The clamour raised against Governor Eyre appears to me to be disgraceful to the good sense of England; and if it rested on any depth of conviction . . . I should consider it of evil omen to the country, and to its highest interests, in these times. . . . The English nation never loved anarchy; nor was wont to spend its sympathy on miserable mad seditions, especially of this inhuman and half-brutish type; but always loved order and prompt suppression of seditions. (Workman 91-2)The shift to the past tense in the second of Carlyle's sentences here nicely conveys the sense that anarchy may actually be the new order of the day, and the disturbing fact that the opposition to Eyre not only rested on strongly held convictions but also had mass appeal. This second sentence also recalls (anachronistically, as it turns out) that most famous statement of the troubles of the 1860s, Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy , first published as a series of magazine essays in 1867-68 and printed in book form in 1869.
For us the framework of society, that theatre on which this august drama has to unroll, is sacred; and whoever administers it . . . we steadily and with undivided heart support them in repressing anarchy and disorder; because without order there can be no society, and without society there can be no human perfection. (180-1)In the original magazine version of this essay, and in the first edition of Culture and Anarchy , this passage is immediately followed by these notorious lines:
With me, indeed, this rule of conduct is hereditary. I remember my father, in one of his unpublished letters of more than forty years ago, when the political and social state of the country was gloomy and troubled and there were riots in many places, goes on, after strongly insisting on the badness and foolishness of the government, and on the harm and dangerousness of our feudal and aristocratical constitution of society, and ends thus: "As for rioting, the old Roman way of dealing with that is always the right one; flog the rank and file and fling the ringleaders from the Tarpeian Rock!" (qtd. in Super 526)In later editions of the book, Arnold deleted this passage, for reasons that have never been entirely clear. Perhaps the country seemed less gloomy and troubled by the time of the second edition (1875), and thus less in need of Thomas Arnold's lawgiving. Or perhaps Matthew revised his text in response to the answer, now lost, that his mother gave to this letter that he sent to her on July 25, 1868:
In the passage quoted from Papa, [Arthur Penrhyn] Stanley's impression is that Papa's words were "Crucify all the slaves" instead of "Flog the rank & file"--but as the latter expression is the milder, and I have certainly got it in my memory as what he said, I have retained it. Do you remember which the words were, and in what letter they occur? (qtd. in Super 455)Buried deep within Arnold's text, we find a connection between the unrest in the Caribbean--"Crucify all the slaves"--and the sometimes unruly agitation for working-class enfranchisement and parliamentary reform--"Flog the rank and file."  It is this conjuncture, this alchemy of race and rights, that forms the subject of this essay. I argue that what has come to be known, rather misleadingly, as the Governor Eyre controversy enabled the articulation of the discourses of class, race, and empire in Britain, discourses that were all in a state of major transition. It was these connections, more or less explicitly made, that gave the Jamaica uprising such a disproportionate significance at the time, and produced the sense of crisis that Arnold and Carlyle felt compelled to respond to. And it is out of this sense of crisis, I argue, after the Morant Bay rebellion, that the modern notion of the British Empire as a single conceptual, territorial, and political unit emerges.
The "bourgeois revolutions" . . . had raised the question of the political rights of the masses in an irreversible manner. . . . The idea of a difference in nature between individuals had become juridically and morally contradictory, if not inconceivable. It was, however, politically indispensable, so long as the "dangerous classes". . . had to be excluded by force and by legal means from political "competence" and confined to the margins of the polity--as long, that is, as it was important to deny them citizenship by showing . . . that they constitutionally "lacked" the qualities of fully fledged or normal humanity. Two anthropologies clashed here: that of equality of birth and that of a hereditary inequality which made it possible to re-naturalize social antagonisms. ("Class Racism" 209-10, emphasis in the original)A quick glance at the pages of the Anthropological Review (founded 1863) will confirm that forcefully racist arguments were being made that people of African descent in particular "lacked the qualities of fully fledged or normal humanity." One effect of these arguments was to produce a racialized white Englishness, which allowed the white working class to be enfranchised at the expense of the black working class: citizenship and its concomitant rights were defined by racial (as well as national and class) demarcation. This is what Balibar means when he goes on to say that "the introduction of universal suffrage is moving the boundary line between 'citizens' and 'subjects' to the frontiers of nationality" (210). The Morant Bay rebellion, occurring at a moment of intense debate over the status and characteristics of "the negro," ensured the subjection of the Afro-Jamaican labouring classes; I hope to show that this is intimately connected to the granting of citizenship to English working-class men.
