Julie Haldane’s Memoir on the Indian Uprising: An Accurate Interpretation? Merna Tadross HIST 3P01 Professor Jessica Clark Wednesday, March 30, 2016 2 Julie Haldane’s Memoir on the Indian Uprising: An Accurate Interpretation? The Story of Our Escape from Delhi in 1857 is a memoir written by Julie Haldane in 1888 describing the obstacles Haldane’s family faced as they fled Delhi during the Indian Uprising. Along their journey, Haldane’s family encountered different groups of Indians, as well as other Europeans trying to escape. Interestingly, Haldane offers a first hand account of the violence of the Uprising and the difficulties her family faced on their journey out of Delhi, even though she was only a child in 1857. Haldane’s text demonstrates the relationship between Indians and British settlers during the Uprising, as she often encounters different types of Indians and states the difficulty they had determining whom to trust. In addition, there is a sense of community between Europeans trying to escape, as Haldane describes them as relieved to see each other and they help one another during this difficult time. Although her stepfather is a wellknown man amongst the British, her mother mediates the relationships with the Indians, as she understands the language better. Her mother ultimately takes on a larger role in executing the escape and protecting her family than the stepfather, who is perceived in British society as the head of the family. Through analyzing the portrayal of Indians, British women, and Anglo-Indian relationships, this paper will argue that Julie Haldane’s memoir is a clear depiction of New Imperialism and the New Woman in the late nineteenth century. From a historical perspective, it will be argued that her memoir can be useful to gain insight on the Indian Uprising that occurred thirty years prior, but it is imperative to remember the bias of such ideas that influence Haldane’s writing. The British living in India in 1850 demonstrated the ideology of the white man’s burden, as they thought it was their duty to guide the Indians on the path of spiritual wellbeing, industrial 3 success, and establish law and order in their country.1 Over the next seven years, the resentment increased and led to the natives defying British rule during the 1857 Uprising. 2 The mutual hatred of the British and the Indians stemmed from the British ideology of assimilating Indians into proper behaviour while the Indians resented the belittling of their culture and history in their own country. However, the foundation of the movement did not stem from resentment only, but rather from the hope of Indians to construct their own future without the oppression of the British Empire controlling their ways of life.3 Throughout her memoir, Haldane portrays the Indians as untrustworthy savages who are unsympathetically murdering British people. She never mentions the cause for the Uprising or whether she thinks the British imperial actions in India influenced the commotion, but her depiction of the natives makes her opinion obvious. At the beginning of her story about her family’s journey out of Delhi, Haldane refers to her mother’s distrust of the Indians in their company stating that they must remove themselves from “such an unreliable and treacherous support” because the men they were relying on were simply waiting for the right time to kill them.4 Haldane reinforces this negative association of Indians being mistrustful as she recalls a Brahmin man promising protection of her family and her mother was reluctant to confide in him, with good reason since she heard his conversation with other natives stating his plan to make them “sleep well”. 5 In addition, the Indians were not merely portrayed as untrustworthy, but also as murderous, uncivilized beings that are not very bright. Haldane explains a group of villagers named Jats who were known thieves and wanted to kill them while not harming their carriage or horses, which they intended to keep. She 1 Heathorn, Lori Sunderman. "The Ladies of Lucknow and Others: Anglo-indian Life and Mutiny Survival." Masters Abstracts International 41 (2003): 7, accessed March 12, 2016. 2 Heathorn, “The Ladies of Lucknow and Others”, 8. 3 Ibid., 227. 4 Haldane, Julie. The Story of Our Escape From Delhi in 1857. Empire Online, 1888, p. 8, accessed January 20, 2016. 5 Haldane, The Story of Our Escape From Delhi in 1857, p. 19. 