Warren Hastings Esqr.

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Warren Hastings Esqr.
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William Say after Sir Thomas Lawrence

Warren Hastings Esqr.

London, W. Say May 23rd 1813



Slight overall browning, trimmed on platemark


A rare portrait of the aged Warren Hastings (1732-1818), Governor-General of India. He sits in a comfortable armchair, staring straight out, wearing a dark coat and waistcoat, and with his hands folded in his lap. Warren Hastings came to epitomise the luck, spirit and ruthlessness with which the British Empire was built. Arriving in India aged seventeen, he rose swiftly through the ranks of the East India Company. Though a considerable statesman, doubts began to surface over Hastings's methods and morals. In a parliamentary attack, mounted by the statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, Hastings was accused of embezzling funds and ordering the judicial murder of a native official. His impeachment and trial, which lasted from 1788-95, became one of the great causes célèbres of the age. Though Hastings was not convicted, Burke's speeches during the trial, outlining the responsibilities owed by conquering powers to subject peoples, prompted a serious reevalution of Britain's imperial policy.