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O'Quinn, Daniel J. 'The Long Minuet as Danced at Coromandel: Character and the Colonial Translation of Class Anxiety in Mariana Starke's The Sword of Peace. ' British Women Playwrights around 1800. 1 September 2000. 27 pars. <>

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Hail! hail! thou land of mercenary interest, where love of gold destroys its thousands, where woman, for wealth and grandeur comes from far to sacrifice beauty, health, happiness! receive one votary to all-powerful love.

1. Ever since Mariana Starke's extraordinary comedy The Sword of Peace; or a Voyage of Love was brought to my attention, the play has haunted my thinking not only on questions of the representation of English India on the London stage, but also on the concatenation of emergent constructions of race, class and sexuality in the period following the American revolution. (1) I use the phrase "haunted" advisedly for more than any other piece I know, the ghostly qualities of performance that are only gestured toward in the printed version of the play impinge forcefully on crucial questions of interpretation—so much so that one finds oneself choosing between critical reticence or wildly idiosyncratic "historical" reconstitution. The fact that its print version both preserves a moment of performance and forcefully emphasizes precisely the physical properties of the theatre that disappear when performance ends only makes matters more complex. This is of course one of the fundamental historical problematics faced by students of the theatre, but it seems to me that this play deserves particular notice for a number of historical and textual anomalies which both incite and exceed commentary. This tension between what may be an idiosyncratic production of the late-eighteenth century theatre and its potential ideological significance is itself of some concern. Discussing this play with my colleague Donna Andrew, it became clear that precisely those aspects of the play that I was drawn to were also the least stable in the eyes of a social historian whose criteria for evidence was oriented toward effective corroboration. It was evident that I was reading the play as a series of clues, a rebus whose gradual reconstitution would cut to the heart of colonial representation and perhaps function as an exemplary text for a broader critical agenda aimed at understanding the relationship between class anxiety, racial construction and the education of desire. What emerged from this conversation was a heightened sense of the temptations of reading and a chastening sense of unavoidable historical loss.

This uneasy critical sense is partly brought on by the primary physical document through which we have knowledge of Starke's play. The printed version most easily available if not easily read is a Dublin edition of 1790. The title page in a typical fashion records that the play was "First Performed at The Theatre Royal, in the Hay-Market, On Saturday, August the 5th, 1788", but immediately following the Dramatis Personae a brief note indicates that "The Lines in inverted Commas, are omitted in Representation". The document therefore purports to simultaneously record the public performance script and provide a longer version suited to the private act of reading. When one reads the play it is remarkable not only how much of the text is destined solely for the closet, but also how significant the omitted passages are to the play's politics. However, before making the tempting argumentative leap to establish the omissions as signs of a complex act of censorship and suggesting that the printed version has a certain authority, it is important to remember that this act of censorship a) is retroactively constituted from the print text, and b) does not correspond to the directorial omissions or additions that may have occurred during the play's production. With the play's political resonances so tightly fitted to topical issues how are we to interpret the differences between the performance and the reading text? And how are we to interpret the reception of the play in its first run in the summer of 1788, its continuation in the summer of 1789, and its reading anytime during or after these moments of performance?


Sex and the trials of empire


The first hesitation is noteworthy because the play is first performed in the lead up to the trial of Warren Hastings and is printed in this edition well into the proceedings. The play features a corrupt Resident who with the assistance of his servile minion Supple abuses the power of his office to achieve personal ends. The most telling of these corrupt actions is described in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser's opening night review in some detail. In order to eliminate the Resident's sexual rival in his pursuit of Eliza,

Supple suggests throwing Edwards into prison by prevailing on his Black Merchant (to whom he knows him to be indebted) to arrest him instantly. The Resident adopts the scheme and sends to Moujadee to give him directions accordingly. The Black Merchant professes a great regard for Edwards but is forced by the authority of the Resident to fulfil his design and reluctantly retires for that purpose. (2)
This scenario rehearses one of the most persistent concerns of those arguing for Hastings's impeachment—i.e., that in the pursuit of personal gain, the British and Hastings in particular were corrupting Indian society. (3) The scene in which Mazinghi Dowza is prevailed upon to go against his better judgement and imprison Edwards carefully stages the avarice of the Resident and Supple and then offers the Dowza's sentimental concern in contrast. That everything turns on a loan made by an Indian merchant to an English colonial has important ramifications, for the Resident and Supple manipulate what is an otherwise legitimate economic relationship. As Dowza states, "Massa Edwards was always good and civil—He alway pay me honest when he can, I sorry hurt him, good your honor's excellence" (38-9). The Resident's response is intriguing in light of the Hastings affair:
RES. Do you doubt my intelligence? Sure I ought to know best what's going on here—an't I Resident? "I know what the scoundrel is about, I promise you—hesitate, therefore, not a moment, but arrest him—accept of nothing but the money, which I know he can't raise."—Throw him into prison, and I will support you if complaints are made.

SUP. Be sure you accept of no bail, nothing of any security whatever, for if you do, you'll lose it all. The Resident knows what he's about, and it's your duty to depend upon him....

MAZ. Me swear by the great Prophet, it make me heart ach.

[Exit MAZINGHI, putting his hand on his head in submission....]

As P.J. Marshall emphasizes in his recent survey of the shift from British trade to dominion in the Asian subcontinent, the question of private trade—i.e., commercial transactions between British individuals and wealthy Indian merchants—generated considerable anxiety for it meant that British commerce and by extension governance was intimately tied to Indian capital. (4) As Burke, Sheridan and others were quick to point out during the Impeachment proceedings these relations, because they were built on maximizing surplus value, were especially susceptible to corruption. And it was precisely the corruption of his supposedly easily manipulable minions that constituted one of Hastings's many crimes against humanity.

