Humanities Brown Bag Seminar
Abstract: In 1788 Edmund Burke led the impeachment before the House of Lords of Warren Hastings, Governor-General of India, for "high crimes and high misdemeanours", for crimes arising from "avarice, rapacity, pride, insolence, ferocity, treachery, cruelty, malignity of temper…a total extinction of all moral principle…an inveterate blackness of heart, died in grain with malice, vitiated, corrupted, gangrened to the very core." After seven long years, with overwhelming evidence of guilt, the Lords refused to convict on a single article. Yet, Burke's speeches in the impeachment are the most powerful ever delivered in a prosecution. In addition, this was the great age of political caricatures, we call them cartoons, and Burke, Hastings, and the other notables were satirized in some of the most savage and scurrilous caricatures ever drawn. This is a history of the offenses in India and the trial of Hastings, of Burke's speeches, and the caricatures that were provoked.