Liberal government introduced a Home Rule Bill for Ireland, which offered limited devolution. Attempts to produce a federal ‘Home Rule All Round’ solution to dilute the impact of Irish nationalism failed. Unionists in Ireland, especially in Ulster, as well as in Britain, where they were led in parliament by the Ulster-descended Andrew Bonar Law, threatened 29 Bruce Nelson, Irish Nationalists and the Making of the Irish Race (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), 143. 30 McConnell, Irish Parliamentary Party, 263; and Ellis, ‘Reconciling the Celt’, 416–17. 31 Erskine Childers, The Framework of Home Rule (London: E. Arnold, 1911), 120. 32 G. K. Peatling, British Opinion and Irish Self-Government, 1865–1925: From Unionism to Liberal Commonwealth (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2001).



to resist home rule, if necessary, by force, and they were supported in this by loyalists from Toronto and Calgary to Melbourne and Auckland. Among those who rallied to the Ulster cause were ‘the bard of Empire’, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Starr Jameson ‘of the Raid’, and Lord Milner, the former South African High Commissioner, who saw in the Ulstermen yet another band of desperate uitlanders in danger of metropolitan abandonment and betrayal, so much so that he considered subverting the discipline of the British Army in order to prevent home rule.33 Among the leaders of the Ulstermen were veterans of the South African War such as Sir James Craig, whom the conflict had ‘recruited [into] a freemasonry of military-minded Irish Unionists who emerged from their wartime experiences with a revivified imperial zeal and aggression’.34 The crisis added another dimension to the South African analogy. If Redmond was, potentially, an ‘Irish Botha’, and generals Hertzog and de Wet the equivalents of more determined Irish separatists, Irish and Ulster loyalists also found a parallel in the English-speaking settlers of southern and eastern Africa. As MacKenzie has noted: ‘The Rhodesian analogy with Ireland was frequently made’. In 1914, the British South Africa Company’s solicitor warned, referring to a scheme to include Southern Rhodesia in an Afrikaner-dominated South Africa: ‘God forbid … that we should have to say “Rhodesia will fight and Rhodesia will be right” but if there is any attempt made to put this country under the keel of the Union of South Africa you will know what to do’.35 Tom Casement, the brother of the humanitarian-turned-rebel Sir Roger Casement, who would be executed following the Rising in 1916, highlighted his sense of crisis to Smuts: ‘It is a great pity you and General Botha are not in power [in Ireland]. I think Carson & Co would now be on the water’.36 33 A. T. Q. Stewart, The Ulster Crisis (London: Faber and Faber, 1969), 38, 55–6, 130–40; and Robert McLaughlin, Irish Canadian Conflict and the Struggle for Irish Independence, 1912–1925 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013), 25–51 and 80–108. 34 Alvin Jackson, ‘Irish Unionists and the Empire’, 132. 35 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Responsible Government’, Rhodesian History 9 (1978), 34. See also Ian Henderson, ‘White Populism in Southern Rhodesia’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 14 (1972), 393; and Donal Lowry, ‘Ulster Resistance and Loyalist Rebellion in the Empire’, in Jeffery, ed., ‘An Irish Empire’?, 193–95. 36 State Archives, Pretoria. Smuts papers, A1//196/24, Tom Casement to Smuts, 21 February 1914. See also Gerald Shaw, ‘The Casement Brothers, Ireland and South Africa’, Southern African-Irish Studies 4 (2012), 15–24.

222  D. LOWRY

The Irish troubles thus provided what Jack Gallagher described as ‘a kind of intersection between the problems of empire and the problems of domestic British politics’, and this would be graphically illustrated by the events of the Great War and its aftermath.37 Shortly after the outbreak of war in 1914, on the day that Unionist members quit the House of Commons in protest against the passage of the Home Rule Bill, Redmond held up before parliament the example of reconciliation provided by South Africa: The whole world has been struck by the spectacle of unity in the Empire – from India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and last, not least, from South Africa and Ireland. No one can have read unmoved the magnificent speeches of General Botha and General Smuts. Just as Botha and Smuts have been able to say … that the concession of free institutions to South Africa has changed the men who but 10, or a little more, years were your bitter enemies in the field to your loyal comrades and fellow-citizens in the Empire, just as I can truthfully say to you … that Ireland has been transformed from … “the broken arm of England” into one of the strongest bulwarks of the Empire.38

Wartime events conspired to keep the South African parallel at the fore of the Irish Question. Several months later, while thousands of Irish nationalists joined the British Army at Redmond’s behest, Dillon was somewhat less enthusiastic in his support for the war effort, but he nevertheless highlighted the seemingly positive example of South Africa: General Botha is [now] one of the most honoured men in the whole of the British Empire. He is the sole trust of England in South Africa, and if they had not trusted him they would have been cleared out of South Africa … How could the English people [have] dare[d] to [go to war] with South Africa enslaved and Ireland denied her freedom? [She] could only do so because she has firmly set aside the policy of the Tory Party and has given liberty to South Africa and placed the Irish Home Rule Act on the Statute Book.39 37 John Gallagher, The Decline, Revival and Fall of the British Empire, new edn. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 98. 38 Joseph P. Finnan, John Redmond and Irish Unity, 1912–1918 (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004), 168. 39 Freeman’s Journal, 8 March 1915.



Dillon’s optimism proved to be misplaced, however, especially in South Africa, for on the outbreak of war General Christiaan de Wet sensed that Britain’s difficulty was South Africa’s opportunity to sever the imperial connection. Brigadier-General Christiaan Beyers, of like mind, resigned his commission as commander of the Union Defence Force and was mortally wounded soon afterwards. The rebellion was subsequently suppressed by generals Botha and Smuts, decisively acting against their former comrades in support of the imperial war effort.40 Many poor and disaffected whites had rallied to the insurgents, threatening for a time a strategically vital region of the Empire.41 Redmond was keenly aware of the significance of this rebellion, reminding the House of Commons that Botha too had had to face serious ‘racial [white] animosity’ between Boers and Britons in South Africa where Botha ‘had to face his Sein [sic] Feiners’. ‘I honestly believe in my own heart’, Redmond said, ‘that … Botha’s difficulties were in reality small compared with the difficulties that my colleagues and I had to face in Ireland’, where, at the outbreak of war, in contrast with Botha’s newly autonomous South Africa, a home rule administration had not been created.42 No less aware of the strategic opportunity provided by England’s difficulty was Patrick Pearse, a poet and cultural nationalist who, impatient with British failure to enact home rule, now advocated more violent action and would become the leader of the uprising in 1916. ‘Whenever England goes on her mission of Empire, we meet and we strike at her’, he warned: ‘Yesterday it was on the South African veldt, tomorrow it may be on the streets of Dublin’.43 He had also noted how, reputedly, Cecil Rhodes had smuggled guns inside pianos into Johannesburg

40 Sandra Swart, ‘“A Boer and His Gun and His Wife Are Three Things Always Together”: Republican Masculinity and the 1914 Rebellion’, Journal of Southern African Studies 24 (1998), 737–51. 41 Bill Nasson, ‘Piet on Peat: The Irish Romance of Afrikaner Anti-Imperialism’, in Robert J. Blyth and Keith Jeffery, eds., The British Empire and Its Contested Pasts (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2009), 266–67. 42 Thomas Hennessey, Dividing Ireland: World War I and Partition (London: Psychology Press, 1998), 113–14. 43 P. MacAonghusa, ed., Quotations from P. H. Pearse (Cork: Mercier, 1979), 10; and Gert van der Westhuizen, ‘A Distant Mirror: Ireland and the Anglo-Boer War’, in Ian Liebenberg, Gert van der Westhuizen and Mariaan Roos, eds., A Century Is a Short Time: New Perspectives on the Anglo-Boer War (Pretoria: Ariscot, 2005), 301.

224  D. LOWRY

in preparation for the Jameson Raid.44 James Connolly, the Irish syndicalist and socialist leader had also believed that ‘the Boers [had] pricked the bubble of England’s fighting reputation’, but regretted this ‘missed chance’ to throw off the imperial yoke in 1899–1902.45 Almost of the key planners of a rebellion had been ardent pro-Boers, including Sean MacDiarmada, who kept a greyhound called ‘Kruger’. Sir Roger Casement, the celebrated humanitarian and former British consul in Mozambique, who had once praised the British granting of self-government to the Boers, now advocated a rebellion with German assistance and he welcomed news of the 1914 rebellion in South Africa.46 Major John MacBride, the former commander of the Irish Transvaal Brigade, lent his support to an insurgency.47 In 1916, the Easter Rising, which took Redmond and the Irish parliamentary party largely by surprise occurred for internal reasons, but South African echoes were present. Articles in the Irish Volunteer journal had been emphasising the strategy and exploits of General de Wet. Although in the event a more static conflict confined to Dublin followed, many of the insurgents wore Boerstyle headgear known as ‘Cronje hats’ and adopted the Boer rank of Commandant (still preserved in today’s regular Irish Army). The socialist Citizen Army had been trained by Captain Jack White, a maverick veteran of the South African War and a renegade son of Field Marshal Sir George White, who defended Ladysmith.48 The executions which followed the crushing of the Rising also brought South Africa to mind. MacBride was executed for no reason, it would seem, other than the fact that he had led one of the Irish brigades in 1899–1902. Pleas for clemency drew on the precedent of the Afrikaner rebellion of 1914, when Prime Minister Louis Botha spared all but one of the rebels (who had been his former comrades). 44 Joost Augusteijn, ‘Patrick Pearse and Ireland’s Position in the Empire’, in Robert J. Blyth and Keith Jeffery, eds., The British Empire and Its Contested Pasts (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2009), 239. 45 Worker’s Republic, 18 November 1899, quoted in James Connolly, Collected Works, II (Dublin: Communist Party of Ireland, 1988), 29. 46 Keith Jeffery, 1916: A Global History (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 218. 47 Brian Feeney, Sean MacDiarmada (Dublin: O’Brien, 2014), 27 and 70; Angus Mitchell, Roger Casement (Dublin: O’Brien, 2013), 191; and Donal Fallon, John MacBride (Dublin: O’Brien, 2015), passim. 48 Leo Keohane, Captain Jack White: Imperialism, Anarchism, and the Irish Citizen Army (Sallins: Merrion Press, 2014).



On 29 April, while Dublin was still in insurrection, Redmond received a telegram from Botha expressing his ‘heartfelt sympathy’ for the Irish leader and expressing his regret ‘that a small section in Ireland are jeopardising a great cause’.49 Redmond, who condemned the Easter Rising, observed that Botha was facing similar problems with extreme nationalists who were keen to take advantage of British wartime difficulties to secure a separatist republic. On 10 May, in the House of Commons, he called on Prime Minister Asquith to follow Botha’s example and halt the executions immediately. His deputy Dillon pointed out that Botha had only executed one of the ringleaders of the Afrikaner rebels, Jopie Fourie, while General Sir John Maxwell had executed over a dozen.50 However, when a friend suggested to James Connolly, the badly wounded socialist leader of the Rising, that the British would never shoot him, he responded, ‘Remember Scheepers’, in reference to the Cape rebel Gideon Scheepers, whom the British had helped recover from his wounds before executing him in 1902.51 Newspapers throughout Ireland were also keenly aware of the contrasting policies of Botha and Maxwell.52 The Catholic Bishop Edward O’Dwyer of Limerick, hitherto regarded as politically conservative, wrote to Maxwell contrasting the harsh measures meted out to the Easter insurgent with the lenience shown to the Jameson Raiders in 1896, ‘when a number of buccaneers invaded a friendly state and fought the forces of a lawful government’.53 Geoffrey Dawson, the editor of the Times and a former member of Milner’s ‘Kindergarten’, believed that Redmond and Dillon were in a far weaker position than they were before the Rising, one that was not unlike that of Botha and Smuts, but the latter were ‘far bigger and more dominant men’.54 49 Fallon,

John MacBride, 253. Meleady, John Redmond: The National Leader (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2013), 372; and Denis Gwynn, The Life of John Redmond (London: G. G. Harrap, 1932), 482. 51 Donal P. McCracken, ‘“Fenians and Dutch Carpetbaggers”: Irish and Afrikaner Nationalisms, 1877–1930’, Eire-Ireland 29 (1994), 117. 52 Hennessey, Dividing Ireland, 141–42. 53 Deirdre McMahon, ‘Ireland and the Empire-Commonwealth’, in Judith M. Brown and William Roger Louis, eds., The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol. IV: The Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 141. 54 Deirdre McMahon, ‘Ireland, the Empire and the Commonwealth’, in Kevin Kenny, ed., Ireland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 201. 50 Dermot

226  D. LOWRY

As John MacKenzie has observed, from at least the 1880s, Scottish nationalists followed the development of federalism and dominion status with considerable interest and ‘the application of imperial placebos to the metropolitan body politic’.55 Now it was the turn of the British government to attempt to apply such a placebo. Following his succession to the prime ministership in December 1916, David Lloyd George sought to diffuse the Irish crisis, which was having an impact on debates about conscription in Canada and Australia. While Redmond’s parliamentary party was being eclipsed by the separatist Sinn Fein Party, Lloyd George called a constitutional convention drawn from a cross section of Irish society and explicitly modelled on the South African Convention of 1908–09 that had led to the creation of the Union as a dominion. The dominions of Canada and South Africa had, respectively, it seemed, reconciled francophones and Afrikaners with anglophone loyalists.56 Thus it was thought that a similar bicultural arrangement between Irish Catholics and Protestants, nationalists and Unionists, might succeed. It was widely assumed that either Louis Botha or Jan Christian Smuts, who was a member of the Imperial War Cabinet and took an increasing interest in Irish affairs, might chair the Convention. Sir Francis Hopwood, Baron Southborough, a former Undersecretary of State for the Colonies, and Walter Long, the Colonial Secretary from 1916 to 1919 and a leading Unionist, recalled the success of the South African Convention in reconciling Boer and Briton in South Africa. This precedent, as Nicholas Mansergh has noted, ‘loomed so large in the minds of most Liberals and some Unionist leaders’.57 Sir Leander Starr Jameson was briefly considered for the post of Chief Secretary for Ireland following the Easter Rising, despite his reckless eponymous ‘Raid’ of 1895–96 and anti-home rule intrigues with Milner and Carson in 1912–14. He was invited to Ireland in 1917 by Lord Dunraven, a keen advocate of federalism, to advise on a political settlement, having been seen to redeem himself as an advocate of Boer-British reconciliation during 55 John M. MacKenzie, ‘General Introduction’, in Keith Jeffery, ed., ‘An Irish Empire’? Aspects of Ireland and the British Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), vii. 56 G. W. Martin, ‘The Canadian Analogy in South African Union’, South African Historical Journal 8 (1976), 40–59. 57 Nicholas Mansergh, Nationalism and Independence: Selected Irish Papers (Cork: Cork University Press, 1997), 79.



his term as premier of the Cape Colony in 1904–08 and subsequently as leader of the South African Unionist Party. The idea of an Irish Convention drawn from a wide cross-section of Irish society developed from a conversation between John Redmond and the Marquess of Crewe, who as Colonial Secretary in 1908–10 had overseen the South African Convention, following a state banquet in May 1917 in honour of Smuts, as a member of the Imperial War Cabinet. It was widely suggested that either Botha or Smuts—who in the same year was awarded an honorary LL.D. by an imperially-minded Trinity College Dublin— would act as chairman.58 In the event, it was chaired by Sir Horace Plunkett, an Irish Unionist reformer, a founder of the cooperative movement who was a sometime correspondent of Rhodes, Smuts, and John Xavier Merriman, a former premier of the Cape Colony, who took a keen interest in Irish affairs. 59 Plunkett went on to found the Irish Dominion League, and he was so encouraged by the success of the South African Convention that he hoped that a momentous Irish agreement might be signed at his villa between the Dublin Mountains and the sea, the verandah of which he had modelled, several years earlier, on the stoep of Cecil Rhodes’s homestead at Groote Schuur.60 The Irish Convention failed, however, and the political initiative was now passing to physical force rather than the constitutional strand of Irish nationalism, which within a few years would literally engulf Plunkett’s constitutional dream house in flames. When guerrilla warfare developed in 1919–21, a succession of British commanders could draw on extensive South African military if not political experience. General Sir John Maxwell, who suppressed the Easter Rising, had been Military Governor 58 R. B. McDowell, The Irish Convention, 1917–18 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), 76 and 101–2; John Kendle, Walter Long, Ireland, and the Union, 1905–20 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1992), 50 and 140; Gwynn, Life of John Redmond (London, 1932), 384 and 532; and F. S. L. Lyons, John Dillon (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1968), 415–16. 59 Margaret Digby, Horace Plunkett: An Anglo-American Irishman (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1949); 217 and 239–40; South African Library, Merriman Papers: Plunkett to Merriman, 22 October 1917, Merriman to Plunkett, 28 July 1917, 12 December, 1917, 19 February 1925, 2 April 1925; University of Oxford, Plunkett Foundation, Plunkett Papers: Southborough to Plunkett, 31 July 1918, Plunkett to Merriman, 22 October 1917; and Seventy Years Young: Memories of Elizabeth, Countess of Fingall ([1937] Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1991), 313–14. 60 Mark Bence-Jones, Twilight of the Ascendancy (London: Constable, 1987), 144–45.

228  D. LOWRY

of Pretoria and the Western Transvaal in 1900–02. General Sir Nevil Macready, commander-in-chief during the insurgency of 1919–21, had been Provost Marshal in Port Elizabeth in 1901. In 1918–20, Field Marshal Lord French, who had led operations against Cape rebels in 1901, took a keen interest in the extension of martial law across the country. Overseeing the Irish revolution in the wider context of crises in Egypt and India was Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff—another veteran of the South African War, who advocated a policy of aggressive, if professional, military containment. Even more belligerent was Hugh Tudor, a former divisional adjutant in South Africa, who raised the Auxiliary Division, a gendarmerie of ex-officers whose commanders included Frank Crozier, another South African old hand.61 Advanced nationalists who advocated a violent break with Britain had been inspired by the small but symbolically significant Irish Transvaal Brigades. Many of the later published memoirs of and interviews with veterans of the War of Independence (1919–21) highlight the exemplary influence of the Boers in their secessionist formation, when ‘Boer fever’ had appeared to grip the countryside. As one of many guerrilla fighters recalled from his childhood in rural Cork: The stories of, and the discussions on, the Boer War never ended without a reference to Ireland. Small wonder. The handful of farmers who stood up against an empire and humiliated it set an example for the oppressed and downtrodden of the world. The example was not lost on the militant-minded in our own country. My uncle was one of these and it was from him that I first heard of the only sure way to shake off the foreign oppressor.62 61 Donal Lowry, ‘“The World’s No Bigger Than a Kraal”: The South African War and International Opinion in the First Age of “Globalization”’, in David Omissi and Andrew Thompson, eds., The Impact of the South African War (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 279–81. 62 Micheal O’Suilleabhain, Where Mountainy Men Have Sown: War and Peace in Rebel Cork in the Turbulent Years 1916–21 (Tralee: Mercier, 1965), 22. See also Dan Breen, My Fight for Irish Freedom, reprint edn. (Dublin: Anvil, 1993), 22; James Malone, Blood on the Flag, trans. Patrick J. Twohig, (Ballincollig: Tower, 1996), 3; Sean Moylan in His Own Words: His Memoir of the War of Independence (Millstreet, 2004), 13; Michael Hopkinson, ed., Frank Henderson’s Easter Rising (Cork: Cork University Press, 1998), 22; Kenneth Griffith and Timothy O’Grady, Curious Journey: An Oral History of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution (Cork: Cork University Press, 1998), 11, 12, 100, 197, and 228–29; and



By the summer of 1921, the guerrilla struggle led by Michael Collins, nicknamed ‘the Irish de Wet’ due to his admiration for the Boer general’s strategy, had reached a stalemate.63 Bonar Law said he would be amenable to conceding dominion status if there were an ‘Irish Botha’ in sight, but advocated a continuing hard line in the manifest absence of such a figure.64 Since Botha had died unexpectedly in 1919, leading British and Irish politicians urged the intervention of Smuts, who had been warning about the poisoning impact of the Irish problem on British relations with the USA and the dominions.65 Smuts was already regarded as a maker of the twentieth century, having been entrusted with secret wartime negotiations with Hungary and with the foundation of the Royal Air Force, as well as playing a leading role in drawing up the Charter of the League of Nations, in which so many Irish people were to place their trust. While President Woodrow Wilson declined to become involved in the Irish crisis, Smuts’s mediation elevated it to an international level of importance.66 Moreover, South African-Irish activists had been disproportionately influential in the diaspora, and South Africa was prominent in Irish diplomatic initiatives.67 ‘No living statesman would be more acceptable to the majority of the Irish people than yourself’, Plunkett assured Smuts for he seemed

Adhamhnan O’Suilleabhain, Domhnall ua Buachalla: Rebellious Nationalist, Reluctant Governor (Dublin: Merrion, 2015), 5 and 52. 63 Tim Pat Coogan, Michael Collins (Dubin: Arrow, 1991), 13 and 54. 64 Mansergh, Unresolved Question, 151. 65 State Archives, Pretoria, Smuts Papers, A1/198/66, Casement to Smuts, 4 August 1916; A1/207/23, Casement to Smuts, 21 November 1920; A1/208/223-5, T. Ryan OMI to Smuts, 29 March, 10 June, 2 December 1921; National Library of Ireland, Maurice Moore papers, ms.10581; and Daithi O’Corrain, ‘“A Most Public Spirited and Unselfish Man”: The Career and Contribution of Colonel Maurice Moore, 1854–1939’, Studia Hibernica 40 (2014), 118–25. 66 Arthur Mitchell, Revolutionary Government in Ireland: Dail Eireann 1919–22 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1995), 258–59. 67 T. K. Daniel, ‘The Scholars and the Saboteurs: The Wrecking of a South African Scheme, Paris, 1922’, Southern African-Irish Studies 1 (1991), 162–75; and Ciaran Reilly, ‘“The Magna Hibernia”: Irish Diplomatic Missions to South Africa, 1921’, South African Historical Journal 67 (2015), 255–70.

230  D. LOWRY

singularly equipped to intervene.68 Not only had he once fought to the end against the British, but he had long-standing Irish friendships, including Alice Stopford Green, George Russell (‘AE’), and Colonel Maurice Moore, the brother of the writer, George Moore, and the Dail Eireann’s emissary to South Africa.69 Smuts was kept closely informed of the growing violence in the country by Casement, Moore and Father T. Ryan, an Irish missionary priest. Smuts was acutely aware that Irish issues were also having an impact in his own subcontinent. Speaking in Pretoria in February 1920, he used the Irish insurgency to counter Afrikaner nationalist arguments for a republic by pointing out the example of Ireland and warning that such a demand would get them—as in Ireland—‘tanks and aeroplanes and an army of occupation’.70 Later that year an energetic, pro-Hertzog Irish Republican Association of South Africa emerged, elements of which fought Smuts’s government in the 1922 Rand uprising.71 Moreover, as MacKenzie has noted, the Irish crisis was also intruding once more in Rhodesia and in Kenya. Kenyan settlers explicitly borrowed the tactics of Ulster loyalist direct action against home rule, and Smuts’s perceived sympathy with Irish nationalism was proving to be a political liability among those Rhodesian settlers he was attempting to woo into the Union of South Africa.72

68 Jan Christian Smuts [jnr], Jan Christian Smuts (London: Cassell, 1952), 251–52; Plunkett to Smuts, 8 June 1921, in Jean van der Poel, ed., Selections from the Smuts Papers, V (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 85–88; and State Archives, Pretoria, Smuts Papers, A1/208/211A, Plunkett to Smuts, 8 June 1921. 69 W. K. Hancock, Smuts, I: The Sanguine Years, 1870–1919 (Cambridge: Camridge University Press, 1962); Sarah Gertrude Millin, General Smuts (London: Little Brown, 1936), 292; and Margery Forester, Michael Collins: The Lost Leader (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1989), 112. 70 G. D. Scholtz, Hertzog en Smuts en die Britse ryk (Cape Town: Tafelberg, 1975), 78. 71 Jeremy Krikler, White Rising: The 1922 Insurrection and Racial Killing in South Africa (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005), 58, 176, 247, and 255; and Jonathan Hyslop, ‘Johannesburg’s Green Flag: The Contemporaneity of the Easter Rising and the 1922 Rand Rebellion’, in Dal Lago, Healy and Barry, eds., 1916 in Global Context, 76–90. 72 MacKenzie, ‘Responsible Government’, 40; Lowry, ‘Loyalist Rebellion’, 196–98; ‘The Irish Free State’, Independent [Rhodesia], 23 December 1922; ‘Dominion Status’, Independent [Rhodesia], 10 March 1922; ‘The Disloyal Union’, Independent [Rhodesia], 24 March 1922; and Ethel Tawse Jollie, ‘The Passing of Empire’, National Review 78 (1922), 810–17.



At the 1921 Imperial Conference, Smuts thinly veiled criticisms of Britain’s Irish policy earned the contempt of William Massey, New Zealand’s Ulster-born and avowedly loyalist prime minister, but Smuts nevertheless played a key role in intervening in helping to redraft the speech of George V for the opening of the first Northern Ireland parliament, in order to make it sound more conciliatory, and it was widely credited in creating an atmosphere conducive to a truce.73 Casement again sought his help as an intermediary, while the king’s secretary told him: ‘His majesty is impressed with the beliefs that you of all men will be able to induce [the nationalist leader and President of the Dail] Mr de Valera to be reasonable and to agree to a settlement’.74 He arrived incognito in Dublin where he attempted at length but unsuccessfully to convince de Valera to accept dominion status, since he argued that the British would never accept the republic which Sinn Fein demanded. De Valera was impressed by Smuts and ‘considered him the cleverest of all the leaders he met in that period, not excluding Lloyd George’.75 Relations between them soured, however, with the unannounced publication of their correspondence, including his description of the Irish delegates as ‘small men’.76 Nevertheless, his intervention, both in the king’s speech in Belfast and in his visit to Dublin, had helped to pave the way for negotiations.77 The constitutional status offered by Lloyd George to Ireland was similar to that of the Dominion of Canada, but the negotiations leading to such a settlement were very different.78 As Nicholas Mansergh

73 Geoffrey W. Rice, ‘How Irish Was New Zealand’s Ulster-Born Prime Minister Bill Massey?’, in Brad Patterson, ed., Ulster-New Zealand Migration and Cultural Transfers (Dublin: Four Courts, 2006), 259; and Deborah Lavin, From Empire to International Commonwealth: A Biography of Lionel Curtis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 184–85. 74 State Archives, Pretoria, Smuts papers, A1/208/237A, Lord Stamfordham to Smuts, 1 July 1921. Emphasis in original. 75 Frank Pakenham, Peace by Ordeal (London: Jonathan Cape, 1935), 76. 76 W. K. Hancock, Smuts, II: The Fields of Force, 1919–1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univrsity Press, 1967), 56–61. 77 O. Geyser, ‘Irish Independence: Jan Smuts and Eamon de Valera’, Round Table 87 (1998), 475–84. 78 Jason K. Knirck, ‘The Dominion of Ireland: The Anglo-Irish Treaty in an Imperial Context’, Eire-Ireland 42 (2007), 229–55.

232  D. LOWRY

has noted, the South African War provided the British with their sole precedent for reconciling republican guerrillas.79 Arthur Griffith, who succeeded de Valera as President of the Dail, had been a journalist in South Africa in the 1890s, and drew on the South African precedent of the Simonstown naval base in the negotiations regarding the use of Irish port facilities. He and General Michael Collins, charged with carrying out the Treaty, came to be regarded by Churchill as another heroic duarchy which might prove to be allied, not unlike Botha and Smuts; if not a triumvirate including the youthful if ill-fated Commonwealth statesman and associate of Hertzog Kevin O’Higgins, ‘a figure out of antiquity cast in bronze’.80 The name, ‘Irish Free State’, was coined by Lloyd George, based on that of the Orange Free State, in order to provide a compromise term which fell short of a republic but did not over-emphasise the monarchical aspect of the new Irish dominion. As in 1902 and 1914 in South Africa, recalcitrant republicans and bitterenders would not accept a settlement and were willing to fight their former comrades if necessary. Thus Ireland erupted into a fratricidal civil war, more bitter in many ways than that waged against the British. ‘Alles sal regkom’ (‘things will work out all right’), Churchill, now Colonial Secretary, assured Collins, now commanding the Free State army, quoting the words of the Boer leader, President Brand which he had heard after the South African War.81 The settlement proved divisive, however, with pro- and anti-Treaty factions dividing and erupting into a civil war in which brother fought brother, mirroring the divisions of Afrikaners following the Boer War. Collins, who was influenced by Alfred O’Rahilly and H. Duncan Hall, regularly cited the South African settlement of 1910 in support of the Treaty.82 In 1921, he wrote to General de Wet, 79 Mansergh, Unresolved Question, 34, 82, and 103; Lord Longford and Thomas P. O’ Neill, Eamon de Valera (London: Houghton Mifflin, 1970), 130, 135, and 171; and Thomas Jones, Whitehall Diary, I: 1916–25 (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), 120–25, 130–32, and 140. 80 Winston S. Churchill, The World Crisis: The Aftermath (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1929), 347 and 349. 81 Churchill, World Crisis, 336. 82 Michael Collins, The Path to Freedom (Dublin: Talbot, 1922), 89; Alfred O’Rahilly, The Case for the Treaty (Dublin: Eason and Son, c. 1922); H. Duncan Hall, The British Commonwealth of Nations (London: Methuen, 1920); and David Harkness, ‘Britain and the Independence of the Dominions: The 1921 Crossroads’, in T. W Moody, ed., Nationality and the Pursuit of National Independence (Belfast: Appletree, 1978), 158.



his hero, assuring him of his respect. ‘You were right to accept the Treaty’, de Wet advised him: ‘Freedom will enable you to become strong and to organise yourselves’.83 A year later, however, Collins was killed in an ambush by irregular forces. ‘We have lost our young Louis Botha’, Casement lamented to Smuts.84 Ireland now sorely needed statesmanship and moderate leadership, ‘one hour of Botha’, to solve the crisis, opined Lionel Curtis, who had been involved in the Treaty negotiations.85 Collins’s death marked a tragic end to the Louis Botha analogy, but the Anglo-Irish settlement continued to be framed by the South African experience. Judge Feetham of the South African Supreme Court, and formerly of Milner’s Kindergarten, fatefully chaired the Boundary Commission which defined the Irish border. In the 1920s and early 1930s, the Irish Free State and the Union of South Africa formed what Vincent Massey, the Canadian High Commissioner in London, called ‘a fellowship of disaffection’. These years were marked by cooperation in securing the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and the Statute of Westminster of 1931. South Africa, although the least Irish and least Catholic of the dominions, was the one with which Irish nationalists felt the greatest affinity.86 The Union was the least monarchical of the dominions, and it contained the most republicans. Irish nationalists warmed to Afrikaners who disdained imperial titles and who, almost alone in the Commonwealth, included, like themselves, not a few guerrilla commandants-turned-parliamentarians. Moreover, like Ireland, politics in South Africa was fractured along similar lines, among those who had fought their republican former comrades in support of the imperial connection embodied in a divisive Treaty, as well as the presence of financially powerful loyalists profoundly attached to imperial symbols and fearful of their minority position within the white electorate. The state visit to Dublin in 1930 of General J. B. M. Hertzog was marked by considerable mutual 83 Donal P. McCracken, The Irish Pro-Boers, 1877–1902 (Johannesburg: Perskor, 1989), 169. 84 State Archives, Pretoria, Smuts papers, A1/208/43, Casement to Smuts, 24 May 1923. 85 Peatling, British Opinion, 163. 86 See David Harkness, The Restless Dominion: The Irish Free State and the British Commonwealth of Nations, 1921–31 (Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1969); Deirdre McMahon, Republicans and Imperialists: Anglo-Irish Relations in the 1930s (London: Yale University Press, 1984): and Paul Canning, British Policy Towards Ireland, 1921–41 (London: Clarendon, 1985).

234  D. LOWRY

admiration and nostalgia for the days when they were anti-imperialist guerrilla comrades-in-arms.87 Despite Ireland becoming an absentee member of the Commonwealth after De Valera’s ascendancy in 1932 and the declaration of a republic in 1949, there continued to be South African influences in Anglo-Irish relations. In the 1930s, Afrikaner nationalists took a keen interest in Irish attitudes to the Commonwealth, believing that ‘Ireland might point the way’ for them, heightening British fears of South African neutrality in 1939, following the Irish example. Smuts, meanwhile, continued to warn that if Ireland hived off from the Commonwealth, South Africa would be sure to follow.88 The sentimental aspect of the relationship lasted until the end of the 1950s, when the Irish Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, while regretting the fact that Ireland was now forced to take the South African government to task over its apartheid policies, stated nonetheless that they had enjoyed a ‘long relationship marked by mutual sympathy’.89 The Commonwealth dimension to the Irish question had not entirely died. In 1997, following the cessation of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1990s, an Independent International Commission on Decommissioning was established, which was chaired by a Canadian general, John de Chastelain, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the Secretary General of the African National Congress and subsequently South African President, who was charged, together with the former president of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari, with verifying the decommissioning of paramilitary arms. In 1998, the Commission of Inquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings, chaired by Lord Saville, included Judge Sir Edward Somers of New Zealand who, following his resignation in 2000 for personal reasons, was replaced by Judge John Toohey of Australia. The Commission also included William Hoyt, a retired Chief Justice of New Brunswick, while Peter Cory, a former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, was appointed by the British and Irish governments to examine other controversial murders dating from the Troubles.90

87 ‘Arrival

of General Hertzog’, Irish Times, 1 November 1930. Lowry, ‘The Captive Dominion: Imperial Realities behind Irish Diplomacy’, Irish Historical Studies 36 (2008), 202–26. 89 Donal Lowry, ‘A Long Relationship Marked by Mutual Sympathy’, Irish Times, 21 April 1991. 90 McLaughlin, Irish Canadian Conflict, 4–5. 88 Donal



Thus ‘The separate strands of Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English influences and responses run through empire in highly illuminating ways’, as John MacKenzie has astutely written: ‘The identities of the four nations were themselves modified in the process and, in the twenty-first century, still show marks of that imperial experience’.91 The dominion dimensions of the Anglo-Irish settlement would appear amply to justify this observation.

91 John M. MacKenzie, ‘General Editor’s Introduction’, in Kate O’Malley, ed., Ireland, India and Empire: Indo-Irish Radical Connections, 1919–64 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008), ix.


Pro-Empire Sentiment in Twentieth-Century Scotland Before Decolonisation Esther Breitenbach

Among his many contributions to the study of the impact of empire on the metropolitan British population, John MacKenzie has highlighted Scotland’s role in the Empire and its place within constructions of national identity.1 This chapter further investigates the

1 John

M. MacKenzie, ‘David Livingstone: The Construction of the Myth’, in Graham Walker and Tom Gallagher, eds., Sermons and Battle Hymns: Protestant Popular Culture in Modern Scotland (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1990), 24–42; ‘The Provincial Geographical Societies in Britain, 1884–1914’, in Morag Bell, Robin Butlin, and Michael Heffernan, eds., Geography and Imperialism 1820–1940 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), 93–124; ‘Empire and National Identities: The Case of Scotland’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Sixth Series, VIII (1998), 215–31; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘“The Second City of Empire”: Glasgow—Imperial Municipality’, in Felix Driver and David Gilbert, eds., Imperial Cities (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), 215–37.

E. Breitenbach (*)  University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



Scottish experience, focusing on the articulation of pro-empire sentiment in Scottish civil society in the first half of the twentieth century.2 Specifically, it examines the presence of ‘empire societies’ in Scotland, the promotion of imperial trade by the Scottish business community and civic celebrations of empire as manifested in ‘Freedom of the City’ awards to colonial figures. The evidence discussed here focuses on major Scottish cities, although public expression of pro-empire sentiment was not confined to urban areas. It should also be noted that, although the focus here, such sentiment was not universally shared by Scots. As elsewhere in Britain, anti-imperial and anti-colonial sentiment was a persistent presence within the trade union and labour movement.3 The British Empire was present in the lives of Scots in numerous ways, from the role of Scots regiments in colonial wars to political debates about imperial affairs; from scientific interests aroused by exploration to reports of Presbyterian missions in Africa, India, and elsewhere; and from the commercial interests of Clydeside shipping ­ companies and Dundee jute manufacturers to patterns of consumption reliant on imperial imports.4 In the interwar years, the scale of emigration from Scotland, a matter of much public discussion, reinforced connections to the colonies of settlement. Support to prospective emigrants was offered by churches and empire societies, as well as by dominion ­governments.5 Nonetheless, such connections in themselves do not tell us what people thought about empire, among the many competing concerns of their lives. In considering specifically organisations and activities to which the Empire was central, and which thus represented a voluntary 2 The support of the ESRC (Award No: RES-062-23-1790) in funding the research, on which this chapter draws, is gratefully acknowledged. The contribution of Lesley Orr, as Research Associate, is also gratefully acknowledged. 3 Esther Breitenbach, ‘For Workers’ Rights and Self-Determination? The Scottish Labour Movement and the British Empire from the 1920s to the 1960s’, Scottish Labour History 51 (2016), 113–33. 4 See Edward M. Speirs, The Scottish Soldier and Empire, 1854–1902 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006); Esther Breitenbach, Empire and Scottish Society: The Impact of Foreign Missions at Home c. 1790–c. 1914 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009); John M. MacKenzie, and T. M. Devine, eds., Scotland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); and Jim Tomlinson, Dundee and Empire: ‘Juteopolis’ 1850–1939 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014). 5 Marjory Harper, Scotland No More? The Scots Who Left Scotland in the Twentieth Century (Edinburgh: Luath Press, 2012).



engagement with empire, this chapter aims to investigate the impact and meaning of empire outside formal parliamentary politics and across a range of public fora. There were other, and sometimes inter-related, ways in which proempire sentiment was articulated during this period, such as the celebration of Empire Day, claims of ‘empire patriotism‘, and pro-empire events such as pageants. As was the case elsewhere in the UK, Empire Day began to be celebrated in Scotland prior to the First World War.6 In Edinburgh, the Victoria League (VL) promoted its celebration in board schools, while Glasgow gave a ‘civic lead for the first time’ in 1909, with flags flying from public buildings, pennons on trams, and harbour shipping ‘gay with bunting’.7 The flying of flags from public buildings, ceremonial events focused on saluting the flag and the singing of the national anthem and other patriotic songs at schools became the main ways in which Empire Day was recognised. Its celebration in Scotland, however, varied across localities; it was not universally adopted in Scottish schools and was not always a local holiday. It attracted criticism from some quarters, while its supporters tended to be drawn from the aristocracy, the armed forces, and Unionist circles. After the First World War, uniformed youth organisations—the Boys’ Brigade, Girls’ Guildry, Brownies, Girl Guides, and Boy Scouts—played a more prominent part in the ceremonies.8 In the interwar years, Empire Day became a focus for recognition of the dominions as wartime allies and for commemoration. In the troubled atmosphere of economic crisis and class division in the 1930s, however, Empire Day became more explicitly associated with Unionism and a renewed militarism. Despite the importance of wartime

6 See J. O. Springhall, ‘Lord Meath, Youth and Empire’, Journal of Contemporary History 5 (1970), 97–111; Jim English, ‘Empire Day in Britain, 1904–1958’, Historical Journal 49 (2006), 247–76; and Brad Beavan, and John Griffiths, ‘The City and Imperial Propaganda: A Comparative Study of Empire Day in England, Australia, and New Zealand c. 1903– 1914’, Journal of Urban History 42 (2015), 377–95. There is no in-depth study of this phenomenon in Scotland; the summary given here draws on searches of the Aberdeen Journal, Dundee Courier, the Scotsman and Glasgow Herald between 1900 and 1950. 7 Victoria League, The Victoria League in Scotland (1957); and Aberdeen Journal, 25 May 1909. 8 For critical responses see, for example, reports in the Scotsman, 2 June 1908; Dundee Courier, 3 March 1910; Scotsman, 18 January 1910; Scotsman, 15 May 1917; Scotsman, 16 July 1925; and Scotsman, 28 June 1938.


alliances across the Empire during the Second World War, Empire Day was not revived in any significant way after 1945.9 The ‘empire patriotism‘ of Empire Day was also manifested in the names adopted by organisations such as the Women’s Guild of Empire (WGE) and the Junior Imperialist League, the youth movement of the Conservative and Unionist Party.10 The WGE, notwithstanding its title, was neither primarily focused on the promotion of empire nor an informed commentator on imperial affairs, although it promoted women’s emigration to Canada in the late 1920s, mounted an empire pageant in Edinburgh in 1927 and had links to Adela Pankhurst’s Australian sister organisation.11 It was rabidly anti-Bolshevik and anti-trade union, with its highest profile manifested in the mobilisation of women in a mass anti-General-Strike demonstration in London in April 1926.12 The WGE pageant was one of a smattering of such events that took place in Scotland between 1925 and 1939.13 Other examples included an empire pageant organised in 1925 by the Women’s Rural Institutes (WRI) of Alford and Tough in Donside, Aberdeenshire, which was directly stimulated by the Wembley Empire Exhibition of 1924; a pageant at Stracathro, Angus, in 1930; a ‘Pageant of Empire’ organised by

9 Exceptions were an ‘all-youth’ parade in Aberdeen in 1945 and an ‘Empire Day youth and sports pageant’ at Pittodrie Park, Aberdeen in 1947. See Aberdeen Journal, 28 May 1945; and 24 May 1947. 10 I. G. C. Hutchison, ‘Scottish Unionism Between the Two World Wars’, in C. M. M. Macdonald, ed., Unionist Scotland 1800–1997 (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1998), 73–99. 11 Formed in 1920 by former Women’s Social and Political Union activists Flora Drummond and Elsie Bowerman, it aimed to recruit working-class women. It has been little researched. Scotsman, 18 July 1927, 25 March 1927, and 2 and 9 May 1928; and David Mitchell, The Fighting Pankhursts (London: Jonathan Cape, 1967), passim. 12 See, for example, Aberdeen Journal, 12, 14, and 19 April, 1926. Mitchell indicates that Drummond incorporated ‘Empire’ into the Guild’s title ‘as a protest against the growing and regrettable tendency to sneer at patriotism and worship the mad mirage of international working-class brotherhood’. Mitchell, Fighting Pankhursts, 164. Stephen Constantine has similarly noted ‘imperialism’ as signifying opposition to socialism in this period. See Stephen Constantine, ‘“Bringing the Empire alive”: The Empire Marketing Board and Imperial Propaganda, 1926–33’, in John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 192–231. 13 I am grateful to Dr. Linda Fleming for information about empire pageants. See www.



the British-Israel World Federation in Edinburgh in 1937; and an empire pageant organised by the Meigle WRI in 1939.14 The most prominent empire pageant from this period, however, was the play ‘Scottish Pioneers of Empire’, which was performed during the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow in 1938.15 Linda Fleming has noted that historical pageants with an empire theme were rare in comparison with the ‘popular, pre-union Scottish history commonly celebrated in pageants north of the border’.16 And, indeed, these examples suggest the selection of empire as a pageant theme was usually driven by individual or local enthusiasms, or associated with somewhat eccentric organisations, such as the WGE and British-Israel World Federation. Such expressions of ‘empire patriotism‘ often did not go beyond the platitudinous, and they can be hard to separate out from broader patriotic sentiments.17 Representations of empire in pageants tended to follow a pattern: the colonies of settlement were most prominent, Africa was associated with missionaries, and India associated either with the ‘exotic’ or with the ‘Mutiny’ of 1857, in which Scottish regiments had played a celebrated role. Some Empire Day activities attempted to ­educate and inform, particularly via speeches to adolescent schoolboys who might aspire to imperial careers. The content of these addresses to children combined moral exhortation, patriotic sentiment, pronouncements on the responsibilities of citizenship, and information about the history and geography of the Empire. Thus, a more informed and ­educated understanding of the Empire made some contribution to ceremonial and symbolic representation, often through the efforts of members of the empire societies or civic leaders who drew on their experience of imperial careers or travel.

14 Donside Institutes, Souvenir of Empire Pageant, Tough: 1 January 1925. Alford: 22 August 1925; [accessed 30 May 2017]; Scotsman, 4 November 1937; and Dundee Courier, 20 May 1939. 15 Glasgow Herald, 1 June 1938. 16 [accessed 30 May 2017]. 17 As argued by Andrew S. Thompson, ‘The Language of Imperialism and the Meanings of Empire: Imperial Discourse in British Politics, 1895–1914’, Journal of British Studies 36 (1997), 147–77.


