Travel Writing and Empire in the Shelley/Byron Circle
Introduction to Edward Ellerker Williams' Sporting Sketches
Edited by Tilar Mazzeo
This online edition presents for the first time, in its entirety, Edward Ellerker Williams's travel journal to India, entitled "Sporting Sketches during a Short Stay in Hindustane." Williams is best known to historians as the friend who drowned with Percy Shelley, and his travel narrative is interesting to us in part because of his associations with Lord Byron and with the Shelleys. Williams's travel notebook was widely circulated amongst these friends, and we must assume that it helped to shape the conversations about India and the East that took place amongst these literary figures. However, in addition to supplying one of the textual contexts of Romanticism, the "Sporting Sketches" is also interesting for what it reveals about attitudes toward the travel genre and its relationships to imperialism, science, and plagiarism in the early nineteenth century.
The relationship between travel writing and strategies of imperial expansion has been the subject of sustained scholarly attention over the last decade, and we now know a great deal about the ways in which its rhetorical conceits of scientific objectivity and disinterested observation are articulated within these popular texts. Mary Louise Pratt, in particular, has examined how the discourse of natural history is brought to bear on the processes of imperialism, arguing that scientific travel narratives frequently employ a "narrative of 'anti-conquest,' in which the naturalist naturalizes the bourgeois European's own global presence and authority" (Imperial Eyes 28). Williams's travel notebook is a vivid example of how persuasive and familiar these strategies were to Romantic-era readers.
Embedded within Williams's Indian journal is a series of scientific discourses that participate in an encyclopedic effort to catalog and to systematize, with a naturalist's eye, the Eastern races, culture, and geography, and the whole is presented as a documentary account. At moments in the text, Williams's impulse to catalog is overt, as when he offers the measurements of a lion and tiger or when he references current phrenological literature and records corroborating details. However, even in its more narrative moments, his journal continues to employ the strategies of a naturalist, as he stealthily investigates the harem, in order to expose its curious customs, and as he records the activities of the "natives" preparing for a hunt. Written during a brief leave of absence from his Indian commission in the British Army, the occasion for Williams's journal is, both literally and figuratively, authorized by colonial administration.
While Williams's travel account, then, clearly illustrates the ways in which Romantic exploration literature mobilized scientific discourses in the service of imperialism, his work also demonstrates the impulse toward "anti-conquest" that Pratt observes. Perhaps most tellingly, his narrative is inhabited by a series of local "guides" who willingly reveal the East to him; by placing himself in the role of the passive observer and the "natives" in the role of the inquisitor, he disguises the real economic and social relationships at stake. However, his travel account also performs an apologetic function that should be read as part of an effort to justify his presence and that of British colonial authority. A large section of his journal is concerned with providing an account of Eastern history, which he characterizes with disgust as "little more than one long, and dreadful narration of bloodshed, of treasons and assassinations" (MS 22). His point, throughout, is to illustrate that India had always been ruled by cruelty and despotism, under a succession of rulers from Tamerlane and Aurengzebe to Nadir Shah. Part of what this history suggests is the comparative benevolence of British colonial rule, justified by the inability of the native Indians to govern themselves rationally. Indeed, Williams's narrative incorporates particular details on two of Britain's most celebrated colonial representatives, governor-general Marquis Wellesley and resident ambassador Charles Metcalfe, both of whom are represented as preserving Indian culture; Metcalfe's efforts to restore the dilapidated gardens of Shalimar, in particular, become an extended topic of discussion that points to the benevolence and even advantages of British presence. More generally, the attention drawn to Wellesley suggests that the governor-general's scandalous administration (1798-1805) might have been one of the reasons that Williams felt compelled to defend British activities; by the end of his administration, Wellesley had not only expanded British control into central and southern India by force but had placed his residents on the princely thrones of formerly independent states, and his policies were the subject of extended political debate in contemporary periodicals, including the Quarterly and Edinburgh Review.
