Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History
Colonial rapacity, holocaust denial and the crisis in biological sustainability
by Gideon Maxwell Polya
1. Introduction - truth, reason, science and history [ 1 ]
2. The editing of Jane Austen’s connections - the Leighs and Brydges [ 8 ]
3. The editing of the Austens and consequences of rustic amusement [ 18 ]
4. Jane Austen’s siblings and their descendants [ 27 ]
5. The editing of Jane Austen’s life [ 33 ]
6. The rare intrusion of humble social reality into Jane Austen’s novels [ 42 ]
7. The sensibility of Jane Austen’s literary contemporaries [ 56 ]
8. The judgement of Jane Austen’s peers and successors [ 66 ]
9. The East India Company, the Black Hole and the conquest of Bengal [ 75 ]
10. The Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 [ 88 ]
11. Warren Hastings and the conquest of India [ 99 ]
12. The impeachment of Warren Hastings and the judgement of history [ 106 ]
13. Colonial famine, genocide and ethnocide [ 114 ]
14. The Bengal Famine of 1943-1944 [ 133 ]
15. Pride and Prejudice - Churchill, Science, the Bengal Famine and the Jewish Holocaust [ 148]
16. Global warming and the unthinkable world of 2050 [ 166 ]
17. Antipodean epilogue - the moral dimension of the Lucky Country and the world [ 174 ]
Notes [ 199 ]
Bibliography [ 227 ]
Index [ 252 ]
Dr Gideon Polya was an Associate Professor in Biochemistry, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia. The author of over 100 scientific publications, Dr. Polya is presently a Melbourne-based researcher, writer and lecturer. The views expressed in the book are those of the author, Dr. G.M. Polya. This first edition of the book (ISBN 0-646-35580-5) was published in May 1998 by G.M. Polya, 29 Dwyer Street, Macleod, Melbourne, Victoria, 3085, Australia. It is out of print but copies are to be found in some major libraries. A second edition is envisaged.
ESSENCE OF THE BOOK:
Repetition of immense crimes against humanity such as the World War 2 Holocaust is made less likely when the responsible society acknowledges the crime, apologizes, makes amends and accepts the injunction “Never again”.
This book is concerned in part with the 2 century holocaust in British India that commenced with the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 (10 million victims), concluded with the World War 2 Bengal Famine (4 million victims) and took tens of millions of lives in between.
However these events have been almost completely written out of history and removed from general perception, there has been no apology nor amends made and indeed it is generally accepted that, in the absence of effective global action, these horrors will be repeated on an unimaginably larger scale in the coming century.
This carefully documented “J’accuse” addresses what the author terms the “Austenizing” of history or the deletion of awful realities from historical writing.
While it was legitimate for Jane Austen, the artist, to render her exquisite novels free of the contemporary awfulness in which her connections participated, the Austenizing of British history is a holocaust-denying outrage that threatens humanity.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER SYNOPSIS:
Chapter 1: History ignored yields history repeated; the victor writes history; historians like scientists must respect the basic data; the “Austenizing” of British history or the deletion of awful or embarrassing realities from British historiography (most notably the effective deletion of 2 centuries of horrendous famines in British India culminating in the “forgotten holocaust” of World War 2 Bengal); the British Anglo-Celtic Christian, Austro-Hungarian Jewish and Bihari-Bengali Hindu-Muslim antecedents of the author’s children; the post-Holocaust injunction of “Never again” applied to the “forgotten holocausts” of British India and the looming spectre of mass starvation in the coming century.
Chapter 2: The Austenizing of the maternal connections of Jane Austen; James Brydges and wealth from colonialism and imperialist wars; Indian connections and the theft charge against Jane Austen’s aunt Jane Leigh-Perrot.
Chapter 3: The Austenizing of the paternal connections of Jane Austen; the productive adultery of Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of India, with Jane Austen’s aunt Philadelphia Hancock; transplanting Jane Austen country to Tasmania and consequent ecocide and genocide.
Chapter 4: The Austenizing of Jane Austen’s siblings and their descendants; recurrent consanguinity; the British imperial and Indian involvements of Jane Austen’s family.
Chapter 5: Jane Austen’s life; remarkable differential reportage of Jane Austen’s life and connections.
Chapter 6: The exclusion of any awfulness and the rare intrusion of humble social reality into Jane Austen’s novels; succinct synopses and social content analysis of Jane Austen’s major works; recurrent consanguinity; Sense and Sensibility an Indian-connected novel that barely disguises the affair of Warren Hastings with Jane Austen’s aunt in Bengal; a powerful message from Jane Austen’s exquisite writing - “No matter what our place in the world, we are all empowered by the dignified, intelligent and articulate use of words”.
Chapter 7: The sensitivity of Jane Austen’s literary contemporaries to domestic and colonial abuses of humanity; George Crabbe, Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, Robert Burns, Samuel Johnson, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Lord Byron and Lord Teignmouth; limited British literary responses to the invasion and oppression of India and the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770.
Chapter 8: Literary criticism of Jane Austen; Jane Austen and the feminist perspective; the Jane Austen industry; Jane Austen and British imperialists; Jane Austen’s artistically legitimate exclusion of awfulness from her exquisite novels has been quite illegitimately taken by 2 centuries of British historians as a paradigm for the Austenizing or comprehensive white-washing of British history.