1  The Empire Societies in Scotland Previous studies have identified a wide range of societies with ­imperial connections or interests.18 Many were based in London, which, as the most populous city in Britain and as the imperial capital, was most likely to support such organisations. A sustained interest in empire was also manifested in other cities, however.19 There were several s­elf-identified ‘empire societies‘ in Scotland, all part of wider British, and imperial networks, including the VL, the Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL), and the Royal Empire Society (RES).20 The VL was established in Scotland prior to the First World War, whereas the ROSL was founded between the wars. They were later joined by the RES, which, although the oldest of the societies (founded as the Colonial Society in 1868), had no branches in Scotland until after the Second World War. Other organisations such as the Navy League and National Service League, characterised by MacKenzie as imperial propagandists, also had a presence in Scotland.21 Moreover, many other organisations and institutions, including Presbyterian churches and learned societies such as the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, commented from time to time on imperial affairs or engaged with the Empire as part of their wider spheres of action without having it as their central focus.22 The specific aims of the VL, the ROSL, and the RES, however, marked them out as having a primary focus on the British Empire. Founded in 1901, the VL aimed to encourage closer relations between ‘FellowBritons at Home and Overseas’, to ‘spread knowledge of the different

18 John M. MacKenzie’s Propaganda and Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986) was the starting point for an ever-expanding literature. 19 MacKenzie, ‘The Second City of Empire’; Sheryllyne Haggerty, Anthony Webster, and Nicholas J. White, eds., The Empire in One City? Liverpool’s Inconvenient Imperial Past (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008); Beavan, and Griffiths, ‘The City and Imperial Propaganda’; and Brad Beaven, Visions of Empire: Patriotism, Popular Culture and the City, 1870–1939 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012). 20 The English-Speaking Union, also designated an ‘empire society’, had a presence in Scotland, but did not play a significant role. 21 MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire. These organisations were listed in Post Office directories; Scottish branches have not been the subject of in-depth study. 22 MacKenzie, ‘Provincial Geographical Societies’.



parts of the Empire’ and to ‘organise mutual Hospitality’.23 Eliza Riedi has noted the impact of the South African War on the formation of the League, which was headquartered in London and had branches throughout the Empire.24 Scottish branches were established in Nairn in 1902 and subsequently in St Andrews, Edinburgh, Dundee.25 The Edinburgh branch became the centre of the League’s activities in Scotland. While the League was a mixed-sex organisation, its membership was largely female; its founders were, like the London organisers, for the most part titled ladies.26 The VL described itself as a ‘non-party’ organisation; as empire supporters, its members’ political sympathies would have been Unionist, whether Conservative or Liberal.27 Before the First World War, the League’s main activities were the promotion of Empire Day in board schools, offering hospitality to visitors from the dominions, promoting women’s emigration, and sending literature to emigrants. During the First World War, the provision of hospitality for dominion servicemen became the focal point of League activity, which was later repeated during the Second World War.28 Between the wars, the League continued to promote Empire Day, to host visitors from the dominions and to offer hospitality to visiting dignitaries, for example, in the form of receptions that were provided for the dominion premiers who received the freedom of Edinburgh in 1926 and 1931.29 The League also commemorated dominion servicemen who had died in Edinburgh during the First World War by placing flowers on their graves 23 Victoria League in Scotland, Annual Report, 1915, 2, National Library of Scotland [NLS], Acc. 13058/7. 24 Eliza Riedi, ‘Women, Gender, and the Promotion of Empire: The Victoria League, 1901–1914’, Historical Journal 45 (2002), 569–99. 25 Victoria League in Scotland; and Dundee Courier, 6 May 1918. 26 For example, Lady Wallace, the Countess of Moray, Lady Helen Munro Ferguson, Lady Susan Gordon Gilmour, Lady Grainger Stuart and her daughter Alice. Victoria League, Victoria League in Scotland. 27 Matthew Hendley stresses the Victoria League’s non-partisan character, noting that in the interwar years some Labour Party figures, such as Ethel Snowden, were on its London Executive Committee. Matthew Hendley, Organized Patriotism and the Crucible of War: Popular Imperialism in Britain, 1914–1932 (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012). 28 Glasgow Herald, 14 February 1918; and Dundee Courier, 6 May 1918. 29 Scotsman, 25 November 1926 and 20 November 1930; and Victoria League Annual Reports, 1927, 1931. NLS: Acc. 13058/7.


and wreaths outside the City Chambers on Anzac Day and Dominion Day.30 After the Second World War, the extension of hospitality to the dominions was adapted to the British Commonwealth of Nations.31 Although the League attracted between 800 and 900 volunteers during both wars, its membership in Scotland was never very large. Between the wars, the Edinburgh branch had around 200 members. The years immediately after the Second World War did see some expansion, as new branches were established in Galloway, St Andrews, Dumfriesshire, East Lothian, Fife, Glasgow, and the West of Scotland, Nairnshire, Roxburghshire, and Aberdeenshire, and in 1949, a VL Standing Committee for Scotland was formed.32 This period of expansion was brief, although in 1965 there were still fourteen branches across Scotland.33 After the Second World War, the League increasingly devoted itself to providing hospitality for overseas students from developing countries as well as from the dominions; by the 1980s, its work was almost exclusively with postgraduate students from developing countries.34 The ROSL was established in London as the Over-Seas Club in 1910.35 Its founder, Evelyn Wrench, aimed to form ‘a great non-party society for promoting the unity of the Empire’ as a method of ‘practical imperialism’.36 It had branches across the Empire as well as the UK. Wrench’s sister Winifride came to Edinburgh in 1927 in order to 30 Victoria League Annual Reports for 1921, 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1935. NLS: Acc. 13058/7. 31 The Victoria League reformulated its objectives to include the spreading of ‘Knowledge of the different parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire’, the organisation of ‘mutual Hospitality’, and securing ‘a Welcome for British Subjects throughout the Commonwealth and Empire’. Victoria League Annual Report, 1947. NLS: Acc. 13058/7. 32 The annual report gave some membership figures: for example, eighty members in Galloway and thirty-six in Roxburghshire. Victoria League Annual Report, 1950. NLS: Acc. 13058/7; and Aberdeen Press and Journal, 20 July 1950. 33 Victoria League Annual Report, 1965. NLS: Acc. 13058/7. 34 The League still exists as the Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship. Its activities in Scotland appear to consist of awarding grants for ‘the kinds of causes the League has always endorsed, ones that offer a warm welcome to overseas visitors to Scotland and help those visitors connect to and understand our culture’. [accessed 28 May 2017]. 35 A Royal Charter was granted in 1922. 36 Royal Over-Seas League, The Royal Over-Seas League 1910–1960 (London, 1960), 10.



establish a branch there.37 In 1930, the ROSL acquired premises at 100 Princes Street (where it is still located), providing a lounge and reading rooms for men and women.38 John Bridges, Wrench’s successor as secretary, further developed the League in Scotland. Activities included educational initiatives, hospitality to overseas visitors, and the promotion of travel, tourism, emigration, and imperial trade. The ROSL cooperated with the Empire Marketing Board (EMB) in organising events in Edinburgh and took part in a trade mission to Canada in 1932.39 It also promoted sports and leisure clubs, lectures and discussion groups, social events and fundraising for empire charities. Like the VL, the ROSL frequently hosted groups from the dominions as well as receptions for visiting dignitaries. Bridges created an ‘Empire Film Library’ and hired cinemas across Scotland for screenings for school pupils, and also built up a network of forty-one centres across Scotland, though few were true branches. A Glasgow and the West of Scotland branch was established in the 1930s, with premises in Glasgow’s Exchange Square, and Dundee had a branch from around 1933 until 1960.40 Like the Edinburgh and Glasgow branches, the latter assisted in the provision of hospitality during the Second World War. As well as running the clubs for servicemen, female members of the ROSL contributed to the war effort by making garments for servicemen and by supplying books and periodicals to ships’ libraries, hospitals, and military bases across Scotland. In the post-1945 period, the ROSL supported a Child Migration Scheme in cooperation with the New Zealand government and also supported child migration to Australia. The Edinburgh Club hosted a ‘Dominion Circle’ discussion group and held regular talks on Commonwealth themes. With the inauguration of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947, the Club provided daily ‘at home’ events for visitors from the colonies and dominions. This moment marked a reorientation of the ROSL towards arts and culture, which was 37 Much of the account of ROSL’s activities here is based on the Edinburgh ROSL office’s archive, consulted by Lesley Orr. 38 This continued the practice established at earlier premises in North Charlotte Street. The ROSL provided the ‘first mixed club’ in the city. Scotsman, 29 March 1929. 39 Scotsman, 6 May 1932. 40 Glasgow Herald, 21 May 1936 and 6 May 1936; and Smith, Royal Over-Seas League. The Glasgow premises closed in 1966. Dundee information derived from listings in Dundee and District Post Office directories.


to evolve into a strategy of promoting young musical and artistic talent from the Commonwealth. At the same time, the League attempted to foster education about and interest in the Commonwealth through an annual essay competition for schools. The ROSL had a considerably larger membership than the VL; by 1936, it had 4740 members, 1536 in Glasgow and the West of Scotland and 3204 in Edinburgh and eastern Scotland.41 Like the VL, the ROSL’s membership increased during the Second World War, reaching 4500 in Edinburgh in 1943.42 By the late 1940s, there were around 7000 members in Edinburgh and over 10,000 across Scotland.43 Adele Smith has noted that the League developed rapidly in Scotland, ‘perhaps because of the Scottish origins of so many Commonwealth members’.44 Its popularity reflected patterns of Scottish emigration, as well as the prominent presence of Scots in colonial and military service. Like the VL, the ROSL enjoyed the patronage of prominent Scottish aristocrats, of leading establishment figures such as the novelist and politician John Buchan and of civic leaders, university professors, and church ministers. The Colonial Institute, founded in 1868, became the RES in 1928 and then in 1958 the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS). In its latter two incarnations, it had a presence in Scotland. Early in the century, there were attempts to set up centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Inverness appears to have had a branch in 1917.45 Promotional work by the Society resulted in a series of lectures at Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities in 1916 and a further series at Edinburgh University in 1920, but a subsequent attempt to establish a branch in 1925 was unsuccessful.46 It was only in 1954 that an Edinburgh branch was formed.47

41 Glasgow

Herald, 21 May 1936. Annual Report, 1943. 43 Scotsman, 24 May 1947. 44 Smith, Royal Over-Seas League, 109. 45 See Scotsman, 27 October 1909, 20 December 1910, 4 June 1913, 24 July 1915, 11 August 1915, and 1 August 1917. 46 Scotsman, 18 January 1916, 7 November 1916, 15 November 1916, 4 February 1920, 11 February 1920, 18 February 1920, 28 February 1920, 3 March 1920, and 11 December 1925. 47 Edinburgh Branch Annual Report, 1954. Miscellaneous papers from branches: Royal Commonwealth Society Archive, Cambridge University Library [hereafter RCS Archive]. 42 ROSL



Its membership grew to nearly 300 during the 1960s, and in 1969, the Edinburgh branch was permitted to ‘extend their boundaries to include the whole of Scotland, and in future to be known as the RCS in Scotland’.48 In the 1970s, membership continued to expand, reaching a high point of 989 for the whole of Scotland in 1979.49 By the 1980s, however, RCS activities in Scotland were in decline. RCS branch activities encompassed talks on colonial issues, hospitality to overseas students, and an essay competition in schools. Speakers at the Society’s public talks included politicians, former colonial administrators, and academics. Membership in Scotland remained relatively small and concentrated in Edinburgh. Leading members tended to have colonial backgrounds or expertise, although the organisation also had the endorsement of civic leaders, who were concerned to promote good relations between the local community and visitors from the Commonwealth. Also founded in 1954 was a Scottish branch of the Commonwealth Institute.50 The initiative to establish it came from the Commonwealth Institute in London, but the Scottish branch was self-governing. The main focus of its work was schools, although it also organised conferences in colleges and universities. Its activities continued until 1996. The establishment of the RCS and the Commonwealth Institute in Scotland in the 1950s, which coincided with an increase in the membership of the established ‘empire societies‘, suggests that the idea of the multiracial Commonwealth met with active approval from sections of Scottish society, and that the idea of friendship and hospitality continued to motivate groups that had arisen from an older idea of empire. The transition to educational and cultural activities was also part of a wider trend among such organisations in Britain, which both acknowledged a link with the imperial past, and ‘promoted the idea of the Commonwealth as a creative outcome of decolonization’.51

48 Scottish

Branch Annual Report, 1969. RCS Archive. Branch Annual Report, 1969. RCS Archive. 50 Information about the Commonwealth Institute, Scotland, communicated in interview with Professor Emeritus George Shepperson, 17 March 2011. 51 James Porter, ‘Empire to Commonwealth: A Cultural Dimension’, The Round Table 96 (2007), 441. 49 Scottish


2  Trade and Commerce Despite the vicissitudes of the global economy in the interwar years, the Empire increased its share of trade with Britain from around 30 per cent of imports in 1926 to 39 per cent in 1939.52 Active efforts were made by business interests in Scotland to promote imperial trade, as local Chambers of Commerce hosted speakers on empire-related s­ubjects, received trade missions from representatives of the dominions, and circulated information in their publications about imperial matters.53 Events which specifically aimed to promote imperial trade in Scotland were prompted by the example of the Wembley Exhibition of 1924–5, in which there was Scottish participation: the Edinburgh-based North British Rubber Company designed a ‘North British’ Rubber Garden for the exhibition and trips to the exhibition for Scottish schoolchildren were encouraged.54 In 1925, an Empire Food Exhibition proposed by the Edinburgh Exhibitions Association did not come to fruition, possibly because it failed to secure backing from the Glasgow and Dundee Chambers of Commerce.55 The creation of the EMB in 1926, however, helped provide support, including billboard advertising, talks and lectures, and funding for research in Scotland, as part of its programme of UK-wide activities.56 In 1927, the EMB made its first public appearance in Scotland as the chief exhibitor at an Empire Exhibition in Edinburgh.57 Two years later, it participated in the Scottish Grocers’ and Allied Trades’ Exhibition, also in Edinburgh, in which a number of Britain’s colonies and dominions were represented.58 Later in 1929 at the Scottish Workers’ Trades and Crafts Exhibition in Edinburgh, the EMB fitted up a kitchen with 52 Constantine,

‘Bringing the Empire Alive’, 222. of Commerce in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, for example, published journals, yearbooks and occasional publications. 54 Journal of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Leith Chamber of Commerce, 3 July 1924 and 3 October 1924. 55 Scotsman, 8 May 1925 and 12 May 1925; and Dundee Chamber of Commerce Yearbook, 1926. 56 Constantine, ‘Bringing the Empire Alive’; and see coverage in Aberdeen Journal, 7 February 1927, 6 December 1927, and 18 July 1928; Dundee Courier, 22 October 1929; and Scotsman, 2 December 1927 and 17 July 1928. 57 Scotsman, 27 July 1927. 58 Scotsman, 2 May 1929. 53 Chambers



demonstrations of dishes cooked only with products from the Empire: ‘It is the Board’s claim that Imperialism and good housewifery can go hand in hand’.59 EMB films were screened by the Edinburgh Film Guild in 1931 and for children in local schools in 1932.60 The EMB also participated in a series of dominion and colonial exhibitions organised by the ROSL in the same year.61 Glasgow’s first Civic and Empire Exhibition was held in 1931.62 Sponsored by the City Council and organised in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and the EMB, the exhibition served both to promote Glasgow industries and to acquaint ‘Glasgow and the West of Scotland with the great opportunities for Empire trade’.63 Emphasising links between Clydeside and the Empire, shipbuilding firms featured prominently. To coincide with the exhibition, the Glasgow Herald published a special supplement ‘designed to enforce the main argument behind Civic and Empire Week’ and emphasising the ‘natural advantages’ of the city.64 Beyond Edinburgh and Glasgow, the EMB had an occasional presence. For example, a talk promoting ‘Empire Trade’ was given by Dr. Haden Guest and Winifride Wrench of the ROSL at the La Scala Cinema in Cupar in 1931, and in November the same year, the EMB participated in the Arbroath Merchants’ Association ‘Empire Shopping Week’.65 Complementing the activities of the EMB were various Chamber of Commerce publications. Issued in 1928, the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce brochure The Bonds of Trade argued that reciprocity was the ‘father of mutual prosperity’, and that the ‘Sister Nations forming the

59 Scotsman, 19 November 1929. This exhibition was held under the auspices of the Edinburgh Trades and Labour Council. See Scotsman, 20 November 1929. 60 At the Film Guild, the EMB films were paired somewhat incongruously with the German Expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Scotsman, 6 March 1931 and 23 January 1932. 61 Dundee Courier, 20 September 1932; and Scotsman, 6 December 1932. 62 Scotsman, 29 May 1931. See also MacKenzie, ‘The Second City of Empire’; Angus Mackenzie, ‘Self-Help and Propaganda: Scottish National Development Council, 1931– 1939’, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies 30 (2010), 123–45. 63 Glasgow Civic and Empire Exhibition. Official Catalogue. Glasgow Corporation, 1931. 64 Glasgow Herald, 28 May 1931. 65 Dundee Courier, 26 March 1931 and 3 November 1931.


British Commonwealth are interdependent’.66 In 1934, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce collectively published Trade and Commerce Between Scotland and the Empire, in order ‘to tell the Empire about Scottish products’.67 That the key aim of the Chambers of Commerce was to project Scotland’s industrial strengths is highlighted by the section on ‘Edinburgh and Her Coal Industry’, an unusual presentation of the city’s image.68 Such initiatives can be taken as indicative of the growing interest in imperial trade as a means of relieving Scotland’s economic problems, and of a growing recognition of the need to promote Scottish products and industries abroad. Scotland was seen as suffering from too little trade coming directly to Scottish ports and from not being well represented at British industrial fairs in locations such as London and Birmingham.69 Furthermore, a Scottish Economic Committee had been established by the Secretary of State for Scotland to explore how to improve economic conditions in Scotland. It was out of these kinds of initiatives that the 1938 Empire Exhibition emerged. Much has been written about the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1938, on its modernism and architectural innovations, its entertainments, and its representations of Scottish national identity and of empire.70 As John MacKenzie has argued, the Exhibition linked Scottish regeneration to imperial markets and projected Glasgow’s claim to be a city of global status.71 Ironically, it was not originally intended to be 66 Glasgow

Chamber of Commerce, The Bonds of Trade (1928), 2. Chambers of Commerce, Trade and Commerce Scotland and the Empire (1934), 3. The participating Chambers were Aberdeen, Dundee, Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greenock, Kirkcaldy, Leith, and South of Scotland. A search of the Google newspapers archive indicated further such publications in 1936, 1939, and 1940. 68 The Journal claimed it could be ‘safely stated that certain of the colliery companies have sufficient coal to maintain their present rates of production for three or four hundred years’. Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Trade and Commerce, 42. 69 See, for example, Journal of Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, April 1935; and Mackenzie, ‘Self-Help and Propaganda’. 70 Perilla and Juliet Kinchin, Glasgow’s Great Exhibitions (Wendlebury, Bicester, Oxon: White Cockade, 1988); Alastair Borthwick, The Empire Exhibition Fifty Years On: A Personal Reminiscence (Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1988); Bob Crampsey, The Empire Exhibition of 1938: The Last Durbar (Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1988); MacKenzie, ‘Second City of the Empire’; and Sarah Britton, ‘Urban Futures/Rural Pasts: Representing Scotland in the 1938 Glasgow Empire Exhibition’, Cultural and Social History 8 (2011), 213–32. 71 MacKenzie, ‘Second City of the Empire’. 67 Scottish



an Empire Exhibition as such. Rather, its organisers had hoped to stage an international exhibition, but were prevented from doing so by the internationally-agreed regulations of 1928.72 Furthermore, British government support was dependent on the Exhibition having an imperial focus.73 The Exhibition drew support from across Scotland. The formal proposal for it came from the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, while other cities and local newspapers also supported it.74 Many Scottish companies sponsored pavilions or exhibits.75 Also represented were the Scottish Trades Union Congress, who shared a pavilion with the TUC to illustrate ‘the advantages of trade union action’.76 The Church of Scotland, the Catholic Church, the Episcopalian Church, and the Christian Scientists all had pavilions. The ‘home’ exhibits—those from the UK—took up far more space than did the dominion and colonial pavilions, with the latter occupying less than a quarter of the site.77 The Scottish pavilions featured engineering and other industries, fishing and agriculture, health and fitness, town planning and housing, infant welfare, and transport.78 There was also a Hall of History and a Highland clachan; the latter proved the most popular exhibit.79 As Sarah Britton has indicated, many of the exhibitors from the dominions and colonies came on board at a relatively late stage, and some of their contributions were so limited that they shared a pavilion. The only representation of India, for example, appears to have been in the Empire Tea Pavilion.80 Apart from the individual territories, other aspects of empire were represented, such as in the Women of Empire 72 As stated in 1936 by Cecil Weir, convener of the Exhibition Committee. Glasgow Herald, 6 October 1936. 73 Britton, ‘Urban Futures/Rural Pasts’. 74 See Glasgow Herald, 6 October 1936; and Britton, ‘Urban Futures/Rural Pasts’. 75 Kinchin and Kinchin, Glasgow’s Great Exhibitions. 76 STUC Annual Report, 1938, 63. The Glasgow Trades Council proposed that the STUC approach the TUC about a Trade Union Pavilion at the Exhibition. The STUC’s commemorative brochure, Scottish Trade Union Congress Souvenir: Empire Exhibition Glasgow 1938, gave an account of the history and work of the STUC. 77 Britton, ‘Urban Futures/Rural Pasts’; Borthwick, Empire Exhibition Fifty Years On. 78 Empire Exhibition Official Guide (1938). 79 Britton, ‘Urban Futures/Rural Pasts’. 80 Britton, ‘Urban Futures/Rural Pasts’; and Kinchin and Kinchin, Glasgow’s Great Exhibitions.


pavilion, which contained displays by the Women’s League of Health and handicrafts made by ‘Countrywomen’s Associations from across the Empire’.81 There was also a Peace Pavilion, which aimed to ‘illustrate the peaceful aspirations of the British Commonwealth’.82 While the Exhibition was running, many organisations hosted events at the exhibition site or elsewhere in Glasgow. This included a WGE Conference, an Empire Development Conference, a Scottish Business Clubs Conference, a Peace Congress, a Women’s International League Conference, and a Scout pageant at Ibrox Stadium, as well as an anti-imperial counter-exhibition organised by the Independent Labour Party.83 A major aspect of the exhibition was the projection of Scottish identity, some renditions of which were associated with empire.84 The Donaldson Atlantic Line produced a brochure entitled A Welcome to the Homecoming Scot, which encouraged ‘the returning Scot’ to ‘keep the name of Scotland evergreen’.85 Historian J. D. Mackie outlined the Scottish contribution to Empire in the Glasgow Herald’s special supplement.86 He described the Scots as ‘an imperial people’, who after earlier failures engaged successfully with the Empire after the Union of 1707 as ‘administrators, soldiers, merchants and missionaries’.87 Similarly depicting the Scottish contribution to empire was the play ‘Scottish Pioneers of Empire’, characterised in the Glasgow Herald as ‘full of pride and patriotism’.88 The story was told through ‘personal incidents in the lives of some of the principal pioneers’ and had scenes set in Darien, Canada, Australia, Africa, and India. 81 Empire Exhibition Scotland 1938: Official Catalogue (1938), 202. See also Kinchin and Kinchin, Glasgow’s Great Exhibitions; and Crampsey, Empire Exhibition. 82 Peace Pavilion Empire Exhibition Scotland (1938), 3. 83 Glasgow Herald, 13 June, 11 July, 15 August, 19 September, 24 September, and 17 October 1938. Sarah Britton has provided an account of the ILP exhibition in ‘“Come and See the Empire by the All-Red Route”: Anti-Imperialism and Exhibitions in Interwar Britain’, History Workshop Journal 69 (2010), 68–89. The Scout pageant is referred to in Crampsey, Empire Exhibition. 84 Britton, ‘Urban Futures/Rural Pasts’. 85 Donaldson Atlantic Line, A Welcome to the Homecoming Scot, Empire Exhibition Scotland (1938), 11. 86 MacKenzie, ‘The Second City of Empire’. 87 J. D. Mackie, ‘Building of the Empire: Great Part Played by Scotsmen’, Glasgow Herald—Empire Exhibition Special Supplement, 28 April 1938. 88 Glasgow Herald, 1 June 1938.



The 1938 Exhibition was in some ways less straightforwardly about empire than its predecessors, which had focused more directly on trade relations with the dominions and colonies. Visitors to the site at Bellahouston were offered a more diverse range of exhibits and entertainments, and the exhibition’s popularity therefore cannot automatically be read as evidence of widespread enthusiasm for empire. But it did articulate a discourse of pride in the Scottish contribution to empire, as well as a post-First-World-War conception of the British Commonwealth as a model for peaceful international relations.

3   Civic Honours and Empire Another aspect of civic life which highlighted links to empire was the award of freedom of cities, an honour with a long-standing tradition in Britain.89 In Scotland, Edinburgh led the way with 102 such awards between 1902 and 1950.90 Over a similar period, Glasgow conferred freedom upon over fifty people, Aberdeen on twenty-seven, and Dundee on twenty-nine individuals, as well as on 158 officers and soldiers of the Black Watch who fought in the South African War. There was a pronounced military and political cast to these awards, with generals, field-marshals, and admirals among the recipients, along with cabinet ministers, MPs, peers, and former Lord Provosts, although the awards also included businessmen, philanthropists, academics, scientists, churchmen, and women. Civic awards associated with empire primarily honoured those with a role in its governance. For example, Aberdeen recognised Lord Mount Stephen and his cousin Lord Strathcona for their contributions to Canadian development, specifically via the Canadian Pacific Railway, and for their endowments to Aberdeen University.91 Aberdeen also honoured

89 In Aberdeen its origins dated to the twelfth century, through the City’s Burgesses of Guild. 90 Information compiled from Freedom of the City of Edinburgh list (undated print-out, previously available on the Council’s website); Glasgow City Council, Freedom of the City Recipients, [accessed 20 June 2016]; Freedom of the City of Aberdeen, Aberdeen City Council (undated print-out, previously available on the Council’s website); and Dundee City Council, Lockit Buik, (Honorary) Burgess of the First Class, 1900–1971. I am grateful to the Dundee City Archivist for the latter. 91 Aberdeen Journal, 28 August 1901 and 10 April 1902.


Dr Robert Laws of Nyasaland, the sole missionary to be recognised.92 Most numerous among those honoured were dominion premiers, who often also received honorary degrees from Scottish universities. Awards to dominion premiers were much rarer outside Edinburgh, however. Aberdeen’s awards in 1937 coincided with George VI’s coronation and the Imperial Conference in London.93 Glasgow’s awards were curtailed by Labour’s dominance of the City Council from 1933 onwards; when William Forgan Smith was made an honorary burgess in 1936, it was the first award since Labour had achieved a majority.94 Notably, Forgan Smith had been a tradesman before emigrating to Australia and becoming a successful businessman. His award was in recognition of his services in ‘furthering trade’ and ‘advancing the interests of the city of Glasgow’.95 Common features of the speeches given by dominion premiers and statesmen were the recognition of Scottish contributions to empire-building, and expressions of affinity, friendship, and alliance. William Morris Hughes praised Scots as soldiers and as ‘most resolute pioneers’; Sir Robert Borden declared that ‘Scotland had indeed played a notable and worthy part in the upbuilding of the Empire’; and Richard Bennett, James Scullin, and George Forbes, the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, each ‘bore testimony to the part taken by Scottish settlers in the development of their respective countries’.96 Jan Smuts stressed that between South Africans and Scots ‘there are the ties of kinship in the distant past, of a common religious faith, of common moral ideals’.97 Referencing David Livingstone specifically, he asserted that Scotsmen were ‘probably the greatest pioneers of the modern world’.98 The nature of constitutional changes occurring in the empire was also featured in many speeches, particularly in reference to India and South Africa. Ceremonies in Edinburgh and Glasgow for Jan Smuts and Louis Botha reflected on the resolution of the differences between 92 Aberdeen

Journal, 27 September 1928. Journal, 5 June 1937. 94 Glasgow Herald, 7 May 1936. 95 As noted in the Glasgow Herald, 7 May 1936. 96 Scotsman, 28 April 1916, 12 April 1917, and 20 November 1930. 97 Dundee Courier, 18 October 1934. 98 Dundee Courier, 18 October 1934. 93 Aberdeen



former adversaries through the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.99 Smuts, ‘who had served against this country in the Boer War’, was praised, together with General Botha, for his part in reconciliation of ‘the British and Dutch elements in a united and peaceful community’.100 In Dundee’s award to Smuts in 1934, it was pointed out that the city had previously honoured soldiers who fought against South Africans in the war of 1899–1902.101 The Union, as a negotiated settlement which kept South Africa within the empire, was held up by Smuts as a model which might solve ‘the great problem of Indian government’ by taking the ‘inevitable’ step of conferring ‘self-government’.102 Discussion of India‘s constitutional status at civic ceremonies occurred primarily in Edinburgh, in the context of awards to colonial administrators and Indian leaders. Between 1905 and 1944, six colonial administrators of India were made honorary burgesses in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen. Their involvement in shaping new constitutional arrangements, which entailed a degree of devolution and Indian representation, was made clear in ceremonial speeches. Lord Minto, for example, thought the reforms he had overseen would strengthen British rule, with the help of the ‘loyal supporters’ among ‘the ruling chiefs’ and ‘great territorial magnates’ of India.103 In Aberdeen, the Government of India Act of 1919 was attributed largely to Lord Meston’s ‘masterly despatches and subsequent counsel in the House of Lords’.104 Among the Edinburgh awards, five were made to ‘Indian-born representatives of the people of India’.105 The recipients were Sir Ganga Singh Bahadur, Maharajah of Bikaner in 1917; Sir Bijay Chand Mahtab in 1926; the Nawab of Bhopal and V. S. Srinivasa Sastri in 1931; and the Maharajah of Patiala in 1935.106 All had served as representatives of India at various imperial conferences from 1917 onwards. They were thus representative of those Indian leaders whom ‘the British were 99 Scotsman,

11 April 1917 and 18 May 1918. 11 April 1917. 101 Dundee Courier, 19 October 1934. 102 Dundee Courier, 20 October 1934. 103 Scotsman, 29 April 1911. 104 Aberdeen Journal, 21 September 1935. 105 Scotsman, 4 October 1944. The first Indian to be given the Freedom of Edinburgh was Dwarkanath Tagore in 1842. See Scotsman, 31 August 1842. 106 The latter was unable to attend the ceremony, and his role was given little coverage. 100 Scotsman,


seeking to incorporate into their alliance network’ as limited devolution and representation was granted.107 The awards to Sastri and the Nawab of Bhopal in 1931 coincided with their presence in Britain as participants at the Round Table Conference. Professing loyalty to the Empire, they also articulated aspirations for Indian self-government. The Nawab of Bhopal ‘felt confident that Scots, who carried an intense national feeling with them to all parts of the world, would sympathise with the national aspirations of India’. The Round Table Conference, he believed, would lead to India ‘securing within the shortest possible period her due status of equality among the self-governing Dominions of the British Commonwealth of Nations’.108 Decisions regarding civic honours were usually unanimous, although in 1934 there was a rare protest by a Labour Councillor against the award to the current Viceroy of India Lord Willingdon, who was accused of typifying ‘British Imperialism’.109 Local politics influenced choices, as was made explicit in Forgan Smith’s case in Glasgow. Dundee’s award to Jan Smuts was linked to his Rectorship of St Andrews University, reflecting the city’s aspirations for University College Dundee, which was ‘conjoint’ with St Andrews.110 Imperial figures were more frequently honoured by Edinburgh than by the other cities, although Glasgow’s awards reflected the prominence of its trade and commerce, imperial, and otherwise. In Edinburgh, the civic conception of its status as capital appears to be key to its celebration of its links to empire; in the words of John Buchan, the city was ‘the capital of a mother nation of the Empire’.111 Such links were reinforced by Edinburgh’s claims to be the home of an ‘imperial’ university, with many graduates progressing to careers across the Empire. Reporting on the award of an honorary degree to Lord Willingdon, the Scotsman noted how appropriate this was for a university ‘whose sons serve India as teachers, missionaries,

107 Judith M. Brown, ‘India’, in Judith M. Brown and William Roger Louis, eds., Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume IV: The Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 430. 108 Scotsman, 10 January 1931. 109 Scotsman, 29 June 1934. 110 The Lord Provost’s referred to Smuts’ visit perhaps being ‘the starting point for the erection of the long-delayed new University College’. Dundee Courier, 20 October 1934. 111 Scotsman, 11 June 1935.



doctors, Civil Servants, and soldiers’.112 As ‘the most cosmopolitan of the Scottish universities’, it also attracted many students from the dominions, India, and Africa.113 Indeed, Indian students had been present at Edinburgh since the late nineteenth century and had established an Indian Association there in 1883. In 1930, there were 175 Indian students studying at Edinburgh, more than twice as many as at Glasgow.114 Such ceremonial occasions were more focused on the symbolic representation of the idea of empire than the pragmatic promotion of imperial trade, although the latter issue was addressed by some dominion premiers. As noted, affinity and alliance were important themes and expressions of loyalty to the Empire a typical component. Yet such occasions also provided a platform for public dialogue concerning constitutional change, such as the autonomy of the dominions or the more challenging negotiations regarding the governance of India. If Indian aspirations to self-government received some acknowledgement, the awards to colonial administrators effectively marked approval of government policy and condoned repressive actions taken on their watch, whether Willingdon’s declaration of a state of emergency and imprisonment of Congress Party supporters in 1931 or Linlithgow’s taking India into war without consultation in 1939, repression of the ‘Quit India’ campaign of 1942 and mishandling of the Bengal famine in 1943. Intended for public consumption, these ceremonies were projections of civic status and identity. Receptions were organised by the women of the VL and ROSL, and visitors were entertained by leading industrialists, Lord Provosts, and statesmen. As the details of platform parties given in newspaper coverage indicate, such events brought together a nexus of civic leaders and interests: local, national, and imperial politicians and administrators; academics; businessmen and industrialists; churchmen; and women from the same elite circles. The public to which they appealed were likely to have been largely middle class and to have given at least tacit approval of the pro-empire sentiment expressed.

112 Scotsman,

30 June 1934. D. Anderson, Michael Lynch, and Nicholas Phillipson, The University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2003), 132. 114 Scotsman, 14 February 1930. 113 Robert


4   Conclusion The interest of historians in the relevance of the Empire to Britain’s domestic history owes a great deal to John MacKenzie.115 The pro-­ empire sentiment articulated within the public fora described above might be defined as a positive attitude towards the British Empire and its peoples, as well as an expression of mutual connection and interest. It was, to be sure, a sanitised view of empire, and one which implicitly endorsed a system of racial hierarchy. And although engagement with empire may have been common in urban Scotland, there were clearly local variations. The empire societies had their main bases in Edinburgh, although they had branches and supporters in several parts of Scotland at different points. The promotion of imperial trade in the form of exhibitions and similar events occurred most frequently in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Aberdeen evinced some interest, stressing in particular its links with Canada. Dundee business circles seem to have been the least interested, notwithstanding the dominance of the jute industry in the city, a lack of enthusiasm probably resulting from the challenge of Indian competition and the failure of the Dundee jute barons to secure protective measures.116 As John MacKenzie has noted, Glasgow explicitly accorded itself the title of ‘Second City of the Empire’, a claim first articulated in the early nineteenth century and repeated through to the interwar years of the twentieth.117 Outside Scotland, other cities competed for this title, while the foundations of Glasgow’s claim were undermined by economic decline after the First World War. By this period, however, Glasgow’s economic links to empire were of long-standing significance, and the imperial connection still had visibility in the city, through the activity of its shipping lines, for example. Nonetheless, Edinburgh outdid Glasgow in some respects, notably in its awards of civic honours and in its concentration of membership in empire societies. This is not to contest Glasgow’s claim to be the leading ‘imperial’ city in Scotland, but rather to indicate that connections to empire were 115 Andrew Thompson, ‘Introduction’, in Andrew Thompson, ed., Britain’s Experience of Empire in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 116 Tomlinson quotes the Dundee Courier complaining that the government failure to protect the jute industry was ‘not the way to stimulate Empire sentiment’. Quoted in Tomlinson, Dundee and the Empire, 136. 117 MacKenzie, ‘The Second City of Empire’.



also strongly embedded within other civic contexts and played a part in the construction of local identities there. None of the phenomena discussed above were exclusive to Scotland. The VL and ROSL were empire-wide organisations, and other British cities honoured dominion premiers and other imperial figures. Much of the organised articulation of pro-empire sentiment, however, was driven by formal or informal Scottish and local networks. Commitment to the British Empire implied a British identity, but not one under which a Scottish identity was subsumed. Rather, the expression of pride in the Scottish contribution to Empire was an ever-present part of this public discourse, which was already prominent by the late nineteenth century and continued until the Second World War. The forms of civic engagement with empire discussed in this chapter were initiated in the wake of the South African War, while economic circumstances made imperial trade more salient in the interwar years. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the ‘empire societies’ that were to prove the most enduring of these phenomena, as they were able to adapt their credo of friendship and hospitality to the multiracial Commonwealth that emerged after the Second World War. These various organisations and events encompassed a range of activities and purposes and were not simply propagandistic, in the sense of crudely aiming to influence behaviour or shape beliefs. On the one hand, they provided an opportunity for the expression of empire patriotism, but on the other they also fulfilled practical aims and emotional needs, in the form of hospitality to visitors, support for intending emigrants and wartime solidarity. In addition, there were educational initiatives which attempted to convey information about the history, geography, and political organisation of the Empire. Such fora also provided a vehicle for public presentation of changing constitutional relations across the Empire. This evidence suggests, as John Darwin has argued of Britain more generally, that the idea of empire that was privileged from the early twentieth century until the end of the Second World War was that of the white dominions, as allies, partners in trade, and as kith and kin.118 Much emphasis continued to be placed on the promotion of the colonies of settlement as a destination for emigrants. Citizenship was formulated 118 John Darwin, ‘A Third British Empire? The Dominion Idea in British Politics’, in Judith M. Brown and William Roger Louis, eds., Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume IV: The Twentieth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 64–87.


as being of the Commonwealth, a group of freely associating polities with a shared commitment to democracy and peace. Such ideals, however, sat uncomfortably alongside the subjecthood and dependence that were inherent aspects of colonial status. Thus, while it was increasingly acknowledged that India should become a self-governing dominion, this was regarded as a slow and gradual process. Meantime, loyalty to British rule and to the ‘King-Emperor’ was stressed, for example, in the civic honours awarded to Indian princes, as was the necessity of ‘firm’ government in the face of demands for independence. Characterised by Andrew Thompson as ‘conservative’, this vision of empire, which ‘revolved around the dominions and struggled to accommodate India and Britain’s dependencies in Africa and Asia’, predominated among Scottish elites and middle-class enthusiasts in the interwar years.119 Ultimately, however, it was to prove itself capable of adapting to the emerging Commonwealth of the post-war era.

119 Thompson,

‘Language of Imperialism’, 176.


What Has the Four Nations and Empire Model Achieved? Andrew Mackillop

John MacKenzie’s contributions to scholarship on colonial Africa, the British Empire, European ‘Orientalism’, comparative and ‘popular’ imperialisms, and environmental history are too extensive to detail and are, in any event, covered by other contributors to this volume. Set against such a body of work, it seems almost churlish to settle on a title which hints at a potentially critical assessment of one of his later conceptualisations. The idea in question is the advocacy of a ‘four-nations’ approach to the history of the British Empire. MacKenzie developed this analytical framework in order to advance what is one of the key continuities of his entire career: the effort to intertwine the domestic and imperial histories of the British-Irish Isles. What follows is a critical engagement with the origins of the ‘four nations and empire’ framework, an assessment of the extent to which it has informed new lines of scholarship, and some reflections on why it has to some degree met with indifference from practitioners of British imperial studies. Finally,

A. Mackillop (*)  University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



the chapter considers what such patterns of engagement reveal about the framework’s intellectual strengths and weaknesses.

1  The Political and Historiographic Origins of the Four Nations and Empire Model The four nations and empire rubric is at once a call for, and one possible route towards, more fully appreciating the significance of Britain and Ireland’s internal diversity for British imperialism’s configuration and operation, and the many legacies empire has left within former ­colonial societies. The obverse and complementary aim is to contribute to ongoing debates over the extent to which the imperial influences that flowed back to and reshaped British and Irish society were themselves substantively affected by the internal complexities of the BritishIrish Isles.1 This interlocking and mutually influencing dynamic, with its deliberate emphasis on the four nations in the Empire and the Empire in the four nations, is important to stress from the very outset. Far from reifying either ‘empire’ or the ‘nation’, one of the framework’s many productive potentialities is that it seeks to lay bare how both were constantly remade, re-imagined, and re-represented in each other’s image. MacKenzie first articulated this interpretative prospectus fully in a History Compass article in 2008. It therefore represents the coming together of a range of different areas of interest developed over the span of his career. Two years later, he followed up his initial argument with a chapter in the collection Race, Nation and Empire, edited by Catherine Hall and Keith McClelland, which discussed at greater length the various historiographical trends within the age of empire itself that presaged and, just as importantly, justified such a method.2

1 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Empire and Metropolitan Cultures’, in Andrew Porter, ed., The Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume III: The Nineteenth Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 270–93; and Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 5–23. 2 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? A Four-Nation Approach to the History of the British Empire’, History Compass 6 (1998), 1244–63; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? The Historiography of a Four-Nations Approach to the History of the British Empire’, in Catherine Hall and Keith McClelland, eds., Race, Nation and Empire: Making Histories, 1750 to the Present (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 133–53.



Although superficially similar, these two articles evinced a very different set of emphases. In such distinctions are revealed not only MacKenzie’s familiarity with the vast nineteenth- and early-to-mid-­ twentieth-century literature on British imperialism, but also the extended historiographical genealogy and productive utility of the four nations model. One of the most immediately striking aspects of the History Compass piece is an introduction that spoke in the first instance and at some length of late-twentieth-century British and Irish politics rather than of empires past. The new constitutional arrangements created across the UK and Ireland in the late 1990s embedded varying forms of devolution that reconfigured the status of Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland as more than just regional components of a unitary British state. The change in political status in turn begged questions about the historical antecedents of what might best be described as the ­integrated distinctiveness of the UK of Great Britain and Ireland, or after 1922 Northern Ireland.3 At the heart of the 2008 article’s reasoning was the precise balance played by local, regional, national, and imperial influences in shaping the UK in ways that left the national re-emergence of areas like Scotland, Wales and, latterly, England as a possible, if certainly not inevitable, development.4 New-style devolution politics had made the old-style British Empire, or at least its ‘domestic’ legacies, relevant again.5 In arguing that debates over history evolve as the product of contemporary politics or of social or cultural issues, MacKenzie simply reaffirmed the well-known maxim that the present shapes the past just as surely as the other way around.6 The History Compass article’s introduction is an intellectually candid reminder that this interplay holds true for 3 Richard J. Finlay, ‘New Britain, New Scotland, New History? The Impact of Devolution on the Development of Scottish Historiography’, Journal of Contemporary History 36 (2001), 383–93; Richard J. Finlay, ‘Does History Matter? Political Scientists, Welsh and Scottish Devolution’, Twentieth-Century British History 122 (2010), 243–50; and Paul O’Leary, ‘“A Vertiginous Sense of Impending Loss”: Four Nations History and the Problem of Narrative’, in Naomi Lloyd-Jones and Margaret M. Scull, eds., Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History: A (Dis)United Kingdom? (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 63–64. 4 MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? [2008]’, 1244. 5 H. J. Hanham, Scottish Nationalism (London: Faber, 1969), 212; T. M. Devine, ‘The Break-Up of Britain? Scotland and the End of Empire’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 16 (2006), 165. 6 John Tosh, The Pursuit of History, 5th edn (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), 15.


contemporary Britain and Ireland as much as it does for former c­ olonial societies. This places the four nations and empire model into a much wider set of national, international, and global debates. The advent (and subsequent crisis) of contemporary globalisation has certainly given the study of empire a new lease of life.7 Whether in fact Europe’s historic expansion should be adopted as an unproblematic antecedent to the contemporary travails of the western-centric global order is a moot point when set against the use of empire as a ready-made lesson from the past.8 A different set of perspectives explains why issues of imperialism continue to loom large in societies once subject to British rule. Scholarly and cultural commentary on societies as diverse as Australia or India routinely link aspects of their current economic, social, and racial problems to their former place within the imperial complex.9 This tendency to see empire and its aftermath as a more relevant and pressing issue for erstwhile colonies is now balanced by a much greater awareness that former imperial societies also continued to be shaped by their imperial pasts. Attempts 7 The literature on the link between history and globalization, as well as the latter’s early twenty-first century crisis, is too extensive to note in detail. For an excellent introduction on the need to historicise understandings of globalization see A. G. Hopkins, ‘The History of Globalization—And the Globalization of History?’, in A. G. Hopkins, ed., Globalization in World History (London: Pimlico, 2002), 11–38. For the use of history in contemporary debate see Alan Freeman and Boris Kagarlitsky, ‘Introduction: World Empire—Or a World of Empires?’, in Alan Freeman and Boris Kagarlitsky, eds., The Politics of Empire: Globalisation in Crisis (London: Ann Arbor, 2004), 1–45. 8 See Niall Ferguson, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (London: Penguin, 2003); Niall Ferguson, Colossus: The Price of America’s Empire (London: Penguin, 2004); and Bernard Porter, Empire and Superempire: Britain, America and the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). 9 Andrew Bonnell, and Martin Crotty, ‘Australia’s History Under Howard, 1996–2007’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 617 (2004), 149–65; Luke Pearson, ‘Don’t Tell Me to “Get Over” a Colonialism That Is Still Being Implemented Today’, Guardian, 2 April 2016, [accessed 27 October 2017]; Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire What the British Did to India (London: Penguin, 2017), passim; Johann Hari, ‘The Truth? Our Empire Killed Millions’, Independent, 18 June 2006, http://www.independent. [accessed 30 October 2017]. For an example of MacKenzie’s contribution to this debate see John M. MacKenzie, ‘View Point: Why Britain Does Not Owe Reparations to India’, BBC, 28 July 2015, [accessed 13 July 2017].



to comprehend the post-imperial character of race relations in modern Britain and the country’s ongoing failure to adjust to its post-1945 place in the world ensure that empire retains a central, arguably even growing, place in assessments of the former metropole.10 The usefulness of the four nations and empire model, therefore, lies partly in projecting the past forwards while simultaneously reading back into imperial histories from a contemporary and political perspective. A better understanding of how the Empire’s impact played out in similar and in different ways across Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales can contextualise the complexity of Britain’s post-imperial development. A more consistent and sensitive foregrounding of the fissiparous dynamics at work within the late-twentieth- and early-twentieth-first-century UK can in turn generate new questions about the historic place of Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and England as distinct but variably integrated components of the wider empire.11 The strikingly contemporary origins of interest in the historic balance between ‘four nation’ diversity and ongoing ‘British’ integration, within both the union and the Empire, are another manifestation of the strong link between historical scholarship and the immediate environment in which it is produced.12 Viewed in this way, the four nations and empire model comes across as an extremely practical and adaptable concept. But if the advent of devolution provided the catalyst for MacKenzie’s 2008 analysis, the paradigm should not be treated as an instrumentalised subordination 10 For a brilliant and provocative summary of the literature on the place (or otherwise) of empire in post-imperial Britain, see Paul Gilroy, Postcolonial Melancholia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). Cultural commentary on the underlying motives for Britain’s June 2016 vote to leave the European Union routinely highlights the inability of British society to move on from the shadow of empire. See Gary Younge, ‘Britain’s Imperial Fantasies Have Given Us Brexit’, Guardian, 3 February 2018, https://www. [accessed 10 February 2018]. 11 John M. MacKenzie, and Bryan S. Glass, ‘Introduction’, in John M. MacKenzie and Bryan S. Glass, eds., Scotland, Empire and Decolonisation in the Twentieth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015), 17–18. 12 Liam McIlvanney, and Ray Ryan, ‘Introduction’, in Liam McIlvanney and Ray Ryan, eds., Ireland and Scotland: Culture and Society, 1700–1800 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2005), 11–22; and Naomi Lloyd-Jones, and Margaret Scull, ‘A New Plea for an Old Subject? Four Nations History for the Modern Period’, in Naomi Lloyd-Jones and Margaret Scull, eds., Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History: A (Dis)United Kingdom? (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 14–15.


of history to the unsettled constitutional state of the UK and Northern Ireland. One of the framework’s many potential benefits is it that offers a way (though not of course the only way) of more fully appreciating the significance of the historic civic and sociocultural weft and weave of the British-Irish Isles in the evolution of the empire’s character and history. Moreover, such disaggregation is only a means unto an end. The overall aim is to better comprehend how the British Union continually configures itself and what role the empire played in this process.13 Ever since the constitutional strains of the late 1970s to 1990s brought the ‘British Problem’ into sustained focus, this intermixing of nation and empire has been understood as key to reassessments of Britain and Britishness.14 By historicizing more effectively the considerable imperial integration and ongoing particularities of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England, it becomes easier to assess what made the British Union and Empire such a dynamic, pluralist, mutually constitutive, and interconnected entity.15 While of obvious interest to scholars considering the history of ‘nations’—be these Welsh, Irish, Scots, English, or British—the concept ought to engage those who are assessing more general questions regarding Britain’s empire and its impact. These wider intellectual and historical intersections underline the fact that the four nations and empire rubric should not be mistaken for a modish fad born of a particular constitutional moment and destined to have a shelf-life determined by the changing significance of devolution. As with much of MacKenzie’s other work, the aim is to continually retest the boundaries and the interplay of the basic categories of analysis which historians of imperialism use to recover and explain their subject. It bears reiteration that despite its title the concept is not the projection of essentialized ideas of the ‘nation’ onto the empire so much as a conceptual framework designed to better unravel both in order to delve into the