The considerable attention given to the gardens of Shalimar in the "Sporting Sketches" also points to Williams's interest in tourism, which emerges as one of the identifiably Romantic features of his account. The difference between travel and tourism literature has not been adequately articulated, although each engages different discourses and ideologies and although modern tourism might properly be said to have emerged in the Romantic period. Whatever myriad investments are expressed through the rhetoric of the "traveler" (ranging from scientific naturalism to landscape aesthetics), the Romantic "tourist" (much like the contemporary tourist) is concerned with the programmatic and mediated repossession of cultural symbols for purposes of entertainment and leisure-class status. As is very frequently the case, in Williams's narrative both discourses operate simultaneously, one expansively cataloguing the East and the other limiting the markers of its culture. Thus, his journal describes "sight-seeing" in India, particularly the monuments of Delhi, following an entirely predictable itinerary through its mosque, audience hall, fortress, and gardens.
This tension between traveler and tourist—or perhaps more generally, simply the tension between the aims of original scientific observation and the representation of stereotypical and fantastic cultural symbols—is what characterized the Romantic travel narrative as a genre. Simultaneously invested in documentary and in imaginative impulses, Romantic travel writing presented its readers with competing rhetorical objectives, and its texts occupied an unstable position between categories of knowledge. This perhaps accounts for part of the reason the Romantics were so interested in travel writing as a genre. Poised between fact and fiction and between history and romance, these texts explore the same dichotomy that Romanticism was most invested in reconciling—the relationship between the real and the imagined.
Certainly, the simultaneously documentary and fantastic elements of travel texts were one of the reasons these works were so prone to plagiarism. As scholars have demonstrated, Romantic writers routinely borrowed from works of travel, and, although contemporary periodical reviewers frequently remarked upon these "plagiarisms," in fact borrowing from travel texts was customary. The issue is complex, and the assimilation of the representations of previous travelers into a work accomplished several objects, ranging from gestures of authenticity to increased sales figures. Whatever an author's individual purpose, these borrowings were authorized by the rhetorical instability of the genre itself, which claimed even its imagined representations as implicitly authorless "records" of objective, documentary fact.
This tension between documentary and literary impulses is clearly evident in Williams's travel journal, which assimilates materials from a range of other writings on the Romantic East. In the "Sporting Sketches," Williams borrows from some half dozen narratives and histories, including James Fraser's History of Nadir Shah (London, 1742), James Rennell's Memoirs of a Map of Hindustane; or the Mogul Empire (London, 1788), and W. Franklin's History of the Reign of Shah-Aulum (London, 1798). Undeniably, his borrowings are extensive and largely unacknowledged, and yet they need to be read within the context of the more relaxed Romantic attitudes toward appropriation from travel materials, which constituted part of the genre and its popular appeal. As I demonstrate in my textual summary below, Williams's travel journal was also the object of borrowing within the Shelley/Byron circle, and its reemployment within literary texts associated with the coterie indicates the degree to which intertextuality, travel writing, and the rhetoric of "anti-conquest" shaped the context of literary Romanticism.
Edward Ellerker Williams had been lieutenant in the British Army in India, and in his Indian journal he claimed to have recorded the events of 1-12 March 1814, including a visit to the ancient ruins, mosques, and harems of Delhi, a stay in Shalimar with Charles Metcalfe, big game sport in the jungles of Rhotuk, and phrenological observations on the Eastern races and animal species. After Williams's death on 8 July 1822, Edward John Trelawny, self-proclaimed corsair and an intimate of the Shelley/Byron circle in Pisa, continued the entries with his own accounts of adventures on the East Indian seas and of his readings in contemporary travel literature. The Williams-Trelawny notebook, listed by the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, as MS Shelley adds.e.21, has received no critical attention. Indeed, the edition of Williams's journal presented here marks its first complete publication. However, the notebook provides significant information concerning the travel narrative as a Romantic genre, the processes of literary composition and exchange within the Shelley/Byron circle, and the representations of orientalism in Romantic culture.