Most major scientific theories rebuff common sense. They call on evidence beyond the reach of our senses or overturn the observable world. They disturb assumed relationships and shift what has been substantial into metaphor. . . . When it is first advanced, theory is at its most fictive. The awkwardness of fit between the natural world as it is currently perceived and as it is hypothetically imagined holds the theory itself for a time within a provisional scope akin to that of fiction. (Darwin's Plots 3)It is this instability in meaning that allows us to locate and analyze these discourses of descent--of species, races, nations, families, individuals--in a whole range of mid-Victorian texts, from novels and cultural criticism to popular journalism and scientific articles. Such an analysis will serve as a kind of cross-section of a crucial moment in modern British history.
Whatever may be the conclusion to which our scientific inquiries may lead us, we should always remember, that by whatever means the Negro, for instance, acquired his present physical, mental, and moral character, whether he has risen from an ape or descended from a perfect man, we still know that the Races of Europe have now much in their mental and moral nature which the races of Africa have not got. (3)As Hunt continued his address, he made it clear that when it came to "negroes" his fellow scientists were at liberty to disregard the conclusions to which their scientific inquiries might lead them--in particular, he wanted to avoid the "vulgar error that the Negro only differs from the European in the colour of his skin and peculiar hair" (3). Quickly, the disingenuousness of that "for instance"--as in "the Negro, for instance"--becomes clear. The "negro" (and, as we shall see, the Jamaican "negro" in particular) was not merely one example among many in this new science; "he" became the very foundation of the science itself, in his exclusion from the project of civilization.
We anthropologists have looked on, with intense admiration, at the conduct of Governor Eyre. . . . The merest novice in the study of race-characteristics ought to know that we English can only successfully rule either Jamaica, New Zealand, the Cape, China, or India, by such men as Governor Eyre.This period witnessed the re-emergence of the long discredited theory of polygenism, which held that the various races of humankind had separate origins, and had developed as separate species which, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, were not fertile with one another. The ASL expended a great deal of intellectual energy on proving that races--especially the black and white races--were "essentially distinct." The irony, however, was that the hereditarian racialism peddled by the likes of Hunt relied heavily on the romantic concept of blood so central to the abolitionist movement they despised, and to the ethnologists they had split from. 
Such revolutions will occur wherever the Negro is placed in unnatural relations with Europeans. Statesmen have yet to be taught the true practical value of race-distinctions, and the absolute impossibility of applying the civilisation and laws of one race to another race of man essentially distinct. Statesmen may ignore the existence of race-antagonism; but it exists nevertheless. ("Presidential Address" lxxviii)
A cartoon from Punch, contemporary with the Morant Bay controversy, conflating race, class, affiliation and national duty.
He, who has come in as the favoured heir of a civilization in which he had no previous share--he, petted by philanthropists and statesmen and preachers into the precocious enjoyment of rights and immunities which other races have been too glad to acquire by centuries of struggles, of repulses, and of endurance--he, dandled into legislative and official grandeur by the commiseration of England,--that he should have chosen . . . to revolt . . . this is a thing so incredible that we will not venture to believe it now. (qtd. in Bolt 87)A great deal is condensed in this quotation. Since Carlyle's now notorious "Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question" (1849) had popularized the figure of "Quashee" eating pumpkins and refusing to work, the myth of the lazy freedman had rapidly gained ground in Britain, carrying with it the literally incredible notion that Africans in the Caribbean had been "favoured" by emancipation. Included in this potent myth was the false perception that Africans had been given the vote in large numbers in those Caribbean islands, such as Jamaica, where some form of representative government was in operation ("dandled into legislative and official grandeur"). This motif of favouritism also refers to the idea that British abolitionism and philanthropy had concerned themselves with the poor and dispossessed overseas while ignoring British poverty "at home" (the ridiculous figure of Mrs. Jellyby in Dickens' Bleak House being the perfect example of this). Here the whole question of Caribbean wage labour in the post-emancipation period is displaced onto the discourse of family inheritance, with Afro-Jamaicans as the "favoured heirs" of British middle-class culture who fail to recognize their privilege. Their "precocious" access to the "rights and immunities" of civilization is explicitly contrasted with the hard labour ("struggles . . . repulses . . . endurance") of other, white races. Here the language of filiation and inheritance sits uneasily with the language of citizenship and rights; the romance novel vies with the science of political economy.