4. Dowza's combined expression of Moslem devotion and sentimental regard for Edwards at the close of the above scene is part and parcel of a broader discourse aimed at critiquing the despotism of the East India Company. (5) As Kate Teltscher has persuasively argued this anti- Company discourse of the 1780s re-deployed many of the key tropes which surrounded the Clive trial in the 1770s and ultimately formed the nucleus of much of the rhetoric of the Hastings trial. Of particular notice for our purposes is the construction of the foppish nabob in William Mackintosh's Travels in Europe, Asia, and Africa of 1782. The latter's satirical portrait of the indolence and extravagance of the British in Calcutta had wide circulation and resonates with much of Starke's representation of the Resident and of Supple. Here is according to Mackintosh the typical morning routine of a dissipated Company servant:
About the hour of seven in the morning, his durvan (porter or door-keeper) opens the gate, and the free to his circars..., peons...hacarrahs ...chubdars...huccabadars and consumas...writers and solicitors. The head-bearer and jemmadar enter the hall, and his bed-room at eight o'clock. A lady quits his side, and is conducted by a private stair-case, either to her own apartment, or out of the yard. The moment the master throws his legs out of bed, the whole possé in waiting rush into his room, each making three salams, by bending the body and head very low, and touching the forehead with the inside of the fingers, and the floor with the back part. He condescends, perhaps to nod or cast an eye towards the solicitors of his favour and protection. In about half an hour after undoing and taking off his long drawers, a clean shirt, breeches, stockings, and slippers, are put upon his body, thighs, legs, and feet, without any greater exertion on his own part, than if he were a statue,.... (6)
Kate Teltscher's reading of this passage is extremely illuminating:
the passive master, compared to an inanimate statue seems sapped of all manly vigour; a feminized figure who recalls Belinda in Pope's Rape of the Lock, pampered by maids at her toilet. The description of the servants' intimate ministrations and the itemization of his garments and the parts of his body carry a small but significant sensual charge....It is interesting to note that at this point Mackintosh's grammar begins to break down: there is no subject and the verb is unexpectedly passive; a construction which serves to highlight the sense of an unmanly loss of agency (162-3).
In The Sword of Peace, the Resident is repeatedly presented as overdressed and the very name of his primary attendant, Supple, indicates that he is as slippery as he is effete. As Teltscher argues, the feminization of the British nabob in Mackintosh amounts to an Indianization that betrays a palpable anxiety about Anglo-Indian relations both public and private. With the Resident cast as the languid Company man, Dowza's emotional regard for Edwards's honesty acts as a counter example. He becomes an example of one forced to go against his better nature by virtue of his political subservience while the Resident exemplifies one whose masculinity and judgement have been perverted by an excess of power. Dowza decides later in the play to go secretly against the Resident's wishes by providing the money for Edwards's release. The Resident for his part like Hastings is recalled from his post and replaced by "one generous, exalted character...Mr. David Northcote—a more morally sound official modelled perhaps on Augustus Cleveland or Lord Cornwallis or even his namesake Lord North. (7)
5. The replacement of the Resident by Northcote poses significant problems for interpretation, for Starke is stitching together bits and pieces of the doxa surrounding not only the Hastings impeachment, but also the earlier controversy surrounding Lord Clive. The passage from Mackintosh quoted above provides a helpful guide to anti-Company discourse in the 80s, but it is important to remember that this is an extraordinarily tame version of the materials printed in the early 1770s aimed at publicly shaming Clive. Representations of Clive from this period incorporate every sexual excess imaginable. According to the most vitriolic of these documents, Life of Lord Clive by Charles Carracioli and the anonymous The Intrigues of a Nabob, or Bengall the Fittest Soil for the Growth of Lust, Injustice, and Dishonesty, Clive's sexual appetites were insatiable and he was represented in turns as the King of Sodom, as the lover of any number of actresses and prostitutes, as a pederast and as an compulsive onanist. (8) Anti-company discourse has its roots in the deeply factionalized political world of the 1770s where pornographic excess was an active component of political pamphleteering.
6. One could argue that these strategies lurk behind almost all anti-Company discourse and that if they don't actively emerge as they did in Burke's famous catalogue of sexual violence perpetrated under Hastings's rule, they are always present in potentia(9) This helps to explain why the opening night review is at pains to argue that the play is
devoid of all false attempts at wit, and of what is more unpardonable, though we are sorry to say not unfrequent from the pens of female authors, of allusions that partake of double-entendre; or are liable to a gross construction. The play was received, generally speaking with applause. Some few of the auditors hissed during the performance, but they must have been either peculiarly ill-natured, or fuddled or foolish, because no one incident in the piece deserved reprobation.
As the reviewer indicates, anti-Company discourse is a dangerous realm for female authors because it historically partakes not only in sexual innuendo, but also in direct scurrility. This, along with the general disapproval of women writing directly on political matters, generates a series of strategies which indirectly link the Resident to Clive and Hastings.
7. At the risk of being overly speculative, I want to tease out a number of details which subtly stitch the play to historical events and personages. First, the play is set "on the Coast of Coromandel" thereby bringing the locus of action into the region most famously associated with Clive. Beyond this spatial marker, the invocation of Clive is achieved primarily through a web of references to the Resident's character. Aside from the anti-Company discourse already mentioned, Starke also deploys many of the moves used by Samuel Foote in The Nabob to ridicule Clive. Most important of these is the double insinuation of effeminacy and sexual predation. In The Nabob, the gambling scene is rife with double-entendres which cast Sir Matthew Mite as a sodomite and the play's narrative turns on his attempt to gain the hand of the Oldham's daughter through what amounts to direct economic extortion. The Sword of Peace is much more tame, but travels related ground. Rather than insinuations of sodomy, the Resident is figured in effeminate terms. But the question of sexual predation is only slightly less overt. Starke chooses to emphasize both the Resident's profligacy and his subservience to his sexual desires late in Act I:
ELIZA: ...I wish not to infringe upon Mrs. Tartar's rights, or any one's, but merely to assert my own.

RES. Oh! oh! oh! my little queens, don't mind her—every body here knows Mrs. Tartar's a vixen; but she shan't manage me, I can tell her.

LOUISA: But yet, Sir, by her hints, she seems to have more right over you than you chuse to avow.

RES. Oh! oh! no such thing—to be sure I—I don't deny but I have gallanted her a bit—and—and—and—been a little particular, and so forth—Tartar has a large fortune—and—women have been rather scarce here of late—and so—and so—but if I meet with another pleases me better—nay, you know—why (leering at ELIZA) an't I Resident? And sure hard, if so, I mayn't please myself, ha! ha! ha!—Well—but—but do you intend to shut yourselves up here and see nobody? Or how—

ELIZA. Ah! Heavens forbid no, Sir, all extremes are dangerous. (12)

The combination of the Resident's nervous stutter and his confidence in the enactment of his desires show the typical strategies of caricature. The interesting questions are whether those audience members hissing at the play were reacting to the further sexual connotations of this representation and whether these are being attached to party politics. If it is both, then Starke is infringing on the bounds of feminine propriety in more ways than one.
8. While the battle in the press during the 1770s and 80s deployed sexual tropes to establish a pathology concomitant with charges of economic and political wrongdoing, the Resident's corruption in The Sword of Peace has primarily sexual ends—i.e., he abuses his power to eliminate his chief sexual rival in the pursuit of Eliza. This translation of political scandal into the realm of private affairs is in itself intriguing for it not only capitalizes on the sexualization of the discursive formation at hand, but also opens the way for an allegorization of colonial governance in terms of heterosexual relations. Since the construction of gender and the deployment of sexuality are themselves in a state of flux at this historical moment, Starke's rhetorical strategy is extraordinarily volatile, but it allows her to play out significant anxieties about colonial activity within the generic confines of late-eighteenth century comedy. As we will see this has important ramifications for how Starke represents British women in India, but before entering this aspect of my argument it is important to recognize another important contextual matter.
9. Beyond its indirect engagement with the Hastings affair, the play also thematizes abolitionist concerns which are also coming into focus at this particular historical moment. The Sword of Peace features an abolitionist sub-plot in which the servant Jeffreys buys one of Mrs. Tartar's slaves in order to grant him his freedom. The scenes between Jeffreys and Caesar are intriguing for at least two reasons. First, they demonstrate that English notions of liberty were so firmly ensconced that they could be the subject of light satire. Jeffreys argues that English liberty consists primarily of the right to assault a fellow Englishman:
JEF. And now you're free, d'ye mind, if I chuse to swear at you, and break your head, I've a right to it; and may at me again, if you have spunk enough for it. But before when you were a poor handcuff'd slave, I'd have knocked my own brains out before I'd have touch'd you; for a true-born Englishman, if he provokes him, damme, he'd knock his best friend's teeth down his throat,—[to be spoken quick]—but never lifts his hand against the oppress'd.

CESAR. But, Massa, do Englishmans always quarrel with his friend and fight him?

