In his preface to The Hew as Murderer, Australian critic Geoffrey Dutton noted that his interest in writing about Edward John Eyre, colonial governor and Austro- colonial hero-explorer, was awakened by an interchange with the Jamaican anthropologist Femando Henriques. To Henriques, Eyre was that ‘monster' (Dutton 9) who, in 1865, in the aftermath of the Morant Bay Uprising had, in what Bernard Semmel describes as ‘a month-long reign of terror’, burnt over one thousand homes, executed over five hundred negroes and flogged and tortured as many (15). The ‘rebel' leader, Rev. Paul Bogle, had used Christian theology as justification for the uprising and had relied on the sympathy of the English Crown in a situation where many of the local peasantry were starving (Semmel). To Dutton, however, Eyre was the ‘brave explorer' of the interior of an ‘unknown' continent, and Dutton, only vaguely aware of some scandal in relation to Eyre's governorship of Jamaica (9), was intrigued by the discrepancy between his and Henriques' views and by the very different places Eyre now occupied in two post-colonial national histories.
Tiffin, Helen, Among Head-Hunters and Cannibals: Spenser St. John in Borneo and Haiti, Kunapipi, 23(2), 2001.