641 | To Thomas Gage

    Roxbury July 2. 1768


    I received your letters together with the packets inclosed.1 As I understood that there was no private ship ready to sail for Halifax I applied to Capt Corner commander of the Romney:2 He has nothing under him but the Gaspee Cutter who cannot be spared from her station ^near the Castle^; but as soon as a Sloop which He expects shall come in, He will send the Gaspee with your dispatches, if I cannot find another Conveyance.

    The State of Affairs in Boston is full as bad as the reports you have received can make it.3 All real power is in the hands of the people of the lowest class; Civil Authority can do nothing but what they will allow. I have been obliged, after having in Vain applied to the Council for advice & assistance to tell the Commissioners of the Customs that I can give them no protection.4 I have indeed ordered them to be received into the Castle: but that in its present state Cannot be called a place of Safety.

    The Nature of this Government & the present State of the Town make it impracticable for me to apply for troops tho’ the Occasion for them should be ever so urgent. For regularly I ought to have the advice of the Council for such a measure: but it will be impossible for me to obtain such advice tho’ the Danger was ever so imminent & not to be avoided by any other means. For the nature of their Constitution & the intimidation they are under from the troops of the Sons of liberty make them incapable of pursuing effectual measures to restore the peace of the Town & the Authority of the Government.

    I have heretofore in times of great Danger put the question to the Council whether I should apply to the General for troops, & have received such answers as have convinced me that it is in vain ever to put that question again.5 And yet upon the late tumults I told the Council that I was ready to put the question for applying to the General for troops if Any two of them would propose it. I was answered that they did not desire to be knocked on the head. I told them that I did not desire it neither; but I was ready to take my share of the danger with them, and if they would advise this Measure I would carry it into Execution. But I would not act solely in this & take the whole resentment upon myself, attended with a charge of acting unconstitutionally in not taking the Advice of the Council.6

    To show that the apprehensions of the Council are not groundless, I will mention a Fact. One of the chiefs of the Sons of Liberty (a Representative of the Town)7 said in a mixed company about six weeks ago that if any person was known to apply for troops to come here, he would certainly be put to death.8 A Gentleman in company expostulating with him, He repeated his words & said that he spoke this in publick that it might be known & people might take Warning.

    Above a fortnight ago A Committee of both houses was appointed to enquire into the foundation of a report that troops were coming hither.9 A Sub-committee was sent to me, who after Apologising for the question asked me if I had, or any one that I knew had applied for troops to come hither. I accepted the apology being desirous & prepared to answer the question. I told them that I neither had myself nor did I know that any one else had applied for troops; but that I was certain that troops would come here, not from any knowledge of applications or orders, but from the sure consequence of effects from Causes; and I beleived that when they did come, it would be Very satisfactory to most people of property in the Town, tho’ perhaps, they won’t own it. That for my own part I avoided as much as possible having Any hand in or knowledge of it: for if I wanted to have Troops here, I need not expose myself by Applying for them; the Sons of Liberty would save me that trouble.10

    I have given this Capitulation that you see what it is that has prevented & still does prevent my applying for Troops from whence it will appear, that my not applying is no Argument that they are not wanted. It is above 3 months ago since I informed the Secretary of State of my Situation11 & utter inability to preserve the peace of the Town or support the Authority of Government: but the Letter went too late for me to expect an Answer by this Mail.12

    I must beg that you will keep this letter to yourself as much as you can, that is, wholly so on this side of the Water, for obvious reasons. I am, with great truth & regard

    Sr Your most obedient & most humble Servant

    Fra Bernard

    His Excellency Genl. Gage.

    ALS, RC     Gage, vol. 78.

    Endorsed: Govr. Bernard Roxbury 2d July 1768. Received July 9th. answered. Variants: CO 5/757, ff 353-354 (AL, Copy) and BP, 5: 266-269 (L, LbC).