Biogeography, climate, and national identity in Smollett's Humphry Clinker.
In the eighteenth century, colonialism and global commerce increasingly destabilized a national identity reinforced by the island's physical boundaries, which create the impression of a natural nation-state. (3) For Linda Colley, "this conviction that Britain's physical identity, its very shape and place on the map, had been laid down by God points to the much more profound sense in which its inhabitants saw themselves, particularly in times of emergency, as a people apart." (4) Bramble suggests that Britain's climate and ecology can serve as touchstones to measure foreign influences, substituting an ecological identity for one that depends on the rigidity of national borders. Ursula K. Heise, in attempting to go beyond an "ethic of proximity,' imagines ways to extend "nation-based forms of identity" to environmental forms of belonging centered on a global "ecocosmopolitanism" (5) I build on Heise's insights into how cultural networks that establish allegiances to larger entities need be adapted to forge connections between individuals and their surroundings.
To call attention to the long history of anthropogenic climate change, Gillen D'Arcy Wood advocates "eco-historicism;' to discover "the intentionality of globalization, the psycho-cultural formations enabling the exploitation and trade of earth's agricultural and mineral resources, as well as the cultural forms of an embryonic ecological consciousness." (6) Smollett's keen awareness of the local devastation wrought by commercialism and imperialism provides the rationale for this essay: to examine the ways in which Humphry Clinker interrogates a British commercial mindset that valorizes participation in global trade at the expense of traditional forms of national identification, dispossessing individuals who cannot compete in or are crowded out by Britain's commercial empire. Bramble imagines these economic refugees as environmental ones, establishing a causal link between commercial excesses and environmental degradation.
In this essay, I trace Smollett's depiction of three cultures--English, Amerindian, and Scottish--that grapple with maintaining their social cohesiveness and environment while engaging with the global economy with varying levels of success. In the first part, I argue that Smollett demonstrates the ways England's imperial ambitions affect its environment and overturns landowners' and developers' representations of rural commoners. In the second part, I analyze how Smollett simultaneously satirizes depictions of Amerindians as insular and aligns them with circum-Atlantic cultures that desperately resist English imperialism and commercialism. In the last section, I argue that Bramble fantasizes about developing Scotland into an economic force, while preserving it as a relatively pristine land free from the pollution that plagues English cities. Specifically, in the Scottish Highlands, a region culturally and ethnically distinct from the rest of Britain, Bramble suggests that the Highlanders' lucrative commercial and colonial efforts in South Asia can actually restore their traditional clan structure and, in the process, fend off the environmental catastrophe threatening England. Ultimately, by using the epistolary form to voice Scottish disenchantment and undermine counterproductive conceptions of "nature," Smollett looks beyond the nation-state--an entity already enmeshed in a global economy--that corrupts the environment and ignores the plight of the majority of its peoples in favor of enriching a few. (7)
Before discussing Humphry Clinker, I want to emphasize two interlocking themes in Smollett's Travels through France and Italy (1766) because they allow me to demonstrate similarities between Smollett and his fictional creation Bramble. Smollett's (in Travels) and Bramble's valetudinarian state and the irritation caused by it enable their unique vantage point. (8) First, in Travels, as in Humphry Clinker, Smollett's deteriorating health sharpens his observations about the ways in which cultural, social, economic, and political practices corrupt the physical environment and, therefore, jeopardize the stability of the state and the well-being of its inhabitants. In a letter in which he ties the barren physical environment to the emaciated state of French peasants, predicting the French Revolution, (9) Smollett praises the well-regulated physical environment of Britain; it exhibits not only the flourishing state of the country but also the interconnectedness of British society. Britain's countryside supplies the needs of its people and operates as a metonymy for a society that is both interrelated and well organized: in France, he fondly recalls "the country of England smiling with cultivation; the grounds exhibiting all the perfection of agriculture, parceled out into beautiful inclosures, corn-fields, hay and pasture, woodland and common; meadows well stocked with black cattle." (10) Italian gardens, by contrast, contain "a variety of walks and groves and fountains, a wood of four hundred pines" (and he continues to list many other "particulars"); in short, Italian natural sites--like the people and the various principalities--are disparate elements rather than a harmonized community. Second, even as the physical environment reflects the national character, it should be cultivated in a way that does not efface nature. In Italy, statues "encumber the ground," indicating that its inhabitants are alienated from their surroundings. In contrast to the Italians, who "understand ... the excellencies of art [and] have no idea of the beauties of nature" the British appreciate natural settings: British gardens "are designed to produce" an "effect of rural simplicity" and display an "agreeable negligence, which seems to be the effect of nature and accident." (11) This seeming oxymoron--"agreeable negligence"--describes the shaping forces of a heterogeneous society and the local inhabitants' appreciation of the varieties of nature. Whether revealing its simmering discontent or signaling its decline, the physical environment is the lens through which Smollett characterizes the state of society.
When Bramble, then, describes the threats that commerce and colonialism pose to the nation by describing the corruption of the physical environment, he serves as an alter ego for Smollett. (12) While both Smollett and his fictional creation laud the Scots' national character, Bramble fosters a Scottish nationalism distinct from the author's measured treatment of it elsewhere. Discussing the factionalism of 1762 in his Continuation of the Complete History of England (1765), Smollett admires the "fortitude," even "stoicism" of the "North Britains": "Had the natives of North Britain proved equally combustible [as the English], the flames of civil war would have certainly been kindled." (13) In this volume, Smollett relishes the new world order the British have ushered in after the Seven Years' War: the war "introduced a new system of policy all over Europe--Great Britain alone, has encountered and defeated the once dreaded power of the House of Bourbon:' As such, "England and Scotland are now too intimately connected in point of interest and communication, to be disjointed without such violent convulsions as would endanger the safety of either, and even the existence of both." (14) In Humphry Clinker, Lismahago, a Scottish lieutenant whom the Brambles meet on their travels, is in some ways an extension of Bramble's radicalism. His ridiculous appearance and tendentious accounts of recent history, however, defuse these views. While Lismahago vehemently objects to the Union and commercialism, Smollett refuses to sanction these views. Yet Bramble's unwillingness to "refute" Lismahago reinforces his idealization of Scotland and Scottish nationalism (268)--a national identity interlocked with a largely roseate conception of Scotland's physical environment. Smollett ironizes Bramble's tendency to aestheticize his surroundings by juxtaposing Bramble's incompatible depictions of the ways in which commercialism and imperialism affect the ecologies of England and Scotland. In England, these enterprises ravage the physical environment; in Scotland, however, commercialism and environmental purity mutually reinforce each other.
BRAMBLE IN ENGLAND
Bramble describes the depopulation of the countryside and the urbanization of the areas around London that, twenty-five years before, were green fields, bemoaning the ongoing transformation of England. In addition to registering the severe weather that modern scholars recognize as the tail end of the Little Ice Age--the streets in Bath were "covered with snow ... for fifteen days successively this very winter" (35)--Bramble observes the man made environmental disasters that threaten to erode England's increasingly fragile ecology. He itemizes the problems that enclosure has caused, including country villages "depopulated" by acts of parliament to abolish "small farms." and "the incredible increase of horses and black cattle, to answer the purposes of luxury, requir[ing] a prodigious quantity of hay and grass, which are raised and managed without much labour" (83). This "incredible increase of horses and black cattle" upsets Britain's natural balance that Smollett praised in Travels. (15) During his life span, then, especially during the last twenty-five years, Bramble has witnessed an abrupt shift to large-scale farming practices. Empathizing with the plight of formerly self-sufficient rural communities, he condemns the unequal distribution of food and the mismanagement of agricultural land. Instead of employing laborers to grow produce for fellow villagers, landowners maximize profits by catering to the tastes of Londoners who supply "sumptuous" banquets of meat at every meal (87).
