"Warren Hastings"

an essay by Thomas Babington Macaulay (October 1841)

*Indian Routes*

*Burke's extensive papers on the trial*

*Bonne's maps of India, from Hastings's time*


Text with annotations by FWP

*[1 -- 
Warren Hastings's distinguished but ruined family; his orphaned, bookish childhood]*
*[2 -- 
Sent to Calcutta by the Company, he participates  in Clive's plans and conspiracies]*
*[3 -- 
He goes home to England with no great riches; four years later, returning to India, he meets the Imhofs]*
*[4 -- 
He is sent to Bengal, to reform the post-Clive political jungle of "double government"]*
*[5 -- 
He sets up a system for the internal administration of Bengal by the Company's own officers]*
*[6 -- 
Constantly pressed by the Company for more revenue, he finds ways to extract it]*
*[7 -- 
Thus the shamefully bloody, mercenary, and lucrative subjugation of Rohilcund, paid for by Oude]*
*[8 -- 
The Regulating Act of 1773 rearranges the Company's governance; Philip Francis enters the picture]*
*[9 -- 
The three new Councillors seize power, and listen warmly to Nuncomar's grievances against Hastings]*
*[10 -- 
The Supreme Court under Impey, supporting Hastings, orders the execution of Nuncomar]*
*[11 -- 
Amidst furious attacks on Hastings in England, his agent prudently submits a letter of resignation]*
*[12 -- 
Hastings, aided by one Councillor's death, uses his full powers to have his appointment reconfirmed]*
*[13 -- 
Dangerous threats from other European nations are thwarted by Hastings's vigorous measures]*
*[14 -- 
The Supreme Court makes a draconian power-grab; Hastings shrewdly buys off Impey]*
*[15 -- 
A duel with Francis is over quickly; a duel with Hyder Ali of Mysore is just beginning]*
*[16 -- 
Hastings unjustly contrives to wring extra money out of the Rajah of Benares]*
*[17 -- 
The Rajah of Benares is arrested, then freed by rioters; but Hastings retrieves the ominous situation]*
*[18 -- 
Hastings and the Nabob unite to terrorize, torment, and despoil the wealthy Begums of Oude]*
*[19 -- 
At home, Impey is deservedly disgraced, and Hastings' administration is investigated]*
*[20 -- 
Blemished though they were by great crimes, Hastings's public services were immense]*
*[21 -- 
Returning to England, he finds himself threatened with Parliamentary inquiries]*
*[22 -- 
Francis and Burke lead the attack, which at first looks unlikely to succeed]*
*[23 -- 
A sudden, strangely-argued vote by Pitt against Hastings leaves the House thunderstruck]*
*[24 -- 
The formal trial begins in February 1788, with much publicity and pomp and circumstance]*
*[25 -- 
The trial, at first thrillingly dramatic, soon becomes interminably long, cumbersome, and dull]*
*[26 -- 
In the spring of 1795, Hastings is finally, anticlimactically, and overwhelmingly acquitted]*
*[27 -- 
With the Company's financial help, Hastings's later years are retired and reasonably happy]*

Source: Thomas Babington Macaulay, Critical and Historical Essays Volume 1, Ed. A. J. Grieve, 1907; etext of this volume from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/2332. Originally published: Edinburgh Review LXXIV (October 1841), pp. 160-255. Numbers and headings in square brackets, and all editorial annotations in square brackets, have been inserted by FWP, for convenience in classroom use.

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