4 emphasizes their lack of intelligence when she states that they could have simply cut the rein of their carriage which would have made the horses stop and caused them to fall, yet they did not think of doing so and their attempts were a failure.6 There was a strong aspect of othering in Haldane’s memoir, as she distinctly states that the Indians were not their friends, which stands in high contrast to her depictions of their interactions with other Britons feeling the mutiny. Haldane often sates the number of Britons that were in their company, instilling a sense of unity even with people they did not know very well. This is evident when she explains the collective agreement to go to Mr. Murphy’s house where they “found some other friends... and were now fourteen in number”.7 There was significant distinction between the ways in which she discussed the British and the Indians; she describes some of the people in her company as brave Englishmen who volunteered to get European troops from Meerut died on their course. In addition, Haldane demonstrates the generosity and selflessness of the British when she describes an encounter with some friends where Mr. Le Bas heard that her baby sister had nothing to eat for around twenty eight hours, so he gave the baby some of the small piece of bread he had left.8 Near the end of her memoir, Haldane explains the English troops’ arrival from Umballa and how the first time they had a sound sleep was when the soldiers were guarding their doors.9 Overall, Haldane’s bias towards the Indians is prominent when she portrays them in her memoir in such negative ways, in contrast to the British who she depicts as friendly, kind, trustworthy, and their guardians. In this way, Haldane demonstrates aspects of British nationalism and superiority, which can be linked to aspects of New Imperialism during the time she wrote her memoir. 6 7 8 9 Ibid., 13. Ibid. Ibid., 20. Ibid., 23. 5 Haldane constantly instilled the sense of community between fellow Britons in her writings. This is important to note as Haldane states in the beginning of her journal that she was under a lot of pressure to write this testament of her experiences. Often times, her journal entry sounds like propaganda, portraying the Indians as violent and untrustworthy and the Europeans as heroes who lend a helping hand. Haldane also reinforces imperialistic ideologies, which was present when her mother asked a native to send a man to help her and he refused; she told him there would be consequences for refusing to follow orders. The man laughed and said that there was no government now and no one to punish him. Haldane’s mother replied saying, “for a short time they might do as they pleased, but for every European or Christian life they would pay back ten fold and that if we were killed, our four lives would lie at his door and he would suffer for them.”10 Thus, exploring the imperialistic views of the late nineteenth century, when her memoir was written, is particularly noteworthy. European imperialist attempts were heightened between 1880 to 1900 as each nation toiled to assert their dominance through acquiring colonies around the globe. Such rivalry was felt outside of Europe, however if they were to fail, a decline political aspiration would be most prominent at home.11 Therefore, the correlation between national survival and imperial expansion was undeniable; such was the context of New Imperialism. Public support from the nation was considered important for New Imperialism, which resulted in pressure to strengthen the nation’s control on the beliefs of the citizens. This derived from the fear that working class citizens would not support the military and naval powers because of their expenses and result in a weakened imperial status in this time of intensified European competition. It also originated 10 11 Haldane, The Story of Our Escape From Delhi in 1857, p. 20. Darwin, John, "Nationalism and Imperialism, c.1880–1940" Oxford Handbooks Online.25 (2013): 3. 6 from problems in social and economic state building, which was of strong importance and concern to the masses. 12 Increased education, literacy, public politics, entertainment, advertising, and print culture made the increase of popular enthusiasm significantly more attainable.13 Due to this, New Journalism naturally arose along with New Imperialism, as improved print culture relied on the same technological advancements as industrialisation and communication that developed in the nineteenth century.14 Newspapers presented new opportunities to the imperial aims of European powers, where the government can advertise its aims and ideologies to a wider audience. The media constantly printed stories that would be entertaining to the masses as they incorporate tragedy, heroism, comradeship, and acts of selflessness, but most importantly, they would promote feelings of collective identity and patriotism.15 Imperialistic notions became the foundation of New Journalism by the end of the century, as battles that