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Title: The Life of La Fayette, the Knight of Liberty in Two Worlds and Two Centuries

Author: Lydia Hoyt Farmer

Release date: July 31, 2017 [eBook #55234]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by KD Weeks, Emmy, MWS and the Online Distributed
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La Fayette

La Fayette



13 Astor Place.

By Thomas Y. Crowell & Co.

Typography by J. S. Cushing & Co., Boston.

My Husband.


THE life of the General Marquis de La Fayette is intimately connected with the two most important epochs in the history of both France and America. His name binds together these nations by indissoluble bonds of sympathy; and Washington and La Fayette will forever be found side by side in the annals of history.

As a large portion of the material presented in this volume has been gathered from French works never before translated and which are now out of print, and also from original files of newspapers, and various manuscripts written by members of the La Fayette family, a more complete life of General La Fayette is here offered than has before appeared, either in this country or in Europe.



I. La Fayette’s Early Life 1
II. His Arrival in America.—Battle of Brandywine 18
III. Scenes of the American Revolution 58
IV. La Fayette’s Diplomatic Measures in France and Spain, in Behalf of America 99
V. La Fayette elected a Member of the Notables 127
VI. La Fayette’s Efforts in Defence of King and Constitution 158
VII. Virginie La Fayette’s Account of her Father’s and Mother’s Imprisonment 191
VIII. Dreadful Scenes of the French Revolution 216
IX. La Fayette liberated from the Prison at Olmütz 258
X. La Fayette presented to the Premier Consul 288
XI. La Fayette’s Visit to America 315
XII. Enthusiastic Reception of the Marquis in the United States 339
XIII. La Fayette elected to the Chamber of Deputies 365
XIV. Revolution of 1830 397
XV. La Fayette’s Character and Family Life 427


Portrait of La Fayette Frontispiece
Birthplace of La Fayette 6
Baron de Kalb 10
Louis XVI. 12
Marie Antoinette 14
Washington 24
Benjamin Franklin 26
Count de Rochambeau 74
Lord Cornwallis 82
Count de Grasse 92
La Fayette’s Room at Mount Vernon 110
Frederick II. 114
Assembly of the Notables 132
Go and tell your master 140
The Crowd arm Themselves at the Invalides 142
View of the Bastile 144
The Crowd Shout, “To Versailles!” 148
The King comes to the Hotel de Ville 158
Key of the Bastile 160
Festival in the Champs de Mars 164
The King accepting the Constitution 172
The Mob invade the Tuileries 180
Princess Elizabeth 182
Frederick William II., King of Prussia 186
Francis I., Emperor of Austria 186
VIReturn of the Royal Family to Paris 194
Before the Revolutionary Tribunal 210
Sentenced to the Guillotine 220
Madame de Staël 240
Execution of Louis XVI. 250
Alexander Hamilton 262
Directeur Sieyès 266
Napoleon 268
Joseph Bonaparte 292
Charles James Fox 296
General Jackson 332
Bust of La Fayette 380
Louis Philippe 398
Entrance to Château La Grange 431
Château La Grange 433
Corporal of the Prison at Olmütz 436
Vase presented by Midshipmen of the “Brandywine” 437
Cane presented by Commodore Taylor 438
Clock belonging to La Fayette 438
Seals belonging to La Fayette 439
Roman Standard presented by City of Lyons 439
Medal presented by Electors of Meaux 440
Ring given by Grandson of Washington 440
Washington’s Decoration of the Cincinnati 441
Pin presented by Franklin’s Granddaughter 442
Ring containing Hair and Portrait of Jeremy Bentham 442
Crystal Box containing Mementos of Riégo 442
Round Wooden Box 443
Sword presented by Ninth Regiment Artillery 444
Sword presented by Congress 443
Vase presented by the National Guard 449
La Fayette’s Death Chamber 470
La Fayette’s Tomb 472


Liberty’s Knight—L’Homme des Deux Mondes—Ancestry of La Fayette—His Birth and Early Years—Youthful Enthusiasm—College Life—Introduction to the French Court—Vast Inheritance—A Page to the Queen—Member of the Mousquetaires du Roi—Promoted a Commissioned Officer—Personal Appearance—Early Marriage—His Wife’s Family—Stationed at Metz—News of the American Revolution—Influence on La Fayette—His Resolve—Opposition—Visit to London—Return to Paris—Secret Preparations—Sovereign Displeasure—Hasty Flight—Aboard the Victory—Letters to his Wife.

“The love of liberty with life is given,
And life itself the inferior gift of Heaven.”—Dryden.
“For Freedom’s battle once begun,
Bequeath’d by bleeding sire to son,
Though baffled oft, is ever won.”—Byron.