The Bodleian manuscript is a calf notebook in a red morocco box, and it presently contains ii+254 of its original ii+266 pages. The front pastedown end-paper of the notebook bears the stamp of an early nineteenth-century bookseller and exporter, William Heather; the conjoint front flyleaf contains Williams's illustrated frontispiece, inscribed with the title "Sporting Sketches during a Short Stay in Hindustane by E.W." The watermark BUDGEN | 1804 | appears both on this initial bifolium and on the bifolium paginated 243/4 and 257/8. The notebook poses several editorial problems. Its current pagination, which predates the Bodleian's 1961 acquisition, is especially difficult. The back end-paper and the front flyleaf are both paginated, as are loose pages that do not properly belong to the manuscript; several loose leaves belonging to the seventh quire were paginated out of their proper order. Finally, the absence of six leaves from the notebook appears not to have been noticed. These codicological concerns are compounded by the difficulty of Trelawny's text. His subject matter shifts quickly and varies widely, ranging from lucid narrative accounts to impossibly elliptical passages. Legibility and syntactical incoherence frequently are problems in the latter part of the manuscript. There are a number of internal contradictions, especially in regard to dates and other factual information, and, finally, Trelawny's reputation as an untrustworthy narrator is well known.
The notebook can be considered in four sections. The first section, comprising manuscript pages 3-115, contains Edward Williams's Indian travel journal and is the section of the notebook published in the present Romantic Circles edition. The entries are dated early March 1814. His narrative includes an account of Delhi's mosques, palaces, and inhabitants, excerpts from Alexander Dow's History of Hindustane (London, 1770), a description of Metcalfe's residence at Shalimar and of Lieutenant Fraser's zoological gardens, detailed narratives of hawking and of hunting lions and tigers in Rhotuk, and discussions of comparative anatomy. Pages 117-122 are written in a second hand, and they contain the drafts of a poem on lion hunting and an account of a social event, possibly a ball at Mrs. Beauclerc's residence in 1822. On page 122 the notebook has been turned upside-down, and the inverted script of this third section continues through page 148. These entries contain a discussion of the nature of poetry, reading notes from contemporary works of travel literature, thoughts on the English character supplemented by phrenological observations on various human races, and an excerpt from the Courier's 1832 review of Trelawny's Adventures of a Younger Son. Although the handwriting of the third section is not obviously the same as the earlier script, both can be positively identified as Trelawny's. Pages 149-257 continue in the third hand, but the position of the manuscript has been righted (with the exception of page 181). This final section includes lists of Persian and Hindi vocabulary, two passages identified by William St. Clair as excerpts of 1828 letters from Claire Clairmont and Mary Shelley to Trelawny, an account of Percy Shelley's genius, of the events in Italy before Shelley's death, and of Shelley's opinion of the critics and of Leigh Hunt's poetry, some notes on Eastern travels and fragmentary translations from Persian poems, and an extensive account of Mauritius and adventures on the high seas as a privateer.
A typed insert included with the Bodleian manuscript (MS 1a) mistakenly suggests that Williams's wife, Jane, is the author of the latter sections of the manuscript. The events recorded in this part of the notebook are military, scientific, and literary in nature, and its discussion of certain sexual matters makes female authorship improbable. The additional reference to "Mrs. Williams" in the third person, in the account of Shelley's fearful vision at Lorenza, seems to exclude Jane particularly. Trelawny's authorship can be confirmed (and Jane's discounted) through handwriting comparisons, but Trelawny also provides ample evidence of his personality and prejudices throughout the text. His disdain for bluestockings, for example, is well known, and the sexualized diatribe against rusty spinsters "in want of being used," "libidinous old matrons," and "blues" of all sorts (MS 121) certainly doesn't belong to Jane Williams. In fact, the contents of the latter part of the manuscript are consonant with Trelawny's knowledge and interests, and the entire manuscript seems to have functioned as his draft notebook for what became the Adventures of a Younger Son. Edward Ellerker Williams, then, is the author of the initial section of the manuscript, and Edward John Trelawny is the author of the remainder.
Edward Williams was born in India on 22 April 1793 and, apart from a brief education at Eton and a few years of service in the Royal Navy, resided in the East until his retirement at half-pay from the Eighth Dragoons on 28 May 1818. The events recorded in the Bodleian journal occurred during this period of residence and travels in India. Presumably, this notebook is the one referred to by the Williamses and the Shelley circle as the "Indian Journal." After the deaths of Williams and Shelley, Williams's journal came into Trelawny's keeping. Although in September 1822 Jane Williams wrote to Mary Shelley asking her to remind Trelawny "to send with my things, Edwards [sic] Indian Journal" (Maria Gisborne 164), he seems to have retained possession of the notebook.
