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OR A VIEW OF THE
For the YEAR 1810.
PRINTED FOR W. OTRIDGE AND SON; J. CUTHELL; E. JEFFERY; B. AND
THOUGH there was nothing of extraordinary interest or importance among the subjects brought under the consideration of the British Parliament this year, our accounts of its proceedings have run to an unusual, and, we fear it may be justly thought, an excessive length. The expedition to Walcheren, was a dull and irksome topic; and the result of the tedious inquiries and discussions to which this gave birth, unsatisfactory and vexatious. But in the course of proceedings on this subject, a question arose relative to the privileges of the House of Commons, and the liberty of the press, particularly that of reporting parliamentary debates; and this again to a train of incidents, which it seemed natural to notice in connection with the cause from whence they sprung: and that question, with the conséquent commotions in the cities of London and Westminster, and the vicinity, excited by Sir Francis Burdett, forms the most distinguishing feature in the parliamentary history of 1810.
It may also be necessary to offer an apology for the order observed in our narrative of all these occurrences, not interrupted by many intervening subjects of attention and discussion in Parliament, from first to last: from the first of February, when
the Hon. Mr. Yorke gave notice of his motion for enforcing the standing order of the House for the exclusion of strangers, to the 21st of June, when Sir Francis Burdett was liberated, by the dissolution of Parliament from the Tower, and Mr. Gale Jones was driven out of Newgate. In relating the debates about Walcheren, and the different matters that grew out of it, we have observed our usual method of arranging transactions under different heads or classes, and passing as much as possible from one subject to another, according to the relations they bear to one another, and not merely that of abridging parliamentary debates, whatever the subject, in the order of time. It may be permitted to the imagination of a poet, "rolling in a fine phrenzy from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven," to carry his reader where and when he pleases; " and set him down now at Thebes, and now at Athens."* The poet, however various or rapid his flight, keeps stil on the wing; still bears us smoothly along by transitions founded in strong associations of ideas. To pass abruptly, to skip backwards and forwards to a thousand heterogeneous motions, bills, and debates in both Houses of Parliament, could not, properly speaking, be called even Parliamentary History, far less the History of Europe. It must be admitted, however, that our statements of what passed annually in our Parliament, have been carried to details altogether disproportionate to an Annual Register of the great affairs of various nations.
Horat. Epist. 1.
This will be excused by the candid critics of even foreign nations, on the ground that they are principally intended for English readers. But we are not inattentive to free assemblies in other countries. We have entered sufficiently into the dissensions and contests, and given specimens of the debates, in the national, conventional, and legislative assemblies of France, until all freedom was suppressed by the usurpation of Buonaparte. Our attention is now solicited to the Cortes of Spain. If we were to measure the importance of the speeches in the Hall of the Cortes, and the propriety of introducing them into a general History of Europe, by the extent of their knowledge and views, and their admirable eloquence, we should not hesitate to make way for that introduction, by the suppression of much of what passes in our own Parliament. Nor would the British statesmen and orators be disparaged, if they were to sit as close together, and make as much room as possible for the admission of the Spaniards into the bright political zodiac of freedom: Individual liberty and national independence
Ipse tibia jam Brachia contrahit ardens
But in annals of Europe, we must be guided in