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Biplob Prodhan
  • 10 months ago
  • 18
17th and 18th Century Non Fictional Prose Handnotes

 

 

Q.1. Give an account of Bacon’s prose style. [NU-‘15,‘16,‘18]

Ans. Francis Bacon’s prose style can be explained by his use of aphorism, allusions and imagery. The use of aphorism, allusions and imagery makes his essays distinctive in English literature. His terse, satiric and witty expressions are praiseworthy. His practical views and wisdom are included in his short prose. The real aspects of life are reflected in his essays from his practical experience and wisdom.

Aphorism is one of the striking features of Bacon’s prose style. Aphorism is the terse expression of a universal truth. In ‘Of Marriage and Single Life’, he says, “Wives are young men’s mistress; companions of middle age and old men’s nurse”. This use of terse expression and epigrammatic shortness of sentence reflect the depth of Bacon’s personal experience.

The use of allusions is another key feature of Bacon’s prose. Allusions are the indirect reference to another work of art or literature or to a historical person or event. In the beginning of the essay “Of Truth”, Bacon refers to Pilate. Pilate was the governor of Judea. Here, Bacon uses Pilate in order to mean his indifferent attitude to truth. He presided over the trial of Jesus Christ. He asked a question, “What is truth?” But he did not wait for the answer. It implies that he is indifferent to the meaning of truth. Actually, human beings have fascinations for lies. He/she is attracted by the outward beauty. He/she wants to change his/her opinion. He/she does not fix himself/herself in the monotony of beliefs. His/her indifference attitude to truth fills his/her vanity or imagination. This allusion clarifies the meaning and message of the author which he wants to convey to the readers. It adds dignity to the text too.

Bacon’s use of imagery makes his prose more lively. He uses imagery from his experience of human life and natural objects. The use of similes and metaphors charms his prose style. In “Of Truth”, he says, “Truth may perhaps come to the price of a pearl, that showeth best by day; but it will not rise to the price of a diamond or carbuncle, that showeth best in varied lights”. Here, Bacon compares truth to daylight or a pearl which will persist forever. He compares falsehood to a diamond or carbuncle or candle light. A diamond in candle light is a alluring and attractive but its fascination is transitory. Here, Bacon implies that truth lacks in a diamond or carbuncle. So, the imagery that Bacon uses in his essays, is appropriate to his personal experience.

We can conclude from the above discussions that Bacon’s use of aphorism, allusions and imagery is related to the daily affairs of life. He blended his personal experience and wisdom in his essays which make his prose style unique.

 

 

Q.2. How would you explain the fact that Bacon’s essays never fail to attract readers? [NU-‘15,‘16]

Ans. Francis Bacon’s essays are the reflection of his practical thoughts and experiences which he gained by reading philosophy, history and biography. His realistic attitude towards life which is described in his essays through wisdom attract the readers. He upholds human nature, thoughts, ideas, beliefs and practices to the readers. His witty expressions and aphorisms in the essays attract the readers most.

In ‘Of Marriage and Single Life’, Bacon says, “Wives are young men’s mistress; companions of middle age and old men’s nurse”. Here, his use of aphorism is combined with his practical wisdom. Readers are greatly charmed by his realistic saying. He again says, “Unmarried men are the best friends, best masters, best servants but not always best subjects”. Here, he makes an appeal to the readers by expressing realistic tone. His epigrammatic expression is also fascinating to the readers. He says again, “He that hath wife and children hath given hostage to fortune”. His this kind of terse expression is proverbial. The expression is self-contradictory as he treats children and wife as a burden. According to him, one is bound to obey fortune having children and wife. But marriage makes one a good citizen giving duties and responsibilities to family. It makes a man disciplined, systematic and careful to his family. Therefore, Bacon’s analytical thoughts and ideas about human life make readers attractive to his essays.