The Bodleian notebook is an important document for biographical and literary studies of the Italian circle in at least two respects. First, its central relationship to the orientalist works published by the minor figures surrounding Percy Shelley and Lord Byron provides a means of assessing the involvement of the Pisan circle in Eastern questions of the day. Second, the origins of Williams's material and the manner in which it is put into use offers a point of inquiry from which to consider the function of the travel journal in Romantic print culture and the environment of literary exchange and appropriation in which both Percy Shelley and Byron composed.
The circulation of Williams's journal and the patterns of assimilation and exchange that it reveals are complex. Williams's own construction of the journal as a scientific account and "documentary" record of Indian hunting practices implicitly authorizes Trelawny's and Medwin's reemployment of his materials within their own self-consciously "literary" projects. Yet, at the same time, the "Sporting Sketches" functions as a highly constructed (if not entirely successful) work of "fictional" travel narration, which itself borrows freely from other (Western) accounts of Moghul India in its representations. Williams's journal problematizes the distinctions between fact and fantasy, popular and literary, and source and product in ways that will prove important for understanding Byron's and Percy Shelley's relationship to travel materials and the representational instability that characterized the genre.
In the first instance, Williams seems to have intended for his travel journal to be used as a source of raw material, presenting his text as a simple record of fact, apparently unmediated by literary forms of representation. In many instances, his narrative engages consciously scientific discourses. For example, there are obviously documentary objectives to his detailed descriptions of natural scenery and sport hunting in Rhotuk, which reference current phrenological literature and record corroborating details. Williams's scientific observations, although brief, are powerful—some notations on the physiognomical differences between the lion and the tiger and several phrenological anecdotes, providing evidence that "established the thickness of a blackfellow's skull and proves Lavater's assertion" (MS 72-3, Williams's emphasis). The journal seems to have been composed with an eye toward establishing a "scientific" record of the East, despite the personal nature of the events.
Williams may also have been the first person to use this notebook as a source of material, when writing his encyclopedia article on travels in the Near East. Frederick Jones has suggested that it is from the Indian journal that Williams took the account of capturing hyenas in India, which he published in 1820 in the Bibliothèque universelle des Sciences, Belle-lettres, et Arts, under the title "Extrait d'un Journal de chasses pendant un séjour dans l'Inde" (Maria Gisborne 14). The editorial note included with Williams's article, which indicates that the material was extracted from a hunting journal, seems to confirm Jones's suggestion that the two texts are connected, but the Bodleian notebook, unfortunately, does not contain an account of hyena hunting.
Although it cannot be positively established, several factors indicate that the Bodleian manuscript may be Williams's incomplete copy of a more extensive sporting journal. After all, Williams used only a small portion of the notebook, and its contents cover only a brief part of his travels in India. There are few errors and very little evidence of revision. Williams titled each page that he wrote and neatly lined-in headers and margins for twenty-four more pages than he eventually used. Moreover, the marked similarity between the subjects and the titles of the Bibliothèque article and of "Sporting Sketches" suggests that they were viewed as related projects. Most importantly, the Bibliothèque article specifies that the essay was taken from a hunting journal with contents extraordinarily similar to the Bodleian manuscript; as the editor writes: "Il [Williams] a bien voulu nous offrir de nous faire part de divers morceaux curieux tirés du journal de ses chasses dans l'Inde, principalement de celles du lion et du tigre, contre lesquels on employes les éléphants" ("Journal de chasses" 387, n. 1). This characterization accurately and quite specifically describes the central narrative of "Sporting Sketches." Further, Williams indicates in the article that this curious piece of natural history that he is reporting occurred, as in the case of the Bodleian journal, while he was in the service of "mon régiment (le 8e de dragons legers)" ("Journal de chasses" 388). The relatively narrow dates of Williams's service as an officer in the Eighth Dragoons (1813-1818) and the apparently identical subjects of these "two" journals indicate that the Bibliothèque article may be an excerpt from a longer, draft version of this Indian journal.
