Punch,  55 (1868), 104–05.

Eclipse in India





Astronomy, Observation, Instruments, Spectroscopy, Politics, Imperialism, Government, Superstition, Race, Cultural Geography

    Anticipating the imminent solar eclipse to be seen from India, the poem begins by noting the number of astronomers who are 'flocking' there to observe the event with 'Their saucy cameras cooking'. Mentions Warren De La Rue's tracking of the changes in the solar hue with 'lynx-eyed lenses' and observes that 'Spectrum analysts' are pursuing the solar light 'through all defences'. Laments the fact that at one time the sun commanded worship when he shone and provoked fear when he 'hid his face', but now he is a 'vile drudge and hireling' for scientific pursuits. Appreciates why the sun should hide its face from those who 'doom' it to such 'disgrace', but questions why it is casting its 'blackest looks' at the 'Eastern realm' where the 'crude native' still worships and fears the sun. Describing how the 'chemicals are packed away' when the eclipse is over, proceeds, in a similar manner to PU1/55/10/7, to India's political fortunes. Drawing a comparison between the attitude of Indians to the sun and to the appointment of Richard S Bourke (6th Earl of Mayo), wonders why 'poor India' is still frightened of a new shadow that blackens 'Great Indra's shining face'. Describes how the present viceroy and governor-general of India, John L M Lawrence attempted to calm the fears of India, and to reassure her that the 'light in Heaven is still the same' despite the fact that there is an eclipse covering the country, produced by Lord Mayo. (104)

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