Posts Tagged ‘Warren Hastings Impeachment’

Warren Hastings’ Impeachment

Part II-The Road of Politics has a lot of Potholes and certainly no true friends


Hastings trial began on February 13th 1788. It took place in Westminster Hall Members of the House of Commons were seated to Hastings right, the Lords to his left and a large audience of spectators, including royals in boxes and public galleries.

Edmund Burke began the proceedings with a long public address. He took four days and treated it all seriously. However most thought the trial resembled a social event.


Westminster Hall in the Palace of Westminster, London, November 1808


The Coronation Banquet of King George IV in Westminster Hall, 1821 (A very Regency Era representation of the site that was used to try Warren Hastings)

Hastings was granted bail, despite Burke arguing that he would flee the country with the wealth he had allegedly stolen from India. Other leading Whigs made speeches over the coming weeks against Hastings. Proving that the trial was not about wrongdoing so much as political maneuvering. Charles James Fox spoke against the man as well as Richard Brinsley SheridanPastedGraphic4-2012-05-30-15-45.jpg was a playwright and a poet. Sheridan served as Treasurer of the Navy 1806-1807 and also was the owner of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He is known for his plays such as The Rivals, The School for Scandal and A Trip to Scarborough.


Interior of Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Circa 1808. Plate 32 of Microcosm of London (1808) The play is Coriolanuis.

In total nineteen spoke against Hastings as part of the Impeachment Committee. With Sheridan and so many gathered to witness, it does sound like a theatrical production. While at first, the Whigs had gotten public sympathy on their side over the issue, Sir Phillip Francis having worked so hard to vilify Hastings. But the trial dragged on for months, then years.

When the French Revolution began in 1789, Sheridan, obviously attuned to his audience as a member of the theater community said that he was “heartily tired of the Hastings trial” despite being one of its instigators. Doubt now had permeated into society about Hasting’s guilt. James Gilray the cartoonist depicted Hastings as the “Saviour of India” and he was being assaulted by Burke and Fox.


Then on April 9th, 1794 Lord Cornwallis PastedGraphic7-2012-05-30-15-45.jpg who was the second Governor General of India gave testimony in defense of Hastings. He reported that the natives of India respected Hastings. When asked if he had “found any just cause to impeach the character of Mr Hastings?” he replied “never”.

William Larkins the former Accountant General of Bengal then testified that there were no irregularities with Hasting’s administration. The Whigs had hoped that they would have had a lot of testimony showing corruption but many came forward as character witnesses for Hastings.


For the trial of Warren Ha(stings)’ (includes Edmund Burke; Charles James Fox; Sir Philip Francis; Warren Hastings), by James Sayers (died 1823)

23 April 1795 the Lord Chancellor Lord Loughborough PastedGraphic8-2012-05-30-15-45.jpg presided over the delivery of the verdict. A third of the lords who had attended the opening of the trial seven years before were now dead. Only 29 had sat through enough evidence to pronounce judgement. Most of the charges, there were 16, Hastings was found not guilty unanimously. On three questions only did five or six peers say he was guilty, but 6 of 29 meant that 23 at least found him not guilty of those charges. It was an overwhelming verdict and had been expected for some time.

Edmund Burke died 2 years later and believed in Hasting’s guilt to his dying day. He believed that the Lords acquitting Hastings would lead “to the perpetual infamy of the House of Lords.”

If Hastings had been super wealthy, the impeachment broke him and left him with debts of £70,000. The government and the East India Company did come to his aid in the end and helped to pay for it. The Lawyer made out like a true Nabob of India, though. Richard Shaw(e) had his mansion Casino House in Herne Hill built from his fees. He had John Nash and Humphrey Repton as the architect and Landscaper.

In 1812 Hastings was asked by Parliament to speak as an expert on India. After which, all the members rose in acknowledgement. Something that they only did for members of the Royal family.

As more came out, the role of Pitt abandoning the support of Hastings, and allowing the impeachment to go forth was seen as a Political power play. Pitt feared that he was to be tarred by the same brush wielded by those trying to ruin Hastings. And in the end, the total exoneration of Hastings proves he had never been guilty but helped to begin the transition of rule in India by the East India Company, to the British Government.

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Warren Hastings’ Impeachment

Part 1-The Road of Politics has a lot of Potholes and certainly no true friends


As mentioned a couple posts ago Warren Hastings, who was the first Governor of India, is a fascinating Regency Era study since many believe him to be the natural father of Eliza de Feuillide, PastedGraphic5-2012-05-25-07-58.jpgwho married Henry Thomas AustenPastedGraphic7-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg, the brother of Jane AustenPastedGraphic6-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg.

That connection, provides many of those who love novels of the Regency, and Jane Austen, a connection. Real history, interacting with our literary giantess.