Chapter 9: The East India Company; the Black Hole of Calcutta story as grossly exaggerated, historically dubious, Imperial mythology - a Big Lie of British History that demonized Indians and helped to justify 2 centuries of oppression and famine; Siraj-ud-daulah, Clive and the conquest of Bengal.
Chapter 10: The genesis, course and extended aftermath of the Great Bengal Famine of 1769-1770; 10 million victims; a rich country rendered desolate as observed by Jane Austen’s connections; rapacious taxation and mass human starvation; effective deletion of the Great Bengal Famine from British history.
Chapter 11: Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of India and actual father of Jane Austen’s cousin and sister-in-law Eliza De Feuillade (née Hancock); rapacious taxation of famine-devastated Bengal; the Rohilla War, the judicial murder of Nandkumar, conflict with Mysore, Hyderabad and the Marathas, the robbing of the Begums of Oudh and the devastation of Oudh by war, taxation and consequent famine; Hastings’ duel with his foe Philip Francis (that resurfaces in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility).
Chapter 12: The impeachment and trial of Warren Hastings by the British Parliament - Britain’s only equivalent of a major war crimes trial over the abuses of British imperialism; Sheridan’s great speeches; the acquittal of Hastings; the judgement of history and the Austenizing of British imperial crimes.
Chapter 13: 2 centuries of appalling, recurrent famine in British India from 1769 to 1945; comparison of recurrent famine under the British in dry Rajasthan and lush Bengal; British colonial slavery, oppression, famine, genocide and ethnocide in Asia, Africa, the Americas, Oceania, Australia and indeed in Britain and Ireland; the crimes of other imperialist powers; Charles Trevelyan and famine in Ireland and India; the genocide of the Tasmanian aborigines.
Chapter 14: The genesis, war-time context and appalling actuality of the Bengal Famine of 1943-1944; loss of rice from Burma, catastrophic war-time decrease in Indian food imports, food exports, temporary seizure of rice stocks, seizure and destruction of boats, Indian provincial food supply autonomy, no famine declaration, hoarding, British unresponsiveness, drastic cuts to Indian Ocean shipping, catastrophic rice price rises leading to mass starvation; British Military Labour Corps and civilian sexual exploitation of famine victims including children; Wavell, Mountbatten and Casey and final responses to the famine; the 1943-1946 excess mortality of about 4 million Bengalis due to famine and attendant disease; the documenting of the famine and the effective deletion of the famine from history and from general public perception.
Chapter 15: Churchill, World War 2, the Bengal Famine and the Jewish Holocaust; Churchill’s life and his hatred for Indians; Churchill and British air defence, knowledge of the indefensibility of Singapore, Japanese entry into the War and fore-knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor; Churchill, Lindeman, the importance of proper scientific advice to government, the air war in Europe, the Battle of the Atlantic, the shipping crisis and famine in India; famine as a strategic weapon to control restless subjects; Muslim containment, the Middle East, oil, the refusal to allow Jewish escape from Europe, the Jewish Holocaust and the forgotten, substantially Muslim Holocaust of Bengal; Churchill’s contribution to Muslim-Hindu antipathy as his final legacy to India; the effective deletion of the Bengal Famine from history and general public perception.
Chapter 16: Global warming and sea level, human health and tropical versus temperate agricultural productivity consequences; population growth, global agricultural sustainability and the growing discrepancy between population and food supply; the crisis in biological sustainability.
Chapter 17: Unresponsiveness of the world to the World War 2 Jewish Holocaust and to the “forgotten holocaust” of the Bengal Famine; examination of liberal, democratic, highly-educated and prosperous Australia (the Lucky Country) by way of assessment of the likelihood of timely global response to the impending environmental, population and sustainable food production crisis of the coming century; pre-invasion aboriginal Australia, invasion and genocide, racism of White Australia, the apogee of social decency in Australia and the current resurgent racism towards aboriginals and Asians; genocide, ethnocide, ecocide and terracide in Australia and unresponsiveness to the global crisis; a recent experimental test of the moral responsiveness of prosperous, liberal, democratic Australia - the war-time Bengal Famine (accounting for about 90% of World War 2 British Empire military plus civilian casualties) continues to be effectively ignored and thus removed from public perception by the ostensibly liberal political, media, academic and intellectual Establishment of Australia (and of Britain); how we can prevent the looming disaster - peri-conception, male sex selection as an example of a humane, non-invasive, pro-choice mechanism to reduce population (empirical evidence being provided by Fiji, a very tolerant and peaceful multi-racial society that developed from an initially large male over female imbalance among the Indian “indentured slaves”); further civilized contributions include the childless, culturally-absorbed Jane Austen option, tolerance of homosexuality and profound sympathy for the richness of the world as exhibited by Third World small-holder and aboriginal societies.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The world is facing a crisis in biological sustainability due to the connected problems of excessive and increasing population, profligate use of resources and remorseless environmental degradation. Near-comprehensive holocaust denial in our culture in relation to several centuries of recurrent, horrendous famines in British India has blunted our responsiveness to such man-made catastrophes and continues to contribute to the global failure to face up to avoidable mass starvation in the coming century. The world must resolutely apply the post-Holocaust injunction of “Never again” to these past events and take incisive steps to avoid repetition in the future.