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Michael H.

Fisher

Oecing England Firsthand: Women

and Men from Imperial India,

1614-1769

M3

Indian Observers and Observations


of Early Modern Europe
WHILE INDIANS AND BRITONS HAVE BEEN DIRECTLY OBSERVING each
other "at home” for about the same length of time, the results of their
observations and interactions have been fundamentally unequal.1 We need not
rehearse the origins and growth of European colonialism in Asia or the history of
portrayals by Europeans of the East. Let us rather consider the ways in which
Indian travelers’ accounts changed during the early modern period. In
particular, we will highlight the observations and lives of two people who
traveled to London from the Mughal imperial court, one at the start of this
period, the other at its end. Maryam, a ward of the Mughal imperial family,
visited Ireland and England (1614-1616), among the earliest people from India to
make this journey. She initially set off for Europe with her English husband;
when he died, she married another Englishman in London. Some 150 years later,
Shaikh I'tisam al-Din visited France, England, and Scotland (1766-1769) as a
diplomat representing the Mughal Emperor. Between their visits, thousands of
other Indians of all classes made this journey from India to England. Our analysis
suggests the complexity of
how Indians observed England, and how Britons perceived them, over a period
when British colonialism in Asia developed and concepts of ethnic identity
shifted significantly.
Maryam and 1‘tisam al-Din came from quite distinct personal backgrounds
and arrived at very different points in the histories of England, India, and the
relationship between them. Maryam, was a Christian Armenian woman from
north India. I'tisam al-Din was a male Muslim scholar-official from the eastern
province of Bengal. She left a powerful Mughal imperial court and found
politically divided islands off the northwest European coast. By the time of his
visit, much had changed. The Mughal Emperor had become a palace prisoner,
desperately seeking protection and support from an aggressive British
world-power with expanding colonial holdings in India.
Further, these two left distinctly different types of evidence about their
observations of Europe, flow Maryam assessed England can only be known
indirectly—mainly through British sources. As with most women of her time in
Europe and Asia, her personal account remained unwritten. Yet once back in
India, she undoubtedly commented orally to her relatives, friends, and
acquaintances about all that she had seen of England and Ireland. In common
with the vast majority of Indian visitors of her time, therefore, her
representations of Europe entered and affected Indian society in ways largely too
subtle for historians to recover fully. Further, what evidence we do have
survived in British archives and libraries, not Indian ones. In contrast, I'tisam
al-Din was the earliest Indian visitor to write a book about his direct observations
of Europe. We can trace the circulation in India and Europe of the manuscript
copies of his autobiographical travel narrative, written in Persian and intended
for an Indian audience. Yet, as Nabil Matar argues, such unpublished works
would have had only limited effects in the home country.2 Indeed, the account by
I'tisam al-Din gained a much wider audience when a British editor partially
translated and published it in London decades later.3
Much “postcolonial” writing has argued that we must necessarily consider
representations of Asia and Europe in light of the later pervasive effects of
European colonialism. Edward Said and Mary Louise Pratt, by examining the
ways in which “Orientalist” Europeans appro-
luiniiic Olwrwil priated “the Orient” and sought to prevent Asians from
representing themselves, did much to demonstrate the power of Western
constructions.4 Yet, in the early seventeenth century of Maryam, no one could
accurately have foreseen the British colonialism that would later become so
powerful. Even in the late eighteenth century of I'tisam al-Din, English East India
Company military and political assertions had just begun, and their effects were
just starting to be recognized, in different ways by Europeans and Asians. Thus,
while concepts of ethnicity had shifted, anachronistic projections of later ideas
about biological race, for example, may obscure rather than inform our
understanding of the observations and lives of Indians in early modern
England.5
Further, many postcolonial analyses tend to be Anglocentric. They do not
sufficiently stress the agency of Indians, tending rather to make them appear
mainly as victims and/or objects of scrutiny. Tanika Sarkar critiques this: "Most
recent works on cultural developments in the colonial period tend to assume the
operations of a single, monolithic colonial discourse with fully hegemonistic
capabilities.... This position ... necessarily robs colonized Indians of effective
agency and evacuates an especially complicated historical problem of all
complexities.”6 Some recent scholarship has indeed recognized greater Asian
(and African) agency through participation in the European public sphere,
especially the ways they regarded their power to narrate and represent their own
experiences in their own terms as powerful modes of resistance to European
cultural domination.7 Thus while later British writing about the Orient no doubt
dominated discourse in Britain, Indian voices continually challenged its
hegemony at the time, including Indians observing England directly and
producing representations of India for the Britons among whom they lived.
In addition, Said and many of his followers tend to rely on English
literature for their critiques of Orientalism. Yet such fiction does not necessarily
tell us much about the actual lives of Asians, including Asians living in England.
Nabil Matar demonstrates the danger of accepting English drama or other
literary representations as historical evidence about their supposed
non-European subjects.8 For example, during the 1580s-I630s, dozens of English
plays and public pageants featured representations of Muslims, particularly
Ottoman Turks. Yet
-Apercus

these “English plays were all based on continental models and sources, and
English playwrights, notwithstanding their imaginative brilliance, invented
stage Muslims without any historical or religious verisimilitude.”9 Matar
continues that the English constructed these parodies out of their own cultural
and psychological defensiveness, to compensate for English naval and political
weakness in the Ottoman-dominated Mediterranean. To carryout this
intercultural shift, English authors and theologians superimposed images of
Amerindians, who were currently being subordinated to the English, onto the
powerful Turks, Muslims as portrayed in English literature therefore tell us little
about the lived experience of Muslims, including Muslims in England, but rather
much about English culture and its fears.10
Nor, as many of today’s historians presuppose, did “modernity” originate
only in Europe, with Asians receiving its impact only through colonialism.
Critiquing such Eurocentrism, Sanjay Subralimariyam seeks "to delink the notion
of ‘modernity’ from a particular European trajectory (Greece, classical Rome, the
Middle Ages, the Renaissance and thus ‘modernity’ . . .), and to argue that it
represents a more-or-less global shift, with many different sources and roots,
and—inevitably— many different forms and meanings depending on which
society we look at it from.”11 By venturing to England and observing its peoples,
thousands of Indians, especially those (relatively few like 1‘tisam al-Din) who
wrote about their experiences among the English “other,” exhibited initiatives
for cross-cultural interactions conventionally attributed to European early
modernity.
Thus we are led to questions of historiography, about the ways we should,
read and classify the various kinds of sources available today in various archives
about the lives and observations of Indians in Britain. Some records had. nothing
to do with colonialism, per sc, but were rather part ol the domestic record of
English society. For example, the London parish documentation ot Maryam’s
second English marriage identifies her as a member of that Christian
congregation and a wife, but not as Indian or Armenian. In contrast, the accounts
of Maryam in the East India Company’s records and in the papers of her first
husband and other Englishmen in Asia are deeply implicated in the expansion of
English power over other cultures and peoples that would become colo-
Elini|)t ( )|IM rwd

uialisin. In these, Maryam’s Indian identity rises to prominence, even ns her


Armenian Christianity cross-cut that Indianness. Similarly, most English
accounts about I'tisam al-Din downplay his agency, noting him mainly as a
supporting player in a marginal and doomed diplomatic mission from a puppet
Mughal Emperor. Further, his Muslim identity was salient, with some Britons
making deliberate efforts to convert him from his allegedly superstitious Islamic
diet and theology. While aspects of his Indian ethnicity proved attractive to some
Britons, many stereotyped him according to their growing British sense of
superiority over nonwhites generally and over conquered Indians particularly.
Conversely, his own account of his journey centers on himself as an achieving
individual, and his successful defense of Islam and his own culture in the face of
misguided and untrustworthy Christian Britons. While he served Britons and
recognized their technological and military power, he did not express the
cultural defensiveness that would appear in many later “high colonial" Indian
i47
accounts of Europe. Thus we should consider the implications of such
contrasting evidence for our own understanding of how our subjects identified
themselves and each other, and their shifting degrees of Indian agency in action
and observation over the early modern period.

