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Imperialism, Atheism, and Race: Charles Southwell, Old Corruption, and the Maori

  • John Stenhouse


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1 For Southwell's British career, I have relied on Royle, E., “Charles Southwell,” in Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals, vol. 2, 1830–1870, ed. Baylen, Joseph O. and Gossman, Norbert J. (Brighton, 1984), 474–78; Stein, Gordon, “Charles Southwell,” in The Encyclopedia of Unbelief, ed. Stein, Gordon (Buffalo, NY, 1985), 636–37; James A. Secord, “Southwell, Charles,” in New Dictionary of National Biography (forthcoming). I would like to thank Jim Secord for kindly allowing me to see a copy of this article.

2 Southwell, Charles, “The Jew Book,” Oracle of Reason; Or, Philosophy Vindicated, no. 4 (1841): 2527.

3 See, in addition to the works cited in n. 1 above, Smith, F. B., “The Atheist Mission, 1840–1900,” in Ideas and Institutions of Victorian Britain: Essays in Honour of George Kitson Clark, ed. Robson, R. (London, 1967), 205–35; Royle, Edward, Radical Politics, 1790–1900: Religion and Unbelief (Harlow, 1971).

4 Bolt, Christine, Victorian Attitudes to Race (London, 1971); Stocking, George W. Jr., “The Persistence of Polygenist Thought in Post-Darwinian Anthropology,” in Race, Culture and Evolution, ed. Stocking, G. W. (New York, 1971), 4268, and Victorian Anthropology (New York, 1987); Lorimer, Douglas, Colour, Class and the Victorians: English Attitudes to the Negro in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Leicester, 1978), and “Science and the Secularization of Victorian Images of Race,” in Victorian Science in Context, ed. Lightman, Bernard (Chicago, 1997), 212–35; Stepan, Nancy, The Idea of Race in Science: Great Britain, 1800–1960 (Hamden, CT, 1982); Richards, Evelleen, “The ‘Moral Anatomy’ of Robert Knox: The Inter-Play between Biological and Social Thought in Victorian Scientific Naturalism,” Journal of the History of Biology 22 (1989): 373436.

5 Desmond, Adrian, “Artisan Resistance and Evolution in Britain, 1819–1848,” Osiris, 2nd ser., 3 (1987): 77110, and The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine, and Reform in Radical London (Chicago, 1989); Desmond, Adrian and Moore, James, Darwin (London, 1991); Small, Helen, “Medical Reform and the Disillusionment of the Radicals in Nineteenth-Century England,” Historical Journal 36, no. 1 (1993): 225–31; Topham, Jonathon, “Beyond the ‘Common Context’: The Production and Reading of the Bridgewater Treatises,” Isis 89 (1998): 233–62; Secord, James A., Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (Chicago, 2000).

6 Hall, Catherine, Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830–1867 (Chicago, 2002); Thorne, Susan, Congregational Missions and the Making of an Imperial Culture in Nineteenth-Century England (Stanford, CA, 1999); Comaroff, Jean and Comaroff, John, Of Revelation and Revolution: vol. 1, Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa (Chicago, 1991), vol. 2, The Dialectics of Modernity on a South African Frontier (Chicago, 1997).

7 Smith, “The Atheist Mission, 1840–1900,” and “Southwell, Charles, 1814–1860,” in Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol. 1, 1769–1869, ed. Oliver, W. H. (Wellington, 1990), 401–2. Smith's interpretation of Southwell is scarcely less hagiographical than the accounts written by rationalist historians who depict Southwell as a saint. For Southwell's New Zealand career, see Harry Hastings Pearce, “Charles Southwell in Australia and New Zealand,” which appeared in monthly installments beginning in New Zealand Rationalist 18 (May 1957): 1–4, and concluding in ibid., 19 (September 1958): 5–8. See also Wood, H. F., “Charles Southwell, Freethinker and Humanist,” New Zealand Rationalist and Humanist 38 (August 1977): 910.