The possible relationship between these "two" hunting journals is most strongly suggested, however, by the presence of several loose leaves found in the Bodleian notebook, in which Williams describes his hyena-hunting expedition in India. Listed by the Bodleian as MS Shelley adds.c.12, these notes were removed from Williams's notebook and catalogued separately, but their original placement in the Indian journal indicates a clear connection between these materials. These notes are, of course, closely related to Williams's Bibliothèque article, which offers an expanded and more polished version of precisely the same events. This suggests that the Indian journal may have existed, either textually or conceptually, in a more complete form.
Trelawny's section of the notebook is difficult to follow and does not sustain the lucid narrative that characterizes Williams's account, although it participates in the same effort to represent fantasy as simple fact. Although the notebook is interspersed with drafts of poems and personal correspondence, the bulk of Trelawny's journal records his reading notes on contemporary travel narratives and phrenological studies and his own observations on natural history and racial characteristics. These observations initially take the form of a travel account, but, as Trelawny's journal progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to read the manuscript as the documentary narrative it purports to be. By page 199, although entries are often given dates or headings, the descriptions do not make any geographical sense, and the chronology becomes impossible. For example, on 15 September 1824, Trelawny records being in Moscow (or perhaps aboard a ship called the "Moscow"); a paragraph later, he is describing Ceylon and, in succeeding entries, Delhi, the Himalayas, Calcutta, and Guzerat. The next dated entry describes sailing off the coast of Mauritius in 1810, followed by records of Bengal, and then back to Madagascar. Although this part of the manuscript can certainly be dated after Williams's own entries of 1814, Trelawny cites a second 1810 date; with this entry it becomes apparent that Trelawny has been using the travel journal as a narrative device. The population of Mauritius, he records, "in 1810 is said to have been only 20-000—[it] is now near 80" (MS 223), a clear indication that Trelawny is writing at a date significantly later than 1810. Thus, although many of Trelawny's entries read as the present tense observations of a traveler turned naturalist, the section of his journal from pages 199-243 is more profitably viewed as a series of "observations" written within the fictional framework of a travel journal.
The improbably fantastic events that Trelawny describes soon lead the wary reader to suspect that his observations have only the most casual relationship to historical reality and an intimate relationship to the Adventures of a Younger Son. He records, for instance, being in the privateering service of "Gen. de R." (MS 201), in the course of which he "saves" an Arab maiden (who does not remain a maiden for long and soon "brings forth an heir on board," (MS 202), hunts lions with native princes, plunders ships, and quells rebellions. These same events, and the earlier erratic travels all over the East Indies, comprise a condensed version of the plot line of the Adventures. In fact, it seems that the entire final section of Trelawny's journal (MS 149-257), which contains plot sketches, outlines, and various researches, as well as the fictional travel narrative sequence, was used as a draft notebook for the Adventures. There are many striking correspondences: Trelawny's vocabulary lists reappear in the mouths of fictional natives, and the fragmentary translations from Persian poetry in the notebook are quoted by the narrator's Eastern lover. In the manuscript, Trelawny even illustrates the orang outang scene that was to appear in the Adventures, sketching a crude dwelling and its inhabitant, with the caption "Orang Outangs dwelling at Borneo Junglee [sic] admee" (MS 203). The verbal equivalent of this image appears toward the end of the Adventures, where this native man's dwelling is described as "a shelter under a remarkably thick and beautiful tree covered with white blossoms [...] a neat hut, built of canes wattled together" (Adventures 300). Interspersed with reading notes, working drafts, and reminiscences, the Bodleian notebook reveals the range of personal and textual resources that Trelawny drew upon when composing the Adventures.
