The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power

By Partha Chatterjee | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Bombs, Sovereignty, and Football

FOLLOWING THE DEMOLITION of Holwell's monument in 1821, there was nothing in the city of Calcutta to physically commemorate the Black Hole event. Given the enormous discursive circulation of the story in the second half of the nineteenth century, this lack was seen as something of an anomaly. In 1883, Roskell Bayne, an engineer working on the foundations of the East Indian Railway's new office building northwest of Dalhousie Square, discovered some walls that appeared to have been part of the old Fort William. In 1891–92, Charles Robert Wilson, professor of history at Presidency College in Calcutta, studied some further excavations at the spot, and comparing the finds with an old plan of the fort from 1753, identified the site of the Black Hole at a location adjacent to the General Post Office. But in measuring the site, Wilson was puzzled that the actual dimensions of the Black Hole prison were smaller than what was shown in the 1753 plan. He concluded that the old plan was faulty.1

In 1908, Busteed, an official of the Calcutta Mint and historian of Calcutta, produced evidence that a storage space may have been created along the prison's eastern wall between 1753 and 1756, thus explaining the discrepancy between the plan and the excavated site. The latter revealed that the Black Hole was not eighteen feet square, as suggested by Holwell, but eighteen feet by fourteen feet, ten inches.2 Clearly, the practice of historians was now responding to new demands for the scientific veracity of their evidence and arguments. They could no longer afford to deal with the facts in the cavalier manner of a literary dandy like Macaulay

Busteed also began what could be called a new campaign for a suitable monument to remind the inhabitants of the capital city of British India of the Black Hole tragedy. In his history of eighteenth-century Calcutta, first published in 1888, Busteed wrote two detailed chapters recounting once more, this time from original documents, the story of Siraj's storming of Fort William and the Black Hole calamity. Defending the reliability of Holwell's narrative against the malice shown by his detractors in the company, Busteed used it to correct the unjustified charges made by Orme and Macaulay against Siraj. It was “beyond dispute,” Busteed declared, “that the Nawab had nothing to do with the measures adopted for securing those who fell into his power.” The guards “were careless as to the dimensions—indeed, they probably were as ignorant of what these really were, as the throng were whom they were driving in.” The nawab

-264-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Black Hole of Empire: History of a Global Practice of Power
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter One - Outrage in Calcutta 1
  • Chapter Two - A Secret Veil 33
  • Chapter Three - Tipu's Tiger 67
  • Chapter Four - Liberty of the Subject 104
  • Chapter Five - Equality of Subjects 134
  • Chapter Six - For the Happiness of Mankind 159
  • Chapter Seven - The Pedagogy of Violence 185
  • Chapter Eight - The Pedagogy of Culture 222
  • Chapter Nine - Bombs, Sovereignty, and Football 264
  • Chapter Ten - The Death and Everlasting Life of Empire 311
  • Notes 347
  • References 387
  • Index 409
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 425

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.