On Lucy Morris, Frederick Fawn, and the Sawab of Mygawb: Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds and the ‘cause of the Indian Prince’, by Ramit Samaddar

Assistant Professor at the English Department of Jadavpur University, Ramit
Samaddar’s paper , “Lucy Morris, Frederick Fawn, and the Sawab of Mygawb:
Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds and the ‘cause of the Indian Prince’”, provides
a deep insight into the imperialist tropes in Victorian Literature, particularly in
Anthony Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds, published in 1871.
In the wake of the ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ of 1857, Victorian Literature had started
focusing on India, their prime colony, with several other works like Moonstone,
and The Sign of Four (amongst others) condemning anti-Anglo sentiments
expounded by the natives. Being a campaigner for long-term territorial rule over
non-whites, Trollope asserted that India was not a colony, as few whites
lived there to ‘rule’.
However, his common description of India as “alien,
heathen and native”, was met with an exception in The Eustace
Diamonds, with Lucy Morris championing the rights of an Indian prince.,
Surprisingly, in the later stages of the novel,
Lucy’s passionate support for the Sawab of Mygawb is rivalled by her fierce love
for Frank Greystock. She faces an ethical conundrum, as her sense of just and
unjust overlap with the notion of ‘family’, and the question of the
racial ‘other’. This could reflect the mindset of Anthony Trollope, who
begrudgingly called India, “not a colony”. Indeed, he opined that the novel,
although tangentially, debated over the status of Indian royals, whose kingdoms
were being gradually annexed by the British Lords- Wellesley, Macaulay and
Dalhousie.
Interestingly, Trollope had brought in the Eustace Diamonds as a last minute
addition.; initially, the plot was about the question of the ‘brown Indian’-
if he would be paid Rs. 20 million rupees and placed on the throne, or incarcerated for making false claims against an upstanding white denizen.
After Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne, promises that the
East India Company had made to the erstwhile rulers of subcontinental
India, were slowly neglected in favour of colonialist expansion, and
forced imperialism.
But what makes the reader wonder at the end of this incredibly lucid ‘family saga’,
is the way Trollope seamlessly interweaves, or palimpsests the theft of the Eustace
Diamonds with questions that have been asked before- What happened to the
Sawab of Mygawb? Was he convicted?
It is mentioned that the case resolves, owing to Frederic Fawn’s
inability to maintain his integrity in the face of such fierce adversities, as he
fumbles to establish control, and loses interest in the political fiasco (similar to
Phineas Redux where the protagonist loses interest in politics after being publicly
shunned). He quickly turns to Madame Max, his lover, and the mystery of the
racial ‘other’ is forever kept in the dark. Even though Lucy’s thoughts about her
supposed sympathy for the Sawab of Mygawb are never particularly mentioned,
this could be seen as intentional on the part of the author, who perhaps did not want to antagoniz the English public, (especially after his books in Ireleand were poorly recieved) after having his books on Ireland poorly received. This is
probably what made critics consider him as a ‘money-monger’, for he wrote to
please the public, and earn money, hiding his own thoughts about what he felt, and
wrote.

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