In ‘Of Love’, Bacon gives personal arguments on love that create appeal in the mind of readers to his essays. Passionate love lowers human character and it cannot make one wise. According to Bacon, when a man falls in love, he turns to be a flatterer or proud. He can think of none without his beloved. It creates weakness in mind. It brings nothing but poverty and ignorance. So, Bacon makes his essays enjoyable among the readers by showing the consequence of falling in love.

In ‘Of Plantation’, Bacon draws readers’ interest to his essays showing them colonisers’ desire for unlimited power and wealth. He emphasises on Renaissance spirit to make the readers attentive to his essays. Colonisation was a burning problem in Bacon’s time. Colonisers discovered a new land for plantations in order to get hasty profit from it. Bacon makes his essay enjoyable by describing the relationship between white settlers and native black people.

In ‘Of Truth’, Bacon gives pleasure to his readers by saying that “A mixture of lie doth ever add pleasure”. Human beings have general tendency for lies because they are greatly attracted by outward beauty. Basically, a lie is alluring and exciting but it fades away in the course of time. So, Bacon says that a mixture of lie with truth can make truth attractive. This witty expression of Bacon gives pleasure to the readers and makes them attractive to his lessons.

In fine, we may say, as a practical observer, Bacon always attempts to make his readers attentive to his essays. The witty expressions in his essays are completely practical and realistic which are capable enough to create readers interest. Therefore, his essays never fail to attract readers.

 

 

Q.3. Discuss ‘The Coverley Papers’ as the precursor of English novel. [NU-‘12,‘14,‘16,‘18]

Ans. Novel is a kind of fictional work about the people and events. Though Addison and Steele’s ‘The Coverley Papers’ is originally a work of non-fictional prose, it is considered as the precursor of English novel. Because, while reading a paper from it, very often, we have the feeling as if we are reading a page from a novel. It is also said that their essays foreboded the arrival of the novel particularly. The elements of a novel such as – characters, incidents, artistic unity and stimulating dialogue are found in ‘The Coverley Papers’.

Character is the soul of a novel. Even some novels may be plotless but none can be without character. The greatness of a novelist is measured, wrongly or rightly by his success in the field of characterization. The success of Addison and Steele in creating viable and lifelike character of Sir Roger is too well-known.

Novel’s narrative quality is also found in ‘The Coverley Papers’. The essays of ‘The Coverley Papers’ are appeared as a short story before the readers. For example, ‘The Spectator’s Account of Himself’ is appeared as an autobiographical novel though it is very short in size.

There is also artistic unity in ‘The Coverley Papers’ like novel. Artistic unity means the condition of a successful literary work whereby all its elements work together for the achievement of its central purpose. This quality of novel is found in the essays of Addison and Steele.

The dialogues in the essays of ‘The Coverley Papers’ are occasionally bright and stimulating for the style of the essayist is unquestionably elegant, lucid, urbane and polished. For example, Sir Roger’s speech about the widow creates the illusion of real life. The scene in the church also gives flavour like a chapter of a novel.

In fine, we may say, ‘The Coverley Papers’ is the precursor of English novel as it is highly admirable among the readers for its unique presentation of plot, events and characters. Like a prestigious novel, it contains the chief qualities which possess the characteristics of entertaining the readers. Thus, ‘The Coverley Papers’ has become successful as the first novel in English literature. For this, Addison is known as the pioneer of English novel.

 

 

Q.4. Evaluate Addison as a social satirist. [NU-‘12,‘16,‘18]

Ans. Satire is a literary device that is used to ridicule the vice and vanity of a society with a view to correcting them. Joseph Addison refers to him as a spectator in his essays and appears as a judicious critic of manners of morals of the society. He also tries to satirise the vanity of the society to reduce them. That is why he is known as a social satirist.

In ‘The Spectator’s Account of Himself’, we find the desire of a mother. Addison’s satire is on being appeared in public which was his greatest pain. There is also a silent knock against to defend any political party between Tory and Whigs with violence and always he tries to remain neutral but cannot.

