Editor's Note: Not a sermon and by an author anonymous and unknown, this satirical dialogue first appeared in 1782 in Boston, was reprinted in the Frederick-Town, Maryland, Chronicle on June 27, 1787, and appeared yet a third time in Augusta, Maine, in 1797. Much in the spirit in which we have rediscovered it, the Maryland publisher said of the piece, it "just come to hand." The dialogue covers the reign of George III from his ascent to the throne in 1760 to the defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown and the overthrow of his and the Devil's scheme to establish the greatest tyranny in the history of the world by first enslaving the Americans and then the native Englishmen. A sprightly exercise in political theology, the dialogue gives a special play to the role of the Scots in the diabolical plot and to John Adams as the quintessential American champion of liberty and Providence. As for George III, his early aspiration to become the greatest tyrant since Nero and Caligula gives way as the tide of revolution turns to hopes of lesser magnitude. "I had rather be a little tyrant than a great king," George says. His inability to swear proficiently proves particularly embarrassing for the Devil, who places great stock in fluent profanity, such as Charles II commanded. He gives the king lessons but finally despairs of his inept pupil. "George you swear poorly, not fit for company," the Devil moans.
A ringing affirmation of the patriot cause by an "American plenipotentiary" who addresses George III and his privy council concludes the dialogue—perhaps emblematic of John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin, who concluded peace negotiations with Britain on November 30, 1782.
George hearken to my council.
My trusty servants Bute and Mansfield, have educated thee for my service, and taught thee the way wherein thou shouldst go, obey them and I will make thee a king indeed; make yourself absolute, or die in the attempt: a king dependent on the people, is no monarch; he is a mere puppy.
Your words I have a heart to obey; 'tis the bent of my soul, and the world shall soon know that I am a king in reality, and my people shall feel that my wrath is like the roaring of a lion.
I doubt not you will equal my ancient servants Nero, Caligula, Borgia, Charles, and others; but you must use great art lest a spirit of liberty should rise among the people and blast your great designs, as happened to my faithful servant Charles.
I will begin with my colonies; the idea of enslaving them to the power of parliament, and make them tributary to the old dominion, suits the pride and avarice of Britons: when this [is] done, the way will be open and easy to complete the work in Britain: with places pensions titles and bribes, I can soon make myself as absolute as any tyrant that ever stept.
Go on my beloved servant, and cut the work short; thou art the darling of my heart; I hope you will yet shed a sea of human blood, sufficient for the British navy to ride in.
See how things ripen. I'll soon kindle rebellion in America, and then with a few troops subdue the rebels, confiscate the country, and establish my will as law.
Pox take ye, what have ye been about these fourteen years? The work ought to have been done; 'ere now you should have been as terrible to your people as the lion to the tame beast of the field; but you are yet a beggar to parliaments.
See the field of Lexington and Bunker-Hill. Now the wheels begin to move—the torrent of blood is rapid: I trust you will never again have cause to lash my delays. In time past my counsels have been divided; & that timid goose of a Gage has been dilatory: But I have sent Howe, Burgoyne and Clinton to assist him, and push things: Howe is a true blood-hound; Burgoyne is ambitious as Lucifer, and would kill his father for promotion; and Clinton is obedient to his master as a shepherd's dog.
You now begin to do something: But you in your speeches, and your generals in their proclamations, tell too many lies, and commit too many horrid acts of barbarity, for the success of your cause; in these you run too fast; they strike mankind with horror, and unite them against you—there is not a character in Tophet stinks (above ground) worse than yours.
You told me to make short work, and I said I had a heart for it: accordingly by perjury and lies, fire and sword, by the gallows & dungeons, freezing and starving, I have been subduing the rebels, and hope to finish the work in America soon; for I want to begin with my subjects at home.
Where is Burgoyne? Howe has taken Philadelphia, and is shut up in it. Clinton has, with great loss, taken a small fort and burnt a town up Hudson's river, and run back to New York. Damn'd work, you'll stink in hell George!
We are all in tears, but what can I do more; I sent fleets and armies, which all my ministers swore were more than sufficient to lay America prostrate at my feet.
Instead of showing the spirit of a lion, you have the head of a goat and the heart of a sheep; and if you don't pursue your plan until the work is complete, by the ghost of Nero, I hope the English will play Charles with you. If you fail, what a deform'd mongrel puppy you will appear to all the world; neither generosity and benevolence to gratify your people, nor art and spirit enough to make yourself a tyrant—poor dog! you'll be the scorn of the world, and the derision hell.
