The miscellaneous essays and occasional writings of Francis Hopkinson, Esq. Volume I[-III].
Hopkinson, Francis, 1737-1791.
Page  146

AN ANSWER TO GENERAL BURGOYNE'S PROCLAMATION.*

To John Burgoyne, esq. lieutenant-general of his majesty's armies in America; colonel of the queen's regiment of light dragoons; governor of Fort-William in North-Britain; one of the representa|tives of the commons of Great-Britain; and com|manding an army and fleet employed on an expedi|tion from Canada, &c. &c. &c.

Most high! most mighty! most puissant, and sub|lime lieutenant-general!

WHEN the forces under your command arriv|ed at Quebec, in order to act in concert and upon a common principle with the numerous fleets and armies which already display in every quarter of Ameri|ca, Page  147 the justice and mercy of your king; we the rep|tiles of America, were seized with unusual trepi|dation and confounded with dismay. But what words can express the plenitude of our horror when the colonel of the queen's regiment of light dragoons advanced towards Ticonderoga. The mountains trembled before thee, and the trees of the forest bowed their lofty heads: the vast lakes of the west were chilled at thy presence, and the stu|pendous cataract of Niagara bellowed at thy ap|proach.—Judge then, oh! ineffable governor of Fort-William in North-Britain! what must have been the consternation, terror, and despair of us miserable Americans, whilst in your irresistible ad|vances you laid all waste with fire and sword, more fully to display the justice and mercy of your king. Dark and dreary was the prospect before us, till, like the sun in the east, your most generous, most sublime, and inimitable proclamation shed abroad the cheering rays of protection and mercy, and shone upon the only path that could lead us from the pit of annihilation.

WE foolishly thought, ignorant as we were, that your gracious master's fleet and armies were come to destroy us and subdue our country; but we are most happy in hearing from you—and who can doubt what one of the representatives of the com|mons Page  148 of Great-Britain asserts? that they were cal|led forth for the sole purpose of restoring the rights of the constitution to a froward and stubborn gene|ration.

AND is it for this, oh, sublime lieutenant-general of his majesty's armies in America! that you have left the commons of Great-Britain to shift for themselves, and crossed the wide Atlantic; and shall we most ungratefully decline the profered blessing? To restore the rights of the constitution, you have collected an amiable host of savages, and turned them loose to scalp our wives and children, and to desolate our country. This they have ac|tually performed with their usual skill and clemen|cy; and we yet remain insensible of the benefit— we yet remain unthankful for such unparalleled goodness.

OUR congress hath declared independence— and our assemblies, as your sublimity justly ob|serves, have most wickedly imprisoned some of the avowed friends of that power with which we are at war. If we continue thus obstinate and ungrate|ful, what can we expect, but that you should in your wrath give a stretch to the Indian forces under your direction, amounting to thousands, to overtake and destroy us; or which is still more terrible, that Page  149 you should withdraw your fleet and armies, and leave us to our own misery; without completing the benevolent task, of restoring to us the rights of the constitution.

WE submit—we submit—most puissant colonel of the queen's regiment of light dragoons, and go|vernor of Fort-William in North-Britain! We humbly offer our heads to the tomahawk, and our bellies to the bayonet—For who can resist the power of your eloquence? Who can withstand the terror of your arms?

THE invitation you have given, in the conscious|ness of Christianity, your royal master's clemency, and the honour of soldiership, we thankfully accept. The blood of the slain—the cries of violated virgi|nity, and slaughtered infants—the never-ceasing groans of our starving brethren now languishing in the jails and prison-ships of New-York, call upon us in vain, whilst your sublime proclamation is sounding in our ears. Forgive us, oh, our coun|try! Forgive us, dear posterity! Forgive us, all ye nations of the world, who are watching our conduct in this important struggle for the liberty and happiness of unborn millions, if we yield im|plicitly to the fascinating eloquence of one of the representatives of the commons of Great-Britain. Page  150 Forbear then, thou magnanimous lieutenant-gene|ral—forbear to denounce vengeance against us.— Give not a stretch to those restorers of constituti|onal rights—the Indian forces under your direction. —Let not the messengers of justice and wrath await us in the field: and desolation, famine, and every concomitant horror bar our return to the allegiance of a prince who has taken so much pains for our reformation. We are domestic—we are industrious —we are infirm and timid—we shall remain quietly at home, and not remove our cattle, our corn, or fo|rage, in anxious expectation that you will come at the head of troops in the full powers of health, disci|pline, and valour, and take possession of them for yourselves.

BEHOLD our wives and daughters, our flocks and herds, our goods and chattels, are they not at the mercy of our lord the king, and of his lieute|nant-general, member of the house of commons, and governor of Fort-William in North-Britain, &c. &c. &c.

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Cum multis aliis.

Saratoga, July 1777.