The Invitation | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

“Sir Harry’s Invitation” was written by Philip Freneau. We have it in a ballad sheet, dated 1779.

The Invitation

COME, gentlemen tories, firm, loyal, and true,
Here are axes and shovels, and something to do !
For the sake of our King,
Come labor and sing.
You left all you had for his honor and glory,
And he will remember the suffering tory.
We have, it is true,
Some small work to do;
But here’s for your pay, twelve coppers a day,
And never regard what the rebels may say,
But throw off your jerkins and labor away.

To raise up the rampart, and pile up the wall,
To pull down old houses, and dig the canal,
To build and destroy,
Be this your employ,
In the day-time to work at our fortifications,
And steal in the night from the rebels your rations.
The king wants your aid,
Not empty parade;
Advance to your places, ye men of long faces,
Nor ponder too much on your former disgraces,
This year, I presume, will quite alter your cases.

Attend at the call of the fifer and drummer,
The French and the rebels are coming next summer, And the forts we must build
Though tories are killed.
Take courage, my jockies, and work for your king,
For if you are taken, no doubt you will swing.
If York we can hold, I’ll have you enroll’d;
And after you’re dead, your names shall be read,
As who for their monarch both labor’d and bled,
And ventur’d their necks for their beef and their bread.

‘Tis an honor to serve the bravest of nations,
And be left to be hang’d in their capitulations.
Then scour up your mortars,
And stand to your quarters,
‘Tis nonsense for tories in battle to run,
They never need fear sword, halberd, or gun;
Their hearts should not fail ’em,
No balls will assail ’em;
Forget your disgraces, and shorten your faces,
For ’tis true as the gospel, believe it or not,
Who are born to be hang’d, will never be shot.

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