LA FAYETTE was not only the Knight of Liberty in two worlds and in two centuries, but was also the champion of law and order. Other men have fought for freedom; but few men in history have so truly and broadly comprehended the indissoluble tie which must ever bind liberty to law, if the shackles of oppression be unloosed, and the equal rights of men become the watchwords of national peace and prosperity.

2The battle of Minden, in 1758, was fought, and a young and valiant French marquis sacrificed his life upon that battle-field. He was the first Marquis de La Fayette. At that time his son, Marie-Jean-Paul-Roch-Yves-Gilbert de Motier La Fayette, lay in his cradle, an infant of seven months old. The warlike mantle of the father fell upon the son. But gentler spirits than Stern War hovered over his pillow. Gleaming-eyed Liberty said, “I will make him my champion”; and mild-eyed Law bent over the cradle and smoothed the baby brow, murmuring, “I will make him love peace and order.” Thus War, Liberty, and Law christened the fatherless child, and to the long list of titled names which already weighted his infant forehead, they added yet another, of nobler rank than all; for they placed there, in letters of glowing light, the unrivalled title, Knight of Liberty.

The name of La Fayette was distinguished as far back as the fourteenth century. “The founder of the family was a Marshal de La Fayette, who defeated the English at the battle of Baugé shortly before the time of Jeanne d’Arc,—a success which raised the hopes of the Dauphin, who afterwards recovered the French throne.

“In the seventeenth century two noble and illustrious women bore the ancient name. One of these ladies was Louise de La Fayette, maid of honor to Queen Anne of Austria, whose son, Louis XIII., fell so deeply in love with the young lady that he proposed to establish her in his country house at Versailles, a royal shooting-box built before the time of the great château. Alarmed at the infatuation of the king, and seeing no way of resisting the royal commands save by devoting herself to Heaven, Louise de La Fayette retired to the Convent of the Visitation, and at once took the vows. She died 3at the age of fifty, as Mère Angélique, abbess of Chaillot, a convent she had founded.

“Her brother, Count La Fayette, married, in 1655, Marie Madeline Pioche de la Vergne, an intimate friend of Madame de Sévigné, and authoress of the ‘Princesse de Clèves,’ a classical romance of the old school, still read by lovers of the literature of the Renaissance.

“The wife of the renowned General La Fayette, whom he married in 1774, when he was sixteen and she a year younger, was Marie Adrienne Françoise, second daughter of the Duke d’Ayen, and granddaughter of Maréschal de Noailles. After three years of happy married life, he left her shortly before the birth of their second child, to hasten to the aid of the American colonies. The infant born during her father’s absence became Madame Charles de Latour-Maubourg.”

In 1881, in the Paris Figaro appeared the following account of the descendants of General La Fayette: “His only son, George Washington La Fayette, married, in 1802, Mademoiselle Desture de Thacy, and had five children. The eldest, Oscar, died in 1881. His wife, a relative of M. de Pusy, one of the prisoners at Olmütz, had died after one year of married life, and he never married again. The second son, Edmond, the present head of the house, is now sixty-two, and a bachelor.

“The daughters are Madame Adolphe Périer (her husband was a nephew of Casimir Périer), Madame Bureaux de Pusy, and Madame Gustave de Beaumont. Mesdames Pusy and Beaumont are still living. The former has a son, an officer of merit, and two daughters. M. Paul de Beaumont, son of Madame Gustave de Beaumont, was a cabinet minister under M. Daufaure. Madame Périer left daughters, one of whom married M. de Sahune.

“Madame Charles de Latour-Maubourg, who was born 4whilst her father, General La Fayette, was serving in America, had two daughters, Madame de Brigode and Madame de Perron. General Perron, husband of the latter lady, was a Piedmontese, and a president of the Council of Ministers in Piedmont. He was killed at the battle of Novara.

“La Fayette’s other daughter, Madame de Lasteyrie, was named Virginie. She was the comfort and staff of her father’s age. She married, in 1800, the Marquis Louis de Lasteyrie, who served with the army for some years, but being wounded, retired to the Château of La Grange, between Fontainbleau and Paris,—a place which became the happy home of the entire La Fayette family. There lived the general and the family of Charles de Latour-Maubourg; and thither, too, after a time, came George Washington La Fayette and his children.

“The Marquis de Lasteyrie, who died before General La Fayette, left four children. Of these are Madame Charles de Rémusat, whose husband is the son of the distinguished lady whose ‘Memoirs’ have been recently given to the world; and Madame de Corcelle, wife of a former ambassador to Rome. M. Jules de Lasteyrie, the only son, was made a senator. He married a lady of the English branch of the House of Rohan-Chabot. His only son holds an office at present at Abbeville. The third and youngest daughter of the Marquis de Lasteyrie married M. d’Assailly, and is mother of two sons: one, councillor-general of the Deux-Sèvres; the other, a captain of Chasseurs.

