Althorp, and then spoke in favour of an amendment proposed by Buxton to shorten the term of apprenticeship. The government having consented to reduce the term from twelve years to seven, the abolitionists were contented; and Macaulay's resignation was not accepted.
Meanwhile (ib. p. 35) Macaulay received an offer of a seat on the supreme council of India, as constituted by the recent bill. He would receive 10,000l. a year for five years, which would enable him to save 30,000l. during his tenure of office. The prospects of the ministry were so bad, that he would not give 50l. for the chance of keeping his present post for six months (ib. p. 235). He would honourably avoid any entanglement in the approaching political complications, and save his family from distress. He shrank only from the necessary parting. His sister, Margaret, had married John Cropper, a quaker, in 1833; and the shock of separation seems to have been almost as great to him as the loss of a wife to most men. His other favourite sister, Hannah, agreed to accompany him to India. He accepted the appointment, which was confirmed by the directors of the East India Company, on 4 Dec. 1833, James Mill, in spite of their old controversy, saying that he was the best man for the place. He made arrangements to write for the ‘Edinburgh’ during his absence, requesting Napier to supply him in return with books, laid in a library for his own consumption during the voyage, and sailed for India in February 1834. He landed at Madras on 10 June, and joined the governor-general, Lord William Bentinck, at Ootacamund in the Neilgherries. On his way to the hills he visited Arcot, Seringapatam, and Mysore. During the monsoon he persuaded all the English at the station to go wild over ‘Clarissa Harlowe.’ In September he went to Calcutta, whither his sister had preceded him. Macaulay remained at Calcutta until the end of 1837, sailing for England in the first fortnight of 1838 (ib. p. 309). He compressed into this stay of three years and a half a prodigious quantity of work. He was attacked with extraordinary scurrility in the Calcutta press for his share in passing the so-called Black Act (1836), by which appeals from British residents in India were transferred from the supreme to the Sudder court. This destroyed a privilege of the Europeans; but, according to Macaulay, the privilege was worthless, and the real motive of his assailants was the fear that the act might injure the business of lawyers practising in the supreme court. He received their abuse with equanimity, and argued vigorously and successfully with the directors against the maintenance of the old system of a press censorship. A petition against the act was brought before the House of Commons on 22 March 1838; but a motion for a select committee was dropped upon the government consenting to lay before the house the minutes of council on which the act was founded.
At the time of his arrival, a committee of public instruction was equally divided as to the policy of applying their funds to the encouragement of oriental or of English studies. Macaulay decided the question by a minute explaining with great force the reasons for preferring English. He became president of a reconstructed committee, and took a very active part in founding the educational system of India. His most important work, however, was the composition of a criminal code and the code of criminal procedure for India. A commission was appointed for the purpose at his suggestion in 1835. He was the president, and his colleagues were (Sir) John Macleod, and Charles Hay Cameron [q. v.] They began their task in August 1835 (ib. p. 317). Macleod's health was weak; Cameron had to leave Calcutta from illness at Christmas 1836; and Macaulay had to finish the work almost single-handed. It was, however, finished in June 1837, and published at the end of the year. Sir J. F. Stephen, one of Macaulay's successors, speaks in the highest terms of its merits, and of the extraordinary command of the subject possessed by a man whose whole experience as an English lawyer was confined to a single prosecution of a boy for ‘stealing a parcel of cocks.’ The penal code became law in 1860, after careful revision by Sir Barnes Peacock. Macaulay found time, by devoting the early morning to study, to get through a vast mass of classical literature, reading some authors three or four times, and carefully annotating every page. He learnt German during his voyage home. He wrote his long and brilliant, though far from satisfactory, article upon Bacon. The society, except that of a few friends, was not much to his taste, and he felt the exile from his home. His sister, Hannah, married (Sir) Charles Trevelyan, then in the company's service, at the end of 1834. Soon afterwards he was deeply grieved by news of the death of his sister Margaret (Mrs. Cropper). The marriage of Hannah, like the marriage of Margaret, was felt by him as a severe blow (ib. p. 280), though he was too generous to let his feeling be seen, and comforted himself by plunging into literature. He lived with the Trevelyans after the marriage, and became the most devoted of uncles to their children, the first of whom was born