These non-sustainable practices, Smollett suggests, have produced food shortages throughout the country. "Stifled with dust" on the road from Bristol to London (62), Bramble meets the eponymous--and ironical--picaro Humphry Clinker, who embodies the consequences of these developments on the working poor. Jery Melford, Bramble's nephew, remarks, "his complexion was of a sickly yellow: his looks denoted famine, and the rags that he wore, could hardly conceal what decency requires to be covered" (78). Echoing contemporary supporters of enclosure who represent the English underclass as unfit to remain in their neighborhoods, the landlord of the local inn describes Clinker as one of many "idle vagrants," a "miserable object," even though he was born there and has committed no crimes (80). Although Bramble means to indict the innkeeper for his cruelty by ironically remarking, "Heark ye, Clinker, you are a most notorious offender--You stand convicted of sickness, hunger, wretchedness, and want" (80), he accurately depicts the way the English defined the lower orders of society. The developers of large-scale enclosures characterized the rural poor as "almost a separate form of human being, 'the lower orders'" in order to rationalize development on formerly common grounds. (16) E. P. Thompson cites examples of witnesses who insisted that when the lands "become commonable," it "had a most prejudicial effect on the morals of the people." (17) Employing this specious rationale, parliament granted advantageous settlements to the Leicester Corporation and others to prevent riots. For Arthur Young, the most influential agricultural reformer in the second half of the eighteenth century who favored engrossing the common lands, "self sufficient rural communities with their 'lazy, thieving sort of people'--that is, subsistence farmers--were irrelevant in the new agricultural economy." This rhetoric was successful: by 1780, in Britain, "few agricultural workers owned any land" (18)
The socioeconomic ramifications on the rural poor of enclosing the commons were manifold, including forcing otherwise independent farmers to remain destitute in their birthplace or emigrate to the cities in search of manufacturing work or to the Americas. Bramble evinces a nostalgia for a time when the English had access to the commons, a nostalgia that even extends to poachers on his own land: "As for Higgins, the fellow is a notorious poacher, to be sure ... but I suppose, he thought he had some right (especially in my absence) to partake of what nature seems to have intended for common use" (16). Instead of criminalizing Higgins, he beseeches Dr. Lewis to "wink hard" at his poaching, preferring that he make use of the meat rather than compensate Bramble for the "offense" (26). Yet most owners of large estates were not as lenient as Bramble. Enclosures led the rural poor to emigrate to the cities. When they found scarce prospects in the teeming metropolis, these migrants sought land in the colonies, setting in motion widespread deforestation in the Americas.
Large-scale grazing and in-migration from the countryside, ironically, turned England's metropolis into a symbolic wilderness. Bramble likens London to the conditions of America, implying that unsustainable development will spread throughout the transatlantic sphere: "Great numbers of [newcomers to the city], being disappointed in their expectation, become thieves and sharpers; and London being an immense wilderness, in which there is neither watch nor ward of any signification, nor any order or police, affords them lurking places as well as prey" (87). Brambles portrayal of an urban wilderness--an analogue to a return to a Hobbesian state of nature--blurs the boundaries between the Americas and an urbanized western Europe to suggest the consequences of increased globalization; in "half a century" he rightly predicts, "the whole county of Middlesex will be covered with brick" (86). The environs of London--and eventually, Bramble implies, its colonies--no longer offer the opportunity for settlers to civilize and produce value from a quasi-Lockean natural world. Bramble disentangles the ties between merchants and landowners that Locke established as necessary to cultivate "waste" land: "What would a Man value Ten Thousand ... Acres of excellent Land, ready cultivated, and well-stocked too with Cattle, in the middle of the in-land Parts of America." (19) In other words, Locke's justification for colonization, which advocates the appropriation of land, is invalid in "an immense wilderness" "covered with brick" The development of the land and the increased goods available to traders satiate the wealthy but impoverish everyone else, limiting the number of consumers and, therefore, nullifying the mutual benefits for landowners and traders. It also triggers a process of ecological devastation that ultimately ruins the very "property"--both land and goods--on which trade depends. (20)
Bramble's proneness to apocalyptic rhetoric--his tendency to extend these local problems into worldwide disasters--captures the interconnections between global commerce and environmental destruction. His depiction of modernizing forces as tides of "luxury" yokes human excesses to ecological disasters. Bramble, in fact, describes how hyper-consumption has created a national and natural calamity, creating refugees in its wake:
Many decent families, restricted to small fortunes, were tempted to settle in Bath, where they could then live comfortably ... but ... they are now obliged to think of other migrations-Some have already fled to the mountains of Wales, and others have retired to Exeter. Thither, no doubt, they will be followed by the flood of luxury and extravagance, which will drive them place to place to the very Land's End; and there, I suppose, they will be obliged to ship themselves to some other country. Bath is become a mere sink of profligacy and extortion. (55-56)
Analyzing this passage, Charlotte Sussman writes, "Humphry Clinker imagines English bodies to be under attack by the forces of mercantile accumulation." In Bath, "the ebb and flow of commerce is mirrored by the waters of the baths" (21) Yet Bramble perceives that the ramifications of industrial and commercial growth extend beyond the ways in which these factors disrupt societal relations and destroy the European body. That is, these "decent" families' rights are being eroded in favor of gratifying the desires of the wealthy. In addition, he imagines the English, who are forced to seek an affordable place to live, as environmental refugees. Migrating to the mountains or the historical ramparts of Exeter, a fortified city built by the Romans and largely free of the "streams of endless putrefaction ... qualified by the gross acid of sea-coal" (118), and beyond in order to escape a "flood of luxury" and a "sink of profligacy" those "of small fortunes" are the most vulnerable to the ravages of this commercialized society. (22) Bramble associates the consumption of goods by the wealthy with inundation and acidification; he likens the abundance of commercial imports to deluges, envisioning the English escaping to peninsulas--"the very Land's End"--that offer safety from these rising contaminated waters. Moreover, he describes a two-tier world in which wealthy areas produce pollution while poorer regions absorb the environmental and social impact of "luxury" and "profligacy."
As the "national hospital" Bath represents the diseased state of the nation, particularly, the hot wells, which draw everyone from the "the highest quality" to "the lowest trades folks" and spread infectious diseases (34, 39). Smollett's dissatisfaction with Bath has a long history. In Essay on the External Use of Water (1752), Smollett criticizes the "malevolence of some narrow-minded" doctors, who, because they "had acquired plentiful fortunes by their practice," ignored proposals to improve the "salubrious efficacy of [Bath's] Waters." (23) Smollett complained that the Bath Corporation advertised the medicinal properties of the minerals in the hot springs rather than simply "the external use of common Water"--mostly by exposing the patient to steam baths rather than immersion in hot waters which "produce a total putrefaction of the juices." He demanded that attention must "be paid to those fountains flowing with health, which.., might be improved as to become the greatest boast, ornament, and blessing of these kingdoms." (24) In Humphry Clinker, Smollett demonstrates how these problems have manifested to threaten national sovereignty. Bath--rather than representing a landmark that fosters British nationalism--registers the ways in which commercial forces and imperialism ravage the land and render the water unhealthy and the air putrid. As his Travels imply, despoiled landscapes, in turn, are representative of disordered social relations.
To examine the ways in which Humphry Clinker develops the overlap among commercialism, extreme weather conditions, and the threat of infectious diseases, I analyze briefly the way Smollett contains these same concerns in the Americas in Roderick Random (1748). In his account of the Battle of Cartagena during the War of Jenkins' Ear, Random sarcastically treats the blunders of his superiors which range from botched military operations to the mistreatment of the sick and wounded. Random depicts the "unhealthy climate" in the "Torrid Zone, where the sun was vertical" as a condition that exposes the greed and inhumanity of England's commanders in their efforts to pillage the Americas: "The change of the atmosphere ... conspired with the stench that surrounded us, the heat of the climate, our own constitutions impoverished by bad provision, and our despair, to introduce the bilious fever among us, which raged with such violence that three fourths of those whom it invaded, died in a deplorable manner." (25) The "heat of the climate" and the "stench" of the enclosed air cause fevers and unduly punish sailors who stand to gain little from this enterprise. (26) The "warm latitudes" cruelly and efficiently, shape the parameters of British national identity. In Humphry Clinker, Smollett deploys the trope of the extreme climatic conditions of these equatorial sites to widen his criticism. As in the warmer climates of the tropics--the "grave of so many Europeans" (27)--infectious diseases spread more easily and are more potent in Bath.
In Humphry Clinker, Smollett underscores the threat commercialization poses to the nation when he represents Lydia Melford, Bramble's niece, as extolling the pleasures of Bath (38-41); the epistolary form allows Smolett lett to provide alternative points of view to contrast Brambles criticisms. Yet, in the letters detailing the conditions of Bath, these differing points of view emphasize the degree to which increased trade and the "consumption of nature" fragments British society rather than undermines Bramble's characterization of Bath. (28) For Bramble, this spot, a place which "Nature and Providence seem to have intended as a resource from distemper and disquiet," has become the very epitome of the excesses of modernization and imperialism. The waters of Bath now attract "Every upstart of fortune. ... including Clerks and factors from the East Indies, loaded with the spoil of plundered provinces; planters, negro-drivers, and hucksters, from our American plantations, enriched they know not how; agents, commissaries, and contractors, who have fattened, in two successive wars, on the blood of the nation" (36). In Bath, Bramble seems fully aware of the bidirectional nature of opening up markets for commerce. In addition to connecting Bath to commercial networks spanning the East Indies and the Americas, he associates these hot wells climatically with the frontiers of the British Empire. At another hot well, Bramble complains, "I meet with half a dozen poor emaciated creatures ... who have made shift to linger through the winter, like so many exotic plants languishing in a hot-house; but, in all appearance, will drop into their graves before the sun has warmth enough to mitigate the rigour of this ungenial spring." This "exotic" climate only temporarily keeps alive those unsuited for England's "intolerably cold" air (15-16). In other words, the "piping hot" baths hint at the kind of world Bramble envisions (35): as the gathering place of factors and imperialists, Bath calls attention to the link between global commerce and humanity's escalating ecological footprint.