JEF. For my part, I never love my friend better than when I'm fighting with him. Damme, if you han't spunk enough to quarrel with an Englishman, he despises you.—"None of your damn'd congees for him—give him a knock o' the head and he opens his heart to you directly.... (30-1)

Oddly this passage may well be another indirect reference to the Hastings impeachment because Caesar's question is one that was very much on the mind of Persian chroniclers as they "watched Warren Hastings and his councillor Phillip Francis proceed from bad words to duelling with pistols in 1780 over matters of state". (10) As Rajat Kanta Ray argues, Indian observers took the duel as a sign of political weakness. For metropolitan viewers, the conflict between Hastings and Francis was well known, but it is hard to imagine precisely how Jeffrey's words would play. He is the play's only working class character and his advocacy of violent conflict as the sine qua non of English national character can be seen as a corruption of the ideal of civil governance. Making the link between Jeffrey's remarks and Hastings seems to imply that East India agents are nothing more than a bunch of louts with pretensions to higher social standing. This of course was a prominent feature of anti-Nabob discourse and one that proved to be quite discursively useful for Burke and Sheridan.
10. This is an admittedly oblique reading but it is supported by George Colman's remarkable epilogue to the play. The epilogue is quite complex and I will be returning to it later in this essay. For our purposes here it is enough to recognize the way in which it refers to the intense factionalism which characterized both the fall of Clive and the impeachment of Warren Hastings:

How prone is man to quarrel with plain sense!

Suspecting harmless words of foul offense.
Too soon, alas! our minds to frailty leaning,
Accuse the simple phrase of double meaning.
E'en the first man alive, with spleen devour'd,
His nice sweet temper with an apple sour'd,
Grew sulky with his friends,—a cross old sinner!—
If they but mention pippins after dinner.
Nay, in these days, there's scarce'a City Prig
Who dares confess his fondness for a wig;
Lest he shou'd find in this same touchy town,
Some angry tory who wou'd knock him down. (58)

The poem goes on to partially applaud the cessation of duelling and its replacement by the current fashion for boxing over matters of honour. The second verse paragraph becomes quite intriguing in light of Jeffrey's remarks on the intimate relation between love and fisticuffs for it directly condemns duelling, ridicules boxing and then offers the satirical gibes of The Sword of Peace as a civil form of critique:

Speak not, ye beaux! we cannot move your passions;
The Sword with you has long been out of fashion.
For now each sparring beau in flannel stands;
To muffled gauntlets trusts his chicken hands;
Learns, generously, how to bruise,—not slay men!
And justifies his honour—on the dray-mue!
Soon shall we see, thank Heaven! The extirpation
Of barbarous duelling, throughout the nation;
Soon shall we read, instead of running through,
That, in Hyde-Park, two nobles have set to;
That Lord met Lord—that each, no Cesar bolder,
Brought a Right Honourable bottle-holder!
No carte and tierce—but bruise on bruise shall rise,
Till blows, not death, have clos'd the hero's eyes!—(59)

Extrapolating from the scene between Jeffreys and Cesar, Colman's fighting beaux are men of fashion not unlike those in the audience. In this play the sword is one of reconciliation and masculine conflict is bathetically downgraded into a fashionable pursuit. If we read the epilogue as a commentary on the conflict between Hastings and Francis, the implication is that the duel and the ensuing impeachment are reducible to deviant homosocial relations which threaten the foundation of British imperial power. (11) Significantly, the epilogue draws a comparison between aristocratic men fighting in Hyde-Park and the bonds of friendship between Jeffreys and Cesar. That the equation features signs of effeminacy and dissipation on one side and interracial relations on the other should give us pause, for these same terms surface in the discursive construction of Hastings in the popular press. Representations of Hastings at this time swerve between signs of excessive gentility and Indianization.

11. On a less speculative note, the scenes between Jeffreys and Caesar are also important because the conjunction of abolitionist and anti-East India Company rhetoric specifically locates the play's political investment. As Kate Teltscher and P. J. Marshall remind us, "at the start of the [Hastings] impeachment India and the slave trade were linked, both in parliament and outside, as issues which raised questions about the morality of British policy overseas". (12) During the late 1780s the amount of public knowledge about colonial affairs is not only expanding, but going through political convulsions, and it is not uncommon to see abolitionist texts deploy figures of Eastern despotism or anti-Company texts mobilizing figures more traditionally associated with the campaign against the slave trade. What appears on first glance to be an anomalous conjunction of two strains of anti-colonial discourse is in fact a well-travelled universalizaton that demonstrates Starke's political affiliations with public figures such as Wilberforce, Clarkeson and Burke. (13)

Character and the intricacies of the minuet


What interests me is that this universalization is managed primarily through a careful regulation of the line between character and caricature. It is the careful reduction of the Nabob and the Creole or of the Moslem and the African to a handful of discursive or visual tags that enables them to be made equivalent. In Starke's play, Louisa and Eliza Moreton, Edwards, Dormer and Northcote can be described as characters whereas the Resident, Supple, Caesar, Mazinghi Dowza, and the other British women in India are active in an economy of caricature. In the reviews, the former group of characters are all discussed in terms of particular actors and actress's ability to bring them "to life"—i.e. there is a close relationship between the performance and the verisimilitude of the embodied character—whereas the latter group are consistently figured as "exhibitions of character":

The performers deserved great commendation for the powerful support they lent this Comedy, Miss Farren, Mr. Bannister, and Mrs. Kemble especially. Miss Farren [as Eliza] never displayed the gaiety of a well-bred woman, whose chief characteristick was natural vivacity, with a better grace; Mrs Kemble spoke interestingly, and Bannister...made an excellent part of Jeffries. Baddeley also played well [as Northcote], and Robert Palmer was extremely happy in his manner of exhibiting the character of Supple; nor should Palmer himself be forgotten; his governed style, both of delivery and deportment, gave the characteristick modesty of Dormer a fulness and force of effect, that it could not have received from a less skilful comedian.
The difference being established here between the fullness of effect generated by the governed style of delivery and deportment and the excessive performance required to exhibit Supple's "character" is fundamentally tied to the social distinctions which structure the play. With the distinctions of rank and respectability lying in the balance, the performance of the subtle difference between "fullness" of character and characteristic excess carries immense significance. It is for this reason that the print version of the play is so precise in its stage directions.
13. In contrast to the normative English characters, what the latter group of caricatures all share is a certain alterity or hybridity: they are either Indian, African or "Indianized" English men and women. In a sense the play merely continues the representational economy of anti-Company discourse that we find from Mackintosh through Burke. However, Deidre Lynch's discussion of the centrality of this distinction between character and caricature in mid- to late- eighteenth century cultural production clarifies some of the play's more audacious strategies:
Whatever else they are doing in fleshing out their characters, the figures we credit for the rise of the novel are also registering their culture's investment in the eloquence of the material surface—the face of the page, the outside of the body—and their culture's idealization of what was graphically self-evident. Eighteenth-century culture, we should remember, made person both a word for someone's physical appearance and a word for someone. It made trait cognate with words such as stroke or line—words for the graphic elements from which both pictorial and written representation are composed and through which they are identified....Indeed, the particular Englishness of the continuing national enthusiasm for character owes much to the fact that the English...conceptualize the characters they read about not as the French do, as "personnages" (that is, not as so many theatrical masks), but semiologically (as so many marks in a book). (14)
In almost novelistic fashion, the print version of The Sword of Peace exhibits precisely this semiological conceptualization of character which makes the surface of the body synonymous with personhood. For our purposes here the question of quantity that so concerned Johnson, Reynolds and others is registered at the material level of the text for The Sword of Peace contains remarkably excessive stage directions. Act III, scene 2 contains two stage directions which more than anything else in the printed text of the play instantiate the temptation to read in part because they are so detailed, and in part because they act as exceedingly complex tableaux from which one can make extensive interventions in current discussions of race, sexuality and class in colonial representation. If nothing else the opening direction for the scene is notable for its sheer volume of information:
SCENE A Card Room discovered.

