return of ten years' floggings. In 1809 he seconded Wardle's motion for inquiry into the transactions which brought the Duke of York into temporary disgrace. He supported Madocks's inquiry into the alleged parliamentary corruption of ministers, Curwen's Reform Bill, and Whitbread's motion on placemen and pensioners in parliament. On one occasion he was called to order for saying that ‘since the sale of seats in this house was openly avowed, it was no longer to be called the commons' house of parliament’ (Colchester's Diary, ii. 193). An incident at length occurred which seemed to give the government an opportunity of silencing him. A well-known radical orator, John Gale Jones, had been imprisoned by the House of Commons for raising a discussion upon the practice of the house as to the exclusion of strangers. Burdett, moving that Jones be discharged from custody, was supported on a division by only 14 against 153. He thereupon issued to the public a revised edition of his speech. It was first printed in Cobbett's ‘Register,’ and subsequently reprinted as a shilling pamphlet, which likewise had an immense sale. A Mr. Lethbridge was put forward to accuse Burdett of breach of privilege. Much debate was exercised as to what was to be done with him. Extensive research was made into precedent. At length the speaker issued a warrant for his arrest, but Burdett refused to surrender except to superior force. Mr. Speaker Abbot did not know if it were justifiable to break open doors, and suggested consulting the magistrates. Lord Eldon and other legal authorities could give no advice. Lord Redesdale suggested an act of attainder if the culprit still refused to yield. Meanwhile the Westminster mob began to gather. The house was garrisoned by volunteers, and although Sheriff Matthew Wood implored the government to abstain from calling out the military, lifeguards were stationed in the streets. The Westminster committee, led by Francis Place, went to support Burdett, and proposed that the officers of the guards should be arrested in detail by the civil power if they refused to withdraw their troops. At length, on the fourth day of the warrant, a forcible entry was made into Burdett's house, and Burdett was conveyed to the Tower, the town being guarded by many thousands of soldiers.
Burdett remained in the Tower for several weeks, until parliament was prorogued. He brought actions at law against the speaker and the sergeant-at-arms, but did not succeed in obtaining a verdict in his favour. On the day of his quitting the Tower, he quietly departed by water. This proceeding caused him a temporary loss of popularity, as his constituents had prepared a triumphal procession, and were obliged to content themselves with dragging an empty car through the streets to Piccadilly. Mr. Place, who was chief wire-puller to the Westminster committee, never forgave the apparent slight, and did not speak to Burdett again for years.
Burdett was re-elected for Westminster in 1812 and again in 1818, his colleagues being successively Lord Cochrane and Sir Samuel Romilly. In 1819 George Lamb took Romilly's seat, and in 1820 it was filled by Hobhouse, who shared the representation with Burdett until after the passing of the Reform Bill. During this long period Burdett steadily maintained the principles upon which he had entered public life. His motion for a committee on the parliamentary representation, in 1817, although unsuccessful, moved the question a great step forward. In 1820, by a too warm animadversion upon the conduct of the authorities, consequent upon the Peterloo affair, he exposed himself to a government prosecution at the Leicester assizes, which resulted in a conviction, and he was accordingly sentenced to a fine of 2,000l. and imprisonment for three months. In May 1828 the House of Commons carried by a small majority Burdett's resolution affirming the expediency of considering the state of the laws affecting the Roman catholics. When the Reform Bill was at last carried, Burdett sat down as one satisfied with what had been done. The conservative reaction of 1835 found him in conflict with a large section of his constituency, and early in 1837, in deference to their clamour, he resigned his seat, but was immediately re-elected. At the general election, however, which followed the queen's accession, he threw his influence to the side of the conservatives of the day. He represented North Wiltshire thenceforth until his death, on 23 Jan. 1844.
To Burdett is confessedly due the merit of having made public speech again possible in England. He endured personal sacrifices for his opinions. He was not even what would be called a party man, and there were in some sections of aristocratic society persons who kept carefully aloof from him. His dislike of O'Connell's political principles had something to do with his later stand on the side of toryism. He was not a close attendant of the parliamentary sittings, but it was understood among his constituents that he hardly cared for a seat except as connected with matters of reform.
Apart from politics, Burdett devoted much