I wish I had not begun, but there is no retreat. I'll move every wheel to increase my force by sea and land; I will send commissioners with great promises (which I can easily break when the business is done) and large bribes, and partly by art and partly by force, I may yet succeed. I know my crown will sit uneasy and my life be wretched after this, unless I gain my point.
Do you see what the French are doing?
Yes, my liege; do help me curse them; O for a flood of anathemas that would sweep them to the centre.
Words are but wind, a million oaths won't sink a French ship, nor will ten thousand curses kill one rebel. You stupid dog, if you would reign you must fight. It is now or never with you, not only the French but all the nations in Europe secretly aid America, and wish her success. You ought to have done the work at once, and not have allowed time for the rebels to form alliance.
My liege, don't use me ill, you never had a servant more devoted to thy service, and very few have ever done so much to promote thy kingdom. In my early youth I debauch'd the fair quaker, and had three bastards by her, besides innumerable other instances of wickedness, of which you are witness. I have deceived my people with a show of religion (this proves that I am no fool in hypocrisy); and at the same time have practiced every iniquity, have employed such men in public office as were thy faithful servants—and my head is full of schemes and my heart full of malice for every evil work. And—
You have a good heart, George, and I'll make something of you yet.
I have the heart of a tyrant. I never felt one tender emotion for all the sufferings of mankind, and I hope to prove that my head is equal to my heart. Permit me, my liege, to say that I have some merit for past services, and for my future designs. I have, at a moderate computation, by my attempts to enslave America, destroyed at least fifty thousand people—and have destroyed the happiness of fifty thousand more—and should I succeed, I'll surpass in barbarity any tyrant that ever lived. I mean to be a demi-devil. I have in my imagination new tortures for mankind; I mean that my furnace of torture should be seventy seven times hotter than Nebuchadnezzar's; for a novelty, and to show my genius, I will have a saw mill carried by a stream of virgin blood to saw off rebels heads!—think of this, my liege, and allow me the credit of it. Did ever Nero, or Caligula, perform any thing equal to this?
Your heart is good, George, and you may yet make a figure if you persevere.
As to perseverance, never fear my failing in that, I am of the blood hound breed, never leave the track, and my best friends have for this reason call'd me obstinate. I have said, and I swear to it, and stand to it, that I'll lose my crown before I'll give up America.
In case America should prove unconquerable, what then?
Why, even in that desperate extremity, I shall still have great designs left; I mean to perfect my tyranny in Britain if I fail in America; this I can easily do by bribing parliaments; and the immense increase of public burdens will facilitate my design; the spirits of the people are more and more depressed and broken, and the avarice of the great is likewise increased; the work is easy, and I had rather be a little tyrant than a great king. To be a despot over the rest of my dominions, would be a compensation even for the loss of America: tyranny has been the plan and pursuit of my life, it is sweet to my soul, and a tyrant I will be, or be nothing.
Things don't go well in America, George, the rebels gain ground, and they exult in the most insulting stile since your General Clinton and his army got a flogging at Monmouth, and performed their moon-light retreat.
I am vexed to the soul and with burning indignation I curse all around me—let firebrands, arrows and death seize all that oppose my will. I will be a tyrant, and a tyrant I will be; I'll set the world on fire and spill the blood of all Adam's race but I'll have my will—my wrath kindles, my blood boils, and vengeance burns; North and Germaine where are you, ye scoundrels! I am mocked and deceived by you—ye swore by Hercules that I should hear of nothing but victory and triumph, and now what a tale do I hear of the rout and retreat of my army. North you are a purblind puppy, and that Minden bastard is no better—curse all your politics, if the Devil had taken you two, with old Bute and Mansfield, to himself, twenty years ago, I might have spent all my days as I spent my youth, in debauching fair quakers, without interruption—curse ye.
You must use other weapons besides curses, or you'll never correct the blunders of your wooden headed ministers. You seem fond of swearing, but you blunder out your oaths wrong end foremost; your tongue is too big to swear off hand; and like many other boobies, by your aukward curses you scandalize swearing, and injure the Satannic cause. My servant, Charles 2d, did eminent service by swearing; his example made a whole nation swearers, and greatly advanced my kingdom; but you, George, are formed for a hypocrite; your solemn phiz and sullen air, serve as a mask to cover your vices and devices, from the view of the people. Under this cloak, you have practiced debauchery, and numerous vices, and still had a tolerable character: your bishops and their underlings puff'd you off for a saint in folio—'tis necessary to avoid some vices, in order to practice others with more success.
I want sometimes to give vent to my wrath by royal execrations—and I hate restraint in any vice: however, if your highness forbids, I'll try to hold in for the present.