However, Trelawny's adoption of Williams's notebook also attests to his willingness to appropriate materials for his project from other places. The Adventures is full of material "borrowed" directly, often word for word, from Williams's travel journal. Trelawny uses Williams's material, it seems, to create verisimilitude for his own conventionally exoticized travel narrative by saturating the text with detailed, documentary observations, implicitly treating the "Sporting Sketches" as a scientific and factual record. The majority of the passages taken from Williams's "Sporting Sketches" describe local customs or natural history; Trelawny reemploys Williams's descriptions of hawking, hunting, and of Delhi's haunted ruins, as well as a number of details concerning local practices. For example, Trelawny's entire account in the Adventures of lion and tiger hunting in Rhotuk owes a great deal to Williams's journal, as one brief instance can effectively illustrate: Trelawny's narration of the manner in which "De Ruyter, with as much coolness as if he had been pigeon-shooting, put a rifle to its [the lion's] ear, and almost blew its head off" (Adventures 318) is immediately recognizable as another version of the lines in which Williams describes how "Fraser with all the coolness that marks his character . . . placed a double-barrell'd rifle to her head, which was nearly blown off" (MS 106-7). Significantly, these borrowed scenes are typically violent, and Trelawny's revisions often make them more graphically brutal.
While the entire Bodleian manuscript was adopted as Trelawny's draft notebook for the Adventures, Thomas Medwin had already used Williams's Indian journal for background material several years earlier, when composing Oswald and Edwin and "Sketches in Hindostan." According to Medwin, "Williams and myself had hunted the tiger in another hemisphere [and] had been constant correspondents in India." Although big game sport hunting may have been a joint adventure, the description of this event, which appears in both versions of Medwin's poems, is clearly Williams's, and several of the images are taken directly out of the Williams notebook. According to H. Buxton Forman, "one gathers that Medwin's description of a lion hunt in 'Sketches' . . . was taken from a letter written to him by Edward Williams, who, and not Medwin, seems to have witnessed the hunt" (Life of Shelley 500). If Williams sent such a letter, its contents were intimately connected to the Bodleian journal; Medwin's description of the line formation of the elephants during the hunt, the appearance of the tiger, and the surrounding vegetation, stench, and ruins are all available in Williams's notebook. For example, where Williams describes "five sporting Elephants with Howdahs . . . follow'd by seven others" (MS 64), all "ranged in a firm line" for the "order of battle" (MS 66), Medwin writes, in Oswald and Edwin: "Twelve stately Elephants a front combine / In mimic war—a formidable line! / Unhowdahed all save five" (Oswald 17). This moment reflects just one of several instances in which Medwin's text becomes a poetic rendition of Williams's journal.
This quiet assimilation of Williams's material into Medwin's oriental poetry is later half-acknowledged, when the "Sketches in Hindoostan" are reworked into Medwin's "biographical" travel memoir, The Angler in Wales (1834). In this work, Medwin clearly identifies Williams as the source for some of his information on Indian hunting, claiming in one instance that: "It was from Williams's description...I wrote, almost in his own words, the following lines" (Angler 264) from the "Sketches in Hindoostan." Yet, much of Williams's material, including the extended account of the hyena hunt that he had published for the Bibliothèque universelle, is presented as the narrator's own experience of the East. This inconsistency of attribution is itself suggestive. Acknowledgement of borrowing emerges as more or less incidental, and, significantly, neither the citation nor the concealment of one's travel sources seems to have been at issue in this climate of exchange and appropriation, apparently because as avowedly "documentary" records these travel accounts were viewed more as "materials" than as "texts."
Medwin had also turned repeatedly to Williams's notebook for material when composing his explanatory notes to accompany Oswald and Edwin and the "Sketches in Hindoostan." In these notes, the borrowing is the most direct, often corresponding word for word. For example, Medwin's observation that "It is a religious custom observed by the natives to burn off the whiskers of the dead Lion or Tiger; lest they should be preserved and administered in the nature of poison" (Oswald 43, n. 38) differs from Williams's account of this same superstitious practice only in the exclusion of particular details. Williams, for example, specifies the method in which the poison is said to be administered—the whiskers are "chopp'd up, and taken with a little water" (MS 74). Significantly, Percy Shelley's critical interest in Medwin's poems was focused specifically on these notes; whether he was conscious of the fact that they were borrowed from Williams's notebook or not, Shelley also read sections of the Indian journal.