Maryam, from the Mughal Imperial Court


to Ireland and England and Back
The life of Maryam, or as the English Anglicized her name, Maria, suggests the
complex ways that identities functioned as people from India and people from
England first “discovered” each other at the start of the early modern period. Her
life shows how religious, ethnic, class, and gender categories functioned in her
day. We can contrast these with later English constructions of “race” and
“interracial sex,” so powerful under “high colonialism” from the nineteenth
century onward. Further, that we must rely mostly on English sources to
reconstruct her life indicates how difficult it is to untangle history, especially the
history of women, from asymmetrical historiographies.
By background, Maryam came from an elite family, although her gender
made her dependent in both India and England. Maryam’s father, Mubarak
Khan, had served as a high-ranked courtier to Mughal
^Aperpus

Emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605).12 Maryam was raised a Christian Armenian, so


her mother, and probably Mubarak Khan as well, came from that
community, located throughout Asia and Europe. Although Mubarak Khan
reportedly died a rich man, his brothers appropriated his wealth, leaving his
daughter Maryam relatively dependent as a ward of the Mughal imperial
family, her main material inheritance being some jewels and her social
standing. At the Mughal imperial court in Agra in 1609, Emperor Jahangir (r.
1605-1627) offered her as wife to William Hawkins (1585?-1613).
Hawkins, a much-traveled English diplomat, merchant, sea-captain,
and adventurer, had been sent by King James 1 and the East India Company to obtain a
license for it to trade in India. Hawkins had arrived at the west Indian port of Surat in
1608 on the Hector, the first company ship to reach India.13 The Hector then returned
(apparently having hired some Indian seamen to replenish its depleted English crew,
making them the first Indians to sail directly to England). Hawkins and his 1148
entourage journeyed to the Mughal court at Agra in north India.14
Hawkins spoke Ottoman Turkish, a close linguistic relative of the original
language of the Mughals. This enabled him to communicate without the
intermediation of his rivals, the Portuguese, already ensconced at the
imperial court. Emperor Jahangir appointed Hawkins to a middle- level
numsal) (personal and military imperial rank) of four hundred, giving him
the title “English Khan,” thus making his ethnicity into his epithet, and
assigning a handsome income of some £3,000 annually (£366,600 in today’s
currency).15 This cosmopolitanism was characteristic of the Mughal imperial
court, which incorporated diverse peoples into its sophisticated Persianate
court culture. Similarly, Hawkins’ public acceptance of his dependant status
and his role of a “White Mughal" official both demonstrated an openness to
Asian cultures that would not continue into high colonialism.16 Thus, these
exchanges reveal how both parties displayed features that many scholars
consider characteristic of early modernity.
Further, Emperor Jahangir felt it appropriate that this envoy and
Mughal courtier should have someone trustworthy to look after his
household—a wife. Hawkins claimed that he refused Jahangir’s first
Europe Observed

offer: “a white Mayden out of his Palace, who would give me all things
necessary, with slaves, and [the emperor] would promise mee she should
turtle Christian; and by this means my meates and drinkes should be looked
unto by them, and I should live without feare.” 17 In Hawkins’ polite refusal,
he gave the justification that “she was a Moore.” Hawkins correctly assumed
that Jahangir would respect his alleged custom of only marrying within his
own religious community, and that the purported light skin color of the
proffered bride did not make her part of his community. Not to appear
ungrateful to Jahangir, however, Hawkins countered that he would accept a
Christian-born woman. Hawkins confided: “I little thought a Christian’s
Daughter could bee found.” Jahangir, however, recalled Maryam and offered
her in marriage to Hawkins. This time, in response to Jahangir’s offer of a
Christian-born bride, Hawkins agreed: “seeing she [Maryam] was of so
honest a Descent... . Therefore I tooke her.” as a bride.18 In addition, he hoped
that her late father’s prestige with the Mughal imperial family would benefit
him and his mission. While Maryam might have refused this wedding, she
did not.19 Her actions thereafter suggest that she embraced her new status as
the wife of this Christian courtier.
In these matrimonial negotiations, the intermediate nature of the
Armenian community, for the Mughals and the English, stands revealed.
Hawkins, like many Englishmen of his day, called Armenians “the Race of the
most ancient Christians,” regarding religious and ethnic identity by birth,
rather than skin color, as the basis of "race.” Thus, both in cultural as well as
commercial terms, Armenians and other such trade diaspora communities
belied any dichotomy between Europe and Asia.
Maryam’s wedding took place in Agra before Christian witnesses but
without benefit of clergy, none being available. Indeed, Hawkins’
manservant, Nicholas Ufflet, officiated.20 Later, when the couple encountered
an anointed Anglican priest elsewhere in India, that priest told them of the
illegitimacy of their marriage and wedded them again officially. From this
point until her husband’s death, Maryam evidently shifted her allegiance
from her natal family to Hawkins, like many wives of her time in India and
England. For Hawkins, her submission made this a highly satisfactory
marriage: "for ever after I lived, content and. without feare, she being willing
to goe where I went, and live as I lived.”21 Indeed, as we shall see, Maryam
.Aperfus

collaborated in assisting her husband evade the continued demands of her


own natal family.
Tensions, however, remained between this English envoy and both the
Portuguese and also various hostile factions at the Mughal imperial court.
Alter several times falling out ol favor with Jahangir (including for appearing
drunken in court), Hawkins determined to return to London. This, however,
did not prove easy. The couple decided that traveling overland via Persia and
Turkey would be too dangerous, especially for Maryam. This left them
reluctantly dependent on a sale conduct from the Portuguese Viceroy at Goa
on the southwest coast. The Portuguese were reportedly desirous of
expediting Hawkins’ departure from India, thus removing a European, and a
Protestant, rival for Mughal favor.
As an additional barrier to the married couple’s departure front India,
Maryam’s mother and brothers did not want her to part from them. They
therefore extracted a promise from Hawkins that he would take her no further
than Goa, where they could visit her. He falsely swore to them that, if he
himself left, he would provide an endowment for Maryam and leave her in
India with them. Indeed, to deceive his inlaws, Hawkins arranged two
different passports from the Portuguese: one to calm his in-laws, which
permitted him to live and trade in Goa with the same legal protections as a
Portuguese subject; the other, which he kept secret from them, would allow
him, Maryam, and his goods to sail to Portugal, and then on to England. Yet
they never actually availed themselves of either course of action.
Eventually, some English vessels arrived at Surat, news of which
reached them late in 1611, two years after they had been married. Hawkins
admitted that, in order to deceive Maryam’s relatives, he and Maryam feigned
going to Goa for a short visit. Maryam’s brother escorted them for two days
on this misleading journey, but then returned to Agra, while Hawkins and
Maryam hurried instead to Surat. Hawkins asserted that Maryam wished to
travel with him, even to Europe.22 Maryam’s cooperation with this deception
suggests that she regarded her relationship with Hawkins largely as he did, as
superseding her duty to her birth family.
Europe Observed

Leaving their various investments under the care of local managers,


they set sail on a English East India Company ship, heading east to Java then
west in 1612 toward England, touching at South Africa. The voyage of their
ship, the Thomas, proved particularly deadly. Most of the ship’s crew and
passengers died, including Hawkins.23 Further, contrary winds drove the
ships to Waterford, Ireland, in September 1613, where Maryam buried
Hawkins. As a widow, Maryam faced difficulties in this new land, but she
was not friendless.
Maryam finally reached London early in 1614, traveling in the company
of Gabriel Towerson, an English merchant and captain of the ship, tile Hector,
which had sailed in their fleet from Java to Ireland. Soon after Maryam and
Towerson reached London, they married officially in Saint Nicholas Aeons
Church, London. The marriage certificate makes no mention of her Indian
origins; such a sanctioned wedding demonstrated that Maryam was formally
received by this Anglican parish church as a member of its congregation. 24
Indeed, over the following decades, many other Indians were also married
and/or buried in Anglican churches, with their Christianity by birth or
conversion determining their acceptance into the parish community.25 Since
such church records included everyone who was a member of the
congregation, they place such Indians centrally within the English domestic
archive.
Maryam’s two English marriages, which in later centuries might be
considered interracial, did not, to our knowledge, evoke any adverse
comment from the English at that time. Indeed, that very year, the East India
Company’s directors considered favorably a request from the Muslim king of
Sumatra that he be sent an English gentlewoman as a wife. One English father
volunteered his daughter, who boasted “most excellent parts for music, her
needle and good discourse, and also [was] very beautiful and personable.”
While most directors favored this alliance, their religious advisors opposed
the offer, allegedly fearing the jealousy of the king’s other wives for such an
accomplished rival.26
In addition to social and cultural identities, individual personalities also
shaped relationships. Maryam’s new husband, Towerson, had a record of
abrasive behavior against other Europeans as well as non- Europeans. He had
spent years living in Southeast Asia and visited South Africa, but his
interactions with Asians and Africans were far less
Aperf us

