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General Howe’s Letter

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

The substance of Sir W. ‘s last letter from New York, versified.

As to kidnap the Congress has long been my aim,
I lately resolv’d to accomplish the same;
And, that none, in the glory, might want his due share,
All the troops were to Brunswick desir’d to repair.
Derry down, &c.

There I met them in person, and took the command,
When I instantly told them the job upon hand;
I did not detain them with long-winded stuff,
But made a short speech, and each soldier look’d bluff.

With this omen elated, towards Quibbletown
I led them, concluding the day was our own;
For, till we went thither, the coast was quite clear, —
But Putnam and Washington, d—-n them, were there!

I own I was stagger’d, to see with what skill
The rogues were intrench’d, on the brow of the hill;
With a view to dismay them, I show’d my whole force,
But they kept their position, and car’d not a curse.

There were then but two ways, –to retreat or attack,
And to me it seem’d wisest, by far, to go back;
For I thought, if I rashly got into a fray,
There might both be the Devil and Piper to pay.

Then, to lose no more time, by parading in vain,
I determin’d elsewhere to transfer the campaign;
So just as we went, we return’d to this place,
With no other diff’rence, –than mending our pace.

Where next we proceed, is not yet very clear,
But, when we get there, be assur’d you shall hear;
I’ll settle that point, when I meet with my brother, —
Meanwhile, we’re embarking for some place or other.

Having briefly, my lord, told you, –how the land lies,
I hope there’s enough–for a word to the wise;
‘Tis a good horse, they say, that never will stumble, —
But, fighting or flying, –I’m your very humble.1

1 Upcott, v. 45.