By: Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)
"Warren Hastings" is Chapter IV of Thomas Macaulay's Critical and Historical Essays, vol. III. It first appeared in the Edinburgh Review of October 1841 as a review of Memoirs of the Life of Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of Bengal. Compiled from Original Papers, by the Rev. G. R. Gleig, M. A. 3 vols. 8vo. London: 1841.
This essay on is generally considered to be one of the finest by the great historian and great literary stylist, Thomas Babington Macalay. Macaulay himself served in India from 1834 to 1838, and as a Whig and a believer in progress in the nineteenth century sense, he urged that Indians be trained in useful knowledge -- western, that is, and particularly British learning, easily dismissing traditional Indian education as of no value. Though he is well aware of Hastings’s flaws, he nevertheless greatly admires him as one of the creators of Britain’s Asian empire. Today’s critics, of course, can easily dismiss both men as “Orientalists” (to use Edwin Said’s terminology) but they both remain essential to an understanding of nineteenth century British history and culture.
( Nicholas Clifford)