13 MacKenzie,

‘Empire and Metropolitan Cultures’, 231. Marquad, ‘How United Is the Modern United Kingdom?’, in Alexander Grant and Keith Stringer, eds., Uniting the Kingdom? The Making of British History (Abingdon: Routledge, 1995), 286–87; Tom Nairn, Faces of Nationalism: Janus Revisited (London: Verso, 1997), 183–209; and Christopher Harvie, ‘The Moment of British Nationalism, 1939–1970’, Political Quarterly 71 (2000), 328–40. 15 See Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (London: Pimlico, 1992); and Linda Colley, Acts of Union and Disunion: What Has Held the U.K. Together—And What Is Dividing It? (London: Profile, 2014). 14 David



mutually constitutive dynamic between them. When working towards such objectives, this approach chimes with some of the central tenets of the ‘New Imperial History’.16 This may seem a surprising overlap in the light of the way that some of MacKenzie’s ideas, especially his contributions to the debate on Orientalism, have been received in certain quarters.17 Never the less the commonality exists. The confluence has neither been sufficiently recognised nor explored by exponents of the cultural turn in British imperial studies. This is largely because such scholarship tends to see the national difference as something of a dead end, a cultural buttress for imperialism, and of less interest than other categories of analysis such as class, gender, race, and culture.18 Yet given that one of the most cogent criticisms of the New Imperial History is that its scholarship is far too selective with the themes it chooses to foreground (race and culture, say, rather than economy and nation), then a four nations approach can provide one manageable case-study method for bridging these divisions over which units of analyses get priority.19 In contrast to the pragmatic tone of the History Compass article, the piece in Race, Nation and Empire argued that it was not just the politics of the Northern Irish Peace Process and devolution that could and should prompt a renewed focus on Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. The 2010 article’s main interest lay in tracing how the different historic trajectories of the four nations within the empire directly influenced writing on imperial themes and historiography. A range

16 For a comprehensive and critical survey of the ‘New Imperial History’ see Stephen Howe, The New Imperial Histories Reader (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), 1–21. 17 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Edward Said and the Historians’, Nineteenth-Century Contexts 18 (1994), 9–25; and Antoinette Burton, ‘Who Needs the Nation? Interrogating “British” History’, in Catherine Hall, ed., Cultures of Empire: A Reader (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 44. 18 Kathleen Wilson, ‘Introduction: Histories, Empires, Modernities’, in Kathleen Wilson, ed., A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernist in Britain and the Empire, 1660–1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 3–4; 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: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 13–14; Burton, ‘Who Needs the Nation?’, 137–38. 19 For one of the earliest, and most effective, critiques of the New Imperial History, see Richard Price, ‘One Big Thing: Britain, Its Empire, and Their Imperial Culture’, Journal of British Studies 45 (2008), 602–27, especially 614.


of political, economic, or social issues ensured that a number of scholars between the 1880s and 1980s highlighted the role of Ireland or Scotland (less so Wales) within an imperial context. The variation in national experiences was viewed by writers such as Charles Wentworth Dilke and Reginald Coupland as containing important practical lessons for the wider imperial and British projects.20 As with its 2008 counterpart, the 2010 piece sought neither to exceptionalize any of the four nations nor divorce them from the domestic union and global empire in which they were situated; in fact, it sought to do the opposite. Their respective trajectories cast significant light on what Keith Robbins described as the fluid, even contradictory dynamics of the UK of Great Britain and Ireland as an ‘imperial and international [that is, comprising several constituent nations] polity’.21 The value of better disentangling Welsh, Scottish, Irish, and English interactions at the imperial level is that they help cast into clearer relief the processes by which the empire consolidated the union even while it embedded or created new fault lines within it. For almost the entire century between c. 1880 and c. 1980, Ireland loomed much larger than the Union’s other ‘nations’ by virtue of its status as a major constitutional question with empire-wide implications.22 The failure to deal effectively with Ireland’s restless status ensured that at no point during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when arguably the Union and the Empire stood at the height of their success, did a truly assimilative vision of the British-Irish nation come close to succeeding. Britishness and Unionism were hugely popular with the vast majority in England, Wales, Scotland and in key regions of Ireland. So popular in fact that this allegiance existed in a ‘banal’ mode of consensus with

20 Peter Burroughs, ‘John Robert Seeley and British Imperial History’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 1 (1973), 191–211; and MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? [2010]’, 137–41. 21 Keith Robbins, ‘An Imperial and Multinational Polity: The “Scene from the Centre”, 1832–1922’, in Alexander Grant and Keith Stringer, eds., Uniting the Kingdom? The Making of British History (Abingdon: Routledge, 1995), 244–46. 22 C. A. Bayly, ‘Ireland, India and the Empire: 1780–1914’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th Series, 10 (2000), 377–97; and Sean Ryder, ‘Ireland, India and Popular Nationalism in the Early Nineteenth Century’, in Tadhg Foley and Maureen O’ Connor, eds., Ireland and India: Colonies, Culture, and Empire (Dublin: Four Courts, 2006), 12–25.



little need of sustained, active defence.23 The basis of such popularity, however, varied markedly across the nations in ways that both strengthened and weakened the capacity of the Empire to consolidate the BritishIrish Union.24 If constitutional uncertainty ensured Ireland’s central place within the nineteenth- and early-to-mid-twentieth-century literature on the Empire’s future, Scotland provided an altogether different lesson. The country’s contented place within the Union meant that it lacked any consistent profile as a political controversy which might draw the attention of scholars analysing imperial matters more broadly.25 People, not politics, defined the ways in which Scotland was singled out for much of the period between the 1880s and 1980s.26 Emerging anxieties over the demographic resources of the settlement colonies provided the rationale for an explicit focus on Scotland (or more exactly, perhaps, Scots) from the 1860s and 1870s onwards. The result was an overtly celebratory literature which highlighted the seemingly disproportionate way in which Scottish migrants (both Lowland and Highland) contributed to the empire’s sociocultural and even moral condition.27 Such works, which used highly essentialized Scottish ethnic stereotypes, endeavoured to use emigration as a vicarious but union-friendly expression of Scotland’s importance as a nation within the union and empire.28 The wider lesson 23 Colin Kidd, Union and Unionisms: Political Thought in Scotland, 1500–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 23–28. 24 Alvin Jackson, The Two Unions: Ireland, Scotland, and the Survival of the United Kingdom, 1707–2007 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 121–214. 25 Burroughs, ‘John Robert Seeley and British Imperial History’, 205; and Andrew Mycock and Marina Loskoutova, ‘Nation, State and Empire: The Historiography of “High Imperialism” in the British and Russian Empires’, in Stefan Berger and Chris Lorenz, eds., Nationalizing the Past: Historians as Nation Builders in Modern Europe (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 246 and 252. 26 Charles Wentworth Dilke, Greater Britain; A Record of Travel in English-Speaking Countries During 1866 and 1867 (London and New York: Harper, 1869), 360–61. 27 See William Jordan Rattray, The Scots in British North America, 4 vols. (Toronto: Maclear, 1880); and John Hill Burton, The Scot Abroad, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Blackwood, 1864). Interestingly, only the second of Burton’s volumes dealt with movement to colonial destinations. In that respect his first volume, which explored centuries-long Scottish human mobility and links with France, is a classic example of the use of diaspora to shore up concepts of Scotland as a nation. 28 Catriona Macdonald, ‘Imagining the Scottish Diaspora: Emigration and Transnational Literature in the Late Modern Period’, Britain and the World 5 (2012), 20–21.


arising from such literary trends, MacKenzie averred, was that the antecedents of a four nations emphasis had a long, if intermittent, presence within understandings of empire during the age of empire itself. The works of Dilke, Froude, Copeland, and James pointed to the fact that even at a time when England and Britain were synonymous for the purposes of explaining the Empire and its culture, an awareness of the other ‘nations’ persisted.29 There is a neat synchronicity to the 2008 and 2010 articles. One proposes a framework of historical analysis set against then contemporary political trends; the other notes that the politics of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century empire had a similar tendency towards exploring the different components of the British-Irish union in an imperial context. Both articles were clear that a four nations perspective should not involve the uncomplicated projection onto British imperial studies of English, Welsh, Irish, or Scottish evidence in isolation. To do so would unhelpfully disaggregate the metropole at the expense of a more holistic approach. The ultimate objective centred on a more sensitive understanding of the ‘nation’ (in its English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Britain variations) in order to blend national and imperial pasts more securely, comprehensively, and critically together. Again, this emphasis on connected heterogeneity aligns the four nations agenda with some of the key aspirations of scholarship associated with the New Imperial History.30

2  Tracing the Genealogy of the Four Nations and Empire Concept Whatever its ambitious aspirations, it is fair to say that the concept of four nations and empire history has had a long germination. The way in which the four nations model evolved is a telling indication of MacKenzie’s awareness of, and ability to connect in new ways, historiographical and methodological developments in multiple subject areas. Its genesis stretches back to a 1992 lecture on the theme of Scotland and empire. As with all good ideas, its emergence involved engaging creatively with the concepts, debates, and evidence contained in a wide range 29 MacKenzie,

‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? [2010]’, 135. Hall, ‘Introduction: Thinking the Postcolonial, Thinking the Empire’, in Catherine, ed., Cultures of Empire: Colonisers in Britain and the Empire in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), 23. 30 Catherine



of works by scholars working in areas as diverse as British (and non-British) imperial studies; English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish history; diaspora histories; and intellectual and cultural history, to name but a few.31 There is no need to dwell in detail on the concept’s central arguments. Suffice it to say that it marks the transfer into the realm of British imperial studies of John G. A. Pocock’s influential proposition that British history is properly constituted and holistic only if each of the component parts of the British-Irish Isles is understood on their own terms, in their bilateral relations with each other and in the sum of their multilateral, mutually influencing connections.32 Transposed into the wider context of Britain’s global empire, MacKenzie’s central thesis is that looking at the four nations comparatively does three key things. One, it reveals how the overseas empire developed partly as a result of a wide range of ethnic, religious, educational, and cultural traditions emanating from the British-Irish Isles, and that, crucially, without this diversity the character of British colonies, territories and dominions would have looked very different indeed. This key argument is developed at length and forms one of the central rationale of MacKenzie’s The Scots in South Africa (with Nigel R. Dalziel), which was published in the Studies in Imperialism series in 2007.33 This book can in fact be interpreted as an extended manifesto for the four nations and empire approach. Second, the concept facilitates in new and sophisticated ways a better understanding of the capacity of empire to influence and reshape the British-Irish Isles themselves. Indeed, the four nations and empire idea marks the opening up of a second front in a major area of historical debate, namely the extent to which Britain should or should not be seen as an imperial society and culture.34 The famous debate between MacKenzie and Bernard Porter exemplifies the vibrant state of British imperial studies, and the productive potential of the four nations model 31 John M. Mackenzie, ‘On Scotland and the Empire’, International History Review 15 (1993), 714–24. 32 John G. A. Pocock, ‘British History: A Plea for a New Subject’, Journal of Modern History 47 (1975), 601–21; McBride, ‘J.G.A. Pocock and the Politics of British History’, in Naomi Lloyd-Jones and Margaret M. Scull, eds., Four Nations Approaches to Modern ‘British’ History: A (Dis)United Kingdom? 33–58. 33 See John M. MacKenzie with Nigel R. Dalziel, The Scots in South Africa: Ethnicity, Identity, Gender, and Race, 1772–1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007). 34 Porter, Absent-Minded Imperialists, 13–16.


should be understood very much in that context.35 The third implication speaks most closely to what could be described as the ‘British’ question. The argument in this respect is that the domestic imprint of empire is best characterised by its surprisingly pervasive presence, that it could vary markedly across the different nations of the imperial metropole, and that it continually exhibited cross-currents and contradictions. In a significant article in 1998 which used exactly the sort of four nations comparisons more fully articulated in the later History Compass piece, MacKenzie argued that ‘the British Empire, supposedly central to the forging of the national identity of Britons… may well have performed a very different function … It enabled the sub-nationalisms of the UK to survive and flourish’.36 Given the recent constitutional uncertainty experienced by the UK, this questioning of the historic role of the empire in generating centripetal and centrifugal forces seems prescient.

3  The Four Nations and Empire Framework: Criticisms, Successes and Opportunities But have such intellectual objectives been met? In the spirit of debating MacKenzie’s scholarship, it is worth reflecting upon how the different objectives within the four nations and empire model have fared since its first full articulation. Likewise, how can conceptual concerns be addressed regarding its utility and its capacity to effectively chart the precise balance of influence between nation and empire? Then, finally, there is the question of how the approach might inform future avenues of scholarship. Perhaps it is most useful to start with potential criticisms. As with any theoretical proposition, the idea has obvious benefits and potential pitfalls. Explicit criticism or rejection has been rare, as the paradigm has been much more likely to face the more intellectually intractable problem of non-engagement or indifference. Just why scholars exploring broader imperial themes continue to eschew a specifically English, Irish, 35 Bernard Porter, ‘Further Thoughts on Absent-Mindedness’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 101–17; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘“Comfort” and Conviction: A Response to Bernard Porter’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 659–68. 36 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Empire and National Identities: The Case of Scotland’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series, 82 (1998), 30.



Scottish, and Welsh perspective can be explained in a number of ways. One reason arises from the fact that four nations history itself remains noticeably uneven in its coverage.37 Temporal interest has traditionally concentrated on the seventeenth-century era of the ‘Three Kingdoms’, and it is telling that this focus quickly produced cogent assessments of the plantation of Ulster’s central role in the origins of a genuinely British imperialism even before Britain itself existed as a sovereign state.38 Coverage of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries via a four nations rubric continues to advance, although not always in ways which consistently embed the approach into general assessments of Britain, Ireland, and the Empire.39 Awareness of the different nations still tends to feature more prominently in questions regarding domestic British state and identity formation or political and constitutional tensions with Ireland, or in summaries of historiographical trends in British history. The result is that even the most recent scholarship leaves the Empire as something of a background tableau, or as an ambiguously intermittent if influential context. An important new attempt at the four nations method for modern Britain and Ireland envisages the Empire in such instrumental terms, with its mid-to-late-twentieth-century demise framed largely in terms of forcing a recalibration of historical writing on Britishness.40 It is important, too, that potential criticisms of the framework are acknowledged. These include the possibility that an emphasis on the 37 For an excellent recent survey that adopts an explicitly four nations and empire approach for the whole period from 1688 to 2015 see Susan Kingsley Kent, A New History of Britain Since 1688: Four Nations and an Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), especially Chapters 2, 4, and 7. 38 For an example of the intersections of a four nations and four nations and empire approach for the early phase of imperial expansion, see Nicholas Canny, ‘Introduction’, in Nicholas Canny, ed., The Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume I: The Origins of Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 7–18. 39 For examples of scholarship sensitive to the place of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland in the empire, see C. A. Bayly, Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780–1830 (Harlow: Longman, 1989), Chapters 3–5; Angus Calder, Revolutionary Empire: The Rise of the English Speaking Empires from the Fifteenth Century to the 1780s (London: Pimlico, 1998), 226–87; Huw V. Bowen, Elites, Enterprise and the Making of the British Overseas Empire, 1688–1775 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1996), 154–55; and Stephen Conway, The British Isles and the War of American Independence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 166–202. 40 Lloyd-Jones, and Scull, ‘A New Plea for an Old Subject?’, 14; and O’Leary, ‘A Vertiginous Sense of Impending Loss’, 71–73.


internal distinctions within Britain and Ireland risks painting an artificial picture of a weak or loose imperial centre.41 Does too much of a focus upon the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or English ‘nation’, rather than the sovereign British and British-Irish ‘state’, the substantial integrative power of the economy, or on ideals of national identity, point to greater levels of distinctiveness than in reality existed?42 The cautionary injunction against excessive disaggregation is an important one. It might leave the impression that the Union project was bound together through only a few hegemonic links; politically through the crown and parliament, culturally through the hegemony of the English language, culture and political traditions, or economically through free trade. A close reading of the four nations and empire rubric reveals that a critical emphasis on national heterogeneity does not automatically imply a weak British or imperial centre. Rather the approach should be understood as a plea to think carefully about the changeable balance of centripetal factors working upon the British-Irish Isles during centuries of the empire’s existence. One of the enduring positives in the Pocock and MacKenzie versions of the four nations is the stress on interaction, connections, and mutual cross-influences. There is a conscious rejection of older models which emphasise either uncomplicated dominance (Seeley’s ‘Greater England’ as shorthand for Britain, for example) or Celtic victimhood in the mode of Michael Hechter’s work.43 By recalibrating the dynamics of metropolitan cohesion with an emphasis on composite integration rather than linear, centre-led assimilation, the four nations model better captures the British-Irish Isles’ four-hundred-year-old tendency towards alternating phases of greater unity and new forms of heterogeneity.44 Therein lies one of its most important contributions, not 41 C. A. Bayly, ‘The British and Indigenous Peoples, 1760–1860: Power, Perception, and Identity’, in Martin Daunton and Rick Halpern, eds., Empire and Others: British Encounters with Indigenous Peoples, 1600–1850 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 21. 42 Gregory A. Barton, ‘The British Model of World History’, Britain and the World 53 (2012), 8–11. 43 Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development, 1536–1966 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1975), passim; MacKenzie, ‘Empire and National Identities’, 219 and 230; and Amanda Behm, Imperial History and the Global Politics of Exclusion: Britain, 1880–1940 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), 31. 44 Colley, Acts of Union and Disunion, 147–56.



just to imperial history but to the process of combining the overseas and domestic aspects of British history. A second criticism relates to the potential for an overly metro-centric vision of Britain’s empire. It is intriguing to note that some, though by no means all, of the telling criticisms levelled against the New Imperial History by Richard Price in his 2006 article ‘One Big Thing’ can be applied to a four nations agenda, albeit from a different starting point. Price fears that in seeking to ‘de-centre’ the empire the New Imperial History simply re-privileges the metropole (broadly defined), along with its sources and its assumptions.45 If the four nations approach entails a parallel ‘de-centring’ of the British-Irish Isles, does it risk a similar outcome; a form of metro-centric imperial history, only now it is a Scotto-, Hiberno- or Cymru-centric version? If so, then this shared characteristic with the New Imperial History is nothing if not ironic. Some of the most stinging and explicit criticisms to date of a four nations emphasis have come from scholars advocating the New Imperial History’s priorities. In a wider critique of British imperial history’s ongoing reliance on ‘the nation’ as a category of analysis, Antoinette Burton notes the growing volume of work on Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. This she sees as little more than ‘sophisticated parochialism’, a form of navel-gazing more indicative of present-day Britain and its post-imperial anxieties than a productive way of exploring the Empire’s past. Compared to paradigms that are applicable to any part of the empire at any period, such as culture, race, and gender, Welsh, Irish, Scots, and English distinctions are revealed as a matter of subtle shades of grey and ultimately of little real importance to the empire’s character or history.46 Historians studying Scotland, Ireland, and Wales in the Empire can choose to be pleased or offended at being labelled practitioners of ‘sophisticated parochialism’. Yet the criticism is a fundamental one, and it behoves those studying empire through a four nations lens, or indeed through any individual national history, to bear it constantly in mind. In contrast to its potential pitfalls, what are the achievements of this greater awareness of Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and English contributions to empire? The most obvious area of progress is in Scottish historical 45 Price,

‘One Big Thing’, 604. Burton, ‘Who Needs the Nation?’, 138–42; Antoinette Burton, ‘When Was Britain? Nostalgia for the Nation at the End of the “American Century”’, Journal of Modern History 75 (2003), 365 and 367–69. 46 Antoinette


studies’ marked re-engagement from the late 1990s onwards with the theme of empire. The result is a now-substantial body of scholarship which has completely transformed understandings of the country’s role in the empire over the entire span of its existence, from the 1600s to the final substantive act of decolonisation in 1997.47 Alongside d ­ iaspora studies, the recovery of links to the empire has almost completely collapsed any boundary between domestic and overseas Scottish history after c. 1600. Indeed, the evidence of heavy Scottish participation is such that even Porter accepts the case of Scotland may well be different.48 Given his otherwise trenchant belief that the Empire did not impinge on British culture to any substantive extent, this is a major concession which reveals how retaining an awareness of the different nations can contribute to more general debates. It is important to stress that this is not just about getting historians of England, Britain, or the empire to pay more attention to Irish, Scottish, or Welsh evidence, although of course they should. There are surely gains to be made by considering if the rich seams of evidence derived from Scotland can throw fresh perspectives on why, in turn, England, Wales, and Ireland might have developed their own distinct set of reactions. The broader value of the four nations model lies in its capacity to contribute to debates that encompass far more than just the individual historic experience of these countries or indeed the wider history of the UK. An outward-looking focus leads naturally to considering what these patterns of particularity, integration, or assimilation say about the imperial ‘metropole’, the shaping of colonial territories, and how such dynamics in turn reshaped the historical experience of these islands. In the case of Ireland, there has been a distinct shift towards better understanding patterns of participation alongside the established debates on colonial or kingdom status, subordination, and resistance.49 It is 47 See Michael Fry, The Scottish Empire (East Linton, East Lothian: Tuckwell, 2001); T. M. Devine, Scotland’s Empire, 1600–1815 (London: Allen Lane, 2003); T. M. Devine, To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland’s Global Diaspora, 1750–2010 (London: Allen Lane, 2011); John M. MacKenzie, and T. M. Devine, eds., The Oxford History of the British Empire: Scotland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); and Bryan S. Glass, The Scottish Nation at Empire’s End (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). 48 Porter, Absent-Minded Imperialists, 147; and Porter, ‘Further Thoughts on AbsentMindedness’, 102. 49 Kevin Kenny, ‘Ireland and the British Empire: An Introduction’, in Kevin Kenny, ed., The Oxford History of the British Empire: Ireland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1–7.



telling that Barry Crosbie’s highly innovative Irish Imperial Networks from 2012, which reconfigures post-1830s Ireland and more especially Dublin as a ‘sub-metropole’, draws directly on the four nations and empire agenda.50 In presenting this idea of Britain and Ireland as a set of subsidiary-metropoles, operating through multiple points of intra-­ empire contact while always linked to London, Crosbie’s work offers a model that can be applied elsewhere. This focus upon the simultaneously supranational and sub-national levels at which Britain’s empire operated chimes with MacKenzie’s insistence that the national framing of Wales, Ireland, and Scotland must be balanced against a range of other factors such as religion, class, and especially region.51 The status of the ‘national’ within the four nations model should be understood as only one part of a multi-layered analysis, not as the exclusive frame of reference. Moreover, at no stage is there a suggestion that ‘the nation’—be it Scottish, Irish, Welsh, or English—is not itself a problematic category. Far from unreflectively reinforcing ideas of Scottish, Irish, Welsh, or English, the four nations model constantly questions the nature of nation, its internal and external boundaries, and its limitations as a unit of analysis within the context of a global empire. The four nations and empire agenda also directly influenced an important volume by Huw Bowen, Wales and British Overseas Empire: Interactions and Influence, 1650–1830 (2011).52 One of the most exciting aspects of the renewed focus on the constituent parts of the BritishIrish Isles is the realisation of just how different Wales’ experience seems to have been from that of Ireland or Scotland. As scholars increasingly work on what remains the most neglected part of the British-Irish Isles,

50 Barry Crosbie, Irish Imperial Networks: Migration, Social Communication and Exchange in Nineteenth-Century India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 1–23; and Barry Crosbie, ‘Networks of Empire: Linkage and Reciprocity in NineteenthCentury Irish and Indian History’, History Compass 7 (2009), 1003. 51 John M. MacKenzie, ‘“The Second City of the Empire”: Glasgow—Imperial Municipality’, in Felix Driver and David Gilbert, eds., Imperial Cities: Landscape, Display and Identity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), 215–37; and MacKenzie and Devine, Scotland and the British Empire, 26–27. 52 Huw V. Bowen, ‘Introduction’, in Huw V. Bowen, ed., Wales and the British Overseas Empire: Interactions and Influences, 1650–1830 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 8.


the findings fully justify the four nations and empire conception.53 The work to date on Wales’s imperial connections shows how studying the domestic ‘nation’ leads naturally and productively into a much greater appreciation of region.54 In many respects, this trend parallels MacKenzie’s own, earlier work on Glasgow as an imperial locality. The metallurgical- and coal-zone of south Wales bears a strong resemblance to the industrial west coast of Scotland. Conversely, the Principality’s pastoral south-west operated in the Atlantic economy in ways very similar to Ireland’s regional agrarian economy centred on Cork.55 Studying how these regions—and others like them such as estuarine Bristol, Liverpool, or Newcastle—participated in and were in turn reshaped by empire over long periods would supplement and complement a four nations emphasis.56 Kyle Hughes’ study of a ‘North Channel world’ of industrial labour, imperial economics, and Unionist politics in the late Victorian and Edwardian era is an excellent example of how an IrishEnglish-Scottish-English framing facilitates the development of more sophisticated regional modelling.57 In this way, the vital role of such imperial zones within Britain’s global empire (still a significantly underdeveloped area of research) is recast in conceptually robust ways. One of the most productive aspects of the four nations and empire idea is its methodological permeability. It overlaps and blends naturally other interpretative categories. For example, a greater awareness of 53 See Chris Evans, Slave Wales: The Welsh and Atlantic Slavery, 1660–1850 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2010), passim; and Ann Rees Lowri, ‘Welsh Sojourners in India: The East India Company, Networks and Patronage, c. 1760–1840’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 55 (2017), 166–70. 54 Huw V. Bowen, ‘Asiatic Interactions: India, the East India Company and the Welsh Economy, c. 1750–1830’, in Huw V. Bowen, ed., Wales and the British Overseas Empire: Interactions and Influences, 1650–1830 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 168–92. 55 Gwyn A. Williams, The Welsh in Their History (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1982), 143–45; Chris Evans, ‘Wales, Munster and the English South West: Contrasting Articulations with the Atlantic World’, in Huw V. Bowen, ed., Wales and the British Overseas Empire: Interactions and Influences, 1650–1830 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 40–61; and David Dickson, Old World Colony: Cork and South Munster 1630–1830 (Cork: Cork University Press, 2005), passim. 56 Alex Murdoch, British History, 1660–1832: National Identity and Local Culture (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1988), 8–14. 57 See Kyle Hughes, The Scots in Victorian and Edwardian Belfast: A Study in Elite Migration (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013).



the composite parts of the British-Irish Isles has undoubtedly contributed to new forms of engagement by empire specialists with local, even micro perspectives. The ‘imperial-localism’ identified by Murray Pittock for Scotland is obvious enough, but is such local engagement especially distinctive?58 Studies such as Catherine Hall’s of Birmingham point to substantial similarities, but many more such examples, preferably comparative, are needed before systematic contrasts can be drawn.59 The marked rise in prosopographical studies through the work of Margot Finn, Emma Rothschild, and others is noticeably reliant on Scottish evidence and provides yet another example of the potentially positive overlap in methodologies.60 A major new area where a four nations sensitivity has opened up exciting new ground is the realm of religion, empire, and Britishness. MacKenzie himself accepted that his earlier work on metropolitan cultures of empire ought to have said more on the diverse religious setups in the different nations. He has recently begun rectifying this by explored in detail the role of religion in both diversifying and consolidating the imperial and global aspects of Scottish national identity. The work of Joseph Sramek is particularly significant in this respect. His unpacking of the fragility of religious Britishness in the East India Company’s early-to-mid-nineteenth-century settlements in India acknowledges the methodological usefulness of the four nations framework and indeed produces a model example of such scholarship.61 It is too easily forgotten that a key element of MacKenzie’s agenda is that England should be encompassed within a comparative framework. England is understood here as a nation in and off itself rather than as the automatic centre-point of the British Empire or the UK of Britain and Ireland. A criticism which can be levelled against much of the four 58 Murray G. H. Pittock, Scottish Nationality (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), 84–85. 59 See Catherine Hall, Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830–1867 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). 60 Margot Finn, ‘Anglo-Indian Lives in the Later Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries’, Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies 33 (2010), 49–65; and Emma Rothschild, The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth-Century History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), passim. 61 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Presbyterianism and Scottish Identity in Global Context’, Britain and the World 10 (2017), 88–112; and Joseph Sramek, ‘Rethinking Britishness: Religion and Debates About the “Nation” in Company India, 1813–1857’, Journal of British Studies 54 (2015), 822–43, especially 824.


nations scholarship to date (included that of this author) is that it is actually only three nations which garner attention. In an ironic role reversal from the age of Seeley, England gets left out repeatedly. There are, to be sure, honourable exceptions which genuinely compare all parts of the British-Irish Isles, in exactly the model proposed by MacKenzie, but this is undoubtedly the biggest flaw within the existing body of work.62 Beyond the scholarship on Englishness and empire noted in the 2008 article, there have been important attempts to understand the place of the hegemonic nation within the imperial metropole. Work by Stephen Constantine on Englishness abroad and the work of Bueltmann, Gleeson, and McRaild on the English diaspora, both from 2012, confirms the immense value of comparative perspectives, not least in identifying the many underlying similarities that characterised the engagement with empire of the different component parts of the British-Irish Isles.63 Yet there remains much more to do in identifying regions or zones of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland and undertaking systematic comparisons and contrasts. It is also unclear as yet how the four nations and empire concept can link effectively and critically to the burgeoning field of ‘British World Studies’.64 One of the most striking developments in the study of British expansion and imperialism is the application of network theory. Such has been the growth of scholarship in this area that concerns have arisen that the concept risks over-use to the point of losing its explanatory force. Yet there can be little doubt that the emphasis on networks has moved the focus from the empire’s formal political, legal, and finance structures towards migrants and their associative tendencies. This trend is arguably the single most important driver of the greater use of Scottish, Irish, 62 MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? [2008]’, 1254–55. For an example of such scholarship, see Stephanie Barczewski, Country Houses and the British Empire, 1700–1930 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2014). 63 Stephen Constantine, ‘In Search of the English and Englishness’, in Lyndon Fraser and Angela McCarthy, eds., Far from ‘Home’: The English in New Zealand (Dunedin: Otago University Press, 2012), 15–38; and Tanja Bueltmann, David Gleeson, and Donald MacRaild, Locating the English Diaspora, 1500–2010 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2012), passim. See also Ian Baucom, Out of Place: Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 5–14. 64 For an excellent early introduction to a now rapidly developing subset of British and British imperial history, see Carl Bridge and Kent Fedorwich, ‘Mapping the British World’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 31 (2003) 1–15.



and Welsh evidence in more general explanations of how the empire operated.65 Such a development, however, does not necessarily constitute the consolidation into British imperial studies more broadly of the four nations framework. Work by scholars such as Gary Magee and Andrew Thompson, whose conceptually sophisticated use of network theory exemplifies the productive intersection of British imperial studies with social science-derived methodology, opts for a less ‘national’ emphasis. Instead, they stress the ‘familiar’ and familial role of networks, with national and regional sentiments emerging more as cultural strategies for integration into new settler societies.66 Such ambiguities notwithstanding, it is clear that an awareness of metropolitan diversity is percolating into the work of scholars looking for empire-wide or global models. The highly influential University College London project Legacies of British Slave Ownership has shown a consistent sensitivity to commonalities and degrees of difference across the four nations and English regions.67 Meanwhile, analysis of key imperial institutions, such as the Royal Navy, has adopted MacKenzie’s framework and teased out telling comparisons and contrasts between Irish and Scottish participation. This is enabling an ever more sophisticated understanding of the ways in which Britishness evolved in the context of an emerging global empire.68 Andrew Thompson’s finely balanced investigation of the empire’s impact upon mid-nineteenth-to-twentieth-century Britain combines an awareness of Scottish, Irish, and Welsh

65 David Hancock, Citizens of the World: London Merchants and the Integration of the British Atlantic Community, 1735–1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 20–21 and 41; Zoe Laidlaw, Connecting Colonies: Metropole and Professions, 1815–1845 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), Chapter 2; Angela McCarthy, ed., A Global Clan: Scottish Migrant Networks and Identities Since the Eighteenth Century (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006), passim; and Natasha Glaisyer, ‘Networking: Trade and Exchange in the Eighteenth-Century British Empire’, Historical Journal 47 (2004), 451–75. 66 Gary B. Magee, and Andrew Thompson, Empire and Globalisation: Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, c. 1850–1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 16–17, 45, and 82–89. 67 Nicholas Draper, The Price of Emancipation: Slave Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), passim. More generally see: [accessed 28 May 2018]. 68 Sara Caput, ‘Scotland, Scottishness, British Integration and the Royal Navy’, Scottish Historical Review 97 (2018), 87–88.


trends alongside a sensitivity to the way in which English regions, such as Cornwall, formed highly particular human, economic, and social links with the wider empire.69 James Belich’s insightful metaphor of British human mobility as an ‘ethnic trimaran’ shows how a greater awareness of the Scots, Welsh, and Irish dimension is slowly impinging on understandings of England’s overall place in the empire and in the British world.70 Indeed, the trimaran formulation and Belich’s resultant Anglo-world model is a cogent indicator that four nation framing can help to restate, in new, more nuanced, and persuasive ways, the underlying Anglo- or heavily Anglicised nature of the empire project. These are substantive achievements. But it should be remembered that a key aim is to influence the history of empire more generally. Here, arguably, the picture is less positive. Perhaps it is understandable that, given their relatively small size within the British-Irish Isles and certainly within the context of the wider empire, the examples of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales cannot be expected to contribute substantively to general interpretations of British imperialism. If scholars such as Belich, Magee, and Thompson have incorporated Scottish, Welsh, and Irish evidence into their models, it remains the case that some of the key overarching interpretations have not been substantively influenced by four-nations-based scholarship.71 A future objective is surely to see how the methodology can further contribute to empire-wide debates and not just to a richer understanding of each of the different parts of British-Irish metropole. Alongside its intellectual potential, the ongoing, even heightened, relevance of the four nations model is an apt theme to conclude upon. The historic decision on 23 June 2016 by the electorate of the UK and Northern Ireland to leave the European Union revealed marked differences and enduring connections between the component parts of the British-Irish Isles. Given the considerable regional differences within and between nations revealed by the vote, there is a greater need than ever to strive for a properly historicised grasp of the composite nature of the British-Irish Isles, and how such heterogeneity has shaped interaction 69 Andrew Thomson, The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Harlow: Longman, 2005), 2, 60–63, and 197–202. 70 James Belich, Replenishing the Earth: The Settlement Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo-World, 1783–1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 58. 71 See John Darwin, The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830–1970 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).



with near neighbours and the wider world. Always alert to how the imperatives of the present force a constant recalibration of the past, MacKenzie has been characteristically quick off the mark to ponder how history can contribute to our understanding of the latest watershed in the history of the four nations. Combining as always an astute awareness that internal distinctions say much about the nature of the whole, he is surely correct to argue that Scotland’s deeply ambiguous reaction to the EU vote and its aftermath is shaped in part by perceptions of its traditional European connections. The country’s noticeable tendency to engage with those forms of supranational empire and union (both British and European) which preserve and even enhance ideas of the Scottish nation is another possible historical thread informing its response to the 2016 referendum.72 In this sense, the four nations model is very well suited for our times. But it is, above all, as a helpful window into the innately interactive and connective nature of England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Britain, and British imperialism that the four nations and empire idea will be judged. Its achievements have already borne fruit: in a now comprehensive understanding of Scotland’s place in and influence upon the Empire and the Empire upon it; through new, sophisticated models that radically rethink nineteenth-century Ireland; and exciting scholarship on the still only partially understood role of Wales. If the capacity of the concept to materially shape general theories of British imperialism still has some considerable way to go, there can be little doubt just how effectively it has helped to reveal the connected distinctiveness and mosaic-like character of imperial Britain and Ireland. The four nations model has, unquestionably, helped to complicate the colonizer. Therein lies one of its—and John MacKenzie’s—most substantive and important scholarly achievements.

72 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Brexit: The View from Scotland’, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs 105 (2016), 577–79.


Global and Transnational Perspectives


Brothers in Arms: Crossing Imperial Boundaries in the Eighteenth-Century Dutch West Indies Douglas Hamilton

In his inaugural lecture at Lancaster University in 1992, John MacKenzie outlined the importance of the connections between Scotland and the British Empire. Ever since, many scholars—including some who evinced little previous interest in the world beyond the Tweed—have been inspired to map out in ever more critical terms the extent and durability of Scottish relationships with the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australasia.1 MacKenzie himself has played a central role in the efflorescence of

1 Thomas M. Devine, Scotland’s Empire (London: Allen Lane, 2003); Douglas Hamilton, Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World, 1750–1820 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005); George K. McGilvary, East India Patronage and the British State: The Scottish Elite and Politics in the Eighteenth Century (London: I.B. Tauris, 2008); Angela McCarthy, ed., A Global Clan: Scottish Migrant Networks and Identities in the Eighteenth Century (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006); and John M. MacKenzie, and Thomas M. Devine, eds., Scotland and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).

D. Hamilton (*)  Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



this scholarship.2 Not content merely to make a point about the distinctiveness of Scottish experiences of empire, he also emphasised the importance of national variations across Britain and Ireland, and stressed the need for a ‘four-nation’ approach to the study of empire. For MacKenzie, alert as ever to the symbiotic relationship between Britain and its overseas territories, the empire also shaped ‘vital ethnic distinctions’ at home.3 In framing his discussion in this way, MacKenzie advanced a clear argument not for a set of parallel and separate experiences of empire but instead for a need to ‘recognise the fact that the British Empire was merely a name which obscured many more complex phenomena’.4 This complexity becomes even more labyrinthine when the ‘British’ framework, about which MacKenzie has distinct reservations, is removed and we try to understand empires in a broader European context. Stephen Conway’s notion of a ‘European military international’ offers a suggestive line of argument for this imperial context.5 For Conway, military service (particularly for officers) represented a transnational profession marked by conventions of status, etiquette, dress, and weaponry in which ‘national boundaries were often of secondary importance’. For the men who served, ‘military Europe’ implied a ‘sense of professional solidarity [that] was not necessarily incompatible with feelings of national loyalty, or local allegiance’.6 Similarly, eighteenth-century Scots, like others in imperial contexts, did not feel themselves constrained by national 2 Among other contributions: John M. MacKenzie, ‘Essay and Reflection: On Scotland and the Empire’, International History Review 15 (1993), 714–39; John M. MacKenzie, ‘Empire and National Identities: The Case of Scotland’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 8 (1998), 215–31; and John M. MacKenzie with Nigel R. Dalziel, The Scots in South Africa: Ethnicity, Identity, Gender and Race (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007). 3 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? A Four-Nation Approach to the History of the British Empire’, History Compass 6 (2008), 1256. For his work on the broad influence of empire at home, see John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984); and John M. MacKenzie, Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986). 4 MacKenzie, ‘Four-Nation Approach’, 1244. 5 Stephen Conway, ‘The British Army, “Military Europe” and the American War of Independence’, William and Mary Quarterly 67 (2010), 69–100; and Stephen Conway, ‘The Scots Brigade in the Eighteenth Century’, Northern Scotland 1 (2010), 37–38. 6 Conway, ‘Scots Brigade’, 38.



allegiances nor by state boundaries, both of which they regarded as fluid and malleable. Individuals in empire—whether merchants, planters, officers, or emigrants—were interested in opportunities; formal imperial jurisdictions were sometimes regarded as inconveniences to be circumvented or just ignored. For example, as Andrew MacKillop has pointed out, one of the effects of the 1707 Anglo-Scottish Act of Union, which restricted Scots’ access to India and the East, was to redirect their imperial endeavour through Trieste, Ostend, France, and Sweden at precisely the point when Scots were meant to be bound to England.7 Yet this turning to non-British empires was not simply a consolation prize to compensate for constitutional exclusion. Throughout the eighteenth century, Scots (and others) chose to pursue transnational opportunities. In the 1770s and 1780s, for example, the Glasgow West India merchants Alexander Houstoun & Co. supplied and traded with Scots across the Caribbean, including those whose primary markets were not British. Among them were the McFarlane brothers, one of whom was based in Danish St. Croix and the other in Copenhagen. In 1780, Houstoun & Co. dealt similarly with Scots who were based in Dutch St Eustatius before the British capture of the island in 1781.8 For these people, the empires of multiple European nations provided a set of comparable and compatible commercial, social, and political conventions; they ignored or evaded legislation like the British Navigation Acts. The ‘conspicuously cosmopolitan’ Dutch Empire proved to be especially welcoming. The openness of the Dutch commercial world in the Atlantic has received significant scholarly attention, and it is clear that its territories were accessible to the citizens of other countries, and became increasingly so over the course of the eighteenth century. Indeed, as Benjamin Schmidt puts it, the Dutch moved ‘to an expansive vision of the Atlantic, which declined to highlight any single imperial strategy and thus appealed to a broadly European community of

7 Andrew MacKillop, ‘Accessing Empire; Scotland, Europe, Britain, and the Asia Trade, 1965–c. 1750’, Itinerario 29 (2005), 7–30; and Andrew MacKillop, ‘A Union for Empire? Scotland, the English East India Company and the British Union’, Scottish Historical Review 87 (supplement, 2008), 116–34. 8 National Library of Scotland (NLS), MS8794 (36, 63, 256), Alexander Houstoun & Co. Foreign Letter Book F.


consumers’.9 One effect of this transnational mobility across European empires was a shifting sense of allegiances, both personal and national, as this chapter suggests. To explore these issues in depth, this chapter uses a case study of one Scottish family’s imperial engagement. It centres on the careers of two brothers, James and Robert Douglas, who were the sons of a notable Edinburgh lawyer and politician, George Douglas of Friarshaw. As the second and fifth sons, respectively, neither stood to inherit the family estate, and so they both took up careers in the armed services: one in the navy and the other in the army.10 As they pursued their careers, they developed and utilised a wide range of connections spanning the British and Dutch empires. They also—like many others—acquired a personal stake in empire by purchasing a sugar estate. In doing so, as with their military careers, their frame of reference was not merely the British Empire. Instead, they operated in a much broader context and relied on Barbadian and Dutch merchants and planters as they developed their Caribbean holdings. James Douglas, the elder of the two, was born in 1703 and joined the Royal Navy in 1715. He rose through the ranks and commanded ships at Cartagena and at Louisbourg during the War of the Austrian Succession. He earned enough money to acquire an estate of his own in the Scottish Borders at Bridgend, near Kelso, in May 1750. The estate (which he renamed Springwood Park) along with the house and gardens cost him around £5500 sterling.11 The extent of his later investments in Dutch Demerara did not prevent James Douglas from extending this landholding in Scotland. In January 1765, just as his need to spend more on his plantation became apparent, he completed the purchase of the Barony of Longnewton, close to Springwood Park, from Sir William Scott of Ancrum. The lands included eleven farms, which were

9 Benjamin Schmidt, ‘The Dutch Atlantic: From Provincialism to Globalism’, in Jack P. Greene and Philip D. Morgan, eds., Atlantic History: A Critical Reappraisal (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 181. Among the wider literature on the Dutch Atlantic, see Wim Klooster, Illicit Riches: The Dutch Trade in the Caribbean, 1648–1795 (Leiden: Brill, 1998); Gert Oostindie, and Jessica V. Roitman, eds., Dutch Atlantic Connections, 1600–1800: Linking Empires, Bridging Borders (Leiden: Brill, 2014). 10 NLS, MS8109, Douglas of Springwood Park, Pedigree of the family of Douglas of Friarshaw. 11 NLS, MS8077(10), Douglas of Springwood Park, Minute of sale, 14 May 1750.



later augmented by further purchases in 1766 and 1769.12 While it is now common for historians to connect domestic land acquisition with Caribbean estate ownership (or, indeed, other forms of imperial enterprise), it is clear in this case that Douglas was not using Caribbean revenue to fund purchases or improvement at home: his investments were simultaneous.13 In the mid-1760s, both sets of investments were being funded by independent income—probably derived, at least initially, from naval prize money—but he clearly saw them both as important aspects of his burgeoning portfolio of landed interests. A direct financial connection between them may be lacking, but it is revealing that an ambitious naval officer saw contemporaneous Scottish land acquisition and imperial investment as twin facets of his elite status. In 1754, Douglas entered Parliament as MP for Orkney and Shetland and served until 1768. He was not, however, a career politician and devoted his professional life to the navy and to his landholdings. By the later 1750s, he was sufficiently prominent among the naval and political elites to serve on Admiral Byng’s court martial following the loss of Minorca in 1756. Three years later, he brought home news of the British victory at Quebec, for which he was rewarded with a knighthood.14 James’s younger brother Robert opted for a military rather than a naval career, but, instead of volunteering for the British army, he joined the Scots Brigade in the Netherlands. Scots had served in the Dutch army since the later sixteenth century, and by the eighteenth century, they comprised three regiments (the ‘Scots Brigade’), although they retained their allegiance to the British monarch.15 They formed an important aspect of the alliance between Britain and the Netherlands

12 NLS, MS8077 (43-6) Minute of Sale; (77-9) list of contents of the Barony of Longnewton. 13 Hamilton, Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic World, 196–202; and Devine, Scottish Empire, 326–45. 14 Ruddock Mackay, ‘Douglas, Sir James, First Baronet (1703–1787)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004); online edn, January 2008, http:// [accessed 4 July 2017]. 15 James Ferguson, Papers Illustrating the History of the Scots Brigade in the Service of the United Netherlands, Volume II: 1698–1782 (Edinburgh: Scottish History Society, 1899); Conway, ‘Scots Brigade’, 30–41; and John Childs, ‘The Scottish Brigade in the Service of the Dutch Republic, 1689 to 1782’, Documentatieblad werkgroep Achttiende eeuw 16 (1984), 59–74.


during the eighteenth century.16 In 1747, the Netherlands requested more Scottish volunteers, and Robert Douglas joined as a captain in a new fourth regiment that was raised by Henry Douglas, Earl of Drumlanrig. After joining the Scots Brigade, Robert Douglas settled in the Netherlands, where he married Helen de Brauw in 1754. In due course, he developed his own network of significant military, mercantile and political connections in the Netherlands, the most important of whom was with Count Willem Bentinck, a prominent Dutch nobleman, politician and diplomat, and half-brother of the 2nd Earl of Portland.17 Shortly after he had signed up for the Scots Brigade, he met Robert Stedman, a captain who had arrived in Holland in 1745 and who also married into a Dutch family. Both of Stedman’s sons joined the brigade. The younger of them, John Gabriel Stedman, later served on an expedition to suppress a revolt in Suriname in 1772. He wrote an account of his experiences there, and his Narrative of a Five Years Expedition (1796) has become one of the most significant eighteenth-century accounts of slave society. Robert Douglas was one of the original subscribers.18 That Robert Douglas should take this route into the Scots Brigade is not terribly surprising. Following a long-standing tradition of Scottish service in the armies of northern Europe that pre-dated the 1707 Act of Union, thousands of Scots had served in the Dutch army by the 1740s, and those numbers were swollen to around 7000 by the arrival of Drumlanrig’s new regiment. For Scottish younger sons like Douglas, Dutch service offered pay, perquisites, and status comparable to that of the British army.19 Moreover, Robert’s assimilation into the Dutch military and into Dutch life presented some interesting opportunities—as well as conundra—when the brothers’ paths crossed in the Caribbean 16 H. M. Scott, ‘Sir Joseph Yorke, Dutch Politics and the Origins of the Fourth AngloDutch War’, Historical Journal 31 (1988), 576–77. 17 Nationaal Archief, Netherlands, Raad van staat: Naamindex op de commissieboeken,; Ferguson, Scots Brigade, 370–73, 414, and 506; NLS, MS8109, Douglas pedigree; and Conway, ‘Scots Brigade’, 38. 18 Ferguson, Scots Brigade, 442; and John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative of a Five Years Expedition Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (London: J. Johnson and J. Edwards, 1796). 19 Conway, ‘Scots Brigade’, 30–41. Among the extensive literature on early modern Scots in European military service, see Steve Murdoch, Scotland and the Thirty Years War, 1618– 1648 (Leiden: Brill, 2001); and Alexia Grosjean, An Unofficial Alliance: Scotland and Sweden, 1569–1654 (Leiden: Brill, 2003).



during the Seven Years’ War. The connections between brothers who served different nations suggest something of the porosity of these imperial boundaries in the eighteenth-century Caribbean. In 1760, James Douglas was appointed commander of the Royal Navy’s squadron in the Leeward Islands, with bases at Antigua and Barbados. He led the naval forces at the capture of Dominica in 1761 and tried actively to suppress French and Spanish privateering. As the commander of the squadron, he was entitled to a one-eighth share of the prize money from captured ships. Like many naval officers, he developed strong connections among the planter class; he also, like about twenty per cent of all the commanding officers who served in the Caribbean in the second half of the eighteenth century, sought to invest in local plantations.20 During his time in the Leeward Islands, he received a share of the sale of 145 ships and their cargo, and it seems likely that the prize money from these actions provided the capital for his Caribbean purchase.21 This was not the first time that a member of the Douglas family had purchased a Caribbean estate: James and Robert’s uncle, Henry Douglas, had owned a plantation in Antigua with around 124 slaves before his death in 1753, and the continuing lease of that estate supported legacies to family members.22 James Douglas, however, did not buy land in either Antigua or Barbados where he had connections and influence. Instead, he took advantage of opportunities in the Dutch colony of Demerara, on the southern shores of the Caribbean Sea. Demerara was controlled by the Dutch West India Company (WIC) and was primarily the responsibility of the Zeeland Chamber of the Dutch States General. The complex set of relationships between the chambers of the States General complicated the management of the WIC 20 Sian Williams, ‘The Royal Navy in the Caribbean, 1756–1814’ (Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Southampton, 2014), appendix. 21 The National Archives, Kew (TNA), ADM 7/352, A List of Merchant Ships & Vessels belonging to the French, which have been taken or destroyed by His Majesty’s Ships since the Declaration of War on the 17th May 1756. I am most grateful to Jeremy Michell of the National Maritime Museum for sharing his data, based on this list. Sian Williams, ‘The Royal Navy and Caribbean Colonial Society During the Eighteenth Century’, in John McAleer and Christer Petley, eds., The Royal Navy and the British Atlantic World, c. 1750– 1820 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 39–41. 22 NLS, MS 8094, Will of Henry Douglas of Antigua, 26 February 1753; and CH7647, Copy lease, Trustees of Henry Douglas Esq and Edward Grant the Younger, 28 April 1758.


and its colonies such that, before the middle of the eighteenth ­century, Suriname received considerable attention, but the other Guyana colonies of Demerara, Berbice, and Essequibo remained underdeveloped. In 1743, Laurens Storm van ’s-Gravesande was appointed governor of Essequibo (the least undeveloped of the three) and quickly set about trying to create a plantation economy there. Three years later, he made his son Jonathan the governor of Demerara, and between them, they actively tried to attract not only private Dutch capital but trade and settlement from British planters in the southern Caribbean as well. They met with some success: within two decades, ninety-three plantations had been cut out from the bush, of which thirty-four were owned by Britons or Irishmen.23 Among them was James Douglas, whose connections with the Barbadian planters who were prominent among the early purchasers, his brother’s Dutch networks, and his own cordial relationship with Storm help to explain why he was persuaded to invest in a Dutch colony, even as a serving British officer in the midst of the Seven Years’ War. In the summer of 1761, Robert Douglas travelled from the Netherlands to Demerara and was, as Storm reported, ‘very well pleased with Demerara and with the plantation which his brother bought for him’. In fact, he was so impressed that he planned to go back to Zeeland to collect his wife and children and to return with them to Demerara. James Douglas wrote to Storm in October 1761 noting that the ‘good reports’ about the colony had been ‘strongly confirm’d’ by his brother.24

23 Gert van Oostindie, ‘“British Capital, Industry and Perseverance” Versus Dutch “Old School”?: The Dutch Atlantic and the Takeover of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo, 1750–1815’, BMGN—Low Countries Historical Review 127 (2012), 28–55; Simon D. Smith, Slavery, Family and Gentry Capitalism in the British Atlantic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 105–7 and 115–16; Cornelius Ch. Goslinga, The Dutch in the Caribbean and the Guianas, 1680–1791 (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1985), 442–53; C. A. Harris, and J. A. J. de Villiers, eds., Storm van ’s-Gravesande: The Rise of British Guiana (London: Hakluyt Society, 1911), II, 399; Richard B. Sheridan, ‘The Condition of the Slaves on the Sugar Plantations of Sir John Gladstone in the Colony of Demerara, 1812–49’, New West India Guide 76 (2002), 244–45; and Kit Candlin, The Last Caribbean Frontier, 1795–1815 (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), 26–27. 24 Harris and de Villiers, Rise of British Guiana, II, 391–92; and TNA, CO116/33(138), Sir James Douglas to Storm, 30 October 1761.



