Presentation on theme: "Oxford English Dictionary: For the first century and a half of the Company’s history and more, nabob was simply an Anglicisation of nawab, “the title."— Presentation transcript:
Oxford English Dictionary: For the first century and a half of the Company’s history and more, nabob was simply an Anglicisation of nawab, “the title of certain Mohammedan officials, who acted as deputy governors of provinces or districts in the Mogul Empire”. In its “transferred sense”: “ a person of great wealth: specifically one who has returned from India with a large fortune acquired there; a very rich and luxurious person.”
Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases (1886): “It began to be applied in the Eighteenth Century, when the transaction of Clive made the epithet familiar in England, to Anglo-Indians who returned with fortunes from the East; and Foote’s play of the ‘The Nabob’ (1768) aided in giving general currency to the word in this sense.”
A story of global history: Empire in Asia Respectability in Europe
Who went to India in the service of the East India Company? Why did they go?
Where did they go? What happened to them in Asia?
The opportunity for Empire Mughal Empire (1526-1857) Death of Aurangzeb (1707) Decline (1707-1857)
What Empire? Seven Years War (1756-1763) Black hole incident (1756) Battle of Plassey (1757) Battle of Bedara (1759) Clive returns to Bengal, disposes of the Nawab, and takes direct control (Diwany rights) (1765)
Clive, the conqueror of Bengal, after putting an English straw man on the throne of Bengal, received a ‘Jagir’ of £27,000 pound a year from the grateful new Nawab. A ‘Jagir’ was a reward for his services and later hotly debated in parliament. The Company obtained a £100,000 a year to pay for its military expenses
Pamela Nightingale, Fortune and Integrity, A Study of Moral Attitudes in the Indian Diary of George Paterson, 1769-1774 (Delhi Oxford University press 1985), 96, (…) Pigot, who was governor from 1755 to 1763, laid the foundation of his fortune of pound 300,000 on the Nawab’s gratitude for the restoration of his country, and when Palk succeeded him he demanded from the Nawab 50,000 pagodas on the ground that ‘he understood Mr Pigot had received a Lack, and he could not receive less than his Predecessor. It was sent him: for the Nabob had many favours to ask of the Governor.’ (note) (…) (Similar stories on pages 94-96).
Alternative version: Fortunes made from trade As English have been seen as the most successful private traders even before empire, private trade is the foundation of empire
Fortunes related to Empire Often not clear how servants got them
The nabob. A comedy, in three acts. Written by Samuel Foote, esq. As performed at the Theatre Royal Hay- Market The intrigues of a nabob: or, Bengal the fittest soil for the growth of lust, injustice and dishonesty. Dedicated to the Hon. the Court of … The nabob: Or, Asiatic Plunderers. A Satyrical poem, In a Dialogue between a Friend and the Author. To which are annexed, A few fugitive Pieces Caraccioli, Charles, The life of Robert Lord Clive, Baron Plassey (1766)
Ceiling painting, East India House, London 1878. In: Mildred Archer, India and British Portraiture, 1770-1825 (London and New York 1979), p. 40.
In India, all the vices operate by which sudden fortune is acquired … Arrived in England, the destroyers of the nobility and gentry of a whole kingdom will find the best company in this nation, at a board of elegance and hospitality. Here the manufacturer and the husbandman will bless the just and punctual hand, that in India has torn the cloth from the loom, or wrested the scanty portion of rice and salt from the peasants of Bengal, or wrung from him the very opium in which he forgot his oppressions and his oppressor. They marry into your families; they enter into your estates by loans; they raise their value by demand; they cherish and protect your relations which lie heavy in your patronage. Edmund Burke (1783) speech in parliament
Empire not perceived as for the general good: State has invested heavily in armies and fleets to aid the Company to fight the French in the Seven Years war (1756-1763), but Nabobs exploit the situation
Problem: Nabobs buy themselves into the company and parliament and try to influence politics on the East India Company Clive returns to England after Plassey, manipulates the company
Clive before leaving for second time to India bought up 40,000 pounds worth of stock in the Company, split this up for more voting power. Started sending news about attaining the Diwani rights. Forced the directors to raise dividend from 6 per cent to 10 per cent. The first Parliamentary intervention, 1766-7
Parliament: East India Company becomes a subject of discussion, the states wants a pieces of the territorial revenues. (1767)
The crisis of 1772 Famine in Bengal (1769) Trade financed through bills of exchange Financial crisis, debtors want their money quicker The increased dividend is unsustainable and leads to structural debt Regulation act (1773)
The crisis of 1772 Regulation act (1773) Company under control of the Crown. Territories under sovereignty of the Crown and leased out to the Company for a fixed rent. Governor-General of Bengal appointed only with the approval of the Crown. Dividend lowered. Loan from the State
The crisis of 1772 Regulation act (1773) Pitt’s act (1783) Company possessions in India under state control. Only commercial freedom for the Company
The crisis of 1772 Regulation act (1773) Pitt’s act (1783) Charter act (1813) Company loses monopoly on India, only on China Slow evolution of Company into Colonial empire Company servants become civil servants
Nechtman explores the tensions and contradictions inherent in British national identity He focuses on the controversies surrounding East India Company servants He sheds new light on the stereotypes of so-called ‘Nabobinas‘ – the wives and daughters of Company servants
Dirks‘ book is decisively anti-imperialist and very political! For him empire is an scandal. He analysis political debates in the later eighteenth century and the impeachment of the most famous nabob – Warren Hastings British imperial rule was legitimized through scandalising and denouncing individual cases of corruption. For Dirks: thisis the real Scandal of Empire!
Empire and the British national identity emerged side by side according to Linda Colley This book was published in 1992 and still is hugely influential The British defined themselves against an external ‘other‘ – against Catholic France and the ‘despotic Orient‘ Linda Colley‘s work is influenced by Benedict Andersons ‘Imagined Communities‘ (1983)
How did Company servants live in India? How did their attitudes towards Indian society change over time? Curiosity Intermarriage Collecting Cosmopolitanism?
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