In ‘Sir Roger at the Church’, Addison satirises the follies and vices of the society in a good and humoured way. There is a hint of country people’s degeneration. He states that unless Sunday clears away the nasty habits of whole week and refreshes their minds, they would soon turns in savages and barbarians. He uses his power to satirise through the character of Sir Roger in a humoured way. For example, he says that Sir Roger allowed nobody to sleep in it besides himself. He also satirises the behaviour of Sir Roger creating greater disturbance shouting to one not to disturb in the congregation. At the other times, Sir Roger would lengthen out a prayer and continue to sing even when others have stopped or repeat “Amen” three or four times instead of speaking only once. He also satirises the vices of Sir Roger apparently as sleeping in the church during sermons is a humiliation to the Christianity.

In ‘Death of Sir Roger’, Addison appears with a slightly satirical tone. Before the imitative letter in the essay, we find a knock against the diversion of political parties in the line where the letter (a mourning letter on the death of Sir Roger) comes from his enemy and antagonist who is a Whig, justice of peace. In this essay, we also find a tone of satire evaluating the comment of the butler about charitable quality of Sir Roger.

In fine, we may say, as a spectator, Addison looks at the world with eyes of a mature person who is always hopeful of betterment. Therefore, he is marked as a great satirist of his age as he wanted to correct his society through his mild satire.

 

 

Q.5. Depict the 18th century social pictures portrayed in ‘The Coverley Papers’. [NU-‘12,‘14,‘17] Ans. The contemporary society of 18th century is reflected in Addison and Steele’s ‘The Coverley Papers’. The spectators silently observe the way of life and manner of people and their society and try to imitate them in their essays. This silent observation helps them capture an actual idea of society and makes the essay a good imitation of contemporary social situation.

In Sir Richard Steele’s ‘Of the Club’, we find a familiarity with six members of Spectator Club. The members portray the picture of social manner and profession. Through the sketching of Sir Roger de Coverley, we are introduced to an eccentric, odd and whimsical fellow. The truly religious and loves for mankind are also portrayed. The inversion between the wish of father and son in choosing profession is found of his sketching of the law student and his father. Another member, a well-known merchant is Sir Andrew Freeport who is prudent and full of wise maxims. He wants others should follow the example of his hard work to become rich. Next, Captain Centry, a military man, is modest in behaviour. He has to resign from his job because of modesty. He is good natured and also sensible. Another member, Will Honey Comb, is old but enjoys excellent health and a sort of lady killer. The last is the Clergy. He is very wise, learned and pious though he does not go to the church regularly.

In Joseph Addison’s ‘The Spectator’s Account of Himself’, we find the violence and hostility of Tory and Whig. As a spectator, Addison observes the incidents and sketches the fact of the political situation which is inconsistent. Besides, the picture of a mother’s dream to her son is found in the essay. A mother always desires her son to be an important person and in the essay, the spectator’s mother desires like that. His mother wishes her son as an important person.

Again, in Addison’s ‘Sir Roger at Church’, we find the society of a Sunday. On that day, people come to church in their best dresses and their most cheerful moods. This has a refining influence on their characters and their manners. At least for the day, they forget the selfishness and the boredom which is generated by their worldly activities throughout the week. Each person tries to outshine the other, the perish politics is freely discussed and so their wits are sharpened and their manner refined.

We also find a picture of social justice and charity in Addison’s ‘Death of Sir Roger’. In this essay, we find Roger as a charitable person. He hands over his wealth to others. Moreover, the picture of justice to a poor widow woman and her fatherless children is an example of social picture.

In fine, we may say, ‘The Coverley Papers’ is not considered only as a literary piece but also a complete picture of a society. Each essay of ‘The Coverley Papers’ contains the picture of social manner, profession, politics and charity. Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele successfully portrayed their contemporary social picture in ‘The Coverley Papers’.