The architecture of Bath, specifically the Circus, symbolizes the ways in which imperialism, commercialism, and war profiteering have contributed not just to social disorder but also to impending natural disasters. The situation of the Circus exacerbates every weather condition: "The only entrance to [the Circus] ... is so difficult, steep, and slippery, that, in wet weather, it must be exceedingly dangerous.... When the street is covered with snow, as it was for fifteen days successively this very winter, I don't see how any individual could go up or down.... In blowing weather ... most of the houses in this hill are smothered with smoke ... by the gusts of the wind reverberated from the hill behind, which ... must render the atmosphere here more humid and unwholesome than it is in the square below" (35). Every feature of England's weather--whether snow, rain, or dry, blustery days--transforms this section of the city into a dangerous, alien world that threatens the well-being of those who visit this monument of excess.
This marvel of modernization represents Bramble's worst fears: England's defenses are vulnerable and marked by porous boundaries. He observes, "The Circus is a pretty bauble; contrived for shew, and looks like Vespasian's amphitheatre turned outside in" (34; emphasis added). As John E Sena puts it, the Circus embodies "the temper and pride--the Zeitgeist--of the city and the people who gather there." (29) Indeed, its architecture "turned outside in" exactly describes the conditions of the English body in the hot wells of Bath--and by extension the threat of a degraded environment that has resulted from architectural as well as agricultural expansionism. Bramble anxiously writes to Dr. Lewis, "we know not what sores may be running into the water while we are bathing, and what sort of matter we may imbibe; the king's-evil, the scurvy, the cancer, the pox; and, no doubt, the heat will render the virus the more volatile and penetrating" (44). The baths, which open the pores of those who dip in the waters, spread diseases and increase their severity and unpredictability: "Suppose the matter of those ulcers, floating on the water, comes in contact with my skin, when the pores are all open" (44). As the heat dilates the pores of the bathers, these diseases permeate the skin. The English body, "turned outside in" is more susceptible to infectious diseases in the baths--naturally occurring geothermal vents that Bramble imagines as equatorial sites. In other words, these urban "improvements" in Bath liken the resort to a colonial site under construction; as such, Smollett describes the local climate as resembling that of India--a climate that, as Robert Markley points out, "lies beyond the efforts of humankind to improve fetid tracts of land and thereby mitigate the dire effects of the climate on [the] health [of the British]." (30) The "exotic" climate of Bath delineates a commercial biogeography that encompasses England and the tropics. Smollett emphasizes how the hot waters at Bath and other gathering places for factors are kinds of mini-tropics with fetid waters that spread contaminants: the "stifling" steams from the baths arise from its proximity to "an old burying ground" (45). In this way, the climate of these domestic resorts suggests the nexus between them and imperial sites.
During his travels north, Bramble suggests that England can slow or reverse these deleterious effects of commercial and industrial growth and reinvigorate indigenous ties to land by returning to a mythologized era and an ecologically sensitive mindset in which the English measure their human footprint by how it affects their climate. This attempt to "return" to a land-centered worldview is, of course, just another form of ideology that does not guarantee a deeper commitment to the natural world or even a more cohesive social imaginary. According to Ursula K. Heise, environmentalists need to acknowledge the possibility that "a sense of the local is simply the analogous outcome of a different set of cultural commitments and habits rather than a 'natural' foundation." (31) In a letter narrating Brambles visit to York, Smollett satirizes how Brambles "sense of the local"--an Anglicized form of identity--cannot coexist with the imperatives of the British state and reinforces the social and economic disparities Bramble censures. Smollett's ironic setting for Brambles ideal British structure--a prison--underscores Bramble's provocative, if ultimately misdirected, ecological vision of British identity. Bramble foregrounds his discussion of Britain's syncretic architecture with his encomiums on the salubrious effects of York's prison/ castle, "which was heretofore a fortress." He writes, "this structure is now converted to a prison, and is the best, in all respects, I ever saw at home or abroad--It stands in a high situation, extremely well ventilated; and has a spacious area within the walls, for the health and convenience of all the prisoners" (174). The prison operates as, on the one hand, an unnerving dystopia, but, on the other, exactly the type of sanctuary that Bramble has been gesturing toward during his entire travels.
This fortress, protected from the pollutants generated by commercial society, offers a paradoxical refuge from the ecological devastation and unequal distribution of wealth that result from commerce. This architectural site mitigates, and even improves, the harsh British climate, which Bramble peevishly complains about when he begins his journey as stifling, a "daemon of vapours," which descend "in a perpetual drizzle." As such, when (domestic) buildings mesh with the local climate, it restores his health-and by extension England's well-being (13, 249, 253). Bramble's journey-one that traces the boundaries of the island from his home in Wales to Bath, to London, to Edinburgh, and to Glasgow before he returns to Wales--reinscribes the insularity of national identity by assessing these sites' fitness in terms of the British climate. This interzone is, however, a xenophobic and haunting image of an environmental refuge in a not-too-distant English future. Tellingly, Bramble offers "asylum" to the types of "criminals"--those who refuse to engage in commercialism and colonialism in England as well as the Americas or comport themselves according to the restrictive tenets of enclosure--enumerated in this novel at his home in Wales, suggesting an overlap between this dystopia and landed estates (182).
The estates of his old friends Mr. Baynard and Mr. Dennison embody, on the one hand, the abrupt environmental destruction over the last 25 years and, on the other, a refuge from the excessive consumerism ruining England. Dennison's estate, however, does not offer a secure asylum from commercialism. Like his depiction of the English escaping the rising contaminated waters of Bath, Bramble's phenomenological account of Baynard's estate incorporates his sensitivity to the ways in which agricultural and economic expansionism exacerbate social inequality and environmental devastation. In the Baynard episode, Bramble itemizes the ways in which country squires ruin previously well-managed land to comply with fashionable tastes. He laments the ruins of a formerly flourishing estate: "As for the garden, which was well stocked ... there is not the least vestige of trees, walls, or hedges--Nothing appears but a naked circus of loose sand, with a dry bason and a leaden triton in the middle" (275). In one evocative image, Bramble describes the cataclysmic transformation from a trendy landscape meant to conform to the picturesque tastes of the period into the nightmarish vision of an amphitheater constructed of sand drifts and dunes, which serve as harbingers of the ruins of another empire. In this lonely and haunting vision of a western wasteland, the abundance of the country gives way to a scarred, wind-swept desert in which no life exists, much less human life. By collapsing thousands of years into this image of sterility and loss, Bramble looks backward to evoke the eclipsed Greek empire, but looks forward as well, suggesting a future in which the only sign of British civilization is a solitary reminder--a "leaden triton"--of a past age and its former role as undisputed ruler of the seas. Therefore, when Bramble observes, "There was not an inch of garden ground left about the house, nor a tree that produced fruit of any kind ... every article of house-keeping, even the most inconsiderable ... was brought from the next market town, at the distance of five miles" (281), he suggests that this estate operates as a microcosm for the entire isle of Britain; it will soon cease to produce any agricultural products if the English continue to destroy their environment. Dennison's refuge, then, cannot compensate for the apocalyptic environmental wasteland Bramble envisions.