1   Weilburg The plantation the Douglas brothers acquired was called Weilburg. Situated on the west bank of the Demerara River, it extended to around 2000 acres. They bought it from a Dutch planter who had acquired it in 1753, and, although some attempts had been made to clear the estate for sugar production, it remained largely undeveloped in 1761.25 Robert Douglas stayed in Demerara for more than a year to supervise the readying of the land for planting. By July 1762, however, he had returned home to Zeeland, and the management of the plantation was placed in the hands of Lachlan McLean as the attorney and Thomas Grant as the manager. Both were experienced Demerara hands. Although they were both Scots, McLean’s connection to Douglas did not come from Scottish networks. Douglas knew of McLean through Gedney Clarke Snr, an Anglo-Barbadian merchant and planter, whose Demerara interests he also represented. Under the direction of McLean and Grant, enslaved Africans were acquired to continue the process of converting the land to sugar production. Across the Caribbean, clearing land for production was an arduous task, but in Demerara it proved especially challenging. The geography of the region was dominated by the Demerara River and the many tributaries that ran into it. While this created conditions ideal for the spread of vegetation, it was not immediately suitable for the growing of plantation staples like sugar. To transform this territory, planters employed enslaved Africans to hack back the undergrowth. They also applied technology brought over from the Netherlands. They established plantation land by the creation of polders: low-lying land reclaimed or safeguarded through the construction of dykes and sluices. The labour was again provided by enslaved Africans, who bore the burdens of digging and maintaining the dykes and sluices on top of their ‘normal’ plantation work of clearing land and planting, tending, and cutting sugar cane.26 This was a very 25 Laurens Lodewyk van Bercheyck, Caerte van de Rivier Demerary van ouds Immenary, geleger op Suyd Americaes Noordkust (Amsterdam: Hendrick de Leth, 1759) [accessed 9 May 2018]. 26 Gert van Oostindie, and Alex van Stripriaan, ‘Slavery and Slave Cultures in a Hydraulic Society: Suriname’, in Stephan Palmié, ed., Slave Cultures and the Cultures of Slavery (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1995), 80–82; and Oostindie, ‘British Capital’, 33. See also Alex van Stripriaan, ‘The Suriname Rat Race: Labour and Technology on Sugar Plantations, 1750–1900’, New West India Guide 63 (1989), 94–117.


significant undertaking, and, despite the application of Dutch technology, they succeeded only in clearing a productive agricultural area similar in size to that found on the generally smaller estates on the Caribbean islands to the north.27 The transplantation of this environmental knowledge did, however, provide the colony with a significant advantage. The management of water meant that Demerara was not faced with problems of shortage and desiccation as some Caribbean islands were, and the natural conditions allowed important competitive advantages over the island colonies. As the French Enlightenment writer and historian Abbé Raynal noted, ‘One of the principles of this fertility must be, the facility with which the planters can surround their habitations with water during the dry season’.28 The additional heavy demands on the enslaved, however, had consequences.

2  The Berbice Slave Revolt Shortly after Robert Douglas left Demerara, slaves on the Magdalenenburg estate in neighbouring Berbice rose up on 27 February 1763. Four days later, they were followed by those on the Hollandia and Lelienburg plantations. Soon, almost all the 4000 slaves in Berbice were in open revolt. The planters and their families were imperilled: as slave forces assumed control of the colony, the ‘uprising’ increasingly resembled a ‘revolution’, as Governor van Hoogenheim of Berbice put it.29 Run by the private and distant Berbice Company, the colony had long 27 Justin Roberts, Slavery and the Enlightenment in the British Atlantic, 1750–1807 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 80–130; and Richard S. Dunn, A Tale of Two Plantations: Slave Life and Labour in Jamaica and Virginia (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), 131–80. 28 Abbé Guillaume-Thomas François Raynal, A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies (London: A. Strahan, 1798), 224. On the question of desiccation, see Richard H. Grove, Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1860 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 264–308; and B. W. Higman, Plantation Jamaica 1750–1850: Capital and Control in a Colonial Economy (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2005), 180–90. 29 Koninklijk Huisarchief, The Hague (KHA), Collectie Bentinck, G2-54 I, Bijlaag bij missive van Gouvernour en Raaden van de colonie van Berbice, rec. 11 July 1763. I am grateful to His Majesty Willem Alexander, King of the Netherlands, for permission to use this material. The fullest published account, based on Governor von Hoogenheim’s reports, is Barbara L. Blair, ‘Wilfert Simon von Hoogenheim in the Berbice Slave Revolt



neglected its defences, and it was able to make little meaningful response. The first reaction came from the neighbouring colonies of Suriname, which mustered 100 men (forty of whom later deserted to the rebels); from Demerara, which sent between 1500 and 2000 Carib Indians to join the beleaguered Dutch forces; and from the island of St Eustatius, from which reinforcements arrived in May.30 In the meantime, a private expedition organised and paid for by the Barbados merchant Gedney Clarke Snr left from Bridgetown to support the Dutch. Comprising an eighteen-gun ship, two armed brigantines and 100 naval personnel from HMS Pembroke, the flotilla joined the Barbados militia.31 Although James Douglas had moved to Jamaica and was no longer the naval commander at Barbados, he was still actively involved in authorising the venture, which was described as ‘having been put into commission by Admiral Douglas’.32 James Douglas had maintained cordial relations with Storm van ’s-Gravesande, and they were both deeply concerned about events in Berbice. They had corresponded while Douglas was on the Leeward station, with Douglas writing to Storm to thank him for assisting with the capture of naval deserters. He promised in 1761 that ‘in return I most cheerfully offer you all the assistance in my power, that in any way tend to the improvement of your infant Colony of Demerara of which it gives me great pleasure to hear such good Reports’.33 This personal rapport, in addition to the Douglas family’s stake in Demerara, helps to explain why a British naval commander was prepared to commit British naval assets to maintaining the security of a Dutch colony. Douglas was clearly aware of the threat posed by the revolt, as Storm’s message to the

of 1763–64’, Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde 140 (1984), 56–76. See also Marjoleine Kars, ‘Policing and Transgressing Borders: Soldiers, Slave Rebels and the Early Modern Atlantic’, New West Indian Guide 83 (2009), 192–95. 30 Blair, ‘Berbice Revolt’, 64; KHA, G2-54 IB, Robert Douglas to Count Willem Bentinck, 2 January 1764; and British Library (BL) MS 1720(10), Egerton Papers: Bentinck Papers, Gedney Clarke Snr, Barbados, to Bentinck, 3 April 1763. 31 Smith, Slavery, Family and Gentry Capitalism, 116–17; KHA G2-54 IA Robert Douglas to Bentinck, 20 June 1763; and BL, MS 1720(10), Clarke Snr to Bentinck, 3 April 1763. 32 Edward Bancroft, An Essay on the Natural History of Guiana in South America (London: T. Beckett & P. A. de Hondt, 1769), 355. 33 Harris and de Villiers, Rise of British Guiana, II, 394.


WIC that ‘Demerara is in utmost danger’ had arrived in Amsterdam in June, and Clarke Snr had informed Count Bentinck from Barbados only slightly later.34 The British were not generally in the habit of deploying their forces to aid their commercial rivals, particularly to one whose neutrality in the Seven Years’ War seemed to benefit their enemies, and to be contrary to the spirit of their previous long-standing alliance. The response to the Berbice revolt in 1761 resulted from the close connections that had developed between the Douglases, the Clarkes, and Bentinck over several years. In 1755, with the Seven Years’ War imminent, Clarke Snr had sent his son to the Netherlands to learn Dutch. He did not, however, immediately gain access to the Dutch elite. It is likely that it was Clarke Snr’s acquaintance with James Douglas in Barbados that led Robert Douglas to write to Count Bentinck in July 1762 to introduce the younger Clarke.35 This connection allowed Douglas and Clarke to express their alarm over the situation in Berbice directly to Bentinck and to press for him to lobby for a vigorous response from the Netherlands. They impressed on him the urgency of the situation: ‘How soon they [the rebellious slaves] may come upon us God knows! But whether they do it sooner or later, it is certain that all the work at present is Stopped & every thing going to Ruin & Destruction’.36 Pressed by Robert Douglas and by the Clarkes, Bentinck joined the call for an expedition from the Netherlands to retake control of Berbice and to safeguard the other Dutch colonies. A decision was slow in coming, however, and Clarke wrote to express his frustration: ‘How can it be expected that private men should support & defend for ever the Honour of a Nation, such as Holland, and the particular interest of the Individuals of an whole Colony’.37 Within a week, Douglas and the Clarkes implored Bentinck for a second time to help raise 34 Harris and de Villiers, Rise of British Guiana, II, 419; and BL, MS 1720(10), Clarke to Bentinck, 3 April 1763. 35 The Lascelles and Maxwell Letter Books 1739–69 (Wakefield: Microform Academic Publishers, 2002), which includes transcripts of Richard Pares’ notes from Rhodes House Library (hereafter Pares Transcripts) W&G VI, f. 161, George Maxwell to Gedney Clarke Snr, 5 May 1755; and BL MS 1720(1-2) Robert Douglas to Willem Bentinck, 12 July 1762. 36 BL, MS 1720(28-9), Clarke Jnr to Bentinck, 16 June 1763. 37 BL, MS 1720(28-9), Clarke Jnr to Bentinck, 16 June 1763.



troops. Clarke Snr specifically asked for one of the regiments of the Scots Brigade to be sent. This was not simply a matter of their reputation for military prowess, as he told his son: ‘They may all settle there; and he [Bentinck] might know that it is now proper to send inhabitants from Europe (as we have many Islands ceded to the English to settle) which there was no occasion for before the last War’. Attracting new settlers was a concern because, along with the revolt in Berbice, British territorial gains in the southern Caribbean in the Seven Years’ War had made the Guyanas a much less appealing prospect for settlers. There were now new opportunities on Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent and Tobago.38 Clarke also recommended that Robert Douglas be appointed as commander, a point Douglas reiterated to Bentinck.39 In late June, however, it became clear that ‘jarring interests’ in Dutch domestic politics and in the management of colonial affairs hampered the raising of the expedition, just as it had impeded the development of the Dutch West Indian colonies.40 Nonetheless, Bentinck persisted, and he wrote to Robert Douglas and asked him to come to The Hague to meet in person. But such were the entrenched divisions (especially between Middelburg and Amsterdam) that Bentinck believed he needed not to be seen to favour one side. He was happy to express his views as long as he did not appear to be lobbying. He wrote to Douglas ‘that if you do take the resolution of taking a trip here it must not be known that I desired you, which might cause unnecessary and untimely Suspicions’.41 In early August, the States General, rather than the Berbice Company, the WIC, or the Zeeland Chamber, all of which had more direct interests in the colony, eventually committed to an expedition, with Robert Douglas going as second-in-command and Lieutenant Colonel, and accompanied by his brother-in-law, Cornelius de Brauw, whom Douglas had recommended.42 Three ships carrying more than 400 troops left in November, almost nine months after the revolt began. The arrival of this 38 BL,

MS 1720 (43v), Clarke Snr to Clarke Jnr, 6 June 1763. G2-54 IA, Robert Douglas to Bentinck, 20 June 1763. 40 BL, MS 1720(27), Clarke Jnr to Bentinck, 16 June 1763; and KHA, GA2-54 IA Bentinck to Robert Douglas, 23 June 1763. See also Jonathan Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness and Fall, 1477–1806 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 949–51. 41 KHA, GA2-54 IA, Bentinck to Robert Douglas, 23 June 1763. 42 KHA, GA2-54 IA, Robert Douglas to Bentinck, 20 June 1763; and BL MS 1720(46) Bentinck to Clarke Jnr, 2 August 1763. 39 KHA,


contingent of regular European soldiers, combined with a significant mustering of indigenous Carib Indians, and internal fractures among the rebels, enabled the revolt to be suppressed. By April 1764, Douglas was able to inform Bentinck that ‘our soldier work is done here … & we all fondly flatter ourselves that our answers to these letters will be Orders for our Return’.43 Although Douglas did not get the command he desired, the wishes of the two Scottish brothers, backed by two Anglo-Barbadian merchants, were advanced through their connections in the Dutch political elite to secure a positive outcome for their plantation in the Dutch Empire. The response to the Berbice rising—and specifically the mobilisation of British forces for a private expedition to aid another country’s colony—highlights both the blurring of private and public interests, as well as the myriad entanglements across imperial boundaries in the southern Caribbean. These individuals did not adhere to the technicalities of national political jurisdictions. As Robert Douglas, a Scottish officer in Dutch service put it, ‘I feel an uncommon satisfaction after seeing that Colony Receive Relief & perhaps preservation from where it should least expect it, an Englishman and a rival Colony’.44

3   Managing the Weilburg Estate After the end of the slave revolt, Robert Douglas did not return to the Weilburg estate. His early optimism about Berbice was destroyed by his experiences there. After his departure for the Netherlands in May 1764, he wrote, ‘We are gone from a Country to where I would not Return for all the wealth the Indies gives’. He hated the climate and deplored the ineptitude of the colony’s governance. He concluded, ‘Unlucky Berbice … never will it flourish, but by striking the root all at once, putting the direction in the hands of the Sovereign & no longer leave in those who show so little of that paternal care an Infant Colony demands’.45 Shorn of his enthusiasm for the Guyanas, Robert Douglas returned to a military career in the Netherlands, but he remained involved in advising on running the estate and in providing support in the Netherlands.

43 KHA,

G2-54 IB, Robert Douglas to Bentinck, 25 April 1764. G2-54 IA, Robert Douglas to Bentinck, 20 June 1763. 45 KHA, G2-54 IB, Robert Douglas to Bentinck, 12 June 1764. 44 KHA,



Sir James—despite his brother’s pessimism—retained ownership of Weilburg and continued to employ the manager and attorney in the colony. The family’s ability to position themselves in a broad European imperial context remained important. As well as support from Robert Douglas in Zeeland, the family drew on Scottish and English correspondents—notably Gedney Clarke in Barbados—and others in the Netherlands. The produce of Demerara plantations could only (legally) be shipped to the WIC’s home port of Middelburg, and so the family utilised contacts among the Dutch merchant community, to which Robert Douglas was related by marriage. By 1765, the plantation’s attorney, Lachlan McLean, reported that the estate was ‘now in pretty good order’ with some thirty-five acres planted with sugar canes, as well as provision grounds, a stock house, a hospital, and a landing and punt to access the Demerara River. The influence of water, and of the transplantation of Dutch technology, was apparent as McLean noted the estate also had ‘[a] Good sluis’ to regulate water across the plantation. The estate lacked a sugar works, and the harvested cane had to be moved across the river for processing at the Land of Canaan estate, part-owned by McLean. It was also, McLean noted, ‘absolutely necessary’ for Douglas to invest in more slaves.46 As an absentee planter, Sir James Douglas needed reliable information and accurate accounts of the costs of establishing and running the estate, which was still showing little return. Indeed, it seems he was uncertain about continuing with it: McLean had reported that there was interest in the estate ‘in case you shoud dispose of the Weilburg’.47 Perhaps McLean’s upbeat report in February 1765 persuaded Sir James to persevere, because that summer he appointed his brother-in-law William Brisbane to run the estate, largely as a favour to his wife. Brisbane was hugely enthusiastic about the challenge, and even before he had left Britain, he concocted a series of ambitious schemes, such as hiring a ship to acquire Africans directly from Sierra Leone and building a water mill on the plantation.48 More practically, he spent time acquiring building 46 National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (NMM), DOU/6 no fol, Douglas Papers: Lachlan McLean to Sir James Douglas, 21 February 1765; and TNA, CO116/34 (333v), List of Planters, February 1765. 47 NMM, DOU/6, no fol., Lachlan McLean to Sir James Douglas, 21 February 1765. 48 NMM, DOU/6, William Brisbane to Sir James Douglas, letters 12 and 13, 12 and 23 August 1765.


materials to construct a sugar works and hiring skilled carpenters and coopers. He had anticipated recruiting these men in the Netherlands en route to Demerara, but he was advised by Robert Douglas that the impact of the 1763 Berbice slave rebellion was still being felt, not just for emigrants to Berbice, but to the Guyana colonies more generally: Dutch ‘people are set against that Country and may influence those we carry out’.49 After calling at Barbados to meet Gedney Clarke, William Brisbane eventually arrived in Demerara in early 1766. He found the estate in good order, with fifty-two acres being cultivated, forty-two of which were in sugar canes. Sixteen new slaves had arrived via Barbados in February, and, using their labour, Brisbane ordered the clearing of additional land and the construction of the sugar works. His voyage out and his early impressions of the plantation, significantly tempered his enthusiasm for grand schemes, however. The direct importation of slaves, he realised, would mean entering the slave trade, and he told Sir James that this ‘would be leading you into Expenses I would by no means wish you to embark in’. He also abandoned the idea of a water mill; despite the technological changes to the land introduced by Dutch, he found ‘every body heartily tired of water mills’. Instead, following McLean’s advice he planned to construct a cattle mill.50 The lack of a sugar works still presented a very significant problem: ‘All I have got ground is 2 punt loads of Canes but that will soon be remedied it brakes my hart to see the shifts we are put to & the Loss accruing from the want of works’.51 Nonetheless, by April the estate was producing sugar, and ten hogsheads had been shipped to Middelburg, the only port with which Demerara could trade directly. Despite this progress, Brisbane still felt the estate was not fulfilling its potential. He reckoned that the lack of works meant that only a third of the estate’s produce could be readied for export, a situation that could only be remedied when the sugar works were completed. He remained conscious, however, that deploying the enslaved workers in construction ‘thins unavoidably our gang in the field’.52

49 NMM,

DOU/6, Brisbane to Douglas, letter 12, 12 August 1765. DOU/6, Brisbane to Douglas, letter 24, 4 March 1766. 51 NMM, DOU/6, Brisbane to Douglas, letter 25, 20 March 1766. 52 NMM, DOU/6, Brisbane to Douglas, letter 26, 14 April 1766. 50 NMM,



Throughout 1766, Brisbane continued the work of developing the Weilburg plantation. Copper stills for rum production were installed to complement the sugar works. More Africans were brought in via Barbados to help with construction and with clearing more of the land for production. Although Weilburg seemed to be making real progress, Brisbane found his situation very challenging. He fell out spectacularly with Thomas Grant, the overseer, over what Brisbane saw as Grant’s excessive brutality towards the enslaved. He was unsettled by a succession of earthquakes, and his health was weakened by the tropical climate. By January 1767, he was ready to leave and wrote to Douglas to tell him so.53 In July 1767, Robert Milne arrived in Demerara to replace him. Milne’s connection to Douglas probably came through the Royal Navy; indeed, it is likely that Milne was still an officer when he went to Demerara, because he had to apply to the Admiralty for leave for twoand-a-half-years in order to take up the position at Weilburg. He wrote to Philip Stephens, Secretary to the Admiralty, asking him to ‘enterpose your kind offices with my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty in my behalf’.54 It is clear from Milne’s first letter home that Brisbane had not been popular among the colonists, but he reassured Douglas that the reports had impugned the previous manager. Milne concluded that man responsible for sending ‘such disagreeable information concerning Mr Brisbane’s Domestick affairs is a worthless fellow [whose] ascertions were false’. He was, Milne noted, ‘a drunken idle fellow’.55 As far as the estate was concerned, ‘none was ever better in the country’. He went on, ‘I am convinced [Brisbane] has done wonders for the improvement of the Estate’.56 Even so, Milne continued to hear gossip about Brisbane that alarmed him. In the first place, Brisbane’s solution to problems on the estate appeared to have been to spend more money; Milne reported that Brisbane had spent excessive sums on bricks and stills. He also heard tales of Brisbane having organised a ‘great feast in commemoration of the Pretender’s birthday’. Many Jacobites had fled

53 NMM,

DOU/6, Brisbane to Sir James Douglas, 3 January 1767. DOU/6, Copied in: Robert Milne to Sir James Douglas, 1 July 1767. 55 NMM, DOU/6, Milne to Douglas, 1 July 1767. 56 NMM, DOU/6, Milne to Sir James Douglas, 25 July 1767. 54 NMM,


to the Caribbean in the aftermath of the failed 1745 rebellion, but few— by the 1760s—chose to mark their allegiance so openly. Jacobitism still tainted the reputation of Scots, even, it seems, in a colony owned by the Dutch.57 On the other hand, the presence of Jacobites (and their apparently continuing allegiance to the Stuart cause) alongside Presbyterians and Episcopalians also usefully reminds us of variation among Scots in the eighteenth-century empire. It also suggests that if the nineteenth-century ‘Scottish empire’ was notable for its Presbyterianism, as MacKenzie argues, then its eighteenth-century iteration was rather more ecumenical.58 Milne also heard from an army officer who had an estate in Demerara that Brisbane and his wife had been so lenient with the enslaved that ‘the Negroes are under no manner of controul’. This echoed a dispute between Brisbane and Douglas’ original estate manager, Thomas Grant, over the treatment of the enslaved. Soon after Brisbane’s arrival, Grant wrote to Sir James explaining that he was leaving because Brisbane’s ‘over lenity with the slaves has effectually put it out of my power to be any reall service to the Estate’. Brisbane waited until June to inform Douglas and in the process outlined the brutality of the punishment meted out to an enslaved man, which involved beating him senseless then setting fire to ‘high wines’ poured over him. As the dispute rumbled on, Brisbane argued that Grant’s ‘Cruelty was so grait he wou’d have soon maid you loose most of your Slaves as some were lamed & the rest wou’d have run away’.59 Contemporary observers often regarded Dutch slavery as ­especially harsh, but it may be more likely that the high mortality rates in the eighteenth-century Guyanas were the result of the rigours of the p ­ older environment. The extraordinary burdens placed on the enslaved clearly took their toll, as the demography of Weilburg’s slaves bears out. By 1762, the Douglases had acquired thirty-eight slaves, but the slave 57 NMM, DOU/6, Milne to Sir James Douglas, 6 July 1767. On Jacobites in the Caribbean, see Douglas Hamilton, ‘Defending the Colonies Against Malicious Attacks of Philanthropy: Scottish Campaigns Against the Abolitions of the Slave Trade and Slavery’, in Allan Macinnes and Douglas Hamilton, eds., Jacobitism, Enlightenment and Empire, 1680–1820 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2014), 194–95. 58 See, for example, MacKenzie, ‘Empire and National Identities’, 220 and 222. 59 NMM, DOU6/no fol., Grant to Sir James Douglas, 7 March 1766; Brisbane to Douglas Letters 28 and 30, 2 June 1766 and 3 January 1767.



population declined on the estate to only twenty-five in 1765 and 1766, before purchases increased it to fifty by 1768 and ultimately to ninety in 1770.60 In any event, it is clear that non-Dutch planters and managers were as culpable as their Dutch counterparts. Brisbane’s concern about what he saw as Grant’s excessively harsh treatment of the slaves also echoed warnings made by Robert Douglas during the Berbice slave revolt. As well as attacking the Berbice Company for its mismanagement of the colony, he also blamed the ‘cruelty’ of planters and their ‘inhuman treatment’ of their slaves for the Berbice rising itself. Further disturbances could be avoided, he wrote, ‘provided Care is taken that more Humanity & better treatment is shown to the poor Negroes’.61 Robert Douglas’ warnings were not heeded on his own family’s estate. How Sir James Douglas reacted to these conflicting reports of leniency and brutality is unknown, but the fact that the discussion about it lasted some months suggests that he did not immediately believe Brisbane’s account. Indeed, he expressed his hope to Brisbane in August 1766 that Grant had not left.62 At the very least, he was not immediately appalled by the reports of gratuitous violence, as perhaps his brother would have been, and his naval background meant that he would not have balked at the idea of extreme corporal punishment. Under the so-called Articles of War, naval captains could impose a punishment of up to twelve lashes. For the serious punishments, courts martial were convened and dealt with matters of theft, desertion, mutiny, violence and refusal to follow orders. The courts martial had the power to impose capital punishment and corporal punishments of up to 1000 lashes.63

60 Oostinde and Stripriaan, ‘Hydraulic Society’, 80, 94. Data on the slave population comes from Lists of the Plantations in Demerara 1762–68: TNA, CO 116/33(168), CO 116/33(327v), CO 116/34(206v), CO116/34(332), CO 116/35(112v), CO116/36(203), and CO 116/36(444); and NLS, MS8097(1), Letter from Mr Boddaert to George Douglas, 30 June 1770. 61 KHA, G2-54 IB, Robert Douglas to Bentinck, 24 May 1764. 62 NMM, DOU/6, no fol., Sir James to Brisbane, 28 August 1766. 63 N. A. M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London: Fontana, 1988), 218–29; A. G. Jamieson, ‘Tyranny of the Lash? Punishment in the Royal Navy During the American War, 1776–1783’, Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord 9 (1999), 53–66; and J. D. Byrn, ed., Naval Courts Martial, 1793–1815 (Farnham: Ashgate for Naval Record Society, 2009), xvii–xxvii.


Having served on the court martial that condemned Admiral Byng in 1756, in the first two weeks after his arrival as commander of the Leeward squadron Douglas oversaw courts martial of nine sailors. Robert Jefferson was sentenced to execution by hanging, while the other eight were sentenced to 1950 lashes between them, with William Tarding of the Levant sentenced to 500 alone. In each case, the culprit was to be ‘flogged round the fleet’, receiving a portion of the punishment on each of the naval vessels in port, both increasing the humiliation and serving as a more visible example. Naval punishments, therefore, for all the legal legitimacy of the courts martial, were often little less brutal than those meted out to the enslaved. Grant’s letters to Douglas did not outline the nature of the punishments he had inflicted in the same detail as did Brisbane’s, but he did phrase his explanations for them in ways that might be comprehensible to a senior naval officer. He told Douglas that the slave in question had struck him while he was being punished for disobeying an instruction— both offences for which the consequences were severe for sailors in the navy. Grant also appealed to Douglas’ experience of the Caribbean: ‘I suppose you are West Indian enough to know that any change on one Estate that the slaves were troublesome at first untill they are convinced by Due correction of their mistakes’.64 Much like the planter class, therefore, with their aspirations to emulate the manners of polite British society, senior naval commanders encapsulated these apparently contradictory positions of gentility and brutality. Although the sorts of sadistic brutality issued by plantation overseers like Thomas Thistlewood in Jamaica was unlikely on ships (though there were cases of extraordinarily violent captains), all naval officers are likely to have understood the language of discipline and control that justified the punishment of slaves and seamen alike.65 Almost as striking as the punishments are the way that Douglas recorded them in his logbook: immediately after a note of the day’s weather and before his instructions to the captain of the

64 NMM, DOU/6, no fols, Grant to Sir James Douglas, 7 March 1766 and 31 May 1767. 65 Trevor Burnard, Mastery, Tyranny, and Desire: Thomas Thistlewood and His Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004); and Rodger, Wooden World, 212.



Belliquieux to cruise to the east of Antigua.66 For Douglas, these punishments were both routine and justified. Even if he was not discomfited by the violence of slavery, Douglas grew increasingly concerned about the costs of the estate. As soon as he arrived in Demerara in 1767, Milne began to look for a purchaser for Weilburg, on which the slave population had grown to ninety. With Robert Douglas showing little interest in the estate, Sir James sold the plantation in the summer of 1770, having decided either that the return on his investment was too slow or low, or that he wanted to use the sale money to pay for some of his recent land acquisitions in Scotland.67 The brothers gave up on Demerara, although they continued to benefit from legacies from their continuing stake in the Antigua plantation. After the sale of Weilburg, the Douglas brothers’ military careers continued to flourish. Robert Douglas remained in the Scots Brigade until the 1780s. He was commander of the Dutch garrison town of ’s-Hertogenbosch from 1780 to 1784, after which he was appointed as its governor. Sir James, meanwhile, was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth between 1773 and 1777 and was promoted to admiral in 1778. The brothers thus continued to serve in the armed forces of two different countries in increasingly senior positions. Most of their careers coincided with the decades of relative amity between Britain and the Netherlands. Relations had been strained over the rights of neutral shipping in the Seven Years’ War, however, and reached a breaking point in the late 1770s, when Dutch neutrality seemed to favour the Americans. Aggravated by British meddling in Dutch internal politics, the two states went to war.68 As a result, when the Netherlands joined the American War of Independence in 1780, the brothers found themselves on opposite sides of the conflict that evolved into the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The Dutch did not immediately disband the Scots Brigade, but, by 1782, they regarded it increasingly as an enemy force with allegiances to the British monarch. Scottish soldiers in the brigade were offered the chance to remain in Dutch service on the condition that they repudiate their allegiance to Britain and become Dutch; many were unwilling to 66 NMM, DOU/2, Journal of the proceedings of Sir James Douglas when he commanded the squadron of His Majesty’s Ships at the Leeward Islands, Tuesday 13 May and Tuesday 20 May 1760. 67 NLS, MS8097 (1), Boddaert, Middelburg, to Sir James Douglas, 30 June 1770. 68 Scott, ‘Fourth Anglo-Dutch War’, 571–89.


take these steps and returned to Britain. Robert Douglas was faced with a choice between his allegiance to the country of his birth and ancestry and the place and people among whom he had lived for nearly forty years. Given his position in Dutch society by 1782, it is perhaps unsurprising that Robert Douglas chose to maintain his loyalty to his adopted home. He took an oath of allegiance to the Netherlands and joined the Dutch army rather than return to Scotland. The eighteenth-century world exposed the Douglas brothers to complex and sometimes contradictory experiences. Both were born— unambiguously—as Scots. Both entered military service; both became involved in empire. But their world was not a Scottish one, nor even a British one. Robert Douglas’ career relied on his ability to assimilate in the Dutch military and mercantile elites. For their private interests to flourish, these Scots needed the backing of Dutch and British merchants, systems of credit, and political influence in the Caribbean, the Netherlands, and Britain. Empire in the eighteenth century could be about much more than a projection of an emergent Britishness or, alternatively, as a means of ensuring the continuation of the four British nations after their political union.69 This is because for many people, empires did not mean national empires: as members of a constituent part of one empire, they also accessed others. As Eliga H. Gould puts it in relation to the Spanish and British empires, ‘far from being distinct entities … the two empires were part of the same hemispheric system or community’.70 The entanglements of empire allowed the Douglas brothers—indeed required them— to cross imperial boundaries, using political influence and state apparatus to advance their personal imperial interests. Their example also complicates our understanding of the effects of eighteenth-century empire on Scots and other Britons. John MacKenzie’s call to arms in the 1990s to write multiple histories of the four nations in the British Empire needs now to sit beside scholarship that goes beyond the national and understands empires as a broader, and sometimes collaborative, venture.

69 Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (London: Pimlico, 1994), 130; Devine, Scotland’s Empire, 346–60; and MacKenzie, ‘Four-Nation Approach’, 1247–55. 70 Eliga H. Gould, ‘Entangled Histories: Entangled Worlds: The English-Speaking Atlantic as a Spanish Periphery’, American Historical Review 112 (2007), 765.



The effects on the Douglases’ individual allegiances were very different. Both, it is true, became established in an elite—one was an admiral and the other military governor—but they entered different elites. While Britain and the Netherlands remained at peace, these bifurcated allegiances proved useful, but when conflict came, the brothers found themselves at war.


Chartism in the British World and Beyond Fabrice Bensimon

Chartism was the most significant working-class political movement of the nineteenth century.1 In 1842, 3.3 million people, or a third of all adults living in Britain, signed a petition supporting the six points of the People’s Charter. Traditionally, Chartism has been studied as an almost exclusively British movement. In recent years, however, scholars such as Henry Weisser, Salvo Mastellone, and Malcolm Chase have questioned these insular interpretations of Chartism and have begun to explore the connections between the Chartists and Europe.2 Chartism’s American

1 This article has benefited from the comments of Malcolm Chase, Joanna Innes, Rachel Rogers, Jürgen Schmidt, Miles Taylor, and Callie Wilkinson, and from discussions with Paul Pickering. Many thanks also to the editors. 2 Henry Weisser, British Working-Class Movements and Europe 1815–1848 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1975), 134–71; Salvo Mastellone, ‘Northern Star, Fraternal Democrats e Manifest der Kommunistische Partei’, Il Pensiero Politico 37 (2004), 32–59; and Malcolm Chase, Chartism: A New History (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), Chapter 9.

F. Bensimon (*)  Sorbonne Université, Paris, France e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



connections, meanwhile, have been analysed by Ray Boston, Jamie Bronstein, Gregory Claeys, and Michael J. Turner.3 Malcolm Chase has traced Chartism’s impact on the Canadian rebellion of 1837–38.4 Chartism’s influence on the emergence of democracy in Australia has been assessed by Paul Pickering and Andrew Messner.5 John Griffiths and Vic Evans have considered the effects of Chartist land-reform ideas in New Zealand.6 Finally, Shije Guan and Gregory Vargo have discussed how Chartists viewed the British Empire.7 There is therefore a significant body of scholarship devoted to Chartism’s international and imperial connections. Even so, at a time when many historical questions are being addressed anew from imperial

3 Ray Boston, British Chartists in America 1839–1900 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1971; and Jamie L. Bronstein, Land Reform and Working-Class Experience in Britain and the United States, 1800–1862 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); Gregory Claeys, ‘The Example of America a Warning to England? The Transformation of America in British Radicalism and Socialism, 1790–1850’, in Malcolm Chase and Ian Dyck, eds., Living and Learning: Essays in Honour of J.F.C. Harrison (Aldershot: Scolar, 1996), 66–80; and Michael J. Turner, Radicalism and Reputation: The Career of Bronterre O’Brien (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2017). 4 Malcolm Chase, The Chartists: Perspectives and Legacies (London: Merlin, 2015), Chapter 3. 5 Paul Pickering, ‘The Oak of English Liberty: Popular Constitutionalism in New South Wales, 1848–1856’, Journal of Australian Colonial History 3 (2001), 1–27; Paul Pickering, ‘A Wider Field in a New Country: Chartism in Colonial Australia’, in Marian Sawer, ed., Elections Full, Free and Fair (Sydney: Federation Press, 2001), 28–44; ‘Ripe for a Republic: British Radical Responses to the Eureka Stockade’, Australian Historical Studies 34 (2003), 69–90; ‘Mercenary Scribblers and Polluted Quills: The Chartist Press in Australia and New Zealand’, in Joan Allen and Owen R. Ashton, eds., Papers for the People: A Study of the Chartist Press (London: Merlin Press, 2005), 190–215; ‘Was the “Southern Tree of Liberty” an Oak?’, Labour History 92 (2007), 139–42; and ‘Betrayal and Exile: A Forgotten Chartist Experience’, in Michael T. Davis and Paul A. Pickering, eds., Unrespectable Radicals? Popular Politics in the Age of Reform (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 201–17. See also Andrew Messner, ‘Chartist Political Culture in Britain and Colonial Australia, c. 1835–60’ (Uunpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of New England [Australia], 2000). 6 John Griffiths and Vic Evans, ‘The Chartist Legacy in the British World: Evidence from New Zealand’s Southern Settlements, 1840s−1870s’, History 99 (2014), 797–818. 7 Shije Guan, ‘Chartism and the First Opium War’, History Workshop 24 (1987), 17–31; and Gregory Vargo, ‘The Chartist Press Reports the Empire’, Victorian Studies 54 (2012), 227–54.



or global perspectives, no comprehensive study of the global dimensions of Chartism has yet been published.8 This essay is a preliminary step towards such a study. It poses the question: What does the first mass working-class movement in British history reveal about the British world? And how did developments across the British world inspire Chartism? The concept of the ‘British world’ has become a mainstay of British historiography in recent years. This phrase usually encompasses not only those territories under direct British rule, but also places such as the United States which were at least to some degree part of a Britishdominated cultural and intellectual sphere. To be sure, many people who inhabited this so-called British world, such as mid-nineteenth-century Americans, did not see themselves as British. Nonetheless, this concept reflects the circulation of ideas and beliefs that were often conveyed and disseminated by millions of British migrants.9 This chapter will raise four points. Firstly, it will demonstrate how Chartism was inspired by ideas and political events overseas and across the Empire. Secondly, it will discuss Chartist views of Empire: Were some Chartists early anti-imperialists? Thirdly, it will trace the emigration of Chartists to the British world and the consequences of their arrival. Lastly, the scope of this essay will be expanded to continental Europe, to countries such as France, Belgium, and the German states, which are not traditionally seen as being part of the British world but which were nevertheless inspired by the Chartist example. Broadly, this chapter summarises what historians of Chartism have added to our knowledge of the movement’s interactions with the British world, as well as proposing some new approaches to the study of Chartism, in particular through increased attention to its influence in continental Europe.

8 Andrew Messner addresses this absence in ‘Land, Leadership, Culture and Emigration: Some Problems in Chartist Historiography’, Historical Journal 42 (1999), 1093–109. 9 On the ‘British world’, see Carl Bridge and Kent Fedorowich, ‘Mapping the British World’, in Carl Bridge and Kent Fedorowich, eds., The British World: Diaspora, Culture and Identity (London: Frank Cass, 2003), 1–15; and Phillip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis, ‘Introduction’, in Phillip Buckner and R. Douglas Francis, eds., Rediscovering the British World (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005), 9–20.


1  Overseas Ideological and Political Inspiration It is difficult to trace the various influences that contributed to the political and ideological framework of Chartism. For the most part, ­ Chartism was a domestic movement, and its programme of universal suffrage, the secret ballot, equal electoral districts, and annual parliaments originated from radical demands that had been articulated as early as the 1770s. At the same time, Chartist politics were also inspired in part by foreign traditions. The French Revolution is an obvious example. This revolutionary influence was mediated through the work of writers and journalists such as Thomas Paine, Richard Carlile, and Bronterre O’Brien. O’Brien had met Philippe Buonarroti, a former participant in the failed proto-socialist uprising against the Directory known as Babeuf’s Conspiracy of the Equals, and he subsequently played an important part in increasing radical and Chartist interest in the Conspiracy by translating Buonarroti’s history of it.10 O’Brien further tried to rehabilitate the public image of the extreme, democratic phase of the French Revolution, usually denounced in Britain as ‘the Terror’.11 The United States also provided inspiration for Chartism. Despite the stain of slavery, American democracy had a mythical allure for Chartists. In their criticisms of the British system of government, many of them looked to the model across the Atlantic, as did this Chartist writer in 1839: The business of government is incomparably better executed in America than with us, and has the vast advantage of cheapness to the bargain. A vigorous-minded, active President, receives £5,200, whilst we pay to a maiden Queen of twenty or twenty-one, who is neither vigorous nor officially active, £385,000, being seventy-four times more than the former.12

10 James Bronterre O’Brien, Buonarroti’s History of Babeuf’s Conspiracy for Equality (London: H. Hetherington, 1836). 11 See  Joanna Innes, Mark Philp, and Robert Saunders, ‘The Rise of Democratic Discourse in the Reform Era: Britain in the 1830s and 40s’, in Joanna Innes and Mark Philp, eds., Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, Ireland 1750–1850 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Chapter 8; and Turner, Radicalism and Reputation. 12 ‘The United States’ and British Governments’, The Charter, 20 October 1839, 622.



Further important inspiration and support for the Chartist ­movement came from Ireland, which unlike France or the United States was clearly part of the British world. The charismatic Chartist leader Feargus O’Connor was born into an Irish Protestant family, with a father and uncle who had been members of the revolutionary Society of United Irishmen and who had been deeply influenced by the French Revolution; his uncle Arthur O’Connor had even served as a general in Napoleon’s army. O’Connor’s Northern Star, which became the leading Chartist newspaper, was named after the Northern Star (1792–97) of the United Irishmen. O’Connor began his parliamentary career as a follower of Daniel O’Connell, but after initially supporting the People’s Charter, the ‘Liberator’ and his Repeal Association later refused to cooperate with the Chartists, engaging instead in a fruitless alliance with the Whigs. As a result, it was not until O’Connell’s death in 1847 that the Chartists could organise meetings with the breakaway Irish Confederation led by the Young Irelanders, who would lead an abortive rebellion against British rule the following year. Despite O’Connell’s unwillingness to align himself with them, the Chartists supported his call for the repeal of the Act of Union of 1800, and some of their methods resembled those of the Catholic and Repeal Associations, particularly their use of ‘monster meetings’ from 1838 onwards. Dorothy Thompson and others have argued that Chartism was also influential both among Irish immigrants in manufacturing areas of Britain and in Ireland itself, as was exemplified by the Irish Universal Suffrage Association, led by the Dublin Chartist Patrick O’Higgins.13 Malcolm Chase has shown that the Chartists were likewise inspired by the Canadian rebellions of 1837–38, which were driven by demands for democratic political reform.14 When these rebellions were brutally suppressed, William Lovett, the secretary of the London Working Men’s Association and an author of the People’s Charter, condemned what he termed the ‘infamous resolutions for the coercion of the Canadians … proposing to destroy their right of suffrage, and to compel them to be plundered and enslaved by a few officials in the interests of England’.15 British radicals knew of the Canadian rebels and had sympathy for 13 Dorothy Thompson, Outsiders: Class, Gender and Nation (London: Verso, 1993), 103–33. 14 Malcolm Chase, The Chartists, 28–46. 15 Quoted in Chase, The Chartists, 30.


their cause. In their view, Canada too was suffering from what they denounced in Britain as ‘Old Corruption’. The London Dispatch reported: ‘The Canadians and ourselves, especially the working classes of this country are engaged in a common cause, that of democracy and liberty against aristocracy and despotism, and in aiding them, we but serve ourselves, and show the misery creating few that the many are at last beginning to unite for their common interests’.16 O’Connor and others compared government tyranny in Canada to the harsh sentences of transportation meted out to the ‘Tolpuddle martyrs’ in Dorset in 1834 and five trade unionists in the Glasgow cotton industry in 1838. Chartist petitions criticised the authorities’ treatment of the Canadian rebels. Chase argues that the rebellion had a ‘formative influence’ on the Chartists.17 They hoped that Canada might strike the first blow against the ‘military despotism’ of the British Whigs. The Chartists’ empathy for the Canadian insurgents was transformed into a belief in the legitimacy of violent resistance to tyranny. The violent suppression of the Canadian rebellion showed that the Whigs would resort to the use of physical force against British subjects. William Lovett wrote that ‘there are no acts or atrocities which the Tories have inflicted on England or Ireland, that can match those deeds which the perfidious Whigs have inflicted on our Canadian brethren’.18 After 1838, Chartism generated its own heroes and martyrs, but events in Canada remained a potent memory. In 1848, for example, George Julian Harney serialised Alexander Mackenzie’s recollections of the rebellion in the Northern Star.19

2   Chartists’ Comments on the British Empire Reactions to the Canadian rebellion provide an example of Chartist attitudes towards the British Empire. It is often assumed that the Chartists, with their focus on British politics, did not pay much attention to the

16 Quoted

in Chase, The Chartists, 31. in Chase, The Chartists, 36. 18 William Lovett, Life and Struggles of William Lovett, in His Pursuit of Bread, Knowledge, and Freedom (London: Trubner & Co., 1876), 191–92. 19 Northern Star, 29 January and 5 February 1848. 17 Quoted



Empire.20 There are, however, two crucial caveats to this claim. First, the Chartist press frequently commented on imperial events. Gregory Vargo has shown that letters from emigrants, book reviews, and the weekly columns ‘Foreign Intelligence’ and ‘The Imperial Parliament’ in the Northern Star all contained substantial imperial content.21 This content, moreover, was often critical of British policies and actions overseas. The Chartist press opposed all six major colonial wars that Britain fought in the 1830s and 1840s in Afghanistan, China, India, and southern Africa. During the First Opium War, when most of the British press supported the military expedition, Chartist newspapers condemned it as a reckless and shameful affair that was contrary to the well-being of the Chinese people. An editorial in The Charter opined that China was ‘destined to destruction by the horrors of civilised warfare for refusing to be poisoned by opium’.22 The Anglo-Sikh Wars were also denounced. ‘More Robbery—The Annexation of the Punjaub’ proclaimed a headline in the Northern Star in 1849.23 Chartist newspapers challenged the ostensibly civilising role of Christian missions and opposed the idea that emigration to the colonies could heal social divisions in Britain. They turned some of the famous evangelical and ‘civilising’ campaigns of the nineteenth century, such as the efforts to curtail sati in India, on their heads. An army veteran who had fought at Aurangabad denounced a Major Freeman who had boasted about British massacres in India: This man, or rather devil, was in the habit of recounting … his treatment of three hundred Bheels, taken prisoners by his men. They consisted of men, women and children … The Christian Major stuffed all the Bheels into one of these abodes … He set fire to the whole, so that all that were not burnt, we smothered, thus giving the world a novel and modern suttee, unequalled in atrocity.24

20 See Gregory Claeys, Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 24. 21 See Vargo, ‘The Chartist Press Reports the Empire’. 22 Quoted in Guan, ‘Chartism and the First Opium War’, 20. 23 Northern Star, 26 May 1849. 24 Northern Star, 16 April 1842.


