he dead body of Tipu, his breast
pierced with two swords and a bayonet, lies supine on the
fortress of Seringapatam which
Henry Dundas carries at full speed towards the King and
Queen at Kew. The fortress is enclosed within a bubble,
created by a blast from the left, inscribed 'Stock Exchange.'
A bearded Jew looks over the wall, and a Yeoman Warder has
been knocked down by Dundas in his haste. Both exclaim with
mocking words, and the King and Queen peer excitedly through
their telescopes. 'Scotch Harry' rushes through the royal
garden where large thistles, emblem of Scotland, are gaining
supremacy over wilting English roses.
Henry Dundas was Solicitor General for Scotland from 1766, and Lord
Advocate from 1775. He was Senior Commissioner on the new Board of
Control, established by Pitt's India Bill of 1784, and his unwavering
objective was to formulate a financially effective India policy, controlling,
or at least, containing the power of the East India Company. 'Dundas
is more active and diligent than any other, but also selfish and Scotch.
His interest is pillage and patronage: pillage by conquest and patronage
at home,' wrote one of his detractors in Parliament, George Canning.
Patronage - the gift of commissions in India in return for votes and
support at home - become a flourishing industry. At the apogee of this
system stood Dundas, so powerful and influential that he was nicknamed
'Henry IX, King of Scotland.' Predictably, he was a favourite target
for political satirists, such as Dent and Gillray, who often depicted
him swathed in garish tartan. In a more ugly demonstration of popular
opinion, on 4th June 1792, the mob in Edinburgh publicly burned an
effigy of Henry Dundas.
The 'News' was a letter, purportedly from
Lord Abercromby and announcing the Fall of Seringapatam. The letter
was actually fabricated, but the sensational news had the desired effect,
and India stocks duly rose by 5%. The 'Bubble soon burst' however,
and Prime Minister Pitt was accused of publishing false reports in
order to improve credit. The political satirists issued a stream of
venemous comments on the affair, and the rhyming couplets published
with Newton's print (1st May 1792) perfectly capture the public mood
|| 'The People of England most heartily
The Wonderful News from Seringapatam'