When your tyranny is compleated, you will need no disguise; then the more you swear, the better for my cause. And remember, that swearing is a genuine criterion by which you may know my children—for altho' all my children don't swear yet all swearers are my sons and daughters—and morally your brethren and sisters. If you swear it ought to be done with royal dignity, and not lisp & mutter out your oaths like thousands, who ought to have their throats cut for the disgrace they bring on this sin, by slabbering out "curse damn ye" like damn'd boobies.
Will your royal highness please to give me a rule by which I may swear in a stile becoming my royal dignity?
Observe the following. First begin with faith, this is the a b in swearing; when you can make this run off your tongue glib, then proceed to curse it and damn it, and so on until you can real off as the saying is, fifteen double damns in a second, and make St. James's ring with royal swearing. But mind what I say George, be sure you never swear in company, until you can damn with an air of royal grandeur. The best place for you to learn is in a horse stable, shut out all company, excepting a few of your menial lords, (and they p–x take 'em, your lords I mean[,] have yet to learn, altho' some of them have swore sixty years they yet murder their oaths: but, poor fellows, this excuse is made for them, that their tongues are half eat off with the p–x) and exercise your lungs in the following manner. Take a horse by the tail, count the hairs, and damn each hair as you count it; thus proceed, until you have gone thro' a stable of forty-nine horses; and if you cannot then swear fit for company you must swear thro' the stable again; and conclude by damning each horse, his sire who begat him, his dam who bore him, his grand sire and grand dam, and trace his genealogy to his Adam; damn every generation up hill and down—and then, if you can't swear fit for company, set yourself down for a puppy—and try no more.
I bow with reverence to your sublimity, and will observe your directions.
At present your attention should be more fixed on the rebels, and the means to subdue them.
I have now a grand plan in agitation, that will do the business soon, I'll warrant: I began at the wrong end of America.
You have generally been at the wrong end of every thing, and when will you be at the right end?
I am now forming a plan to subdue the southern provinces, and out of them I'll gather wealth and strength to conquer the northern rebels: I am now on the right track, and e'er two years run round I'll have all America prostrate at my sovereign royal feet! and then nothing but blood and royal thunder, and George the Third, shall be heard through the regions of rebellion.
Evil tidings from America: the rebels have taken a strong fort by storm, and six hundred men! May the curse of Scotland catch you George, if you don't look out better. You blind whoresbird, why don't you send officers who know how to command?
My liege, I have done every thing a king can do. I can't stand centinel over my generals: I did not think Harry Clinton, after knighting the scoundrel, would have let my wheels run backward. I can't depend on no body; curse damn 'em in these Scotch-days.
O now, my royal master, now, now! see how my arms triumph! Georgia taken! Charlestown humbled to the dust! Tories increasing—rebellion dying—the rebel army starving—mutinying—huzza! I'll complete my glorious plan, and have the necks of five hundred rebel chiefs in my noose e'er the sun has measured nine months on the reel of time.
Rebellion breaks out with new kindled rage in the southern provinces like the flames of Aetna. French and rebels, combined by links of adamant against you, and inspired by all the lion passions; bestir yourself, George, or perdition will catch you!
The rebels have no forces to make any figure in the field this year: Lord Cornwallis will sweep all before him, and the southern provinces will fall like leaves in autumn. And then for a trip and twitch at Old Massachusetts, that ancient seat of rebellion—I have fire and brimstone, and wrath and vengeance, laid up for those venomous cockatrice sons of rebellion. I'll make the smoke of their torment rise seven hundred and seventy cubits high. My soul burns to be at 'em. Adamses and Hancocks will be sweet fuel for my furnace! I'll fill the Old South in Boston full of the chief rebels, with five hundred barrels of tar and brimstone: this conflagration will serve to illuminate the town on the glorious restoration of my royal government; and all the tories will say Amen. Old Time make haste and bring the blazing day.
You have a satannic heart; I wish your head was equal to it. I warn you again to look out for the French and rebels, or they'll give you an Irish hoist e're long.
As to the French fleet, my lions of the ocean will crack their bones: I expect this campaign will nearly swallow up rebellion; for all my ministers have sworn by the Stuart race, that I've nothing more to fear from the Gallic and rebel forces, than from a snow storm in the centre of Vesuvius.
What avail your puffs; the French fleet is now triumphant, and has shut up Cornwallis with the flour of your army, as a prey for the rebels! Volcanoes and whirlwinds blast them! George ye whoremonger, where are you? your kingdom totters while you are wenching.
May it please your majesty of the air, I am, as at all other times, at thy service; and I am firm and composed as mount Atlas. When an east wind shall drive Albion upon the American shore, then will I believe a French fleet may drive the British, and not 'till then.