When George Julian Harney became editor of the Northern Star in 1844, the Chartists devoted even more column space to foreign affairs and the Empire. A year after the paper moved its offices to London in 1844, Harney established the Fraternal Democrats in cooperation with continental refugees in the capital. The Fraternal Democrats cannot be labelled as anti-imperialist, but they had some genuine internationalist leanings. As Margot Finn has argued, whereas early Chartism mostly adhered to patriotic norms, following the establishment of the Fraternal Democrats Chartists broke new ground in internationalist politics and displayed solidarity with radical groups on the continent.25 After the suppression of the Krakow uprising in February 1846, Harney organised a campaign for the freedom of Poland (Fig. 1). The Fraternal Democrats also opposed Britain’s Oregon policy, which risked war with the United States in 1846. ‘No vote! No musket!!’ they exclaimed. Chartists advocated the gathering of a Congress of Nations to settle international disputes.26 In September 1847, they issued a manifesto which was published in the Northern Star and in La Réforme, a republican newspaper published in Paris. Promoting international fraternization among workers, they asserted democratic and internationalist principles. Operating under the slogan ‘all men are brethren’, the Fraternal Democrats remained active until the 1848 revolutions, conducting regular meetings and issuing several publications.27 In the general election of July–August 1847, Harney chose to run against the Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston in his constituency of Tiverton in Devon. At the hustings, Harney denounced the Opium War, claiming that the British ‘played the part of pirates and cut-throats to make the Chinese swallow poison’. Harney also railed against the campaign in Afghanistan and the war being fought in Syria to defend the 25 See Margot Finn, After Chartism: Class and Nation in English Radical Politics, 1848– 1874 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). 26 Northern Star, 7 March 1846; and Address of the Fraternal Democrats Assembling in London to the Working Classes of Great Britain and the United States (London, 1846). 27 For examples of the latter, see Address of the Fraternal Democrats Assembling in London to the Working Classes of Great Britain and the United States (London, 1846); The Democratic Committee for Poland’s Regeneration, to the People of Great Britain and Ireland (London, 1846); The Fraternal Democrats (Assembling in London) to the Democracy of Europe (London, 1846); Address of the Fraternal Democrats Assembling in London, to the Members of the National Diet of Switzerland (London, 1847); and Principles and Rules of the Society of Fraternal Democrats (undated).



Fig. 1  Membership card of the Fraternal Democrats, c. 1845, with the slogan ‘All men are brethern’ in twelve languages. (Source Private collection; copy in The Democratic Review, April 1850, p. 450)


Ottoman Sultan from Mehemet Ali.28 Harney did not argue that the British Empire should be dismembered—in part out of fear that Britain’s withdrawal would merely create an opening for its imperial rivals—but his attacks on the Empire were nevertheless scathing. As Gregory Vargo has noted, the Chartist press was less critical of settler colonies than it was of the non-settler colonies.29 After the demise of Chartism, some former Chartists distanced themselves from their former opposition to Empire. Others, however, maintained their anti-­imperialist leanings. In 1857, for example, Ernest Jones supported the Indian rebellion as ‘one of the most just, noble, and necessary ever attempted in the history of the world’.30 In keeping with twenty-first-century scholarly interpretations, he termed it ‘not a military mutiny, but a national insurrection’.31

3  Emigrants and the Overseas Legacies of Chartism The emigration of Chartists was crucial to the circulation of their ideas overseas. Some of this emigration was involuntary, via sentences of transportation. A total of ninety-eight Chartists were transported to Tasmania. Seventy-five of them were transported in 1842 for taking part in the General Strike, or ‘Plug Plot’ riots, that affected factories, mills, and coal mines all over the country.32 The British state thus relocated protest: the Empire acted as a safety valve for social and economic tensions in the metropolis. Miles Taylor has shown that ‘while the transportation policy helped secure the peace at home, as with the extension of free trade and military retrenchment, it … served to create a volatile imperial periphery’.33 In the colonies, some Chartists who survived their 28 Albert Schoyen, The Chartist Challenge: A Portrait of George Julian Harney (London: Heinemann, 1958), 150; Vargo, ‘The Chartist Press Reports the Empire’, 240; and Weisser, British Working-Class Movements and Europe, 172–78. 29 Ernest Jones, ‘Evenings with the People’, in Gregory Claeys, ed., The Chartist Movement in Britain, 1830–1858 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2001), VI, 276. 30 Ernest Jones, ‘The Indian Struggle’, The People’s Paper, 5 September 1857. 31 Ernest Jones, ‘The Indian Struggle’, The People’s Paper, 1 August 1857. 32 George Rudé, Protest and Punishment: The Story of the Social and Political Protesters Transported to Australia, 1788–1868 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), 129–37 and 138–44. 33 Miles Taylor, ‘The 1848 Revolutions and the British Empire’, Past and Present 166 (2000), 170.



sentences became involved in local politics. The best-known example of this is the tailor William Cuffay, the son of a West Indian slave, who became a leader of the London Chartists. Transported to Tasmania in 1849, Cuffay was pardoned seven years later and continued to be an active participant in radical politics in the colony, particularly with regard to the passage of legislation designed to regulate relations between employers and employees.34 This history of coercive emigration led Chartist leaders to reject emigration as a solution to the problems of the working class in Britain and to denounce it as the ‘transportation of the poor’. ‘Emigration answers a twofold purpose for a bad government’, Ernest Jones argued, ‘it creates transmarine berths for its hangers-on, and it clears away the most active, and, therefore, the most dangerous and discontented spirits’.35 Even so, many Chartists did choose to emigrate. By the late 1840s, some Chartists or former Chartists were involved in emigration societies. Inventor and prophet John Etzler and Welshman Thomas Powell, who had both been involved in Chartism, established the Tropical Emigration Society in 1844. About 1600 people subscribed to this Owenite scheme to emigrate to Venezuela, where ‘the government is republican, and from the vastness and fertility of its territory is exceedingly desirous to win emigrants to its shores’.36 In the end, however, the scheme was a failure: only 250 people ever made it—to the British colony of Trinidad rather than Venezuela—and most of them soon died from tropical fever or exhaustion.37 34 Chase, Chartism, 377–84; Peter Fryer, ‘Cuffay, William’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-71636 [accessed 6 May 2018]; John Saville, ‘Cuffay, William’, in Joyce M. Bellamy, David E. Martin, and John Saville, eds., Dictionary of Labour Biography (New York: Springer, 1993), VI; and Martin Hoyles, William Cuffay: The Life and Times of a Chartist Leader (London: Hansib, 2012). 35 Ernest Jones, ‘Our Colonies’, Notes to the People (London: J. Pavey, 1851), I, 135. 36 ‘The Tropics’, The Morning Star; or, Herald of Progression: Advocate of the Tropical Emigration Society, 4 February 1845, 26. 37 Gregory Claeys, ‘John Adolphus Etzler, Technological Utopianism, and British Socialism: The Tropical Emigration Society’s Venezuelan Mission and Its Social Context, 1833–1848’, English Historical Review 101 (1986), 351–75; Malcolm Chase, Chartism, 110–16; and Malcom Chase, ‘Exporting the Owenite Utopia: Thomas Powell and the Tropical Emigration Society’, in Noel Thompson and Chris Williams, eds., Robert Owen and His Legacy (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2011), 197–217.


Some of the Chartists who left Britain voluntarily were ‘political emigrants’ who were trying to escape prosecution and prison.38 Many more emigrated due to economic circumstances, in some cases because employers had blacklisted them. In the 1840s, about half a million people emigrated from Britain; in the 1850s, 1.5 million. Among them were tens of thousands of people with at least some Chartist beliefs who went to America, Canada, or elsewhere. What impact did this have on the receiving societies? Many of the Chartist emigrants found it necessary to hide their radical political beliefs. The combined shock wave of the 1848 revolutions and the emigration of Chartist and other radical Britons did have an impact in the colonies, however, possibly contributing to a series of changes in favour of increased democracy in Australia and New Zealand. ‘By the mid-1850s most colonial constitutions bore little resemblance to what had existed before 1848’, Taylor notes. ‘Poor white emigrants, former slaves, and paroled prisoners became the beneficiaries of extensions of the franchise which metropolitan Britons would have to wait until the mid-1880s to enjoy. Britain may have emerged unscathed from 1848, but, considered from an imperial perspective, it did not emerge unchanged’.39 In Australia, for example, the Australian Colonies Government Act of 1850 granted Australians ‘responsible government’, or considerable autonomy over their domestic affairs. By the 1860s, the Australian colonies had become self-governed parliamentary democracies, in contrast to the more restrictive franchise in the UK. This was the result of a series of developments: the end of convict transportation to New South Wales (1840) and Tasmania (1853); assisted emigration and the creation of non-penitentiary colonies in Victoria (1835) and South Australia (1836); and the gold rushes of the 1850s. Power was gradually transferred from colonial governors and their appointed councils to parliaments whose lower houses were elected by all adult men (with the exception of criminals and those deemed mentally unfit). Former Chartists played an important part in this transformation. In 1854, in Ballarat, Victoria, 500 gold miners who were fed up with the taxes imposed by the colonial administration formed the ‘Ballarat Reform League’, which featured a platform that drew much inspiration from Chartist campaigns (Table 1).

38 Chase, 39 Taylor,

Chartism, 184. ‘1848 Revolutions and the British Empire’, 153–54.



Table 1  The People’s Charter (1838) and the Ballarat Reform League (1854) The People’s Charter (1838)

The Ballarat Reform League (1854)

Universal manhood suffrage Equal representation Payment of MPs Annual Parliaments No property qualification Secret ballot

Universal manhood suffrage Fair and equal representation Payment of members of the Legislative council Short-term legislatures No property qualification

When they erected a barricade and proclaimed a Republic of Victoria, the police attacked, and twenty-two miners and six policemen were killed.40 Not long after, however, Victoria adopted most of the Reform League’s demands. In New South Wales as well, Chartists played a key role in debates about the colony’s constitution.41 Chartists were among the founders of the Constitutional Association in late 1848, and the petition they sponsored, calling for an extension of the suffrage, garnered 3400 signatures in Sydney.42 The leading politician in the colony, William Charles Wentworth, railed against the ‘spirit of democracy … which was almost daily extending its limits’ and declared that he was ‘heartily sick of Chartism’.43 In a by-election in 1853, two out of three candidates campaigned for universal suffrage, with the third only receiving a few votes.44 A Chartist newspaper, the People’s Advocate, also called for the six points. As summarised in Table 2, democratic reforms which had been on first radical and then Chartist agendas were enacted in the Australian colonies from the 1850s, usually long before they were achieved in Britain. These reforms included not only universal manhood suffrage, but also the secret ballot, which was introduced from 1856 onwards and henceforth became known worldwide as the ‘Australian ballot’. Payment of members of Parliament became the rule between 1870 and 1900, as did the abolition of the property qualification. Short, annual Parliaments 40 Pickering,

‘Wider Field in a New Country’, 28–44. ‘Oak of English Liberty’, 1–27. 42 Quoted in Pickering, ‘Oak of English Liberty’, 5. 43 Quoted in Pickering, ‘Oak of English Liberty’, 5. 44 Pickering, ‘Oak of English Liberty’, 6. 41 Pickering,

324  F. BENSIMON Table 2  Political reforms in the Australian colonies and in the UKa

Manhood suffrage Secret ballot Short Parliaments Payment of members Abolition of property qualification aThis

South Australia


New South Wales



Western Australia









1856 1856

1856 1858

1858 1874

1859 1890

1858 1935

1877 1899

1872 1911















table is adapted from Paul Pickering

never became accepted practice, but the former Chartist Henry Parkes, one of the founding fathers of the Federation of Australia and Prime Minister of New South Wales on several occasions in the 1870s and 1880s, went to the voters in his constituency each year to call for a show of hands in support of his continued service; he pledged to withdraw should it turn out unfavourable. Chartism also had an important legacy in New Zealand. In Auckland, veterans of the Chartist movement published newspapers in the 1850s.45 Political meetings reflected Chartist demands, and the constitution that was enacted in 1852 made suffrage virtually universal. John Griffiths and Vic Evans have argued that Chartist ideas, in particular regarding landed property, played a part in New Zealand’s Southern Settlements, where tenants organised against large landowners in protests that lasted into the 1870s. New Zealanders inspired by Chartism used rhetoric that distinguished between the productive class (those who were contributing to the new settlement) and the unproductive class (those who mimicked an old-world elite).46 There were other former Chartists, as well, who 45 Paul Pickering, ‘“Mercenary Scribblers and Polluted Quills”: The Chartist Press in Australia and New Zealand’, in Joan Allen and Owen R. Ashton, eds., Papers for the People: A Study of the Chartist Press (London: Merlin Press, 2005), 204–6. 46 Griffiths and Evans, ‘Chartist Legacy in the British World’, 814.



were active in New Zealand politics. Former Bath bookbinder Robert Carpenter, who emigrated in the 1840s, joined the Radical Reform Party in Wellington in the 1850s and continued to foster Chartist aims. William Vincent, brother of the famous Chartist Henry Vincent, arrived in Wellington in 1840, participated in workers’ local politics and the local constitutional association, and became the first Wellington Oddfellows Grand Master. Many other former Chartist activists or sympathisers were involved in local movements for constitutional reform, the secret ballot, land reform, and shorter working hours.47 Studies of the activities of Chartists in the United States show that they were active in establishing trade unions, such as in the New England textile industry, and that they were involved in local politics in New York and other towns.48 For instance, former Chartist Thomas Phillips, who had emigrated to Philadelphia in 1852, was active in the local shoemakers’ union, in a co-op association, in the abolitionist movement against slavery, in the International Workingmen’s Association, and in the Knights of Labor before organising the United Boot and Shoe Workers’ International Union in 1889.49 Neville Kirk has emphasised the similarities between the Knights of Labor, which was founded in 1869 and reached its peak in the mid-1880s, and the Chartists. Both were mass working-class organisations; both emphasised active citizenship, temperance, and community-based life; and both appealed to accepted moral norms and values to legitimise their actions and castigate prevailing practices.50 Chartists were involved in the land reform movement that sought to lower rents and increase access to land ownership, to the point that the conservative writer Moses Beach saw the American land reform movement as ‘neither more nor less than English Chartists transported to this country’.51 Lastly, some Chartists were active in making British 47 John E. Martin, Honouring the Contract (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2010), 26–67. 48 Ray Boston, British Chartists in America 1839–1900 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1971). 49 David Montgomery, Labor and the Radical Republicans 1862–1872 (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1981), 221–22. 50 Neville Kirk, Labour and Society in Britain and the USA, II: Challenge and Accommodation, 1850–1939 (Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1994), 118–24. 51 Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788–1850 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 340; and Bronstein, Land Reform and Working-Class Experience.


readers aware of political events in the United States, with George Julian Harney’s letters from Boston to the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle from 1863 to 1888 the best example.52

4   Chartism and Continental Europe In the period between the end of the Napoleonic Wars and the 1870s, Britain played an important part in the industrialisation of Western Europe.53 British technology, capital, machinery, and large numbers of skilled and unskilled workers were all imported to the continent. Ironpuddlers from South Wales, lace-makers from Nottinghamshire, linen workers from Dundee, mechanics from Lancashire, and railway engineers and navvies emigrated to areas where British economic influence loomed large. 4.1  France In France, this was most notably the case in Pas-de-Calais and SeineInférieure, neighbouring regions which had a significant population of British settlers. Along with capital, machinery, and raw materials from Britain, these regions also had English newspapers, schools, and clergymen to cater to their English populations. There were many Chartists among the thousands of British workers who moved there. Unlike in British settler colonies, however, these Chartists could not easily play a part in local politics. Seldom speaking French, they usually saw themselves as temporary migrants who would ultimately return to their native land. Due to the proximity of Britain and their frequent interactions with people back home, they maintained close connections with Chartism. The Chartist press thus circulated in France among British workers. In 1849, a story in a French newspaper about a linen factory in remote Landerneau, Britanny, depicted a Chartist worker being paid 52 See Owen R. Ashton and Joan Hugman, ‘George Julian Harney, Boston, U.S.A., and Newcastle upon Tyne, England, 1863–1888’, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 3rd series, 107 (1995), 165–84. 53 See W. O. Henderson, Britain and Industrial Europe 1750–1870: Studies in British Influence on the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1954).



Fig. 2  A page from the French magazine L’Illustration, 22 April 1848. The same picture of the Chartist meeting at Kennington Common on 10 April had been published by the Illustrated London News


by his mates to read the Northern Star aloud to around fifty fellowworkers.54 Chartists also occasionally participated in French national politics: a Chartist died in the February 1848 storming of the Tuileries, which led to the fall of the July Monarchy.55 Another manifestation of Chartist activity in France was the Cooperative Land Company (later the National Land Company), which was set up in 1845 by Feargus O’Connor to promote working-class land ownership. Chartists could subscribe in the hopes of obtaining a plot of land in a Chartist village. 70,000 people signed up and five communities were founded (Fig. 3). The only other country beyond Britain where the Land Company existed was in France, where there were 105 subscribers and branches in Rouen and nearby Sotteville, as well as in Boulogne-sur-Mer. On 22 August 1846, 130 British workers, gathered for a ‘soirée’ to celebrate the Chartist Land Plan in a factory in Boulogne, contrasted their hopes of freedom with its absence in France: At half-past eleven the company dispersed, every face radiant with joy at the success that has already attended the Land Society, and full of high hopes that the time will soon come where every man will have a home which he can call his own, and not as now be driven from his native land to seek employment under a foreign despotism.56

British Chartists in France were often appalled by the lack of freedoms for working-class people. This reaction emanated from more than traditional British Francophobia; it also reflected legitimate differences between British and French political traditions. Although the republican tradition which was so strong in France in the 1830s and 1840s was less powerful in Britain, legal rights such as the freedom of assembly that were viewed as cornerstones of the British constitution were absent in France. French visitors to Britain such as Léon Faucher and Flora Tristan were impressed by Chartist gatherings, and some French radicals and

54 L’Illustration,

27 October 1849, 141. Bensimon, ‘British Workers in France, 1815–1848’, Past and Present 213 (2011), 147–89. 55 Fabrice

56 Northern

Star, 29 August 1846.



Fig. 3  The Chartist Cooperative Land Company was founded by Feargus O’Connor in 1845. This settlement near Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, became known as ‘O’Connorville’ (Photo credit: British Library)


early socialists took inspiration from Chartist practices.57 The socialist Etienne Cabet, who lived as an exile in Britain from 1834 to 1839, celebrated the Chartists in his newspaper. He also collaborated with Chartist leader Peter Murray McDouall, whom he met in London and who himself took refuge in France in 1842. 4.2  Belgium Belgium also provides an example of the impact of Chartism on the European continent. There, after industrialisation took off in the 1820s, the political brokers of Chartism were usually not British workers but rather Belgian and German democrats. The expansion of the Fraternal Democrats after 1845 has been described above. It was Harney’s plan to create an international network not only among refugees in London, but also on the continent, and Belgium was an ideal site for the cultivation of these connections. By the 1840s, the newly independent country had become a haven for German workers and political refugees alike, including most famously Karl Marx, who lived there from 1845 to 1848 and became involved in local politics. He wrote for the Deutsche-Brüsseler Zeitung, which was read by German artisans, and created a German Workers’ Educational Association. Marx was also active in the Association démocratique, which was founded in 1847 as a local branch of the Fraternal Democrats. Engels also belonged to the association, the members of which were mostly Belgian, but which also attracted foreigners, including German artisans. Its president was Lucien-Léopold Jottrand, a key figure who actively forged links with Chartism in Britain. A lawyer and journalist, he had been a member of the first Belgian National Congress in 1830. Jottrand looked to the United States, Switzerland, and above all Britain for inspiration for his democratic political beliefs. His newspaper Le Débat social reported on the Fraternal Democrats and the Chartists, with whom the Association démocratique was in close contact. At their meeting in January 1848, the Fraternal Democrats in London unanimously adopted a resolution to thank various European

57 Léon Faucher, Manchester in 1844: Its Present Condition and Future Prospects (London: Cass, 1969); and Flora Tristan, The London Journal of Flora Tristan, 1842; or, The Aristocracy and the Working Class of England (London: Virago, 1982), Chapter 5.



newspapers, including Le Débat social, for ‘their relentless help to the diffusion of democratic doctrines’.58 The influence of Chartism on Jottrand was multifaceted and not filtered exclusively through Marx and Engels. Jottrand had visited Britain as early as 1838 and had been enthused by what he saw there, especially in Birmingham on 6 August 1838, when the People’s Charter was officially launched in a mass meeting organised by the Birmingham Political Union. He wrote: Our aristocratic papers never or very rarely speak about what is taking place in England, on this issue. They fear educating the Belgian people with the example of the English people … What the English people are asking, and what they will inevitably get with the help of the agitation they’re organising from all sides, is first universal suffrage.59

At the end of 1847, Marx and Engels went to London with their Brussels acquaintance Victor Tedesco to attend the Second Congress of the Communist League, which famously directed them to write the declaration that became the Communist Manifesto. The Congress was held in the Red Lion, a pub in Great Windmill Street in Soho, which was the meeting place of the Fraternal Democrats and the German Workers’ Education Society, and was also where the editors of the Northern Star went to drink. The three men attended a banquet of the Fraternal Democrats on 29 November in commemoration of the Polish Revolution, which cemented an alliance between the Fraternal Democrats in Brussels and London.60 These links help us to understand how Chartism and continental socialism mutually influenced each other. In March 1848, however, Marx was expelled from Brussels. With the revolutions, most exiles left London and Brussels, and this led to the end 58 Le

Débat social. Organe de la démocratie, 29, 16 January 1848, 343. journaux aristocratiques ne parlent jamais, ou ne parlent que très rarement de ce qui se passe en Angleterre, sous ce rapport. Ils ont peur d’instruire le peuple belge, par l’exemple du peuple anglais. […] Ce que le peuple anglais demande, et ce qu’il finira immanquablement par obtenir, à l’aide de l’agitation qu’il organise, comme on voit, de toutes parts, c’est d’abord le suffrage universel.’ L’Association du Peuple de la Grande-Bretagne et de l’Irlande, au 6 août 1838, proposée pour modèle au peuple belge, par L. Jottrand, avocat, ancien membre du Congrès national de 1830 (Brussels: Leroux, 1838). 60 Friedrich Engels, ‘L’anniversaire de la révolution polonaise de 1830’, La Réforme, 5 December 1847. 59 ‘Nos


of the real life of the Fraternal Democrats. The Association démocratique was disbanded and Le Débat social was wound up in November 1849, as part of the repression of the democratic press. Afterwards, Jottrand was somewhat marginalised from Belgian politics, but he continued to invoke British politics as a model that Belgium should emulate. 4.3  Germany In Germany, too, there were connections to Chartism. The Chartist leader Ernest Jones was born in Berlin in 1819 and lived in Germany until he was nineteen. By the late 1840s, he had become a good friend of Marx and Engels. In addition, many German artisans emigrated to Britain, for both economic and political reasons. Karl Schapper, Joseph Moll, and Heinrich Bauer were migrant artisans who had taken part in the May 1839 uprising in Paris before seeking asylum in London.61 In February 1840, they and five other German workers founded the Deutscher Bildungsverein für Arbeiter (German Workers’ Education Society) in the aforementioned Red Lion. The Society, which existed until 1919, later became famous as the Communistischer ArbeiterBildungsverein (CABV) or Communist Workers’ Educational Society.62 It rapidly expanded from around thirty members to 300 by early 1847, while there were another 160 members in a branch founded in Whitechapel in 1846. The CABV eventually reached 700 adherents.63 Along with Germans, it included Swiss, Dutch, Czech, Hungarian, and Scandinavian members.64 The 1848 revolutions caused some of them to leave London to become involved in events in their home countries, but after the revolutions were suppressed, many returned, accompanied by others, including Marx and Engels. In London, the CABV flourished, and some of its members played a key part in the making of the International Workingmen’s Association, or ‘First International’, in 1864.

61 Arthur Lehning, From Buonarotti to Bakunin: Studies in International Socialism (Leiden: Brill, 1970); and Christine Lattek, Revolutionary Refugees: German Socialism in Britain, 1840–1860 (London: Routledge, 2006), 25. 62 Lattek, Revolutionary Refugees, 25. 63 Lattek, Revolutionary Refugees, 32. 64 Lattek, Revolutionary Refugees, 33.



In Germany itself, the first significant workers’ political organisations were created in the 1860s. Two key strands eventually merged to form the social democratic movement. The first was the Allgemeine deutsche Arbeiterverein (ADAV, or General German Workers’ Association), which was founded in 1863 in Leipzig by Ferdinand Lassalle. The programme of the ADAV included the Chartist demand of universal manhood suffrage, as well as the French radical politician Philippe Buchez’s demand for state-aided producer associations.65 As the German historian Christiane Eisenberg has shown, Lassalle wanted to continue the Chartist tradition, and there were many parallels between the ADAV and the Chartists. Lassalle, who had been a member of a German Workers Education Society and of the Communist League, adopted Feargus O’Connor’s charismatic leadership style: he appeared at triumphal processions in a decorated wagon drawn by six horses.66 Lassalle also derived some arguments from the Chartists, particularly from Ernest Jones, whose words he even borrowed on occasion. Enrolling individuals rather than groups, the ADAV was organised on similar lines to the National Chartist Association, although it was more centralised than Chartism. Also emulating the Chartists, Lassalle relied on a newspaper to organise artisans. Germany, however, did not have a large national press, and the Nordstern, which was named after the Northern Star, had a circulation of only 400 in 1863. Only after the foundation of the German Empire in 1871 did circulation figures improve. There were also important differences with Chartism: the absence of a strong popular culture; the strength of guild traditions and the monopoly of masters over artisan production; the absence of a liberal middle class with whom to cooperate; and the exclusion of women from politics. The second key contribution to the emergence of social democracy in Germany came from Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel (Fig. 4). From 1850 to 1862, Liebknecht had lived in exile in London, where he became a good friend of Marx. He joined the ADAV but came to oppose their friendly position towards Prussia and its new president Otto Von Bismarck. With Bebel, he created the Saxon People’s Party in 1867 and then the SDAP (Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands) 65 Gareth Stedman Jones, Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion (London: Allen Lane, 2016), 446. 66 Christiane Eisenberg, ‘Variations in Socialism: The Rise of a Political Labour Movement in Britain and Germany’, Diplomacy and Statecraft 8 (1997), 124.


Fig. 4  August Bebel (top left), Wilhelm Liebknecht (top right), and Ferdinand Lassalle (bottom right), along with the German Social Democrat Carl Wilhelm Tölcke, surround Karl Marx in this late-nineteenth-century engraving (Source Public domain)

in 1869. In May 1875, the ADAV and the SDAP merged to create the Sozialistiche Arbeiterpartei Deuschlands (SAPD, later renamed the SDP). The first line of the preamble of the new programme read: ‘Labour is the source of all wealth and all culture’, an adaptation of the old Chartist



motto. In another echo of Chartism, its first demand was: ‘universal, equal and direct suffrage, with secret, obligatory voting by all citizens at all elections in state or community’. Many of the demands and principles of the SDP followed Chartist tradition, including its insistence on the workers’ right to organise and on universal male suffrage. By the 1890s, the SDP had become the largest socialist party in Europe. There are still many more avenues of inquiry to be explored. For instance, we know very little about the impact of Chartism and migrant Chartists in various European countries that were part of a British sphere of economic influence, such as Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Portugal, as well as Latin America or/and southern Africa.67 What emerges from this review of existing scholarship and attempt to map the European connections of Chartism, however, is that considering Chartism from a transnational perspective opens up new perspectives. The People’s Charter was framed in Britain and mobilised British people first and foremost, but its political origins can be traced back to a variety of influences, including democratic ideas from France and the United States. Its impact also transcended the frontiers of the UK. Many foreign observers and visitors were inspired by the strategy, methods, and political culture of the Chartists, particularly in France, Belgium, and the German states. Chartists also frequently emigrated overseas; as a result, their working-class democratic agenda was conveyed to various parts of the world, especially to the United States and the British settler colonies. In each of these spaces, this agenda was then remodelled, contested, and appropriated according to local circumstances. There was not ‘one’ legacy of Chartism but several, taking very different forms and shaped by different practical concerns, especially in the arenas of democratic progress, workers’ rights, and land reform. A global approach also prompts us to rethink the usual chronology of Chartism, the demise of which is often considered to have occurred in 1848, with little direct legacy in Britain. The Chartist moment in the wider British world and on the European continent, however, stretched into the 1850s and even the 1860s, when calls for increased suffrage, land reform, and workers’ rights were all to some degree traceable to Chartist influence.

67 Malcolm Chase, ‘Chartism and Latin America’, unpublished paper given to the Social History Society Conference at University College London, April 2017.


Lumumba’s Ghost: A Historiography of Belgian Colonial Culture Matthew G. Stanard

On the night of Wednesday, 13 December 2006, Belgian television viewers who had sat through the evening news on the country’s Frenchlanguage channel La Une stayed tuned for a polemical instalment of the show Questions à la Une.1 That night’s show was scheduled to address two charged questions that resonated with many French-speaking Belgians: whether to do away with unemployment insurance payments in economically troubled (and French-speaking) Wallonia, and whether the Flemish in the north were more corrupt than their French-speaking fellow citizens in the south. Only just underway, the programme was interrupted by a shocking news flash: the Flemish half of the country had declared unilateral independence. Grainy images from Melsbroek, Brussels’ military airport, showed dark silhouettes of a royal entourage

1 The author thanks Larry Marvin, Rachael Loucks and the editors for comments on ­earlier versions of this essay.

M. G. Stanard (*)  Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


338  M. G. STANARD

boarding a plane. King Albert II and Queen Paola were fleeing the country. Their destination? Kinshasa. The station only announced that the news flash and everything that had followed it was a hoax after a half-hour had elapsed, which for many was too long. Like the radio broadcast of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds in the United States nearly seventy years earlier, the 2006 news hoax had sown panic across much of the southern half of the kingdom, and the offices of Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF) were flooded with calls. Since its creation in 1830, the country had been divided, with a Dutch-speaking culture in the north and a French-speaking culture in the south, which was a division that had only grown more acute in preceding years. Many criticised RTBF for making light of such a serious subject.2 The hoax and reactions to it highlighted the split between Belgium’s main language communities, but missing in the analyses that followed was the significance of the monarchs’ destination as they fled their dissolving kingdom: Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly the Belgian Congo. A royal departure for sanctuary in the Congo rather than to a friendly western neighbour? Napoleon III had chosen London for his exile, Kaiser Wilhelm II the Netherlands and Spain’s Alfonso XIII Rome. Surely something as absurd as Albert II and his queen departing for Kinshasa should have tipped off RTBF viewers that something was off with this news flash. In fact, Kinshasa as a destination probably made sense to many viewers because of how the Congo maintained a strong, if often unconscious cultural presence in Belgium. To be sure, the cultural ramifications of the Belgian colonial experience and how the Congo ‘came back home’ to Europe—in short, Belgium’s ‘colonial culture’—have garnered little attention among historians of Belgium and the Belgian Congo. Despite the compelling argument of John MacKenzie’s Propaganda and Empire (1984) that imperialism deeply affected Britain’s culture, it was decades before scholars in Belgium or elsewhere took up the question of how the colonial experience might have similarly influenced Belgians. That said, the subject has become one of significant interest for historians and 2 ‘Belgian Viewers Fall for TV Hoax Announcing Breakaway State’, International Herald Tribune, 14 December 2006, Hoax.php [accessed 16 January 2018].



others in recent years as scholars have explored other cases, most notably that of the relationship between British culture and empire. This chapter explains why it took so long for colonial culture to become a significant subject of study in the Belgian case and then traces and explains the shifts in the changing historiography of Belgian colonial culture, a historiography for which MacKenzie’s and others’ work on Britain has become increasingly significant.

1  Belgian Overseas Rule and Colonial Culture in Europe It seems surprising that the impact of overseas expansion on Belgian culture has only recently become a subject of study. After all, even if other European states, Britain in particular, claimed greater and longer-lasting status as imperial states, Belgium ruled a country that is today one of the world’s largest by area—the Democratic Republic of the Congo—and it did so for more than three-quarters of a century. By the mid-1880s, King Leopold II claimed a massive personal colony there as roi-souverain of the État Indépendant du Congo. While Leopold was the driving force behind this endeavour, and although he relied on large numbers of non-Belgians, the king’s colonial enterprise ultimately depended on the contributions of his Belgian subjects. Leopold’s colonial maladministration was brutal, and opposition to it—particularly in Britain—grew to such proportions that it forced him to relinquish his personal sovereignty over the Congo. The king’s capitulation in 1908 did not end Belgian colonialism, however, as he merely surrendered his colony to Belgium, inaugurating Belgian state rule in central Africa that lasted more than twice as long (1908–60) as its Leopoldian counterpart (1885–1908). In addition, Belgium gained the territories of Ruanda-Urundi—present-day Rwanda and Burundi—as League of Nations mandates after World War I and ruled them essentially as colonies, continuing after they were converted to United Nations trust territories in 1945. Formal Belgian colonial rule ended in 1960 with the Congo’s independence, although Belgium maintained a continued—albeit declining—involvement in central Africa thereafter. Thus for much of its history since gaining independence in 1830, Belgium was a colonial power in the Congo, the effects of which domestically were evident from an early stage. In the late 1800s, Leopold

340  M. G. STANARD

II became intimately associated with the colony, setting a precedent that his successors Albert I, Leopold III and Baudouin followed, with all of them taking an interest in and travelling to the Congo, thereby cementing the link between monarchy and colony. Colonialism’s cultural reverberations surfaced in Belgian popular culture, most famously in Hergé’s Tintin in the Congo (1930–31), which became the best-selling instalment of the immensely popular comic-book series. The Catholic Church preached to its parishioners about and raised funds for its central African missions. Government officials made extensive efforts to mobilise the population in favour of empire, targeting school children in particular. In 1960, the end of colonial rule caused an influx of thousands of former administrators, colonial company employees, and settlers of European descent, some 38,000 in the first month after independence alone. These, along with a few thousand Congolese who migrated to Belgium as well, brought the Empire home in a physical sense in the form of their persons. Considering the country’s significant experience with overseas rule, it may initially seem surprising that studies of colonial culture in Belgium took so long to appear. A deeper look, however, suggests why. When MacKenzie in the 1980s posited his arguments about empire and British culture, he was speaking to a well-developed historiography that dated back to J. R. Seeley’s The Expansion of England (1883), and that included ambitious syntheses such as The Cambridge History of the British Empire (J. H. Rose, ed., 8 vols., 1929–61). In contrast, in Belgium colonial history and the history of central Africa did not even emerge as fields of study until the 1960s.3 Similar to most other Europeans, Belgians had considered sub-Saharan Africa a place largely devoid of 3 Guy Vanthemsche, ‘The Historiography of Belgian Colonialism in the Congo’, in Csaba Lévai, ed., Europe and the World in European Historiography (Pisa: Pisa University Press, 2006), 89–119; Isidore Ndaywel È Nziem, ‘L’historiographie congolaise: Un essai de bilan’, Civilisations 54 (2006), 237–54; Idesbald Goddeeris and Sindani E. Kiangu, ‘Congomania in Academia: Recent Historical Research on the Belgian Colonial Past,’ BMGN—Low Countries Historical Review 126, no. 4 (2011), 54–75; and Jean Stengers, ‘Belgian Historiography After 1945’, in P. C. Emmer and H. L. Wesseling, eds., trans. Frank Perlin, Reappraisals in Overseas History (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 1979), 161–81. See also Jean-Luc Vellut, ‘Itinéraires d’un rêveur’, in Françoise Rosart and Guy Zelis, eds., Dans l’atelier de l’historien contemporanéiste: Parcours d’historiens de l’Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve: Harmattan-Academia, 2012); and Jan Vansina, Living with Africa (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994).



history. A few historians delved into aspects of what we would today call ‘colonial history’, but they fell outside the mainstream. Even the two most prominent such scholars, Jean-Luc Vellut and Jean Stengers, considered colonial history a secondary interest: Vellut is an Africanist, and Stengers focused on Belgian history. Although both were prolific scholars with careers spanning decades, neither produced a book-length monograph on Belgian colonial history, although Vellut produced in 2017 an essay collection representing a kind of culmination of his life’s work.4 There was a parallel between the outsider status of Belgian scholars working on colonial history and MacKenzie’s position when he published Propaganda and Empire, which, it is easy to forget, was not always received favourably when it first appeared, and which placed MacKenzie outside the mainstream of British imperial studies.5 In a similar fashion, Belgian historians of colonialism were far from typical. If Propaganda and Empire’s reception was initially mixed in Britain, it was even more muted in Belgium. The same had been true of Edward Said’s landmark Orientalism, published in 1978, which elicited few academic reflections on the Belgian colonial experience or the existence of orientalism in Belgium. Coincidentally, the year after Propaganda and Empire’s publication marked the centenary of the creation of the Congo Free State (CFS), which triggered a significant number of publications in Belgium about the colonial past and the Leopoldian period in particular, some of which touched on cultural ramifications in the metropole.6 Nonetheless, for years the work of both MacKenzie and Said and the studies of colonial cultures that followed in their wake scarcely affected the study of Belgium’s colonial past. Several factors help explain why historians long neglected empire’s cultural repercussions in Belgium, some of which are shared with the British case and help to explain why MacKenzie’s work on British culture and empire was so significant when it appeared. First, historical analysis of the colonial era by Belgians tended to adhere to a more ‘aloof’, scientific method. Jean Stengers epitomised this approach, arguing as he 4 Jean-Luc Vellut, Congo: Ambitions et désenchantements, 1880–1960. Carrefours du passé au centre de l’Afrique (Paris: Karthala, 2017). 5 Personal communication with John M. MacKenzie, 19 December 2016. 6 See Zaïre 1885–1985: Cent ans de regards des belges (Brussels: Cooperation par l’Education et la Culture, 1985); and Lieve Joris, Mon Oncle du Congo, trans. Marie Hooghe (Arles: Actes Sud/Babel, 1990), first published as Terug naar Congo (1987).

342  M. G. STANARD

did that it was not the historian’s job to pass contemporary judgement on long-ago actions, however terrible. Former diplomat Jules Marchal and anthropologist Daniel Vangroenweghe produced important and more condemnatory works, but there was not yet any focus on metropolitan Belgian culture and the experience of colonialism. Belgians presumed empire had had little effect on the metropole, and that it had been European culture that had diffused outward from Belgium to Africans in the form of education, religion, language instruction, and so forth. This connected back to one of the proclaimed justifications of colonialism in the first place, the ‘civilizing mission’, which was about expanding Christendom, raising up underdeveloped peoples, connecting isolated areas to the world economy, extracting valuable tropical and mineral resources, and spreading English, French, and other European languages. From this viewpoint, the reshaping of Belgian culture by Africans had never been a goal, or even a possibility. Indeed, the inattention to overseas empire’s cultural after-effects in the metropole was a symptom of Europeans’ presumed cultural superiority, a presumption marking not only Belgian but also British and continental histories of empire. Studies of Belgian culture and history, meanwhile, maintained their traditional focus on the country’s north-south, FlemishWalloon divide and the ‘Flemish question’, which was re-energised by the two world wars. During both, German occupying forces pursued a Flamenpolitik that tapped into Flemish nationalism and ultimately implicated the Flemish question in issues of collaboration. The staying power of Flemish-Walloon divisions overshadowed other questions about the country’s history, including colonial ones. Important also is that many fewer immigrants from colonised territories made their way to Belgium in the years after World War II as compared to other cases, in particular Britain, which saw the arrival of the so-called Windrush Generation in 1948.7 Another factor was the comparatively brief duration of Belgium’s experience with formal colonialism: less than a century, thus shorter than the cases of France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, or the Netherlands, although longer than Germany (1880s–1919), Italy (1880s–1940s), or Japan (1905–45). Scholars outside Belgium working on colonial culture in the 1980s and 1990s, meanwhile, seldom paid much attention to ‘little Belgium’. 7 Clair Wills, Lovers & Strangers: An Immigrant History of Post-War Britain (London: Allen Lane, 2017).



When the scholarly gaze did come to rest on the country and the Congo, it was atrocities and ‘red rubber’ that garnered most attention, even though the Belgian state-rule period lasted more than twice as long as the Leopoldian era. The Belgian case remained an exotic one that was seldom incorporated into mainstream historiography on colonial culture, something that was evident in the Studies in Imperialism series founded by MacKenzie at Manchester University Press, for which (especially early on) the label Studies in British Imperialism might have been more appropriate. More than half the chapters in Felix Driver and David Gilbert’s Imperial Cities (1987), for instance, investigate British cities. Moreover, the collection only briefly mentions Brussels without even hinting at its history as an early-modern imperial capital (first of the Holy Roman Empire and later of the Habsburg Austrian Netherlands), as Leopold II’s colonial capital, and as the capital of the multinational European Union (EU). Indeed, this subject remains under-researched, as commentators have mainly focused on how Leopold II used profits from the Congo to finance his urban architectural schemes. Scholars’ neglect of the Belgian case has changed only recently, for instance with European Empires and the People (2011), in which MacKenzie married his expertise on British imperial culture with that of scholars working on the Belgian, French, German, Italian, and Dutch colonial experiences.8 Elizabeth Buettner’s wide-ranging Europe After Empire (2016), which includes Belgium among the five countries whose colonial and decolonisation experiences it compares and contrasts, is also suggestive of a shift towards inclusion of Europe’s ‘smaller’ imperial powers.9 Another factor explaining the languid growth of attentiveness to the Congo’s cultural impact in Europe is the fact that few Belgians had direct experience in the colony, as contrasted with, for example, the innumerable Scots, English, Welsh, and Irish who created and sustained Britain’s empire. Many of the whites who found their way into Leopold’s employ or otherwise worked in the Congo before 1908 were not Belgian but from Scotland, England, Wales, Russia, Italy, and Germany; there were Belgian Catholic missionaries, but many other missionaries were 8 John M. MacKenzie, et al., European Empires and the People: Popular Responses to Imperialism in France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011). 9 Elizabeth Buettner, Europe After Empire: Decolonization, Society, and Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016).

344  M. G. STANARD

Protestants from Scandinavia, Britain, or the United States. Most doctors in the CFS were Italian; many traders were French or British; numerous officers in the CFS’s military, the Force Publique, hailed from Scandinavia; and a significant proportion of the CFS’s civil servants were Swiss.10 Not until 1893 did Belgians constitute a majority of the whites working in the CFS, and barely half of all whites in the colony—3615 of 6991—were Belgian as late as 1920.11 At the height of white settlement in the Congo, in the late 1950s, only some 88,000 Belgians lived there—only slightly more people than today inhabit the Isle of Man, in a land nearly ten times the size of the UK. There was not much circulation of Belgians between metropole and colony, and because there simply were not that many colonials—white Belgians living or working in the Congo—there was no return migration at the end of empire approaching the million-plus pieds noirs who left Algeria for metropolitan France in the early 1960s or the nearly 500,000 retornados who left Africa for Portugal in 1974–75, who increased Portugal’s population by an astonishing five per cent. In the case of other European empires, numerous scholars had first-hand experience in the colonies, including, notably, John MacKenzie himself, who at around twelve years of age moved with his family to Northern Rhodesia, where he attended school in Ndola.12 Few Belgian scholars had such experience. It is also important to note the small size of the Congolese community in Belgium, which never numbered more than a few hundred before 1960, and only a few thousand in the years immediately following the Congo’s independence. During the colonial era, this community’s small size was by design, as Belgium’s policy of severely restricting the movements of its colonial subjects set it apart from its counterparts. By the 10 L. H. Gann and Peter Duignan, The Rulers of Belgian Africa, 1884–1914 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), 100. 11 Guy Vanthemsche, Belgium and the Congo, 1885–1980, trans. Alice Cameron and Stephen Windross, revised by Kate Connelly (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 279. 12 MacKenzie later carried out research in Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) between 1967 and 1976. He wrote about this experience in John M. MacKenzie, ‘Empire from Above and Below’, in Antoinette Burton and Dane Kennedy, eds., How Empire Shaped Us (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 37–48; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘Epilogue: Analysing “Echoes of Empire” in Contemporary Context: The Personal Odyssey of an Imperial Historian (1970s–present)’, in Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Berny Sèbe, and Gabrielle Maas, eds., Echoes of Empire: Memory, Identity and Colonial Legacies (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), 188–206.



late 1880s, Mohandas Gandhi was studying law in London, and there were Indian MPs at Westminster. By 1914, some Africans in Afrique occidentale française had gained French citizenship, the Senegalese Blaise Diagne had been elected to the French National Assembly, and Vietnamese students were living in Paris. In contrast, Belgian policies kept the Congolese presence in the metropole to a minimum, and their numbers increased only slowly after 1960. In fact, the Congolese population of France grew so much faster than that of Belgium that by 1992, 52 per cent of all Congolese living in Europe resided in France and only 29 per cent in Belgium.13 The number of immigrants to Belgium from other countries, including Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Portugal, France, and Turkey, was in fact much larger.

2  The ‘Imperial Turn’ in Belgian Colonial Historiography More recently, there has been an upsurge of interest in Belgian colonial history, including colonial culture, and a number of studies have examined empire’s myriad effects on Belgians in the metropole. In some sense foreign writers led the way, with probably the best known being the American Adam Hochschild, who in 1998 published the best-selling King Leopold’s Ghost.14 Hochschild’s book, which was quickly translated into French and Dutch, is a fascinating re-telling of atrocities in the CFS and the campaigns by Europeans and Americans to halt them. At the end of his book, Hochschild brings his story into the last decade of the twentieth century as he writes of a ‘Great Forgetting’ in Belgium of the country’s colonial past. As an example, he points to the Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale in Tervuren and its wall commemorating fallen colonial heroes, which at the time he visited made no mention of the inumerous Congolese killed during the colonial period.15 Hochschild also 13 Sarah

Demart, ‘Histoire orale à Matonge (Bruxelles): un miroir postcolonial’, Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales 29 (2013), 137; and Mumpasi B. Lututala, ‘L’élargissement de l’espace de vie des Africains: Comment le «pays des oncles» européens devient aussi celui des neveux africains’, Revue Tiers Monde 38 (1997), 338. 14 Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Central Africa (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998). 15 When the museum reopened in 2018 following a five-year renovation, the room included an art installation by a Congolese artist that called attention to the Congolese killed during the Leopoldian era.

