Heroes of Empire: The British Imperial Protagonist in America, 1596-1764

By Richard Frohock | Go to book overview

Epilogue:
The Planter-Hero in James Grainger's
The Sugar Cane (1764)

Ah me, what thunders roll! the sky's on fire!
Now sudden darkness muffles up the pole!
Heavens! what wild scenes, before the affrightened sense,
Imperfect swim!—See! in that flaming scroll,
Which Time unfolds, the future germs bud forth,
Of mighty empires! independent realms!—
And must Britannia, Neptune's favorite queen,
Protect'ress of true science, freedom, arts;
Must she, ah! must she, to her offspring crouch?

—James Grainger, The Sugar Cane

JAMES GRAINGER'S GEORGIC THE SUGAR CANE (1764), WRITTEN WHEN the majority of British expansion in the New World had been completed and the specter of “independent realms” was on the horizon, is a centerpiece of eighteenth-century Caribbeana.1 Grainger's georic contributes to the history of British poetry by introducing audiences to distinctly Caribbean imagery, landscapes, and applications of classical poetic forms. It also encapsulates many of the tropes used to aestheticize British imperialism and to idealize the British colonial protagonist familiar from the preceding 150 years. Grainger evokes discourses of conquest, cultivation, and science in weaving his image of the planter-protagonist and elevating him as an embodiment of British imperialist virtue. One can chart within Grainger's poem the movement from heroic conquest to commerce as the focus of British New World interest and locate corresponding shifts in characterizations of the British colonial hero.

-167-

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Heroes of Empire: The British Imperial Protagonist in America, 1596-1764
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Acknowledgments 9
  • Introduction - Heroes of Empire: the British Imperial Protagonist in America, 1596–1764 13
  • 1: The British Conqueror in America 24
  • 2: Aphra Behn's America 53
  • 3: Science and Conquest 81
  • 4: Labor and Conquest 107
  • 5: Satire and Conquest 138
  • Epilogue - The Planter-Hero in James Grainger's the Sugar Cane (1764) 167
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 211
  • Index 223
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