Smollett further undercuts Bramble's (vexed) view of enclosed estates by equating them with other forms of retreats from nature that ignore England's natural environment. For example, Bramble raves about Mr. T--'s landscape paintings: "His management of the chiaro oscuro ... is altogether wonderful.... he is so happy in his perspective, and marking his distances at sea ... that I could not help thinking, I had a distant view of thirty leagues upon the back-ground of the picture" (73). Later in the novel, Bramble uses the same language to describe the surrounding countryside around Durham on the Scottish-English border: "the country, when viewed from the top of Gateshead Fell ... exhibits the highest scene of cultivation that ever I beheld.... The country lying on both sides of the river, above the town, yields a delightful prospect of agriculture and plantation" (196). These "delightful prospect[s] of agriculture and plantation" are possible to enjoy only from an aesthetic and not affective standpoint. While nature always implies some degree of cultivation in the eighteenth century, this "prospect" reinforces the artificiality of these landed estates. In turn, Smollett emphasizes that whether prison, landed estate, or portrait, these refuges from modern society operate as illusory and counterproductive fantasies that seek to compensate for the very real destruction of the natural world. (32)
Even Lismahago's desire to return to his homeland to reclaim his estate cannot be fulfilled. Because commerce has inflated the cost of living in Scotland, Lismahago foregoes his plan to retire in his native land on "half-pay" and considers returning to the New World. Indeed, his father's estate now operates as a factory, directly contributing to a commercial system he deplores: "In his way to the place of his nativity, he learned that his nephew had married the daughter of a burgeois, who directed a weaving manufacture, and had gone into partnership with his father-in-law; chagrined ... [Lismahago] had arrived at the gate in the twilight, where he heard the sound of treddles in the great hall ... and chastised [his nephew] with his horse-whip" (262). In the twilight, Lismahago's nephew confuses him for a "spectre." Because he cherishes a bygone conception of the land, Lismahago represents a traditional and outmoded past that nostalgically haunts the commercialized present. Bramble, however, promises refuge at his estate (263)--an increasingly crowded place if it is to provide asylum to all of those who cannot cope with the modern world. This sign of the dawn of industrialism--mechanical treadles instead of portraits and statues memorializing ancient estates--indicates the fantasy of sanctuary from the modern world: no patch of land is immune to the transformations occurring around it. Landed estates not only imperil the commons; when configured as retreats from modernizing forces they are also physical manifestations of a psychological state that refuses to consider the tradeoffs of intensification. (33) By retreating to them, Bramble, Lismahago and the others are complicit in the very social policies they so strenuously oppose.
LISMAHAGO AND "SIR FRANCIS" IN THE NEW WORLD
Bramble undermines characterizations of the rural English as the "lower orders"--characterizations that alienate these inhabitants from their homeland--by instead suggesting that those who participate in a commercial society share common traits that differentiate them from those who reject modernization. When Bramble and Tabitha meet Lismahago, he proudly asserts that he "was elected sachem, acknowledged first warrior of the Badger tribe" (189) after marrying the squaw Squinkinacoosta. Tabitha inquires as to "the particulars of her marriage-dress; whether she wore ... a robe of silk or velvet, and laces of Mechlin or minionette--she supposed, as they were connected to the French, she ... had her hair dressed in the Parisian fashion" (189). Her materialism immediately calls into question her depiction of the Miamis as "barbarians," suggesting Tabitha's--and by extension English commercial culture's--erasure of difference though shared consumer habits and fashion. Indeed, Charlotte Sussman explains, "The novel's anxiety about the economic changes wrought by merchant capitalism centers on the transculturation of England threatened by the foreign luxury goods that mercantile trade brought back into the country." (34) Building on Sussman's argument, I analyze the ways in which Smollett's portrayal of Amerindians reasserts his privileging of the lower classes and sets up his representation of Scotland as a country that successfully negotiates between maintaining its clan structure and benefiting from the global economy.
Tabitha's own attire and behavior--and the manners of those of her social class--characterize her as "savage." One need look no further than Bramble and his friend James Quin's "experiment" in Bath which hinges on how well-born women will act when tables are furnished for the ladies with "sweat-meats and nosegays" free of charge (50). Bramble regards the scene in horror as he, Quin, and Jery watch "two amazons ... from the courtly neighborhood of St. James's palace" "singular[ize] themselves' by furiously amassing the most food and flowers in the "attack." Bramble consoles himself by blessing God that Tabitha "did not take the field today!" (51). Tabitha, Bramble suggests, would have proved the fiercest Amazon. As Bramble remarks of his sister, whose "cherry-coloured ribbons ... suit her complexion," had she "been of any other race I should have certainly have looked upon her as the most" (39, 46). He never finishes his sentence. This lacuna underscores what he refuses to rationalize: namely, how he racializes Europeans who have adopted the role of the stereotypical New-World Amerindians eagerly seeking trifles at the expense of their dignity. Exchanges of useless luxury items strike Smollett as absurd; Europeans operate within a corrupted market culture in which these goods contain exalted semiotic meanings that connect disparate peoples by the flimsy thread of consumption rather than forge a robust and cohesive national consciousness. (35)
While Smollett may describe the Miamis as an insular and simple tribe in order to satirize wealthy English, he also includes these peoples in a circum-Atlantic community under threat from British imperialism. In his description of a social visit Bramble and Jery make to the fatuous Duke of Newcastle's house, Smollett exposes the ways in which the English will employ any tactic, even bioterrorism, principally through the use of smallpox blankets distributed to native populations in North America, to free up land in the New World. The former MP mistakes Jery for "Sir Francis," a newlyappointed governor in the New World, and proceeds to divulge British imperial strategies: "Pray when does your excellency set sail?--For God's sake have a care of your health ... pray, my dear excellency, take care of the Five Nations--Our good friends the Five Nations--The Toryrories, the Maccolmacks, the Out-o'the-ways, the Crickets, and the Kickshaws--Let 'em have plenty of blankets, and stinkubus, and wampum; and your excellency won't fail to scour the kettle, and boil the chain, and bury the tree, and plant the hatchet--Ha, ha, ha!" (109). (36) Even as the passage seems to indicate his benign inanity, the Whig politician's malapropisms for the Tuscarora, the Mohawks, the Onondaga, the Cayuga, and the Seneca--allies of the British against the French known as the Hodenosaunee League--actually encompass his past brutality in the Jacobite insurrections and New World. Because the Duke of Newcastle (Thomas Pelham-Holies) sloppily Anglicizes tribal names and renders some of them vaguely Scottish, Smollett captures the brutality of British colonial efforts abroad and domestically. Indeed, Newcastle turned his attention to colonial affairs after playing a role in the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745.
Along with disparaging Amerindian religious and ceremonial rituals, the former MP encourages the tactics of spreading infectious disease and alcoholism. (37) As Lilian Friedberg argues, infected blankets were given to the Native populations of North America in order to pave the way for westward expansion: "In what is likely the world's first documented case of genocide accomplished by bacterial means, Lord Jeffrey Amherst suggested that smallpox-infected blankets be distributed to the Ottawa and Lenape peoples, stating in a 1763 letter to his subordinate, Colonel Henry Bouquet, 'You will do well to [infect] the Indians by means of blankets as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this [execrable] race.'" (38)
Because the Ottawa and Lenape peoples were aligned with the French, Newcastle's suggestion--to conduct biological warfare on friendly tribes--disturbingly encourages the indiscriminate eradication of colonizable peoples. (39) And if we question the intimations of the duke's meaning, we need look no further than Brambles supposed "misanthropy" in Bath in which he laments that "every thing is sophisticated" or adulterated: "You'll allow," Bramble explains to Dr. Lewis, "that nothing receives infection sooner, or retains it longer, than blankets, feather-beds, and matrassas" (46). Yet by putting this practice in the mouth of this ridiculous MP, Smollett satirizes the administration's geopolitical policies while diminishing the enormity of this drastic method to gain territory. Even so, this passage helps to reevaluate Brambles depictions of British subjects starving in the countryside because of the land enclosure movement. Physical and cultural traits--birthplace, skin color, or customs--that supposedly help forge a shared national imaginary are meaningless when elite groups seek to exploit the natural world or gain territory. European or indigenous groups who are marginalized by or refuse to be incorporated in the global commercial network risk extirpation.
When Smollett, therefore, sensationalizes the barbarism of the Miamis, he does so partly to discourage his fellow countrymen from ventures in the New World and partly to expose a worldview that sanctions any tactics in the name of commerce and the exploitation of the natural world. Murphy, Lismahago's fellow soldier, is tortured and eaten by the Miamis; with these depictions of Amerindian "savagery," Smollett denigrates Amerindians. (40) Referencing Smollett's remark in his Present State of all Nations that "the savages are in general 'so stupid, so cruel, so barbarous ... that they scarcely deserve'" to be called human beings, Paul-Gabriel Bouce argues that Lismahago criticizes both Amerindians and British consumers, like Tabitha. (41) Even if Smollett's nonfiction writings demonstrate an unenlightened view of Native Americans, he offers a more complicated portrayal of them in Humphry Clinker. In Continuation of the Complete History of England, Smollett narrates three Indian chiefs' visit to London: even when they "beheld the shops and warehouses" and "surveyed the churches ... and houses of nobility," they did not display the "least symptom of admiration." Reminded, in a sense, of an Englishman's own "brutal insensibility" (namely Bramble's) at witnessing the exotic sites in Bath and London, Smollett tempers his harsh representations of natives--exotic urban landscapes disorient foreigners and English people alike. (42)
Yet more troubling to Smollett is the British's susceptibility to these narratives, the way British culture has conditioned them to imbibe more extravagant and bizarre consumer items. Lismahago and his audience revel in the lurid and absurd cruelty of the Natives: "the warriors and the matrons made a hearty meal upon the muscular flesh which they pared from the victim" (188). According to Lismahago, Squinkinacoosta in particular demonstrates the prodigious feats of strength: she "vied with the stoutest warrior in eating the flesh of the sacrifice" and remained conscious despite imbibing massive amounts of liquor (188). Even as he retells the brutal accounts of natives depicted in Cadwallader Colden's The History of the Five Indian Nations, Smollett draws attention to the hopeless efforts by marked indigenous groups--whether Amerindian, Scot, Irish--to keep their culture intact: try as they might to incorporate the European body into their culture, they cannot withstand ingesting the diseased European body. (43) And Murphy is the fitting sacrifice. Jery continues, "The Indians themselves allowed that Murphy died with great heroism, singing, as his death song the Drimmendoo, in concert with Mr. Lismahago" (188). This Irish folk song, a popular cry of resistance among Jacobites (401 n 12), hardly the tune to demonstrate "British pluck," instead suggests the pathetic and disorientated lamentations of a colonial subject of Britain, forced to fight its imperial wars, trying desperately to reassert his Irish identity. (44) In other words, this racialized other--part of Pelham's network of colonizable subjects--is appropriately absorbed into the Amerindian body. Smollett does not necessarily bemoan the plight of indigenous tribes in the Americas; instead, by imagining the histories of Murphy and Lismahago among the Amerindians as objects of consumption, he defines the English worldview as one that objectifies all circum-Atlantic cultures. Either as agents of the British state or objects to be exploited, the Scots and Irish promote English commercial and imperial efforts.