Three Tables on a Side, ranged with Gentlemen and Ladies at Cards. At the upper End of the Stage a Door opens into a Ball-room, where you see Couples standing cross the Door as dancing; Music playing as at a distance, not too loud. At the first Table, next the audience, on one side, Mrs. Garnish, with her natural brown complexion, her dark hair dressed out with a number of Jewels, and her whole Dress as fine, and overloaded with Finery as possible in the Indian Style, lolling in her Chair, holding her Cards, and a black Slave standing by her, playing them for her as she speaks them, or points to them; taking up her Tricks, shuffling and taking up the Cards, and dealing for her. Another Slave by the side of another Lady does the same for her. This other Lady to be a contrast to Mrs. Garnish in every Degree, looking pale and sick, peevish, ill natured and unhappy; dressed fine and awkward. Mrs. Garnish all Spirits, Pride, Vulgarity, and Self- consequence. The other Table in front of the opposite side. A great fat woman, very brown, sitting full front to the Audience, as fine as can be, but dressed as ridiculously as possible; this is Mrs. Gobble. The other Lady the Colour of Yarico. Miss Bronze dressed with elegance, in a silver or gold Gauze, Flowers, Jewels, &c. a good Figure, and smart, with black slaves playing their Cards, as before. Some of the men elegant and genteel; others brown, sickly Skeletons; and the elderly men very Fat; as these two extremes prevail most in India; and in general an awkward, square Manner of holding their Shoulders very high, and stooping their Heads. Some tables with no Blacks attending, to show it is the Distinction of Consequence and Grandeur; and the Blacks who thus attend must be dressed finer and with more Attention than the others, who are seen coming about with Refreshments. The two Tables next to the Ball-room Door purposely neglected, to show they are People to be known Nobodies; where such Folks are generally placed to keep the Wind off their Betters. The whole Group as much in the Bunbury Stile as possible. (31-32)

The scenario is as much a visual tableaux of colonial excess as it is of metropolitan class anxiety. The various tropes and figures which animate anti-Nabob discourse are conveniently enacted and embodied for the audience. The scene of gaming itself figures an anxiety regarding speculation which since at least the time of the Clive trial runs through anti-Company writings. (15) The fact that the card players are too indolent to even lift their cards to the table replays the kind of over-attendance that so fascinates the Mackintosh passage above. The description of extreme body types is also a common gesture, as is the insinuation that India eats away at one's bodily and moral constitution. The stage direction is also remarkably precise about complexion although clothing operates as an equally volatile political surface—the former speaks to emergent understandings of race and nationality, while the latter is the locus of anxieties about rank. When Starke emphasizes the "browness" of Mrs. Garnish and Mrs. Gobble, it is as much a sign of the women's Indianization as it is of their failed pretension to gentility, and therefore should be understood as the mark of suspect hybridity. I will argue later that the extreme portraits of Mrs. Garnish and Mrs. Gobble also incorporate suspect sexuality, but for the moment I want to turn our attention to Miss Bronze.
14. The flowers and gauze which adorn Miss Bronze as much as the suggestion that she is the colour of Yarico mark her as a "country born" woman. (16) The comparison to Yarico is interesting for Colman's Inkle and Yarico is on the stage almost constantly in the season prior to The Sword of Peace. On first glance, it would appear that Starke is establishing a link between British imperial domination in two spaces in much the same fashion as Raynal's Histoire des Deux Indes(17) However, Starke refrains from employing the sentimental strategies used by Colman to gain sympathy for Yarico's predicament and opts instead for a kind of racist containment which suggests that all the suspect qualities of the nouveaux riches Mrs. Garnish and Mrs. Gobble are being inculcated in the impressionable Hindu woman. That this strategy can be employed with so little effort indicates precisely how prevalent the figure of innocent and wronged Yarico is in the mind of the theatre-going public at this historical moment. The careful emphasis placed on her elegance and her good figure implies that like Yarico in Colman's play her innocence and her desirable femininity are in the process of being contaminated by contact with the avarice of British subjects abroad. In other words, the Indianization which Starke so readily invokes is complemented by a kind of reverse contamination which threatens the integrity of Hindu society. This two-fold romanticization of Hindu feminine propriety and demonization of British governance is of course one of the most famous elements of both Burke and Sheridan's rhetorical assault on Warren Hastings. (18)
15. But we can be much more specific about the play's semiological gestures and its relation to the bristling market for satirical prints. The final sentence of the stage direction is itself a direction for reading, for the reference to the Bunbury Stile firmly establishes the economy of caricature as one composed of visual marks and lines. Henry Bunbury was the most highly regarded caricaturist of his generation and his career was at its height in 1787 and 88 when Starke's play is initially composed and performed. Bunbury is a social caricaturist and his most famous work is a seven-foot-long strip entitled The Long Minuet as Danced at Bath which was exhibited and reproduced in the months immediately preceding the play's first performance. Bunbury's strip depicts a range of figures all engaged in various aspects of the minuet. As David Kunzle states, "The minuet was the most intricate and difficult of dances; Bath was the most fashionable of all resorts, to which there flocked the nouveaux-riches and social climbers....Bunbury seized with lightning brilliance various attitudes expressing degrees of awkwardness, naive enthusiasm, and even...a sly grace. Male and female dancers are by no means uniformly ugly, but run the gamut of peculiarity in expression and physiognomic type". (19) Bunbury's strip therefore targets with varying degrees of severity those who are challenging the rigid boundaries of class propriety. Significantly, Bunbury's satire emerges out of a certain anxiety regarding the embodiment of class for the strip implies that the minuet will act as a filter for class identity. Assuming that the gentry have the grace and physical facility to perform the dance, the strip focuses attention on the failure of the bodies of the nouveaux-riches to accede to gentility. The volatility of such an assumption is registered by the ambiguity of some of the caricatures for the flip side of the satire is that all it takes to accede to gentility is the right combination of dress and accomplishments.
16. Starke's Long Minuet as Danced at Coromandel performs a spatial substitution—India for Bath—but the critique of social climbing is if anything intensified. At one level this is nothing but a continuation of the anti-Nabob discourse that received its most famous treatment in Samuel Foote's The Nabob. And that discourse is itself a particular subset of the discursive assault on luxury. (20) But this specific substitution resonates with the specifics of Clive's career for after his return from India, Bath was a favourite place of retirement. (21) Starke's stage direction deploys the Bunburian satire in surprising and innovative ways. Instead of replicating Bunbury's minuet, Starke stages her dance off-stage such that the card game becomes the object of satirical representation. The card game is in a sense surrounded both materially and culturally by a scene of dancing that nevertheless remains unenacted on the stage. This is an interesting shift because it resolves the key problem of the representation of classed bodies highlighted by Bunbury's strip. When Eliza enters midway through the scene, Supple's effusions on her dancing simultaneously invoke the Bunburian scene and put it in abeyance:
ELIZA. I am glad we have left the ball-room; I declare, Resident, there's no dancing a minuet here with any satisfaction; one's as much crowded as at the ball at St. James on a birth night.

