Dr. Curtis, the Roman Catholic Primate, was an old friend of the Duke of Wellington, whom he had known during the war in the Peninsula, and with whom he had kept up a confidential correspondence on the subject of the Catholic claims, on the state of the country, on the disposition of the Roman Catholics in the army, and other matters of the kind. On the 11th of December the Duke, in answer to a letter urging the prompt settlement of the Catholic question, wrote to Dr. Curtis as follows: "I have received your letter of the 4th instant, and I assure you that you do me justice in believing that I am sincerely anxious to witness the settlement of the Roman Catholic question, which, by benefiting the State, would confer a benefit on every individual belonging to it. But I confess that I see no prospect of such a settlement. Party has been mixed up with the consideration of the question to such a degree, and such violence pervades every discussion of it, that it is impossible to expect to prevail upon men to consider it dispassionately. If we could bury it in oblivion for a short time, and employ that time diligently in the consideration of its difficulties on all sides (for they are very great), I should not despair of seeing a satisfactory remedy."
Clive, a young clerk of the Company's, at Madras, had deserted his desk, taken a commission, and, as early as 1748, had distinguished himself by baffling the French commanders Dupleix and Bussy, at Pondicherry. In 1751 he had taken Arcot from Chunda Sahib, the Viceroy of the Carnatic, and, aided by the Mahrattas, defeated Rajah Sahib, the son of Chunda, in a splendid victory at Arnee. In 1752 he raised the siege of Trichinopoly, where the Nabob of Arcot was besieged by the French. In 1755, landing at Bombay from England, he, with Admiral Watson, made an expedition to Gheriah, the stronghold of the celebrated pirate Angria, demolished it, and seized the spoils, valued at one hundred and twenty thousand pounds. In 1757 he took Calcutta from the Nabob Surajah Dowlah, the ally of the French, who had captured it, and shut up the English prisoners in the memorable Black Hole, where, in one night (June 20, 1756), out of one hundred and forty-six persons, one hundred and twenty-three perished. Clive also captured the city of Hooghly, defeated Dowlah, and compelled him to cede the town and vicinity. He then drove the French from their factory of Chandernagore; marched forward on Moorshedabad, defeated Surajah Dowlah in a battle extraordinary for the rout of an immense army by a mere handful of men, at Plassey (1757); deposed him, and seated on his throne Meer Jaffier. From this day dates British supremacy in India.