“The connections of the La Fayette family are distinguished and numerous. Through the De Grammonts, they are allied to the Count de Merode, senator from the Department of the Doubs; to his brother, who held high office under Pius IX.; and to Anna, Countess of 5Montalembert. The family of Ségur is also related to the La Fayette family.”

Beranger called La Fayette “L’Homme des deux mondes” (the man of two worlds), and he might also have added, the man of two centuries. Europe and America have both united to do him homage, and the glorious independence which he aided in securing in one century, he lived to behold in the next, realizing greater permanency and prosperity than even his fondest dreams had dared to hope for.

The American Republic held him in grateful remembrance as a Revolutionary Hero; while France venerated his memory as the Friend and Protector of the People. High on the lists of chivalry the name of La Fayette glows with undying lustre; but as the defender of the oppressed and the protector of the weak, he is the People’s Hero.

While his remains were being carried to the tomb, surrounded by an escort of the National Guard, a poor man, with tattered clothing and tottering steps, endeavored to press his way through the crowd and place himself in the funeral procession directly behind the bier. One of the Guard, obstructing his passage, said to him, “You see that none but the family are admitted here.”

“We all belong to his family,” replied the old man, with a voice choked with emotion and eyes full of tears; “we all belong to his family, for he loved us all as his children.”

Immediately the ranks of the National Guard fell reverently backward, and a way was quickly opened for the old peasant, and he walked to the cemetery directly behind the remains of him whose self-sacrificing devotion had won for him this beautiful testimony of love and honor; and in the name of humanity and brotherly 6kindness, this old man—unconsciously—laid upon the tomb of La Fayette the most precious memorial which could be offered to his memory.

In the Château of Chavaniac, in the province of Auvergne, the Marquis de La Fayette was born and passed the first seven or eight years of his life. He was so frail a child that for some years the indications were strong that he would enjoy only a brief career. Being fatherless, his education was the care of his mother, who faithfully performed her sacred duties.

A faint tinge of health began gradually to glow in his cheeks, his attenuated frame showed some signs of vigor, and the presage of an early death became less foreboding. While his body had been so frail, however, his mind had made rapid progress.

To a friend he said in after years: “You ask me at what period I first experienced my ardent love for liberty and glory. I recollect no time of life anterior to my enthusiasm for anecdotes of glorious deeds, and to my projects of travelling over the world to acquire fame. At eight years of age my heart beat when I heard of a wolf that had done some injury, and caused still more alarm in our neighborhood, and the hope of meeting it was the object of all my walks. When I arrived at college, nothing ever interrupted my studies except my ardent wish to study without restraint. I never deserved to be chastised, but, in spite of my usual gentleness, it would have been dangerous to attempt to do so. I recollect with pleasure that, when I was to describe in rhetoric a perfect courser, I sacrificed the hope of obtaining a prize, and described the one which, on perceiving the whip, threw his rider.

“Republican anecdotes always delighted me, and when my new connections wished to obtain for me a place at 7court, I did not hesitate displeasing them to preserve my independence.”


At the age of twelve years La Fayette was entered at the college of Louis le Grand, in Paris, where he zealously pursued his studies. In Latin and Greek classics he became especially proficient. Owing to his high rank his literary pursuits were subject to frequent interruptions, for he early gained the attention of royalty, and the gay French court was very alluring to a youth passionately fond of brilliant society. However, his love for study and his enthusiasm for the military calling prevented his becoming a courtier. By the death of his mother in 1770, and of his grandfather a short time after, he became possessed of great wealth, which, being entirely at his own control, surrounded him with a crowd of fawning flatterers. At the age of fifteen he became a page to Queen Marie Antoinette, and was enrolled a member of the Mousquetaires du Roi, the body-guard of the king, which was composed solely of the descendants of the most highly titled families in France. Through the influence of the queen, he was promoted to the rank of a commissioned officer in this corps. Speaking of which, he said “that his military services only interrupted his studies on review days.”

At the age of sixteen La Fayette was married to the Comtesse de Noailles, daughter of the Duke d’Ayen. Madame de La Fayette herself gives the following account of her somewhat strange wooing.

“I was scarcely twelve years old, when M. de La Fayette was proposed to my mother for one of us. He himself was only fourteen. His extreme youth, no parents to guide him,—having lost all his near relatives, and having no one in whom he could repose confidence,—a large fortune already in his possession, which my mother looked 8upon as a dangerous gift—all these considerations made her at first refuse him, notwithstanding the good opinion she had acquired of his personal qualities. She persisted several months in her refusal; but my father was not discouraged, and as one of his friends observed to him that my mother had gone too far ever to change her mind, he did justice to her straightforwardness in the midst of his anger against her. ‘You do not know Madame d’Ayen,’ he said; ‘however far she may have gone, you will see that she will give way like a child if you prove to her that she is in the wrong; but, on the other hand, she will never yield if she does not see her mistake.’