 

 

Q.6. Comment on Dr. Johnson’s views of metaphysical poetry in his ‘The Life of Cowley’. [NU‘14,‘18]

Ans. Metaphysical poetry is a poetry which has been inspired by a philosophic conception of the universe. In metaphysical poetry, we find the comprehension of life unified, illumined, intensified and heightened but the poet’s personal consciousness of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, revealing to him in the history of his own soul. A metaphysical poet carries sensation into the boldest conception, profoundest intuition and subtlest and most complex classification.

However, Dr. Johnson has followed Sprat for guidance but he does not fail to give his own ideas and opinions. He has compared two great poets of dissimilar genius – Milton and Cowley. He has shown that Cowley and Milton may be compared but the advantages seems to lie on the side of Cowley. Milton expresses the thoughts of ancients in their language, but Cowley, without much loss of purity and elegance, accommodates the diction of Rome to his own conception.

The metaphysical poets usually wrote love poems and religious poems. John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Abraham Cowley and Henry Vaughan wrote both types of poems. According to Dr. Johnson, the love poems of the metaphysicals have a different character and philosophy. Cowley added more perplexities to love. With the passage of time, love also changes its character. Earlier, ‘Flesh’ was an important theme in love, but with the age, it changes in and that can be perceived in him now. Everything is inconstant. Incest is now a taboo and now attraction of flesh withers away. Dr. Johnson emphasises that the tears of lovers are of great poetical accounts and it is difficult to be properly comprehended. The readers have to read it again and again to find its proper meaning.

Dr. Johnson finds two souls are combined and mixed and the two become one in Donne’s love poems. Cowley describes his ‘Mistress’ – bathing wonderful. According to Dr. Johnson, Cowley may be considered to be the best of metaphysical poets and he had a great variety of style and sentiment.

We may conclude with the theory of Dr. Johnson that Cowley was a greater poet than Donne. His style of writing was remarkable. Cowley was a wonderful poet no doubt but it is not fair to comment that in adopting the metaphysical style, he surpassed his predecessors.

 

 

 

Q.7. Critically analyse Johnson’s art of writing a biography. [NU-‘16,‘18]

Ans. Dr. Samuel Johnson possesses art of writing a biography in ‘The Life of Cowley’. He achieves scholastic knowledge and experience enough to write biography of Abraham Cowley. He has a great influence on the life of Cowley through his philosophy and psychology. As a poet, he possesses artistic sensibility and he yearns for rational art in writing poetry. He enters into the depth of Cowley through his philosophy and discovers his poetic genius while he was studying at school.

Dr. Johnson realised that Abraham Cowley was greatly influenced by Edmund Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queene’ at the time of studying at school. Cowley had a great fascination for Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queene’ and he had a great desire to be a writer. As a critic, Dr. Johnson upholds merits and demerits of Cowley at the time of writing Cowley’s biography.

As a philosopher, Dr. Johnson found out that Cowley acquired scholastic knowledge by reading geography, mythology, philosophy etc. Cowley acquired intellectual capability to use wit and conceit in his poetry. Dr. Johnson found out Cowley’s use of classical ideas and language of Latin poetry in his poetry through his philosophy. But Cowley was unable to gain so much fame in writing poetry. His classical ideas and language did not contribute to make him so famous though he wrote verse early.

Dr. Johnson appreciated Cowley’s engagement at Paris where Cowley got chance to work as a secretary to Lord Jermyne. He had an opportunity of managing important things with men and women. There he wrote letters to the Earl of Alington which brought his reputation and put him above affection of elegance.

Cowley was greatly inspired by Homer, Virgil and Tasso to write an epic. He was highly influenced by Virgil’s great epic ‘Aeneid’. He composed ‘Davideis’ which contains twelve parts like Virgil’s ‘Aeneid’. But he could not complete the poem. He was able to finish the third part of the poem. Even then the poem achieved much admiration from the readers. The poem bears the testimony of Cowley’s sharp intellect and scholastic knowledge.