this a highly satisfactory marriage: “for ever after I lived content and without
feare, she being willing to goe where I went, and live as I lived.”21 Indeed, as
we shall see, Maryam collaborated in assisting her husband evade the
continued demands of her own natal family.
Tensions, however, remained between this English envoy and both the
Portuguese and also various hostile factions at the Mughal imperial court.
After several times falling out of favor with Jahangir (including for appearing
drunken in court), Hawkins determined to return to London. This, however,
did not prove easy. The couple decided that traveling overland via Persia
and Turkey would be too dangerous, especially for Maryam. This left them
reluctantly dependent on a safe conduct from the Portuguese Viceroy at Goa
on the southwest coast. The Portuguese were reportedly desirous of
expediting Hawkins’ departure from India, thus removing a European, and a
Protestant, rival for Mughal favor.
As an additional barrier to the married couple’s departure from India,
Maryam’s mother and brothers did not want her to part from 150 them. They therefore
extracted a promise from Hawkins that he would take her no further than Goa, where
they could visit her. He falsely swore to them that, if he himself left, he would provide
an endowment for Maryam and leave her in India with them. Indeed, to deceive his in-
laws, Hawkins arranged two different passports from the Portuguese: one to calm his
in-laws, which permitted him to live and trade in Goa with the same legal protections
as a Portuguese subject; the other, which he kept secret from them, would allow him,
Maryam, and his goods to sail to Portugal, and then on to England. Yet they never
actually availed themselves of either course of action.
Eventually, some English vessels arrived at Surat, news of which
reached them late in 1611, two years after they had been married. Hawkins
admitted that, in order to deceive Maryam’s relatives, he and Maryam
feigned going to Goa for a short visit. Maryam’s brother escorted them for
two days on this misleading journey, hut then returned to Agra, while
Hawkins and Maryam hurried instead to Surat. Hawkins asserted that
Maryam wished to travel with him, even to Europe.22 Maryam’s cooperation
with this deception suggests that she regarded her relationship with
Hawkins largely as he did, as superseding her duty to her birth family.
Leaving their various investments under the care of local managers,
they set sail on a English East India Company ship, heading east to Java then
west in 1612 toward England, touching at South Africa. The voyage of their
Emopc Observed

ship, the Thomas, proved particularly deadly. Most of the ship’s crew and
passengers died, including Hawkins.23 Further, contrary winds drove the
ships to Waterford, Ireland, in September 1613, where Maryam buried
Hawkins. As a widow, Maryam faced difficulties in this new land, but she
was not friendless.
Maryam finally reached London early in 1614, traveling in the
company of Gabriel Towerson, an English merchant and captain of the ship,
the Hector, which had sailed in their fleet from Java to Ireland. Soon after
Maryam and Towerson reached London, they married officially in Saint
Nicholas Aeons Church, London. The marriage certificate makes no mention
of her Indian origins; such a sanctioned wedding demonstrated that Maryam
was formally received by this Anglican parish church as a member of its
congregation.24 Indeed, over the following decades, many other Indians were
also married and/or buried in Anglican churches, with their Christianity by
birth or conversion determining their acceptance into the parish
community.25 Since such church records included everyone who was a
member of the congregation, they place such Indians centrally within the
English domestic archive.
Maryam’s two English marriages, which in later centuries might be
considered interracial, did not, to our knowledge, evoke any adverse
comment from the English at that time. Indeed, that very year, the East India
Company’s directors considered favorably a request from the Muslim king of
Sumatra that he be sent an English gentlewoman as a wife. One English
father volunteered his daughter, who boasted "most excellent parts for
music, her needle and good discourse, and also [was] very beautiful and
personable.” While most directors favored this alliance, their religious
advisors opposed the offer, allegedly fearing the jealousy of the king’s other
wives for such an accomplished rival.26
In addition to social and cultural identities, individual personalities
also shaped relationships. Maryam's new husband, Towerson, had a record
of abrasive behavior against other Europeans as well as non- Europeans. He
had spent years living in Southeast Asia and visited South Africa, but h is
interactions with Asians and Africans were far less
sympathetic than Hawkins’s had been. This included his later personal
relations with his new wife, Maryam. Their first years in London, however,
seem to have gone successfully.
As a wealthy married woman and member of a leading parish, Maryam
lived in English high society. Unfortunately we have no direct evidence about
her assessments of the people and places she observed. Nor do we know how
she described India or herself to the English men and women with whom she
socialized. Indeed, it was a rare woman in the seventeenth century, either in
England or in India, who recorded her experiences. Based on the lives of other
Indian wives who followed their European husbands to England, however,
we can see gendered patterns of assimilation, including how such women
displayed English religion, clothing, language, and comportment. While the
woman’s residual “Oriental” associations may have distinguished her in
English society, her social identity derived mainly from that of her husband,
especially from his status by class. As a Christian by birth, Maryam would
have been particularly acceptable.
Maryam’s standing in society comes through from her interactions with
the East India Company’s Court of directors. Her late husband, Hawkins, had
borrowed £300 from his brother, Charles, who now wanted this money back
from the widow, Maryam. The parties all agreed the directors would arbitrate
this dispute, and also settle accounts among Hawkins, Maryam, Towerson,
and the company itself. In these complex negotiations, Maryam made a good
impression, as the minutes of the directors’ meetings record: the directors,
"being charitably affected towards” her, forgave her the debts of her late
husband, and gave her £250 “as a token of their love" and in exchange for her
“general release” of the company for all remaining monies due her husband.27
Less than a week later, however, Hawkins’ servant, Nicholas Ufflet (who had
presided at her first, unofficial wedding to Hawkins), revealed that Maryam
had with her diamonds and other precious stones reportedly worth some
£6,000 (equivalent to £67 7,000 today). Nevertheless the directors reconfirmed
their agreement with her and paid the promised £250. Under English law, a
married woman’s money came under the control of her husband, in her case
Towerson. This was not, however, enough for him.
Europe Observed

Within the accumulating East India Company’s archives, Maryam llius


appeared as the wife of its employees rather than as an Indian other." Other
Indians of her day in England likewise entered the company’s books as its
seamen, dock- or warehouse-workers, or general dependents.28 In contrast,
most Indians living in India at this time who appeared in the Company’s
records, even if they worked for the Company there, stood strongly identified
as “other,” distinct from Europeans. Except for Indian elites like regional
rulers or high officials, lew of them were named; most, rather, were
anonymous, only identified by their ethnicity and/or occupation (e.g.,
Mussulman Tailor). Those Indians who were individually identified,
including wives of Europeans, often bore a European rather than an Indian
name.
For Towerson, Maryam’s connections in India made her appear
especially valuable. In 1616, Towerson solicited and received a commission
from the Company to sail again for India with Maryam as his means of entree
into politically and economically prominent Indian society. On a Company’s
153
ship sailing to India and once there, Maryam, as the female head of her
husband's elite household, was served by English attendants—a “gentle
waiting woman,” Mrs. Frances Webb, a female companion, Mrs. Hudson, and
several lower servants.29 They arrived at Surat in 1617, whereupon other
Englishmen there complained to their mutual employer, the Company, about
Towerson’s offensive arrogance towards them.30 Further, Hawkins’
investments left in India had diminished during Maryam’s absence. Later, in
Agra, Maryam’s relatives and friends proved less influential or supportive
than he anticipated.
By 1618, tensions between Towerson and Maryam had evidently
escalated. He departed India to seek his fortune elsewhere. Unwilling or
unable to leave with him, Maryam remained in Agra, attended by her mother
and only one of her English servants, a young boy. Towerson left her merely
200 Rupees (£20, a tiny fraction of the wealth she had brought to their
marriage). This she soon expended; Towerson failed to send her more. 31 By
late 1619, she had incurred debts of several hundred rupees, and was reduced
to daily petitions to the company’s agents in Agra for support, which they
repeatedly denied her.
Maryam, however, did not accept her abandonment quietly. Indeed,
she continued for years to complain against her husband to the
.Aperfus

