An Interview with Thomas Bartlett from Sean Crose’s Novel Lexington

Question: It must be difficult to be a citizen of Boston in 1775.

Thomas: Everyone knows war is coming. The British government has shut down our port, troops are everywhere, and the Patriots essentially control the entire Massachusetts colony outside the city. 

Question: And who are these Patriots?

Thomas: They’re colonists who feel the government in Britain is treating its subjects here across the Atlantic unfairly. For instance, colonists can’t be represented by one of their own in Parliament. Why is that? Is it because the British government feels the colonists are second class citizens? I would argue it is.

Question:  Are you a Patriot yourself?

Thomas: No. My new wife, Mary – who I adore – is from a family loyal to the crown. She went against their wishes by marrying me, so to save her from further discomfort, I’ve promised I won’t take part in these dangerous events plaguing our time.

Question: That seems rather honorable, but you look uncomfortable discussing the matter.

Thomas: My brother, James, is a member of the Patriots. He lives outside of Boston, in the town of Lexington, where Patriots engage in military drills quite regularly. 

Question: And naturally you’re worried about him and feel somewhat disloyal.

Thomas: Very much so.

Question: What does James feel about you’re not joining his cause?

Thomas: He’d love for me to become a Patriot myself, of course, but James and I see the world differently.

Question: Could you explain?

Thomas: James is an angry man. Indeed, he’s long had a deep anger in him, why I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with our mother passing on at an early age from consumption. At any rate, I fear James sees these troubles before us as an outlet through which he can vent his rage through.

 Question: Have you addressed this matter with him?

Thomas: Most certainly…though I broach the subject gently and in offhanded ways. James must be dealt with delicately most times. For instance, if he finds himself angry at one of his sons – something he often does – I attempt to calm him down. He can be quite ferocious, James.

Question: Is he violent with his children?

Thomas: He’s not violent with anyone. At least not yet. What I mean by this is I suspect James will become physically cruel once war breaks out, that he’ll feel he has an acceptable outlet for his range. 

Question: That’s understandable. Some with anti-British settlements have been known to act in a violent and atrocious manner.

Thomas: Most certainly. And I fear James will soon engage in a violent and atrocious manner himself. There is honorable combat and there is wanton brutality. What will become of James if he acts brutally once war breaks out? What if he harms a prisoner, or worse, kills one? What will that say of his character? What will it say of his soul?

Question: You worry about his soul, then.

Thomas: I do.

Question: You’re a religious man?

Thomas:  A lifelong Congregationalist. 

Question: But not James?

Thomas: He feels he has no use for faith. In truth, it’s one of the reasons I keep nudging him to try to alter his ways, to not let his anger continue to consume him. I worry he’ll die in combat with his soul in an unclean state.

Question: That’s quite a heavy burden to carry around. 

Thomas: To be sure! My new wife, Mary, says that I’m now more concerned with James’ soul than I have any obligation to be.

Question: And why is that?

Thomas: Although my bookstore on Cornhill is, like all businesses in Boston, doing meagre business, Mary feels my place is there. She supports my going to see James, but feels I take such trips too frequently, and with no productive results to show for them. Plus, the colony is dangerous outside of Boston. Lastly, Mary simply feels like too much of my time and effort is focused on James rather than on matters at home. 

Question: Is she right?

Thomas: I shall be blunt. If James should die in the war without having changed his ways, I shall personally feel responsible.

Question: Does Mary know this?

Thomas: She seems to suspect. 

Question:  You say you’re a Congregationalist, yet your thinking concerning James doesn’t adhere to any Christian doctrine. James has free will, after all.

Thomas: As do I…and I’m willfully dedicating myself to saving James.

Question: Even at the expense of something as valuable to you as your new marriage? 

Thomas: …

Question: Do you feel that’s a righteous way to go about things, Thomas? 

Thomas: …

Question: Thomas?

Thomas: 


Sean Crose is the Writing/ESL Specialist for Post University, where he also teaches such subjects as literature, poetry, creative writing, and composition. On top of that, Crose is a Senior Writer for “Boxing Insider,” and a contributor to “The Berkshire Edge.” He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Jen, and Charlie the Cat.