MISS BRONZE. (in a loud whisper to Mrs. Gobble) Do you think she was ever there!

RESIDENT. That was owing to your fine dancing Eliza, and not to the smallness of the room.

SUP. "Oh! such a minuet! (turns to Mrs. Garnish in a lower voice) You never, Mrs. Garnish saw such dancing in your life"

MRS. GARN. What, so monstrous bad, hey?

ELIZA. (looking down at Mrs. Garnish with a smile of triumph) La! Mrs. Garnish, have you forgot me—I'm sure I shall never forget you—with your nice plumb cakes, so frosted and decorated; and your pies and your puffs, and ices and creams, all so nice:—I used to buy of you in Oxford road. (33-4)

The minuet becomes a scene of interpretation and Starke's play performs a startling reversal of the Bunburian glance. The audience of Bunbury's strip is assumed to be capable of discerning the signs of gentility and therefore able to judge the shortcomings of the nouveaux-riches. In The Sword of Peace the audience watches the social climbers attempting to interpret the accomplishments of the Miss Moreton's. The reversal instantiates a two-fold satire for not only does Starke ridicule Supple, Garnish and Bronze's excessive concern with Eliza's dancing skills, but she also subtly introduces enough ambiguity into the scene of interpretation to force the audience to consider the class identity of Eliza and Louisa. This is important because Eliza and Louisa are themselves extremely concerned that they not be lumped into the same category as the other women in the play who have come to India in search of monetary gain and class ascendancy through marriage. However, the fact of the matter is that Eliza and Louisa are also on the marriage market, but their search for husbands is as the play's sub-title suggests "A Voyage of Love". The problem is that the interpretation of their motivation like their class identity is not subject to clear determination. In a space where class boundaries are fluid and money supercedes all matters of sentiment, the representational economy promulgates confusion about the fullness and veracity of character, reputation and ultimately value in the sexual marketplace.
17. This problematic is given ample consideration in the play's opening scene. Act I scene 1 commences with Eliza trying to rally Louisa's spirits for the difficult mission which awaits them. The opening night review establishes the situation as follows:
By the will of Mr. Morton (who had obtained his fortune in the East Indies), Eliza, his only daughter, is obliged to take a voyage to the coast of Coromandel to receive her inheritance, and she is accompanied by her cousin Louisa, who is commissioned by Sir Thomas Clairville to endeavour to obtain from Lieutenant Dormer the sword of young Clairville,...the intention of Sir Thomas being to preserve it in the Clairville family, as a monumental trophy in honour of the deceased. In order to induce the lieutenant to part with it, Louisa is authorized to tender 5000 L exchange for the sword.
The only thing that stands in the way of Eliza's marriage to her beloved Edwards is that his family thinks she is of insufficient fortune. Her voyage, therefore, amounts to a double acquisition for her inheritance will gain her the hand of Edwards. There is no doubt from her attempts to alleviate Louisa's mortification that they have been placed in the house of the termagant Mrs. Tartar, that Eliza not only understands that voyages of love are financial affairs, but also recognizes that such travels are a threat to her and Louisa's reputations:
LOUISA. I don't know what state your feelings are in but I'm sure mine have been tortured from the first moment we set foot on land.

ELIZA. Why, I grant you, as fine ladies of delicate sentiments, and heroic modesty, ours have been pretty [well tried!] (22), or rather, we have been struggling hard against the stream of prejudice, and custom, to preserve ourselves from their effects.

LOUISA. And which is a point I still doubt; for our hostess—good, now, what think you of her?

ELIZA. Why, for our well-beloved lady hostess, dear Madam Tartar, I think we shall find her blue-cast, or half-cast complexion, the fairest part of her composition. But not withstanding her hauteur, I shall teach her the difference between women who come here to make their fortunes, and those who come to receive them.

LOUISA. If I cou'd have foreseen we should have been placed in the house of such a being as Mrs. Tartar, I would have forfeited my fortune according to the strange clause in your father's will rather than have come after it.

ELIZA. No, no—a truce with your delicacies to such an extream! Money, girl, is the universal good—and we cannot expect to attain it any more than others without difficulties.—My fate has already too severely prov'd what we are to expect without it! The man of my tenderest approbation torn from me by his mercenary rigid parents, and banish'd from his native home, because they then thought me friendless—"penniless". (5-6) ["Penniless" is marked as text omitted in representation.]

Starke doesn't flinch from aligning Mrs. Tartar's immorality with her complexion and the insinuation that she is of mixed race. The phrase "blue-cast" condenses class and racial hybridity into one figure. The racialization of the line between making and receiving a fortune is crucial to the moral economy of Starke's play for Mrs. Tartar is clearly below the line of respectability. One could argue that the distinction is one of agency—i.e. that a woman must appear to be the passive recipient of her fortune to be truly modest and by extension truly white—but such an argument would downplay the degree to which Eliza and Louisa regulate not only their circulation as sexual commodities, but also their accession to bourgeois normativity. In a sense, it is their palpable activity in the marketplace that makes them such a site of interpretive anxiety for Starke.
18. The ambiguities which trouble the interpretation of Eliza and Louisa's mission at the play's outset are transferred to the intrepretation of Eliza's dancing in Act III. These ambiguities are tempered by the fact that Starke's caricature has already undercut the reliability of witnesses such as Supple or Mrs. Garnish. But the play is also subtle enough to realize that the performance of the minuet on stage might create more problems than it would solve. The minuet may constitute too much of a test to be allowed into theatrical representation. Instead Eliza's class identity is secured in part by her testimony of prior knowledge of Mrs Garnish and in part by her dress. The following is Starke's stage direction for Eliza and Louisa's entry into the scene immediately prior to the interchange above:
Enter ELIZA and LOUISA from the Ball Room dress'd with the utmost Simplicity and Elegance of Taste and Fashion; but their hair without powder, in Curls and Ringlets, flowing in Abundance down their backs to the Bottom of their Waists. Several Gentlemen with them; among the rest, MR. SUPPLE and the RESIDENT, over dressed, and very hot. As ELIZA and LOUISA advance, the Ladies all eye them, wink and make all sorts of rude Signs to one another about them. As ELIZA advances towards MRS. GARNISH, she stares rudely and vulgarly in her Face and apparently examining her whole Dress and Figure. ELIZA, with the utmost ease and Elegance, sees it, but looks at her with such Nonchalance, and seems in high Spirits. LOUISA, all elegant softness on the other Side, seems disconcerted at their behaviour. During this time Music. (33)
The stage direction explicitly contrasts the excessive qualities of Garnish, Gobble and Bronze with the simplicity and lack of artifice in the appearance of the Moreton sisters. In this representational economy "elegance" and "ease" are not only separated from luxury, but also attached to veracity of character. In other words, the elegance of the Moreton sisters signifies that they are who the seem to be.
19. This is no small matter for normativity comes with the privilege of representational lack. When one compares the description of Eliza and Louisa to that of Mrs. Garnish, Mrs. Gobble and Miss Bronze it becomes clear that the critique of luxury that runs through the play extends to the economy of representation itself. Even at the level of naming, the distinction between character and caricature is manifest. Mrs. Garnish's name in contemporary usage means "tip" and carries with it the double connotation of corruption or bribery and implies that she is a gratuity or a trophy bride. Mrs. Gobble clearly connotes vulgar avarice and together they constitute a perfect complement not only to the figure of the dissipated Company man discussed earlier, but also to Foote's Nabob Matthew Mite. Foote makes much of Mite's former career as a cheese-monger and Starke plays out a similar gesture in her description of Mrs. Garnish's baked goods. The degree to which the frostings and creams figure Mrs. Garnish's body is perhaps debatable, but such a figuration is in keeping with Starke's overall rhetorical strategies for the caricature of Mrs. Garnish partakes in the general discourse of prostitution. At one level, Starke provides her audience with the perverse counterpart to the unmanly Company servant for Mrs. Garnish and Mrs. Gobble are at once hypersexualized and yet the epitome of indolence. The former process is explicit in their critique of Eliza and Louisa's unwillingness to receive all the men of the Factory:
MRS. GOB. (bawling) Lord, Mrs. Garnish, why I hear they have received no company! There is not a man in the rooms can tell me one word what they're like.