346  M. G. STANARD

alleges that an eye-popping ten million deaths occurred in the Congo under Leopold’s rule, which he calls a ‘forgotten holocaust’. Many Belgians greeted these claims with astonishment and hostility. In significant ways, Hochschild got these points wrong, although this does not diminish the impact of his work. First, there was no ‘holocaust’, if that term is taken to refer to deliberate genocide. Millions, to be sure, did die, but Leopold’s colonial regime did not target the peoples of the Congo River basin for annihilation; if anything, it needed more workers, not fewer.16 Secondly, there was no ‘Great Forgetting’. Instead, Belgians have gone through cycles of forgetting and remembering. As Sarah De Mul puts it, ‘Successive generations have forgotten the Congo atrocities so that these could be brought to attention again. Time and again, the remembered events are condemned or denied; subsequently they are buried again, rediscovered, condemned, and denied, and so on … The Congo atrocities have never really been forgotten, but, rather … the memory has relentlessly been unearthed’.17 Hochschild’s riveting storytelling and the controversy he sparked by using the term ‘holocaust’ represented one such cycle of remembrance. Hochschild’s ‘unearthing’ of the Congo atrocities sparked renewed interest and a quick succession of major developments that brought ­memories of colonial history to the forefront. Sociologist Ludo de Witte’s sensational The Assassination of Lumumba (1999) revisited the story of the 1961 murder of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of independent Congo, pinning much of the blame for it on Belgium.18 This awakening of Lumumba’s ghost spurred a parliamentary inquiry beginning in 2000, which was followed in 2001 by an admission of Belgian complicity in Lumumba’s murder by t­hen-Foreign Minister Louis Michel. The commission’s work coincided with the release of Raoul Peck’s film Lumumba (2000). These three ‘visits’ by Lumumba’s ghost raised the profile of the country’s colonial past and 16 Matthew G. Stanard, ‘Violence and Empire: The Curious Case of Belgium and the Congo’, in Robert Aldrich and Kirsten McKenzie, eds., The Routledge History of Western Empires (Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge, 2013), 454–67. 17 Sarah De Mul, ‘The Holocaust as a Paradigm for the Congo Atrocities: Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost’, in Elleke Boehmer and Sarah De Mul, eds., The Postcolonial Low Countries: Literature, Colonialism, and Multiculturalism (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2012), 174–75. 18 Ludo de Witte, De moord op Lumumba (Leuven: Van Halewyck, 1999).



posed new questions about hidden memories and unearthed legacies. Then, just as the centenary in 1985 of the declaration of the CFS had heightened awareness of the colonial past, so did the years 2008, 2009, and 2010, respectively, the centenary of the turnover of the Congo to Belgium, the centenary of Leopold II’s death and the fiftieth anniversary of Congo’s independence. These years produced not only all kinds of cultural events related to the Congo, but also a flurry of scholarly activity.19 2010 also marked the centenary of the Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale. For many journalists, scholars, and writers, the little-changed museum was emblematic of Belgians’ inability to face up to their colonial past, and they took Belgium to task for harbouring a dusty colonialist institution frozen in time.20 Anyone who has visited the Tervuren museum and the monument to Leopold II in its park has witnessed the continuing physical presence of the colonial era in the metropole, and a number of recent works have focused on the built legacy of empire woven into the urban fabric of the kingdom. These include colonial memorials, street names, the Arc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, as well as other buildings like the Tervuren museum that were financed with profits from the Congo.21 Before 1960, colonial monuments helped unite Belgians within an imagined community of one nation joined by a shared monarchy. Virtually none were taken down after 1960, and some writing on the traces of empire has mapped out ‘colonial promenades’ of Brussels and other cities so that visitors can view colonial sites. The Brazilian artist Daniel Cabral has produced ‘Tour Leopold II’, a tourist map of monuments, public spaces, and buildings financed by Leopold’s Congo profits, and the Belgian writer Lucas Catherine has published a book taking the reader on a ‘walk in the Congo’ by means of a ‘colonial tour’ of Brussels, all to raise awareness of the enduring presence of empire. Anti-colonial groups have organised 19 Idesbald Goddeeris, ‘Postcolonial Belgium: The Memory of the Congo’, Interventions 17 (2015), 434–51. 20 Jean Muteba Rahier, ‘The Ghost of Leopold II: The Belgian Royal Museum of Central Africa and Its Dusty Colonialist Exhibition’, Research in African Literatures 34 (2003), 58–84; Matthew G. Stanard, Selling the Congo: A History of European Pro-Empire Propaganda and the Making of Belgian Imperialism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011); and Maarten Couttenier, Als muren spreken - Het Museum van Tervuren 1910–2010 Si les murs pouvaient parler - Le Musée de Tervuren (Tervuren: MRAC, 2010). 21 Idesbald Goddeeris, ‘Colonial Streets and Statues: Postcolonial Belgium in the Public Space’, Postcolonial Studies 18 (2015), 397–409.

348  M. G. STANARD

Fig. 1  Gérard Koninckx Frères building (1927) (Photo by the author, 2013)

walking tours of the capital, visiting some sites that are so obscure that people would otherwise not recognise them as ‘colonial’, for example the former Gérard Koninckx Frères building at the place du Vieux Marché aux Grains in Brussels (Fig. 1).22 The exotic fruit trees on the building’s façade reveal its history as the home of a business that imported tropical products from the Congo. A more prominent example of a colonial monument is the equestrian statue of Leopold II in Brussels’ Place du Trône, one of some dozen memorials to the king that still stand. Someone unfamiliar with the history of Leopoldian rule in the Congo, however, would be hard-pressed to recognise anything ‘colonial’ in the statue.23 Other scholars have explored how the colonial era reshaped academic disciplines, including the sciences. In an encyclopaedic study, Marc Poncelet suggests that scientific institutions in Belgium that focused on

22 Daniel de Almeida Cabral, ‘Tour Leopold, 2016’, 2017, https://www.danielcabral. org/tour-leopold.html [accessed 16 January 2018]; Lucas Catherine, Wandelen naar Kongo (Brussels: Epo, 2006); and Promenade au Congo: Petit guide anticolonial de Belgique, trans. Jacquie Dever (Brussels: Aden, 2010). 23 Matthew G. Stanard, ‘King Leopold’s Bust: A Story of Monuments, Culture, and Memory in Colonial Europe’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 12 (2011).



far-off lands were founded by and through the colonial experience.24 Maarten Couttenier of the Tervuren Museum has shown how the colonial era fundamentally shaped anthropology and museum practices.25 Just as Britain’s Imperial Institute and the Jardin des Plantes in Paris both developed in tandem with overseas expansion, so did institutions like the Tervuren Museum, the Institut de Médicine Tropicale Anvers and the Jardin Botanique National de Belgique owe much of their existence to overseas rule. Ruben Mantels has traced the academic exchanges between the University of Leuven and the Congo, which became more important in the 1950s after the founding of Lovanium University in Kinshasa.26 In such ways did the colony feed into the development of the sciences, education, and modern technology. Even if the Congolese presence in Belgium has been and continues to be comparatively small, a number of scholars, most notably Sarah Demart, have examined its cultural ramifications.27 A frequent focus is Matongé, a Brussels neighbourhood that is a centre of Congolese life, whose ‘entrance’ at the Porte de Namur is marked by Congolese artist Chéri Samba’s mural ‘Porte de Namur Porte de l’Amour’ (Fig. 2). Even if Matongé is a small community in a small capital city, its influence has been notable, and after 1960 many Congolese visiting Belgium, including the dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, made a point of spending time there. Members of Belgium’s central African community have rarely directly confronted the country’s colonial past, however, partly because many Congolese, Rwandans, and Burundians only lived in Belgium temporarily, either as students or exiles and were always planning to return home. It was not until after the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and the collapse of the Mobutu regime in 1997 that the number of permanent residents of central African origin living in Belgium increased significantly.

24 Marc

Poncelet, L’Invention des Sciences Coloniales Belges (Paris: Karthala, 2008). Couttenier, ‘Anthropology and Ethnography’, in Prem Poddar, Rajeev S. Patke, and Lars Jensen, eds., A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures— Continental Europe and Its Empires (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008), 12–13. 26 Ruben Mantels, Geleerd in de Tropen: Leuven, Congo & de wetenschap, 1885–1960 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2007). 27 Sarah Demart, ‘De la distinction au stigmate: Matonge, un quartier congolais à Bruxelles’, Bruxelles et le Congo, ed. Amandine Lauro, Cahiers de La Fonderie 38 (June 2008), 59; and Demart, ‘Histoire orale à Matonge’, 137. 25 Maarten

350  M. G. STANARD

Fig. 2  Chéri Samba’s Porte de Namur Porte de l’Amour (Photo by the author, 2013)

But the Congolese in Belgium have tended to be more concerned about current problems in their home country than about the distant past.28 Reticence regarding colonial issues also results from the marginal position that most Congolese, Burundians, and Rwandans occupy

28 On the enormity of Congo’s recent travails, see Jason K. Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa (New York: PublicAffairs, 2011).



in European societies. Consider Paul Rusesabagina who while working at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali saved more than a thousand Hutu and Tutsi lives during the Rwandan genocide. Well-known today thanks to the film Hotel Rwanda (2004) and his memoir An Ordinary Man (2006), Rusesabagina was driving a taxi cab in Brussels when his story was (re)discovered in the late 1990s.29 Compared to other former metropoles, the influence of former colonial subjects in Belgium has thus been muted. To be sure, Africans have made their mark, for instance the writer Koli Jean Bofane with novels such as Mathématiques congolaises (2008).30 In sport there is Vincent Kompany, the son of a Congolese father and Belgian mother, who captained Belgium’s 2014 World Cup team. The musician Stromae, who is the son of a Rwandan father and Belgian mother, has charted numerous hits, and there is also a sub-­ culture of Belgo-Congolese hip-hop.31 What of the place and influence of former colonials in Belgium? As was noted above, tens of thousands of people returned home from the Congo beginning in the 1960s. The 88,000 Belgians living in the colony at the end of the colonial period encompassed missionaries, officials, company employees, military officers, settlers, merchants, and family members. In contrast, 25,000 British colonial officials alone returned to Britain during the decolonisation era. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, the number of former Belgian colonials had dwindled to 30,000, yet the number of their associations had paradoxically grown. In 1912, the umbrella Royale Union coloniale belge combined eleven associations, whereas its post-colonial successor Union royale belge pour les pays d’Outre-mer (UROME) contained twenty-seven such groups in 2008, encompassing some 10,000 former colonials and their children.32 Studies reveal that after 1960, these former colonials were motivated to defend themselves and their interests in a difficult new situation, and to establish and maintain a ‘correct’ version of colonial history. Many felt 29 Paul Rusesabagina with Tom Zoellner, An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography (New York: Viking, 2006). 30 In Koli Jean Bofane, Mathématiques congolaises (Paris: Actes Sud, 2008). 31 Jamina Mertens, Wouter Goedertier, Idesbald Goddeeris and Dominique de Brabanter, ‘A New Floor for the Silenced? Congolese Hip-Hop in Belgium’, Social Transformations 1 (2013), 87–113. 32 Florence Gillet, ‘Le pélerinage des anciens coloniaux en région bruxelloise’, Bruxelles et le Congo, ed. Amandine Lauro, Cahiers de La Fonderie 38 (2008), 54.

352  M. G. STANARD

poorly received upon returning to Belgium; some saw themselves as victims, much like many returning French, Portuguese, or British colonials in the post-colonial era. In their eyes, they had achieved much, only to be perceived by some of their compatriots back home as having caused the Congo’s post-independence problems.33 Studies suggest that decades after independence, many of them remained highly nostalgic, maintained stereotypical ‘colonialist’ views, did not question the colonial past and viewed colonialism as necessary since black Congolese were inferior and consequently in need of colonial rule.34 Congo’s struggles since 1960 only reinforced such beliefs.35 Florence Gillet has argued that these former colonials have had a negligible impact on public debates about the colonial past.36 Other scholars, however, have claimed that pro-colonial groups had an outsized influence by keeping colonial history alive, by propagating a favourable narrative in publications and letters to newspapers and by running local cercles coloniaux, or ‘colonial clubs’, which originated before 1960 but continued to exist even after the Congo’s independence.37 For years, former colonials also closely monitored the displays and activities of the Tervuren museum, and they continue to hold ceremonies at memorials honouring colonial pioneers and to lay wreaths to honour Leopold II’s memory (Fig. 3). More recent analyses have further teased out the understated, yet still pervasive, cultural influences of the colonial period in the metropole. In her study of African influences on Belgian art, Deborah Silverman argues that indirect influences growing out of Leopoldian rule fed into 33 Marie-Bénédicte Dembour, Recalling the Belgian Congo: Conversations and Introspection (New York: Berghahn, 2000), 72; and Laurent Licata and Olivier Klein, ‘Regards croisés sur un passé commun: anciens colonisés et anciens coloniaux face à l’action belge au Congo’, in M. Sanchez-Mazas and L. Licata, eds., L’Autre: Regards psychosociaux (Saint-Martin d’Hères: Presses Universitaires de Grenoble, 2005). 34 Dorien Van De Mieroop and Mathias Pagnaer, ‘Co-Constructing Colonial Dichotomies in Female Former Colonizers’ Narratives of the Belgian Congo’, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 23 (2013), E66–E83. 35 Florence Gillet, ‘Congo rêvé? Congo détruit … Les anciens coloniaux belges aux prises avec une société en repentir. Enquête sur la face émergée d’un mémoire’, Cahiers d’histoire du temps présent-Bijdragen tot de Eigentijdse Geschiedenis 19 (2008), 101. 36 Gillet, ‘Le pèlerinage’, 57. 37 Matthew G. Stanard, ‘Imperialists Without and Empire: Cercles coloniaux and Colonial Culture in Belgium After 1960’, in Cheryl Koos and Cora Granata, eds., The Human Tradition in Modern Europe (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), 155–69.



Fig. 3  Monument to Leopold II, Place du Trône, December 2009 (Photo by the author, 2013)

artistic production, in particular during the Art Nouveau movement. As Silverman puts it, ‘Belgian art nouveau now looks very different to me, and the specifically Congo style of the 1890s and its coherence as a distinctively imperial form of modernism can now be identified’. In architect Henry Van de Velde’s work, for instance, ‘elephants are anywhere and everywhere in the rooms he designed, and in every medium

354  M. G. STANARD

of expression’. The ‘whiplash’ style of Art Nouveau ‘provides visual equivalents of two foundational elements of the [Congo Free State] regime: the rugged, relentless, and sinuous coils of the Congo’s wild rubber vines … and the imperial chicotte, the long flogging whip at the centre of Leopold’s rule’.38 Generational change has been important in driving investigations into Belgian colonial culture. In short, the models, presuppositions, and theories underpinning the study of Belgium’s imperial past have shifted as the temporal distance has grown between scholars and their object of study. An earlier generation launched the historiography of Belgian colonialism, including Stengers and Vellut, as well as Jan Vansina and Daniel Vangroenweghe. Another, smaller cohort followed, including Mathieu Zana Aziza Etambala and Guy Vanthemsche. The past decade has witnessed the emergence of a new generation of Belgian scholars of colonialism including Amandine Lauro, Pierre-Luc Plasman, AnneSophie Gijs, and Idesbald Goddeeris. Generational change is epitomised by David Van Reybrouck, who was born in 1971 and thus not personally implicated in his country’s colonial past. Van Reybrouck explored this subject not only with less personal investment but with an engaging writing style, creating a bestseller, Congo: A History.39 Of greater relevance here is the collection Congo in België (2009), edited by Van Reybrouck, Vincent Viaene, and Bambi Ceuppens, the first full-length book treatment directly addressing the cultural effects of the colonial experience on Belgian politics, identity, history writing, religion, education, literature, journalism, architecture, and film.40 Congo in België represents a growing scholarly consensus that, while the Congo’s influence on Belgian culture has been comparatively small, it is still greater than was once thought. 38 Debora

L. Silverman, ‘Art Nouveau, Art of Darkness: African Lineages of Belgian Modernism, Part I’, West 86th 18 (2011), 151, 153, 156, and 164; Deborah Silverman, ‘Art Nouveau, Art of Darkness: African Lineages of Belgian Modernism, Part II’, West 86th 19 (2012), 175–95; and Deborah Silverman, ‘Art Nouveau, Art of Darkness: African Lineages of Belgian Modernism, Part III’, West 86th 20 (2013), 3–61. 39 David Van Reybrouck, Congo: Een geschiedenis (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2010). 40 Vincent Viaene, David Van Reybrouck, and Bambi Ceuppens, eds., Congo in België: Koloniale cultuur in de metropool (Leuven: University of Leuven Press, 2009). See also this author’s recent book, The Leopard, the Lion, and the Cock: Colonial Memories and Monuments in Belgium (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2019). An earlier, more impressionistic volume is Luc Vints, Kongo Made in Belgium: Beeld van een kolonie in film en propaganda (Leuven: Kritak, 1984).



A key factor in the colonial era’s enduring influence was the ‘hangover’ of imperialist propaganda, which circulated not only during the colonial era but also long after 1960.41 The same colonialist images were republished again and again, sometimes over decades: photographs that first appeared in the pro-colonial Le Congo Illustré in the 1890s continued to appear on postcards years later.42 Florence Gillet and Anne Cornet have traced how a long-established colonialist imaginary was sustained in photography right through to the end of the colonial era. Official photographs juxtaposed coloniser and colonised, contrasting the former’s ostensible civilisation, dominance, and normalcy with the latter’s savagery, submissiveness, and exoticism.43 Photos omitted what were perceived as negative subjects, such as the great distance separating the Congo from the metropole or métissage—mixed-raced unions and their issue. Instead, they emphasised the positives: harmony between blacks and whites; peace and order; productivity; accomplishments in medicine and education; and the comforts of living in the colony’s (white) urban areas. Yet to be examined, however, are other colonial-era productions that shaped people’s views after 1960, including government studies, church publications, artwork, exhibits, periodicals, novels, and films, as well as the continuing work of the Royal Academy for Overseas Sciences, founded as the Institut Royal Colonial Belge in 1928. Future research can benefit from the model established by MacKenzie’s work, especially by emulating its focus not only on official propaganda but also expositions, theatre, juvenile fiction, textbooks, radio, advertising, and youth organisations.44 My own study of Belgian colonial propaganda, Selling the Congo (2011), emphasised how official state propaganda targeted Belgian youth both in and out of the classroom. No study has yet emerged, however, of Belgian youth and the colonial experience to parallel examinations of British youth and empire, including volumes in the Studies in Imperialism series. There have been 41 Nathalie Tousignant, ‘Les Manifestations publiques du Lien colonial entre la Belgique et le Congo belge (1897–1988)’, Ph.D. Thesis, Université Laval, 1995, 16. 42 Christraud M. Geary, In and Out of Focus: Images from Central Africa, 1885–1960 (London: Philip Wilson, 2002). 43 Anne Cornet and Florence Gillet, Congo Belgique 1955–1965: Entre propagande et réalité (Brussels: SOMACEGES/Renaissance du Livre, 2010), 15–20. 44 In addition to Propaganda and Empire, see John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986).

356  M. G. STANARD

scholarly examinations of Belgian colonial literature prior to 1960, but no comprehensive analysis of post-colonial literature. Nor has there been a comprehensive study of the colonial experience as expressed in radio, music, or theatre, although Catherine Hughes has done work on symphonic works and songs by Belgian composers that refer to the Congo and Belgium’s imperial identity. Other recent studies have examined the relationship between the Belgian monarchy and colonial history, memory, and culture. In 2007, Prime Minister Yves Leterme called the Belgian kingdom ‘an accident of history’ and claimed that all the north and south really shared were ‘the king, a football team, some beers’.45 Beer and football aside, one thing that has held Belgium together is the Saxe-Coburg dynasty, which has been closely tied to the Congo for more than a century. King Baudouin ascended to the throne in 1951 after the abdication of his father Leopold III due to accusations that the latter collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II. The former king and his son remained close, and Baudouin wrote to his father during his first trip to the Congo in 1955: ‘People talk about the Congo being Belgium’s tenth province. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have our residence here and to come from time to time to Belgium, which would not be more than a little district of the Congo?’46 There have been studies of the connections between the SaxeCoburg dynasty and colonialism, but little on the culture of monarchy and its intertwining with the colonial. Here, scholars of Belgian colonialism could take guidance from pioneering studies on Britain’s monarchy and empire. Miles Taylor has shown how British royals had little to do with empire until the reign of Victoria, after which monarchs forged a close association with it.47 It bears emphasising that this process developed at the same time that Leopold II became intimately associated with colonial rule in central Africa. Twentieth-century royal tourism and

45 Beatriz Navarro, ‘Entrevista a Yves Leterme, presidente de Flandes y vencedor de las elecciones belgas’, La Vanguardia, 26 June 2007; Jean Quatremer, ‘Leterme à la tête d’un ‘accident de l’histoire’, Libération (Paris), 12 June 2007. 46 Baudouin to Leopold III, 29 May 1955, quoted in Olivier Mouton, ‘Lettres de Baudouin’, Le Soir, 19 June 2010. 47 Miles Taylor, ‘The British Royal Family and the Colonial Empire from the Georgians to Prince George’, in Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery, eds., Crowns and Colonies: European Monarchies and Overseas Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016), 27–50.



travel to the Congo deepened the intertwinings of monarchy and colony, as it had in the British case beginning in the second half of the 1800s.48 Although Leopold II famously never set foot in central Africa, all of his successors did, and their journeys, including those in the post-colonial era, were followed with tremendous interest in the Flemish- and Frenchlanguage press.49 Since 1960, support for the Saxe-Coburg monarchy has weakened and the Belgian unitary state has been dismantled, yet any connections between these and decolonisation remain underexplored. Four decades ago Tom Nairn set out an extensive argument as to how empire’s end precipitated a crisis in the union of Scotland and England, and how the end of empire and economic decline would lead to the break-up of the imperial British state.50 MacKenzie has affirmed that Scottish nationalism got a boost from empire’s end and has argued for a ‘four nations’ approach to consider the distinct relations the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish nations had with empire.51 Were the energies of would-be Flemish nationalists otherwise diverted into the Belgian imperial project, only to emerge with greater force after decolonisation? Were he to take up the subject, Sir Tom Devine might be dubious, for he has countered Nairn and MacKenzie’s arguments with a forceful claim that Scotland and England actually drew closer together in the first half of the twentieth century, and that this bond was unaffected by decolonisation.52 Almost no one has taken up the subject of the Flemish and Walloon ‘nations’ and empire, although Bambi Ceuppens has written a treatment of culture in Flanders and the Congo, and Nancy Rose Hunt has shown

48 See Charles V. Reed, Royal Tourists, Colonial Subjects and the Making of a British World, 1860–1911 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016). 49 See Guy Vanthemsche, ‘Belgian Royals on Tour in the Congo (1909–1960)’, in Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery, eds., Royals on Tour: Politics, Pageantry and Colonialism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018). 50 Tom Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism (London: New Left Books, 1977). 51 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and English Worlds? A Four-Nation Approach to the History of the British Empire’, History Compass 6 (2008), 1244–63. 52 T. M. Devine, ‘The Break-Up of Britain? Scotland and the End of Empire: The Prothero Lecture’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series, 16 (2006): 163–80.

358  M. G. STANARD

how some Flemish explained their disadvantaged position within the Belgian kingdom by drawing on colonial narratives of oppression.53 The connection between empire and another unifying force in Belgian history—the Catholic Church—also deserves more research. MacKenzie has conceded that Propaganda and Empire did not focus enough on religion.54 There has similarly been little research into imperialism’s effects on the church in Belgium, which since 1960 has witnessed a sharp decline. Colonisation had boosted Catholicism’s influence, as the church found in the Congo not only a privileged champ d’action for proselytisation and religious activity, but a means by which religiosity could feed back to the metropole, thus bringing the colony ‘back home’. Lieve Joris wrote of a relative who went to the Congo as a missionary in the 1920s: ‘At the time, in all Flemish families, there was an uncle in the missions. The suffering caused by his absence was largely compensated by the novelty of the world in which the family entered: missionaries on leave brought back stories of the bush and came to eat on Sundays, leaving dark spots of red wine on the damask tablecloth and the whole house permeated with thick cigar smoke.’55 By the 1960s, secularisation meant that church attendance declined, along with the number of missionaries, which decreased from 8411 in 1964 to 4511 in 1982.56 The connections between decolonisation and church decline, however, have yet to be examined. The historiography of the British Empire, and to a lesser degree that of the French, was already developed at the time Belgian colonialism in central Africa was only just getting underway, and thus, it is little surprise that research into Belgian colonial culture emerged late. MacKenzie’s work on Britain, culture, and empire—and the work of the many scholars who followed in his wake—only slowly gained traction among students of Belgian imperialism, in part because of the recent nature of that

53 Bambi Ceuppens, Congo Made in Flanders? Koloniale Vlaamse Visies op ‘Blank’ en ‘Zwart’ in Belgisch Congo (Ghent: Academia Press, 2003); and Nancy Rose Hunt, ‘Rewriting the Soul in a Flemish Congo’, Past and Present 198 (2008), 185–215. 54 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Epilogue’, in Kalypso Nicolaïdis, Berny Sèbe, and Gabrielle Maas, eds., Echoes of Empire: Memory, Identity and Colonial Legacies (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), 197. 55 Joris, Mon Oncle, 10. 56 O. Degrijse, ‘La Belgique et les missions’, Eglise et mission 237 (March 1985), 7.



country’s overseas rule, and in part because there were few scholars of Congolese descent in the field, which left it more to non-Belgians who tended to focus on atrocities. Key publications and several anniversaries and commemorations acted as important catalysts for research suggesting that, although the Congo’s influence on Belgian culture has been relatively small, it is greater than previously thought. MacKenzie’s work thus remains significant for those seeking to unveil the colonial experience’s full effects on Belgium and Belgians.


‘The Brightness You Bring into Our Otherwise Very Dull Existence’: Responses to Dutch Global Radio Broadcasts from the British Empire in the 1920s and 1930s Vincent Kuitenbrouwer

In 1934, the Dutch radio announcer Eduard Startz visited Jodhpur in India, en route (by plane) to the Dutch East Indies. He was received enthusiastically by British colonial expatriates, who tuned in regularly to his shows, and with them, he listened to a radio broadcast from the Netherlands. For the first time, he experienced the emotion of hearing radio from the Netherlands so far away from home, and he was particularly touched when his companions stood up to pay their respects when the Dutch national anthem was played.1 Startz later recounted this story to show how global radio broadcasts increased the prestige of the Netherlands in the British Empire. This anecdote brings us to the heart of what Ann Stoler calls the ‘politics of comparison’ in the history of empires. In discussing this concept, 1 Eduard

Startz, Even naar Indië (Amsterdam: Strengholt, 1935), 41–43.

V. Kuitenbrouwer (*)  University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,



her main focus is on historiography, but she also briefly remarks that it is important to historicise it, as colonial powers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries used comparisons to legitimise their rule overseas.2 In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of this phenomenon amongst historians. In the introduction to the volume European Empires and the People (2011) in Manchester University Press’s Studies in Imperialism Series, John MacKenzie points out that there were ‘complex webs of “othering”’ that operated between different colonial empires in the modern age.3 This key insight suggests that an important research agenda would be for historians to (re)visit archives on a hunt for primary sources that reveal these complex histories of trans-imperial interactions. This chapter aims to contribute to this quest by addressing the responses of listeners in the British Empire to Dutch radio broadcasts in the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, the advent of wireless radio technology was welcomed by pro-colonial pundits in Great Britain and the Netherlands as a powerful tool to strengthen the bonds between the metropoles and peripheries of their respective empires. This shows that contemporaries were aware of the fact that radio waves transcend geographical boundaries. The inherently transnational nature of radio has indeed been recognised in the historiography of broadcasting in the British and Dutch empires.4 Another factor links the British and Dutch cases as well, for in both countries shortwave technology, operated respectively by the BBC Empire Service and the privately owned Philips Omroep Holland Indie (PHOHI), was used to allow direct transmissions from the metropoles to the peripheries of the two empires beginning in the early 1930s. In the French and Portuguese empires, in contrast, such transmissions were implemented later and on a smaller scale.5

2 Ann Stoler, ‘Tense and Tender Ties: The Politics of Comparison in North American History and (Post) Colonial Studies’, Journal of American History 88 (2001), 27. 3 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Introduction’, in John M. MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People: Popular Responses to Imperialism in France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 11. 4 Simon J. Potter, Broadcasting Empire: The BBC and the British World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012); and René Witte, De Indische radio-omroep: Overheidsbeleid en ontwikkeling 1923–1942 (Hilversum: Verloren, 1998). 5 Rebecca P. Scales, ‘Métissage on the Airwaves: Toward a Cultural History of Broadcasting in French Colonial Algeria, 1930–1936’, Media History 19 (2013), 305–21.



One aspect of the history of radio broadcasting, however, has been relatively absent from the historiography. The shortwave pioneers of the interwar years were aware that listeners in their empires could tune into stations operated by other imperial powers. In the 1930s, radio broadcasters from different countries tried to surpass their rivals by creating new technologies and broadcasting formats. In the book chapter ‘Propaganda and the BBC Empire Service, 1932–42’ (1987), MacKenzie showed that officials in Broadcasting House were alarmed by reports that many radio owners in the British Empire tuned into foreign stations. Although, from the mid-1930s, most of their worries were about the fascist German and Italian stations at Zeesen and Bari, reports in the BBC archives also repeatedly mention Dutch stations that were popular amongst listeners in the Empire.6 This chapter highlights this history from the Dutch rather than British perspective, using material from the Philips Company Archives. Particular focus will be on listeners’ letters from British-controlled territories to the producers of the ‘Happy Station’, an experimental show that began in 1928. In 1936, the annual report of the Philips radio broadcasters stated that they received 9300 letters from listeners outside the formal Dutch sphere of influence, which suggests that they received tens of thousands of letters in the decade as a whole.7 Although only a small percentage of these letters survive, it seems highly likely that a substantial number of radio owners in the British Empire tuned into Dutch radio broadcasts. This chapter undertakes a qualitative analysis of the surviving letters, preceded by an analysis of the pioneering years of radio, to examine the interaction between the Netherlands and Britain in the sphere of global radio broadcasting. In order to interpret the listeners’ letters, this chapter engages with a key concept from MacKenzie’s oeuvre: propaganda. In his seminal book Propaganda and Empire (1984), MacKenzie argued that this word, which had been previously been absent from the historiography of empire, was crucial to an understanding of British imperial culture.8 6 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Propaganda and the BBC Empire Service, 1932–42’, in Jeremy Hawthorn, ed., Propaganda, Persuasion and Polemic (London: E. Arnold, 1987), 37–54. 7 Over de wereld weerklinkt Neerlands stem. De Nederlandsche kortegolfomroep. PHOHI, PHI, PCJ 1936 (Eindhoven [1937]), 3. 8 John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion 1880–1960 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 2–3.


In the Netherlands, the term propaganda is an even bigger taboo, as it fits uncomfortably with both the historical self-image of the Dutch people and national historiography. The standard wisdom is that the Netherlands, as a small state with a large overseas empire, kept to a strict policy of neutrality in the beginning of the twentieth century, which meant that propaganda about issues related to international relations was strictly forbidden by the government. In the interwar years, journalists in domestic media, both print and radio, were actively monitored and sometimes even prosecuted in order to prevent controversial statements about other countries.9 Officials also urged radio broadcasters not to offend foreign powers in their transmissions. To properly asses the character of Dutch colonial broadcasts, one also needs to consider the domestic media landscape at the time, which was quite different from Britain, where the BBC had a broadcasting monopoly. In the interwar years, Dutch society was undergoing a process of ‘pillarisation’, which meant that civil society came to be increasingly stratified along ideological lines: Orthodox Protestant, Catholic, SocialDemocratic, and Liberal. These ‘pillars’ originated in the political parties in Parliament and stretched deep in the social fabric, as they all had their own organisations, ranging from academic think tanks to working man’s clubs. These divisions also shaped the domestic media landscape in the 1920s and 1930s, as each pillar had its own media outlets, including radio corporations. This fragmentation in the Dutch national ether prompted debates over if and how this plurality in the domestic media should be reflected in broadcasts abroad. Some people in the industry argued that there should be one national broadcasting organisation to prevent ‘party-propaganda’ from being disseminated over the global airwaves, while others argued that different radio corporations should be involved in programming in order to display the diversity within Dutch society.10

9 Huub Wijfjes, Radio onder restrictie. Overheidsbemoeiing met radioprogramma’s 1919– 1941 (Amsterdam: Stichting Beheer IISG, 1988); and Frank van Vree, De Nederlandse pers en Duitsland 1930–1939. Een studie over de vorming van publieke opinie (Groningen: Historische Uitgeverij, 1989). 10 I have explored this debate in my article Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, ‘Radio as a Tool of Empire: Intercontinental Broadcasting from the Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies in the 1920s and 1930s’, Itinerario 40 (2016), 83–103.



Documents about Dutch colonial radio broadcasting, whose authors were influenced by these internal and external factors, shunned the word ‘propaganda’. It is, however, a useful historiographical concept through which to analyse this material. The fact that contemporaries argued that their broadcasts were ‘neutral’ does not mean that this was actually the case. Instead, the development of Dutch global radio broadcasting was a direct attempt to manipulate audiences abroad in order to secure national interests—particularly the unity of the colonial empire—in the aftermath of the First World War. These attempts were geared towards preserving the geopolitical status quo and guarding the territorial integrity of both the Netherlands and its colonies in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. This meant that broadcasts were mainly aimed at encouraging the goodwill of listeners abroad. They focused on transmitting an optimistic image of Dutch modernity, which was symbolised by the pioneering experiments in radio technology, and on providing accessible forms of entertainment for foreign audiences that could display the specificities of Dutch society. The pages below will show how both broadcasters and listeners in various parts of the British Empire engaged with these key elements of early Dutch colonial radio.

1  Pioneering the Ether, 1917–1927 The birth of Dutch global wireless broadcasting must be seen in the context of the First World War, a time when the Dutch Empire largely relied on submarine telegraph cables controlled by the British for its communication. At the end of the nineteenth century, the Dutch government could not muster enough investors to fund an independent telegraph connection between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies. Instead, a deal was struck with Reuters to link into its line between India and Australia, and thus the Dutch East Indies tapped into the ‘all red route’ that connected the different parts of the British Empire. In peacetime, this was a reliable and cost-efficient way to operate Dutch colonial telegraphy. In times of war, however, it was more problematic, as was demonstrated during the South African War (1899–1902), when the British feared that the Dutch, who supported the Boers, would pass on secret


messages via the East Indies and therefore forbade the transmissions of coded messages via the Reuters cable.11 The Dutch government tried to decrease its dependency on British cables by creating an alternative route. In 1909, a German-based company succeeded in connecting the East Indies to China, and there tapped into a trans-Pacific network. Soon after the outbreak of the First World War, however, the British sabotaged this connection, which meant that the Dutch were again dependent on the Reuters line for their colonial communication, and this time the British imposed even more restrictions than previously. In addition to banning coded messages, they generally prioritised their communications over those from the Dutch, which meant that it was never clear if messages that were sent between Batavia and The Hague would actually make it through.12 This colonial communication crisis contributed to the destabilisation of the Dutch colonial regime in Southeast Asia and added to the social upheaval that was spreading throughout the Indonesian archipelago, where scarcity led to food riots and other forms of unrest.13 In the midst of this turmoil, a game-changing idea emerged. It was hatched by C. J. de Groot, an engineer for the colonial Post Office Board, who conducted experiments with long-range radio transmissions on Java and Sumatra. On leave in the Netherlands in 1916, he defended his Ph.D. thesis at the Eindhoven College of Technology. In it, he argued that the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies could be connected via a direct wireless radio connection without relay stations. Up to that moment, the Dutch government had barely spent any money on experiments with wireless technology, but in 1917, De Groot received five million guilders to build a radio station in Java. De Groot, who believed that the 12,000 kilometres separating the Netherlands from Java could be bridged by longwave technology, built a station at Malabar in the foothills of the Bandung District, with a huge antenna spanning a two-kilometre-long gorge. In the Netherlands, a station was built at 11 Martin Bossenbroek, Holland op zijn breedst: Indië en Zuid-Afrika in de Nederlandse cultuur omstreeks 1900 (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1996), 201–2; Kees van Dijk, The Netherlands Indies and the Great War, 1914–1918 (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 12–14; and Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, War of Words: Dutch Pro-Boer Propaganda and the South African War 1899–1902 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012), 107. 12 Van Dijk, Netherlands Indies, 141. 13 Van Dijk, Netherlands Indies, passim.



Kootwijk in the desolate Veluwe region; the main building was a true ‘radio cathedral’ that housed the huge generators that were needed to power the longwave connection. After years of experimentation, a direct, but unreliable, wireless telegraphy service between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies was inaugurated in May 1923.14 Attracting visitors and journalists, the Malabar and Kootwijk stations quickly became known worldwide as impressive symbols of the pioneering role Dutch engineers were playing in the development of radio technology.15 In only a few years, however, these longwave stations, together with de Groot’s views on intercontinental radio broadcasting, became outmoded due to the advance of shortwave technology. After successful tests were conducted in the United States, Dutch engineers began experimenting with shortwave transmitters that were far more efficient than longwave stations, as they required significantly less power and enabled the broadcast of sound via modulation. The Philips company at Eindhoven became an important centre of these experiments after its chairman Anton Philips ordered the production of radio receiving sets in the mid-1920s. At the time, the company, which up until then was mainly known for its light bulbs, had embarked on a great campaign of diversification. Radio technology became central to this process as it offered commercial opportunities to develop a large range of new products ranging from x-ray machines for medical use to complete radio receiving sets for everyday use. To achieve the latter goal, Philips took over the Nederlandse Seintoestellen Fabriek (Dutch Transmitter Factory) in Hilversum, which previously had been partly owned by the Marconi Company. This takeover ensured that Philips became the single most important radio manufacturer in the Netherlands and one of the largest in the world. In contrast, radio production in Great Britain was far less centralised, and in consequence, Marconi lost its leading role in the global radio production.16 Philips developed various strategies to seduce consumers all over the world to buy its radio sets. The company strongly invested in design and 14 Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, ‘The First World War and the Birth of Dutch Colonial Radio’, World History Bulletin 31 (2015), 28–31. 15 Rudolf Mràzek, Engineers of Happy Land: Technology and Nationalism in a Colony (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 170. 16 Ivo Jules Blanken, Geschiedenis van Philips Electronics N.V. Deel III (1922–1934) (Leiden: Nijhoff Uitgevers, 1992), 265–69.


was the first to market a fully integrated radio receiving set that looked like a stylish furniture item rather than a functional communication device for specialists.17 The company’s pro-active public relations division made sure that potential consumers were aware of these innovations by creating large global advertisement campaigns in a great variety of languages. As a result, Philips became the leading global radio brand and occupied a strong position in various markets outside the Dutch sphere of influence, such as Indochina.18 The most direct way, however, to promote the company’s radio sets was via contact over the ether and to that purpose a shortwave laboratory was built at Philips headquarters and operated by J. J. Numans, who conducted experimental shortwave transmissions over long distances. Although Dutch law banned radio advertising at the time, the station itself, which had the name Philips in its call sign, was a strong symbol of the technological power of the company. In this laboratory, engineers played a record in front of a microphone on 11 March 1927, and to their surprise, they received telegrams the next day that their signal had been received loud and clear by a radio amateur in Bandung, about ninety miles southeast of Jakarta, and by operators in other parts of the world. This was the first time in history that sound was transmitted across the globe via wireless radio.19 Anton Philips seized the moment and organised a series of events to promote his company’s experimental radio transmissions, which were broadcast using the station-code PCJJ. (In 1929, this acronym changed to PCJ, following international regulations.) On 28 April, the Philips transmitter relayed Ludwig von Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, including its famous ‘Ode to Joy’, played by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and conducted by Willem Mengelberg in the Amsterdam Concert Hall. Emphasising that his laboratory had made the global transmission of Beethoven’s masterpiece possible, Anton Philips himself introduced the broadcast.20 A month later, Queen Wilhelmina and Princess Juliana visited the Philips factory in order to deliver a brief address to the Dutch 17 Blanken,

Geschiedenis van Philips Electronics, 279–81. DeWald, ‘Taking to the Waves: Vietnamese Society Around the Radio in the 1930s’, Modern Asian Studies 46 (2012), 147–48. 19 For a detailed account of this experiment, see an undated historical memorandum, Philips Company Archives (PCA), file 814.23. See also: Hans Vles, Hallo Bandoeng. Nederlandse radiopioniers 1900–1945 (Zutphen: Walberg, 2008), 91–100. 20 Algemeen Handelsblad, evening edition, 29 April 1927. 18 Erich



colonies in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia via wireless. The mainstream press in the Netherlands, which generally supported colonialism, was jubilant about the Queen’s speech and asserted that wireless radio technology would strengthen the unity of the Dutch overseas empire.21 These successful broadcasts showed that the colonial communication crisis of the First World War had been overcome, as the Dutch now possessed an independent means of communication with the East Indies. Indeed, in the spring and early summer of 1927, journalists repeatedly mentioned that the Dutch had surpassed the British in the ether and eagerly referred to envious pundits in the British press who brought up the successful Dutch shortwave experiments.22 These expressions of British public opinion came at a crucial moment in the development of the BBC Empire Service. In the spring of 1927, the BBC’s leadership contemplated setting up a network of medium-wave relay stations that could pass on signals from Britain to all the parts of the Empire. Chief engineer Peter Eckersley preferred this system over direct broadcasts via shortwave, which he saw as an unreliable technology.23 Avid shortwave amateurs throughout the Empire, however, hoped to establish a direct connection with the British metropolis, while in Britain itself shortwave enthusiasts, headed by Gerald Marcuse, set up an advocacy group named the Radio Society of Great Britain. In May, he offered to conduct shortwave experiments in cooperation with the Marconi Company for the BBC.24 When the BBC proved reluctant, Marcuse conducted a media campaign, mainly through the influential and Marconi-linked engineering magazine Wireless World, to argue for an imperial shortwave station. Editorials hailed the Dutch radio experiments and disparaged the British government for failing to emulate them. In response to the broadcasts of the royal speeches, the magazine published a cartoon that compared Philips’ radio broadcasts with the Dutch naval dominance of the seventeenth century.25 By 1927, the Dutch had thus gained significant prestige via their command of the airwaves. 21 See, for example, editorials in Algemeen Handelsblad, Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, and Het Vaderland, 2 June 1927. 22 See, for example, Algemeen Handelsblad, 18 June 1927; and Het Volk, 21 June 1927. 23 Potter, Broadcasting Empire, 38–39. 24 BBC Written Archives Centre (WAC), file E4/1, Memorandum, G. Marcuse, 28 May 1927. 25 Wireless World, Vol. XX, No. 23 (8 June 1927), 2.


Dutch radio superiority was demonstrated when the BBC discreetly asked Philips to relay its broadcasts to distant parts of the British Empire, such as South Africa and Australia.26 This was not, however, an ideal solution. On 24 May, Philips, insisting that ‘tonight’s programme has been already completely arranged’, refused to relay Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin’s Empire Day speech, which had already been announced in the British press.27 In August, a representative of the Australian High Commissioner had to fly from London to Eindhoven in order to give a radio speech to listeners back home.28 These difficulties were a source of frustration to British proponents of shortwave radio. As the editors of the Evening News commented, ‘Obviously we cannot expect a Dutch station to do the work of relaying British broadcasts throughout the British Empire. We should regard an equivalent request from any foreign country as odd indeed’.29 The mounting public pressure compelled the Postmaster General’s Office to order the BBC to drop its resistance to shortwave technology, which paved the way for experimental shortwave broadcasts in cooperation with Marconi in October.30 In the years that followed, broadcasters in both Britain and the Netherlands worked to develop a regular service that transmitted directly from the metropole to the colonies. The BBC Empire Service was inaugurated on 19 December 1932, followed a month later by the PHOHI. Not only did the British manage to achieve this objective earlier than the Dutch, but the BBC also aired a far more extensive programme, broadcasting several hours every day, while the PHOHI offered only five two-and-a-half-hour broadcasts each week. This large gap in programming time can be explained by the business models of the two organisations. Although the budget for the Empire Service was seen as tight 26 Asa Briggs only mentions the Eindhoven broadcasts briefly in a footnote. Asa Briggs, The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, Volume II: The Golden Age of Wireless (London: Oxford University Press, 1965), 371. 27 PCA, file 814.23. [Unreadable] of Philips office in London to A. Philips, 24 May 1927. 28 PCA, file 814.23. Cutting Meyerijsche Courant, 17 August 1927. 29 PCA, file 814.23. Cutting Evening News, 24 May 1927. 30 BBC Written Archives Centre (WAC), file E4/1, Memorandum of telephone conversation with Mr. Phillips of the Post Master General’s Office, 16 September 1927; and Potter, Broadcasting Empire, 38.



by the broadcasters and plans to obtain additional funds from both the British and colonial governments failed, the BBC had a reliable source of funding through its monopoly and its ability to increase licensing fees in Britain.31 In contrast, PHOHI depended on voluntary funds from private contributors and, in addition, faced competition from other radio stations in the Netherlands.32 Initially, the great enthusiasm for Philips’ pioneering work attracted generous contributions from Dutch companies with colonial interests, known as the ‘colonial lobby’. The main ideological incentive for this group was the idea that the Dutch East Indies were a vital asset for the Dutch economy: the ‘cork’ which kept the Netherlands afloat.33 They hoped that the radio connection would strengthen the bonds between the Netherlands and its main colony. In this way, they argued, it would become easier for Dutch expatriates to relocate to the more isolated parts of the Indonesian archipelago and generate more profits for companies in the metropolis. The idea was that, after an initial investment, PHOHI would be able itself to raise enough money for its operations. In the years that followed, however, it appeared that this was not the case. The main problem was that it was not permitted to raise licensing fees, while the government granted monopolies to domestic broadcasters in the Netherlands and to the medium-wave station NIROM in the Dutch East Indies. Moreover, PHOHI was not allowed to air advertisements, and the station’s attempts to collect donations from its listeners in the Dutch East Indies did not yield much return. As a result, the station depended on private funding from colonial entrepreneurs throughout the 1930s, which was barely enough to keep it on the air.34 In addition to its financial woes, PHOHI also faced a political struggle as a result of the fragmented media landscape in the Netherlands. In 1927, the commissioners, who in addition to Anton Philips consisted of the most influential colonial entrepreneurs, demanded from the Dutch government a concession that would grant them a monopoly on all broadcasts to the East Indies. The Dutch listeners in the colony, they 31 Potter,

Broadcasting Empire, 41–43. paragraph and the following one draw from the first sections of Kuitenbrouwer, ‘Radio as Tool of Empire’. 33 Arjen Taselaar, De koloniale lobby. Ondernemers en de Indische politiek 1914–1940 (Leiden: CNWS, 1998). 34 Witte, De Indische radio-omroep, 55–57. 32 This


claimed, wanted relaxing programmes rather than ‘party propaganda’ from their home country. The draft asserted that the pillarised corporations should thus not be granted airtime, a view that was supported by the Ministry of Colonial Affairs and the colonial government in Batavia. Simultaneously, however, a domestic radio law was passed which ensured proportionate airtime to all ideological and religious pillars. On the basis of this law, the corporations, supported by their allies in the Cabinet and Parliament, demanded access to the colonial airwaves and effectively blocked the PHOHI’s concession. It took over five years, and much backroom negotiation, to resolve this political stalemate. Eventually, the PHOHI commissioners gave in and permitted the Catholic corporation KRO and the Liberal Protestant corporation VPRO to broadcast to the East Indies, in exchange for a degree of censorship that ensured that they would only transmit ‘neutral’ programmes. Due to these institutional problems, it was now the turn of Dutch pundits to look enviously across the North Sea. From the start of their radio ventures, Philips had advocated a national radio organisation similar to the BBC.35 In government circles, however, there was resistance to the BBC model. In 1934, Pieter Gerbrandy, a member of the influential advising body the Radio Council, published a pamphlet in which he argued that the current pillarised radio system reflected the ‘vitality of the Dutch people’ (volkskracht) and enjoyed a good reputation ­internationally.36 The next year, Gerbrandy set up a special committee to devise a plan for a pillarised world service with programming specifically intended for the colonies and for foreign audiences. That proposal, however, also met with political opposition, and nothing was done prior to the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940.37 At first glance, it might seem a miracle that the Philips managed to broadcast at all in the 1930s, considering the institutional problems it faced. But a closer look reveals that the fragmentary media landscape in the Netherlands also 35 Blanken,

Geschiedenis van Philips Electronics, 273. Gerbrandy, Het vraagstuk van de radio-omroep (Kampen: J. H. Kok, 1934), 17. 37 The Second World War was a watershed in the history of Dutch international radio broadcasting. First of all, the Germans put an end to PHOHI. In London, where de Dutch government in exile stayed, the station Radio Oranje started broadcasting in the Summer of 1940, using BBC hardware. This station was the direct predecessor of Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (RNW) that was founded in 1947, which was modelled on the BBC World Service. 36 Piet



provided opportunities for experimentation with broadcasting formats, which had an effect on the content and style of Dutch colonial radio.