As with the OJ Simpson trial, a few years ago, this trial between 1788 and 1795 was the big court case of the times.

What we see is that the door to a greater discussion of what was happening in India and what the East India Company was doing came about.

Hastings became Governor General of India in 1773, after 23 years with “The Company”. Appointed by Prime Minister North PastedGraphic1-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg whose government was also those party in charge when the British lost the American colonies.

A great deal of the foundation of the impeachment trial was based on the governing Calcutta Council that Hastings led as Governor General. He had one man who was in opposition to nearly all that he did. Sir Phillip Francis PastedGraphic2-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg and he disagreed so much that they even fought a duel, which Francis was wounded in. Francis then returned to England and began to raise questions about Hastings conduct. He found support in the Whigs who were in opposition to Lord North’s government.

After this, the Second Mysore War came, when Mysore thought to take on the British while they were heavily involved in the American colonies. The war ended with the status quo from when it started. However, back in England much was made of the company’s mismanagement, and thus Hasting’s position.

The many wealthy nabobs who returned to England were quite unpopular, and Francis’ attacks did not make Hastings any better received. Then after the Fox government fell, Charles James Fox PastedGraphic3-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg attacked Hastings as well. Pitt PastedGraphic4-2012-05-25-07-58.jpgmade no mention of Hastings in introducing a new India Act in 1784 and this was seen as the government not supporting the Governor General.

Hastings returned to England in June of 1785. On the return journey, he wrote The State of Bengal the defense of his conduct. He expected to be attacked by Parliament and the press when he returned but it to be short lived.. King George III 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic5-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg gave him an audience and he received a unanimous vote of thanks by the East India Company when he returned. He even thought he might get an Irish peerage. Edmund Burke1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic6-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg who is regarded as the father of Anglo-Conservatism, supporter of American Independence and opposed to allowing the French such rights, though, had other plans for Hastings.

In reviewing the material of what the politicians were up to, it seems that Hastings was a nice little scapegoat for the opposition party to embarrass Prime Minister Pitt’s government. Francis (and one can only surmise that he hated that he lost to Hastings in India, and then was wounded by him as well in their duel) made eleven specific charges against Hastings.

William Pitt finally said, after defending Hastings against all charges, that perhaps one action, the punishment of the Rajah of Benares, was excessive. Hastings was arrested on May 21, 1787 and taken to the House of Lords to hear the charges against him. Not often had the house of Lords had an Impeachment trial.

The Regency Timeline

My previous posts I’ve explained that I was working on the Regency timeline. I posted my entries for 1788 thru 1791. Now I have the entrees for 1792 and have uploaded all these years to the Regency Assembly Press website. You can see a little preview of this below in the picture.

My sources which include the Internet and The Timetables of History by Grun and Stein1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg as well as the Chronology of CULTURE by Paxton and Fairfield should cover a lot of events. There are now over 5000 listed for the period between 1788 and 1837 when Victoria comes to the Throne. I have also just found a third book I own with timelines in it, very USA centric though. 1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__1__%252524%252521%252540%252521__PastedGraphic-2012-05-25-07-58.jpg What Happened When by Carruth.

I may post a year at time every so often in between scanning through all these to find something that will be a good article for this blog and the blog at English Historical Fiction Authors. I will also have the full listing up shortly at Regency Assembly Press.

Those who have feedback, it is appreciated or if someone would like a specific year in a future post. The very first entry is to show who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, later it was the United Kingdom, during the period of the chronology. In choosing our dates, 1788 is the first sign of madness in George the III, it is the beginning of the end of the French Monarchy with the riots in Paris, it is the time when the mama’s of the girls during the true Regency would be girls going to London for their own season, and when our heroes are young lads or babes as well.

We need to know of the events that occurred when they were children, as well as what happens when they are on stage in our stories.

Click on the link below or the picture to go to the entry. More years coming. The list is now over 5000 event entries long and growing.

Regency Assembly Press 1792 Tineline


The Writing LIfe

I am now 130+ pages (over 40,000 words) on A Magician Murder Mystery. A had a good idea for a mystery, with a twist. What if the sleuth is a magician. I am looking for readers for this. Thirty years ago I wrote a mystery. And this is now my second. The first I know needs help. This though is working well. But then, a mystery needs a little more care I think then my regencies, etc. I could use other eyes if anyone is interested to be sure that I am hiding the clues well enough. That, the plot flows, and that the reader can put the entire thing together by the end.

I enclose a few more paragraphs from the first draft and first chapter for perusal.

Chapter 1 continued

He then started his coin tricks. He went amongst the kids and palmed and hid coins about them all. Bertlestein had gotten him fifty coin dollars. That was just the number for the kids that the Bar Mitzvah boy had invited. Bertlestein forgot that he had nephews and nieces, kids of friends. There were closer to eighty, then fifty. Yet as Eric went about placing dollars about, he did not seem to rub out. He put coins in pockets, in little handbags. He performed card tricks and found that he had decks of cards with all 52 cards, rather than the select few he would need to force the hand.