I protest I am no negro-worshipper. I don't consider a black man a beautiful object, and I daresay he sings psalms more than is good for him. Some negroes may be men of ability and elevated character, but there can be no doubt that they belong to a lower type of the human race than we do, and I should not really like to live in a country where they formed a considerable part of the population. But there is no reason why the negro should work cheaper for us because he is ugly. If the white labourer has a right to put a price on his labour, so has the black labourer. (qtd. in Lorimer 191)The identity of the white and black labourers--the fact that capital treats them both as labour power from which value can be extracted--is riven by the assumption that black labourers "work for us," where "we" includes the white labourers whom Beesly claimed to represent. Thus Beesly can consider himself fortunate that he lives in a country where white labourers form a considerable part of the population. Here we might recall Etienne Balibar's contention that the extension of the franchise was "moving the boundary line between 'citizens' and 'subjects' to the frontiers of nationality" ("Class Racism" 210); the subjection of the Jamaican workers, who are of a lower racial "type," ensures the fantasmatic stability of the frontier of the country of England (from which blacks are happily absent). And inside these racial and national frontiers there opens up the possibility of citizenship for "white labourers."
The talk turned on the rinderpest and Jamaica. . . . Grandcourt held that the Jamaican negro was a beastly sort of baptist Caliban; Deronda said he had always felt a little with Caliban, who naturally had his own point of view and could sing a good song; Mrs Davilow observed that her father had an estate in Barbadoes, but that she herself had never been in the West Indies; Mrs Torrington was sure she could never sleep in her bed if she lived among blacks; her husband corrected her by saying that the blacks would be manageable enough if it were not for the half-breeds; and Deronda remarked that the whites had to thank themselves for the half-breeds. (376) This passage provides striking evidence of the prominence of the debate over Morant Bay at the time: ten years after the controversy had died down, Eliot could be reasonably sure that a brief allusion to Jamaica would allow her readers to date the conversation at Grandcourt's estate as late 1865 or early 1866, the last time that Jamaica had taken centre stage in British culture. Many of the issues addressed in this essay are contained within this intellectually allusive piece of narrative. It is especially important here to trace the discourse of the inheritance of the "estate" in the debates over Jamaica, since this connects with my earlier claim that this older language of a caste privileged by blood returns in descriptions of racial formation in the 1860s. I think this language can be glimpsed in Beesly's patrician assumption that Afro-Jamaicans should be working "for us." And in Eliot's passing reference to Morant Bay in Daniel Deronda we can clearly see how the polite chatter at Grandcourt's estate connects plantation life in the West Indies with the world of the English aristocracy (and lesser gentry), in which the question of breeding and pedigree intersects with the question of miscegenation ("the whites had to thank themselves for the half-breeds").
My theory . . . is this: that Providence has sent white men and black men to these regions in order that from them may spring a race fitted by intellect for civilization; and fitted also by physical organization for tropical labour. . . .Trollope, in his outlandish celebration of the Jamaican "coloured" class, seems unable to decide between explanations based on environmental factors (civilization, commerce, education) and those based on mixing of blood. He is unsure whether to adopt an analytic framework based on the English class system, in which the "coloureds" would play the heroic role of a rising bourgeoisie, and one based on the new science of race, in which blood determines character and destiny.
When civilization, commerce, and education shall have been spread; when sufficient of our blood shall have been infused into the veins of those children of the sun; then, I think, we may be ready, without stain to our patriotism, to take off our hats and bid farewell to the West Indies. (84)
It is admitted that ethnology is an important part of anthropology; and are not ethnology and genealogy essentially the same? Have not the ethnologist and the genealogist the same object in view? If they differ, is it not only in this, that the ethnologist studies man by grouping him into different large races; whilst the genealogist seeks to know him more completely by studying him in individual families? The genealogist is, in fact, the architect who builds up the structure of the science of man, stone upon stone, and story upon story. He is the author who compiles the history of man, of which the ethnologist, like a reviewer, presents to the public a general sketch of the contents. (69)The literary metaphors ("author," "reviewer") and the emphasis on "story" demonstrate once more the superimposition of the "romantic" and "scientific" accounts of human descent.
One fact deserving of notice . . . he would mention, the thickness of the lip of the members of the House of Hapsburg . . . [which] was observable in almost every branch of the family. Another instance was that of a gentleman belonging to a great aristocratic family, who had one white lock of hair, though his hair was generally dark, which peculiarity had been transmitted to him from a distant ancestor. ("Minutes" lxxxviii)Goldsmid's suggestions were immediately taken up by William Pritchard (who had just been appointed to take charge of the ASL's special mission to examine the causes of the Morant Bay rebellion, of course), who executed an apparently seamless transition from great aristocratic families to "natives":
Mr. Pritchard stated that among the natives of the Pacific he had met with individuals who had a white lock amongst the surrounding dark hair, which was said to be hereditary. With respect to the question of consanguinity, he stated that there are many of the small or atoll islands in the Pacific where the natives trace back their origin through three or four hundred years to the few persons who, drifting from their homes, originally landed there. (lxxxviii)Despite Dunbar Heath's note of caution, most of those present found no difficulty in marrying their brand of physical anthropology (based largely on questions of blood and breeding) to the protocols of genealogical research. The meeting then adjourned, with President Hunt calling the members' attention to a special meeting of the ASL, "at which Captain Bedford Pim would read a paper on the causes of the Negro insurrection in Jamaica" ("Minutes" lxxxix). Demand for tickets had been so great that a larger room would have to be obtained for the meeting, Hunt proudly declared. 