BRAMBLE IN SCOTLAND
Leaving England and its environmental devastation, Bramble lights on Scotland as a site not only to reinvigorate his countrymen's ties to the land but also to provide the imperial center for lucrative trade to the Far East. (45) While Bramble identifies the incongruity between Britain's climate and new architectural structures like the Circus, he mystifies these problems by suggesting that they stem from England's social climbing and isolates the root cause to the influence of women: "I believe it will be found upon enquiry, that nineteen out of twenty, who are ruined by extravagance, fall a sacrifice to the ridiculous pride and vanity of women, whose parts are held in contempt by the very men whom they pillage and enslave" (283). (46) Unlike his treatment of England, Bramble represents Scotland's economic opportunism as cultivating and improving its physical environment. In turn, rather than fragmenting its society, Scottish commercial efforts reinforce their entrenched social and cultural institutions. (47) The Scottish-peasantturned-nabob, Brown taps into the lucrative market of the East Indies, engaging in a sanitized version of global trade. (48) Lismahago and Brown serve as an instructive comparison, illustrating the novel's complicated stance on overseas commerce. Moreover, Bramble likens the York prison/castle, an insular locale protected from the commercial excesses of England, to Scotland, a country in which its individuals and indigenous forms of architecture and landscaping are suited to Britain's climate and "natural" tastes. In this way, Smollett offers Scotland as a country that carefully calibrates its industry and commerce with its embedded ways of life. (49) At the same time, he undermines Bramble's vision for Scotland because it disengages from or disregards the very real environmental threats of imperial efforts.
While largely agreeing with the way Bramble imagines increased globalization as setting in motion a series of environmental disasters (198), Lismahago, nevertheless, proudly asserts, "Before the union, there was a remarkable spirit of trade among the Scots, as appeared in the case of their Darien company, in which they had embarked no less than four hundred thousand pound sterling ... which failed in consequence of the union" (266). Lismahago's revisionist history and tendentious account of this colonial episode are far from the mark. The utter failure of the Darien project in the late 1690s and thus the Scottish attempt to establish its own western empire precipitated Scotland's accession to the Act of Union. (50) If the Scots can leave the Americas to the English--or at least the "Lowland Scots [who like] the English are derived from the same stock"--then the Scots can reap the fantastic profits of trading voyages and imperialism without suffering the fate of Lismahago and Murphy in the New World (233). While the Scots are indeed instruments of the East India Company, Smollett counters that, unlike the English, they escape the stigma of being associated with a commercial entity because they inject the wealth accrued from their service into the local economy.
For Smollett, Scotland synthesizes an industrious model of commerce with the insular national identity that Bramble prizes, creating a landscape in which pastoralism and global commerce are mutually supportive. Smollett himself inserts a poem celebrating the Highlands, "Ode to Leven Water," which pastoralizes his birthplace as an unspoiled land. The gentle flow of the river, unlike the waters in Bath, typifies a climate free from the putrefaction endemic to England: "Pure stream! In whose transparent wave / My youthful limbs I wont to lave; / No torrents strain thy limpid source; / Nor rocks impede thy dimpling course" (242). While a wretched piece of poetry, it encapsulates a fantasy of Scotland's uncorrupted natural state. Unlike England's flood of imports and the commercialism that degrade the natural environment, Scotland's industry is "imbrown'd with toil" (242). In other words, Scottish manufacturing retains a close tie with the soil and the products are, in a sense, domesticated because Scots have labored intensely to manufacture them. Smollett nostalgically depicts shepherds "piping in the dale" with "hearts resolv'd, and hands prepar'd," to "guard" their natural and national "blessings" (242); even as Smollett hints of vague threats to this bygone, mythologized identity, he represents Bramble as sincerely pursuing a late eighteenth-century version of it. By overdetermining Scotland as a pastoral site, Smollett undercuts Bramble's insistence that Scotland remains pristine despite its widespread ecological destruction. (51)
Bramble does not want to reconstitute entirely an earlier mythological age. Instead, he suggests that with the right kind of commercial enterprise Scotland can be developed properly--but not at the expense of a traditional feudal order: "It cannot be expected, that the gentlemen of this country should execute commercial schemes to render their vassals independent; nor, indeed, are such schemes suited to their way of life and inclination" (248). As Bramble would have it, the parliament "in vain ... grants" Scottish peasants "advantageous leases on the forfeited estates" of exiled leaders of the Jacobite rebellion in order "to weaken, and at length destroy this influence [ties to the clan]," but this "taste of property and independence" that would tempt an Englishman does not entice the Highlanders. As soon as the laird of the clan returns to claim his lands, the "clan, though ruined and scattered ... in a few days stocked his farm with seven hundred black cattle" (247). Like the Miamis, who "were too tenacious of their own customs to adopt the modes of any nation whatsoever" (189), the Scottish Highlanders have not been susceptible to parliament's endeavors to enforce economic as well as cultural hegemony and thereby dissolve the affective ties of kinship. By drawing this comparison, Bramble suggests the yoke of British colonialism may indeed be too tight to resist. Indeed, Bramble darkly hints, "This air ... is so healthy, that the natives are scarce ever visited by any other disease than the small-pox" (242). By disarming the Highlanders after the Jacobite rebellion, parliament has taken the most effectual step "to break the force of clanship" but there are harsher methods, as Pelham suggests (246).
While Bramble seems to support this paternalistic system, he realizes that England will colonize Scotland as well as any other country that offers natural resources and vulnerable peoples: "Our people have a strange itch to colonize America, when the uncultivated parts of our own island might be settled to greater advantage" (248). Bramble's ambiguous "our people" indicates a slippage between identifying with the British who practice an imperialist agenda and the Celtic fringe to which he lays claim: "You must know I have a sort of national attachment to this part of Scotland," because it reminds him of "Welsh language and customs," which "flatter me with the notion, that these people are the descendants of the Britons, who once possessed this country" (239). Sharing an ethnic identity with the Celts who ruled before the Romans and then the "Sassenagh, or Saxons" conquered the island (233), Bramble objects to the way parliament has prohibited Scottish Highlanders from wearing their traditional dress. He acknowledges that the Highlanders have--so far--withstood the English's attempts to enfranchise them to complete their internal colonization; yet, if they do not succeed in interlacing the kinship ties of their clan structure, the characteristics of a nation-state that conjure a cohesive imaginary, and the economic opportunities of global commerce, the English will eventually develop the country in their own way.
As Lismahago makes clear, Scotland served as a precursor to colonial settlements in the Americas, suggesting not only the "demands of territorial expansion" but also the economic imperatives of capitalism that require the expansion of markets. (52) The English extracted the natural resources of "North-Britain," including coal, iron, copper, and silver and engrossed the profits, leaving the Scottish people as destitute as they were before the Union. Lastly, the Scots "lost their independency of state, the greatest prop of national spirit" (266); and England "got an accession of above a million useful subjects, constituting a never-failing nursery of seamen, soldiers, laborers"--a "most valuable acquisition to a trading country, exposed to foreign wars, and obliged to maintain a number of settlements in all the four quarters of the globe" (267). This internal colonization must, then, be challenged in a way that takes advantage of the Highlanders' unique forms of kinship and, at the same time, participates in this New-World order. To illustrate this commercial model, Bramble describes the noble efforts of a Scottish merchant who establishes textile manufacturing and hires only Scots--a form of economic protectionism designed not only to modernize Scotland but also to keep men from enlisting in Britain's New-World wars. This merchant, "from a real spirit of patriotism," set up "a manufacture of course linen, for the employment of the Highlanders," but "the late war intervening, all his best hands were pressed into service" (247, 248). While the English needed to protect their country from Jacobite incursions, they also exploited the opportunity to disrupt Scottish manufacturing, destroying livelihoods and thereby forcing "seventy thousand" Scots to wage war in the Americas (267).