These borrowings from Williams's journal and its circulation among the Italian circle are significant in at least three respects. First, the borrowings from Williams's notebook confirm that Romantic travel narratives were employed as sources of material—particularly of a scientific character—for other works designated as literary. This pattern of circulation suggests that travel journals, although highly rhetorical and imaginative, were not viewed as fictional projects, but as a species of oriental scholarship and documentation. Second, this particular set of texts raises the question of plagiarism within the context of the Shelley/Byron circle. The obvious exchanges of materials, without either acknowledgment or, by all indications, hostility, suggest that we may need to revise our idea of what constitutes plagiarism in the Romantic period, at least in respect to travel narratives. "Literary" works were given considerable license to borrow from "popular" publications, and plagiarism constituted only a failure to borrow successfully. This sort of reemployment of travel material was endemic in the early nineteenth century, and plagiarism was not limited to friends' private journals. In light of Byron's recurring troubles with charges of travel plagiarisms during the Italian years, the manner in which the contents of Williams's notebook were disseminated suggests that these minor figures and the open exchanges among their orientalist projects reflect important aspects of the intellectual environment in Italy. Finally, the notebook records significant information on the orientalist discourses produced in the midst of the Italian circle and on the complex political climate in which Byron and Shelley composed. These various orientalist projects and Williams's Indian journal functioned as sources of entertainment within the circle at large, and Shelley, in particular, gave both care and criticism to the authors. A certain tolerance and even enthusiasm for the British colonial project characterizes both Williams's and Trelawny's notebooks and, it seems, the interests and literary endeavors of the Byron/Shelley circle at Pisa.
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Summary Catalogue of Post-Medieval Western Manuscripts. 3 vols. Bodleian Library. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.
Trelawny, Edward John. The Adventures of a Younger Son. Ed. By William St Clair. London: Oxford University Press, 1974.
Williams, Edward Ellerker. "Extrait d'un Journal de chasses pendant un séjour dans l'Inde." Bibliothèque universelle des Sciences, Belles-lettres, et Arts, 13 (1820): 387-391.
---. "Sporting Sketches during a Short Stay in Hindustane." Bodleian MS Shelley adds.e.21, University of Oxford.
---. "Notes on the Hyena." Bodleian MS Shelley adds.c.12, University of Oxford.
1 See, for example, Sara Mills, Discourses
of Difference: An Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism; Sara
Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India; Tim Fulford and Peter Kitson, eds.,
Romanticism and Colonialism; and Nigel Leask, Curiosity and Aesthetics of
Travel Writing, 1770-1840.
5 Extracts from Williams's journal have been
published in my essay, "Sporting Sketches during a Short Stay in Hindustane: Bodleian MS
Shelley adds.e.21 and Travel Literature in the Shelley Circle," published in
Romanticism 4:2 (Fall 1998): 174-188. The textual summary presented here was
first published in Romanticism and is reproduced here by kind permission of the
6 The collation of the notebook is I-XI12 (132
leaves), plus flyleaves front and back (pp. i-ii and 265-6) conjoint with the respective
pastedown end-papers, for an original ii+266 pages. Leaves measure 18.5 x 11.9 cm. For
permission to consult with MS Shelley adds.e.21 and adds.c.12, I gratefully acknowledge
the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
7 This stamp on the notebook advertises
William Heather's establishment at 157 Leadenhall Street, London. The listing of his
navigation warehouse at this address can be confirmed from 1805-7. See Holden's
Triennial Directory for 1805, 1806, and 1807. Although the Bodleian Library's
Summary Catalogue of Post-Medieval Western Manuscripts identifies the
illustrated frontispiece as Trelawny's work (II, 1151), this is almost certainly
incorrect. Williams's sketches and watercolors in the Keats-Shelley Association
collection (Bodleian Dep.b.159) resemble the illustrated title page of "Sporting
Sketches" in several characteristic ways. The fine hatching of the ink design and the
foliage patterns are particularly distinctive; most importantly, the title-page of the
Bodleian manuscript suggests a formal training in drawing that Trelawny did not have. My
thanks to Dr. Bruce C. Barker-Benfield for his assistance here and for his generous
suggestions on other textual matters; this textual summary also owes much to the
attentive eye of Professor Donald H. Reiman, whom I gratefully acknowledge; any errors
are, of course, my own.