MRS. BRONZE. O Ma'am te, he, he, he! Mrs. Tartar was just now telling me the ladies were so squeamish, truly! they wou'd not admit the gentlemen to pay their compliments, for fear it should be thought they came to get husbands. Te, he, he!

[The ladies at the tables laugh with affected airs.] (33)

The Morning Chronicle review takes special notice of this scene and singles out the laugh of Mrs. Edwin, who played Mrs. Gobble, "in the scene of the Rout as well as her tone of conversation [as] highly comic and [a] strong exemplification of character".
20. Interestingly, Eliza's defense of her refusal to receive the men of the factory in the play's first scene also raises the question of female laughter but only after clarifying that she and Louisa will only be commodified in very specific ways:
ELIZA. ...Mrs. Tartar's very angry with me, because I don't like to be—to be kissed by all the five hundred gentlemen belonging to your presidency here; and—she says, you will make me.

RES. Ha, ha, ha! Why to be sure it's the usual form to receive visits of the factory at Ladies first arrival; and who would not wish to salute a pretty Lady, if he cou'd contrive it, you know? adod, it makes me long for a kiss myself.

ELIZA. Very likely, but as it is your sex's privilege to ask, so it is our's to refuse; and to be oblig'd to be dress'd up in grand gala, stuck on a Sopha, at the upper end of a room, for three nights running, to be view'd at will—as who should say—what d'ye please to buy, gentlemen? Monstrous, and then submitting to the salute of every man that approaches one, is such an indelicate custom.——(10-11)

In this defense of her sexual character, Eliza explicitly marks her two-fold resistance both to Indianization and overt commodification. What is more the two processes are understood to be indistinguishable—to be stuck on the sopha is to be brought to market. (23) But Eliza is also careful to emphasize that her critique here is not an absolute refusal to circulate in the sexual marketplace:
ELIZA. Nay, now, good Mrs. Tartar, don't hurry yourself—you and I shall never agree on this subject: "for though I despise prudery, I cannot bear any thing which degrades my sex,"—No one has a greater flow of spirits, or more laughing chearfulness than myself, by some ill-naturedly term'd coquetry....(11)

Eliza recognizes that limited circulation is crucial for the maintenance of her value in the only marketplace she cares about—namely, the metropolitan marriage market. What I find interesting here is that it is the quality of Eliza's laugh that simultaneously separates her from the likes of Mrs. Gobble and Mrs. Garnish yet still renders her susceptible to the charge of coquetry. Like the minuet, the subtle gradations of bodily performance that establish class distinction also require equally subtle skills of interpretation from the viewer. The ascription of the latter judgement to the "ill-natured" suggests that Starke not only advocates for a certain amount of sexual agency for women, but also suggests that those viewers who are unable to distinguish between degrees of performance are themselves suspect. One could argue that Eliza and the Morning Chronicle are performing the same discursive containment of masculine critique for the reviewer also uses the phrase "ill-natured" to describe the hissing auditors on opening night.

21. If the vulgar laugh of Mrs. Gobble, Mrs. Garnish and Miss. Bronze is a sign of too much sexual experience, then their actions at cards signify in a similarly complex fashion. The fact that they are playing cards at all weaves them into a discursive fabric that clothes much of the writing on English India in the 70s and 80s. The extraordinary financial gains which could be gained through a successful Eastern career were frequently connected to the overall rhetoric surrounding gaming in the period. Late in the century gaming is perhaps the only libertine vice that can be brought into representation and therefore it becomes emblematic for excesses beyond those associated with luxury. In other words, there is a sexual connotation active in the discourse on gambling that surfaces quite palpably in Starke's stage direction. (24) The details of the card games are quite interesting in this light. Mrs. Garnish states that she "plays alone, in diamonds" thereby simultaneously linking her greed for jewels to a certain auto-eroticism (32). Similarly, when Mrs. Gobble discovers that hearts are trump she states "Ah, hearts! I like that—I have always so many of 'em.—My lead—play a club, Pompey" (32). The joke cuts in two directions at once for although she boasts of many loves or hearts, she has only clubs or black cards to lead with. It is difficult to say if the audience would have received this as a racial joke or simply an expression of Mrs. Gobble's palpable undesirability. The spectre of interracial sexuality haunts the entire scene in much the same way that it infuses Mackintosh's description of the company servant. The relationship between Mrs. Garnish, Mrs. Gobble and their slaves clearly translates the excessive bodily intimacy and laziness of the earlier representations of male nabobs and with that translation comes the implied charge of sexual impropriety of a quite specific kind. If Mackintosh and Foote's nabobs are feminized, then Starke's women are doubly perverse for they imitate a flawed masculinity. The caricature is of women behaving as feminized men. (25)

Sword play


However, it is precisely this economy of caricature which threatens the characterization of Eliza and Louisa. As I have already argued, both the mission and the actions of the Moreton cousins are susceptible to charges of gender impropriety. In a sense, the excessive caricature of Mrs. Garnish et al establishes the relative normativity of Eliza and Louisa's character. The important qualification here is the word "relative" for I would argue that Starke preserves a certain amount of agency for her characters through this comparative excess. As Dror Wahrman has recently argued the late 1780s sees a constitutive decline in gender play on the stage as emergent forms of bourgeois sexuality begin to more stringently regulate the scope of female agency. (26) Wahrman builds his argument from careful readings of Prologues and Epilogues during the period, and I would argue that Colman's epilogue deserves further consideration for it marks precisely what must be contained in Eliza and Louisa's character for The Sword of Peace to avoid charges of impropriety. When Miss Farren comes on stage for the Epilogue, she is still dressed as Eliza and hence she speaks with that character's mildly coquettish demeanour. With this in mind it is important to imagine the effect of a woman speaking Colman's lines for the first verse paragraph ridicules excessive factionalism in the realm of politics and the second ridicules male homosocial violence in the realm of fashionable society. In other words, the epilogue offers a critique of specific forms of public masculinity that I would like to address in turn before demonstrating the masculinization of Eliza and Louisa. (27)


Colman brings the critique of factionalism into the theatre by addressing the male audience directly:

     Are there not some among you, then, who cease
     To smile, when hearing of a Sword of Peace?
     Speak, ye Militia Captains! Train Bands, speak!
     Think ye, 'gainst you our Author wrote in pique?—
     Dumb! like your swords, unus'd to face the light!
     Speak, then, Sir Matthew Plumb, the addressing Knight!
     You who have seen the sword—ah, great beholder!
     Have seen it, flaming, peaceful o'er your shoulder.
It is hard to determine if Colman is invoking Foote's Sir Matthew Mite—Plumb was frequently associated with nabobry—but the overall tone is quite aggressive. As a critique of those committed to conflict for the sake of conflict—a group which may include not only the various factions of the East India Company which scapegoated Clive, but also those who wish to isolate imperial mismanagement in the person of Warren Hastings—the lines suggest that those who make a career of conflict like politicians and soldiers do so in backrooms safe from the light of scrutiny. The image of the sword behind the back implies that back-stabbing remains an active and shameful part of metropolitan political life.
24. In contrast The Sword of Peace, by nature of its publicity operates in a different fashion in part because it is in the hands of a woman:
     But that our Sword of Peace may frighten no man,
     Know, brave gallants! 'tis wielded by a woman.
     Let it not, then, with others, be abolish'd,
     'Tis harmless, and, she hopes, not quite unpolish'd
     Such as it is, we can't be apprehensive
     That this, our Sword of Peace, will prove a sword offensive.
At one level, emphasizing the fact of female authorship is aimed at softening the rhetoric of the play's critics, but such a reading underestimates the degree to which the epilogue's anti-duelling rhetoric participates in a larger cultural turn away from the intricate codes of honour which V. G. Kiernan and others have argued are integral to aristocratic self-stylization in the eighteenth century. At the time of Starke's play, duelling is in disrepute and as Donna Andrew persuasively argues "an outcome of the long struggle against duelling was the emergence of a body of thinking, which, while at first identifying itself merely negatively, that is, as against duelling, came to a new vision of society based on reasonableness, Christianity and commerce, in which duelling ceased to be practised simply because it appeared incongrous and foolish." (28) This new vision of society was one suited to the ascendancy of the commercial class. (29) Importantly, the disapprobation of duelling partook of the discourse of degeneracy and monstrosity. In other words, the discourses of anti-duelling and of anti-nabobry share rhetorical strategies. The epilogue's second verse paragraph not only ridicules the down-grading of duelling to fisticuffs, but also offers satirical comedy and specifically Starke's play as a more socially appropriate mode of conflict resolution. Rather than retiring to the field of honour the audience are encouraged to attend the theatre. What interests me here is that Colman's critique of boxing works primarily through the feminization of his fighting Lords. For these men "The sword...has long been out of fashion" thereby leaving the sword to be taken up by the female knight. This implies that Starke wields the sword and figuratively enters the masculinized realm of publicity because men have failed to accede to their phallic responsibilities. And this masculinization extends to or is rather continuous not only with how the sword functions in the play, but also with the limited masculinization of Eliza and Louisa which relegates their characters to the near margin of feminine normativity.
25. When first discussing The Sword of Peace with colleagues it became immediately apparent that the sword itself posed significant problems for interpretation. First, Louisa's mission to recover such an overtly phallic object raised questions regarding not only her femininity, but also Starke's understanding of the place of violence and honour in the colonial sphere. Significantly, Louisa's task is consistently intertwined with notions of aristocratic honour and the recovery of a failed masculinity:
ELIZA. know, the generous Clairville, deserted by a father, through Sir Thomas Clairville's generous assistance, sought a fortune here, denied him by a parent. Death put a stop to the noble youth's career, and has occasioned your commission of the sword, for which I honour Sir Thomas with enthusiasm.

LOUISA. And he deserves it.—His nobly offering the legacy of Clairville's gratitude has left him, to purchase the sword of the deceas'd youth, that he may preserve it as a trophy of honor to his memory"—

ELIZA. An exertion of delicate, generous sensibility towards deceased merit, that characterizes Sir Thomas in that glorious singularity of an Englishmen, who repays with munificent gratitude everlasting remembrance to the noble actions of their deceas'd heroes.—Who would not sacrifice life to be thus gloriously remembered? (7)

As Starke is at pains to emphasize, Clairville's Eastern career is necessitated by an act of paternal neglect that Louisa's embassy is designed to set right.
26. But it is clear that the sword is destined to commemorate a past not a present glory. Significantly, the play's exemplary male character, Mr. David Northcote performs none of the intricate codes of aristocratic masculinity. Instead, his honor is a function of his "generosity" and "benevolence":
NORTH: Yes, Mr. Resident, I feel for human nature, of whetever colour or description; I feel for the name and character of an Englishman. "I feel neither the power of gold, prejudice, nor partiality: and where the lives and properties, or even happiness, of others are concerned, I have ever regarded the impulse of humanity." [The end of the speech is marked as a passage omitted in representation.] (51)
Northcote ends the play as the new Resident, but Starke is careful to distance his humanity and his commitment to the rule of law from the sword. Significantly, the accession of Northcote is represented not only as necessary step towards hegemonic control of all sectors of the population, but also as an event in which arms have a solely ceremonial and therefore vestigial purpose:
JEF. ...—my dear sweet ladies alive, and Mr. Northcote made Resident—the whole place is run wild for joy, Sir—blacks and whites, masters and slaves, half casts and blue casts, Gentoos and Mussulmen, Hindoos and Bramins, officers and soldiers, sailors and captains—and if his honor the Resident don't stop them, they won't have an ounce of gunpowder in the whole garrison. (57)
The fact that Northcote sees no reason for stopping the depletion of the garrison's gunpowder is a sign of his confidence in the effectivity of British justice practised without the corruption of his predecessors. This subtle shift from gunpowder's role in military domination to its expenditure as celebratory spectacle suggests a confident—and self-congratulatory—shift away from violent governance towards a kind of inculcation of acquiescence among the colonial population that is modelled on the audience consumption of theatrical effects.
27. As in the epilogue, it would appear that the female figure whether it be Louisa or Starke herself plays a mediating role between an outmoded aristocratic code of masculine behaviour and an emergent form of commercial civility exemplified by the space of the theatre itself. In other words, Louisa is able to handle the sword but only to discharge its phallic qualities in the present so that it can take its place in the invention of tradition so crucial to Britain's self-fashioning at this historical moment. Could it be that a sword in any other hands than a woman's threatens to weaken the very claims to civility which are increasingly bearing the moral burden of the metropolitan nation's just governance of colonial affairs? An affirmative answer to this question underscores the importance of the kind of femininity enacted by Eliza, Louisa and by Starke herself—a femininity that partakes of a limited amount of masculinized public agency to dramatize the necessity of restraining male homosocial desires in the realm of politics, of commerce and of love.

Daniel J. O'Quinn
University of Guelph

Daniel J. O'Quinn is an Assistant Professor in the School of Literatures and Performance Studies in English at the University of Guelph. His articles have appeared in ELH, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, European Romantic Review , Theatre Journal, Studies in Romanticism, and October.