Indeed, Frederic Harrison, who advised Eliot on the legal intricacies of the plot, implored her to make Esther a real Transome so that her claim would carry the weight of nature as well as that of legality, but Eliot insisted on grounding Esther's claim also in legal conventions. Thus, although Felix Holt resembles Sybil in that a young woman is discovered, in the aftermath of a popular uprising, to be the heir to an estate, it reverses Sybil by making that young woman no more the natural heir to the estate than is the family she has the power to dispossess. (262)Disraeli needed to bind the naturally virtuous status of Sybil and her Chartist father to the institutional structures of the hereditary aristocracy; twenty years later, by contrast, George Eliot felt no compunction in poking fun at the claims of good breeding. The last surviving real Transome, poor, mad Tommy Trounsem, claims that "'I allays felt it inside me as I was somebody, and I could see other chaps thought it on me too'" (378). However, this is patently false in the logic of the novel: although a certain pathos clings to Tommy, his fundamental role is to be trampled to death in the election-day riot so that Esther's non-natural right to the estate can be established.
Many examples of mixed races are found here, particularly of Negro mulattoes and Levantines, or the mixture of Europeans with the natives of the country. The latter afford the most beautiful women in the first, and occasionally in the second, generation; but there is undoubted evidence that neither of the mixed races is permanent. . . . It is curious that, though the Levantine is a cross-breed chiefly among the Indo-Europeans, the third and fourth generations produce many of the phenomena of Negro cross-breeds, as seen in the West Indies and South America. (ci)Unwittingly, no doubt, George Eliot finds herself sharing the same field as the new physical anthropologists, with their heavy-handed Orientalism and their fascination with the figure of "the negro." In other words, the trouble with Harry is that he is a mulatto.
Culture . . . does not try to teach down to the level of inferior classes; it does not try to win them for this or that sect of its own, with ready-made judgments and watchwords. It seeks to do away with classes; to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere. . . . This is the social idea; and the men of culture are the true apostles of equality. (79)However, Felix differs from Arnold's man of culture in that he does not become the déclassé "alien" of Culture and Anarchy . Instead, Felix continually insists on his class identity; his virtue lies in his determination to remain an artisan: "'I mean to stick to the class I belong to'" (144). His status as artisan is crucial here. The factory hands and agricultural labourers of Treby Magna represent the emergence into the public sphere of a new class, the proletariat; George Eliot's worker-hero represents an anachronistic understanding of caste that owes more to the outmoded language of blood and breeding than to the language of rights and citizenship that accompanies advanced capitalism. So that when Felix continues his speech to Esther about wanting to be a new type of demagogue by saying "'I have my heritage--an order I belong to. I have the blood of a line of handicraftsmen in my veins'" (366), we know that this is an anachronistic sentiment, a trace of nostalgia for a vanishing segment of the population. But I want to push this line of thinking one step further. The invocation of blood here, in the section of the novel primarily concerned with domestic Reform, is also a statement transposed from the new hereditarian discourses of race that I analyzed above. And so we can argue that the two halves of Felix Holt are not as distinct as they have seemed to most critics and readers. The "blood of a line of handicraftsmen" that Felix embodies is not so different from the wild blood that determines the character of young Harry, whose inheritance of the estate is eclipsed by the birth of "a young Felix" (606) on the last page of the novel.