As a critic, Dr. Johnson upholds the shortcomings of Cowley in writing poetry which paves the way of his purification. Wit used by Cowley is appreciated by the readers. Wit is the driving force of his thoughts which lack new and natural concept. Dr. Johnson emphasises on just noble and perfect concept in writing poetry. Conceit is a comparison between dissimilar objects or concepts which bear testimony of his sharp intellect. But the use of sharp intellect in writing his poetry may be complex among the readers. So, Dr. Johnson suggests him through his philosophy to reflect full view of life and nature in writing poetry.

In fine, we may say, Dr. Johnson’s art of writing a biography presents the life of Cowley whole heartedly with merits and demerits. Dr. Johnson realises Cowley’s poetic career through his philosophy and psychology and flourishes his poetic genius. But Dr. Johnson criticises on his shortcomings and paves the way of purification.

 

 

Q.8. How does Burke criticize Hastings and his lieutenants in his ‘Speech on the East India Bill’?

[NU-‘13,‘15,‘18]

Ans. Warren Hastings was the first and most famous of the British governors-general of India. He dominated Indian affairs from 1772 to 1785 and was impeached on his return to England. In ‘Speech on the East India Bill’, Burke criticizes Hastings and his lieutenants bitterly as Hastings was the root of all evils in India and he exercised his absolute power and authority over the country.

One of the major concerns of Burke’s speech is the criticism of Warren Hastings. Hastings symbolises the despotism, tyranny, atrocity, corruption and arbitrariness. He was the main executor in Company’s bad governance in India. He was not an inborn rival of Burke. But Burke stands against him owing to the assault on common fairness, legislation of England by its attendants. Burke was annoyed with Hastings as he observed Hastings as the supposed chief of all the East India Company’s properties. In reality, he has considered Hastings as a representative of anarchic power.

Burke presents Hastings as a destructive force. His bad policies and despotic style of governing yielded nothing but destruction. His insolent and tyrannous acts brought about the destruction of the Rajah of Benares. Burke says, “The Unhappy prince was expelled, and his more unhappy country was enslaved and ruined; but not a rupee was acquired”.

According to Burke, Hastings was a man devoid of sympathy and humanity. He didn’t do justice to any of the Indians. Shah Alam was the de facto Emperor of India. Hastings sold him (make him lose his administrative power) for money. He also sold the whole nation of the Afghan Rohillas to Shuja-ud-Daulah of Oude for the sum of four hundred thousand pounds. Hafiz Rahmat Khan was a leading Rohilla chief. In 1774, Hastings placed a part of the Company’s army at the disposal of Shuja-ud-Daulah who invaded Hafiz Rahmat Khan. While fighting valiantly for his country, Hafiz was slain. His head was cut off and delivered for money to a barbarian. His wife and children were seen begging handful of rice through the English camp. The whole nation was massacred and the country was damaged by invasion and turned into a dreary desert and jungles.

Hastings was a money monger who is provoked by insatiable avarice. His lust for money is depicted in his treatment of the Begums of Oude who were ruthlessly and hypocritically plundered and pillaged by the agents of the Company. The two old women were forced to give money to the Company. Their jewels and other personal possessions were taken and were sold at auction. Thus, the Begums of Oude were victims of the Company under the governance of Warren Hastings.

Breaching of treaties was another hobby of Hastings. Hastings himself admitted in his letter to the directors that he had not been very delicate with regard to public faith. The Company had broken the treaty with the Mogul by which it was stipulated to pay him 260,000 pounds annually. The Company didn’t pay him a shilling. They promised to the Nawabs of Bengal after the Treaty of Allahabad to pay 400,000 pounds a year but they didn’t keep their promise. As the soldier, Najaf Khan had sided with the British, he had been granted a pension of two lakhs of rupees in 1765, but the Company broke the article.  They also broke their treaties with the Nizam and with Hyder Ali. They had also broken so many treaties with the Marathas.

Hastings spared none who had opposed him and who met with the applauses of the

Directors. Colonel Manson was a good man and received the applauses of the Directors. General Clavering also received applauses. They had opposed Hastings on the Supreme Council. As a result, they were ruined by Him.