1. I am indebted to Marjean D. Purinton's unpublished essay "Mariana Starke's The Sword of Peace: Staging the Myths of British Cultural Politics in India" for introducing me to the play. (back)
2. Morning Chronicle and Public Advertizer, Monday August 11, 1788. The character referred to as Moujadee in the review goes by the name Mazinghi Dowza in the 1790 edition of the play. (back)
3. See P.J. Marshall, The Impeachment of Warren Hastings (London: Oxford UP, 1965) for a detailed and succinct account of the complex issues at stake in the impeachment. One of Burke's primary objectives in his "Speech on Mr. Fox's East India Bill," The Complete Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1866) was "to awaken something of sympathy for the unfortunate natives". As Sara Suleri argues in The Rhetoric of English India (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992), 24-36, the recognition of a relation of sympathy is one of Burke's most important innovations in the discussion of imperial culpability. (back)
4. See P.J. Marshall, "The British in Asia: Trade to Dominion, 1700-1765," The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol. 2 The Eighteenth Century, Ed. P.J. Marshall (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998), 494. Regulating private trade and the circulation of bribes and gift proved to be a persistent problem for colonial governance. (back)
5. Dowza's double expressions resonate with some aspects of Burke's assault on the Hastings defence. Those defending Hastings argued that his actions were justified because arbitrary power was the very substance of governmental relations in Asia. Burke, however, suggested that Hastings misunderstood the nature of Moslem governance by failing to recognize that Moslem law is subject to divine authority. In other words, Dowza's expression of piety indicates that he may be manipulable, but that he also knows that his actions are wrong. This prepares the ground for his decision to secretly oppose the Resident's designs. (back)
6. Quoted in Kate Teltscher, India Inscribed: European and British Writing on India 1600-1800 (Delhi: Oxford UP, 1995) 160. I am strongly indebted to Teltscher's analysis of the contestation of this particular representation and of anti-Company discourse in general. (back)
7. All three figures circulate as sober examples of civilized British governance. During the trial of Clive, Lord North was portrayed as the Rat-catcher who was responsible for cleaning up the Company. See Percival Spear, Master of Bengal: Clive and his India (London: Thames and Hudson, 1975), 187. As Teltscher argues, Augustus Cleveland operated as the figure for the myth of benevolent British rule throughout the 1780s and 90's (121-4). During the trial of Warren Hastings, Hastings's defense frequently invoked the figure of Cleveland and the narrative of civilizing rule in an exculpatory fashion through a series of Indian testimonials (181). Cornwallis was frequently celebrated as a corrective to the excesses of previous colonial administrators. (back)
8. For detailed accounts of these texts see Allen Edwardes, The Rape of India: A biography of Lord Clive and a sexual history of the conquest of Hindustan, (New York: The Julian Press, 1966). Edwardes's analysis should be treated with some skepticism, but unlike other biographers of Clive he provides copious examples of the sexual discourse surrounding Clive. (back)
9. For a detailed analysis of the place of sexual violence in Burke's opening charge, see Suleri 60-64. (back)
10. Rajat Kanta Ray, "Indian Society and the Establishment of British Supremacy, 1765-1818" in The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol. 2 The Eighteenth Century. Ed. P.J. Marshall (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998), 512. (back)
11. See Kathleen Wilson, The Sense of the People: Politics, Culture and Imperialism in England, 1715-1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995) 185-205, for an illuminating discussion of the feminzation of the body politic and imperial degeneracy. (back)
12. Teltscher, 172. Marshall makes this point in India: The Launching of the Hastings Impeachment 1786-1788: The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke vi (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991), 5. (back)
13. See Teltscher's discussion of Tea and Sugar, or the Nabob and the Creole, 172-4. (back)
14. Deidre Lynch, The Economy of Character: Novels, Market Culture, and the Business of Inner Meaning (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1999), 38. (back)
15. The most famous cultural expression of this anxiety is the gambling scene in Foote's The Nabob, but concern about excessive speculation was almost ubiquitous in the press in the late 1760's and early 1770's when the East India Company's credit failed. This failure actuated a collapse in the value of the East India Company stock that generated comparisons to the infamous South Sea Bubble. See Spear 186. (back)
16. For the use of the term "country-born" see Phoebe Gibbes, Hartly House Calcutta and Felicity Nussbaum's discussion of the novel in Torrid Zones: maternity, sexuality, and empire in Eighteenth-century English narratives (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1995), 167-191. (back)
17. The play constantly verges on this kind of double critique, but Mrs. Bronze is only fleetingly figured and the Inkle and Yarico allusion is never tied into the Jeffreys/Caesar subplot. (back)
18. Sheridan's speech on the Begums charge argues that Hastings pushed those in his power into breaking the sacred bonds of filial piety on which Hindu society is structured. Burke's suggestion that Britain is contaminating an already structured Hindu socius and that this frequently involved infringements on female propriety that rendered women without caste are recurring themes in the opening speeches. (back)
19. David Kunzle, The Early Comic Strip: Narrative Strips and Picture Stories in the European Broadsheet from c. 1450-1825 (Berkeley: U of California P, 1973), 360-1. (back)
20. For the most extensive post-colonial readings of The Nabob see Jyotsna G. Singh, Colonial Narratives/Cultural Dialogues (New York: Routledge, 1996), 60-76, and Renu Juneja, "The Native and the Nabob: Representations of the Indian Experience in Eighteenth-Century English Literature," Journal of Commonwealth Literature 27.1 (1992), 183-98. (back)
21. See Andrew Edwardes, 298. (back)
22. The Dublin edition is illegible at this point; inserted text is from the edition on the BWP1800 site. (back)
23. This speech makes a link between the play's abolitionist rhetoric and its proto-feminist critique of the marriage market. As Eliza states "I look upon [the practice of receiving all the men of the Factory] with the most sovereign contempt; 'and I sincerely hope the traffic will be abolished, as still more disgraceful to our sex than that of poor slaves to a nation'" (9). Interestingly, the direct invocation of the slave trade is relegated solely to the closet and may be perceived as too inflammatory for the stage. (back)
24. Of course the sexualization of cards receives its canonical treatment in The Rape of the Lock. (back)
25. This is nowhere more evident than in the repeated assertion of Mrs. Tartar's indolence. (back)
26. See Dror Wahrman, "Percy's Prologue: From Gender Play to Gender Panic in Eighteenth- Century England," Past and Present 159 (May 1998): 113-160. (back)
27. Marjean Purinton examines the masculinization of Eliza and Louisa at the level of the play's narrative specifically around their mission to acquire Clairville's sword. As she states, "In seeking to disarm the lieutenant from his sword, Eliza encourages Louisa to hide her feelings and to don the mask of masculinity...Eliza occupies the masculine position of conquistador who offers, upon her arrival, homage to a goddess, an embodied and idealized India who can, at least temporarily, function in the gendered "other" position to Eliza's staged masculinity" (7). This analysis resonates with Balachandra Rajan's discussion in "Feminizing the Feminine: Early Women Writers on India" of the feminization of Indian space in late eighteenth-century narrative representations of India and constitutes an important area of consideration which lies beyond the scope of this essay. See Rajan, Under Western Eyes: India from Milton to Macaulay (Duke: Duke UP, 1999), 118-38. (back)
28. "The code of honour and its critics: the opposition to duelling in England, 1700-1850" Social History 5 (1980): 411. (back)
29. As Andrew argues, "This new class...could and did reject the established norms of gentlemanliness, which the code of honour represented, and substitute its own redefinition of the term. Duelling ceased being described by its opponents as a practice indulged in by the man of honour or fashion; duelling became represented instead as a preoccupation of vicious indulgence of a class. Duelling was identified as a failing of the upper classes and, as such, roundly condemned" (429). (back)