I am sorry to inform your majesty, that—
Curse your buttons, Germaine, are you come with bad news; but yesterday you swore by Minden, the first tidings you brought me would produce another discharge of the park guns. Well, what would you say?
To the astonishment of every body, and every thing, Greaves has suffered the French fleet to beat him, and—
I won't hear any more; thunder and lightening blast him to the centre, and burn him to a cinder at the bottom of the ocean. What was you going to add to your Scotch "and" if I would hear it?
I was going to inform your majesty, that Greaves has returned to New York with the loss of one ship of the line, and the rest in a ragged plight—and—
No more of your Scotch "ands," I won't hear it nor bear it—what! a British fleet turn tail to Frenchmen and run: If Greaves has run, I hope he won't stop 'till he gets to Tophet—I'll Bing the dog. If I would suffer you to speak what more would you subjoin to your last "and" (pox take you)?
It makes my heart bleed and tremble, but duty and loyalty to the best of kings, obliges me to acquaint your majesty, that in consequence of Greaves' returning to New York, my lord Cornwallis is—
Stop, stop, stop, ye Minden scoundrel, I see it now, I see what is to follow, but I won't hear it from your coward lips—Lord Cornwallis is left to defend both land and ocean; and he'll do it! his noble blood, his titled name, his martial frame, will conspire to kindle the British peer into heroic fire: he'll fight and conquer until his laurels reach the skies: and that son of Neptune, Digby, has spread his canvas wings to join him—then Gallic ships and rebel troops will fly before the British thunder like feathers in a whirlwind!
All Europe bends a willing ear to this rebellion: Behold the rebel plenipoes receiv'd with royal smiles in every court! To them your realms, your trade and wealth are become a prey. Behold the rebel Adams, he lifts his head above the clouds, turns Europe pale, and governs kings with a nod; with more than sovereign voice he tells the monarchs (with whom he deigns to speak), "he represents the New World, and came to give them commerce round the globe—and to establish eternal peace." And he lets astonished nations know he came from Congress (compar'd with whom the asssembled Greek and Roman gods, sink in human view), who claim kindred with the stars, and call the sun their elder-brother; and whose puissant arm makes the Caesars tremble; hushes the warring realms to peace, and binds the omnipotence of Britain—he even aims a stroke at my domains; not confin'd to earth, he talks that providence divine has pointed out to every land to form a union with his world—and that heaven hath set its seal to independence—and said, Amen!
Did sun, or moon, or stars, or earth, or sky, from creation's early dawn, ever behold an equal to this rebel[?] But remember George, such is human kind, men will gaze at, wonder, and adore the man, who adores himself—and this rebel will shake Europe.
If I had gone through one lesson in the horse stable—I'd damn him.
Can't we, my royal master, with our united powers of earth and hell, overset such a being as this Adams, who says he came from the New World—I fear he'll drive bad spokes in my wheel of fortune, unless we demolish him soon; can't I hire a fellow for a few guineas, to poison him? I have just thought of an easy & expeditious way to extirpate rebellion, by poisoning all the leaders; and I'll give Louis a dose, if he has any more to do with my rebel subjects—this will do it quick. What a curse ail'd my Scotch ministers, that they could not see this short cure for rebellion in the beginning.
You are a Scotch damn'd goat—who begat ye, or bore ye—you've no more political eye sight than a blind curst puppy, three days old. A Dutch bull frog would learn navigation, sooner than you'll learn the first lesson in politicks—for you to talk of poison, why you mongrel booby, the subtle French and hawk ey'd rebels penetrate all your councils and designs; and before you could form such a plan, they'd fill your maw with arsenic! You and all your ministers would be dead as Nimrod in three days!
It won't do then; but I must take off Adams, for he appears in such a pompous stile, that all Europe is fascinated with his fine stories about the New World; he has a serpentine head & heart—he's all treason—and nothing of the dove in him, except the wings, to fly from one mischief to another—his soul contains the quintessence of all rebellion—O master, double your curses upon him—I have try'd to buy some of the rebel chiefs, but I can purchase none, excepting a few scoundrels, who are only a curse to me. That perjured thief of an Arnold cost me upwards of five thousand sterling (with a less sum I can purchase nineteen lords and sixty commoners) and I've only a piece of the scoundrel, for he lost one leg before I bought him—a dear bargain, you'll say, dear indeed; for I would sell him for ten yards of Scotch plaid. I've poor bargains of all the tories, these slaves don't pay for the salt they eat; take them one with another and altogether, they are not worth a curse; they are of no more use to me, than a wooden leg to a man that has no body.
In fact, the tories are a nuisance in creation, every one curses 'em; but I must take them.