“Accordingly, when she was told that her daughter would not leave her during the first years of her marriage, and that it would only be celebrated at the end of two years, after M. de La Fayette had finished his education, she accepted him whom she cherished ever after as the most tenderly beloved son, whom she valued from the first moment that she became acquainted with him, and who alone could have sustained the strength of my heart after having lost her.

“It was some time after my mother’s consent that I was spoken to of M. de La Fayette, towards whom I was already attracted by feeble forerunners of that deep and tender affection which every day has united us more and more in the midst of all the vicissitudes of this life, in the midst of the blessings and misfortunes which have filled it for the last twenty-four years.

“With what pleasures I learned that, for more than a year, my mother had looked upon him and loved him as a son! She told me all the good she had heard with regard to him, all she thought of him herself, and I saw that he already felt for her that filial affection which was to be the blessing of my life. She tried to calm 9my poor weak brain, which was over-excited by the importance of the coming event. She taught me to pray—she prayed herself—for the blessings of Heaven on my future happiness. As I had the happiness of remaining with her, my only feelings were those of deep emotion. I was then fourteen and a half.”

La Fayette’s wife brought to him a fortune, which, together with his own inheritance, gave him a yearly revenue of $37,500.

The young marquis is thus described at this time: “He was then a handsome young man, of commanding figure and pleasing features, notwithstanding his deep red hair. His forehead, though receding, was fine; his eyes clear hazel, and his mouth and chin delicately formed, exhibiting beauty rather than strength. The expression of his countenance was strongly indicative of a generous and gallant spirit, with an air of conscious greatness.

“His manners were frank and amiable, his movements light and graceful. Formed, both by nature and education, to be the ornament of a court, and already distinguished by his varied and attractive qualities in the circle of his noble acquaintance, his free principles were neither withered by the sunshine of royalty, nor weakened by flattery and temptation. He dressed in a costume then worn by a gentleman who affected not the extreme of fashion, nor the reverse. His bearing was elegant, full of vivacity, and his conversational powers were of a high order, and their activity varied much with his moods, sometimes mild and winning, and again ardent and enthusiastic.”

In the summer of 1776 La Fayette, as an officer of the French army, was stationed on military duty in the citadel of Metz. At this time he was little over eighteen 10years of age. Through the Duke of Gloucester, a brother of the king of England, La Fayette first learned of the struggles in America. The Duke of Gloucester had been exiled from the court of Great Britain on account of his impolitic marriage, and was then at Metz. The duke was constantly receiving reports of the American struggle for independence, and he openly described the plans of the British ministry to crush this uprising of the colonists. La Fayette’s fiery ardor in the cause of liberty was quickened at the news of the oppressed Americans, fighting with such vast odds against them, bravely defying the most powerful nation on the globe.

La Fayette immediately resigned his position at Metz, and hastened to Paris, determined to devote his life and fortune to the aid of the courageous band of patriots who had just declared their independence.

Knowing the opposition he would meet from family, friends, and the government, he made his preparations with the greatest secrecy, not even revealing his intentions to his wife, to whom he was most devoted. His heaven-born principles of liberty could no longer be kept in check by inaction, and he was ready to sacrifice every personal interest in life to the cause of oppressed humanity.

After having partially completed his arrangements, La Fayette disclosed his scheme to his relative the Count de Broglie. The count was bitterly opposed to the undertaking, and pictured to La Fayette all the difficulties and dangers of the enterprise. “Your uncle perished in the wars in Italy,” said he; “your father fell in the battle of Minden; and now I will not be accessory to the ruin of the only remaining branch of the family.”

De Kalb

But nothing could quench the ardor of the dauntless La Fayette. He found in the Baron de Kalb a kindred 11sympathy, and through the baron, the Marquis de La Fayette was introduced to Mr. Silas Deane, who had been sent by the American Congress to negotiate with the French government. La Fayette made known to Mr. Deane his generous desire to offer his personal services in the American war. Whereupon Mr. Deane gave to him the following paper:—

“The desire which the Marquis de La Fayette shows of serving among the troops of the United States of North America, and the interest which he takes in the justice of their cause, makes him wish to distinguish himself in this war, and to render himself as useful as he possibly can. But not thinking that he can obtain leave of his family to pass the seas and to serve in a foreign country till he can go as a general officer, I have thought that I could not better serve my country and those who have entrusted me, than by granting to him, in the name of the very honorable Congress, the rank of major-general, which I beg the states to confirm and ratify to him, and to deliver him the commission to hold and take rank from this day with the general officers of the same degree.

“His high birth, his alliances, the great dignities which his family hold at this court, his considerable estates in this realm, his personal merit, his reputation, his disinterestedness, and above all, his zeal for the liberty of our provinces, are such as to induce me alone to promise him the rank of major-general in the name of the United States. In witness of which I have signed these presents this 7th day of December, 1776.