2  Broadcasting ‘PCJ’: Peace, Cheer, Joy In the first two decades of its existence, the BBC, with its centralised and hierarchical structure, had strict principles governing its broadcasts, which largely came from John Reith, the first director. Reith was a strong believer in the British imperial mission, and he thought that radio could be used as an instrument to strengthen the unity and enhance the ‘civ­ ilising mission’ of the Empire. Programme managers who shared a similar outlook and who worked in close cooperation with imperial lobby groups such as the Empire Marketing Board and the Empire Day Movement developed a view of broadcasting that was aimed at edifying the listeners.38 They primarily targeted British expatriates, which meant that the programmes emphasised themes that would be of interest to them and avoided topics geared towards non-western audiences.39 MacKenzie has argued that in its early years, the Empire Service succeeded with ‘flagship programmes’ that marked imperial events, such as Empire Day.40 Day-to-day broadcasts, meanwhile, mainly contained news and items steeped in ‘Kipling-esque sentiments’ to cement ties between British colonials overseas and the metropolis.41 Despite, or perhaps due to, their strong sense of imperial mission, BBC broadcasters struggled with finding the right tone for their programmes, which they did not want to be too ‘lowbrow’.42 As a result, the BBC Empire Service was regularly criticised as being too ‘highbrow’ throughout the 1930s. 38 MacKenzie, ‘Propaganda and the BBC Empire Service’, 38; Thomas Hajkowski, The BBC and National Identity in Britain, 1922–53 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010), 25. 39 MacKenzie, ‘Propaganda and the BBC Empire Service’, 39; Emma Robertson, ‘“I Get a Real Kick Out of Big Ben”: BBC Visions of Britishness on the Empire and General Overseas Service, 1932–1948’, Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television 28 (2008), 459–73; and Potter, Broadcasting Empire, 46. 40 John M. MacKenzie, ‘In Touch with the Infinite: The BBC and Empire, 1923–1953’, in John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), 167. Historians have only paid attention to the spoken word of BBC broadcasts, and no analysis of the musical program exists. 41 MacKenzie, ‘Propaganda and the BBC Empire Service’, 48–50. 42 Potter, Broadcasting Empire, 25.


There is no evidence to suggest that the broadcasters at Philips had strict ideas about the edifying content of their radio shows, as they mainly wanted to provide entertainment. There were constraints on their broadcasts, particularly those meant for the Dutch East Indies via the PHOHI, but they were of an entirely different nature than those faced by the BBC. Following the compromise over the PHOHI’s concession, the Radio Council installed an Indies Programme Committee (Indië Programma Commissie) whose members, who were representatives of all the pillars that could be found in the Indies, read all programme scripts two weeks before they aired. The committee had the authority to order amendments or even ban texts altogether, though this happened in less than one per cent of the cases. Their main focus was on political and religious content that could be interpreted as propaganda, and as a result, the IPC carefully scrutinised programming on these topics.43 Such serious content, however, made up only a small part of PHOHI programming, which was mainly aimed at the entertainment of colonial expatriates. One scholar estimates that 60 per cent of airtime consisted of popular music.44 Although some members of the IPC, mainly those representing religious pillars, regularly grumbled about the ‘vulgarity’ (laag-bij-de-grondsheid) of the programming and the ‘kitsch pornography’ (edel-pornografie) that could be found in some of the song lyrics, the protection of public morality was not their priority.45 It seems that the experimental Philips transmissions on PCJ received even less scrutiny, as there is no evidence of any censorship of that station. This was due to the fact that its programming was not primarily aimed at the Dutch East Indies but rather at a global audience, and thus, the authorities were less concerned about its potential impact on the colonies. Moreover, the broadcasts were limited, with only one regular programme: a weekly two-hour show focusing on light entertainment that was called the Happy Station, which began in November 1928. No recordings of the live shows from the interwar years are known to survive, but the programme, which continued until 1995 with only 43 Martin Beijering, ‘Overheidscensuur op een koloniale radiozender: De Philips Omroep Holland Indië en de Indië Programma Commissie’, in Karel Dibbets, Sonja de Leeuw, Huub Wijfjes, Bert Hogenkamp, Rene Witte, Michel Hommel, and Bernadette Kester, eds., Jaarboek voor mediageschiedenis: Nederlands-Indië 4 (1992), 49. 44 Witte, De Indische radio-omroep, 47. 45 Beijering, ‘Overheidscensuur’, 51.



a few interruptions, maintains an iconic status in the annals of shortwave broadcasting, which makes it possible to reconstruct some key ­elements.46 Before turning to the responses from the British Empire to this show, I will describe several features of the programme in order to give a sense of its content. Amongst shortwave enthusiasts, Happy Station is still considered to be a groundbreaking programme in the global history of broadcasting. It centred on the personality of the announcer, Eddy Startz, who has been described as a pioneering ‘disc jockey’ or ‘master of ceremonies’, chatting between the records he played and entertaining his audience with witty puns and one-liners.47 Spending a substantial part of every show reading out letters from his listeners and playing songs they requested, he cultivated a close relationship with his audience. In an interview with a Dutch newspaper in 1933, Startz boasted how every week he received many enthusiastic letters from ‘all over the world’.48 One listener’s description of the Happy Station broadcast on 14 July 1936 noted how Startz announced ‘one million reports for PCJ’, after which the Philips orchestra played Louis Armstrong’s ‘Thanks a Million’.49 Startz also reached out to his audience by embarking on several goodwill tours in the 1930s, which brought him to the Dutch East Indies, India, Burma, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and North America.50 The format of Happy Station, which was focused on interaction with listeners, originated from the early days of Dutch global broadcasting. 46 After an intermission during the Second World War (when he retreated from public life), Startz continued with this programme for RNW up until his forced retirement 1969. From then on, Happy Station was presented by Tom Meijer up until 1993. RNW management terminated the programme in 1995. In 2009, Keith Perron, a Canadian living in Taipei, revived the show, which can be heard as a podcast via the website of his company PCJ Media. [accessed 11 March 2016]. 47 Jerome S. Berg, On the Short Waves, 1923–1945: Broadcast Listening in the Pioneer Days of Radio (London: McFarland, 1999), 72–73. For the term ‘disc jockey’, see: Robert D. Haslach, Netherlands World Broadcasting (self-published, 1983) 22; and http://www. [accessed 14 March 2016]. The term ‘master of ceremonies’ was already mentioned in a letter from 1927. PCA, file 814.23. J.E. Davidson, Nairobi to Philips Laboratory, 30 July 1927. 48 ‘The Happy Station’, Algemeen Handelsblad, 22 October 1933. 49 PCA, file 814.23. P. Prioko, Poland to PCJ, 14 July 1936. 50 Startz described these trips in the lucidly written booklets Even naar Indië (1935) and Hoe je’t ziet (1941).


In some ways, the broadcasters of PCJ were handicapped because Dutch was not a major international language, which made it difficult to communicate a clear image of the Netherlands to foreign audiences. But the Happy Station turned this weakness into a strength. Before joining Philips in 1928, Startz had been an adventurer who after studying journalism and advertising at Columbia University in New York travelled through the Americas, taking a series of temporary jobs ranging from salesman to assistant steward on a passenger ship.51 During these travels, he picked up words from many different languages, which became a signature of his polyglot style as an announcer, in which he regularly used English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese phrases. Listeners from all around the world wrote to compliment Startz on his linguistic abilities, especially his pronunciation of foreign words.52 A letter writer from Bangkok wrote out several phrases in Thai phonetically so that Startz could address his ‘large audience in this country’.53 In this way, Startz broadcast an image of the Netherlands as a country that was open to foreign contacts, and he regularly invited his listeners to ‘keep in touch with the Dutch’.54 As the title Happy Station suggested, Startz’s announcing style was upbeat. One letter writer appreciated his ‘courteous and genteel manner’, because it was ‘conducive to a better understanding of each other, which always [leads] toward greater tolerance’.55 As the years passed, and the world edged closer to war, Startz further cultivated this image of his show, and he rebranded the acronym PCJ as ‘Peace Cheer Joy’. This more outspoken style seems to have added to his popularity amongst his listeners, who wrote him ever more admiring letters in the late 1930s. In one of these letters from 1936, the writer suggested nominating Startz for a Nobel Peace Prize: ‘the amount of Peace and Happiness you do infuse into your millions or Billions of listeners would fill the 7 seas to overflowing’.56 Such effusive compliments suggest that ‘Uncle Eddie’, 51 A. W. J. de Jonge, ‘Startz, Eduard Franz Conradin (1899–1976)’, in Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland, [accessed 11 March 2016]. 52 See, for example, PCA, file 814.23. A.R. Rangschari, Madras to PCJ, not dated. 53 PCA, file 814.23. Phra Nararay [?], Siam to Eduard Startz, 5 January 1938. 54 [accessed 6 May 2016]. 55 PCA, file 814.23. J. Bernstein, USA to Eduard Startz, 26 December 1929. 56 PCA, file 814.23. C.M. Smith, India to Eduard Startz, 10 February 1936.



as many letter writers addressed him, became a celebrity to shortwave listeners around the world in the interwar years. This is further demonstrated by the frequent requests for autographed photos of the announcer received by PCJ. In addition to Startz’s on-air personality, listeners also appreciated the Happy Station for its music programme, which featured popular tunes. The same writer who wished to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize asked for ‘grand old timers’ such as ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’, ‘Home on the Range’, and ‘Good Ship Lollipop’: ‘Rest assured you’ll have enthusiastic listeners ever ready to hear them again & again & again & again’.57 Listeners also requested new hits, such as songs from the Disney film Snow White (1937).58 In addition to playing requests, Startz participated in experimental transmissions with a varied schedule, for which he selected ‘musical treats’ (muzikale gebakjes) from all over the world. Initially, these ‘pioneering broadcasts’ (pionier-uitzendingen) by PCJ were meant to test the reach of the transmission station and to determine the musical preferences of audiences in different parts of the globe. Over the years, however, they became a regular feature of the Happy Station, with Startz acting as a guide to introduce his listeners to different music cultures, including examples from Portugal, New Zealand, Argentina, and Bali.59 Although PCJ enjoyed a truly global audience, its broadcasters specifically targeted listeners in particular parts of the British Empire. From 1927 onwards, the station received letters from amateur shortwave enthusiasts, many of them from Australia, India, and South Africa. The listeners, mostly white colonials, marvelled at the novelty of directly receiving broadcasts from such a long distance away, which connected them with Europe. One Australian writer thanked PCJ for ‘transplanting part of Europe this way occasionally’.60 A writer from Port Elizabeth in South Africa was ‘very keen’ to hear ‘a sound of our dear old “Big Ben” in London … over the Ether’.61 Although it was the BBC that eventually 57 I PCA, file 814.23. C.M. Smith, India to Eduard Startz, 10 February 1936. It is possible that the letter writer meant ‘Home on the Range’ instead of ‘Down on the Range’. 58 PCA, file 814.23. B. Murphy, L. Bridgnell and R. Kelly, India to E. Startz, not dated [1938]; and H.L. Low, New Zealand, 16 August 1938. 59 Startz, Hoe je ‘t ziet, 49–50. 60 PCA, file 814.23. A.O. Schoumer [?], Australia to PCJJ, 22 September 1927. 61 PCA, file 814.23. J.W. Bushnell, South Africa to PCJJ, 23 [no date] 1927.


satisfied this listener’s desire, the PCJ broadcasts included elements in their programming to please their British audiences.62 Startz regularly used an English accent to invite his listeners to enjoy a ‘proverbial cup of tea’ while hitting a porcelain cup with a metal spoon.63 Startz’s listeners were clearly aware of the competition with the BBC Empire Service. In 1931, one listener approvingly noted how Startz ‘after a small interval of “Highbrow music” said “Now Ladies and Gentlemen we are going to be Happy P.C.J. again”’.64 This jibe ­suggested that BBC radio producers broadcast elitist rather than popular music. During the 1930s, dissatisfaction with the BBC amongst British listeners abroad grew, as people wrote to Broadcasting House to complain about ‘flabby and uninspired’ shows. This increased the popularity of other stations, as ‘Germany, Italy and Holland were rapidly outstripping the BBC in the quality both of their transmissions and their programmes’.65 PCJ also received letters that conveyed this sentiment, such as one written by a listener from Tobago who wrote that ‘as an Englishman I naturally tune in mostly to Daventry [the location of the main transmitter of the Empire Service], but [wish] that the BBC would realise that we are not all retired savants & intense students of the more obscure works of famous composers!’66 A listener from a desert station in Western Iraq wrote to thank PCJ ‘for the brightness you bring into our otherwise very dull existence’.67 Such quotations indicate that in the mid-1930s, the Happy Station, with its popular format and focus on light music, provided a form of more accessible entertainment to audiences in the British Empire than did the BBC at the time. PCJ did not just want to fill this niche; its main aim was to use its popularity to spread a positive image of the Netherlands amongst listeners abroad. To achieve this, the makers of the Happy Station included 62 MacKenzie,

‘Propaganda and the BBC’, 42; Robertson, ‘I Get a Real Kick Out of Big Ben’, 463. 63 Berg, On the Short Wave, 73. Footage of this jingle featured in a RNW promotion-film from 1955, when Startz hosted the Happy Station for that station, http://verhalen. [accessed 8 February 2018]. 64 PCA, file 814.23. H.J. Whittle, India to PCJ, 2 August 1931. 65 Briggs, History of Broadcasting II, 397. 66 PCA, file 814.23. T.E.T. [?] Thomas, Tobago to PCJ director, 15 June 1938. 67 Quotation from anonymous letter, 11 February 1935. In: Over de wereld klinkt Neerlands stem PHOHI P.C.J. 60 landen spreken hun oordeel uit over de Nederlandsche kortegolfomroep ([Eindhoven], [1935]), 17. Original emphasis.



‘typically’ Dutch elements in their shows. In 1938, for example, the ­programmers promised to send a wooden clog filled with sweets to listeners who wrote to the station.68 Another way of connecting people to the Netherlands was by reporting about the weather and the passing of the seasons. A recurrent topic every year was the appearance of the tulips in spring, which invoked colourful pictures of the Dutch landscape. In 1938, a schoolgirl from Tasmania mentioned how she wanted to travel abroad after her graduation, although she had never left the island. The idea of visiting the Dutch tulip fields particularly appealed to her: ‘I think Holland would be one of the first places I would go’.69 In this way, as PCJ’s broadcasters asserted in the introduction to a volume containing excerpts from listeners’ letters, their broadcasts contributed to the general interests of the Netherlands because they enhanced ‘the reputation of our country’.70

3   Conclusion The history of global radio broadcasting in the interwar years offers an interesting perspective on the dynamics between the Dutch and British empires in this period. At the time, radio was considered to be a prime indicator of prestige by pundits in both countries. Indeed, the development of long-range wireless radio technology was rooted in the communication crisis faced by the Dutch Empire during the First World War, when the British were able to disrupt telegraph correspondence between the Dutch East Indies and Europe because they controlled the submarine cable. In response, the Dutch restructured their communications network to be less reliant on a foreign power. In 1926, the Philips company entered the radio market, which resulted in successful experiments with global shortwave radio broadcasting in 1927. It was now Britain’s turn to depend on Dutch technology, and public opinion compelled the BBC’s management to launch its Empire Service using shortwave technology, although it initially preferred a network of medium-wave relay stations. Once the Empire Service was on the air, however, the BBC model, with its monopolies on licence fees and broadcasting rights, 68 PCA, file 814.23. E. Duprey, Trinidad to E. Startz, 2 July 1938; [unreadable] Woodcock, India to E. Startz, 8 May 1938. 69 PCA, file 814.23. D. Johnston, Australia to PCJ, 15 March 1938. 70 ‘Goodwill […] voor den naam van ons land’. Over de wereld klinkt Neerlands stem PHOHI PCJ ([Eindhoven], [1936]), 3.


was a source of envy for Dutch broadcasters, who had to operate in a fragmented and competitive environment. These technological, financial, and institutional aspects of global radio broadcasting show the politics of comparison at work in a direct way, as it shaped the ways that different countries organised their overseas transmissions. Analysing the content of the Dutch radio programmes is a more challenging task, as their specific content is difficult to reconstruct. I have reconstructed some features of the Happy Station, which due to its popular announcer Eddy Startz is famed in the annals of shortwave history. Startz employed a variety of strategies to increase international goodwill for the Netherlands, with the goal of maintaining its geopolitical status during the late colonial period. On the one hand, he addressed different audiences in their own languages, provided them with music from their own cultures, and entertained them with references to their particular habits, such as the ‘proverbial cup of tea’ of the English. On the other, he actively promoted the Netherlands by mentioning ‘typical’ examples of Dutch culture. Although these elements fit the image of the Netherlands as a geopolitically neutral country, their dissemination, in fact, was not neutral, as it was meant to influence foreign audiences. To further explore the use of this kind of propaganda via radio, more research is needed, for example into the use of music as a tool of Dutch imperialism and public diplomacy. In the context of international historiography, this chapter raises important points for the history of early global radio broadcasting and interactions between empires. As MacKenzie has pointed out, in the early days of the Empire Service BBC broadcasters were very much aware that listeners in various parts of the Empire tuned into foreign stations, including PCJ, and this propelled them to change aspects of their programming. This chapter has shown that the PCJ’s programmers were also aware of this dynamic via criticism of the Empire Service that they encountered in letters from listeners in British-controlled territories. The fact that people actively engaged with foreign radio broadcasts surely means that we, as historians, should make more of an effort to breach the barriers imposed by the historiographies of radio, which are mainly nation-based. This article is merely an exploratory effort, and much remains to be done. In many respects, the British and Dutch, with their settled colonial interests and large overlap in their ideologies, engaged in a friendly form of rivalry in the interwar years, which was acknowledged



by contemporaries.71 They were more concerned about the radio broadcasts emanating from fascist and communist countries that were aimed at undermining the geopolitical status quo. To properly understand global interactions in the ether during the interwar years, more work is needed on the looming confrontation between the empires of totalitarian and non-totalitarian countries.

71 See,

for example, Wireless World, Vol. XX, No 23 (8 June 1927), 2.


MacKenzie-ites Without Borders: Or How a Set of Concepts, Ideas, and Methods Went Global Berny Sèbe

Colonial territories were often scattered so far away from their metropole that they had a tendency to disappear beyond the horizon of the capital cities which were meant to be ruling them. A new French minister for the Colonies, Etienne Clémentel, reportedly exclaimed with astonishment upon taking charge of his ministerial functions in 1905: ‘[Our] colonies … I never knew we had so many!’1 Through successive phases of expansion, small islands or large chunks of territory had been added to what would become in the late nineteenth century the second largest empire in the world. And even the world’s largest empire, on which famously the sun never set, was itself, many have argued, the result of luck much more than calculation, so much so that J. R. Seeley famously 1 Quoted in Charles-Robert Ageron, Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch, Gilbert Meynier, and Jacques Thobie, Histoire de la France coloniale, Volume II, 1914–1990 (Paris: Armand Colin, 1990), 7.

B. Sèbe (*)  University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


384  B. SÈBE

claimed that it seemed as if the British had ‘conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind’.2 It would not be too difficult to argue that the intellectual legacy of John MacKenzie followed a roughly similar pattern, with various salient concepts from his research reaching over the years the four corners of the academic world, and leaving their imprint on scholars writing and thinking in many languages—except that, perhaps, this intellectual conquest did not take place ‘in a fit of absence of mind’. As the general editor of the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Empire, MacKenzie is well versed in imperial strategies, and it seems as if his writings have wound their way over the years, soldiering on in some cases and conquering in other instances intellectual territory around the globe.3 He has made a significant contribution to a vast international network of scholars and ideas who have sought to understand better the cultural dynamics sustaining and accompanying late modern imperial phenomena. Whilst it is in the very nature of academic research to be shared internationally and to give rise to networks and exchange processes at various levels, MacKenzie’s work is distinctive because of its sheer depth of influence upon many scholars, which was consolidated through more than a hundred volumes in the Manchester University Press series Studies in Imperialism, of which he was the general editor from its inception until 2013. Even his committed sparring partner, Bernard Porter, never questioned MacKenzie’s intellectual clout: in his rebuttal of some of the ideas discussed here, he coined the expression ‘MacKenzie-ites’ as an echo of ‘Saidist’, which was, he hastened to add, ‘MacKenzie’s mischievous neologism’.4 This new concept, albeit not meant to be entirely complimentary, is nonetheless useful to refer to the galaxy of scholars who have been inspired by the hypotheses, methods, and findings pioneered by MacKenzie. This chapter intends to offer a whistle-stop tour of some of the territories where the MacKenzie tartan has been flying, opening new avenues to historical research about empires.

2 John

R. Seeley, The Expansion of England, new ed. (London: Macmillan, 1914), 10. MacKenzie, ed., The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Empire (2016), http://onlinelibrar EditorsContributors.html [accessed 5 May 2018]. 4 Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), ix. 3 John



1  Empire and the ‘Cultural Turn’ Let us go back to Minister Clémentel and his naïve observation: if such a high-ranking official could ignore so grossly the basic facts about the colonies he was meant to administer, how could the general public be expected to engage with overseas ventures? Was it even worth exploring where the colonial experience could be located in national mindsets which had been so openly Eurocentric for so many centuries and therefore could only feel compassion at best, disdain at worst, towards the rest of the world, which was seen as still waiting to be freed from backwardness by the ‘civilising mission’ and its assumption of cultural superiority? Or could it be that the European public simply did not care about overseas questions? Indeed, for a long time the very idea that possessing colonies could have been a meaningful development for European metropolitan audiences seemed alien to historians. Colonial topics were to be left to the marginal and somewhat less prestigious historians of the periphery: ‘colonial’ or ‘imperial’ historians parked on the outskirts of national grand narratives. And when such historians did venture into the territories of metropolitan cultures of empire, they often tended to overlook relevant evidence—either because of methodological oversights that led to their neglecting key sources, as we shall see later, or because the hypothesis was not tested robustly enough. Thus, Charles-Robert Ageron in his influential and pioneering study entitled France coloniale ou parti colonial? asserted that lobbyists tried to promote popular support for the Empire, but that ultimately, their efforts failed: ‘colonial France’ was nowhere to be found in metropolitan consciousness.5 Historians of other European countries also ignored the multiple colonial connections which radiated out of, and into, the metropoles they studied. In the end, it seemed as if the colonial experience never truly affected metropolitan audiences. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that it took considerable time before historians could go through a process comparable to that of French minister Clémentel and discover that the imperial experience might have

5 Charles-Robert Ageron, France coloniale ou parti colonial? (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1978).

386  B. SÈBE

‘struck back’, to quote Andrew Thompson’s concept.6 Apart from a few exceptions that were often dismissed as the result of colonial nostalgia, the cultural histories of ex-colonies, and those of the ex-metropoles, seemed bound—or condemned—to run in parallel, without many opportunities for dialogue.7 Then came, in 1984, a game-changing ­volume: Propaganda and Empire, precisely at a time when old assumptions about the irrelevance of imperial matters in European cultures were being increasingly challenged in the wake of Edward Said’s Orientalism, and some authors who, whilst not reaching Said’s level of fame, were beginning to contribute to a greater consideration of the modalities of the encounter between Western and non-Western cultures in the context of European imperialism.8 Whilst MacKenzie often vocally (but courteously) disagreed with Said’s interpretation, as he showed in his determined response to Orientalism, Propaganda and Empire bridged the gap in our understanding of the cultural relationship between the centre and the ‘periphery’, complementing Said’s literary approach with a more empirical one, and taking into account the many objects and cultural products, ranging from cigarette cards to plays, pantomimes, and songs, that carried an imperial message.9 Thinking about the Empire ‘at home’ would never be exactly the same thereafter, and it created the MacKenzie hallmark, which was to put culture—not necessarily with a capital ‘C’—at the heart of most of his projects. This aspect of human activity, which had been so neglected in the study of imperial relations, would become the common denominator that would generate the emergence of ‘MacKenzie-ites’ in many academic quarters. John MacKenzie had already had a distinguished career as a historian of Africa, based on extensive fieldwork which had been rendered easier and more effective by his being based professionally for a few

6 Andrew Thompson, The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Harlow: Routledge, 2005). 7 In the French case, Raoul Girardet’s excellent L’idée coloniale en France (Paris: La Table ronde, 1972) was often presented as merely the result of the author’s attachment to, and nostalgia for, the French Empire. 8 On authors who predated or accompanied the rise of Said’s ideas, see Daniel M. Varisco, Reading Orientalism: Said and the Unsaid (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007). 9 John M. MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995).



years in southern Africa.10 Yet his work took an entirely new turn with Propaganda and Empire, the success of which would lead its publisher to launch an entire series dedicated to this theme. Studies in Imperialism is in some ways a long-term sequel to Propaganda and Empire. Having reached its hundredth title a few years ago, and with many more in the pipeline, it is in itself a testament to the compelling power of the view that ‘imperialism as a cultural phenomenon had as significant an effect on the dominant as on the subordinate societies’, as the series’ opening statement argues. Whilst many scholars, like the author of this chapter, were attracted to the concept of ‘imperialism and popular culture’ (the title of an edited volume by John MacKenzie, in the same series), others could find equally insightful leads into the regional and environmental dynamics of imperial expansion.11 Many contributors to the series have been inspired by his ideas and methodologies, and it has been a remarkably effective intellectual shop window to conceptualise the link between metropolitan cultures and overseas expansion, from an unprecedented variety of perspectives. With many libraries outside the UK subscribing to the series, it has offered since the mid-1980s a platform to engage with some of John MacKenzie’s intellectual positions. It has developed the concept of ‘popular imperialism’ into various and complementary directions, ranging from the literary world to its more practical aspects, some of which might have remained totally unsuspected had the series not existed—such as the interplay between air travel and imperial feelings or the multiple roles played by specific commodities in the colonial encounter.12 In so doing, a vast range of issues, ranging from empire and 10 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Analysing “Echoes of Empire” in Contemporary Context: The Personal Odyssey of an Imperial Historian’, in Kalypso Nicolaidis, Berny Sèbe, and Gabrielle Maas, eds., Echoes of Empire: Memory, Identity and Colonial Legacies (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015), 189–206. 11 John M. MacKenzie, ed., Imperialism and Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986); John M. MacKenzie, The Empire of Nature (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988); Empires of Nature and the Nature of Empires (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997); and John M. MacKenzie with Nigel R. Dalziel, The Scots in South Africa (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007). 12 Robert H. MacDonald, The Language of Empire: Myths and Metaphors of Popular Imperialism, 1880–1918 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994); Gordon Pirie, Cultures and Caricatures of British Imperial Aviation: Passengers, Pilots, Publicity (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2012); and Gordon T. Stewart, Jute and Empire: The Calcutta Jute Wallahs and the Landscapes of Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998).

388  B. SÈBE

sexuality to missionary activity, from gender to the world of publicity, have been explored, creating the first ever cultural panorama of the cultural consequences of the imperial experience.13 This new take on the British imperial mindset contributed to and accompanied a movement that gave renewed vigour to the study of the imperial past. The benefit of interdisciplinary dialogues between historians, literary scholars, and specialists in cultural studies, along with better communication between historians of the modern and contemporary phases of worldwide European expansion, permitted the blossoming of a novel approach, loosely termed the ‘New Imperial History’. By placing the cultural experience of empire centre stage, and exploring it critically either empirically or in association with theoretical frameworks borrowed from feminism or postcolonialism, this approach deepened our understanding of the cultural side effects of colonialism not only among the colonised, but also for the colonising cultures themselves.14 With the British Empire attracting the lion’s share of historical and scholarly interest, not only as a result of the dynamism of research in the English-speaking world, but also because of its unique position as the most enduring and most extensive empire of the modern period, it could only be a matter of time before other empires would go through their own ‘imperial turn’, which would create what I call here a movement of ‘MacKenzie-ites without borders’: scholars who adapted MacKenzie’s hypotheses and methods to other national case studies, therefore extending what Stuart Ward has called the ‘MacKenziean moment’ to other fields and other countries, often shoving aside national academic traditions in the process.15

13 For a reflection on the Studies in Imperialism series, see Andrew S. Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013). 14 See, for instance, Kathleen Wilson, ed., A New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660–1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). For a general survey of the multiple disciplinary insights of the ‘new imperial history’, see Stephen Howe, ed., The New Imperial Histories Reader (London: Routledge, 2010). 15 Stuart Ward, ‘The MacKenziean Moment in Retrospect (or How One Hundred Volumes Bloomed)’, in Andrew S. Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 29–48.



2  Exporting the ‘Cultural Turn’ A quick glance at non-Anglophone bibliographies reveals promptly that many of John MacKenzie’s seminal works, above all Propaganda and Empire and Popular Imperialism and the Military (1992), have received sustained levels of attention beyond the English-speaking world.16 Scholars around the world have been compelled by the intellectual novelty and broad methodological scope, of the approach to metropolitan cultures of empire pioneered in these volumes. That perspective was based on solid empirical evidence (which very often included material that had been ignored in traditional ‘histories from above’); contextualised with encyclopaedic knowledge; and utilised to create connections and generate new meaning between phenomena which had not hitherto been connected—especially the development of the mass media in the metropoles, which coincided with overseas expansion in the second half of the nineteenth century. This line of interpretation has inspired many scholars abroad and especially in continental Europe, to explore new archives in their own countries, as they search for traces of the imperial past in documents that had been neglected. Very often, the cultural palimpsest offered by contemporary cultures was there, ready to be unearthed and deciphered, but it had long remained neglected: the ‘colonial layer’ had been hastily buried in the wake of decolonisation, especially in cases where violent ‘ends of empire’ left painful memories. With this new approach, a vast amount of material which had been lying below the archival radar of historians became worthy of interest: postcards, songs, posters, children’s literature, promotional material for touristic destinations, novels, private correspondence, and collectables found their way into the corridors of history-writing, allowing for a stimulating new episode in the long process of the archaeology of knowledge, to borrow a Foucauldian concept. Whilst the success of social history in general, and in particular ‘history from below’, made more acceptable the extension of legitimate historical evidence to ephemera and other cultural products which had been traditionally deemed less prestigious, in many cases the export of such practices had to overcome local resistance due to the implicit challenges to established schools of thought that such an approach posed. 16 John M. MacKenzie, ed., Popular Imperialism and the Military, 1850–1950 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1992).

390  B. SÈBE

This was especially the case when the emphasis on cultural production, embodied in particular through the ‘cultural turn’ in English-speaking academia, was portrayed as akin to an alien assault on national historiographies, potentially forcing a redefinition of academic subjects, methods, and canons. Because of the worldwide reach of the English language as the contemporary lingua franca, most of MacKenzie’s research has made its global impact via its original versions, the diffusion of which has been spread over a remarkably long time. (Propaganda and Empire remains in print.) This global impact was magnified by translated contributions to books published in other languages, as well as many keynote lectures around the globe that helped spread some of the ideas outlined in the original English-language books.17 Some of the latter led to long-lasting contributions: for instance, a keynote lecture to a colloquium in Buenos Aires led to a Spanish-language book chapter that called for the re-establishment of the study of empire among cultural critics, social scientists, and local historians in Latin America.18 Thus, John MacKenzie’s ideas contributed to significant historiographical developments, exporting the ‘cultural turn’ to other latitudes (quite literally) and inspiring its importation into local intellectual movements. Indeed, the unwavering interest that the British Empire has attracted among historians around the world—which is understandable given its size and longevity—has been a key factor in the spread of ideas from the Studies in Imperialism series. For instance, in the German context, Studies in Imperialism has become a natural ‘go to’ source for scholars of the

17 A few examples are ‘Musées et impérialisme: appropriations, science et espace public bourgeois’, in Fabrice Bensimon and Armelle Enders, eds., Le Siècle Britannique: Variations sur une suprématie globale au XIXe siècle (Paris: Sorbonne, 2012); ‘Museen in Europa’, in Pim den Boer, Heinz Duchhardt, George Krels, and Wolfgang Schmale, eds., Europäische Erinnerungesorte 3: Europa und die Welt (Munich: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2012), 187–94; ‘Le esposizioni imperiali in Gran Bretagna’, in Sandrine Lemaire, Pascal Blanchard, Nicolas Bancel, Gilles Boetsch, and Eric Deroo, eds., Zoo Umani: Dalla Venere ottentotta ai reality show (Verona: Ombre Corte, 2003), 107–17; ‘Les expositions impériales en Grande-Bretagne’, in Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, Gilles Boetsch, Eric Deroo, and Sandrine Lemaire, eds., Zoos Humains: de la Vénus hottentote aux reality shows (Paris: Editions La Découverte, 2002), 193–202. 18 John M. MacKenzie, ‘Imperios del viaje: Guias de viaje británicas e imperialismo cultural en los siglos XIX y XX’, in Ricardo Salvatore, ed., Culturas Imperiales: Experiencia y representación en América, Asia y Africa (Rosario: Beatriz Viterbo Editora, 2005), 213–41.



British Empire.19 In France, renewed interest in colonialism as a topic for competitive examinations in history and English studies has also attracted attention towards both MacKenzie and his series, which serve as the entry point to the complex dynamics of the British Empire. Yet, the most significant aspect of the impact and diffusion of this body of work materialised through the adaptation of its methods and hypotheses to other imperial case studies, especially in Western Europe. In particular, four aspects of MacKenzie’s research have attracted the attention of scholars around the world: the concept of ‘popular imperialism’; the cross-fertilising value of historical work integrating a variety of sources to highlight the multiple dimensions of cultural and political ‘propaganda’; the importance of the natural environment to understand imperial processes; and finally his sustained dialogues with other scholars, which have often received widespread publicity. We will see each of these in turn in the following pages. The notion that the imperial experience could pervade the culture of a colonising power to the extent that it affects its ‘mind-set’ is probably the concept which has grasped the imagination of the largest number of scholars outside of the UK. In France, long-term resistance to postcolonial studies and its emphasis on cultural phenomena did not prevent the development of historical research that clearly echoed MacKenzie’s ideas and methods.20 The first volume edited by the collective of historians that would later become the ACHAC group (Association Connaissance de l’Histoire de l’Afrique contemporaine, or Association for the Knowledge of the History of Contemporary Africa) was published in 1993.21 It paved the way for a series of edited volumes that would kick-start a heated debate about the place and meaning of the colonial past in metropolitan France and which would culminate in a volume of almost eight hundred pages, published by the National Centre 19 See, for instance, Almut Steinbach, Sprachpolitik im Britischen Empire. Herrschaftssprache und Integration in Ceylon und den Föderierten Malaiischen Staaten (München: R. Oldenbourg, 2009), 16. 20 As discussed in Nicholas Bancel, Florence Bernault, Pascal Blanchard, Ahmed Boubeker, Achille Mbembe, and Françoise Vergès, eds., Ruptures postcoloniales (Paris: Editions La Découverte, 2010), and exemplified by works such as Jean-Loup Amselle, L’Occident décroché: enquête sur les postcolonialismes (Paris: Stock, 2008); and Jean-François Bayart, Les études postcoloniales: un carnaval académique (Paris: Karthala, 2010). 21 Nicolas Bancel, Pascal Blanchard, and Laurent Gervereau, eds., Images et Colonies (Paris: BDIC/Achac, 1993).

392  B. SÈBE

for Scientific Research.22 One of the regular contributors to the group’s activities has stated to the author that the idea behind this initiative was to produce a French equivalent to MacKenzie’s work, at a juncture when France’s colonial past was still very much in the background and needed to be brought to wider public attention, especially because of its potential political implications.23 There had been a few isolated attempts to take into account the metropolitan impact of the colonial experience, but these remained the exception rather than the rule. Working from a pro-colonial perspective, Raoul Girardet had tried to identify in the early 1970s the impact of the ‘colonial idea’ upon the French public, which at the time was caught between the colonial hangover and the beginnings of the ‘cultural turn’.24 Yet, the impact of colonialism remained unexplored territory in the subsequent two decades, until ACHAC re-opened the case, this time from a radically different standpoint and inspiring a considerable amount of new research in French.25 Such initiatives were also echoed in the English-speaking academic world, where the longterm impact and legacy of the colonial experience on French metropolitan culture became a subject of sustained enquiry, replicating for the other side of the Channel some of the methods applied by MacKenzie and his ‘MacKenzie-ites’ to the British case.26 Commenting upon Chafer and Sackur’s 2002 attempt to bring about this methodological transfer, Anthony Kirk-Greene observed that their volume on the promotion of the imperial idea in France presented ‘first-class material to set beside John MacKenzie’s brilliant British study Propaganda and Empire (1984)’.27 The genealogy could not be clearer. 22 Pascal Blanchard, Sandrine Lemaire, and Nicolas Bancel, Culture coloniale en France: de la Révolution française à nos jours (Paris: CNRS Editions, 2008). 23 Conversation between the author and Sandrine Lemaire, 20 January 2006. 24 Raoul Girardet, L’idée coloniale en France (Paris: La Table Ronde, 1972). 25 For an overview of the French-speaking historiography of ‘French popular imperialism’, see Berny Sèbe, ‘Exalting Imperial Grandeur: The French Empire and Its Metropolitan Public’, in John MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 19–56. 26 See, for instance, among the early attempts, Tony Chafer and Amanda Sackur, eds., Promoting the Imperial Idea: Propaganda and Visions of Empire in France (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002); and Martin Evans, ed., Empire and Culture: The French Experience, 1830–1940 (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). 27 Anthony

Kirk-Greene, review of Tony Chafer and Amanda Sackur, eds., Promoting the Colonial Idea; and Tony Chafer, The End of Empire in French West Africa, African Affairs 103 (2004), 500–1.



Whilst France proved to be the terrain where MacKenzie’s ideas could be tried and adapted most readily because of several structural similarities (not least the size, longevity, and international significance of its colonial empire), it was not the only example. The dynamics of Belgian imperialism and its reception by the public north of the Ardennes have become much clearer thanks to the exploration of new material, resulting once again from an increased awareness of non-conventional sources which were previously neglected. The cultural mechanics that ultimately led the kingdom to rule a colony roughly eighty times the size of its metropole have been unearthed by an avowed MacKenzie-ite.28 In Southern Europe, too, new approaches have emerged, taking on board some of the teachings of the Studies in Imperialism series. Whilst the reticence of the Italian academic establishment to adopt the findings and methods pioneered by cultural studies might have delayed the blossoming of an overt ‘MacKenzie-ite’ movement across the Alps, the importance of a sociocultural approach to our understanding of the colonial influence of imperialism on Italian culture has filtered into the historiography, as part of research into either colonial cultures or fascism and propaganda, which was particularly relevant since l’Italia d’oltremare was a key staple of the nationalist discourse in the interwar years.29 Giuseppe Finaldi has pioneered an interpretation of colonialism as providing ‘possible solutions to a succession of obstinate problems that faced Italy’s elites in their quest to build an ordered, viable and stable

28 Matthew G. Stanard, Selling the Congo: A History of European Pro-Empire Propaganda and the Making of Belgian Imperialism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011). 29 See, for instance, in English, Paolo Bertella Farnetti and Cecilia Dau Novelli, eds., Colonialism and National Identity (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015) and by the same editors, Images of Colonialism and Decolonisation in the Italian Media (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2017), or Guido Abbattista, ‘Humans on Display: Reflecting on National Identity and the Enduring Practice of Living Human Exhibitions’, in Guido Abbattista, ed., Moving Bodies Displaying Nations: National Cultures, Race and Gender in World Expositions. Nineteenth to Twenty-First Century (Trieste: EUT, 2014). Similar efforts appear to have been made in the Italian-speaking historiography, with works such as Guido Abbattista, Umanità in mostra. Esposizioni etniche e invenzioni esotiche in Italia (1880–1940) (Trieste: Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2013). On Fascism and propaganda, see Valeria Deplano, L’Africa in casa: propaganda e cultura coloniale nell’Italia fascista (Milano: Mondadori Education, 2015). With thanks to Giuseppe Finaldi for his advice on the subject.

394  B. SÈBE

society on their terms’.30 Nicola Labanca refers in his bibliography to MacKenzie’s work on propaganda, which he deems of ‘excellent quality’, as a valuable source for understanding the discourses that legitimised a form of consensus around the imperial project.31 More broadly, the study of imperial phenomena on the Iberian Peninsula has long limited itself to the early modern period, with scant interest in contemporary issues. But things are changing there too, partly thanks to the impact of British historiography. In a recent book chapter which opens with a reference to MacKenzie’s concept of ‘popular imperialism’, Ferrán Achilés Cardona argues that late nineteenth-century Spain, in spite of its scarce resources and correspondingly limited success in the colonial ‘steeple-chase’, did have a ‘colonial vocation’. Although it was nowhere near the scale of British ‘popular imperialism’, Cardona argues, it still existed. He also observes that this phenomenon has remained mostly unnoticed, lamenting that ‘in fact, the absence of the Spanish case in studies about imperialism is almost universal, in particular when it comes to Africa’.32 Cardona embodies a new generation of Spanish scholars committed to taking on board some of the advances pioneered in the Manchester series. His study of the Spanish ‘Africanist pedagogy’ engages at length with other European case studies, highlighting how influential MacKenzie’s work and the ‘Anglo-Saxon ambit’ has been to the ‘re-­ writing of national histories to analyse the role of the Empire in the ways of living and imagining the nation’.33 And his case is not an isolated one.

30 Giuseppe Finaldi, ‘“The Peasants Did Not Think of Africa”: Empire and the Italian State’s Pursuit of Legitimacy, 1871–1945’, in John MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 223. 31 Nicola Labanca, Oltremare. Storia dell’espansione coloniale italiana (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2002). 32 Ferran Achilés Cardona, ‘¿Ni imperio ni imperialismo? El imaginario nacional español y el imperialosmo africanista en la España de la Restauración (c. 1880–1909)’, in Ferran Archilés Cardona, Ismael Saz, and Marta García Carrión, eds., Nación y nacionalización. Una perspectiva europea comparada (Valencia: Publicacions de la Universitat de València, 2013), 201–24. See also my article on Tomás García Figueras and his perception of the British and French empires: Colonial emulation, competition and opportunism: A twentieth-century perspective on the British and French ‘Empire projects’, in Robert ­ Fletcher, Benjamin Mountford, and Simon Potter, eds., ‘After Darwin’, special issue of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (forthcoming: November 2019). 33 Ferran Achilés Cardona, La narrativa del africanismo franquista: génesis y prácticas socio-educativas, unpublished PhD thesis, University of Valencia (Spain), 7.



Writing in a Portuguese journal, but from a Spanish perspective, David Parra Monserrat opens his analysis of ‘an Africanist discourse of SpanishArab brotherhood’ in Spain from 1939 to 1956 with extensive references to the study of ‘practices and discourses’ which contributed to developing narratives that equated national discourse with imperialist pursuits.34 One of the central tenets of the concept of ‘popular imperialism’ is that a vast array of propaganda material succeeded in embedding awareness of, and possibly attachment to, empire. Coinciding with a historiographical moment when the ‘manufacture’ of popular support and national identity was brought to the fore, MacKenzie’s emphasis on propaganda has made his research relevant to many projects.35 In France, Gilles Teulié’s study of the representations of the Afrikaner people in Britain and France, against the backdrop of the Anglo-Boer War, relies on the analysis of complex propaganda networks, a method which owes a great debt to Propaganda and Empire.36 In Spain, the author of a study of propaganda in democracies refers extensively to MacKenzie’s theories relating to the mechanisms facilitating the control of public opinion in the UK.37 In the Netherlands, although Vincent Kuitenbrouwer has argued that ‘there has been no serious attempt by Dutch historians to join the debate about the cultural aspects of the British Empire’, a fact that was in stark contrast to the Dutch historiographical tradition of integrating classic interpretive models of British imperialism, his own recent work has demonstrated that the idea of ‘popular imperialism’ has made some inroads in the Netherlands.38 Kuitenbrouwer has extensively used 34 David Parra Monserrat, ‘Africanismo e arabismo no relato histórico escolar: Espanha, 1939–1956’, História. Revista da FLUP. Porto, fourth series, 6 (2016), 89–101. 35 As exemplified by Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983) or Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992). 36 Gilles Teulié, Les Afrikaners et la Guerre anglo-boer (1899–1902) (Montpellier: Université de Montpellier III Paul Valéry, 2000); and personal testimony of the author (20 February 2018). 37 Hugo García Fernández, ‘De Masterman a Orwell: el debate británico sobre la propaganda en democracia, 1914–1945’, Rubrica Contemporánea 5 (2016). http://www.raco. cat/index.php/rubrica/article/viewFile/316667/406765 [accessed 10 November 2018]. 38 Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, War of Words: Dutch Pro-Boer Propaganda and the South African War (1899–1902) (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2012), 19; Martin Bossenbroek, Holland op zijn breedst. Indië en Zuid-Afrika in de Nederlandse cultuur omstreeks 1900 (Amsterdam: Bakker, 1996) also seems to fall within the historiographical MacKenzie-ite tradition, even if he refers to MacKenzie’s work only occasionally.