8 Southwell, Charles, Confessions of a Freethinker (London, [1850]), 6.

9 Ibid., 14–16, 19–21.

10 Copy of the Warrant for the Arrest of Charles Southwell, for Blasphemy, Bishopsgate Institute, Holyoake Collection, envelope no. 1. I would like to thank Jim Secord for this and other sources from the Bishopsgate Institute.

11 Secord, Victorian Sensation, 307; Royle, Edward, Victorian Infidels: The Origins of the British Secularist Movement, 1791–1866 (Manchester, 1974), 75, 77.

12 For the evolutionary arguments that Southwell and coeditor William Chilton deployed to attack Christian notions of creation and design, see Desmond, “Artisan Resistance and Evolution,” 80, 87–88, 96.

13 [Southwell, Charles], “Theory of Regular Gradation,” Oracle of Reason 1 (1841): 5; Secord, Victorian Sensation, 307–13.

14 Fredrickson, George M., Racism: A Short History (Princeton, NJ, 2002), 47, 66.

15 Scholarly distinctions between racial and religious “othering” probably meant little to Southwell, particularly in the case of Jews.

16 Southwell, Confessions, 97.

17 Age, 28 August 1855. For Southwell's Australian career, see Pearce, “Charles Southwell in Australia and New Zealand.”

18 Argus, 8 August 1855.

19 Argus, 14 August, 24 October 1855.

20 Age, 22 October 1855.

22 Age, 23 October 1855.

23 Age, 31 October 1855.

24 Ibid.; Herald, 31 October 1855.

25 Ward, Alan, A Show of Justice: Racial “Amalgamation” in Nineteenth-Century New Zealand (Auckland, 1995), ix. Ward argues that although official amalgamation policy was not racist, it was ethnocentric and could and did damage Maori society.

26 See further Belich, James, Making Peoples: A History of the New Zealanders from Polynesian Settlement to the End of the Nineteenth Century (Auckland, 1996), 212–28.

27 Proceedings of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East, 1838–39, British Library, London, 142–46.

28 Burns, Patricia, Fatal Success: A History of the New Zealand Company (Auckland, 1989), 96.

29 On the close links between the New Zealand Company and the Radicals in the House of Commons, see Temple, Philip, A Sort of Conscience: The Wakefields (Auckland, 2002).

30 For a fuller discussion of the differences between the Maori and English versions of the treaty, see Orange, Claudia, The Treaty of Waitangi (Wellington, 1987).

31 Alfred Domett to W. B. D. Mantell, 3 January 1856, MS 0161, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington; Domett, Alfred, The Diary of Alfred Domett, 1872–1885, ed. Horsman, E. A. (London, 1953), 16, 18, 24–25; Nelson Examiner, 6 July 1844.

32 McClintock, A. H., Crown Colony Government in New Zealand (Wellington, 1958), 286–87.

33 Parliamentary Debates, 3rd ser., vol. 45 (1847), 13 December 1847; this debate was summarized in Colonial Intelligencer; or, Aborigines Friend 1 (1847): 5–11, from which the quotations are taken.

34 Tamihana's letters, dated 5 and 11 January 1851, originally appeared in the New Zealand Spectator and Cook's Strait Guardian. The Aborigines Protection Society reprinted them in the Colonial Intelligencer; or, Aborigines Friend, 3 (1851): 243–51.

35 Head, Lyndsay, “The Pursuit of Modernity in Maori Society,” in Histories, Power and Loss: Uses of the Past—a New Zealand Commentary, ed. Sharp, Andrew and McHugh, Paul (Wellington, 2001), 97122, quotations on 103, 111, 113.

36 Cannadine, David, Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire (Oxford, 2001), 10.

37 For Southwell's New Zealand career, see Pearce, “Charles Southwell in Australia and New Zealand”; and Wood, “Charles Southwell.”

