Click on images for larger pictures. Photograph by Robert Freidus and Simon stock. Text by Freidus and George P. Landow. You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL.]

Michael Cheese (d. 1816) Michael Cheese (d. 1816)

Lord William Cavendish Bentinck (1774-1839) by Sir Richard Westmacott, RA. Bronze. [Signed “Richard Westmacott R.A. / London.” Originally erected in front of the Town Hall in Calcutta. It was later moved to the Council Chamber. In 1921, when the Victoria Memorial was completed, it was relocated to the gardens of the Memorial. The pedestal relief panel was exhibited at the Summer Exhibiton of the Royal Academy in 1839. The inscription reads:

To
William Cavendish Bentinck
who during seven years ruled India with eminent prudence,
integrity, and benevolence;
who, placed at the head of a great empire, never laid aside the simplicity and moderation of
a private citizen; who infused into oriental despotism the spirit of
British freedom;
who never forgot that the end of government
is the welfare of the governed;
who abolished cruel rites;
who effaced humiliating distinctions;
who allowed liberty to the expression of public opinion
whose constant study it was to elevate
the moral and intellectual character of the nation
committed to his charge.

This monument was erected
by men
who differing from each other
in race, in manners, in language, and in religion
cherish with equal veneration and ratitude
the memory of his wise, uprightand paternal administration.

Calcutta 4th February 13 [35?]

The “cruel rites” refers to sati pratha, “forcible widow burning, practice of voluntary self-immolation, etc.) involved the woman burning herself alive on the funeral pyre of her husband” (Gurbani Blog), and “humiliating distinctions” to the caste system.

Three views of the bas relif encicling the base of the monument.

Related Material

Bibliography

Roscoe, Ingrid, Emma Hardy and M. G. Sullivan. A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain . New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009.

Steggles, Mary Ann. Statues of the Raj. Putney, London: BACSA [British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia], 2000.


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Last modified 12 May 2011