The fate of the native Indians were much worse than the British subject. The first women in Bengal such as the Rani of Rajeshahi, the Rani of Burdwan and the Rani of Amboa were ruined by their thoughtless trust in the Company’s honour and protection. Mohammad Reza Khan was stripped of all his employment and was reduced to the lowest condition for having been distinguished by the honour of the countenance and protection of the Court of Directors. His ancient rival for power, Rajah Nundcomar was hanged in the face of his people for a consequence of providing evidence against Hastings. Thus, the accuser was hanged instead of the accused. Burke describes that from that time not a complaint has been heard from the natives against their governors.

Thus, the natives of India fall victim to the maladministration of Hastings. He spared none who opposed him or provided any evidence of peculation against him. He tried to keep himself safe by destroying or murdering everyone and everything that bore the testimony of his peculation, oppression and tyranny. In Burke’s term, what Hastings has done is “crimes so convenient, crimes so politic, crimes so necessary, crimes so alleviating of distress”.

 

 

Q.9. Write a critical note on the British East India Company. [NU-‘16,‘18]

Ans. Edmund Burke’s ‘Speech on the East India Bill’ is a sordid picture of the abuse of the chartered power of the East India Company. The company had been chartered in 1600 as a commercial company with a monopoly of British trade with India. In 1773 and earlier, Burke and the Rockingham Whigs had strenuously objected on the grounds to bringing the East India Company under government control. They considered it an attack on private property and chartered rights and a dangerous extension of the power of the Crown. Between 1773 to 1783, their thinking on the problem of British government in India went through a radical change.

However, Burke gradually became convinced that the Company was not only exercising political power but also was abusing it badly to the detriment of the people of India. As a result, his ‘Speech on the East India Bill’ was an indictment against the Company’s rule in India.

The agents of the Company enjoy all the rights by charter and by acts of Parliament without any controversy. The chartered rights are secured to the Company by every sort of public sanction. They are stamped by the faith of the king and of Parliament. The Company has bought the rights in exchange for money. The agents of the Company enjoy unlimited power.

Despotism, tyranny, atrocity, corruption, arbitrariness etc. characterised the Company’s abuse of power in India. The East India Company commits great abuses in India. The Company has sold every prince, state or potentate. For example, Shah Alam, the de facto Emperor of India, became victim to the East India Company’s maladministration. Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, sold him for money. Hastings also sold the whole nation of the

Afghan Rohillas to Shuja-ud-Daulah of Oude for the sum of four hundred thousand pounds. Hafiz Rahmat Khan was invaded Shuja-ud-Daulah. While fighting valiantly for his country, Hafiz was slain. His head was cut off and delivered for his money to a barbarian. His wife and children were seen begging handful of rice through the English camp. The whole nation was massacred and the country was damaged by the invasion and turned into a dreary desert and jungles.

In Bengal, the Company’s army overthrow Siraj-ud-Daulah at Plassey in 1757 after large sums of money had been promise by Mir Jafar. In 1760, when the Company received territory and when Mir Qasim paid money to some individuals, the administrative power was shifted from Mir Jafar to Mir Qasim. Mir Jafar was again restored in 1763 for a large sum of money. Mir Jafar was followed by his eldest son Najm-ud-Daulah who had to pay heavily for his succession in 1765. Mir Jafar’s another son, Mubarak-ud-Daulah was made powerless by appointing his step-mother Munni Begum as guardian to him in 1772.

Once the Company accused two old women in the remotest corner of India of being engaged in rebellion in order to extract money from them. These two old women were the famous Begums of Oude who had controlled a large income from land grants and were custodians of a hoard of treasure. They were accused of rebellion and were announced guilty of hoarding wealth. They were forced to give money to the Company. Their jewels and other personal properties were taken and were sold at auction.