38 New Zealander, 23 April 1856; Daily Southern Cross, 1 July 1856.

39 Daily Southern Cross, 1 July 1856.

40 Auckland Examiner and People's Voice (hereafter Auckland Examiner), 11 December 1856.

41 Auckland Examiner, 11 December 1856, 29 October 1857.

42 Auckland Examiner, 25 December 1856.

43 Auckland Examiner, 8 January 1856.

44 Auckland Examiner, 19 March 1857.

45 Auckland Examiner, 1 January 1857.

46 Auckland Examiner, 18 December 1856.

47 Auckland Examiner, 23 May 1860.

48 Southwell, Charles, “New Zealand, Its Missionaries and Its People,” The Reasoner: journal of free thought and positive philosophy, 1 March 1857, 34–35, 8 March 1857, 38.

49 Auckland Examiner, 2 April 1857.

50 Auckland Examiner, 9 September 1858.

52 Smith, “Southwell,” 401.

53 Ballantyne, Tony, Orientalism and Race: Aryanism in the British Empire (London, 2002), 160, 162.

54 Auckland Examiner, 12 February 1859.

55 See, further, Stenhouse, John, “Churches, State, and the New Zealand Wars: 1860–1872,” Journal of Law and Religion 13 (1998–99): 483–507.

56 G. A. Selwyn to H. J. Tancred, 28 April 1860, in Great Britain Parliamentary Papers (GBPP), 1861, [2798] XLI, 48–53. This and subsequent references are to the Irish University Press edition.

57 Hadfield, O., One of England's Little Wars (London, 1860), 22, 2426, and A Sequel to One of England's Little Wars (London, 1861), 67, 12–13. See, further, Stenhouse, “Churches, State, and the New Zealand Wars,” 491–93.

58 GBPP, 1861, [2798] XLI, 60–61.

59 Hawkes Bay Herald, 8 November 1860.

60 Hadfield, O., The Second Year of One of England's Little Wars (London, 1861), 7590.

61 Auckland Examiner, 28 March, 4 April, 11 April 1860.

62 Auckland Examiner, 11 April 1860.

63 Comaroff and Comaroff, Of Revelation and Revolution, 1:32.

64 Taylor, Richard, Te Ika a Maui, or New Zealand and its Inhabitants, illustrating the origin, manners, customs, mythology, religion, rites, songs, proverbs, fables, and language of the natives. Together with the geology, natural history, productions, and climate of the country; its state as regards Christianity; sketches of the principal chiefs, and their present position; with a map, and numerous illustrations (London, 1855), 111; on Taylor, see Owens, J. M. R., The Mediator: A Life of Richard Taylor (Wellington, 2004).

65 Auckland Examiner, 14 April, 9 May 1860.

66 Auckland Examiner, 18, 21 April 1860.

67 Auckland Examiner, 2, 5 May 1860; Taranaki News, 26 April 1860; New Zealand Advertiser, 15 September 1860.

68 Auckland Examiner, 18 April 1860. Southwell probably borrowed “Quashee” from Thomas Carlyle and coined “Boshee” in imitation.

69 Sinclair, K., The Origins of the Maori Wars (Wellington, 1961), 206.

70 Auckland Examiner, 21, 28 April 1860.

71 Auckland Examiner, 9, 12 May 1860

72 Auckland Examiner, 9 May 1860. For similar views, see letters from B. Turner in Auckland Examiner, 16, 19 May 1860.

73 Auckland Examiner, 30 May 1860; Drummond, Alison, ed., The Auckland Journals of Vicesimus Lush, 1850–1863 (Christchurch, 1971), 222.

74 T. Gore Browne to Mr. Gardner, 28 April 1860, T. Gore Browne Letterbook, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.

75 Daily Southern Cross, 24 April 1860; Auckland Examiner, 13 June 1860.

76 Jane Maria Atkinson to Emily Richmond, New Plymouth, 15 May 1860, ed. Guy H. Scholefield, The Richmond-Atkinson Papers (Wellington, 1960), 1:582; Canterbury Standard, 10 May 1860, 4.

77 Turner, Frank M., Contesting Cultural Authority: Essays in Victorian Intellectual Life (Cambridge, 1993), 4.

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Imperialism, Atheism, and Race: Charles Southwell, Old Corruption, and the Maori

  • John Stenhouse


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