She had a native capability for discerning that the sense of ranks and degrees has its repulsions corresponding to the repulsions dependent on differences of race and colour; and she remembered her own impressions too well not to foresee that it would come on Harold Transome as a shock, if he suspected that there had been any love-passages between her and this young man, who to him was of course no more than any other intelligent member of the working class. (522-3)The differences between Harold Transome, who represents the English gentry's inability to adjust to the changes associated with Reform, and Felix, the new symbol of honest, hard- working Englishness, can most easily be explained by comparison with "differences of race and colour"--and these distinctions, the narrator implies, are not open to question. This is the equivalent of Matthew Arnold's statement that "science has now made visible to everybody the great and pregnant elements of difference which lie in race" (135), a statement, we should recall, in the service of the author's classification of the English class system into Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace. Thus we have found, in the unlikely setting of Felix Holt 's study of provincial life, proof of the saturation of discourses of citizenship and Reform by questions of race, genealogy, and descent. We have traced the outlines of the debate over the Jamaica rebellion in George Eliot's novel, providing further evidence of the complex and interlocking relationship between "slaves" and "the rank and file" in the British Empire of the mid-1860s.
by wise effort and persistence, a blind and disgraceful act of public injustice may be prevented [i.e., the prosecution of Eyre brought by the Jamaica Committee]; and an egregious folly as well,--not to say, for none can say or compute, what a vital detriment throughout the British empire, in such an example set to all the colonies and governors the British Empire has. (92)Here, as Carlyle piles clause upon clause with his characteristic rhetorical abandon, we can detect the instability of meaning between the lower-case "empire"--which seems to approximate the more modern concept--and the capitalized "Empire"--which "has" colonies and governors that, nevertheless, do not seem to be a part of it.
the Queen "in Council". . .[will] pick out some gallant-minded, stout, well-gifted Cadet, - younger son of a Duke, of an Earl, of a Queen herself . . . and say to him. . . ., "See, I have scores on scores of 'Colonies,' all ungoverned, and nine-tenths of them full of boa-constrictors, rattlesnakes, Parliamentary Eloquences, and Emancipated Niggers ripening towards nothing but destruction: one of them you shall have, you as Vice-King; on rational conditions, and ad vitam an culpam it shall be yours (and perhaps your posterity's if worthy)." (18-19)Carlyle suggests a model of governance based on the protocols of inheritance rooted in the structural power of the hereditary aristocracy in England; I have argued in this essay that this residual conception of society fueled the emergent discourses of anthropology and racial science. However, the new concept of Empire marks the beginning of the end of the inheritance plot as a trope for what we must now call governmentality. Joseph Howe, in a little pamphlet called The Organization of the Empire (1866), signals the end of this older discourse of empire, one which assimilates the relationship between "mother" country and colony to a family affair. Some people, he says, argue that colonies "grow up" and should therefore receive independence:
The parental relationship is assumed to sanction this policy. Young men grow, and, when they are of age, marry and set up for themselves, and why should not colonies do the same. But the analogy is not perfect. One house would not hold all the married members of a large family, nor one estate maintain them. They scatter that they may live. They are kept in friendship by the domestic affections, and personal ties, which in respect of distant communities, do not exist, and at the death of the founder of the family there is an estate to divide.
Not so with Colonies. Their life begins at a distance from the homestead. There are few personal attachments. There is no estate to divide, and no security that when they separate they may not drift into antagonism to each other, and to the parent colony. (4)
In the name of the people, of the great family of citizens of the British empire, it again becomes vital to crush the pretensions of the executive abroad; it becomes necessary to vindicate beyond the seas the first principles of civil liberty. . . . This is why an association of Englishmen has undertaken to bring this cause to an issue [i.e., by prosecuting Eyre] . . . simply to hear from the lips of an English judge what is the right to civil justice of English citizens, what are the safeguards of life throughout the breadth of our vast empire. (3)The repetition of Englishness here (Englishmen, English judge, English citizens) appears to be in opposition to the principle of formal equality that Harrison celebrates. The "people," the "family of citizens"--the genealogical term persists as a link to the discourses Harrison was ostensibly refuting--for whom these "Englishmen" speak are marked as subjects as well as citizens in this unstable equation. Defended against the unlawful force of the executive power, they become subject to a new kind of discipline, one formed through education, church missions, public health policies, and the apparatus of civil law: "The precise issue we raise is this--that throughout our empire the British rule shall be the rule of law; that every British citizen, white, brown, or black in skin, shall be subject to definite, and not to indefinite powers" (4).
The term Empire is here taken in a wide sense, as including all that the nation holds beyond its own shores and waters by arms or in the way of dominion, as opposed to that natural influence which a great power, though confining itself to its own territories, always exercises in the world. In the case of our Empire this definition will embrace a motley mass of British Colonies, conquered Colonies of other European nations, conquered territories in India, military and maritime stations, and protectorates, including our practical protectorate of Turkey [where Harold Transome struck it rich, of course], as well as our legal protectorate of the Ioanian islands. These various dependencies stand in the most various relations to the Imperial country. (viii)Koebner and Schmidt comment on the novelty of this definition, arguing that "by making the name of Empire the comprehensive headline of a critical survey of colonial, Indian, and certain external affairs, the author [Smith] was not so much referring to an established terminology as intending to create such usage on his own account" (32). I would argue that the better known beginnings of the imperial federation movement in the late 1860s--for instance the founding of the Colonial Society in 1868, with its motto "United Empire"--are made possible by the efforts of liberal thinkers such as Smith and Harrison; that the call for an integrated empire begins with the invocation of formal equality before the law. This gesture may even be explicitly anti-imperialist, as when Goldwin Smith argues for the independence of Canada, but covertly the expansion of English law around the empire works to consolidate the very inequalities that English rule works by at the same time as it establishes a formal discourse of equality, rights, and citizenship.