English and many Indians as well. As these English agents put it, “where-
upon [Maryam and her mother] railed upon her husband and [his 1 nation . .
. which is no small discredit to our nation.” 32 These Company men, knowing
the Company’s tenuous position in India, recommended the directors
pressure Towerson to send his wife a maintenance allowance, if only so that
she and her mother should not “breed much trouble to your factors
[commercial agents] at Agra and the court with their exclamations .. .
[causing] expence, trouble, and scandal" for the Company. Thus, her oral
accounts of England may have shaped public opinion in India, although to
try to assess the full extent of her effect would be highly speculative.
Regrettably, we do not know her final end, although her family had
continued connections with other Europeans in India.33
As for Towerson, after returning to England late in 1619, he went to
Amboyna as the Company’s principal merchant there.34 The Dutch, however, charged
him with criminal conspiracy, torturing and executing him in 1623 (along with nine
other Englishmen, one Portuguese, and 154 nine Japanese employees of the
company). Learning of this massacre, the
directors paid the money owing to the late Towerson to his brother, rather
than to Maryam.35
The memory of Maryam as a virtuous and romantic but wronged
Christian Indian wife persisted in England. More than fifty years after her
departure, John Dryden portrayed Maryam as the centra! heroine, Ysabinda,
in his patriotic play, Amboyna. Since Dryden intended this play to be a
dramatic attack on the Dutch at the height of the Third Anglo-Dutch War
(1672-74), he felt free to change Maryam’s story to suit his own purposes, yet
he may have sought simultaneously to evoke lingering stories about her
among his English audience. As Dryden recounted her life, she was an Asian
Indian who had converted to Anglican Christianity out of love of Towerson. 36
This suggests that Dryden identified her not, as Hawkins had done a half
century earlier, as part of “the Race of the most ancient Christians,” but rather
as an exotic “other” who became Christian not out of faith or conviction but
out of corporeal love. The trope of the Oriental noblewoman who left her
own people, motivated by desire for a masterful Englishman, would appear
ever more frequently over the centuries to come.37
Europe Observed

While Dryden uses color to identify Maryam, he does so not in the I


ixed sense of biological descent that would come to dominate discourse Irom
the nineteenth century onward but rather for a changeable moral/sexual
status. Early in the play, Dryden described her as “white ns snow,”
highlighting her moral purity but evidently not her skin color. Tragically, the
lecherous Dutch, despite their Protestant morality, raped her, thus perforce
transforming her from “white” into a “black adulteress.” To hide their crime,
the Dutch executed the heroic Towerson, on whose grave she faithfully
vowed to remain until death. Dryden left her in this condition, degraded but
partially redeemed by her death due to her eternal devotion to an
Englishman.
This play thus may reveal the residual impression that Maryam made
on London society decades earlier. Dryden’s fiction makes her more
changeable—by conversion and then by being sexually degraded —than she
was in real life. In contrast to the earlier English domestic and East India
colonial records we discussed above, Dryden used Maryam not so much to
155
highlight her as an individual of her own time but rather as a melodramatic
means to defame the Dutch enemy of his own day.
While the specifics of Maryam’s life are distinctive, the general patterns
are found in the lives of many others. Like many wives of her day in England
and in India, Maryain was caught between her obligations to her English
husbands and those she owed licr natal family. Most Indian male and female
settlers there also married Britons of their own social class, but they had to
convert (albeit, often nominally) to Angl ican Christianity in order to do so.
Virtually all adopted an Anglicized deportment in order to gain acceptance.
Thus, in those clays before high colonialism and before notions of biological
race as fixed by birth, perceptive Indians could observe the people of England
among whom they lived and adapt to the local social and cultural mores
found there.
As for Maryam, life for Indian women married to Europeans in Asia
generally proved more difficult than in England. Far more European men
traveled to Asia (and Africa) than did European women. This highly
male-gendered movement out to what would become the colonies ensured
that most “mixed" marriages and other sexual relationships
.Aperfus

involved a European man and a non-European woman. The gradual shifts of


power there thus reinforced the patriarchal patterns that predominated in
both European and Asian societies. Further, the progeny of these
relationships proved subject to complex cultural and social forces, often
working to their detriment.38
Unfortunately; we have no evidence from Maryam’s first-hand
observations during her passage as a wife from the Mughal imperial court to
Ireland, England, and back. She undoubtedly produced knowledge about
India for her English audiences and knowledge about England for her Indian
ones. But we only have European men’s paraphrases of her words, preserved
in English books and archives, suggesting how male European voices have
predominated in historical sources and therefore necessarily shape our own
analysis. In contrast, during the early modern period, a half-dozen Indian
men wrote books about their direct observations of Europe.

156
1‘tvsam aUDin: From the Mughal
Imperial Court to Europe and
Back
The histories of Britain and India became ever more connected over the
decades following Maryam’s visit. Yet relations between Britons and Indians
also became ever more asymmetrical as Europeans asserted power over the
rest of the globe. Following Maryam to England, many thousands of Indian
seamen, over a thousand male and female servants, and scores of diplomats,
businessmen, soldiers, and other wives and children of Europeans made this
voyage by the end of the eighteenth century.39 While they almost all traveled
as employees ot dependents of Europeans on European ships, the
experiences of each of these women and men varied by their ethnicity, class,
religion, gender, and individual circumstances and time period. Some
among them settled in Britain for the rest of their lives. Those who returned
to India carried back reports of their direct experiences there, but almost all
these reports, like Maryam’s, remained oral and disseminated only in limited
ways within Ind ian society.
Only after the mid-eighteenth century, when the English East India
Company began to conquer significant regions of India and turn their
inhabitants into subjects of the British crown, did a small but
Europe Observed

growing number of Indians begin to write down their first-hand obser-


vations of Britain. By the end of the early modern period, six people from
India who went to England wrote such books. Two authors wrote with
English readers in mind. Joseph Emin (1726-1809), an Armenian Christian
born in Iran but domiciled in Calcutta, published in London in 1792 his
640-page Lijii and Adventures of Joseph Emin, An Armenian, Written in
English by Himself40 Sake Dean Mahomet (1759-1851), a Muslim who
converted to Anglican Christianity, published in county Cork, Ireland, in
1794 his two-volume The Travels of Dean Malwmet, a Native of Patna in Bengal
narrating his journeys in India prior to his departure for England. 41 Four
Indian men, starting with I'tisam al-Din (17 30-1800), wrote for Indian
audiences in the literary language of the day, Persian.42 Each of these six
authors assessed, often critiquing as well as praising, aspects of England in
distinctive ways that reflected the author’s background and his role within
expanding British colonialism.
Like the three others who wrote in Persian, I'tisam al-Din took his
157
perspective in large measure from his location as a Muslim member of India’s J

traditional Persianate service elite. Muslims had ruled over increasing parts
of India since the early thirteenth century. Although I’tisam al-Din’s own
family claimed the prestigious status of Sayyid and Shaikh (putative
descendants of the Prophet Muhammad who migrated from Arabia to India),
they appear to have originally been from Bengal, having converted
generations earlier to Islam as Sufism and Muslim rule spread across that
eastern province.43 I’tisam al-Din himself initially trained as a scholar and
scribe in Persian language and protocols under the Nawabs (Mughal
imperial governors) of Bengal.44 However, following the military defeats of
these Nawabs (most notably in 1757 when I'tisam al-Din was age 27), they
became puppets of the British. Gradually he and many of his class shifted
their service to the East India Company. Serving Britons, however, did not
mean that they had relinquished their identification with their own religion
or class, or with their long tradition of rule, administration, and cultural
domination in north India. Rather, there was a strong sense that they were
obliged to educate the Britons who employed them about the higher
Persianate culture and administrative protocols that they themselves
preserved and embodied. Nonetheless, over time, British officials dis-
.Aper^ us

placed them in the Company’s administration. Hence his family, community


and class were under pressure and beginning to lose their established roles as
scholar-officials.45
I'tisam al-Din’s perspective in particular also came from his position as
the first ol scores of Indian diplomats sent to the English capital by Indian
rulers.45 In London, he and the dozens of Indian envoys who followed him
began to study British society, culture, and technology as well as its complex
political processes—especially the shifting anti contested relationships
among Crown, Parliament, and the East India Company’s Court of directors,
as well as factions and parties among these. These Indian agents sought to
shape British colonial policies by communicating with the king, testifying
before parliament, negotiating with the directors, filing suits in law-courts,
lobbying influential Britons, and appealing through speeches and
publications to the British public. By representing India there through their
conversations, testimony, and writing, they struggled against growing
colonialism supported by and supporting “Orientalism”—constructions ol
"the Orient” by Europeans. During this early period in colonialism, the
Company’s authorities in London often had little knowledge about these
Indian diplomats and royalty in their midst. Yet while British archives
expanded and accumulated knowledge about India rapidly over these
decades, becoming one of the pillars of high colonialism, the information
about Britain garnered by these Indians there tended to be scattered
unevenly in Indian society and not very useful to Indian rulers struggling to
maintain their autonomy in the face of British military political, and cultural
assertions.47
The Mughal emperor himself deputed 1‘tisam al-Din for this imperial
mission to the English king. The emperors had since the early eighteenth
century been palace prisoners of various Indian warlords. The 1764 battle of
Buxar brought Emperor Shah Alam II temporarily into the East India
Company’s custody. The emperor regarded his new custodians in light of his
own diplomatic and political frameworks. Using established Mughal
protocols, he wrote to King George III in Persian to establish direct and
personal bonds with the British monarch, thus seeking to obtain a British
army to restore hint to power.48 Under Mughal
I >1' ..... I
Europe