Silas Deane.

“The secrecy,” says La Fayette, “with which this negotiation and my preparations were made, appears 12almost a miracle; family, friends, ministers, French spies, and English spies, all were kept completely in the dark as to my intentions.”

But just at this time news of disastrous defeats in the Revolutionary army reached France. The bells of London rang out joyful peals at this welcome intelligence; but many sympathizing hearts in Paris saddened at this dire misfortune to the little band fighting for their rightful independence. The court of Versailles had not yet openly espoused the American cause, and now Louis XVI. and others, friendly to the Americans, waited for more encouraging prospects before lending their aid. But not so the liberty-loving La Fayette. He was never so great as when in the midst of the most stupendous difficulties, and he was never so true and faithful and staunch in his patriotic principles, as when the cause to which he was attached hung trembling betwixt victory and defeat. Discouragements but nerved him to new ardor; obstacles but strengthened his determination to overcome every barrier in the way of his successful progress. His was truly a soul and nature most eminently fitted for the important part he was called upon to take in the struggle for liberty and freedom.

At this time affairs in the new world were in a most desperate condition. The battle of Brooklyn had been fought, resulting in the total rout of the continental forces, and the evacuation of Long Island. New York, after an heroic resistance, had been given up to the British. General Howe was master of Forts Washington and Lee. General Washington, with the remnants of the army, with tattered uniforms and scanty food, was retreating before the foe. The country was in despair. Dark indeed were the clouds which threw their shadows over sorrowful homes and the suffering patriots of the struggling nation.


13Even the American commissioners at Paris were paralyzed by this dreadful blow. They dared not urge the French further in the behalf of their stricken country, which seemed doomed to defeat. They even counselled La Fayette to abandon his project of enlisting in their cause, representing to him that their affairs were now so desperate that they could not offer him a passage to America, nor any assurance of success should he venture to go. But La Fayette’s love of liberty was not dependent upon success or defeat. His principles were as unflinching in disaster as when crowned with victory; and to La Fayette’s courage America in a large measure owes her ultimate success. Study the history of those times, and then try to answer the question, What would have been the result of the American Revolution, without the aid of La Fayette?

To the discouraged commissioners, La Fayette made this noble reply:—

“I thank you for your frankness, but now is precisely the moment to serve your cause; the more people are discouraged, the greater utility will result from my departure. Until now you have only seen my ardor in your cause, but that may not prove at present wholly useless. If you cannot furnish me with a vessel, I will purchase one and freight it at my own expense, to convey your despatches and my person to the shores of America.”

With unflagging labor La Fayette now occupied himself in carrying out his promised plan. From his own estates he raised the money necessary for the expedition, and prepared to purchase and equip a vessel. King Louis, owing to the recent reverses in America, began to distrust the expediency of an open alliance. La Fayette, being suspected of favoring the American cause, was 14constantly watched by French and English spies. To escape the knowledge of his family and the royal surveillance, the ship was purchased through La Fayette’s friend, Mr. Duboismartin, who warmly sympathized with his liberal principles. In the midst of these preparations La Fayette was sent by the French government on a diplomatic mission to London. Lest he should excite suspicion by refusal, La Fayette departed for England with his associate, the Prince de Poix. On reaching London, it was a significant fact that before La Fayette paid his respects to the British court, he sought an interview with Bancroft, the American.

La Fayette was received at the English court with every mark of distinguished honor, but court flatteries were little now to his taste. He was yearning to return to Paris, to continue his preparations for his chivalrous project.

“At the end of three weeks,” he writes, “when it became necessary for me to return home, while refusing to accompany my uncle, the ambassador, to court, I confided to him my strong desire to take a trip to Paris. He suggested that he should say that I was ill during my absence. I should not have made use of this stratagem myself, but did not object to his doing so.”

Hastening back to Paris, he continued his secret preparations. Without making known his return to any of his friends, with the exception of those interested in his plans, La Fayette set out for Bordeaux, where a ship was being equipped for him. But information regarding his mysterious manœuvres was now communicated to the court of Versailles, and led to an order for his arrest. La Fayette, being warned, departed to Passage, a Spanish port, intending to embark for America from there. He now openly avowed his intentions, and declared 15that nothing should induce him to relinquish his plans.


But now his firmness was put to the severest test. Letters arrived from his family, containing the bitterest reproaches. He was even accused of want of parental care and gross neglect of his wife and home. This was indeed hard to bear. La Fayette was deeply in love with his winsome and affectionate wife. But with an unselfishness which amounted to the sublimity of heroism, his young wife restrained her tears, lest he should be blamed, and bravely determined to bear the parting uncomplainingly. Such a heroine as she afterwards proved herself to be made her a truly worthy companion for her hero-husband.