If you must take 'em, pray take 'em soon, for I want to be quit of all such lumber—I've been curst with them long enough. They pretend great loyalty, but I find 'em hollow hearted fellows, who fawn round, for the same reason a dog does his master, to get a crust. Besides, their fulsome adulation is enough to turn my guts inside out. They perfectly stink in my nostrils, and scent the world.
Your best way, George, will be to sell the tories at vendue; they are form'd for slaves, and altho' the meanest, yet the Dutch will buy them for the Guinea trade.
I'll sell them, knock them off for something or nothing, any how, so that I am rid of them. But I must not waste time about these rascalls, I must attend to the war, for I will prosecute it with rigour, until I obtain an honorable peace. I'll humble the Dons, until they'll acknowledge my sovereignty, whereby I'll add to my royal titles, "King of Spain," &c.[—]this will be a new jewel to my crown.
It will be well if you can at the next peace, retain your former titles—the French will contend, that you shall relinquish your empty title, "King of France." And, indeed, you may with equal propriety, call yourself king of Jupiter. You must exert every nerve, or your dominions will become a prey to the hawks and ravens of Europe; they are all gasping like so many vultures to devour you. They mean not only to get the new world, but to knock you out of the old.
When I've subdued America, I'll "knock" the dogs till they'll lick the dust under my royal feet. Although the French king is not to be compared with any king like me for royal greatness; yet I cannot but wonder that he could disgrace royalty by a connection with the rebels. I'll be curst through Billingsgate, by all the whores in Drury-Lane, before I'd stoop so low.
George, you lie like hell, for you've employ'd Indians, Negroes, Tories, thieves, robbers, counterfeiters of money, and the off-scouring, scum, and sweepings of the world; formed treaties with the little nabobs of Hesse and Brunswick, who, compared with America, are no more than a hen roost to a kingdom. George, when you address me, do it in a language of truth; I allow you to lie to every one else; but don't tell foolish lies that no body will believe, as you and your ministers often do. George, I tell you, between me and you, this rebellion is alarming to my dominions, and threatens your's with ruin. The vast continent of America, pregnant with the richest stores of nature, inhabited with a brave and enterprising people; enthusiastic in religion and liberty; and have laid foundations to perpetuate both; penetrating and daring in all their views; inflamed by your attempts to enslave them, have written your crimes in marble, with a "cursed be he that forgets or forgives the tyrant"—"and blessed be their memory, and only theirs who preserve independence." With whom magnanimity and virtue recommend to office (and rulers stamp the manners of the people) in whose creed I and you, are equally opposed and execrated. This people, I say, have excited and will command the admiration and imitation of mankind. In their public writings, speeches and transactions, they stamp glory on religion and liberty, and aim to make them both eternal: and if they succeed, I and you are eternally excluded from their favor: and that they will succeed we have every reason to fear; for all the old world is now gazing with admiration on the new. Kings hope to derive glory from an early friendship with the rising nations; and their subjects expect to gain infinite wealth by this union. Every Dutchman has his golden dreams about the New World; they would not have listened with half the attention to the prophet Daniel they did to Adams; and this frenzy spreads like a pestilence through the nations and fascinates the world. If America is independent, universal ruin follows; therefore, George, hold out to the last and be as obstinate as hell.
Let me alone for obstinacy, I've an heart of adamant, there's no turn to me; my will never was broke, nor ever can be, there's no break nor bend to it if once I say no—neither soothing nor praying, nor freezing nor burning, will ever move me; there's no move to me, I tell you, I'll be curst if there is. They tell me of Nero's firmness in fiddling while the city of Rome was burning: damn his buttons, why I could fiddle and wench too, if half the world was in flames. As to the terrors of the new world they tell too much about, I fear not any world, new or old—let the worlds go which way they will, I'll go to mine; and may all the scoundrels in the universe buffet me through creation, if ever I submit to independence; may annihilation catch me, and I never more darken any point of space if I do.
Well said my son, I admire your royal spirit, I wish for a diffusion of it, 'tis this alone can save ye now.
I have many cards yet to play: the world doesn't know me; they've not measur'd the length and breadth, and heighth and depth of my genius: the time of calamity is the hour of genius to shine. I've had no trials severe enough to rouse my energy, and to turn the bright side of my abilities to the day. Genius, like the richest mines, lies deep.
True, George, but I should have thought your genius had been called for some years ago. How can you bear the insolence and pomposity of the rebels—hear their titles of "Excellency," which royalty alone has a right to give.