• lupjette, acceptance by George III of the proffered nazr (wliii h mill i .ited
submission) of 100,000 Rupees (worth approximately £ 1,22 2,000 today)
would make the emperor his dependant, whom he was morally bound to
protect.
This Mughal imperial perception did not reflect much knowledge of
how politics and diplomacy actually worked in Britain at that time. While
Britons had already read and translated Persian-language texts about
Mughal protocol, the Mughal court had little knowledge of I u ropean
politics. Thus the Emperor did not know that the English king Imd neither
the power or the desire to send such an army to India, particularly in the face
of East India Company opposition. Nonetheless the emperor, evidently
believing that a Briton could accomplish this, appointed a Scot, Captain
Archibald Swinton (1731-1804), to head his embassy. Swinton, already
known for bis hostility to Bengal Governor Robert Clive, resigned the East
India Company’s service to accept.49
The Emperor also wanted to rely on the services of an Indian expert In
both Persianate diplomacy and dealing with the British. He thus appointed
I'tisam al-Din as the mission's second-in-command, granting him the
honorific Mirza ("prince”). When I'tisam al-Din accepted this appointment,
he received 4,000 Rupees (worth approximately £48,880 today) lor his efforts
and expenses, which proved much more onerous and frustrating than he
anticipated.
This mission encountered opposition and delay from its inception. East
India Company officials in Calcutta wished to prevent the emperor’s envoys
from establishing any direct relationship with the king or intervening
directly into politics in London. Thus the Calcutta government delayed the
emperor’s letter from reaching the envoys. Further, the Mughal treasury had
difficulty amassing the promised 100,000 Rupees nazr. Finally, after a year of
waiting, I'tisam al-Din, his servant Muhammad Muqim, and Swinton sailed
on a French (rather than an English East India Company) ship from Calcutta
in January 1766, reaching England via France.'50
After the imperial mission finally landed in London, it foundered. Like
most European agents hired by Indian rulers, Swinton showed little
commitment to the emperor and rather used his appointment to
Aperf us

maneuver against his enemies within the company. 1‘tisam al-Din criticized
Swinton for this and for his negative attitudes toward Indians and Islam.
I'tisam al-Din, like all Indians in Britain, made choices about his
deportment, including his dress and diet, which affected his social relations.
He later wrote that he decided to retain his customary turban, shawl, and
Hindustani robe, which attracted admiring attention. The British public
regarded him as an Oriental nobleman, particularly, he reported, compared
to the many Asian seamen with whom they were more familiar. Indeed, he
accused Swinton of exaggerating his status to that of royalty, thus elevating
Swinton’s own standing as his companion.
Yet I'tisam al-Din also devoutly observed Muslim hahl dietary practices,
which separated him from British society around him. Swinton, among
others, ridiculed these restrictions as superstitious, and allegedly arranged to
frustrate them. Thus I'tisam al-Din often suffered privation and resented
these misguided Christian attacks on his religion.
160 Over his months in Britain, I'tisam al-Din also grew increasingly
frustrated at his own inability to further the emperor’s cause. He was only an
assistant to Swinton, not able to maneuver on his own within the British
political system. He did not learn English during his stay, which kept him
particularly dependent on Swinton. Unlike at least four other Indians in
London during the later eighteenth century, he did not, for example, testify
before Parliament.51 I'tisam al-Din claimed the emperor’s letter never arrived
and that Governor Clive personally presented the imperial gifts to the king in
his own name. In fact, the emperor’s letter did reach the British king, but not
the 100,000 Rupees nazr (which the Company never satisfactorily accounted
for when questioned by a suspicious British government).52 Swinton settled
into prosperous retirement in Scotland, going to London only to join in
political attacks on Clive. Thus, this mission failed in its overly ambitious
goal: inducing King George personally to send a British army to restore and
protect the emperor.
While the mission struggled in Britain, the emperor remained in empty
expectation of success. Yet he received no response to his letter or nazr,
despite his repeated queries to the East India Company.53 This was
Europe Observed
all the more frustrating since the emperor knew that his nominal subordinate,
the Nawab of Arcot, had recently received a formal letter from the English
king.54
Finally I’tisam al-Din and his servant returned to Calcutta in 1769 with
little to show in political terms but with much rich information about English
culture, technology, people, and politics.55 Despite his loyal service to the
Mughal emperor, he subsequently found work only under a series of British
officials. Nonetheless, he evidently recounted his experiences of London and
what he had learned about British politics orally; a similar, but all-Indian,
diplomatic mission to London from a claimant to the office of Pcshwa (chief
minister but de facto ruler) of the Marathas followed in 1781-82, soon after
I’tisam al-Din had traveled in that region of western India.56
In 1784-85, fifteen years after his return, I’tisam al-Din wrote in Persian
a book-length narrative of his trip to England, Scotland, and France:
Shagraf-nama-i-wilayal (Wonder-kook of Europe).57 Writing for an Indian
161
audience, he mixed the more established Persianate genre of the siyahalnama
(“travelogue,” a genre of first-hand observation of movement through distant
lands that also allowed for colorful and dramatic narrative) with a factual and
descriptive account of real-life scenes that characterized English
autobiographical and informational travel books of the time. 58 While some of
his Persophone Indian peers commissioned scribes to make their own
manuscript copies of his account, the text nonetheless had a limited
circulation for four decades. Then, in 1827, a Briton, James Edward
Alexander—guided by a largely unacknowledged Indian scholar, Munshi
Shumsher Khan—published in London a partial and much edited translation
of it into English and Urdu.59 Even then, relatively few Indians would have
access to the text in that reader- friendly form while, in contrast, many in
Britain would read it through the lens of its European editor and ostensible
translator.
Much of I'tisam al-Din’s book consists of his travel narrative inter-
spersed with commentarial digressions, metaphorical elaborations,
explanations about how European things work, critiques of Christian
religious beliefs and practices, and occasional verse interjections highlighting
the moral implications of what he perceived. He followed a gen-
Aperpus