The principal agents for effecting these primary requirements will be an efficient police, the enactment of a bastardy law, a systematic registration of births and deaths, the establishment of hospitals and a well-organized system of medical supervision, the construction of roads, the instruction of the people in improved methods of agriculture, and, above all, a system of industrial, compulsory, unsectarian education. (32-3)The problem of descent, inheritance, and miscegenation will be handled by a bastardy law, the state will take over the genealogical enterprise of recording births and deaths, and the emphasis on compulsory state education is in line with the thinking of Matthew Arnold; here we can see the outlines of a theory of late Victorian high imperialism. From the minor rebellion at Morant Bay, via the agitation for parliamentary reform, there emerges this checklist for the constitution of a new (but to us familiar) figure: the citizen-subject of the British Empire.
Earlier versions of this essay were presented at New York University and North Carolina State University; I am grateful to Sarah Cole, Neville Hoad, and Qadri Ismail for their comments and questions at that time, which helped this piece to develop into its current form. I have been fortunate in having several fine readers as this essay inched towards publication: here I extend hearty thanks to David Kazanjian, Amy Martin, Rob Nixon, Kate Ramsey, Gauri Viswanathan, and Deborah Wyrick.
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley was Thomas Arnold's biographer. The letter in question does not appear in Stanley's Life and Correspondence of Thomas Arnold .Back
Robert Young, in his compelling analysis of Matthew Arnold, also hears the trace of rebellion in Jamaica in these lines: "Though Arnold refused to take sides in the bitter controversy about Governor Eyre's conduct, his comments in Culture and Anarchy about the correct way to deal with rioting ('flog the rank and file and fling the ringleaders from the Tarpeian Rock!') more or less describes what happened to those in Jamaica after the Morant Bay uprising four years previously" (87). The connection between Jamaica and Reform is reinforced by the passage in Culture and Anarchy immediately following the deleted lines, in which Arnold declares that "monster-processions in the streets and forcible irruptions into the parks . . . ought to unflinchingly forbidden and repressed," even when they are in support of "undoubtedly precious" causes "such as the abolition of the slave-trade" (181). Matthew Arnold, like his father before him, was strongly opposed to slavery; the same could not be said of Thomas Carlyle.Back
The best accounts of Morant Bay in the context of Jamaican history are Heuman and Holt; see also Curtin and Bakan. V.S. Reid's novel New Day is a fine fictionalized account of Morant Bay, celebrating the uprising as the awakening of Jamaican national resistance to British imperialism; New Day is often one of the set texts for Jamaican secondary school literature exams.Back
The standard account of the Eyre case in England, although it now appears rather dated, remains Semmel. The best historiographical work on this intersection of Jamaican and British affairs in the 1860s is the writing of Catherine Hall, especially her essay "Rethinking Imperial Histories." Although our theoretical approaches are different, Hall's work has greatly influenced the development of my own.Back
Robert Young has written the best account to date of the ways in which Arnold's classification of English social classes into Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace is heavily indebted to the racial (and racist) theories of Renan, Gobineau, and de Thierry--the same writers who are constantly cited by the British anthropologists of the 1860s I discuss below. See especially Chapter 3 of Young's Colonial Desire , "The Complicity of Culture: Arnold's Ethnographic Politics."Back
This connection, however, is not as clear cut as Balibar implies in his neat formula. The Second Reform Bill by no means instituted "universal suffrage," as Balibar seems carelessly to imply here. John Stuart Mill's amendment to the Bill replacing the word "man" with "person" was easily defeated in Parliament, and a property qualification remained in place, showing that women and the poor were still considered inherently incapable of exercising political responsibility.Back
See Curtin; Hall, "Economy," "Imperial Man," and "Rethinking"; Heuman; Holt; and Semmel.Back
The committee was later renamed the Eyre Defence and Aid Fund. Although accounts often assume that Carlyle was the driving force behind the group, in fact he left much of the day-to-day running of affairs to others, especially Ruskin and Hamilton Hume, Eyre's first biographer. See Workman; Hall, "Economy."Back
On Mill's involvement see Hall, "Economy"; Semmel.Back
On the connections between working-class and black emancipation, see Gallagher, especially Chapter 1, "Workers and Slaves: The Rhetoric of Freedom in the Debate over Industrialism." On abolitionism in Europe, see Blackburn.Back
On the Anthropological Society of London, see below. Good historical accounts of the society can be found in Stocking, "What's in a Name?"; Rainger; and Young.Back
