Primary tabs

To the Inhabitants of Virginia



Williamsburgh, October 19, 1775.

How long will loyalty to your Sovereign, how long will your attachment to a form of Government once happily administered, how long will that moderation which has ever characterized you, prevail on you to keep the sword unsheathed, to stifle those noble sentiments of resentment which must so torture the breasts of injured innocence ? On other occasions such principles might do you immortal honour; but as circumstances change our notions of things, in what light must we view them when we consider the late answer of a blood-thirsty King to the only men in Britain who have honesty and spirit enough to tell him they are friends to the liberties of mankind, and will endeavour to protect them from all tyrannick invasions? It must now be shamefully notorious to the whole world, that he was the infernal author, and has all along been (though a secret yet) the most strenuous supporter of all those diabolical measures which have been adopted and pursued against America.

But though scenes of villany, with respect to America, have been perpetrated on the other side the Atlantick, which seem to have tortured the invention of hell itself, yet, if ye can bear the shock, I will beg leave to call your attention nearer home, and bid you behold your native land contaminated with those of a far deeper dye: for there is a monster of impiety still suffered to exist among us, and furnish the world with a new catalogue of crimes, to which all ages, all nations, have hitherto been strangers, and which could have been suggested to him by none but some being more pernicious and exuberant in evil than old Satan himself. He was set over a free, a virtuous people, to protect, to be the sacred guardian of their liberties and laws; to diffuse on all, though it were but with reflected lustre, the benign rays of sovereign mercy. So long as ye thought he even wished (for to accomplish he was by nature incapable) to promote these laudable ends, ye granted him every indulgence, ye showed him every mark of respect that the best, the most virtuous Governour could have desired; even the small share of merit which ye thought could possibly be due to any part of his conduct, was ever, with the sincerest gratitude, placed in the most conspicuous point of view.

But to trace him through all the dark mazes of his unparalleled perfidy, cruelty, and tyrannick exertions, would prove a painful task, both to him who should write, and to him who should think proper to read the black detail; would put vice itself to the blush, shock even inhumanity, and make oppression stare. It must suffice, therefore, to touch only on a few circumstances; but each of them is of such a nature as ought ere this to have sounded the trumpet of vengeance through the whole land. I will say nothing of the robbery of the publick magazine, which, it was foolishly hoped, would at once so disarm and terrify the inhabitants as to bring them tamely to submit to every act of lawless power; but, happily for us, it had quite a different effect. How would his guilty fears have been multiplied had he have known of the six hundred armed men assembled at Fredericksburgh, with determined resolutions to get satisfaction, even though it should be at the expense, of a Lord' s head? How would his mean dastardly soul, have shrunk within its native contracted sphere at the sight of numbers of those brave men whom he flattered himself he had, in his late campaign, so inviolably attached to his interest? Fool that he was, to suppose that men who had so bravely fought and bled for their Country could so soon be induced, by any tool of despotism, to endeavour to overturn its liberties. But that their noble resolutions were not put into execution, he may confess himself under eternal obligations to the influence of some of our leading men, who, though with the utmost difficulty, did at length prevail with them, after holding a council of war, composed of their officers and the most respectable of their body, to disperse and return, with disappointment and dissatisfaction, to their respective homes. Neither will I trouble you with a relation of that black, cowardly, and bloody affair, of the spring guns in the magazine; neither will I molest you with a tedious detail of those base scenes of falsehood, equivocation, dissimulation,