Letters came, also, under kingly authority, forbidding his embarkation for America, threatening severe displeasure in case of disobedience. Sovereign displeasure, La Fayette was well aware, meant liability to the confiscation of all his property, and public disgrace. Feigning obedience, La Fayette returned to Bordeaux, and wrote to the ministry, requesting permission to carry out his plans, representing the benefits which France would derive by the wresting of this coveted land from proud England. But the king was not prepared to excite the wrath of his powerful neighbor, and no reply was sent directly to La Fayette, though he was made to understand, through friends, that his petition had been refused.

He shortly afterwards received orders to proceed to Marseilles, and join himself to the Duke d’Ayen, who was going into Italy. La Fayette now determined to brave all hazards. He accordingly departed ostensibly for Marseilles, but soon changed his route and went directly to Passage, and there embarked on his gallant ship Victory, and unfurled the sails, pointing the prow 16of his vessel towards the land of liberty. As soon as it was ascertained that La Fayette had gone, despatches were sent to arrest him at the West Indies. But La Fayette, suspecting this, ordered his captain to steer directly for America.

His wearisome voyage lasted for two months. Seasickness added its discomforts to the anxieties, regrets, and aspiring longings which made keen warfare in his saddened heart. Would his wife forgive him for this seeming desertion? Would his country renounce him? Would his unselfish and magnanimous sacrifice avail in the cause of liberty, which was the ruling passion of his life? Weak with sickness and tempest-tossed, he addressed to his wife these pathetic letters:—

“On board the Victory, May 30, 1777.

“... How many fears and anxieties enhance the keen anguish I feel at being separated from all that I love most fondly in the world! How have you borne my second departure? Have you loved me less? Have you pardoned me? Have you reflected that, at all events, I must equally have been parted from you—wandering about in Italy, dragging on an inglorious life, surrounded by the persons most opposed to my projects and to my manner of thinking? All these reflections did not prevent me from experiencing the most bitter grief when the moment arrived for quitting my native shores. Your sorrow, and that of my friends, all rushed upon my thoughts; and my heart was torn by a thousand painful feelings. I could not, at that instant, find any excuse for my own conduct. If you could know all that I have suffered, and the melancholy days that I have passed while thus flying from all that I love best in the world! Must I join to this affliction the grief of hearing that 17you do not pardon me? I should, in truth, my love, be too unhappy.”

Again he writes:—

“On board the Victory, June 7.

“I am still floating upon this dreary plain, the most wearisome of all human habitations. To console myself a little I think of you and of my friends. I think of the pleasure of seeing you again. How delightful will be the moment of my arrival! I shall hasten to surprise and embrace you. I shall, perhaps, find you with your children. To think, only, of that happy moment is an inexpressible pleasure to me—do not fancy that it is distant; although the time of my absence will appear, I confess, very long to me, yet we shall meet sooner than you can expect. While defending the liberty which I adore, I shall enjoy perfect freedom myself; I but offer my services to that interesting Republic from motives of the purest kind, unmixed with ambition or private views; her happiness and my glory are my only incentives to the task. I hope, that for my sake, you will become a good American, for that feeling is worthy of every noble heart. The happiness of America is intimately connected with the happiness of all mankind. She will become the safe and respected asylum of virtue, integrity, toleration, equality, and tranquil happiness.”



Arrival in America—Letter to his Wife from Charleston—La Fayette’s First Impressions of America—Letter from Petersburg—Arrival in Philadelphia—Chilling Reception by Congress—La Fayette’s Magnanimous Offer—Resolution passed by Congress—The First Meeting between Liberty’s Knight and the “Man of the Age”—Washington’s Kindly Reception of the Young Marquis—Letter from Franklin to Washington regarding La Fayette—Battle of Brandywine—La Fayette wounded—Letter to his Wife from Philadelphia—La Fayette in the Care of the Moravian Society—Letter to his Wife—La Fayette’s Home Life described by his Daughter Virginie—La Fayette again in the Field—The Battle of Gloucester—Congress commissions the Marquis to the Command of a Division—Winter Quarters at Valley Forge—Letter from La Fayette to his Father-in-law, the Duke d’Ayen—His Impressions regarding American Affairs—A Treacherous Intrigue against Washington—La Fayette’s Manly Letter to him—Washington’s Noble Reply—The New Board of War—La Fayette appointed to the Command of the Expedition into Canada—His Letter to Washington from Albany—Expedition to Canada abandoned—La Fayette’s Return to Valley Forge—Sir William Howe outwitted by the Young Marquis—La Fayette’s Influence in the Army—Death of La Fayette’s Little Daughter—His Touching Letter to his Wife.

“When Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night
And set the stars of glory there.”—Drake.

ON the 14th of June, 1777, La Fayette landed at Winyau Bay, about sixty miles northeast from Charleston. Nature had clothed herself in her loveliest garb to welcome the knight of liberty who had sacrificed 19wealth and luxury and the gay life of courts, to unsheathe his sword in this new land in defence of freedom.