Robert Young develops a similar argument in his analysis of Gobineau, whose Essay on the Inequality of Human Races (1853-5) was just becoming known to English audiences at this time. Gobineau's book, Young suggests, "rests on a clever fusion of the implications of the older and newer uses of the word 'race': the traditional meaning involves bloodlines, the 'lineage' of an ancient family, with an aristocratic pedigree like a thoroughbred horse. The line of such a family is distinguished by its breeding, by the blood that flows through its veins through the act of procreation from father to son. Gobineau adapts this aristocratic notion of race as ancient stock to the modern notion, derived from linguistic families, of families of races, and assumes that however large they too are distinguished by their 'breeding,' by a particular blood that flows through their veins, passed on through the act of reproduction from generation to generation" (105). Young's work, especially Colonial Desire , has been central to the articulation of the ideas in this essay.Back
One of the consequences of the Jamaica rebellion was the abolition of the Jamaican House of Assembly and the imposition of direct rule from London (Jamaica became a Crown Colony after 1866), thus ending even the pretense of self-government in the British West Indies.Back
"The old pre-emancipation claim that the Jamaican worker would not follow his own economic interest --would not behave like the 'economic man'--was brought out again. It was held that the Jamaican had such limited desires, that he would work only for a bare subsistence. When he had earned it he would stop. If this was generally true, it would reverse the traditional supply curve for labor--the higher the wages, the less labor would be offered" (Curtin 142).Back
It should be noted here that these national and racial boundaries are in fact not stable at all, despite the apparent certainties of Beesly's racial typology. In particular, the question of Ireland disrupts any simple claims to national or racial purity. After the Act of Union of 1800, Ireland was juridically part of Britain, although on the ground it continued to be governed more like a colony than a regional entity. Persistent attempts to racialize the Irish might be read as responses to the dangerous incorporation of Ireland into the English nation. I would like to acknowledge the importance of fruitful conversations with Amy Martin on the question of Ireland.Back
Space constraints preclude a detailed reading of Daniel Deronda here, although it should be noted that this reported conversation carries the weight of wider debates in the novel: for instance, we could trace the connection between Deronda's identification with the downtrodden Calibans of the world and his eventual discovery that he is Jewish and racially "pure." For a good reading of the novel, see Gillian Beer's analysis in her George Eliot .Back
For a powerful analysis of the ways in which this debate turned on competing versions of middle-class masculinity, see Hall, "Economy." The real leader of the rebellion, Paul Bogle (who was a kind of political agent for Gordon in the district around Morant Bay), remained all but invisible in contemporary accounts of the uprising and its suppression. The status of Morant Bay as a founding event in Jamaican national history has ensured that Bogle's role is now more fully acknowledged: see especially Heuman.Back
Such a narrative works as a kind of allegory of the parental model of British imperialism, in which the colonies figure as children who will be guided slowly towards maturity (i.e., self-government and capitalism) while retaining their sense of responsibility towards their British fathers. For more on this particular trope, see the final section of this essay.Back
"When I speak of a man 'having a pedigree,' I mean to say that some two or three generations at least of his fathers have been in better circumstances than the generality of their fellow men" (Marshall 69).Back
The meeting was held at St. James's Hall on February 1, 1866. Pim's paper was later published in the ASL's Popular Magazine of Anthropology and as a separate pamphlet, The Negro and Jamaica . Pim, a major landowner in the Caribbean and Central America, thanked "that vigorous and fearless body, the Anthropological Society of London" for giving him the opportunity to share with the public his collection of racial stereotypes. In amongst his scientific analysis of the unchanging degraded character of "the negro" since antiquity, he found space to make a connection to the Reform debates: "I make bold to say that 50 million of blacks have not been placed on this magnificent globe of ours for no purpose; it is therefore our duty, by wise legislation, to utilize this large mass of human beings. They must be dealt with from no sentimental standpoint, but from a knowledge of their nature and characteristics, discarding at once the theory of equality. We do not admit equality even amongst our own race, as is proved by the state of the franchise at this hour in England! and to suppose that two alien races can compose a political unity is simply ridiculous" (35).Back