8 The positive location of the Williams
notebook after 1832 has not been established, although it is likely that Trelawny
retained possession of the manuscript until his death in 1881. Donald H. Reiman notes
that the journal emerges again in the 1920 H. Buxton Forman sale of eight of Williams's
notebooks, and the journal was bequeathed to the Bodleian in 1961 by Sir John
Shelley-Rolls. See Shelley and His Circle: 1773-1822, Kenneth Neill Cameron and
Donald H. Reiman, eds., VI, 832.
9 Although the manuscript pagination is
irregular, it has been retained for the sake of consistency in all quotations here. This
pagination in the notebook appears to have been done by Sir John Shelley-Rolls, although
certain additions were made to unnumbered blanks when the Bodleian Library acquired the
manuscript. As it stands, the pagination in the manuscript begins on the front flyleaf,
which contains Williams's illustrated frontispiece (MS 3) and an original blank
(MS 4), to which has been added a lightly penciled aphorism concerning lions.
Page 1a is a twentieth-century typed addition identifying the important contents of the
manuscript; page 2a is a twentieth-century typed transcription, with several errors, of
manuscript page 157. Pages 1b and 2b are blank. Separating Williams' and Trelawny's
entries is a blank page 116, and the back end-paper has been numbered (MS 259).
The first, fifth, and eighth leaves are missing from the seventh quire; offsets
throughout this gathering also indicate that the leaf paginated 151/2 was numbered out
of order and that it should be placed between pages 164 and 165. The eleventh and
twelfth leaves are missing from the final quire, as is the back flyleaf.
11 Both hands can be identified as Trelawny's
on the basis of his correspondence with Mary Shelley (Bodleian Dep.c.510). Extant
letters also confirm that neither Thomas Medwin nor Jane Williams are possible authors
(Bodleian Dep.b.211 and Deps.c.518-519, respectively).
12 St Clair's biography of Trelawny contains
several brief transcriptions from the Bodleian notebook. Among these transcriptions are
two passages that St Clair identifies as letters to Trelawny from Mary Shelley
(MS, 153-4) and Claire Clairmont (MS, 155-6). St Clair suggests that
the letters are responses to marriage proposals that Trelawny may have made to the two
women in 1828. See Trelawny, 130-32. Shelley's and Clairmont's most recent
editors seem to agree; Mary's letter is included in Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft
Shelley, ed. Betty T. Bennett, II, 140; Claire's letter is available in The
Clairmont Correspondence, ed. Marion Kingston Stocking, I, 258-9.
13 This insert (MS, 1a) identifies the
Williams notebook as "a record of Travel and Adventure in India and is partly in the
hand of Williams and partly in his wife's hand. She was a sister of Gen. John Wheeler
Cleveland of the Madras Army." Unable to divorce her brutal husband, John Johnson, Jane
(née Cleveland) lived with Williams as his wife from 1818 until his death.
14 The largest part of the biographical work
on Edward Williams has been done by Frederick L. Jones in his edition of Williams's
1821-22 journal, Maria Gisborne and Edward E. Williams: Shelley's Friends, and by
Donald H. Reiman in volumes V and VI of Shelley and His Circle. In several
instances biographical accounts and dates disagree. Reiman suggests 28 May 1818 as the
date of Williams's retirement and, in his recourse to Robert Murray's History of the
VIII King's Royal Irish Hussars, 1693-1927, is probably working from the more
reliable source. Jones suggests 30 December 1816 and refers his readers to Trelawny's
Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author (1878). Regardless, by 1819 Edward
and Jane Williams had moved from England to the Continent, as Edward's private journal
of that year attests (Pforzheimer MS, SC 525).
15 According to the Bodleian Library's
Summary Catalogue, these are "notes by Trelawney [sic] on the hyena, removed
from 52624 [MS Shelley adds.e.21]. . . . Bequeathed by Sir John Shelley-Rolls, received
1961" (II, 1152). The attribution of this work to Trelawny is clearly incorrect, as both
the hand and the subject are distinctly Williams's. The manuscript is a single folded
sheet, measuring 21.3 x 18.5 cm, with the watermark JW 1815 running length-wise. A
transcription of adds.c.12 has been appended to this electronic edition.