Shame that the alcohol infused memory was not for a crowd of adult women. Then he could have slipped some of those dollars into bras, down dresses. With thirteen year old girls, he had to be creative with the placement of the dollars. Nothing that would make their parents think he was some kind of pervert. He loved playing for fraternities where he could palm a coin provocatively, and he got college gigs twice a year or so. There were a lot of colleges in Los Angeles, and they all wanted the woman sawn in half.

That old standby was a trick he couldn’t do, but when one frat had hired him, he told the brother in charge of entertainment that such a trick would add a two thousand to his fee. He had to hire the assistants. That they couldn’t be sorority girls from the crowd. And the marks didn’t know that there had to be two of them, and that they had to be short, thin and bendable. If he let the man boy who was in charge of entertainment know that, then it was like giving away the secret. Eric had always kept the price beyond the budget for the event.

Only once had anyone ever taken him up on it, and three days after he had booked that gig, he made up an excuse and cancelled so he did not have to perform the trick. He knew how. He had done it twice. But he had the habit of getting flustered with the big tricks. At least he had gotten so once.

That was why he and Lance were friends. They both had their shot at the Palace of Magic on the same day. Lance’s show had done great. Eric had ended up tongue tied.

A surprise that with what he had drank at the Bertlestein party, he hadn’t ended up tongue tied. He went on to do other tricks, but they were expected, and he had all his props and gimmicks for them. They came out correct. They came out the way he was sure they would.

He switched to coffee for the rest of the afternoon and night. He had to be sober enough to drive. A DUI and his car and driving privileges would be gone, and in Los Angeles, getting around without a car was not easily done. A DUI also would not look good at Wal-Mart. He pretty much believed that if he was booked for that, he would be let go. The big corporate giant didn’t seen to have much patience for screw-ups, and what Eric did at Wal-Mart wasn’t something that ten thousand other people couldn’t do with ten minutes of training.

Playing with the deck of cards, Eric stopped thinking about the Bar Mitzvah and focused on his practice. Or rather, doing his best to manipulate the cards without watching them. His peripheral vision coming into play. Not that he could concentrate on his surroundings while working the trick.

He felt the presence of Lance sliding into the seat across from him in the diner’s booth, rather than saw it. When Eric looked up, he saw that Lance looked harried.

“What, bad night?”

“Sort of. You know, Sunday night.” The Palace of Magic was dark on Monday, so Lance had the night off. Then he worked Tuesday, off Wednesday, and Thursday thru Sunday. Two performances on Saturday, two on Sunday, when he was in town. But Sunday was brunch and early birds. Never packed out.

Eric knew that even though he had only performed there once, for a Sunday brunch performance. That was when the new acts were tried out. The marks always seemed to appreciate it. Almost always. You had to be a truly bad act to be booed. Something Eric had remembered well.

“Yeah, I know that feeling.” Eric said, thinking that maybe he sounded successful.

Lance looked at him, sweeping a hand up to try and straighten out his hair. That was different since his hair was generally perfected, as if he had seen his own stylist before coming to breakfast.

“Look, Jenny’s coming. She still doesn’t get it so be cool, will ya. Nothing dirty.” Lance said. He then pointed at Eric and motioned for him to move over. “Make some room, okay?”

Eric looked at his coffee for a second. Lance did that sometimes. Invited others to come to breakfast. Jenny, if Eric remembered, was the new assistant. One of them, because you always needed two, if you were going to do some of the big illusions.

“Jenny! Over hear!” Lance looked up and called. Eric glanced at his watch. 9:30.

“What did you tell here, be here at 10?” He asked.

“Yeah, now scoot over.” Lance ran his hands through his hair again. Then let out a smile. Mussed hair, a girl who was there early.

Eric shoved his buttocks over, and then mouthed, “You scored.” Lance must have had sex the night before. He probably came from leaving his lover to breakfast.

Lance smiled wider and nodded, then motioned with his hands that Jenny was to sit down next to Eric. “Yeah. Hey there Jenny, you remember me telling you about my best friend in LA, Eric? This is the man. I was just telling him how shitty things were at yesterday’s performances.”

Eric said, “Hi Jenny. Nice to meet you. Lance said you were the star of last month’s Vegas show. Told me that you had the audience eating out of your hand.” They had been friends seven years and change. He owed Lance. He owed Lance alot. More than once he had been short in the rent, and somehow Lance knew and covered him until he could repay a loan.

No interest, no questions, and no pressure. Lance even had brought Ephron Calman to breakfast twice, trying to get the man to give Eric another chance at the Palace of Magic. Ephron knew he had to play nice with Lance, his star attraction. Eric did get a yearly gig at the Palace. Two weeks during the christmas season he had a table doing sleight of hand in the downstairs lounge. The watering hole for the cheap marks.