and villany, which he acted during the last sessions of Assembly, and which so strikingly evince the distinguished turpitude of his heart. As to his piratick expeditions up and down our rivers, in quest of hen-roosts, sheep-folds, cow-pens, and negro-quarters, which he never omitted an opportunity of pillaging, they are of too trifling a nature to engage your attention; for here he only condescended to imitate the more pardonable crimes of those who are but novices in the arts of vice when compared with himself. Nor will I tire out your patience with an enumeration of the gross insults he has offered in particular to individuals, and to the Town of Norfolk, and, in general, to the whole Colony; the bare mention of any one of which ought to be sufficient to stimulate the most inactive to revenge. But how will your breasts glow with just resentment, and honest indignation, when I tell you he has dared to offer violence to the chastity of a poor innocent girl? This unhappy victim to his lawless lust, whose beauty had stricken him, was by him, or by some of his minions, torn from the poor-house in Norfolk, from the few friends which poverty could procure her, carried on board his ship, and forced to become an instrument of pleasure to him who had degraded himself far beneath the most grovelling of the brute creation. There, we are told, she was kept, and in that capacity, till that notorious pander of his brutal passions, by the prostitution of his own offspring, supplied him with more charming objects: for on their arrival this unhappy girl was dismissed, and thrown upon the world, robbed of all, she held most dear, of all on which she relied for a future reputable subsistence. Ye inhabitants of Norfolk! Why were ye passive here? Why suffer such an outrage to go unpunished ? Could none be found among you animated with the noble spirit of old Virginius! Or would none dare to stand forth the avenger of injured, of ravished virtue? Such an act, whatever had been the consequence, would have been supported by the whole Colony; nay, by the whole Continent, and would have entailed on its authors eternal applause.

To let the sword, therefore, remain a moment longer within the scabbard, will be criminal. What! Shall the sons of Virginia be idle spectators, while one of her daughters is ravished, and while others are, by that diabolical pander, prostituted with such unnatural, such unheard-of infamy? No! Give vent, then, to every sentiment of revenge; let it, like the obstructed torrent, burst forth with gathered fury; let it sweep off, and bury in eternal oblivion, that more than Tartarian monster of impiety, that infamous pander, and his prostituted race, that posterity may not know that there ever was an age when humanity was so far debased, and that the future daughters of Virginia may never blush to hear that there was a time when one of their sisters could so shamefully depart from the amiable characteristick applied to the fair sex in general, but more particularly to them.

Let it involve also, in the same deserved fate, those insolent minions of his who act under the auspices of his all-malevolent countenance. The insults they, without any provocation under heaven, offer to every person who passes within their reach, are insufferable. Neither had they been thus long borne, had not the people been left in uncertainty how to act, by seeing that laudable spirit which was but a few months ago bursting forth against the first strides of tyranny and lawless power, checked by those whom they thought more capable of consulting for the common good than themselves. They indeed acted from the best, the noblest principles; but it is the inevitable frailty of human nature sometimes to be deceived in its conjectures of the future, even where the consequences are most carefully drawn from, and tried by the present and the past, the surest criteria within the reach of humanity.

I know the heart of every Virginian glows with secret resentment when he reflects that there is not a peaceable passenger secure from the search and insults of the insignificant Captains of a few armed vessels, who now pretend to lord it over us; but each waits for his neighbour to strike the first blow. The destruction of them must cost the lives of a few; but when all are, to a man, prepared to risk them in the noble cause in which we are engaged, why are we backward? Perhaps, too, it may cost either


the partial or total destruction of one of our sea-port Towns; but the inhabitants of it are ready to see it sacrificed when the general good requires it. They are conscious of the importance of a noble and spirited stand. They also, as well as every true friend to America, must be conscious, that it is not for the accumulation of wealth, nor even for the preservation of more of that which we already possess, than is consistent with the good of the whole, that we are struggling. But if we can retain only a small share of our property, secure our future safety, and maintain our liberties inviolate, we shall think ourselves rich, fortunate, and happy indeed. Let me again tell you, that any further delay is dangerous, is criminal. Behold how they are fortifying and strengthening themselves in their own abominable wickedness! While we can, with the loss of the lives of but few of our countrymen, and with the destruction of only part of the property of a few others, let us sacrifice the whole infernal crew to the guardian deities of American liberty, and to those of Virginian chastity. Their sacred rights have of late been so horridly profaned, so daringly violated, that they require some propitiatory sacrifice to be immediately made.



* To the Address of the Lord Mayor, &˙c˙, of the City of London.