eral chronological sequence that began with his journey to Europe and ended
with his departure from England for home. There are only scattered specific
details about his travels, the people he met, or his daily routine. Given the
long passage of time between his travels and his writing, this generality is not
surprising. Nor can we judge when he developed many of his explanations
and moral lessons—at the time of his journey or during hi's years of his
employment by Britons that followed his return home.
I'tisam al-Din in his book (and presumably in his oral accounts as well)
explained to his intended Indian audience his observations about Britain,
laying out many themes that later Indian visitors would reiterate. Like most
Indian writers, he recognized that Britain had achieved much in terms of
technology. He admired, for example, London’s systems of street-lamps and
fresh water-supply. He lauded the widely and inexpensively available
printed books and pamphlets, a medium largely unavailable in India at this
time. Similarly, he was impressed by the extensive, and bewilderingly
162
identical, row-houses in London. In order to relate these technological
achievements to his own Persianate cultural traditions of Islamic sciences, he
olten embedded his descriptions, for example, of the compass, in Arabic
commentaries on Greek natural philosophy from the age of Alexander of
Macedonia (foruth century B.C.E.).
I'tisam al-Din commented on many aspects of Europe that he found
striking, often assessing them in ways which validated his own culture. He
compared French and British negative images of each other and ridiculed
their respective chauvinistic images of themselves. He recounted the
characteristics of various European ethnicities, including jokes playing on
stereotypes, for example, about rustic and naive but brave and burly
Scotsmen. At Vauxhal! pleasure gardens, he commented approvingly on a
realistic painting by Francis Hayman of “Lord Clive Meeting Mir Jafar"
(painted. 1761-62). Visiting Oxford, he compared “Orientalist” William
Jones’s expertise in Persian unfavorably with his own. He also recorded his
debates with Christian religious authorities that ended in their defeat before
his own advocacy of Islam and defense of polygamy. Thus he asserted an
ethnic and religious confidence that most later Indian commentators would
gradually lose, as they shifted to defensiveness in the face of British
colonialist expansion across India.
Europe Observed
Like most later Indian visitors who wrote about Europe for Indian
audiences, I'tisam al-Din drew his Indian readers’ particular attention to its
strikingly different, both titillating and offensive, gender practices (what
Mohamad Tavakoli-Tatghi calls "Euro-eroticism”).60 He recorded the very
suggestive words and behavior of market women on the street toward him,
including their bantering requests for his kiss. He watched closely as many
lovers flirted immodestly in St. James Park “like peacocks,” without fear of
civic authorities. He also noted Britain’s generous care of the illegitimate
children that illicit lovers engendered. In an exchange that would recur with
later visitors, he claimed his hosts urged hi m to marry a British woman and
settle there as a professor of Persian. He declined this abstract offer, saying
that elite British women would not have him and he would not accept a
lower-class wife. Their suggestion, which I'tisam al-Din apparently regarded
as seriously meant, suggests that even at the end of the early modern period,
Britons in England did not see such marriages between Asian men and
Englishwomen as dangerously interracial, although Britons in the colonies
were beginning to do so.
I'tisam al-Din also recognized how his society needed to learn and
borrow selectively from Europeans in order to restore its former moral and
political power. He lauded the greater British industriousness. He recognized
their comparatively more effective and less vainglorious political and
military leadership contrasted with Indian rulers, including the Mughal
emperor and the Nawab of Bengal who had employed him. Thus, while
convinced of Islam’s superiority, he was open to some features and
accomplishments of Europe.
In discussion about the development of "modernity,” some scholars
have looked for evidence in travelogues of self-awareness, particularly of
consciousness of how others were viewing the author as an individual. 61
Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi argues that I'tisam al-Din and many other Asian
writers who followed him to Europe displayed this characteristic: “Seeing
oneself being seen, that is, the consciousness of oneself as at once spectator
and spectacle, grounded all eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Oriental and
Occidental voy(ag)eurs’ narrative emplotment of alterity. The traveling
spectators appeared to the natives as traveling spectacles; voy(ag)eurs
seeking to discover exotic lands were looked upon by the locals as exotic
aliens.”62 As colonialism increasingly shaped relations
.Aperfus

between India and Britain, however, Europeans assertively claimed for


themselves both “modernity” and the power to observe "others.”

Conclusion
Over the early modern period addressed in this volume, thousands of Indian
women and men of all classes lived in and directly observed Europe. They did so even
as increasingly asymmetrical power relationships between Europe and Asia altered
concepts of ethnic and later racial identity, often to their detriment. Virtually all Asians
voyaged dependant on Europeans: via European ships (either as paid seamen or as
passengers) and accompanying European husbands, employers, or supervisors. Yet
once in Europe, these Indians collected information and generated knowledge, as well
as represented India in their own terms, participating there in public and private
discourses about Asians and Europeans. Back in India, they circulated their perceptions
of, and judgments about, Europe either orally or (rarely but increasingly from the 164
mid-eighteenth century onward) in written form. While these Indians in Britain thus
created challenges for growing British colonialism, their counterflow could not stem or
reverse its flood.
The reception and perceptions of each Indian visitor varied. Maryam
traveled in the early seventeenth century to and from the potent Mughal
imperial court with her English husbands who were seeking favors there. As
a high-born Christian woman, she found acceptance in London from both the
East India Company’s directors and an Anglican parish church. Her birth in
India did not convey to the Britons around her the associations of colonized
inferiority, which would arise only centuries later. To a large measure, her
gender affected all her interactions there and in India. Had she been Muslim,
Hindu, or lower class, her reception would have been different. As with the
vast majority of early Indian visitors, her own observations have been lost to
us except through paraphrasing preserved by the pens of European men.
In contrast, I'tisam al-Din traveled to Britain in the late eighteenth
century from the Mughal imperial court, which had become dependant on
the East India Company. He sought vainly to influence British policy. As an
observant Muslim in Britain, he faced some scorn for his reli-
Europe Obscmwl
gious practices. Although he refused to do so, many other Indian visitors found that
even nominal conversion to Anglican Christianity and adoption of a European-style
name and clothing aided their acceptance into British society. Despite his dependence
on Swinton and other Britons for employment, 1‘tisam al-Din wrote critical as well as
selectively approving assessments of what he observed in Europe. He consistently
asserted his own culture’s moral superiority over Christianity and many British social
practices, particularly in terms of gender. His status as a male particularly informed his
observations of, and relationships with, British women. While I'tisam al-Din often
described himself and other Indians (including an Indo-Portuguese fellow-passenger)
as “black” (.siyah) in complexion compared to Britons, he expressed no sense of racial
inferiority, as would many nineteenth century visitors. He composed a book about his
personal observations of Britain for his peers in India, although relatively few people
read his account in the original Persian, while he indirectly had a larger readership
165
via its published partial translation at the hands of a British editor.
The asymmetrical collection of information and the generation of knowledge had
profound political implications for the growth of European colonialism. Subsequent to
Ttisam al-Din some thirty diplomatic or political delegations by Indians reached Britain
by the mid- nineteenth century. Yet almost all arrived largely unprepared for what they
would encounter, rather having to learn afresh for themselves. Further, since hundreds
of Indian rulers negotiated (often under disadvantageous circumstances) with the
British in India, remarkably few took the initiative to represent themselves politically in
London through this means. In the contests between the East India Company and
competing and relatively isolated Indian rulers, the latter never created a centralized
archive that would enable them collectively to accumulate the hard-earned intelligence
gained by Indians in Britain, or to coordinate their responses to spreading British
colonialism. In contrast, over this period, the British colonial system of surveillance and
control was gradually mastering the Indian “information order.”63 This included
establishing a British political agent (“Resident”) at each key Indian court. Residents
then began to monopolize political communication, iso-
.Aperijus

lating rulers such as the Mughal emperors from each other and from the British
government and other authorities in London.64
These two Indian visitors thus differed in ethnic and religious community, sex,
individual circumstances, location in the transition to colonialism, and also in their
ability to represent themselves. The expanding British political and cultural assertions
in India that partly shaped the dissimilarities between their roles and receptions would
continue to intensify. As European cultural constructs came to dominate in both
Europe and India, later Indians traveling to Europe faced far more rigid preconceptions
of what it meant to be Indian as opposed to European, often around gendered and
racial categories both shaped by and shaping colonialism. 65 The forces of Orientalism
(in the Saidian sense) meant increasingly that Europeans exclusively asserted their own
representations of Asia. Further the British forces of Anglicization, Utilitarianism, and
Evangelical Christianity meant that the knowledge and expertise and opinions of men
like Ttisam al-Din lost value in British eyes.66
Simultaneously, despite oral and written accounts by Indian visitors, British
colonial images of Britain tended to predominate inside Indian society, inculcated as
they were by government-sponsored educational institutions and British officers,
officials, and missionaries. Few writings by Indians about Britain (even ones in English
via translation) have even until today circulated widely either in India or Britain. In
some measure, these have become “homeless texts,” without a place either in the
British or the Indian national narratives since their authors were outsiders to Britain
and largely unacknowledged in India.67 Consequently, Partha Chatterjee argues that
late nineteenth-century Indian visitors could only assess Britain in the terms
constructed by Britons, even when they were observing Britain directly. 68 Thus, in dis-
cussing representations of “the other,” postcolonial scholars have a powerful
argument: colonially constructed knowledge increasingly shaped relations between
Asia and Europe. As scholars of the early modern interactions between Europeans and
Asians, however, we should beware of anachronistic, colonially imposed points of
reference and expectation, while simultaneously keeping in mind how the differential
access to and control over the power to observe supported the colonial process to come.
Eunipi' ()!• .11 1 *. .1

Notes

This paper is drawn from my CounlerJIows to Colonialism: Indian Travellers and Set lien HI Britain, 1600-1857 (New Delhi:
Permanent Black, 2006). I thank the American Council ol Learned Societies, the American Institute of ludian’Studics, and
Oberlin College lor their generous (inau cial support. I greatly benefited from the comments and suggestions of many
people at Pennsylvania State University during the Committee for Early Modern Studies “Europe Observed" workshop.