were far from home were not too upsetting, but rather effectively generated support and nationalism.16 Similar to the print culture, the British women living in India, also known as memsahibs, were also used as a form of propaganda as their reputation was transformed in the mid nineteenth century. They symbolized empire and embodied all the good traits of England, and when the Uprising occurred in 1857, they became the saviours and martyrs of the British Empire.17 The memsahibs represented purity, Christianity, and were the symbol of British heroism. Historians studied this transition of British women’s roles in India through the many journals that were written by survivors of the Uprising, and Haldane’s memoir confirms such ideologies. Thus, the 12 13 14 15 16 17 Darwin, “Nationalism and Imperialism”, 10. Potter, Simon "Jingoism, Public Opinion, And The New Imperialism."Media History 20 (2014): 34. Potter, “Jingoism, Public Opinion, And The New Imperialism”, 34. Ibid., 35. Ibid. Ibid., 69. 7 roles that women, specifically Haldane’s mother, take on in her memoir are going to be explored, as they are a product of the new dogmas that arose in this period. At the start of her account, Haldane describes her stepfather, Mr. Wagentreiber, preparing to have a private meeting with one of the princes in Delhi, but the prince was going to come veiled at night to keep his identity unknown. However, her mother would not let Mr. Wagentreiber meet with him alone and insisted on sitting in on the conversation as an interpreter so she could be near him in case unforeseen circumstances arose. She was suspicious that something was going to happen and frequently mentioned it before the mutiny began.18 Thus, Haldane’s mother was portrayed as an intuitive and assertive woman from the beginning. In addition, Haldane redundantly states that her mother was guiding all their decisions that night that they fled Delhi, and she was clearly knowledgeable as every choice was beneficial to their mission. Haldane states, “My stepfather was guided entirely by her judgment, for he knew she was better able to understand the natives, and he trusted her steady determined manner of dealing with them.”19 Truly, her mother was the leader of their voyage. This is again evident when they sought refuge at a house, her mother told Haldane and her stepfather to take their child and hide at the top of the house while she stayed to keep an eye on the native man in case he betrays them. Haldane’s mother did so because she understands the native’s language well and would not let him out of her sight; she took on the role as the guardian of the family.20 Furthermore, Haldane’s mother’s position of power also stemmed from her gender, as a man who was helping them advised her to sit in the front of the carriage and put 18 19 20 Haldane, The Story of Our Escape From Delhi in 1857, p. 2. Ibid., 8. Ibid., 9. 8 her husband in the back, as the rebels are most angry with the men.21 Evidently, her mother’s role is not traditional and embodies feminist ideologies about the New Woman of the late nineteenth century. In the mid nineteenth century, feminists were seen as a danger to the survival of the British race as they defied traditional roles, which was problematic because women were the reproducers of society. Due to this, suffragists near the end of the century transformed the New Woman into a feminist woman who is also the mother of the national race. Feminists had to assure males that they also had imperialist interests, in particular to the expansion of Empire, the civilizing mission, and the continuation of the British race. The New Woman still demanded education and the right to vote, but rather than it appearing to be for selfish purposes, it was in order for women to be able to run the nation and empire for the benefit of the race.22 This depiction was of significance to the notions of imperialism because the territories of the New World were considered the last chance for the Empire, until the reinvention of the New Woman emerged.23 Therefore, the ideologies of New Imperialism and the New Woman are intertwined.24 In addition, women were held to high standards as they were portrayed to be morally superior to men. This was claimed to be because women are naturally more prone towards doing the right thing and maintaining good rapports. Their position in the domestic sphere was also a factor as it ensured they were not exposed to temptation and remained pure.25 The reconstructed idea of the New Woman is essential in understanding the correlation between imperialism and feminism at the end of the nineteenth century. It is noteworthy that the term “suffrage feminism” 21 Ibid., 19. Devereux. “New Woman, New World,” 178. 