The natives of India were ruined by the hypocrisy of the Company. The first women in Bengal such as the Rani of Rajeshahi, the Rani of Burdwan and the Rani of Amboa were ruined by their thoughtless trust in the Company’s honour and protection. Mohammad Reza Khan was stripped of all his employment and was reduced to the lowest condition for having been distinguished by the honour of the countenance and protection of the Court of Directors. His ancient rival of power, Rajah Nundcomar was hanged in the face of his people for a consequence of providing evidence against Hastings.

In fine, we may say, the East India Company took refuge to fraud and evasion as guiding principles for ruling India. In this regard, their attitude were that of merchants and selfaggrandizement was their primary motto – “there was not a single prince, state or potentate, great or small, in India, with whom they have come into contact, whom they have not sold”. In fact, the natives of India fall victim to the maladministration of the Company.

 

 

Q.10. Write a note on Burke’s prose style. [NU-‘13,‘17]

Ans. Edmund Burke was a famous Irish writer, orator, historian scholar and political philosopher. He served for many years in the British House of Commons as a member of the Whig Party. His writing cover the enormous range of the political and economic thought of the age and mingle fact and fancy, philosophy, statistics and brilliant flight of the imagination. His prose style is characterized by proportion, dignity and harmony.

Burke’s ‘Speech on the East India Bill’ is the prose of an orator. He employs all the rhetorical devices and figures in his writing. When we read his speeches, we seem to hear the living voice. His style is the most strictly suited to the subject. He is a writer of romantic prose. The relation between Burke and the Romanticist is his power of investing with interest and colour, the past experience of the race and of making it appeal to the imagination. In short, like Scott and Wordsworth, Burke was a Romanticist in feeling though often a Classicist in expression.

Though Burke speaks in prose, he is essentially a poet. His imagery is more remarkable than that of the writers of verse. He speaks in figures, images and symbols. The musical cadence of his sentences reflects the influence of his wide reading of poetry. His language is pseudo-classic but his thought is always romantic. He is governed by ideal rather than by practical interest and a profound sympathy for humanity is perhaps his most marked characteristic.

Burke’s prose style is dignified rather than graceful. His speech is all through marked by the devices of the orator – rhythm, alliteration, assonance, consonance, repetition, careful arrangement and balance of parts etc. The following lines in which Burke attacks Warren Hastings are most rhythmic: “Crimes so convenient, crimes so politic, crimes so necessary, crimes so alleviating of distress, can never be wanting to those who use no process, and who produce no proofs”.

Burke uses ironies and sarcasm in his prose. The line “Here was a new proof given of the fairness, equity, and moderation, of the Company” is replete with irony. Actually the Company has abused its power most rashly and Burke is to expose it. In the following lines, we find sarcasm: “The natives had, however, one consolation in the ruin of their judicature; they soon saw that it fared no better with the English government itself”.

Rhetorical question is another remarkable device in Burke’s prose style. He hurls such questions very often to the Speaker but actually he does not want the answer. While speaking of Hastings’ treatment of Chait Singh, Burke puts a number of rhetorical questions: “Did he cite this culprit before his tribunal? Did he make a charge? Did he produce witness?”

Simile, metaphor and imagery are also employed by Burke in his ‘Speech on the East India Bill’. Pitt led the attack on the Coalition and its Bill. He had been very guarded in his statements about how he would reform the East India Company. He said that he would keep the present government of India in the Court of Directors and would provide salutary regulations to control them and to prevent them from committing any offence. But Burke criticizes him severely. He calls it appointing the old offenders to correct the old offences. He compares it to the appointing of the wolf as the guardian of the sheep.

 

In fine, we may say, Burke is a great arguer in prose. He can soar into long sentence with rhythmically balanced clauses which fall seductively on the ear. He can also be short and sharp and almost epigrammatic. His combining of short and long sentences of pithy Latinized vocabulary shows his great prose skill. Indeed, he is the greatest master in English of the rhetoric of political wisdom.

 

 

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BIBLIOGRAPHY – Textbook (FBC), A Study Guide (FBC) & Handnote Series (Lecture).

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