1. The changing terminology for the identities ol all these people suggests the shifts over time. Over the period covered in this
paper, Anglophones used a range of terms, including East Indians, Asiatics, Orientals, and Indians for people from what
we call South Asia; we will consistently but anachro- nistically use the term Indians. Similarly, Britain, as it existed in the
late eighteenth century, was conceptualized in quite different ways over this period. For discussion ol the “nation" and
empire, see the essays in Antoinette Burton, ed., After the Imperial Turn; Thinking with and through the Nation (Durham:
Duke University Press, 2003).

2. Nabil Matar, “The Question of Occidentalism in Early Modern Morocco,” in Poslcolonial Mows: Medieval through
Modern, ed. Patricia Clare Ingham and Michelle R. Warren (New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), 153-72.

3. Shigurf Naniah-i Velael or, Excellent intelligence concerning Europe Being the Travels oj Mirza Itesa Modeen in Great: Britain and
France, trans, James Edward Alexander [and Munshi Shuinshcr Khan) (London: Parbury, Allen, 1827).
167|
4. Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1978) and Mary Louise Pratt, imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and
Transculluration (London: Routledgc, 1992).

5. For a defense of the theory and praxis of “historical scholarship" (or "archaeo-historicism") see Robert D. Hume, “Opinion:
The Aims and Limits of Historical Scholarship,” Review of English Studies, 53, 21 1 (2002) and Reconstructing Con texts:
The Aims and Principles oj ArchaeO'Hisiorieism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

6. Tanika Sarkar, “A Book ot Her Own, A Lile of Her Own," History Workshop Journal 36 (Autumn 1993), 61. For a study of
Indian self-representations in the early modern period, see Kumkum Chattcrjee, “History as Self-Representation," Modern
Asian Studies, 32, 4 (1998): 891-948.

7. Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledgc, 1994); Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism; (New
York: Knopf, 1983) Ibrahim Alni-Lughod, Aral* Rediscovery oj Europe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963);
Muhammad As-Saffnr, Disorienting Encounters: Travels oj a Moroccan Scholar in France in 1845-1846, ed. and trnns.
Sltsan Gilson Miller (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991); Mushirul Hasan, "Resistance and Acquiescence iu
North India; Muslim Responses to the West" in India's Colonial Encounter: Essays in Memory oj Eric Stokes, ed. Mushirul
Hasan and Narayani Gupta (Delhi: Manohnr, 1993), 39-63; Bernard Oxford Lewis, Muslim Discovery of Europe (London:
Weidesfcld and Nicolson. 1982); Nabil Matar, In the Lands oj the Christians: Arabic Travel Writing in lhe Seventeenth
Century (New York: Routledge, 2003).

8. See Nabil Matar, Islam in Britain (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Turks, Moors, and Englishmen (New
York: Columbia University Press, I 999). In particular, Matar critiques G. K. Hunter, Kim F. Hall, and Kwame Anthony
Appiali lor taking literary images for historical evidence. Sec also Margaret T. Hodgcn, Early Anthropology in the
.Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1964).

9. Nabil Matar, introduction, Piracy, Slavery, and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modem England, ed.
Daniel j. Vitkus (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 4.
.Apert^us
10. Chatterjce analyzes British images of India, showing India to be either “primitive/’ or “degenerate,” both in support of
colonialism. Amal Chatteijec, Representations of India, 1740-1840 (London: Macmillan Press, 1998).

1 1. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, “Connected Histories: Notes toward a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia,” Modern Asian
Studies 31, 3 (July 1997): 737. Ellipsis in original. See also his Penumbra! Visions: Making Polilics in Early Modern South
Asia (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001), 251.

12. According to his son-in-law, Mubarak Khan's mausab rank was 1,000. George Birdwood and William Foster, Register of
Letters (London: Bernard Quaritch, 1893). But M. Athar Ali does not list him in Apparatus oj Empire (Delhi: Oxford
University Press, 1985). It is possible Hawkins wished to elevate his bride’s father’s status in the eyes of his English
readers. Maryam is claimed with pride by the Armenian community. Mesrovb J. Seth, History of Armenians in India
(London: Luzac, 1897), 96-101. A brief discussion of Jahangir and Hawkins, and the context in which the former offered
Maryam to the latter, can be found in Giles Milton, Nathaniels Nutmeg (NY: Penguin, 1999), 126-29.

13. See William Hawkins, Hawkins’ Voyages, ed. Clements R. Markham (New York: B. Franklin, 1970); Birdwood and
Foster, Register; H. G. Rawlinspn, British Beginnings in Western India, 1579- 1657 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1920).

14. See Fisher, ConnferJWs. chapter 1.

15. Sec Athar Ali, Apparatus, 49, 53. This is supported by Birdwood and Foster, Register, 65, 97. This exchange rate comes
from Economic History Services, tvww.elt.net.

16. See William Dalrymple, While Mngluils: Love and Betrayal in Eigliteentli-ccutiiry India (London: HarperCollins, 2002),

17. Hawkins, Voyages, 404.

18. It is not clear if Hawkins had married before in England. If he had, his first wife must have died since Maryam was
recognized as his legal wife on her arrival in England.

19. For an extensive study of later marriages between Indian women and European men, see Durba Ghosh, Sex and the
Family in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

20. Frederick Charles Danvers, Letters Received (London: Sampson, Low, Marston, 1896-1902), vol. 3, 299.

21. Hawkins, Voyages, 404.

22. Ibid., 413.

23. Great Britain, Public Record Office, Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, vol. 2, ed. W. Noel Sainsbury (London: PRO,
1862), 346-47.

24. Parish register, Greater London Record Office, and William Brigg. Register Book of the Parish of St. Nicholas Aeons,
London (Leeds: Walker and Laycoclc, 1890), 65. This marriage record is dated 1613, but that must be incorrect since they
only reached London early in 1614.

25. Sec Fisher, Cotmter/Ioivs, passim.

26. Calendar of State Papers, vol 2, 335, 347.

27. Court Minutes January 27, February 4, 1614 ill Calendar of State Papers, vol. 2, 273, 275, 277.

28. See Fisher, Gwnteijloutf, chapter 1. From 1657 until 1813, thousands of Indians are individually
Europe Observed

listed in the company's records when they (or their employer) purchased an official “permission" for £ 12, which the

company required of all people leaving England for India. East India Company. Court Minutes October 17, 1651,

November 16, 1657, passim to 1813; British Library [hereinafter BL].

29. Calendar of Stale Papers, vol. 3, p. 120.

30. Danvers, Letters Received, vol. 4, 19; vol. 5, 222, 227-27; William Foster, English Factories in India (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1906), 16, 19; Calendar of State Papers, vol. 3, 120, 227.

31. Foster, English Factories; 155; Edgerton MS 2122, f. 189, BL.

32. Foster, English Factories, 168-69, 184, 327.

3 3. Maryam's mother reportedly married a Dutchman and her aunt was courted by a Portuguese merchant. Danvers, Letters
Received, vol. 5, 121 note; Calendar of Slate Papers, vol. 3, 18; Foster, English Factories, 89n.

34. Foster, English Factories, 216.

35. Calendar of State Papers, vol. 4, 437.

36. 1 thank Clement Hawes for this fascinating reference. For analysis of the play and its context see Robert Markley, 77ie Far
East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 143-76; Robert Markley,
"Violence nnd Profits on the Restoration Stage: Trade, Nationalism, and Insecurity in Dryden’s Amboyna,”
Eigliteenth'Cenlury Life, 22, l (1998): 2-17; and Shankar Raman, Framing ‘India*: The Colonial Imaginary in Early Modern
Culture (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001), 189-236. 169
37. This pattern appears sympathetically in Dalrymplc, White Mughais, and stressing the subordination of the woman in
Ghosh, Sex and the Family in Colonial India.

38. See the emergence and later degradation ol these progeny see C. A. Hawes, Poor Relations: The Making of a Eurasian
Community in British India, 1773-1833 (Richmond: Curzon, 1996).

39. See Fisher, Coimici jlons, for extensive documentation of these statistics.

40. See the reprint edition by his descendant: Emin, Life and Adventures, 2nd ed, ed. A. Apcar (Calcutta: Asiatic Society of
Bengal, 1918). See also Michael H. Fisher, “Asians in Britain: Negotiation ofldentity through Self-representation” in A
New Imperial History: Culture, Identity and Modernity in Britain and the Empire, 1660-1840, ed. Kathleen Wilson
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 91-112.