Bramble imagines that the South Seas and East Indies can offer what the North American colonies cannot, namely, a commercial sphere that does not threaten to exoticize and acculturate the Celtic fringe. Indeed, Bramble depicts Scotland as interchangeable with Juan Fernandez--except for the climate which reinforces a Celtic national identity. Bramble musingly dreams, "Above that house [in Cameron belonging to James Smollett, Tobias's cousin] is a romantic glen or clift of a mountain, covered with hanging woods, having at bottom a stream of fine water that forms a number of cascades in its descent to join the Leven; so that the scene is quite enchanting. A captain of a man of war, who had made the circuit of the globe with Mr. Anson, being conducted to this glen, exclaimed, 'Juan Fernandez, by God!'" (243). This area, which Smollett intimately connects to the tributary of his birthplace, the Leven, forms an alternative commercial network to the London-Bath-Americas-East Indies one he stigmatizes in earlier sections of the novel. The area around Cameron, called "Mavis (or thrush) Nest" may be "cursed with a weeping climate," like Wales, but the air "is so healthy, that the natives are scarce ever visited by" diseases (243). Juan Fernandez held a unique place in European lore and figured prominently in English travel literature that narrated voyages to the Americas and the South Seas. An island off the coast of Chile, it captured the English imagination as the site where Alexander Selkirk, the real-life counterpart to Robinson Crusoe, was stranded. Although Juan Fernandez had a vexed history, as Smollett's British Magazine details, it represented the prowess of Britain's growing empire in the 1760s. The section that Smollett reprinted in his British Magazine of George Anson's voyage extolled its fitness for a plantation.- Moreover, in the 1750s it was considered a gateway to the riches of the South Seas, an island that announced England's increasing global presence in relation to continental European powers. Glyndwr Williams claims that A Voyage Round the World by George Anson (1748) was "a reasoned plea for the expansion of British power and commerce in the South Sea." (54) For Anson--and for Smollett--the island and what it represents is a cure for disease, a relief from the ravages of war, and a barometer of England's preeminence. In practice, the English used this island as a stopover to disrupt Spanish trade, but the contrast between Smollett's justifiable polemic against British military operations in Cartagena and his appropriation of Juan Fernandez reveal how invested he is in a commercial projects that he imagines benefit the Highlanders.
Smollett's appropriation of Crusoe's island--and the way it bolsters the fantasy of a secure English identity in Robinson Crusoe--however, reveals an ambivalent stance toward Scottish commercial networks. The island reinforces Brambles efforts to forge an insular identity while aggrandizing British commercial efforts. Defoe resituates Selkirk's Pacific marooning in the Caribbean partly because the island's geographic location would have reminded the English of their military and economic inferiority as the Spanish dominated the waterways off the west coast of South America. (55) Smollett, in turn, seemingly "corrects" Defoe's placement of the isles, indicating the shifting economic imperatives of the British. In the fifty years since the publication of Robinson Crusoe, England's, and particularly the East India Company's, position in South Asia had drastically improved. The East India Company's victories on the Indian subcontinent in 1757 and 1764 "and the Company's acquisition of the diwani [right to collect revenue] in 1765 transformed a company of merchants into an administrative body in South Asia." (56) Yet Bramble likens a remote part of Scotland to the most frequented commercial island in the South Pacific (57)--this glen would indeed be "a perfect paradise" if, unlike Juan Fernandez, it could withstand the environmental degradation that attends commercial expansion.
Brambles depiction of Scotland's "paradise" leads directly to his emotional portrayal of the reunion of Brown, a captain in the East Indies, and his family who have suffered from English suppression of the Highlanders and the economic reforms that have destabilized the Scots' traditional way of life (255). Brown returns to the Highlands, unlike the foppish factors in England, who have no ties to their fellow countrymen, "genteely, tho' plainly, dressed." In the East Indies, the Scots thrive and, when they return, uphold their heritage. Returning to his birthplace, he takes a shovel out of an old man's hands, asking, "Have you never a son ... to ease you of this labour?" The father replies that he has three sons: one is in the nearby prison, while the eldest, the old man assumes, still resides in the East Indies. Brown asks his father if this "unnatural son" has sent him any money. To which the father replies, "Call him not unnatural ... he sent me a great deal of money; but I made a bad use of it" (254). Affirming Brambles depiction of the forced and destructive reforms of Highland society--reforms meant to transform the Scots from vassals of their chief into proper consumers and landowners who participate in capitalism--the father admits his helplessness with money. Brown then reveals himself as his son, and the happy family reunion ensues after he sets his brother at liberty--a gesture that symbolically frees him from English yoke. Brown subsequently gathers the entire town and treats them to food and drinks at the local inn, reuniting the clan that the British tried to disperse. At the inn, Bramble demands Brown's story: He "enlisted as a soldier in the service of the East India Company .... In the course of duty, he had the good fortune to attract the notice and approbation of Lord Clive, who preferred him from one step to another, till he had attained the rank of captain and paymaster to the regiment, in which capacities he had honestly amassed above twelve thousand pounds, and, at the peace, resigned his commission" (255). Brown amassed fantastic wealth in the East Indies, but remained uncorrupted by his service abroad. Instead of filling Britain's coffers, he takes advantage of commercial opportunities in order to return home to restore Scotland's traditional feudal society. Unlike in the Americas, Scots can amass wealth in the East Indies, whereas Lismahago in America cannot attain a "higher rank than that of lieutenant" (183). The Scots have wasted their efforts in England's New-World colonies, and, worse, they have participated in colonizing endeavors that are an extension of English internal colonization in the Highlands. Moreover, if the hot waters at Bath are mini-tropics, spreading disease and death to its visitors, then the salubrious air of Scotland shares no similarities with the Indian subcontinent's tropical climate. Bramble refuses to register the toll these hazardous voyages to India exacted on British sailors and colonists. (58) Even though the Scots, too, return from the "East Indies, loaded with the spoil of plundered provinces," Bramble does not characterize Scotland's climate as a biohazard.
Yet nabobs represent exactly the figure of the social climber that Bramble pinpoints as triggering the social and environmental disorder throughout the novel. As Tillman Nechtman argues, a nabob's wealth "threatened to naturalize foreign and imperial institutions within domestic Britain at a time when marking out difference--between Britain and India, between nation and empire--was increasingly important to metropolitan audiences." (59) According to Bramble, for the Scottish--who as Lismahago sarcastically indicates, had little representation within British power structures (198)--nabobish wealth did not upset the social order but permitted them to challenge the economic, political, and social uncertainty of the Union. In this way, the Highlanders could appropriate particular conceptions of national identity and engage in commercialism in ways that reinforce their customs. The Scots spend the profits earned from global commerce to promote local industry. (60) Indeed, Brown proposes to "take the other [brother] as his own partner in a manufacture which he intended to set up, to give employment and bread to the industrious" (256). In this sense, Bramble demarcates the boundaries between Britain and its colonial possessions that have been rendered porous by global systems. At the same time, he elides his critique of these practices by isolating Scotland from the environmental degradation of the western world. (61) Bramble's attention to Scotland near the end of his novel as an untarnished land threatens to mystify the unsustainable practices he exposed in England.
By commending the Scots' participation in the East India Company's exploitation of India to restore Scottish livelihoods, Bramble encourages the "abolition of small farms," a practice that he denounced in the English midlands. This intensification will now be carried out in their colonial possessions in India, upsetting the "ecological and economic synergies [that] balanced the diverse claims of plains agriculture, pastoralism and foothill swidden." Rejecting historical accounts of Britain's "improvements" on the subcontinent, Mike Davis explains that in "contrast to the rigidity and dogmatism of British land-and-revenue settlements, both the Moguls and Marathas flexibly tailored their rule to take account of the crucial ecological relationships and unpredictable climate fluctuations of the subcontinent's drought-prone regions." (62) In his zeal to colonize South Asia, Bramble ignores his own dire warnings of a dust-filled wasteland in which the poor, like Humphry, starve. Therefore, Brambles observations need to be placed within a larger context of British "rigidity" overseas and the long-term environmental effects of their land-use practices. In this way, Brambles "Nature" operates as a temporary ideological construct that allows him to challenge British imperialism and cultural hegemony in the Highlands. (63) Yet his conception of it dissolves when he imagines how East Indian commerce can perpetuate the "Highlands"--a region that he conjures into being; this image of Scotland sanctions the exploitation of other peoples and environments.
