- Museum number
- Object: The Battle of Hastings. Bella horrida bella!
A complicated design showing the forces for and against Hastings, ranged on opposite sides of the House of Commons. The figures have numbers referring to a key etched beneath the design. Hastings, as an oriental colossus, stands on the table, the Speaker's head being visible between his legs. He wears a jewelled turban, and is naked except for a scarf and sash inscribed 'Colossean Nabob', in which is thrust an axe, inscribed 'A Nabob's Heart', whose head lies against his body where the heart should be. Looking to the left, where the Ministerialists are seated, he scatters and disgorges jewels which members grasp at or catch in their mouths. Another cascade of jewels issues from the point of a spear with which Pitt stabs his side; this stream falls into Pitt's lap. The colossus is '1. Mr H-----gs'; his right arm is inscribed 'Peculation'. From the Speaker's mouth issue the words "To be, or not to be, Impeachment is the question". The members on the left say "No", those on the right say "Ay". In the foreground the two chief combatants are fighting; behind each is a musician, one being '2 Mr B------e, leader of the Band': Burke stands on the extreme right, beating a drum inscribed 'Impeachment' and 'For the Honor of the Nation'; beside him is the standard of the 'British Battalion'. He, and all the members of the British Battalion (or Opposition), wear armour with plumed helmets. On the extreme left stands Dundas in Highland dress playing bagpipes, the bag,
inscribed 'Music hath charms to sooth &c', is full of coins. He is '3 Mr D------,
Commissary and Advocate General' (cf. BMSat 7152); he is the musician of the 'Bengal Battalion' (or Ministerialists). The two champions are Major Scott ('5, Major S------l') (left) and Sheridan (right), the latter in armour with a shield inscribed 'Money Beg-ums'; from his mouth issue three forked darts of lightning: 'Truth', 'Conviction', and 'Justice'. His weapon is a large pair of bellows inscribed 'Argument', which he holds by the nozzle; a smaller pair inscribed 'Wit' is thrust through his belt which is inscribed 'Humanity'. His helmet is inscribed 'Sublime and Beautiful Sherry', suggesting that his speech is derived from Burke (see p. 499). He is '4. Mr S------n, chief combatant for the Begums'. Scott, like the rest of the 'Bengal Battalion', is in oriental dress, wearing a turban. He is a much smaller man than Sheridan, his weapon is shaped like an oar or paddle inscribed 'Hotto Scotto', round it are wrapped papers inscribed 'Pamphlets'; his shield is a bag of money inscribed 'Pagodas'. His belt is inscribed 'Agency'. At his feet is an open book, 'Defence of Govr H-----gs by Major S-----t.' Nos. 7-15 are the leading members of the Opposition, seated in profile to the left in two rows, the word "Ay" issuing from their mouths. They are: '7 Mr F--x', '8. L------d N------h', '9. Mr A------m', Adam, '10 Law Chick', M. A. Taylor, see BMSat 6777. '11 Mr F------k', Fitzpatrick, '12. Mr F------s', Francis, who is at the head of the second row, next Burke and behind Fox, '13 Mr M--sh--m', Marsham, '14 Mr P------s', Powys. Next Powys sit 28, 'Mr G--v--le', ? Charles Greville, [Thomas Grenville, one of Fox's martyrs, was not in the 1784-90 Parliament. The other two Grenvilles (W. W. and James) were ministerialists.] M.P. for Warwick, a silent member, and '29, Aldn S------e', Alderman Sawbridge. A crowd of undifferentiated heads is explained by '&c &c &c'. Beyond the ordered phalanx of the Opposition are two isolated and conspicuous heads, not wearing helmets: '17' is 'Jack L------', Lee, '16 Mr Fl------d', Flood. A confused group brandishing clubs is '25 Rear Attack'. All these are on the right side of the design and on the Speaker's left.
The supporters of Hastings, with the exception of Dundas, are on a smaller scale than their stalwart opponents. Seven sit in the front row, the first four being: '22 Mr N-----lls', John Nicholls, M.P. for Blechingley (returned as a Foxite), who spoke just before Pitt in the debate of 13 June 1786 on the Benares charge. 'Parl. Hist.' xxvi. 99-101; see also his 'Recollections', 1820, i, ch. xiii. '23 Aldn Le M------r', Paul Le Mesurier, M.P. for South-
wark, appointed a Director of the East India Company for his opposition to Fox's India Bill, included in the 'Rolliad's' Bengal Squad; '26 Mr S------th', either Samuel Smith, M.P. for Worcester, a defender of Hastings, 7 Feb. 1787, 'Parl. Hist.' xxvi. 340-2, or Nathaniel Smith, M.P. for Rochester, a Director of the East India Co., who made a reasoned speech in defence of Hastings in the debate on 9 May on the Articles of Impeachment, ibid., pp. 1118 ff.; 27. 'Mr V------t', George Vansittart, M.P. for Berks., a nabob, one of the 'Bengal Squad': 'A second Hastings, if the Fates allow', 'Rolliad'. Standing behind these are '20' and '21': '20. S------r G------l', Archibald Macdonald, the Solicitor-General, who announced, 8 Feb. 1787, that he could not vote for impeachment, 'Parl. Hist.' xxvi. 338. He holds the banner of the 'Bengal Battalion'. Next him is '18 Mr P------t'; his feathered turban is inscribed 'Tippoo Pitto', and decorated with a key whose handle is a face irradiated, probably 'the key of the backstairs', see BMSat 6564, &c. He pierces Hastings with a spear inscribed 'Refined Candour'; a shower of jewels pours into his lap from the wound. Three men stand behind Macdonald and Pitt: '19 At-----y G------l', Pepper Arden, who
declared against impeachment on 13 June 1786, 'Parl. Hist.' xxvi. 115; '21 Jack W-----s', Wilkes, who spoke in defence of Hastings on 9 May 1787, 'Parl. Hist.' xxv. 1093 ff. A man without a number, next Pitt, whose open mouth receives a shower of jewels, appears to be intended for Thurlow. The persons who actually receive the jewels (except Pitt) are all unnumbered and poorly characterized. Behind them, among the smoke which surrounds all the combatants, is the number '24, Foraging Party'. The table of the House is inscribed 'St Stephen's'. After the title is etched 'Bella Horrida Bella!' After the explanatory notes, 'Avise la fin.' 9 February 1787
- Production date
Height: 290 millimetres
Width: 428 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- (Description and comment from M.Dorothy George, 'Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires in the British Museum', VI, 1938)A print on the debate of 7 Feb., when Sheridan made his famous speech, to obtain the assent of the House to the article of impeachment on the Begums of Oudh. See Sir G. Elliot, 'Life and Letters', i. 123-5. The actual decision for impeachment was on 10 May 1787, without a division. The attribution of corrupt motives to all opponents of Hastings's impeachment and the venomous attack on Pitt indicate the nature of the attacks which would have been made if his attitude had not made the question of impeachment one transcending the lines of party. Cf. BMSats 6925, &c, 6966, 6979, &c, 7150, 7269, 7281, &c. In BMSat 7301 (4) it is suggested that Pitt's attitude was intended to protect Hastings. For his part in the impeachment see (differing opinions) 'Cambridge Hist. of India', v. 307-9; Rose, 'Pitt and National Revival', pp. 232 ff.; Fortescue, 'English Statesmen of the Great War', pp. 51-5.
- Not on display
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- Prints and Drawings
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