41. See the reprint edition by Michael H. Fisher, The Travels of Dean Mahomet: An Eighteenth-Century Journey through India
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).

42. These authors were Munshi Isma’il (in Britain 1772), Mir Muhammad Husain Isfahani (in Britain 1775-76), and Mirza
Abu Talib Khan Isfahani (in Britain 1799-1802). The second of these wrote originally in Arabic but soon translated his
book into Persian. Among these, however, only Abu Talib’s published articles and books, including both his travelogue
and his essay "Vindication of the Liberties of Asiatic Women," had wide audiences, both among Persian and
English-readers in India and Europe. During the nineteenth century, there were another dozen travel books published by
Indians in English, Urdu, or Nepali. See Simon Digby, "An Eighteenth Century Narrative” in Urdu and Muslim South
Ami, ed. Christopher Shackle (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, I 989), 49-65; Gulfishan Khan, Indian
Muslim Perceptions oj the West during ilic Eighteenth Century (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998); Humayun Kabir,
Mirza Aim Talib KJian (Patna: Patna University, 1961); Rosie Llcwellyn-Joncs, “Indian Travellers in
Nineteenth Century England,” Indo-Brilrsh Review, 18, 1 (1990), J 37-41; Saiyid Athar Ablins Rizvi, Socio-Inttilccfnal
History, vol. 2 (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1986), 230-33; B, M Sankhdher, “Mlrza Abu Talib Khan,” Islamic Culture
44 (1970): 245—48; and Michael H. FljjIlOl'i “Representing ‘His’ Women: Mirza Abu Talib Khan's 1801 ‘Vindication of tlie
Liberties ol Asiatic Women,' ” Indian Economic and Social History Review 37, 2 (2000): 215-37.

43. Sec Richard Eaton, Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier (Berkeley: University of California PIVM, 1993).

44. For a family history, see Qazi Mohamed Sadrul Ola, History of flic Family of Mirza Sheikh rresaiHUindm (Calcutta, 1944).
See also Gulfishan Khan, Indian Muslim Perceptions oj liic West, 7 2-78; Juan R, I Cole, "Invisible Occidentalism:
Eighteenth-Century Indo-Persian Constructions of the West," Iranian Studies 25, 3-4 (1992): 3-16; and Mohamad
Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran: Oncutolisin, Occidentalism, and Historiography (New York: Paigrave, 2001).

45. See Muzaffar Alam, The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India: Awndh and the Punjab, 1707-48 (Delhi: Oxford
University Press, 1986); Kumkum Chatterjee, Merchants, Politics, and Society in Early Modern India: Bihar, 1733-1820
(Leiden: Brill, 1996); Richard B, Barnett, Rethinking Early Modern India (Delhi: Mnnohar, 2002).

46. There were, of course, earlier diplomatic missions from elsewhere in Asia, including Nacjd Ali Bcp, (1625-1627) and Ali
Bally (1636-1637) front Iran, Shah Abdoolla (1676-1677) from Johanna, and an ambassador (1682) trom the king of
Bantam. Further, some Indian rulers had hired Europeans as their agents or representatives in London. Europeans
employed thus, however, usually had their own agendas, not always in accord with those of their Indian employer. For
tin: Indian context, see P.J. Marshall, Bengal: The Briirsh Bridgehead (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) and
Chatterjee, Merchants, Politics, and Society.

47. Ironically, theEast India Company's archive and other British collections of manuscripts did much to preserve evidence
about the actions and writings of Indians. See Bayly, Empire and InJormalion: Intelligence Gathering and Social
Communication in India, 17S0-1870. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

48. Shah Alam to king of Great Britain, Sutton Court Collection, MSS EUR F. 128/111, ff. 100-02, BL.

49. Swinton’s private journal recounted his embassy, as did letters from supporting and opposing Indian and East
India Company officials. Sir Evan Cotton, ed., Journals of Archibald Suniitoii (Calcutta: Government of India Press,
1926), 121-28; Shitab Roy to Muhammad Reza Khan June 19, 1765, Sutton Court Collection, MSS EUR F.128/111, f. 37, BL.

50. Letter to Court January 29, 1766, National Archives of India, For! WilliamTndia House. Correspondence, vol. 4,
371.1‘tisam al-Din, giving the date 11 Shaban 1180, seems to be off by one year. Swinton Letters, MSS EUR F.l 28/56, BL.

51. These included diplomat Hanumant Rao, scholar-official Robert Ghanesan Das, and merchants Khwaja Gregore
Cojamaul and Khwaja Johannes Padre Rafael. Sec Fisher, Countorjlou’s.

52. Sir John Fortescue, Correspondence of King George the Third (London: Macmillan, 1927-1928), vol. 1,443-46; Letter to
Bengal November 20, 1767, E/4/61S vol. Ill, f. 811, BL.

53. Select Committee 1769, 268-69; Letter to Court February 17, 1769, E/4/28, BL.

54. The Nawab of Arcot (also known as Carnatic) was famous in London for his extensive bribery of members of Parliament.
Court Minutes, July 7, .1762, BL.
Europe Observed
Vi. fIiHii't minutes, January 12, 1 768, BL.

ill Michael H. Fisher, “Indian Political Representations in Britain during the Transition to Colonialism," Modern Asian Studies
38, 2 (2004): 1-27,

'i / II is Persian manuscript is OR 200, BL. ft has never been fully translated directly from the Persian into English. Working
from a Bengali translation of the Persian, it has recently been published in Engl ish as The Wonders of Vilayet, trans.
Kaiser Haq (Leeds: Pecpal Tree Press, 2001).

1H, Another Islamic travel genre was the rilila, which usually had the Haj to Mecca as its ostensible purpose, although, as the
classic Rilda of I bn Battuta demonstrates, the journey could extend lar l>eyond that. Both it and the lcss-Haj centered
.siyaliatimma genre, allegedly described real-life locations and occurrences, but could also recount the marvelous. See
Dale F. Eickelman and James Piscatori, Muslim Traudfcrs (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). For later and
quite different sort of travel account by a Muslim in Europe see Muhammad As-Saffar, Disorienting Encounters. See also
Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Arab Rediscovery and Henri Peres, “Voyaguers Musulinans," in iMentoim dc I’lnstitut Franfais
d’Archeologie Orientale du Caire, 68 (1940).

r)9, .S'Jiigurf NomaM Velaet.


60. Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, “Imagining Western Women: Occidentalism and Euro-eroticism,” Radical America 24, 3
(1993): 73-87.

61. Sanjny Subrahmanyam, “Connected Histories."

62. Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran, chapter 3.

63. See Bayly, Empire and Information.

64. See Michael H. Fisher, Indira! Rule in India (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1991).
65. See Mrinalini Sinha, Colonial Masculinity: The ‘Manly Englishman" and the “EJjeminaic Bengali" in the Lale Nineteenth
Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995); Indira Ghose, cd,, Meinsahihs Abroad (Delhi: Oxford
University Press, 1998); Inderpal Grewal, Home and Harem (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996); and Betty Joseph,
Reading (he East India Company, 1720 J.840: Colonial Currencies of Gender (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).

66. See Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: a Study in Nineteenth untnry British Liberal Though I (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, I 999); Thomas Trautnnmn, Aryans and British India (Berkeley: University of California
Press, I 997); and Lynn Zastoupil and Martin Moil', eds., I lie Grail Indian Education Debate: Documents Relating to the
OneMlali.it-AMglit'i.s! Cntiliweriy, 1781 1843 (Richmond Curzon, 1999).

67. Sec Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi, “Modernity Heterotopia and I lontele.v. Texts," (‘nmpninhiv Studio of South Asia, Africa,
and (lie Middle East 18, 2(1998): 2-12.

68. Partha Chatterjee, “Five Hundred Years of Fear and Love," Eounniiii and Political Weekly 33, 22 (May 30-June 5, 1998):
1330-36. See also BhawkiU' Muldiopndhyny, "Writing Home, Writing Travel,” in Comparative Studies in Society and I
lisiory 44, 2 (April 2002): 293-317; Gauri Viswan- athan, Outside the Fold (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998);
Antoinette Burton, At the Heart of rhe Empire (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Rozina Visram, Asians in
Britain (London: Pluto, 2002); Peter Fryer, Maying Pmver (Loudon: Pluto, 1984); and Shompa Lahiri, Indians in Britain;
Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880-1930 (London: Cass, 2000).