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Hortentius

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

It is observable that at the opening of every campaign in the spring, the British plunderers, and their Tory emissaries, announce the total reduction of America before the winter. In the fall they find themselves as remote from their purpose as they were in the spring; and then we are threatened with innumerable hosts from Russia and Germany, who will utterly extirpate us the ensuing summer, or reduce us to the most abject submission. They have so beat this beaten track, that for mere sake of variety, I would advise them to explore a new road; and not compel us to nauseate a falsehood, not only because we know it to be one, but for its perpetual repetition without the least variation or alternity. According to custom, therefore, the new lie (that is the old lie reiterated) for next summer is, that we are to be devoured, bones and all, by thirty-six thousand Russians; besides something or other that is to be done to us by the King of Prussia. What this is to be, is still a profound secret; but as it will doubtless be something very extraordinary, and it being impossible to conceive what else he can do to us, after we are swallowed by the Russians, he is probably, by some political emetic or other, to bring us up again. I should think, in common complaisance to human reason, that absurdities so gross, and figments so destitute of probability, could only deceive those who choose to be deceived. The Empress of Russia, though a sovereign in petticoats, knows too well that the true riches of a nation consist in the number of its inhabitants, to suffer such a number of her inhabitants to be knocked in the head in America, for the sake of facilitating the frantic project of a more southern potentate in breeches, deluded by a blundering ministry, and the universal derision of Europe. It is her interest (and I shall wonder if ever princes proceed upon any other principle, before the commencement of the millennium) to have America dismembered from Great Britain, which must of necessity reduce the naval power of the latter, and make Russia a full match for her on the ocean. And as for the King of Prussia, considering that there never was any love lost between him and the family of Brunswick, and that he has long been jealous of the maritime strength of Britain, these artifices of fraud might, with equal plausibility, have introduced the Emperor of Japan as entering into leagues and alliances with our late master at St. James. It is nothing but an impudent forgery from first to last, and merely fabricated to restore to their natural shape and features, the crest-fallen countenances of the Tories, and if possible, to intimidate the genuine sons of America. The utmost they can do, they have already done; and are this moment as far from any prospect of subjecting us to the dominion of Britain, as they were in the ridiculous hour in which General Gage first arrived in Boston. This is no secret with those who have the management of their armies in America, how greatly soever the nation itself may be deluded by the pompous accounts of their progress. But whatever becomes of Old England at last, these gentlemen are sure of accumulating immense wealth during the war; and are therefore determined to keep up the delusion as long as possible. Burgoyne is the only one of any distinction, who has virtue enough to own the truth; and I am credibly informed, that he has frankly declared, that he was most egregiously deceived in the Americans, that he had been led to believe they would never come to bayoneting, that they behaved with the greatest intrepidity in attacking intrenchments, that although a regiment of his grenadiers and light infantry displayed, in an engagement with Colonel Morgan’s battalion of riflemen, the most astonishing gallantry, Morgan exceeded them in dexterity and generalship, and that it was utterly impossible ever to conquer America.1

 

1 Hortentius, (Governor William Livingston,) in the New Jersey Gazette, December 24.