396  B. SÈBE

MacKenzie’s totalising concept of ‘propaganda’ for his own work on the manufacturing of Dutch public opinion against the backdrop of the South African war. This seems to be part of a growing trend, since new work about popular imperialism in the Netherlands has started to emerge in recent years, often in the form of doctoral research.39 Anticipating the growing trend towards environmental histories of empire, MacKenzie’s research about empire and the natural environment (and especially the arch-imperial activity of hunting) has produced a widespread international echo as well. Examining hunting, imperialism, and conservation as part of a wider attempt to contextualise the development of environmental history, Fabien Locher and Grégory Quenet have argued that the linkages between them have subsequently generated important developments, most notably renewed interest in game and its colonial and postcolonial management.40 Bernhard Ghissibl has also benefited from what he terms the ‘intellectual hospitality’ of MacKenzie, whose work has contributed to the development of Ghissibl’s environmental history of German imperialism.41 Lastly, MacKenzie’s international reputation has also been enhanced by the sustained intellectual debates in which he has been involved in throughout his career. He has engaged critically with Edward Said’s concept of Orientalism, offering the benefit of his empirical approach as a corrective to the predominantly literary, theoretical, and moral perspective adopted in postcolonial studies.42 Voicing some of the concerns raised by Said’s essentialisation of all Western cultural production, MacKenzie’s discussion has attracted widespread attention as a key

39 See, for instance, Matthijs Kuipers, Fragmented Empire: Popular Imperialism in the Netherlands Around the Turn of the Twentieth Century, PhD thesis, European University in Florence (2018). With thanks to Vincent Kuitenbrouwer for his input about the Dutchspeaking historiographical scene. 40 Fabien Locher and Grégory Quenet, ‘L’histoire environnementale: origines, enjeux et perspectives d’un nouveau chantier’, Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine 56 (2009), 7–38. 41 Bernhard Ghissibl, The Nature of German Imperialism: Conservation and the Politics of Wildlife in Colonial East Africa (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). 42 First through an article, John MacKenzie, ‘Edward Said and the Historians’, Nineteenth-Century Contexts 18 (1994), 9–25, and then through a full-length volume, John MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995).



contribution to the debate surrounding the circumstances and modalities of the production of Western discourse about the ‘Orient’.43 A fitting example of the cosmopolitan echo of MacKenzie’s response is offered by a Spanish-language article produced by a Moroccan scholar, who articulates his own position in dialogue with MacKenzie’s engagement with Orientalism.44 The other major dialogue in which MacKenzie was involved emerged in the mid-2000s, in the wake of the release of Bernard Porter’s The Absent-Minded Imperialists (2004). Their exchanges have consistently ranked among the top ten most-read items of the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History and have been regularly mentioned in discussions about historiographical developments related to the prevalence of cultural phenomena associated with imperial conquest.45 MacKenzie’s efforts to introduce ‘new approaches to culture […] in the colonial context’, as the late Chris Bayly once put it, gave rise to one of the most heated historiographical debates of the early 2000s, with worldwide echoes and resonance.46

3  Some Comparisons A historian who leaves a theory attached to their name can be more than satisfied with their legacy. John MacKenzie has far exceeded this threshold: as we have seen, his ideas—and there was not just one—have appealed far beyond English-speaking academia. Yet, the global trajectory of his intellect is still in progress. Dwelling upon his Anglo-Scottish 43 See for instance, Cristina Almarcegui, ‘El legado de Edward Said. Orientalismo y literatura comparada’, Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos 769–770 (2014), 179–88. 44 Ismail El Outmani, ‘Oriente como discurso en el discurso de Occidente’, Espéculo. Revista de estudios literarios. Universidad Complutense de Madrid. info/especulo/numero34/oriente.html [accessed 20 November 2017]. 45 Bernard Porter, ‘Further Thoughts on Imperial Absent-Mindedness’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 101–17; and John M. MacKenzie, ‘“Comfort” and Conviction: A Response to Bernard Porter’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 36 (2008), 659–68; and see, for instance, Achilés Cardona, ‘¿Ni imperio ni imperialismo?’, 203. 46 Christopher Bayly, ‘Review: John MacKenzie, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts’, Journal of Historical Geography 22 (1996), 361. For a discussion of MacKenzie’s involvement in historiographical debates see Cherry Leonardi, ‘The Power of Culture and the Cultures of Power: John MacKenzie and the Study of Imperialism’, in Andrew S. Thompson, ed., Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), 57–62.

398  B. SÈBE

roots, he has been able to develop a subtle understanding of the internal dynamics underlying British imperial expansion, paying particular attention to the four constituent nations of the UK.47 The ‘four nations’ theory is bound to produce vigorous offshoots, in particular at a time when the nature of the UK is so much under scrutiny. By examining four ‘national’ strands within what had generally been perceived as a homogeneous pattern of ‘British’ imperialism, MacKenzie has shown the pertinence of comparative approaches, at both the microand macro-levels, that is to say infra-national and transnational. Although his focus is the British Empire, we have seen that the intellectual framework which he developed in Propaganda and Empire (1984) and its sequels received a global reception, with many historians of former European imperial powers testing the concept of ‘popular imperialism’ in non-British contexts. As this unearthing of hitherto-ignored evidence was taking place, it became more and more evident that the colonial experience had contributed to shape national identities, especially since the age of the so-called New Imperialism in the late nineteenth century coincided with the development of nation states around Europe. With European Empires and the People (2009), John MacKenzie deployed for the first time the concept of ‘popular imperialism’ in a comparative framework, bringing in the cases of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy alongside that of Britain. The volume consolidated the spread of MacKenzie-ite theories, by demonstrating the applicability of some of the frameworks developed for the British Empire to nonBritish European contexts and offering at the same time an unprecedented comparative framework to reflect on ‘imperial mind-sets’ across Europe. France, to be sure, had long seemed the natural candidate to apply MacKenzie’s theories about popular imperialism outside of the British context, but the volume is notable for its inclusion of case studies which had been previously neglected.48 For instance, the connection between Italy’s entry into modernity and its colonial experience has long been

47 See, for instance, John MacKenzie, ‘Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? A Four-Nation Approach to the History of the British Empire’, History Compass 6 (2008), 1244–63. 48 Berny Sèbe, ‘Exalting Imperial Grandeur: The French Empire and Its Metropolitan Public’, in John MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 19–56.



overlooked.49 Giuseppe Finaldi’s contribution to European Empires and the People demonstrates that although it was relatively short-lived, the country’s colonial ventures remain highly meaningful as they unfolded in the wake of political unification and were instrumental in the ‘long and arduous process of turning peasants into Italians’.50 As for Germany, as it had been stripped of its colonies after the Great War, until recently it did not seem worth exploring its colonial past. Bernhard Ghissibl, however, proves otherwise.51 The relevance of smaller continental countries to understand European imperialisms appears clearly as well. These examples could take the form of long-standing imperial traditions experiencing a revival under a different guise in the late nineteenth century, as was the case in the Netherlands, or the highly personalised project of the ‘Congo Free State’, used in Belgium as a way of ‘learning to love Leopold’.52 European Empires and the People shows that it makes sense to talk about ‘popular responses to imperialism’ in the case of these countries too. The volume has opened new avenues of research and new boulevards for John MacKenzie’s ideas to spread. A case in point is that of Spain. Although the trans-Atlantic dimension of early modern Spanish history had been explored by scholars such as John H. Elliott, historians of modern Spain never really connected with the ‘second’ Spanish Empire.53 Although the latter was certainly less impressive than its first iteration, which might explain why it was neglected as an element of Iberian 49 The review article by John A. Davis, ‘Remapping Italy’s Path to the Twentieth Century’, Journal of Modern History 66 (1994), 291–320, takes such a ‘metro-centric’ approach. 50 Finaldi, ‘The Peasants Did Not Think of Africa’, 225. 51 Bernhard Ghissibl, ‘Imagination and Beyond: Cultures and Geographies of Imperialism in Germany, 1848–1918’, in John MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 158–94. 52 Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, ‘Songs of an Imperial Underdog: Imperialism and Popular Culture in the Netherlands, 1870–1960’, in John MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 90–123; and Matthew Stanard, ‘Learning to Love Leopold: Belgian Popular Imperialism, 1830–1960’, in John MacKenzie, ed., European Empires and the People (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), 124–57. 53 See John H. Elliott, Imperial Spain: 1469–1716, new ed. (London: Penguin, 2002); and for example, Raymond Carr, ed., Spain: A History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

400  B. SÈBE

modernity in the twentieth century, it remained meaningful to make sense of contemporary Spain, if only because the loss of all remaining colonies in the wake of the Spanish-American War of 1898 sent shockwaves through the metropole that turned it into a national trauma, and also because Spanish Morocco (conquered as late as in 1912) made Francisco Franco’s coup d’état not only possible but also, ultimately, successful.54 Spanish-speaking historiography is increasingly addressing this question, in part under the influence of MacKenzie’s ideas and hypotheses, the reach of which has been dramatically extended as a result of his efforts to trans-nationalise them.55 This example alone demonstrates that European Empires and the People asked questions that are meaningful beyond the six case studies it initially considered. Indeed, Spain and Portugal feature in the analytical framework of the follow-on volume, co-edited by the author and Matthew Stanard and entitled Decolonising Europe? Popular Responses to the End of Empire, which extends MacKenzie’s ideas regarding popular reception to the decolonisation and postcolonial periods across Europe.56 In examining the multiple echoes around the world of John MacKenzie’s multi-faceted work on the cultural and environmental consequences of empire, this chapter has offered glimpses into the processes that led his ideas to shape new approaches to the colonial experience. In so doing, it has also touched upon why such a radical re-appraisal (which broke away from so many traditional Eurocentric interpretations and created hitherto neglected connections between metropoles and peripheries) proved to be remarkably popular among historians. This was particularly true of the new generations emerging in the late 1990s and beyond, not only in Britain but also in the rest of the worldwide scholarly community, spinning off into intellectual territories that led to the emergence of what I call here ‘MacKenzie-ites without borders’.

54 As identified by Tomás García Figueras, La acción de España en torno al 98 (1860– 1912), De la crisis de la politica africana (1898) al protectorado de Marruecos (1912) (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1966), and more recently by Sebastian Balfour, The End of the Spanish Empire, 1898–1923 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); and Sebastian Balfour, Deadly Embrace: Morocco and the Road to the Spanish Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002). 55 Ferran Achilés Cardona, ‘¿Ni imperio ni imperialismo?’, 203. 56 Berny Sèbe and Matthew Stanard, eds., Decolonising Europe? Popular Responses to the End of Empire (Abingdon: Routledge, 2019).



The success of MacKenzie’s ideas reflected broader social and political changes that enhanced the relevance of ‘histories from below’. In particular, the timeliness of his analysis allowed him to partake in wider intellectual developments, such as the increasing popularity of cultural history, benefiting from more flexible methodological approaches that made it possible to engage with a number of sources which had always been available, but had not been deemed worth engaging with in previous decades. The ‘cultural turn’ offered a fresh departure after the overwhelming domination of diplomatic and administrative histories, and MacKenzie’s work features prominently in this effort to reach a more comprehensive understanding of complex human phenomena such as imperialism. To say that it re-energised the discipline as a whole is probably an understatement. More prosaically, the worldwide reach of his ideas and concepts, spanning more than thirty years of scholarly work, was demonstrated vividly on the occasion of the symposium he convened in Old Bank House in the summer of 2009, with scholars coming from Australia, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United States to discuss popular reactions to, and engagement with, the colonial experience. That this symposium led to European Empires and the People, a book that expanded further the applicability of his theories, demonstrates luminously not only MacKenzie’s intellectual inspiration and endurance but also the global reach of his ideas.


Afterword John Darwin

It is a pleasure to acknowledge, from a different province of history’s Empire, the signal importance of John MacKenzie’s contribution, and the powerful and constructive influence that the school he founded has exerted on imperial and global history. Indeed, we are now well past the point at which the essential complementarity of what once appeared two very different historiographical traditions should be widely acknowledged. That original difference arose partly from distinctive preoccupations and partly from the different methodologies that followed in consequence. For the ‘older’ school, the subject matter of imperial history was either primarily economic (the impact and costs of empire for colony and metropole), primarily geopolitical (the geostrategic and diplomatic implications of empire and its pursuit) or primarily political (the politics of empire ‘at home’ and of the conduct of imperial rule abroad). By the later 1960s, when this writer began his apprenticeship, an imperial historian was expected to integrate all three of these aspects and to be able to analyse an imperial relationship from both ends of the axis— from the colonial as well as the metropolitan perspective. It was assumed J. Darwin (*)  Nuffield College Oxford, Oxford, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


404  J. DARWIN

of course that the research material would be chiefly archival, ­supplemented by the usual mass of official reports (a huge resource in Indian history especially) and other published documentary material. The replacement of the old ‘fifty-year rule’ on the release of British official papers by the ‘thirty-year rule’ was an additional spur, opening up the 1920s and 1930s to archival scrutiny. Since the political economy was widely thought to be the key to the growth of mass politics in a colony, the imperial historian also had to be alert to changes in landholding, taxation, prices and labour conditions. Ironically, just at the point where the ‘older’ school had become most demanding and had, largely under the influence of Robinson and Gallagher, moved far beyond the even older concentration upon constitutions and policies, the bottom fell out of the market. The rise of ‘area studies’ and ‘subaltern studies’ (which was compatible with the ‘area’ approach) reflected the view that regional expertise was far more appropriate to a postcolonial world and far better equipped to explain the origins of ‘new nations’. Combined with the fit of collective amnesia that accompanied the end of empire by the mid-1970s, it consigned imperial history, like Heathcliff, to the remotest wing of British academia, as a subject by turns embarrassing, irrelevant or pitifully nostalgic. Almost all that survived of the ‘older’ school at this stage was the study of decolonisation, where politics, geopolitics, and political economy still seemed to offer the most plausible clues to the timing and outcome of the struggles for colonial freedom. Enter John MacKenzie. John’s approach to imperial history was radically different. His original concern lay of course in tracking the impact of empire on British society and identifying the various cultural agents through which imperial values and attitudes were ‘domesticated’—to become part of the everyday world of British people at home. For this sort of enterprise, the ‘older’ school’s preoccupation with governmental archives was at best a distraction. Popular understandings and attitudes had to be recovered from an eclectic range of published materials spanning a wide variety of media: from music hall songs, advertising slogans, architectural designs, assorted nomenclatures, all the way to the proverbial biscuit tin lid. Collectively, they affirmed the imaginative presence of empire across a broad range of social activities and interests and implied the absorption of imperial values into the popular ‘bloodstream’. A casual glance at the titles of the series John founded as ‘Studies in Imperialism’ (now a complete wall-full) or at the chapters of this book



will show where this led. They bear witness to the astonishing fertility of the original insight—that the cultural impact of empire had a history of its own that had barely been broached, but whose study might be transformative of our understanding of the imperial phenomenon. Viewed as a cultural process, empire opened up a huge variety of new perspectives on behaviour and relationships: between imperial populations ‘at home’; between imperial agents (both settlers and others) abroad; between those agents and ‘subject’ populations; and between colonial subjects themselves. Thus an approach devised initially to make sense of British history turned out to be exceptionally productive when applied to the ‘colonial’ histories of different parts of the British and other European empires. It was also well-positioned to absorb or exploit the wave of ‘new’ histories that appeared towards the end of last century: women’s and gender history; environmental history and the treatment of animals; media history; the role of networks and diasporas; the impact of museums and other repositories; the complicity of anthropology, geography, and other sciences in empire; and (in the British context) attention to the variable links between empire and the different parts of the British Isles. And although John resisted the cruder applications of ‘Saidian’ methodology—not least Edward Said’s one-dimensional depiction of how the ‘Orient’ was viewed in the West—there was clearly a sympathy between the Saidian insistence on the critical decoding of cultural statements about the colonial world and John’s reconstruction of contemporary attitudes by the close reading of their cultural expression. The great value for all imperial historians—and I stress all—was to alert us to a much wider range of actors and attitudes than those that could be observed through an archival ‘periscope’. It was certainly a weakness of the ‘older’ school that its tools were not well suited to exploring the ‘crowd’—the mass of people outside the political, social, and business elites (those promiscuous creators of archives). In fairness, of course, it should be said that the exceptional vigour of sociocultural history in Britain and ‘subaltern’ histories elsewhere in the world were also pointing in this direction. Nonetheless, for imperial historians, it was the torrent of work inspired by and then published in ‘Studies in Imperialism’ that was likely to catch their attention and challenge their preconceptions. Imperial history became much more densely and richly populated by individuals and institutions, many of them below the conventional archival radar. Stokers and convicts vied with the captains and kings for a place in the historical sun. The potential significance

406  J. DARWIN

of empire in local history, once an occasional almost eccentric foray by scholars in their dotage, was now acknowledged, opening up a vast new field. The themes, symbols, tropes, and tokens of empire, on the importance of which literary scholars were inclined to harp, could be given a solid material—indeed architectural—form, as a chapter in this book reminds us. More generally, in keeping with the wider ‘democratisation’ of history, empire could now be reconstructed as ‘lived experience’. As the actual experience of empire recedes into the memories of an aging minority, recovering the ‘feel’ of empire becomes all the more important. John would be surprised—and perhaps disappointed—if this Afterword failed to remark on what—from an ‘older’ school perspective—appear the limits of the cultural history approach to Empire history. There is of course a healthy debate about one crucial issue: How pervasive the influence of empire was across British society. To some historians, it has been necessary to insist that empire was ‘constitutive’ (one of those words like ‘imbricate’ that can mean almost anything) of modern Britain. Others, including this writer, have been more sceptical, in the absence of an adequate methodology for assessing and comparing non-empire influences. In fact, it is quite possible to agree that empire has been pervasive, on the understanding that ‘empire’, certainly in Britain, was not one big thing, but many different things, and that, in an exceptionally diverse and pluralistic society—as Britain’s was—it was embraced, understood or resisted in many different ways. Empire could mean free trade. It could mean missionary endeavour and ‘humanitarian imperialism’. It could mean rule over subject races, although the greatest of prancing proconsuls, Lord Curzon, complained bitterly that the public in Britain was indifferent to the Raj. And to most people, it probably meant the right to emigrate to a ‘white man’s country’ and the sense of being part of a ‘British world’ of settler countries. Those who understood empire in one these senses were often hostile to the alternative versions or sympathetic to those who wished to ‘reform’ them. Thus the cultural pervasiveness of empire was quite compatible with indifference to or dislike of some of its forms, and with a thoroughly sceptical, not to say hostile, attitude towards the territorial extension of imperial rule. The domestication of empire in British culture was a two-edged sword. A final point needs to be made. If there was a collective mentality about empire in Britain (as perhaps also in France) at its core was the belief that, come what may, Britain should remain at the centre of a worldwide community of peoples in varying stages of political freedom.



Even as empire was dismantled, it became all the more important for British leaders to insist that ‘greatness’ and centrality would continue. Two things might strike us about the last phase of empire. The first is that, however, deeply embedded an imperial mentality might have been in British society, there was no popular movement to oppose the transfers of power after 1945. The second is the extraordinarily rapid way in which most imperial values and attitudes disintegrated after 1960, so that the norms of public language acquired quite suddenly a postcolonial register. That leads me back to the claim I advanced at the beginning. To explain seismic shifts in culture and attitudes, we have to bring together the two different branches of imperial history. Just as the politics and geopolitics of empire require an understanding of its cultural impact, so the forms and expressions of imperial culture, indeed its survival, were bound to be shaped by the political, geopolitical, and ‘geo-economic’ conjuncture—and conjunctures can shift with lightning speed. There are no simple answers and many a puzzle. But one thing is clear. Imperial history is, or should be, a unifying field, in which imperial historians of all stripes and interests must learn from each other.


A Aberdeen, 13, 248, 250, 253–255, 258 Act of Union (1707), 8, 180, 289, 292 Act of Union (1800), 186, 187, 315 Adam Adamant Lives!, 156 Aden, 137, 140, 142 Adventure fiction, 79, 80, 86, 92, 95, 96 Afghanistan, 317, 318 Africa, 51, 57–60, 62, 66, 68–72, 74, 87, 148, 153, 211, 221, 238, 241, 252, 257, 260, 261, 287, 339, 340, 344, 347, 356–358, 386, 391, 394 Aitken, Jonathan, 133, 146, 147, 149 Albert, 36, 65, 102, 160 Albert II, King, 338 Ali, Mehemet, 320 Allgemeine deutsche Arbeiterverein (ADAV)/General German Workers’ Association, 333 American Revolution, 123, 314

Amsterdam, 298, 299, 368 Anglo-Boer War (2nd), 177, 395 Anglo-Mysore War (2nd), 175 Anglo-Sikh Wars, 317 Anguilla, 141 Anthropomorphism, 51, 62 Anti-Americanism, 51, 62, 66, 67 Anti-Slavery, 51, 62, 66, 68–71 Archer, Mildred, 27, 159 Architecture, 11, 26–28, 30, 33, 38, 40, 45, 87, 89, 97–101, 104, 107, 111, 112, 114, 117–120, 126, 173, 174, 354 Argentina, 377 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 137 Army Benevolent Fund, 137 Asian Music Circle, 158–160 Association démocratique (Brussels), 330, 332 Atlantic, 51, 56, 63, 65, 69, 71, 153, 164, 252, 278, 289, 314, 399 Aurangabad, 317

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2019 S. Barczewski and M. Farr (eds.), The MacKenzie Moment and Imperial History, Britain and the World,


410  Index Australia, 108, 130, 213, 215, 219, 222, 226, 234, 245, 252, 254, 264, 312, 322, 324, 365, 370, 377, 401 Avengers, The, 133, 164 B Babeuf, Gracchus, 314 Bacon, John, 32 Baden Powell, Robet, 149, 152, 157 Baker, Russell, 131, 152 Baldwin, Stanley, 370 Bali, 377 Ballarat, 322 Ballarat Reform League, 322, 323 Bandung, 366, 368 Bangkok, 376 Barbados, 13, 121, 130, 190–194, 197–200, 202–206, 208, 209, 293, 297, 298, 301–303 Barbados Assembly, 191, 192, 196–198, 200, 202, 204, 208 Barbados Governor, 189, 190, 196 Barbados Slave Protection Bill, 191, 202–209 Barnum, P.T., 47, 49, 54, 55, 58, 63, 67, 71, 73 Bartlett, Anthony, 16, 47, 59 Batavia, 366, 372 Bauer, Heinrich, 332 Beatles, The, 131, 140, 141, 147, 153–155, 158, 159, 165, 168 Bebel, August, 333, 334 Belgian Congo, 338 Belgium, 14, 313, 330, 332, 335, 338–349, 351, 352, 354, 356, 358, 359, 398, 399 Beloff, Max, 16, 162 Berbice, 294, 296–300, 302, 305 Berlin, 332

Bhaba, Homi, 18 biography, 13, 65, 82, 83, 85, 92, 96 Birmingham, 250, 279, 331 Birmingham Political Union, 331 Blair Castle, 176, 177 Blow-Up, 124 Board of Trade, 133, 218 Bond, James, 152 Bonnie Prince Charlie, 174, 176 Botswana, 121, 130 Boulogne-sur-Mer, 328 Bowden, Herbert, 129 Boy Scouts, 152, 156, 239 Boy’s Own, 137 Braddock, Bessie, 153 Brewer, John, 6 Brexit referendum, 172 British Army, 148, 161, 175, 221, 222, 291, 292 British Broadcasting Corporation, 370 British Commonwealth, 213, 244, 250, 252, 253, 256 British Council, 133 British Empire, 3, 4, 8, 10–12, 14, 15, 28–30, 33, 37, 39, 40, 42, 44, 45, 62, 74, 102, 114, 122, 129, 130, 133, 138, 140, 142, 154, 162, 164, 166–168, 172, 174, 176, 178, 185, 186, 188, 189, 213, 222, 238, 242, 258, 259, 261, 263, 272, 279, 287, 288, 290, 308, 312, 316, 320, 358, 361–363, 365, 370, 375, 377–379, 388, 390, 391, 395, 398 British Legion, 135, 157, 164 British National Liberation Front, 157 British National Party, 134 British Week, 139, 165 Broadcasting, 362–365, 367, 370, 372, 373, 375, 378–380


Brogan, Denis, 142 Bruce, David, 139 Brummel, Beau, 147 Bryant, Sir Arthur, 149 Buchan, John, 246, 256 Buchez, Philippe, 333 Buchwald, Art, 141 Buckingham Palace, 137, 154, 165 Buettner, Elizabeth, 21, 22, 343 Buonarroti, Philippe, 314 Burgess, Glenn, 7 Burghley House, 173 Burma, 375 Butterworth, Peter, 143 C Cabet, Etienne, 330 Caine, Michael, 122, 133, 166 Canada, 212–214, 219, 222, 226, 231, 234, 240, 245, 252, 254, 258, 316, 322 Cannadine, David, 4, 172, 173 Canny, Nicholas, 6, 7, 273 Caribbean, 125, 140, 160, 202, 203, 208, 289–296, 299, 300, 304, 306, 308, 365, 369 Carlile, Richard, 314 Carroll, Lewis, 160 Carry on up the Khyber, 141, 143 Catholic Church, 251, 340, 358 Chamberlain, Neville, 153 Chambers of Commerce, 248, 250 Chandra, Avinash, 160 Chappell, Greg, 144 Charge of the Light Brigade, The, 136–138, 145, 164, 166 Chartism, 14, 311–316, 318, 320, 321, 323, 324, 326, 330–333, 335


Chartists, 311–316, 318, 320–326, 328, 330, 333, 335 Chase, Malcolm, 311, 312, 315, 316, 321, 335 Chichester, Sir Francis, 152 China, 317, 366 Churchill, Winston, 51, 108, 177, 218, 232 Cinema, 17, 75, 91, 100, 125, 127, 156, 164, 245, 249 Civilising mission, 27, 51, 57, 70, 73, 373, 385 Clan MacLeod, 174 Clanship, 195, 196 Clive, Robert, 41 Clive of India, 137 Colley, Linda, 184, 266, 308, 395 Colman, Ronald, 137, 152 Colonial culture, 338–343, 345, 354, 358, 393 Colonial Office, 129 Columbia University, 376 Commander of the British Empire (CBE), 137 Common Market, 168 Commonwealth, 122, 123, 129, 130, 140, 142, 144, 160, 162, 163, 168, 232–234, 245–247, 259, 260 Commonwealth Institute, 160, 247 Commonwealth Office, 121, 123, 129, 139, 162, 166–168 Communistischer ArbeiterBildungsverein (CABV)/ Communist Workers’ Educational Society, 332 Congo Free State (CFS), 341, 344, 345, 347, 354, 399 Congolese, 340, 344, 345, 349–352, 359 Constantine, Sir Learie, 134

412  Index Cooperative Land Company, 328 Country houses, 29, 171–174, 178–180 Cream, 154 Cricket, 127, 134, 138, 140, 144 Crimea, 146, 160 Cuffay, William, 321 Culloden, Battle of, 174, 176 D Dad’s Army, 141, 143 Daily Mail, 137, 141, 157 Dardanelles campaign, 177 Darien, 180, 252 Darwin, John, 12, 61, 259, 282 Darwinism, 61, 123 Day of the Scorpion, The, 160 Dean, Sir Patrick, 130, 132, 167 Decolonisation, 83, 90, 96, 123, 211, 276, 343, 351, 357, 389, 400 de Groot, C.J., 366, 367 Demerara, 14, 290, 293–298, 301–304, 307 Democratic Republic of the Congo, 338, 339 Denmark, 335 Deutsche-Brüsseler Zeitung, 330 Deutscher Bildungsverein für Arbeiter (German Workers’ Education Society), 331, 332 Devine, T.M., 182, 212, 357 Devonshire House Ball (1897), 177 Dickens, Charles, 39 Dickinson, Geoffrey, 154 Display, 9, 28, 29, 31, 36–43, 45, 57, 58, 60, 61, 72, 108, 116, 119, 175, 176, 195, 252, 352, 364, 365 Dodd, Ken, 153 Dodgson, Charles, 160

D’Oliveira, Basil, 144 Dominica, 134, 293 Dominions Office, 129 Douglas family, 293, 297 Douglas, James, 14, 290, 293, 294, 297, 298, 301, 305 Douglas, Robert, 14, 290, 292, 294– 296, 298–302, 305, 307, 308 Downton Abbey, 172 Drake, Sir Francis, 152 Dundee, 238, 243, 245, 248, 253, 255, 256, 258, 326 Dunvegan Castle, 174–176 Durgnat, Raymond, 166 Dutch East Indies, 361, 365–367, 371, 374, 375, 379 Dutch empire, 289, 290, 300, 362, 365, 379 Dutch West India Company (WIC), 293, 297, 301 E ‘East of Suez’, 135 East India Company, 13, 25–27, 29, 30, 33, 35, 38, 40–42, 44, 45, 179, 181, 182, 279 East India House, 27–41, 43–45. See also John Company Eckersley, Peter, 369 Edinburgh, 13, 190, 191, 239–241, 243–251, 253–258, 290 Edinburgh, Duke of, 137 Egypt, 54, 68, 69, 72, 98, 115, 214, 228 Eindhoven, 366, 367, 370 Eisenberg, Christiane, 333 Election law, Scotland, 198 11th Hussars, 137, 138, 146 Emigration, 238, 240, 243, 245, 246, 269, 313, 317, 320–322


Empire Day, 123, 239–241, 243, 370, 373 Empire Day Movement, 373 Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938, 241, 250 Empire exhibitions, 240, 248–251 Empire Marketing Board (EMB), 245, 248, 249, 373 Empire of India Exhibition, London (1895), 41 Empire of Sentiment (Joanna Lewis), 70, 71 Empire pageants, 240, 241 Empire societies, 238, 241, 242, 247, 258, 259 Engels, Friedrich, 331 Engineer, Farokh, 144 England, 5, 7, 10, 42, 53–55, 69, 123, 124, 127, 131, 141, 154, 171–173, 175, 176, 178–181, 183, 185–187, 198, 203, 218, 222–224, 263, 265–268, 270, 276, 279, 280, 282, 283, 289, 315, 316, 325, 331, 343, 357 Enlightenment, Scottish, 190 Enslaved people, treatment of, 304 Enslaved people, work, 302 Environment/ecology, 30, 35, 44, 84, 86, 95, 96, 114, 265, 304, 380, 391, 396 Essequibo, 294 État Indépendant du Congo. See Congo Free State (CFS) Etzler, John, 321 Europe/Europeans, 9, 10, 14, 18, 21, 22, 32, 33, 35, 39, 58, 67, 68, 79, 87, 95, 99, 102, 108, 114, 117, 119, 127, 142, 168, 173, 202, 207, 261, 264, 282, 283, 288–290, 292, 299–301, 311, 313, 326, 330, 335, 338–340,


342–345, 351, 377, 379, 385, 386, 388, 389, 391, 393, 394, 398–400, 405 Evans, Vic, 312, 324 Exeter Hall, 36 Exhibitions, 17, 26, 41, 44, 59, 98, 119, 248, 249, 258 Explorer heroes, 59 F Falklands War, 16, 17, 78 Faucher, Léon, 328 Fenton, Peter, 155 First World War, 105, 107, 154, 177, 239, 242, 243, 258, 339, 365, 366, 369, 379 Foreign and India Office, 40, 41 Foreign Office, 139 Forester, C.S., 152 Former colonials, 130, 247, 262, 264, 351, 352 Forsyth, Bruce, 143 ‘four-nations history’, 14 France, 84, 173, 202, 289, 313, 315, 326, 328, 335, 342, 344, 345, 391, 393, 395, 398, 401, 406 Fraser, Simon, 175 Fraternal Democrats People’s Advocate, 318, 319, 330–332 Freeman, Major, 317 G Gallagher, John, 222 Gandhi, Mahatma, 159, 345 General Gordon, 68 Gerbrandy, Peter, 372 Germany, 173, 332, 333, 342, 343, 356, 378, 398, 401 Ghana, 148 Ghose, Zulfikar, 165

414  Index Glasgow, 13, 181, 239, 241, 244–246, 248–250, 252–254, 256, 258, 278, 289, 316 Global history, 21, 375, 403 Gordon, Charles, 29 Gordon, Lord Lewis, 174 Gore-Booth, Sir Paul, 142 Gothic Revival, 173 Grand Tour, 173 Great Exhibition (1851), 36, 38 Great Windmill Street (London), 331 Griffiths, John, 239, 312, 324 Gurus, 159, 161 Guyana, 121, 130, 294, 299, 300, 302, 304 H Hague, The, 299, 366 Halasz, Piri, 130, 132 Happy Station, 363, 374–378, 380 Harney, George Julian, 316, 318, 320, 326, 330 Harrison, George, 158, 159, 161 Healey, Denis, 135, 140 Heath, Edward, 164 Hechter, Michael, 5, 274 Help!, 140 Hemmings, David, 138 Hendrix, Jimi, 154 Henniker, Sir John, 133 Hergé, 340 Hilversum, 367 Historiography, 5, 11, 26, 93, 267, 313, 339, 340, 343, 354, 358, 362–364, 380, 393, 394, 400 Hogg, Quintin, 133, 166 Holland. See The Netherlands/Dutch Hordern, Michael, 140 Hornblower, Horatio, 152 Household Cavalry, 153 Houston, Penelope, 141, 167 Howard, Michael, 136

How I won the War, 140, 141, 157, 164, 167 Humanitarian imperialism, 70, 72, 406 I Illustrated London News, 34, 39, 48, 60, 140, 153, 158 I’m Backing Britain, 142, 143, 165 Immigration, 125, 160 Imperial history, 3, 4, 8, 18, 49, 75, 76, 85, 92–94, 275, 403–405, 407 India, 33, 37, 39–41, 49, 58, 89, 98, 100, 103, 105, 114, 115, 120, 142, 153, 158, 160, 161, 175, 176, 211, 214, 222, 228, 238, 241, 251, 252, 254–257, 260, 264, 289, 299, 317, 361, 365, 375, 377 India Office, 31, 42, 44, 129. See also Foreign and India Office Ingrams, Michael, 148 International Exhibition, Dublin (1865), 41 Inverurie, Battle of, 174 Iraq, 378 Ireland, 5, 7, 14, 54, 171, 172, 174, 178, 180, 184–188, 212, 214, 215, 218–220, 222, 223, 225, 226, 228, 230, 231, 233, 234, 262, 263, 265–269, 273–277, 279, 282, 283, 288, 315, 316 Isherwood, Christopher, 159 Italy, 342, 343, 345, 378, 393, 398, 401 J Jacobites, 174, 189, 303, 304 Jagger, Mick, 154 Jamrach, Charles, 51, 52


Java, 366 Jewel in the Crown, The, 160 Jingoism, 52, 57, 137 John, Sir Caspar, 143 John Company, 29, 30 Johnson, Lyndon, 143 Jones, Ernest, 320, 321, 332, 333 Jottrand, Lucien-Léopold, 330–332 Juliana, Princess, 368 Jumbo/Jumbomania, 12, 13, 47–74 Jupp, Richard, 31, 32, 43 K Kanhai, Rohan, 144 Kaye, John, 30, 31, 34, 45 Kearney, Hugh, 6 Kennedy, Ludovic, 142 Khartoum, 141, 145, 146, 177 Khasi of Kalabar, 126, 141 King of the Khyber Rifles, 137 Kinks, The, 155 Kipling, Rudyard, 135, 154, 221 Kiralfy, Imre, 41, 42, 44 Kitchener, Lord Herbert, 126, 133, 145, 146, 155, 156, 177 L Labour Party, 134, 243, 252 Lamb, Charles, 31 Lancashire, 134, 143, 158, 326 Landerneau, 326 Land ownership, 325, 328 La Réforme, 318 Lassalle, Ferdinand, 333, 334 Latin America, 335, 390 Laver, James, 147, 148 Lawrence, T.E., 82, 126, 159 League of Empire Loyalists, 134 Le Débat social, 330–332 Leeward Islands, 293, 307 Leipzig, 333


Lennon, John, 140, 152, 154 Leopold II, King, 339, 343, 347, 348, 352, 353, 356, 357 Leopold III, King, 340, 356 Lesotho, 121, 130 Lester, Richard, 125, 140, 167 Lewis, Anthony, 132, 142 Liebknecht, Wilhelm, 333, 334 Little Ice Age, 180 Lives of a Bengal Lancer, 137 Livingstone, David, 29, 52, 57, 70–72, 82, 126, 159, 254 London, 26, 27, 31–34, 36–39, 41, 43, 47–49, 55, 59, 60, 63, 65, 67, 123, 124, 130–132, 137, 145, 146, 154–156, 158, 165–168, 171, 172, 190, 196, 197, 199, 200, 203, 233, 240, 242–244, 247, 250, 254, 277, 281, 318, 321, 330–333, 338, 345, 370, 377 London Dispatch, 316 London Working Men’s Association, 315 Longleat, 173 Lord Seaforth. See Mackenzie, Francis Humberston Lovett, William, 315, 316 Luce, Henry, 136, 139, 155 Lumumba, Patrice, 346 M MacDonald, Malcolm, 130 Mackenzie, Francis Humberston, 13, 189, 192 MacKenzie, John, 3, 22, 28, 49, 72, 75, 97, 123, 126, 166, 171, 189, 212, 226, 235, 237, 250, 258, 261, 283, 287, 308, 338, 344, 362, 384, 386, 387, 389, 390, 392, 397–400, 403, 404 MacLeod, Norman (22nd chieftain), 174

416  Index Mafeking, 145, 146, 152 Maharishi, 158, 159 Mahdist revolt, 177 Mandler, Peter, 28, 173 Marconi, 367, 369, 370 Marcuse, Gerald, 369 Margaret, Princess, 139 Marx, Karl, 330–334 Material culture, 26–29, 35–37, 40, 41, 44 Mauritius, 103, 121, 130 McCartney, Paul, 154 McDouall, Peter Murray, 330 Melly, George, 126, 136, 155 Member of the British Empire (MBE), 153, 154, 165, 174 Merchant, Ismail, 161 Merchants, 13, 26, 30, 31, 34, 38, 45, 161, 181, 197, 252, 289, 290, 295, 297, 300, 301, 308, 351 Metropolis (British), 3, 4, 9, 172, 188, 320, 369, 373 Migration, 344 Military service, 179, 187, 246, 288, 292, 308 Ministry of Defence, 138 Missionaries, 13, 69, 86–89, 91, 92, 96, 230, 241, 252, 254, 256, 343, 351, 358, 388, 406 Mitchell, Julian, 155 Moll, Joseph, 332 Morocco, 345, 375, 400 Morris, James, 131 Murray, James (2nd Duke of Atholl), 176 Murray, Lord George, 176 Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale, 345, 347 Museums, 13, 28, 29, 59, 97–108, 113, 117, 119, 120, 405

Music, 11, 16, 56, 98, 124, 126, 127, 137, 141, 155, 161, 356, 374, 377, 378, 380, 404 N National Front, 134 Nationalism, 123, 211, 214, 215, 227, 230, 342 Scottish, 142, 174, 176, 185, 215, 357 Welsh, 142, 215, 357 National Land Company, 328 National Trust, 172 Nauru, 121, 130 Nelson, Horatio, 29 The Netherlands/Dutch, 255, 289, 291–302, 304, 305, 307–309, 332, 335, 338, 342, 343, 345, 361–373, 375, 376, 378–380, 395, 396, 398, 399, 401 ‘New British History’, 5, 6, 9, 10 ‘New Imperial History’, 4, 5, 9, 10, 93, 267, 270, 275, 388 New South Wales, 322–324 New Statesman, 134, 135 New York, 49, 67, 72, 73, 166, 325, 376 New York Times, 129, 214 New Zealand, 130, 154, 222, 231, 234, 245, 254, 312, 322, 324, 325, 377 Nordstern, 333 North America, 8, 171, 375 Northern Burghs Parliamentary seat, 193, 194 Northern Star, 315–318, 328, 331, 333 Norway, 335 Nottinghamshire, 326 Numans, J.J., 368


O O’Brien, Bronterre, 314 O’Connell, Daniel, 315 O’Connor, Feargus, 315, 316, 328, 329, 333 Officer of the British Empire (OBE), 144, 149 Oh! What a Lovely War, 137, 140 Olivier, Laurence, 141 Omdurman, Battle of, 177 Operation Sheepskin, 140 Opium War, 317, 318 Orientalism, 11, 16, 99, 100, 261, 267, 341, 386, 396, 397 Osborne, John, 131, 136, 137, 140 P Paine, Thomas, 314 Pakistan, 141, 144 Palmerston, Lord, 318 Paris, 318, 332, 345, 349 Parkes, Henry, 324 Parkinson, C. Northcote, 136, 147, 153 Pas-de-Calais, 326 Patriotism, 52, 55, 60, 62, 68, 74, 165, 176, 177, 201, 239–241, 252, 259 Patronage, 13, 61, 181, 193, 195, 196, 198–201, 209, 246 Peace Cheer Joy (PCJ), 368, 374–380 People’s Advocate, 323 People’s Charter, 311, 315, 323, 331, 335 Petrie, Sir Charles, 140 Philips, 363, 367–372, 374–376, 379 Philips Omroep Holland Indië (PHOHI), 362, 370–372, 374 Phillips, Thomas, 325 Plantations, 14, 204–207, 273, 290, 293–296, 300–303, 306, 307


Pocock, J.G.A., 5, 8, 9, 271, 274 Polders, 295, 304 Popular culture, 13, 49, 51, 75, 77, 78, 81, 92, 123, 126, 127, 129, 166, 167, 172, 333, 340, 387 Porter, Bernard, 3, 10, 11, 19, 271, 272, 384, 397 Portugal, 143, 335, 342, 344, 345, 375, 377, 400 Postcolonialism, 93 Powell, Enoch, 134, 161 Powell, Thomas, 321 Power, Tyrone, 137, 152 Preston, Peter, 133 Private Eye, 134, 143, 149 Prize money, 175, 200, 291, 293 Procter, Mike, 144 ‘Prodigy houses’, 173 Pro-empire sentiment, 238, 239, 257–259 Propaganda, 19, 28, 76, 78, 355, 363–365, 374, 380, 391, 393–396 Propaganda and Empire, 4, 17, 75–79, 338, 341, 358, 363, 386, 387, 389, 390, 392, 395, 398 Public opinion, 21, 57, 70, 71, 77, 369, 379, 395, 396 Q Quant, Mary, 146, 149 Queensland, 324 R Race Relations Board, 134 Racial Preservation Society, 134 Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), 338 Raeburn, Henry, 175 Ramsay, Allan, 174, 176

418  Index Ready, Steady, Go, 154 Redgrave, Vanessa, 137, 138 Reith, John, 373 Religions, 185, 215, 277, 279, 342, 354, 358 Reuters, 365, 366 Revere, Paul, 156 Richards, Barry, 144 Richardson, Tony, 136, 137, 146, 166 Rideau, Lord, 157 Rifle Brigade, 147 Roberts, Norwell, 134 Roger, Bunny, 146 Ross-shire Parliamentary elections, 191 Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), 130, 162, 163, 246, 247 Royal Empire Society (RES), 242, 246 Royal Navy, 194, 281, 290, 293, 303 Royal Over-Seas League (ROSL), 242, 244–246, 249, 257, 259 Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), 67, 68, 73 Ruanda-Urundi, 339 Rwanda, 339 Ryan, Patrick, 145 S Said, Edward, 11, 16, 17, 78, 93, 341, 386, 396, 405 Samuel, Viscount, 162 Sassoon, Siegfried, 152 Saxon People’s Party, 333 Schapper, Karl, 332 Scotland, 5, 7–9, 12–14, 171, 172, 174–176, 180–188, 191, 192, 197, 201, 206, 207, 237–240, 242–254, 258, 259, 263, 265– 270, 275–280, 282, 283, 287, 290, 307, 308, 343, 357

Scots, 8, 10, 142, 146, 178, 180–190, 192, 238, 246, 252, 254, 256, 266, 269, 275, 282, 288, 289, 292, 295, 304, 308, 343 Scots Brigade, 291, 292, 299, 307 Scots Guards, 157 Scott, Paul, 160 Scottish identity, 185, 252, 259 Scottish nationalism, 142, 186, 357 Scout Association, 152 Second World War, 90, 240, 242–246, 259, 342, 372, 375 Seine-Inférieure, 326 Sellers, Peter, 161 Sensation/Spectacle, 48, 49, 52, 54, 55, 57–60, 65, 74, 154, 222 Seringapatam, 43 Seven Years War, 293, 294, 298, 299, 307 Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 125, 159 Shankar, Ravi, 158, 160, 161 Sheppard, David, 144 Simple, Peter, 148 Slavery/Slave trade narratives, 51, 62, 63, 65–69, 71–73, 153, 178, 179, 191, 202–209, 292, 293, 296, 300–302, 304–307, 314, 321, 322, 325 Smith, C. Aubrey, 137, 138, 141, 152 Smith, Ian, 129, 130 Snowdon, Earl of, 139 Sobers, Gary, 144 Social Darwinism, 123 Soham, Bhagawan, 159 Soldiers, 140, 149, 154, 176, 220, 252–255, 257, 307 Sotteville-lès-Rouen, 328 South Africa, 14, 114, 115, 144, 214, 215, 217–224, 226, 228–230, 232–234, 254, 255, 370, 377


South African War, 214, 220, 221, 224, 228, 232, 243, 253, 259, 365, 396 South Australia, 322, 324 Southern Africa, 317, 335, 387 South Wales, 278, 326 Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands (SDAP), 333 Sozialistiche Arbeiterpartei Deuschlands (SAPD), 334 Spain, 118, 338, 342, 375, 394, 395, 399, 400 Spiritual Regeneration Movement, 159 Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, 18 Spurling, Hilary, 147 Startz, Eduard, 361 States General, 299 Stephen, John, 146, 149 Stewart-Murray John (Marquess of Tullibardine, 8th Duke of Atholl), 177 Stoler, Ann, 101, 361, 362 Studies in Imperialism (Manchester University Press), 10, 17, 29, 77, 91, 171, 271, 343, 355, 362, 384, 387, 390, 393, 404, 405 Sudan, 65, 68, 69, 73, 177 Sugar production, 202, 295 Sumatra, 366 Sutcliffe, Herbert, 134 Swaziland, 121, 130 Sydney, 213, 323 Syria, 318 T Tasmania, 320–322, 324, 379 Taylor, John, 148 Technology, 89, 295, 296, 301, 326, 349, 362, 365–367, 369, 370, 379


Television, 50, 127, 132, 141, 142, 155, 164, 172, 337 Thant, U., 159 Thatcher, Margaret, 16 Thomas, Martin, 21 Thompson, Andrew, 11, 78, 241, 258, 260, 281, 282, 386 Thompson, E.P., 16 Thompson, James, 9 Thomson, George, 129, 134, 135 Time, 130, 132, 154, 166 Times, The, 38, 39, 42, 47, 49, 54, 57, 59, 60, 137, 157, 158, 225 Tintin in the Congo, 340 Tipu Sultan of Mysore, 39, 41, 43, 175 Tiverton, 318 Tolpuddle, 316 Tonite, Let’s all make love in London, 148, 156, 166 Toye, Richard, 21 Travel guides, 86, 92, 96 Trinidad and Tobago, 134 Tristan, Flora, 328 Tropical Emigration Society, 321 Tuileries, 328 Turkey, 138, 146, 345 U Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 65, 66, 68 Unionism (Scottish), 185, 186, 215, 239, 268 Union Jack, 12, 123, 139, 143, 145, 148, 156, 165 United Kingdom (UK), 8, 9, 12, 142, 172, 174, 178–180, 183–185, 187, 200, 239, 244, 248, 251, 263, 265, 266, 268, 272, 276, 279, 282, 322, 324, 335, 344, 387, 391, 395, 398

420  Index United Nations, 339 United States, 9, 54, 62, 63, 73, 164, 206, 209, 313–315, 318, 325, 326, 330, 335, 338, 344, 367, 401 V Vargo, Gregory, 312, 317, 320 Victoria, 160, 322–324, 356 Victoria League (VL), 239, 242–246, 257, 259 Vincent, Henry, 325 Violence, 12, 68, 230, 305, 307 Vivekananda, Swami, 158 Vorster, John, 144 W Wace, Robert, 155 Wales, 5, 7, 52, 56, 58, 102, 103, 141, 171, 174, 178, 179, 187, 220, 263, 265–268, 275–278, 280, 282, 283, 343 Wall Street Journal, 154 Walpole, Robert, 181 Waltz, Kenneth, 123 War, 53, 105, 137, 145, 154, 190, 211, 222, 226–228, 290, 299, 307, 326, 399 Washington Post, 129, 131, 135, 142 Watkinson, Viscount, 139 Wealth, 32, 34, 41, 179, 181, 182, 185, 186, 300, 334 Wellington, 42, 325

Welsh nationalism, 142 Wentworth, William Charles, 268, 323 Western Australia, 324 West Indies, 134, 144, 179 Whitechapel, 332 Whitehall, 40, 41, 163, 201 Whitehead, Peter, 121, 124 Wilhelmina, Queen, 368 Williams, Kenneth, 141 Wilson, Harold, 129, 136, 143, 148, 153, 162 Women’s Guild of Empire (WGE), 240, 241, 252 Wood, Charles, 136, 140 World Cup, 131, 152, 351 X Xavier, Asquith, 134 Y Yardbirds, The, 154 Yemen, 121 York, Michael, 161 Young, Vernon, 131 Z Zeeland, 293–295, 299, 301 Zoffany, Johann, 176 Zoological colonialism, 59 Zoological gardens (zoos), 47, 64, 69 Zulu, 52, 126, 141