Inhabitants of Montreal to the Committee of Safety

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Inhabitants of Montreal to the Committee of Safety
April 28, 1775

Montreal, April 28, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: — We have received your letter of the 21st of February, by Mr Brown, and see clearly the great injustice that has been done you. We deeply feel the sorrows and afflictions of our suffering brethren; and sincerely wish it was in our power to afford you effectual relief; but alas! we are more the objects of pity and compassion than yourselves, who are now suffering under the heavy hand of power; deprived, as we are, of the common right of the miserable, to complain. You have members, strength, and common cause to support you in your opposition: we are still more divided here, by our interests, than by our religion, language, and manners. The apprehension of evils to come upon us, in a short time, from the unlimited power of the governor, strikes all opposition dead: indeed, few in this colony dare vent their griefs; but groan in silence, and dream of lettres de cachet, confiscations, and imprisonments; offering up their fervent prayers to the throne of grace, to prosper your righteous cause, which alone will free us from those jealous fears and apprehensions that rob us of peace.

In a world, were the British inhabitants of this widely extended province, united in their sentiments, we have neither numbers nor wealth sufficient to do you any essential service. We must, therefore, cast ourselves into the arms of our sister colonies, relying upon the wisdom, vigor, and firmness of the general Continental Congress for our protection, hoping they will entertain no animosity or resentment against us because we cannot join them in the ensuing general Congress, which, were we to attempt, the Canadians would join with the government to frustrate.

You will please to bear in mind, that not only those who hold the helm of government, but also, all those who make wealth of ambition the chief objects of their pursuit, are professedly your enemies; and would be glad to reduce you to the same abject state, with themselves; nevertheless, the bulk of the people, both English and Canadians, are of quite contrary sentiments; and wish well to your cause; but dare not stir a finger to help you; being of no more estimation in the political machine, than the sailors are, in shaping the course of working the ship in which they sail. They may mutter and swear, but must obey; however, should government handle them too roughly, and arbitrarily attempt to force them upon dangerous and disagreeable service, to which they have already shown an irreconcilable aversion, they may, perhaps, dearly repent it.

The case is quite different with their noblesse, or gentry. The pre-eminence given to their religion, together with a participation of honors and offices in common with the English, not only flatters their natural pride and vanity, but is regarded by them, as a mark of distinction and merit, that lays open their way to fortune. Of liberty, of law, they have not the least notion.

As to the savages that dwell round about us, doubtless there are some to be found among them, who, for the sake of plunder, would murder, burn, and destroy; but we conceive that their chiefs know their own interests better, than to interfere as a nation, in this family quarrel; for let which side will, prevail, they are sure, in that case, to be the victims.

We desire to know, whether English delegates would be accepted under the above named limitations; namely, without entering into the general association for the non-importation of goods from Great Britain, or the non-exportation of the produce of this colony, and the Indian countries above: and beg to be informed in what manner we can be serviceable to your cause, without bringing down ruin upon our own heads.

It may not be amiss just to hint, that the idea the Canadians seem to have of this colony, at present is, that it is to be a French government, holding under the crown of Great Britain; from which they mean to exclude every Englishman, save the governor and lieutenant governor.

We heartily wish our abilities to serve you were equal to our wills, and pray Heaven to prosper your generous purpose; and are, with the utmost consideration and feeling for your distresses,

Gentlemen, your most obedient,

And very humble servants, and fellow sufferers,


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