VERANDAH: Some Episodes in the Crown Colonies, 1867-1869 by James Pope-Hennessy

VERANDAH: Some Episodes in the Crown Colonies, 1867-1869

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There was a time when the Little England of today was the Rule Britannia of yesteryear and colonial administration was a gentleman's career. One such was John Hope Hennessy whose grandson (the author of the magnificent biography of Queen Mary) has chosen to enshrine him with a style that hangs over everything like Spanish moss, e.g. ""rumor runs wild and truth is not merely at a discount but as rare as the mythical sea-vulture of Dominica"". But the style is suitable to the times, the Victorian era, and it certainly suits the terrain. Pope Hennessy took charge of Labuan, off Borneo; the West African settlements; the Bahamas; Barbados; Hong Kong and Mauritius. Downing Street never cottoned to him and the planters and merchants thought him a bleeding-heart busybody. He wasn't, however, a radical-- simply a good man with some inconsistencies; a humanitarian and an autocrat, a Conservative whose views were really Liberal, a ruler who wished the natives to rule themselves. He had his ups and downs; after making Labuan solvent, he was compromised in an Ashanti War along the Fever Coast and was the ""cause"" of Barbados' Federation Riots, all bizarre events made believable in this highly detailed, nostalgic panorama of social types and situations no longer popular or indeed possible. As their eponymous hero, Pope Hennessy himself is occasionally blurred.

Publisher: Knopf