23 Devereux, Cecily. "New Woman, New World. Maternal Feminism And The New Imperialism In The White Settler Colonies." Women's Studies International Forum 22, (January 1, 1999): 175. 24 Beetham, Margaret. "The Reinvention of the English Domestic Woman: Class and “Race” in the 1890s’ Woman’s Magazine" Women's Studies International Forum 21 (1998): 228. 25 Beetham, “The Reinvention of the English Domestic Woman”, 226. 22 9 is interchangeably used with the term “imperial feminism”.26 It is evident the reconstruction of the New Woman into the mother of the race, as well as and the transformation of the colonial New World were motivated by imperial concepts of British supremacy.27 Correspondingly, such ideological transformations that occurred in the period that Haldane wrote her memoir influenced her motives of writing it, as well as the content that she reported. Her mother subverts traditional gender roles by taking control of the situation over her stepfather, which depicts that ideas of the New Woman are informing Haldane’s account of female bravery in the face of danger. This is portrayed when she describes natives attacking their carriage while they tried to escape, throwing sticks, stones, and spears at them. Haldane states that her mother was hit in her right arm with an iron club as she is driving the carriage, and another time her leg that left a large bruise, yet she did not make a sound expressing her pain.28 Haldane also credits her mother with her family’s lives, as she explains that the attacks startled the horses wild, but since her mother was an excellent driver and the horses were comfortable with her, she regained control of the carriage and they managed to escape with their lives. Overall, Haldane’s memoir has proven to be useful in understanding some of the events that occurred during the Indian Uprising of 1857, but the bias of the new ideas that emerged in the late nineteenth century certainly impacted her writings. Firstly, the majority of Haldane’s account was praising her mother as she demonstrated the dominant role that her mother acquired, specifically in comparison to her stepfather. The examples from the text that have been discussed make it evident that feminist ideologies deriving from the New Woman were highly influencing Haldane’s writing. Secondly, she suggests that her memoir is a first hand account of the violence 26 27 28 Ibid. Devereux, "New Woman, New World", 177. Ibid., 14. 10 of the Uprising, yet she was only a child during the events. Yes, Haldane’s text does demonstrate the relationship between Indians and British settlers during the Uprising. However, the examples of her encounters with the natives are more often than not embedded with notions of AngloSaxon hegemony, as she instills a sense of community between the British and depicts them as selfless and brave next to barbaric and untrustworthy Indians. Thus leading to the final point; the bias of New Imperialism in Haldane’s memoir. As previously discussed, with the heightened competition in acquiring imperial holdings in the nineteenth century, public support from the nation in British imperialism was imperative. The British powers utilized print culture as a form of propaganda to achieve their imperial aims. Similarly to the stories that were release in the late nineteenth century by newspapers, Haldane’s memoir also incorporated tragedy, depicted the heroism, comradeship, and acts of selflessness of the British people, as well as promoting a sense of collective identity and nationalism. Nonetheless, Haldane’s text can be a useful reference when analyzing the Indian Uprising of 1857, but it is very much a product of its time that is loaded with bias. It should be studied in combination with other historical sources that are not as subjective to outside influence. 11 Bibliography Beetham, Margaret. "The Reinvention of the English Domestic Woman: Class and “Race” in the 1890s’ Woman’s Magazine" Women's Studies International Forum 21, no. 3 (May 1998): 223-233. Darwin, John. "Nationalism and Imperialism, c.1880–1940." Oxford Handbooks Online.25 (May 2013): 1-22. Devereux, Cecily. "New Woman, New World. Maternal Feminism And The New Imperialism In The White Settler Colonies." Women's Studies International Forum 22, (January 1, 1999): 175-184. Haldane, Julie. The Story of Our Escape From Delhi in 1857. S. Brown & Sons, 1888, p. 1-25. Accessed January 20, 2016. Empire Online. Heathorn, Lori Sunderman. "The Ladies of Lucknow and Others: Anglo-indian Life and Mutiny Survival." Masters Abstracts International 41, no. 03 (June 2003): 211. Potter, Simon J. "Jingoism, Public Opinion, And The New Imperialism."Media History 20, no. 1 (January 2014): 34-50.