Letter – Walter Blackett to Fletcher Norton – 15 Nov 1770

Document Type: Letter
Date: 15 Nov 1770
Correspondent: Walter Blackett
Recipient: Fletcher Norton
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      15th Novr. 1770

Mr. Speaker

      However particular, however unreasonable & uncalled for, what I am about to say, may seem to be, or whatever light of myself may appear, I must beg leave to open myself to the house upon a point which for some months hath greatly disturbed me; & the only apology I can offer for (then abruptly) troubling the House with a matter which merely concerns myself, is, that I am conscious although compelled to do it.

      Diffident of myself, forsaking my own judgement & adopting the opinion of others, I voted, last sessions, that Mr. Wilkes was not incapacitated from sitting in this House during this Parliament, reconsidering that vote the night I had given it, & indeed ever since, hath occasioned the greatest uneasiness to me; & whilst I was abroad this summer at Spa and Paris ruminating upon what I had done, it appeared to me that the only satisfaction I could give to my mind, was, to acknowledge here the error, as I conceive, I had committed, & return to my own opinion, as now I do, that Mr. Wilkes is incapacitated, constitutionally incapacitated, from sitting in this House during this Parliament.

      Having made this acknowledgement, as a man labouring under a malady willing to try the best remedy because I hope for the favourable instruction of the House: sensible at the same time that many gentlemen, for whom I have a great regard, are as conscientious of a different opinion.

      There was a report at Calais that the House of Commons would be adjourned for some time, which was an additional inducement to me to get to the House as soon as I could: & to make this acknowledgement was the principle inducement which brought me from France, for Sr. John Pringle & Mr. Middleton had advised me to stay abroad for a year or longer; & this resolution I determined upon one morning when I was walking alone in the Tuillerie.

      Wr. Blackett

Newcastle July 23rd 1771

NB Executing the above did set my mind at ease.
The text, apparently of a rare speech by Sir Walter Blackett in the House of Commons, in his own hand, presumably, given the postscript, copied out by him the following summer. It is annotated, presumably by one of the Trevelyans, within the scrapbook into which it is pasted ‘Printed in Hodgsons History of Northumberland Pt 2 Vol 1, p 272’

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