This chapter offers an introduction to parliamentary speaking in the later eighteenth century, a period in which Parliament extended its domestic authority and stood at the centre of an imperial state. The chapter discusses the increasing availability of parliamentary information, including the newspaper publication of debates and the emergence of new forms of writing about the business of the House. Using the correspondence of William Cowper as an example, it considers how these developments changed perceptions of Parliament and the public's engagement with parliamentary politics. The chapter concludes with a consideration of the methodological issues raised by the book, including the extent and quality of the extant sources, the challenge of reconstructing rhetorical performances and events, and the question of oratory's place within a general history of Parliament.
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