It was midnight under the soft June skies. The stars glowed in benediction, and the moon shed a calm radiance over the scene. As the canoe conveyed the travellers up the picturesque bay, the wooded land beyond seemed to stretch out its leafy hands of welcome, and the air was perfumed with the delicious fragrance of innumerable flowers. Such was America’s greeting to her brave defender.

Of this, let La Fayette’s own letters speak. Back to the love of his heart, the wife whose constant devotion was his guiding star, fly quickly his thoughts, on the swift wings of affection, and he hastens to pen these lines:—

June 19.

“I landed at Charleston, after having sailed for several days along a coast swarming with hostile vessels. On my arrival here every one told me that my ship would undoubtedly be taken, because two English frigates had blockaded the harbor. I even sent, both by land and by sea, orders to the captain to put the men on shore, and burn the vessels, if he had still the power of doing so. Eh bien! by a most extraordinary piece of good fortune, a sudden gale of wind having blown away the frigates for a short time, my vessel arrived at noonday, without having encountered friend or foe. At Charleston I have met General Howe, a general officer now engaged in service. The governor of the state is expected this evening from the country. All the persons with whom I wished to be acquainted have shown me the greatest attention and politeness—not European politeness merely. I can only feel gratitude 20for the reception tendered me, although I have not yet thought proper to enter into any details respecting my future prospects and arrangements. I wish to see the Congress first. I hope to set out in two days for Philadelphia, which is a land journey of more than two hundred and fifty leagues. We shall divide into small parties. I have already purchased horses and light carriages for this purpose.

“I shall now speak to you, my love, about the country and its inhabitants, who are as agreeable as my enthusiasm led me to imagine. Simplicity of manner, kindness of heart, love of country and of liberty, and a delightful state of equality are universal. The richest and the poorest men are completely on a level; and, although there are some immense fortunes in this country, I may challenge any one to point out the slightest difference in their respective manner toward each other. I first saw and judged of a country life at Major Huger’s house. I am at present in this city, where I notice a resemblance to English customs, except that I find more simplicity here than in England.

“Charleston is one of the best built, handsomest, and most agreeable cities that I have ever seen. The American women are very pretty, and have great simplicity of character. The extreme neatness of their appearance is truly delightful. Cleanliness is everywhere even more studiously regarded here than in England. What gave me most pleasure is to see how completely the citizens are all brethren of one family. In America there appear to be none poor, and none even who can be called peasants. Each citizen has some property, and all citizens have the same rights as the richest individual or landed proprietor in the country. The inns are very different from those in Europe; the host and hostess sit at table with 21you, and do the honors of a comfortable meal, and when you depart you pay your bill without being obliged to fee attendants. If you dislike going to inns, you always find country houses, in which you will be received as a good American, with the same attention that you expect to find at a friend’s house in Europe.

“My own reception has been peculiarly agreeable. To have been merely my travelling companion suffices to secure the kindest welcome. I have just passed five hours at a large dinner, given in compliment to me by an individual of this town. Generals Howe and Moultrie, and several officers of my suite, were present. We drank each other’s health, and endeavored to talk English, which I am beginning to speak a little. I shall pay a visit to-morrow, with these gentlemen, to the governor of the state, and make the last arrangements for my departure. The next day the commanding officer here will take me to see the town and its environs, and I shall then set out to join the army.

“From the agreeable life I lead in this country, from the sympathy which makes me feel as much at ease with the inhabitants as if I had known them twenty years, the similarity between their manner of thinking and my own, my love of glory and liberty, you might imagine that I am very happy; but you are not with me, my dearest love; my friends are not with me; and there is no happiness for me when far away from you and them. I often ask you if you still love, but I put that question still more often to myself, and my heart ever answers yes. I trust that my heart does not deceive me. I am inexpressibly anxious to hear from you, and hope to find some letters at Philadelphia. My only fear is lest the privateer which was to bring them to me may have been captured on her way. Although I can easily 22imagine that I have excited the special displeasure of the English, by taking the liberty of coming hither in spite of them and landing before their very face, yet I must confess that we shall be even more than on a par if they succeed in catching that vessel, the object of my fondest hopes, by which I am expecting to receive your letters.

“I entreat you to send me both long and frequent letters. You are not sufficiently conscious of the joy with which I shall receive them. Embrace, most tenderly, my Henriette; may I add, embrace our children! The father of those poor children is a wanderer, but he is, nevertheless, a good, honest man, a good father, warmly attached to his family, and a good husband also, for he loves his wife most tenderly. The night is far advanced, the heat intense, and I am devoured by mosquitoes; but the best countries, as you perceive, have their inconveniences. Adieu, my love, adieu.”

