Lord Dunmore's Petition To The Legislature Of Virginia

by Philip Freneau

Philip Freneau


THAT a silly old fellow, much noted of yore,
And known by the name of John, earl of Dunmore,
Has again ventured over to visit your shore.
The reason of this he begs leave to explain-
In England they said you were conquered and slain,
(But the devil take him that believes them again)
So, hearing that most of you rebels were dead,
That some had submitted, and others had fled,
I mustered my tories, myself at their head,
And over we scudded, our hearts full of glee,
As merry as ever poor devils could be,
Our ancient dominion, Virginia, to see;
Our shoe-boys, and tars, and the very cook's mate
Already conceived he possessed an estate,
And the tories no longer were cursing their fate.
Myself, the Don Quixote, and each of the crew,
Like Sancho, had islands and empires in view-
They were captains and knights, and the devil knows who:
But now, to our sorrow, disgrace, and surprise,
No longer deceived by the Father of Lies,*
We hear with our ears, and we see with our eyes:-
I have therefore to make you a modest request
(And I'm sure in my mind it will be for the best),
Admit me again to your mansions of rest.
There are Eden, and Martin, and Franklin and Tryon,
All waiting to see you submit to the Lion,
And may wait till the devil is king of Mount Sion:-
Though a brute and a dunce, like the rest of the clan,
I can govern as well as most Englishmen can;
And if I'm a drunkard, I still am a man.
I missed it somehow in comparing my notes,
Or six years ago I had joined with your votes;
Not aided the negroes in cutting your throats.
Although with so many hard names I was branded,
I hope you'll believe (as you will if you're candid),
That I only performed what my master commanded.
Give me lands, and dice, and you still may be free;
Let who will be master, we sha'n't disagree;
If King or if Congress- no matter to me.
I hope you will send me an answer straightway,
For 'tis plain that at Charleston we cannot long stay-
And your humble petitioner ever shall pray.

Last updated January 11, 2023