Darwin in fact says almost nothing about humankind, let alone about race, in On the Origin of Species , but of course he says a great deal about descent in general: "Propinquity of descent,--the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings,--is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, which is partially revealed to us by our classification" (399). Although, as Beer points out in Darwin's Plots , this theory actually "muddied descent, and brought into question the privileged 'purity' of the 'great family'" (63), opening up the possibility of "an uncouth progenitor hard to acknowledge as kin" (9), many of the new race theorists adapted a crude version of natural selection to their notions of fixed racial "types" defined by blood relations. (See Young 13-14.)Back
This series of pamphlets was published by the Jamaica Committee in an attempt to influence public opinion in Britain over Morant Bay. Other Executive Committee members included Mill, Huxley, Spencer, and E.B. Underhill, whose letter to Governor Eyre in early 1865 about the desperate condition of the island's population had led to the so-called Underhill meetings throughout the island, at which grievances were expressed and the beginnings of a resistance movement can be discerned.Back
There is only one, fleeting, reference to Harrison's work with the Jamaica Committee in their correspondence: on February 5, 1867, Harrison wrote to Eliot, "I sent you as you asked the letters on Martial law. The Prosecution commences at once" (Haight 343). When Eliot replied a fortnight later, she did not even acknowledge receipt of Harrison's pamphlet (see Haight 343-5). The prosecution Harrison was referring to was the private case brought by the Jamaica Committee against Colonel Alexander Nelson and Lieutenant Herbert Brand, the presiding officers at George William Gordon's trial, on charges of wilful murder. Although the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Alexander Cockburn, delivered a famous address to the grand jury virtually instructing them to proceed with the trial, the jury refused to indict the two officers. In March, the Committee began the first of its two unsuccessful attempts to secure a conviction of Edward Eyre, the first time on murder charges, the second time for "high crimes and misdemeanours" (see Semmel 142-70).Back
Of course, this does not prevent Mrs Transome herself clinging to the very notion of breeding that the novel in general, and her own life in particular, renders obsolete: "Poor Mrs Transome, with her secret bitterness and dread, still found a flavour in this sort of pride [of family and blood]; none the less because certain deeds of her own life had been in fatal inconsistency with it. Besides, genealogies entered into her stock of ideas, and her talk on such subjects was as necessary as the notes of the linnet or the blackbird. She had no ultimate analysis of things that went beyond blood and family--the Herons of Fenshore or the Badgers of Hillbury" (494).Back
Gillian Beer comments: "The book opens with the suppression of a woman's [Mrs Transome's] independence, a suppression which has been previously put at her [Eliot's] works' conclusion, and therefore out of reach of question" (George Eliot 136). Harold's deceased wife has attracted little or no attention from critics.Back
This revelation also raises the intriguing possibility that the "woman from the East" whom Harold brings to Transome Court--who is mentioned nowhere else in the novel, and is certainly never seen--is in fact Harry's mother, and that the story about her death is a convenient fiction. This suppressed narrative of the "native" woman hidden in the country house would make Felix Holt an explicit reworking of Jane Eyre , and would consolidate the claims made here for the connections between George Eliot's novel and Jamaica. Unfortunately, pursuing this comparison is beyond the scope of this essay.Back
The imaginary stagecoach of the Introduction makes its way through Treby Magna and on to the reader's first view, through the eyes of the coachman, of "Transome Court, a place there had been a fine sight of lawsuits about. Generations back, the heir of the Transome name had somehow bargained away the estate and it fell to the Durfeys, very distant connections, who only called themselves Transomes because they had got the estate. But the Durfeys' claim had been disputed again and again; and the coachman, if he had been asked, would have said, though he might have to fall down dead the next minute, that property didn't always get into the right hands" (82). Characteristically, this information is conveyed through an unnamed, minor character. Bruce Robbins' groundbreaking book The Servant's Hand , which analyzes the centrality of these apparently marginal figures in English fiction, contains a fine reading of Felix Holt : "Throughout the novel, the news that 'property doesn't always get into the right hands,' as the coachman of the introduction puts it, is specifically and almost obsessively placed in the hands of propertyless servants" (211).Back
It would be more accurate, in fact, to say that writers began to use the term "British Empire" once again, since it had been current before the American Revolution in discussions about the possible loss to England of the thirteen colonies (see Koebner 105-237)--although it is doubtful whether the term encompassed all of England's dependencies overseas, including what was coming to be known as the Indian Empire. I believe that this point in fact strengthens my argument that it is only at the moment of possible loss of imperial hegemony that the Empire as such comes into being.Back