It kindles my ire, and goes cross my soul like a lion teeth harrow; but I'll soon bring down their Excellency's, and turn them to axletrees for my waggons, with a cursation after them, to transport chains for rebels. Let Hancock, Trumbull, Clinton, Livingston, and other rebel governors look not for me, I'll pulverize them in the jaws of my vengeance. As for the rebel general, I'll pause and study to fix him in the focus of my burning wrath—in the crucible of my royal indignation—I'll warrant the sky of my reign will never be clouded with another rebellion.
Should you reduce the rebels, it will be necessary to extirpate great part of the breed, otherwise they may in future revolt again.
I know them root and branch; they're the old cursed Oliverian breed of king killers, whose ancestors fled from the axe and halter of my good progenitors the Stuarts (of blessed memory), but I'll never leave one on this side the stygian lake, I'll leave none of these cursation white weed to seed the land again. My weapons of death shall drink the last drop of their rebel blood—and then I'll plant the provinces with loyal Scotchmen, and a due mixture of my royal breed among them for rulers. I shall have enough for my own for every office of consequence; my German rib (known by the name of Pug) has brought me upwards of a dozen. I've five, by a Quaker girl—three by a Drury Lane bunter—four by Billingsgate Dab—several by Blue Moll, &c. &c.—I've enough I'll swear, and more coming.
There's a report that Cornwallis is a prisoner!
It's nothing but one of the rebel curst lies; they're eternally blowing about the victories, which ever turn out a royal triumph. Cornwallis surrender to the rebel Washington, no! he'd fight through the stygian sea first, and then he wouldn't. Mars and Jupiter would sooner surrender to the moon, and bow to a foot ball. Curse damn the rebels, to think my heroes will ever yield to them! no damn curse 'em—earthquakes, inundations and whirlwinds swallow 'em up, and blast 'em for their stygian impudence, and tumble 'em headlong through creation to the centre.
George, you swear poorly, not fit for company, you'll disgrace swearing; you havn't observ'd my rules, for learning the art.
I beg your pardon, my liege, but I have, I've swore through the stable, and damn'd every hair upon the tail of every horse, and curst every generation, up to the horse Caligula made one of his council; and faith I thought I swore with an air.
Then you're a numskull booby, and fit only to be a king of horses; and many of your counsellors are no better than Caligula's horse—he was much such another horse-king as yourself. But let me never hear you attempt to swear again; you'll cause swearing to go out of fashion; no gentleman will swear after you. This is one of the great supports of my kingdom, and it costs me nothing; swearers are all volunteers in my service, and go to hell without fee or reward.
What news from America, George?
I have none; but expect every hour to hear something glorious from the brave Cornwallis—O there's North and Germaine coming upon the trot, they've good news I know by their speed—well, North, what tidings?
I have nothing authentic; but there are evil reports respecting Lord Cornwallis.
I am not to be hum bugg'd by the rebel lies—its only the forerunner of victory. Well, Germaine, what news have you?
I have this moment received a packet from Sir Henry Clinton, which confirms all the melancholy reports from America.
What! is it possible that Lord Cornwallis, with the flower of all my veterans, is fallen a prey to rebels?
I come to condole with your Majesty, upon one of the most melancholy events that ever wrung tears from royal eyes—and I could mingle my hearts blood with my tears if it might lessen the affliction which now fills your royal bosom with anguish—
No one can feel more on this occasion than myself; but I have done every thing for the good of the service; and I feel every thing which loyalty to the best of king's can inspire.
I beg leave with duty and gratitude, to mingle my tears with your majesty's, on this dreadful occasion.
(North to Germaine, aside.
The king is sullen as the devil—look at his eyes, they roll like two fire balls; he'll break out like thunder presently; he grates his teeth like the devil biting steel bars to let tories out of prison.)
George, and be damn'd to ye, where are ye? Cornwallis is a prisoner—his whole army—an immensity of stores and ships, are all in the hands of the French and rebels—O ye mongrel bastard, George, you'll turn out another bull-headed cur like Charles the First. I have been trying one hundred and fifty years to raise a tyrant out of the breed, but ye are a sap headed generation, fit only for backlogs in Tophet, and for mud boars in the stygian lake.
May curses in whirlwinds blast my ministers and commanders. Attend here, North and Germaine, what! Is the nation all going to the devil in a French wheelbarrow, and the rebels to reign triumphant?
It is not in human wisdom always to foresee or guard against misfortunes. Every thing has been done by your majesty and by your ministers, that wisdom could dictate; and your commanders must answer for their conduct.
Aye, you'll all excuse yourselves; but I'll be curst if I don't make a button of some of your heads and scaffold the rest of ye, unless ye retrieve my affairs. Summon a privy council instantly; call all the lords and bishops who have advised to prosecute the war against America.
I beg leave to inform your majesty the privy council is assembled, and waits your royal pleasure.