Recollecting her travels in Scotland, Dorothy Wordsworth demonstrates the extent to which the British elide Scotland's modernization and "experience" the space as a remote wilderness with primitive peoples: "It might have seemed a valley which nature had kept to herself for pensive thoughts and tender feelings, but that we were reminded at every turning of the road of something beyond by the coal carts which were travelling towards us." Despite the coal carts, Wordsworth attempts to incorporate Scotland's modern development into portrayals of it as "simple, naked Scotland": "Though these carts broke in upon the tranquility of the glen, they added much to the picturesque effect of the different views, which indeed wanted nothing, though perfectly bare, houseless, and treeless." (64) For Wordsworth, mining, which destroys the national environment and strips the land of any vegetation that it might have had, paradoxically, contributes to depictions of it as an empty wilderness.
In the same way, Smollett, writing thirty years earlier, counters territorial imperialism and proto-capitalist practices, including enclosure and the establishment of the first factories, with an ecological identity. Smollett (like Wordsworth) conceives of "Nature" as limited to certain geographic spots that nevertheless are as affected by modernization as the rest of the world. According to Slavoj Zizek, this ecological worldview--the "notion of nature as some kind of harmonious balance, which is then disturbed and derailed through ... excessive human desire to exploit nature"--replaces religion as a "conservative, archideological mistrust of change" and "is the ultimate obstacle to ecology." (65) "Nature" is an ideological construct that mystifies and perpetuates the continued exploitation of the natural world. Moreover, our need (discursively) to preserve "Nature" actually authorizes development because the idea of pristine nature engenders a (false) belief that at least part of the world remains unaffected by development and modernity. (66)
Reassessing this ahistorical and counterproductive conception of nature, Timothy Morton advocates for an "ecology without nature," putting "us in touch with a surrounding environment" and replacing "fantasies of interconnectedness." He suggests that we recapture an in-between state--"a dull inertia" and "anti-aesthetic grotesqueness"--that admits the unknown and more closely aligns with the natural world, whatever that may be. (67) Morton's ideas lead us back to Bramble's condition at the beginning of the novel. Bramble practices "really dark ecology" when his "bodily pain" and "natural excess of mental sensibility," contributing to his real and imagined debilitation and sicknesses (18), allow him to demystify British ideology. His own bodily weaknesses, which operate as an analogue to his disaffection with the British state, provide insight into the deleterious environmental effects of its modernization. When he embraces and (re)constitutes a Scottish national identity that rests on Scotland as a pristine natural environment, he reveals the limits to his critique of global commerce and territorial imperialism.
University of Nebraska, Kearney
(1) Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, ed. O. M. Brack and Thomas R. Preston (Athens, CA: U. of Georgia Press, 1990), 31, 47, 56, 51. Hereafter cited parenthetically by page number.
(2) See Terence N. Bowers, "Reconstituting the National Body in Smollett's Travels through France and Italy," ECL 21 (1997): 1-25; Charlotte Sussman, "Lismahago's Captivity: Transculturation in Humphry Clinke," ELH 61 (1994): 597-618; and Arleen Douglas, Uneasy Sensations: Smollett and the Body (U. of Chicago Press, 1995).
(3) Scholars have addressed in a variety of ways how Humphry Clinker fantasizes about "an impenetrable national identity" and exposes the dangers of intercultural contact that arise through the importation of luxury items (Sussman, "Captivity," 597).
(4) Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837 (Yale U. Press, 2005), 18.
(5) Ursula K. Heise, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (Oxford U. Press, 2008), 61, 65.
(6) Gillen D'Arcy Wood, "Eco-historicism," Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies 8 (2008): 3.
(7) I suggest that we need to trace globalization back to Smollett's lifetime because globalization, broadly defined, refers to an "unprecedented compression of time and space reflected in the intensification of social, political, economic, and cultural interconnections and interdependencies on a global scale" (Manfred B. Stegner, "Globalism and the Selling of Globalization," Planetary Politics: Human Rights, Terror, and Global Society [Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005], 22).
(8) In his introduction to Smollett's Travels through France and Italy (Oxford U. Press, 1981), Frank Felsenstein writes: "If there was ever an occasion when spleen was turned to literary advantage it is in the Travels through France and Italy" (xii). As Felsenstein points out in "With Smollett in Harrogate," PQ 88 (2009): 442, Smollett, like Bramble, "comes across as an advocate of hygiene and of exercise, but also as one who, despite the improbable likelihood of cure, is open at least to try other forms of treatment."
(9) See Felsenstein's introduction to Smollett, Travels, xix.
(10) Smollett, Travels, 296.
(11) Smollett, Travels, 253, 252.
(12) Felsenstein, "With Smollett," 444, draws on a newly discovered manuscript to elucidate the link between Smollett's own travels and key figures and places in the novel. Even so, he maintains that "the line between fact and imaginative fiction remains frustratingly blurry."
(13) Tobias Smollett, Continuation of the Complete History of England, 5 vols. (London: 1762-65), 5:118, 119.
(14) Smollett, Continuation, 5:120.
(15) Brian Fagan, The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850 (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 145, points out that "between 1700-1760, 137,000 hectares were enclosed by parliamentary action, most of it after 1730."
(16) Fagan, Little Ice Age, 145. E. P. Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century," Past and Present 50 (1971): 91, explains that when global commerce inflates the prices of household goods, government officials and developers used this as an excuse to engross more common lands: "When prices began to soar at the end of the century, the remedy was seen not in a return to the regulation of trade, but in more enclosure, tillage of waste lands, improvement."
(17) E.P. Thompson, Customs in Common (London: Merlin Press, 1991), 124.
(18) Fagan, Little Ice Age, 145, 146.
(19) Robert Irvine, "Labor and Commerce in Locke and Early Eighteenth-Century English Georgic," ELH 76 (2009): 968, explains that John Locke provides "a moral justification for the ownership of a landed estate, but [does] so in terms of its participation in a commercial economy as just one kind of property among many," thereby establishing "a conceptual continuity between land on the one hand and money and goods on the other."
(20) See Peter Denny, "Unpleasant, tho' Arcadian Spots': Plebeian Poetry, Polite Culture, and the Sentimental Economy of the Landscape Park," Criticism 47 (2007): 493. Irvine, "Labor and Commerce in Locke," 967-68, demonstrates that Locke provides an "ideological common ground on which landowners and merchants can come together for the defense of property rights in general."
(21) Sussman, "Lismahago's Captivity," 605.
(22) Ken Hiltner, "Renaissance Literature and Our Contemporary Attitude toward Global Warning," Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment 16 (2009): 431, reminds us that because anthracite, a less toxic form of coal, was too expensive to transport from Wales and Scotland, highly sulfurous "seacoal"--"so called because it was mined near the ocean"--created "a seemingly perpetual cloud of sulfurous smoke hanging over London."
(23) Smollett, Essay on the External Use of Water (1752), ed. Claude E. Jones (johns Hopkins U. Press, 1935), 76, 72.
(24) Smollett, Essay, 65, 65, 76.
(25) Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, ed. Paul-Gabriel Bouce (Oxford World's Classics, 2008), 162, 185, 189-90.
(26) Robert Markiey, "A Putridness in the Air': Monsoons and Mortality in Seventeenth-Century Bombay," Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies 10.2 (2010): 110, points out that "Besides their 'Heat and Moisture,' tropical climates in the East and West Indies, according to John Tennett [an eighteenth-century physician], are characterized by air that 'abound[s] with Effluvia of a poisonous coagulating Nature.'"
(27) Smollett, Roderick Random, 207.
(28) Alexandra Walsham, The Reformation of the Landscape: Religion, Identity, and Memory in Early Modern Britain and Ireland (Oxford U. Press, 2011), 425.
(29) John F. Sena, "Ancient Designs and Modern Folly: Architecture in the Expedition of Humphry Clinker," Harvard Library Bulletin 27 (1979): 86-113, rpr. in Humphry Clinker (New York: Norton, 1983), 410.
(30) Markley, "Monsoons," 115.
(31) Heise, Sense of Place, 61.
(32) For an alternative analysis of Bramble's appreciation of Dennison's agricultural methods, see Robert P. Marzec, An Ecological and PostcoloniaI Study of Literature: From Daniel Defoe to Salman Rushdie (MacMillan: New York, 2007), 3, 100-11. He theorizes how estate holders forged a subjectivity dependent on boundaries and established dominion over the land by enclosure, cultivating a model of subjectivity and authority that could be applied in England's colonial territories.
