The miscellaneous essays and occasional writings of Francis Hopkinson, Esq. Volume I[-III].
Hopkinson, Francis, 1737-1791.
Page  142

A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW JERSEY GAZETTE. [January 1778.]

MR. COLLINS,

WHEN necessity first compelled us to take up arms in defence of our country, we thought our only business would be to oppose strength to strength, in the usual course of war: and accord|ingly, we provided ourselves with guns, bayonets, powder, ball, &c.

BUT experience shews that we were mistaken. Other weapons of less mortal, but not less dan|gerous effect, are exercised against us by the ene|my, and we are very deficient on our parts. It is now high time that congress should enable us to meet the foe with equal arms. In short, Mr. Col|lins, we want men of abilities to serve the United States in the capacity of public Liars.

Page  143HOWEVER strange such an appointment may appear at first view, we find that the experienced commanders of the British army have not thought it unworthy of their attention. It is manifest that our enemies depend much on their superiority in the art of lying. In the very commencement of the war, the British minister was at the trouble and expence of sending over a whole ship load of lies in a pamphlet, entitled An Address to the People of America, to be dispersed among the people. After this, many other lying pamphlets and papers were discharged from the royal batteries. Lord Howe sent a lie to congress by Gen. Sullivan, request|ing a conference for the establishment of peace— knowing, at the same time, he had neither the in|tention nor the power to make peace. But this was only priming the cannon—his principal aim was to send a thundering lie to Europe, and particularly to France, informing that congress was about to submit, and had actually entered up|on a treaty with the British generals for that pur|pose. And Sir William Howe let off another lie, not long since, by means of the unfortunate John Brown—but that missed its aim.

AS soon as the Howes got to New York, they appointed their liar general, who played off in|numerable lies from the batteries of RivingtonPage  144 and Gaine* to our great annoyance. They have now an able officer of this kind in Philadelp•••, who has taken charge of Fort Humphreys* and Fort Town*. For it cannot be supposed that Mess. Humphreys and Town are the original au|thors of those elegant and well constructed lies which they publish every week.

I have heard of a man in England, some years ago, called a Ventriloquist, who had the extraor|dinary faculty of making his voice seem to come from where he pleased. This man kept a great dog, and for the entertainment of his visitors, would throw his voice into the dog's belly; and then wagging the poor beast's jaws with his hands, made him seem to say any thing he pleased. Thus it is with Humphreys and Town. The liar general is the man with a wonderful voice, and they are only his dogs, whom he causes to utter what he thinks proper. Thus, in a late Evening Post, Mr. Town seems to address the public, in propria persona, in a long declamation on con|gressional tyranny and British clemency—All lies—in order to introduce two greater lies, sanc|tified by the name of Joseph Galloway—whom, to tell the truth, I do suspect to be the very liar general himself.

Page  145NOTHING would be more vain than to attempt to counteract these productions of the British lying offices in New York and Philadelphia, with se|rious answers of truth and reason: like must be opposed to like—and therefore I hope that con|gress will no longer delay to establish lying offices on our side of the question, with handsome salaries annexed: and would earnestly recommend this my project to their serious consideration. Let there be an advertisement forthwith published by authority, to the following effect:

WANTED, for the continental service, a person well qualified for the office of liar general to the United States: Also three assistants or petit-liars, in said office. Those who are willing and able to serve their country in this de|partment, are requested to send in their names to **** on or before the first day of March next.

AS it is supposed there may be a number of persons well versed in this art amongst the tories, free pardon and good encouragement will be gi|ven to such as will exert their lying faculties in favour of their country.

N. B. Specimens of ability will be required of the candidates.