But it was a gig, and it was professional. That counted for something.

It was at the Palace of Magic.

That counted for a great deal more than something.

Eric owed Lance. And he wasn’t trying to keep score. When he was younger, when he had hope and ambition he might have been a score keeper. He might have known how many favors he was ahead of Lance, or actually how many favors Lance might have been ahead of him. But he gave up trying to keep track of that. Maybe when he started drinking more, he gave up keeping track.

“You’re the magician Lance is always talking about. His ‘inspiration.’ ” She was pretty. Blonde, and natural since she was out in the day. Eric had done a study of magicians assistants from when he first started to training and kept his tally on this subject. On stage, 4 out of 5, like the toothpaste commercial, were blondes. Or the wigs they wore made them blondes. To use the second assistant in the act, the one the marks didn’t know about, there were a lot of women who wore blonde wigs in the business. Something then didn’t have to do when not performing.

It was all part of the illusion.

“I don’t know if I inspire Lance all that much,” she said. Soft voice, Eric noted. That helped with the assistant the audience saw for most of the show. You could give them speaking lines. Some of the girls could speak two words together and not sound like cutting glass. They were the ones who might also have careers with the number signs at boxing matches. Great bodies in skintight clothes.

Not a lot of clothing, though in the Magic game, they often had sequins and trains on their dresses, depending on the trick. Lance, Eric knew, had his girls do four changes in an hour’s act.

“Hey buddy, you are a great inspiration to me. I got lucky, thats what the TV and Vegas deals are all about. You are in the trenches working hard and honest for every dollar you make. Ask anyone at the Palace and they’ll tell you there is more nobility in the money you earn than in what Calman pays us.” Lance said.

Eric knew that was a lot of smoke. Lance worked hard for his money too. They all started with the same repertoire. The floating man, the rabbit in the hat, the sawing a girl in two. It was how they put the act together, what they said, how they looked for a magician had to be pleasant to an audience as well as the girls. Then, to make your act break out, that was where a magician shown. New illusions. If you could come up with good ones, and not just the Houdini escape pieces, you could headline at the Palace, or get gigs on the late night shows. Get weeks in Vegas.

Siegfried and Roy like wealth and fame. Copperfield, Henning, Burton, Penn and Teller. Not that they were idols for Eric. They were good mostly. Well Penn and Teller made him laugh, and it was Henning’s act when he was younger that gave him the bug.

“Some days I would trade being an inspiration for some more cash.” Eric said with a lopsided grin.

Jenny turned and looked at him, probably seeing if he was joking like friends did with each other. “You shouldn’t say that. Either of you. I think magicians are some of the hardest working performers in the business. I was doing commercials before this. This is much harder.”

Eric did not have a comeback for that. He would have thought commercials were hard. She was a pretty young woman. Eric knew he was cynical from the hard years out in the cold that he endured. For a young woman like Jenny, not having caught a big break, she could be doing everything and anything to pay the bills. Working conventions and trade shows, which so many girls did. A booth babe. She had the looks that would make her some money doing that.

“You are such a dear,” Lance said. “You see Eric, didn’t I tell you. Jennifer is earnest about all this. Not jaded like you and me. Shhh. I am teasing. Well a bit. I guess I am a little jaded, but have I got something to tell you! I’ve thought up some new ideas for not just one trick, but a series of connected tricks.” Betsy came just then with a little serving tray. It had the carafe of coffee and two cups.

“Mr. Silverton, what can we get you today. Eric’s already ordered his usual. And the lady, would you like coffee too?” She took one of the cups and placed it before Lance. Betsy had been their waitress for two years or so. She knew they both drank coffee, and those other times that there was someone else, coffee was the safe bet.

“Oh, yes. A coffee and just some toast, please.” Jenny said. Still sounded pretty. Like soft syrup. Assistants came from the many girls trying to break into show biz. Jenny may have been the best thing at whatever high school she had come from. Then, perhaps going to one of the theater and stage programs at the local universities. Could she sing with that voice? Did she not get any nibbles from agents and representations? Eric bet she must have gotten something. Commercials and then someone hooked her up with Lance for his Vegas gig. She must have known someone somewhere. Lance hired out of Los Angeles so he could train with the girls before taking them to Sin City. Eric had no true knowledge of the life of pretty girls in Vegas, but he expected that they worked the shows for as long as they could, then had to resort to the life of the escort, which the yellow pages of Vegas was filled with ads for.

Lance egged Jenny to order more than toast, and she relented. She ordered a fruit bowl as well. Not nearly as much food as Lance had tried to get her to eat. But sensing no way to get her to order more, he placed his own order and Betsy left.

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