(33) As Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings: The Origins of Cultures (New York: Random House, 1977), 4, explains: "In the absence of technological change,]intensification] leads inevitably to the depletion of the environment and the lowering of the efficiency of production since the increased effort sooner or later must be applied to more remote, less reliable, and less bountiful animals, plants, soils, minerals, and sources of energy."
(34) Charlotte Sussman, Consuming Anxieties: Consumer Protest, Gender, and British Slavery, 1713-1833 (Stanford U. Press, 2000), 84.
(35) Smollett does not limit his satire to women: when Lismahago and Tabitha finally marry, the bridegroom presents his wife and her party with a fur cloak of American sables," a "fine bear's skin," an "Indian purse, made of silk grass," and other gifts obtained in the Ohio River Valley (333).
(36) As Frank McLynn emphasizes in 1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004), 26, "kinship was the key to Iroquois society," suggesting the interconnections between Amerindians and Scots.
(37) See also William C. Lowe, "Amherst, Jeffrey, first Baron Amherst (1717-1797)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford U. Press, 2004), and E. A. Fenn, "Biological Warfare in Eighteenth-Century North America: Beyond Jeffery Amherst," Journal of American History 86 (2000): 1552-80.
(38) Lilian Friedberg, "Dare to Compare: Americanizing the Holocaust," American Indian Quarterly 24 (2000): 359.
(39) As McLynn makes clear, British supremacy in the New World was by no means assured at this time. Just like the French and the English, the Six Nations were vying for control of the Ohio Valley--and engaged in similar strategies to do so. Tanaghrisson, known as the Half King, turned "the French and British against each other" (33). Newcastle's decision to send General Braddock to the New World resulted in "one of the great disasters in colonial history and convinced many that the French would win the war for North America" (35); his "high-handed racist behavior" alienated his Iroquois allies (34).
(40) See Sussman, "Lismahago's Captivity," 601-3; and Tara G. Wallace, Imperial Characters: Home and Periphery in Eighteenth-Century Literature (Lewisburg: Bucknell U. Press, 2010), 100-4. For other accounts of this scene, see Paul-Gabriel Bouce, The Novels of Tobias Smollett (London: Longman, 1976), 240; Robert Hopkins, "The Function of Grotesque in Humphry Clinker," Huntington Library Quarterly 32 (1969): 173-74; Joanne Lewis, "Death and the Comic Marriage: Lismahago in Harlequin Skeleton," Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 18 (1988): 406, 411. Hopkins, "Function of Grotesque," 173, argues that "Lismahago's Thurberlike mythic reduction of Indian captivity converts English anxieties about Indian massacres to a ludicrous, demonic myth."
(41) Quoted in Bouce, Novels of Tobias Smollett, 240.
(42) Smollett, Continuation, 24, 25.
(43) See Preston's introduction to Humphry Clinker, 401nn10-16; Sussman, Consuming Anxieties, 85, maintains that "the multiplicity of possible sources for Lismahago's adventures points as much to the repetition of certain images in eighteenth-century accounts of Native Americans as it does to Smollett's own extensive historical knowledge."
(44) Wallace, Imperial Characters, 100.
(45) For alternative analyses of Smollett's sensitivity (or lack thereof) to Scotland, see, among others, Debra Leissner, "Smollett Colonizes Scotland: Displacement and Absorption in Humphry Clinker," Eighteenth-Century Novel 2 (2002): 161-78; James E. Evans, "An Honest Scar Received in the Service of My Country': Lismahago's Colonial Perspective in Humphry Clinker," PQ 79 (2000): 483-99; Alfred Lutz, "Representing Scotland in Roderick Random and Humphry Clinker: Smollett's Development as a Novelist," Studies in the Novel 33 (2001): 1-17; and Penny Fielding, Scotland and the Fictions of Geography (Cambridge U. Press, 2008), 16.
(46) See Patricia McKee's Public and Private: Gender, Class, and the British Novel (1764-1878) (U. of Minnesota Press, 1997), 35, for an assessment of the gender stereotyping in Humphry Clinker: "Female behavior ... takes on the dangerous characteristics of a laissez-faire commercial economy.... Women's consumption is based not on need but on competition, resulting in the predictable leveling associated with imitative buying."
(47) As Slavoj Zizek, Examined Life: Excursions with Contemporary Thinkers, ed. Astra Taylor (New York: New Press, 2009), 172, reminds us: "Capitalism can turn ... ecological catastrophe ... into simply a new field of capitalist investment."
(48) Tillman W. Nechtman, "A Jewel in the Crown? Indian Wealth in Domestic Britain in the Late Eighteenth Century," Eighteenth-Century Studies 41 (2007): 70, explains: "The epithet [nabob] applied to East India Company ... employees who made fortunes while serving in India."
(49) There is no doubt that Smollett recognizes that the North American colonial ventures have been compromised, but, by no means, does he discourage colonial and imperial ventures. Anna Neill, British Discovery Literature and the Rise of Global Commerce (New York: Palgrave 2002), 128, points out that Smollett lauds the "discovery" of the North American colonies in his Present State of All Nations--but only because they enable Britain to conduct commerce with the Far East.
(50) See among others, Douglas S. Mack, Scottish Fiction and the British Empire (Edinburgh U. Press, 2006), 6.
(51) Samuel Johnson's A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, ed. J. D. Fleeman (Oxford U. Press, 1985), 7, 31, depicts Scotland's stark landscapes and wastelands: "few regions have been denuded like this, where many centuries must have passed in waste." "An eye," Johnson writes, "accustomed to flowery pastures and waving harvests is astonished and repelled by the wide extent of hopeless sterility."
(52) Ellen Meiksins Wood, Empire of Capital (London: Verso, 2003), 90. Wood describes Britain's North American colonies as the first "form of imperialism driven by the logic of capitalism" (73).
(53) Tobias Smollett, British Magazine 1 (1760): 195, 193.
(54) Glyndwr Williams, The Great South Sea: English Voyages and Encounters, 1570-1750 (Yale U. Press, 1997), 256.
(55) As Robert Markley, The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730 (Cambridge U. Press, 2006), 183, explains: "Much to Defoe's chagrin, England had no 'plantations' in the Pacific....By shipwrecking Crusoe in the Caribbean ... Defoe locates his narrative within a New World economy of slave trading, sugar plantations, and the prospect of colonial improvement."
(56) Nechtman, "Indian Wealth," 70.
(57) The island was a standard "calling place for ships of all nations" (Williams, Great South Sea, 180).
(58) Mark Harrison, Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, and British Imperialism in India 1600-1850 (Oxford U. Press, 1999), 11, 88, explains that colonists understood that the "tropical climates were harmful, if not deadly, to Europeans," although "a temperate lifestyle was generally regarded as sufficient for the maintenance of health." Markley, "Monsoons," 120, writes that "the diseases of the East Indies register the vulnerability of the British and ... the tenuousness of their position as interlopers at the margins of Asian trade."
(59) Nechtman, "Indian Wealth," 76.
(60) As a number of theorists have suggested, access to global capital reshapes the parameters of the nation-state. Gayatri Spivak, Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (London: Seagull Books), 76, discusses the ways in which the decline of the nation-state "is the result of the economic and political restructuring of the state in the interest of global capital." In Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages (Princeton U. Press, 2006), chap. 3, Saskia Sassen notes the emergence of a world scale beginning in the sixteenth century, but discusses the ways in which these global systems reinforced national constructions.
(61) Susan Kollin, "The Wild, Wild North: Nature Writing, Nationalist Ecologies, and Alaska," American Literary History 12 (2000): 68, draws attention to the counterproductive worldview this environmentalism engenders; she argues that "unspoiled" lands be situated within a transnational space or even bioregion.
(62) Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World (London: Verso 2001), 287.
(63) Here, I am supplementing the work of Timothy Morton--especially his Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics (Harvard U. Press, 2007), 21-22, 23: how "art represents the environment ... helps us to see that 'nature' is an arbitrary rhetorical construct, empty of independent, genuine existence behind or beyond the texts we create about it.... One of the targets of genuine critique would be the very (eco)critical languages--the constant elegy for a lost unalienated state, the resort to the aesthetic dimension (experiential/perceptual) rather than the ethical-political praxis."
(64) Dorothy Wordsworth, Recollections of a Tour Made in Scotland, ed. Carol Kyros Walker (Yale U. Press, 1997), 48.
(65) Zizek, Examined Life, 159, 158, 166.
(66) See Susan Kollin, "The Wild, Wild North," 43.
(67) Morton, Ecology without Nature, 198, 201, 199, 200.
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|Title Annotation:||Tobias Smollett|
|Author:||Van Renen, Denys|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2011|
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