Cartoon Depicts Debate at Hasting's Impeachment Trial, 1788
Printed in London in 1788, this satirical print was a response to the debate unleashed by the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings, the former and first Governor General of India, as well as the impeachment proceedings initiated against Elijah Impey, the former and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature in Calcutta, Bengal. While the titular “Bengal Butcher” referred to Warren Hastings, “Imp-Pie” referred to Elijah Impey. The tug of war shown in this cartoon highlights the partisan and ideological differences that instigated these trials as well as shaped their conduct. While important parliamentarians such as Edmund Burke are shown among Hastings and Impey’s critics, the Lord Chancellor Edward Thurlow and the Devil himself are presented as advocates. The speech bubble emanating from those pursuing the impeachments reads, “For the sake of Injured Millions, I and my worthy Friends and Colleagues demand these Wretches as Victims to Public Justice.” On the other hand, the defendants declare, “And – for the sake of Consigned Millions – I with the assistance of my old Friends and Colleague here am resolved to protect these worthy Gentlemen.” Both sides clearly saw an advantage in proclaiming their concern for the “injured millions” or indigenous inhabitants of Bengal. Not unlike Dundas, Hastings is depicted wearing a bejeweled turban. This print indicates the extent to which the governance of South Asia occupied a central place in British domestic politics.
This source is part of the Making Empire Global teaching module.
Source: Yale Center for British Art