When these infamous doings were known in England, a feeling of horror and indignation ran through the country. The East India Company was compelled to send out Lord Pigot to Madras to do what Clive had so vigorously done in Bengalcontrol and reverse the acts of the Council. Pigot most honourably acquitted himself; liberated the outraged Nabob of Tanjore and his family, and restored them. But Pigot had not the same overawing name as Clive. The Council of Madras seized him and imprisoned him, expelling every member of the Council that had supported him. This most daring proceeding once more astonished and aroused the public feeling of England. An order was sent out to reinstate Lord Pigot, but, before it arrived, his grief and mortification had killed him. Sir Thomas Rumbold, a most avaricious man, was appointed to succeed him, and arrived in Madras in February, 1778, Major-General Hector Munro being Commander-in-Chief, and the army of Hyder, one hundred thousand in number, already again menacing the frontiers.

Before quitting Germany, however, George had signed a treaty between himself, Austria, and Sardinia, in which Italian affairs were determined. The Spaniards, under Count Gages and the Infant Don Philip, had made some attempts against the Austrians in Italy, but with little effect. By the present treaty, signed at Worms on the 13th of September, the King of Sardinia engaged to assist the Allies with forty-five thousand men, and to renounce his pretensions to the Milanese, on condition that he should command the Allied army in Italy in person, should receive the cession of Vigevenasco and the other districts from Austria, and a yearly subsidy of two hundred thousand pounds from England. This was also negotiated by Lord Carteret on the part of King George, and without much reference to the Ministers in England, who, on receiving the treaty, expressed much dissatisfaction; but, as it was signed, they let it pass. But there was another and separate convention, by which George agreed to grant the Queen of Hungary a subsidy of three hundred thousand pounds per annum, not only during the war, but as long as the necessity of her affairs required it. This not being signed, the British Ministers refused to assent to it, and it remained unratified.

On the 1st of December, 1837, shortly after the opening of Parliament, Lord John Russell introduced a question of great urgencythe relief of the Irish poor. After going through, and commenting on, the several recommendations of the Inquiry Commissioners, and noticing the objections to which they were all more or less open, he explained, by way of contrast, the principles on which the present Bill was founded, much in the same manner that he had done on the first introduction of the measure. The statement was generally well received, although there were some marked exceptions in this respect; and the Bill was read a first time without a division. It was, in like manner, read a second time on the 5th of February, 1838; but, on the motion for going into committee, on the 9th, Mr. O'Connell strongly opposed it, and moved that it be committed that day six months. The amendment was, however, negatived by 277 to 25, a majority which made the passing of the measure in some form pretty certain. On the 23rd of February the question of settlement was again very fully discussed, and its introduction opposed by 103 to 31, the latter number comprising all that could be brought to vote for a settlement law of any kind. The vagrancy clauses were for the present withdrawn from the Bill, on the understanding that there would hereafter be a separate measure for the suppression of mendicancy. The Bill continued to be considered in successive committees until the 23rd of March, when, all the clauses having been gone through and settled, it was ordered to be reported, which was done on the 9th of April. On the 30th of April the Bill was read a third time and passed by the Commons, and on the day following was introduced and read a first time in the Lords. Many of the peers, whose estates were heavily encumbered, were alarmed at the threatened imposition of a poor-rate, which might swallow up a large portion of their incomes. Those who were opposed to a poor law on economic principles,[449] appealed to their lordships' fears, and excited a determined opposition against the measure. On the 21st of May there was a stormy debate of nine hours' duration. Lord Melbourne moved the second reading in a judicious speech, in which he skilfully employed the best arguments in favour of a legal provision for the poor, stating that this measure was, in fact, but the extension to Ireland of the English Act of 1834, with such alterations as were adapted to the peculiar circumstances of that country. It would suppress mendicancy, and would abate agrarian violence, while relieving the destitute in a way that would not paralyse the feeling of energy and self-reliance. Among the most violent opponents of the measure was Lord Lyndhurst, who declared that it would lead to a dissolution of the union. The Duke of Wellington, on the contrary, contended that the Bill, if amended in committee, would improve the social relations of the people of Ireland, and would induce the gentry to pay some attention to their properties, and to the occupiers and labourers on their estates. He objected, however, to a law of settlement as leading to unbounded litigation and expense. Owing chiefly to the support of the Duke, the second reading was carried by a majority of 149 to 20. On the motion that the Bill be committed, on the 28th of May, a scene of confusion and violence was presented, surpassing anything that could have been expected in such a dignified assembly. The Irish peers especially were in a state of extreme excitement. The discussion was adjourned to the 31st, and, after a debate of eight hours, the clause embodying the principle of the Bill was adopted by a majority of 107 to 41. The Bill was considered in committee on the 7th, 21st, 22nd, and 26th of June, and was read a third time on the 6th of July. It had now passed the Lords, altered, and in some respects improved; although, in the opinion of its author, the charge upon electoral divisions approximated too nearly to settlement to be quite satisfactory. The Royal Assent was given to the measure on the 31st of July, and thus a law was at length established making provision for the systematic and efficient relief of destitution in Ireland.


All Europe was astonished by the news of the French Revolution. The successful insurrection of the working classes in Paristhe flight of the kingthe abolition of monarchythe establishment of a Republic, all the work of two or three days, were events so startling that the occupants of thrones might well stand aghast at their recital, and tremble for their own possessions. It would not have been surprising if the revolutionary spirit emanating from Paris had, to a large extent, invaded Great Britain and Ireland. The country had just passed through a fearful crisis; heavy sacrifices had been made by all classes to save the people from starvation; many families had been utterly ruined by gigantic failures, and there was still very general privation prevailing in all parts of the United Kingdom. In such circumstances the masses are peculiarly liable to be excited against the Government by ignorant or unprincipled agitators, who could easily persuade[555] them that their sufferings arose from misgovernment, and that matters could never go right till the people established their own sovereigntytill they abolished monarchy and aristocracy, and proclaimed a republic. The Chartist agitation, though not formally proposing any such issue of the movement, had, nevertheless, familiarised the minds of the working classes with the idea of such a revolution. The points of their charter comprised vote by ballot, universal suffrage, annual parliaments, payment of the members, and the abolition of the property qualification. Besides, the Chartist leaders had been in the habit of holding what was called a National Convention, which was a kind of parliament of their own, in which the leaders practised the art of government. The train was thus laid, and it seemed to require only a spark to ignite it; but a thick shower of sparks came from Paris, as if a furnace had been emptied by a hurricane. It would have been almost miraculous if there had been no explosions of disaffection in Great Britain in such circumstances as these.