Let them attend me immediately. I am betrayed by your council; by your council I am now suffering the greatest calamity that can wound the heart of a king.
Your majesty will remember that the plan for enslaving America, was ever dear to your royal breast, and the offspring of your own heart.
Remember it is one of the wise maxims in English politics, "a king can do no wrong." The plan was good, ye have murdered it by your blunders in the execution—the fault lies with ye, and ye shall bear it—and I'll give ye all up a sacrifice to appease the rage of the people.
I hope your majesty will recollect my long and faithful services; I have twisted the law into all shapes and forms to answer royal purposes. And—
Tell me no more of your services. I have been deceived and ruined by the advice of my ministers and council—pox take them all—it makes my blood curdle in my veins to think of it! America is lost forever! and all owing to my scoundrel ministers—if I had rak'd hell, and skin'd the devil, I could not have found a worse set.
Sirrah! Sirrah—I don't allow you to use my name by way of reproach to your rascally ministers.
Your highness will excuse what is said in the heights of passion, I am all rage and vengeance—I could spit fire—my very vitals burn like tinder—I could swear fast enough to carry a wind mill—attend me this moment all my ministers and council: Now what do you say to the American war, ye wrong headed Scotch bastards.
Hold! Hold! George, come I'll be moderate, and see that every one has fair play; ye are all my servants, and every one shall speak freely in his own cause.
I thank your highness for this liberty, as we have much to offer in our justification—our king has never been entirely governed by our advices; his mulish temper was such while a boy, that I had rather borne the misfortunes of Job, than to have been his tutor; and as he grew in years he grew in obstinacy; and—
You lie! ye old plain stocking'd whoresbird—I'll—
Silence! George, don't you interrupt my old servant.
And when we gave him the best counsel, he'd often follow the worst; I often told him—
I won't bear an insult from that Highlander, I'll—
Silence! Tom Firetongs, take George by the nose and give the scoundrel a twist.
I told him his measures were inadequate to the purpose: but when once he gets wrong, no one can right him.
I can witness to the truth of what my Lord Bute hath declared. Had our council been always duly regarded—
What! dares the Minden coward to rise?
Here! Triphammer, make a tongue cuff for George instantly; rivet it on red hot: I'll see if we can't keep that fellow's tongue still.
I beg leave to speak one word; it is notorious where the fault lies; but it is vain to waste time in criminations, we must now consult our safety. I beg the ministers of the crown would withdraw with me a few minutes.
Ye all know the maxim, "a king can do no wrong"; and although it is the quintessence of nonsense, yet the wise people of Britain hold it as sacred; and whenever the king will give up his ministers to the rage of the people, they will absolve the criminal, and cry him up for the best of kings; therefore we must take him off before he makes a sacrifice of us. Let us give the mule a dose of arsenic, and let him go off with the dry belly ache, and be pox'd to him.
This plan will do, and nothing else, for the sullen dog can never be brought to good humour, and if he lives he'll play fury with us.
'Tis the only plan, and I'll read the funeral service, and give thanks heartily that he is taken out of this evil world.
I like it much: for the joy which a new king will diffuse, will allay the present tumult about America; every one will be paying his addresses to the new king, and no one will care who has got the old one; we will retire from the helm and live in domestic peace. I beg that this motion may be put to vote—all hands are up, it passes nem. con. Let one of the family physicians prepare the dose.)
Ever animated with the most ardent affection to the best of kings, I feel the sighs of loyalty whenever his majesty meets with any misfortune. I wish not to criminate any one: but, as I said before, it is notorious where the fault lies: his majesty's commanders, by sea, and land, have trifled away the opportunities that offered for defeating the French, and subduing the rebels. I should be happy to hear his majesty express his royal sentiments on this great occasion.
North, you are an honest fellow, and your remarks are just; but in our infernal situation, how can we make peace? A peace we must have, for destruction gapes to receive us!
(North to Germaine, aside.
I'll flatter the king 'till the poison is ready, and then we'll jirk him out of the world.)
If your majesty will be graciously pleased to signify the terms on which you would treat for peace, your majesty's ministers will lose no time in pursuing your royal wishes.
What is the first step we ought to take, North, in your opinion, to obtain an honorable peace?
May it please your majesty, I conceive that we must now endeavour to gain the favor of America, and as there is an American plenipotentiary not far distant, I humbly conceive it might be proper to consult him, and feel his pulse.
Invite the American to meet us in council to morrow.
The dialogue concluded by the speech of an American.
