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Proclamation

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

By John Burgoyne, and Burgoyne John, Esquire,
And grac’d with titles still more higher;
For I’m lieutenant-general too,
Of George’s troops both red and blue.
On this extensive continent;
And of Queen Charlotte’s regiment
Of light dragoons the colonel:
And governor eke of Castle Will.

And furthermore, when I am there,”
In House of Commons I appear,
(Hoping ere long to be a Peer,)

Being member of that virtuous band
Who always vote at North’s command;
Directing, too, the fleet and troops
From Canada as thick as hops;
And all my titles to display,
I’ll end with thrice et caetera.

The troops consign’d to my command,
Like Hercules to purge the laud,
Intend to act, in combination
With th’ other forces of the nation,
Displaying wide thro’ every quarter
What Briton’s justice would be after.
It is not difficult to show it,
And every mother’s son must know it,
That what she meant at first to gain
By requisitions and chicane,
She’s now determin’d to acquire
By kingly reason, sword, and fire.
I can appeal to all your senses,
Your judgments, feelings, tastes, and fancies;
Your ears and eyes have heard and seen
How causeless this revolt has been;
And what a dust your leaders kick up,
In this rebellious civil hick-up,

And how upon this curs’d foundation
Was rear’d the system of vexation,
Over a stubborn generation.

But now inspir’d with patriot love,
I come th’ oppression to remove;
To free you from the heavy clog
Of every tyrant-demagogue,
Who for the most romantic story,
Claps into limbo loyal Tory,
All hurly burly, hot and hasty,
Without a writ to hold him fast by;
Nor suffers any living creature
(Led by the dictates of his nature)
To fight in green for Britain’s cause,
Or aid us to restore her laws:
In short, the vilest generation,
Which in vindictive indignation,
Almighty vengeance ever hurl’d
From this, to the infernal world.
A Tory cannot move his tongue,
But whip in prison he is flung,
His goods and chattels made a prey
By those vile mushrooms of a day.
He’s tortur’d too, and scratch’d, and bit,
And plung’d into a dreary pit,
Where he must suffer sharper doom
Than e’er was hatch’d by Church of Rome.
These things are done by rogues, who dare
Profess to breathe in freedom’s air.
To petticoats alike and breeches,
Their cruel domination stretches,
For the sole crime, or sole suspicion,
(What worse is done by th’ inquisition!)
Of all still adhering to the Crown,
Their tyrants striving to kick down,
Who by perverting law and reason,
Allegiance construe into treason.
Religion, too, is often made
A stalking horse to drive the trade,
And warring churches dare implore
Protection from th’ Almighty pow’r;
They fast and pray: In Providence,
Profess to place their confidence;
And vainly think the Lord of all
Regards our squabbles on this ball;
Which would appear as droll in Britain
As any whim that one could hit on:
Men’s consciences are set at nought,
Nor reason valued at a groat;
And they that will not swear and fight,
Must sell their all, and say good night.

By such important views there prest to,
I issue this my manifesto.
I, the great knight of De la Mancha,
Without Squire Carleton my Sancho,
Will tear you limb from limb asunder,
With cannon, blunderbuss, and thunder;
And spoil your feath’ring and your tarring,
And cag you up for pickl’d herring.
In front of troops as spruce as beaux,
And ready to lay on their blows,
I’ll spread destruction far and near;
And where I cannot kill, I’ll spare;
Inviting, by these presents all,
Both old and young, and great and small,
And rich and poor, and Whig and Tory,
In cellar deep, or lofty story,
Wher’er my troops at my command,
Shall swarm like locusts o’er the land,
(And they shall march from the North Pole,
As far at least as Pensecole,)
So break off all their communications,
That I can save their habitations;
For finding that Sir William’s plunders,
Prove in the event apparent blunders,
It is my full determination,
To check all kinds of depredation;
But when I’ve got you in my pow’r,
Favor’d is he, I last devour.
From him who loves a quiet life,
And keeps at home to kiss his wife,
And drinks success to King Pigmalion,
And calls all Congresses Rabscallion,
With neutral stomach eats his supper,
Nor deems the contest worth a copper,
I will not defalcate a groat,
Nor force his wife to cut his throat;
But with his doxy he may stay,
And live to fight another day;
Drink all the cider he has made,
And have to boot, a green cockade.
But as I like a good Sir Loin,
And mutton-chop whene’er I dine,
And my poor troops have long kept lent,
Not for religion but for want,
Whoe’er secretes cow, bull, or ox,
Or shall presume to hide his flocks;
Or with felonious hand eloign
Pig, duck, or gosling from Burgoyne;
Or dare to pull the bridges down,
My boys to puzzle or to drown;
Or smuggle hay, or plough or harrow,
Cart, horses, wagons, or wheel-barrow;
Or ‘thwart the path, lay straw or switch,
As folks are wont to stop a witch,
I’ll hang him as the Jews did Haman,
And smoke his carcass for a gammon.

I’ll pay in coin for what I eat,
Or Continental counterfeit;
But what’s more likely still, I shall
(So fare my troops) not pay at all.

With the most Christian spirit fir’d,
And by true soldiership inspired,
I speak as men do in a passion,
To give my speech the more impression.

If any should so hardened be,
As to expect impunity,
Because procul a fulmine,

I will let loose the dogs of hell,
Ten thousand Indians, who shall yell,
And foam and tear, and grin and roar,
And drench their maukesins in gore;
To these I’ll give full scope and play
From Ticonderog to Florida;
They’ll scalp your heads, and kick your shins,
And rip your guts, and flay your skins,
And of your ears be nimble croppers,
And make your thumbs tobacco stoppers.

If after all these loving warnings,
My wishes and my bowels’ yearnings,
You shall remain as deaf as adder,
Or grow with hostile rage the madder,
I swear by George and by Saint Paul,
I will exterminate you all.
Subscribed with my manual sign,
To test these presents,
JOHN BURGOYNE,1

1 “A New Jerseyman,” in the New York Journal, September 8.