By the providence of the Almighty, the time is come which compels the reluctant wish for peace—since your sword can no longer devour, and is ready to be plung'd in the guilty bosom that kindled the war, you think of peace. Peace is the desire of humanity, the constant object of the wise and good; it hath ever been the ardent wish of America, and all her views have centered in this; but your hostile heart hath hitherto shut the door against it. I will express the views of America, in a few words. She means not only to be independent, sovereign and free, but to communicate as far as may be in her power, the superlative blessings herself enjoys, to all mankind. As she means that all the treaties she forms should be lasting as time, and thereby to establish perpetual peace, in her treaty with Britain she will not measure her terms by the injuries she hath received, but looking forward to distant ages, and measuring things on the great scale of the world, with benevolent views to humanity, she will give to [the] British such terms of peace and commerce, as shall be for the general good of mankind: and leave it to providence, to punish the enormities of the present rulers of Britain and their abettors, who have shed the innocent blood of Americans. In a word, America will be in every view as completely an independent sovereign nation, as any power that now exists in the world; and she will give to every nation with whom she forms a treaty, the same privileges she receives, and nothing more.
By the favor and protection of God, who hath given her the best quarter of the world, and exalted her to the rank of empire, she means by sacred honour, and justice, and humanity, to hold the balance of the nations, and to be a friend to the oppressed, and an enemy to none but the enemies of peace. From these general principles, the concessions you must make, in order to obtain peace, are obvious, and I need not name them. But before I conclude, let me remind you "there is no peace to the wicked"—and your crimes are numberless, and their enormity is equal to their number. You were exalted to reign over a grateful people, who loved you with parental tenderness and brotherly affection; they expected a return of love, and in the careless confidence which love inspires, exposed their liberties to the grasp of a tyrant. You conceived their security afforded the wished for moment to enslave them, and equally regardless of your duty to God and to man, you formed the horrid design, and have pursued it by means too infernal to be named; you have violated all the sacred laws of heaven and earth, and sported with human misery. When America asked only for liberty, peace and safety—only for the enjoyment of what God had given, you sent fire and sword; and while they begged for mercy, you added torture and death in the most horrid forms. Thousands who once sent up ardent prayers for you, changed them into petitions that God would stay your murdering hands. For many long years every breeze hath wafted the groans of dying prisoners to heaven against you, while every hour hath witnessed the big tears and swelling bosoms of their surviving friends! What myriads have you sent down to the chambers of death; and in the bosom of surviving thousands, you have planted the sharp thorn of affliction! The aged parents cry with anguish, "O my son! my son! my only son is murdered by the tyrant George." The bereaved widow and weeping children, with bleeding hearts, cry out, "O my husband! my father! we shall never never see him again! he is murdered by the tyrant." The virgin, whose dearer second self, was gloriously contending in the field to save his country, became a captive and suffered complicated death by cold and hunger; she cannot speak for grief—in silent sorrow sinks down, and in her languid eye, she looks a prayer to heaven! Her anguish is too great to find a voice, but heaven can hear her wishes, and will avenge her wrongs! Well may you turn pale at your picture, and faint at the prospect of wrath divine, and triple vengeance arm'd with almighty thunder! You have slighted the commands of your God and Saviour, and despised the precepts of the Prince of Peace; therefore you may justly fear that he will "laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh"; that as you refused mercy it shall be refused to you, and when "destruction and desolation cometh upon you like a whirlwind," no arm shall relieve you, no eye shall pity you; but wrapt in final ruin, sink down, down, down to the regions of horror and death eternal!
(The physicians in waiting, observing the king to swoon, apply strong drops, and prepare to let blood.)
And you his guilty ministers, who have shared in his crimes, shall be partakers of his plagues—your infidel hearts have laughed at the judgment to come, and said, "to whom shall we give account?" but the time is near, when, like "the father of lies", ye shall "believe and tremble." While your master faints with conscious guilt, can ye lift an eye to the sun, or look on the face of man, while nature, scarred with your cruelties, and weeping, cries for vengeance, and the slighted mercy of heaven is just signing your doom.
(The physicians cry out, "the king is dead, and all their lordships are fainting, and have the symptoms of death.")
The American then turned from them, as the angel from Satan, and went his way.
(P. S. The reader will observe that the prophane language in the dialogue, is only between the vilest being in the other world, and the worst in this, and is inserted with a view to render the odious practice of swearing perfectly infamous. Surely no one will imitate the Devil, or the tyrant, unless he is dead to virtue, and lost to all the noble sentiments and feelings of the soul.
Tories may perhaps think the tyrant is ill used: but his crimes are so black and numerous, that it is perhaps impossible to represent him worse on the whole, than he really is, or even so bad: and the Tories may as well undertake to vindicate the conduct of the Devil, as that of the tyrant.)