Again La Fayette writes to his wife from Petersburg, Va., July 17, 1777:—

“I am now eight days’ journey from Philadelphia, in the beautiful state of Virginia. All fatigue is over, and I fear that my martial labors will be very light if it be true that General Howe has left New York, to go I know not whither. But all the accounts I receive are so uncertain that I cannot form any fixed opinion until I reach my destination.

“You must have learned the particulars of the beginning of my journey. You know that I set out in a brilliant manner, in a carriage, and I must now tell you that we are all on horseback,—having broken the carriage according to my usual praiseworthy custom,—and I expect soon to write to you that we have arrived on foot. 23The journey is somewhat fatiguing; but, although several of my comrades have suffered a great deal, I have scarcely, myself, been conscious of fatigue. The captain, who takes charge of this letter, will perhaps pay you a visit. I beg you, in that case, to receive him with great kindness.

“The farther I advance to the north, the better pleased I am with the country and its inhabitants. There is no attention or kindness that I do not receive, although many scarcely know who I am. But I will write all this to you more in detail from Philadelphia.”

As soon as La Fayette arrived in Philadelphia, he presented himself before Congress, then in session. The moment was inauspicious. Mr. Deane had given so many foreigners the same promises, that Congress found itself in a very embarrassing situation. Many of these foreigners were brave men, and true, who had come to America with philanthropic motives, but others were mere adventurers, and Congress therefore received the young Marquis de La Fayette with coldness and indifference, which he illy deserved, and which in the light of after events proved a mortifying mistake. La Fayette laid his stipulations with Mr. Deane before Congress, but, with surprise and chagrin, he was informed by the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs that there was little hope that his request would be granted.

Imagine the feelings of the noble young marquis of nineteen. He had sacrificed home, family, friends, and fortune, to give his aid to this struggling nation, and his immense personal sacrifices were thus insultingly thrown into his face. What blindness in Congress! What heroic magnanimity in La Fayette! Pride and patriotism battled in his sensitive soul. But unselfish patriotism conquered, and never does he appear more truly great than 24at this moment. Seizing a pen, he writes to Congress this brief but immortal note:—

“After the sacrifices I have made, I have a right to exact two favors: one is, to serve at my own expense; the other is, to serve as a volunteer.”

Astonished at such unprecedented generosity, and consciousconscious of their mistake in classing the young marquis with other foreigners, who were actuated by selfish avarice and love of adventure, Congress accordingly passed the following preamble and resolution on the 31st of July, 1777:—

Whereas, the Marquis de La Fayette, out of his great zeal in the cause of liberty in which the United States are engaged, has left his family and connections, and, at his own expense, come over to offer his service to the United States, without pension or particular allowance, and is anxious to risk his life in our cause;

Resolved, That his services be accepted, and that in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connections, he have the rank and commission of a Major-General in the army of the United States.”

La Fayette’s first meeting with Washington was at a dinner party in Philadelphia, on the 1st of August. The commander-in-chief looked with sympathy upon the noble young hero, and their hearts were quickly united in a bond of friendship which ignored diversity of age, country, and experience, for they mutually recognized a self-sacrificing devotion to the sacred and sublime cause of human liberty.

G o. Washington

“When the company were about to separate, Washington took La Fayette aside, spoke to him very kindly, complimented him on the noble spirit he had shown, and the sacrifices he had made in favor of the American cause, and then told him that he should be pleased if he 25would make the headquarters of the commander-in-chief his home, establish himself there whenever he thought proper, and consider himself at all times as one of his family; adding in a tone of pleasantry, that he could not promise him the luxuries of a court, or even the conveniences which his former habits might have rendered essential to comfort; but since he had become an American soldier he would doubtless contrive to accommodate himself to the character he had assumed, and submit with a good grace to the customs, manners, and privations of the republican army.”

Little was the bold spirit of La Fayette dismayed at the prospect of difficulties and privations. His soul could not be confined by hardships, dangers, or even defeats. He eagerly accepted the invitation of Washington, and well repaid his kindly courtesy. It was about this time that the following letter was written from Paris by Franklin to Washington:—

Sir: The Marquis de La Fayette, a young nobleman of great expectations and exceedingly beloved here, is by this time probably with you. By some misapprehension in his contract with the merchants of Bordeaux he was prevented from using the produce of the cargo he carried over, and so was left without a supply of money. His friends here have sent him over about £500 sterling, and have proposed sending him more; but on reflection, knowing the extreme generosity of his disposition, and fearing that some of his necessitous and artful countrymen may impose on his goodness, they wish to put his money into the hands of some discreet friend, who may supply him from time to time, and by that means knowing his expenses, may take occasion to advise him if necessary, from too much imposition.

26“They accordingly have desired us to name such a person to them. We have not been able to think of one so capable and so suitable from the influence of situation to perform that kind office as General Washington, under whose eye the gentleman will probably be.

“We beg, therefore, in his behalf, what his friends out of respect would not take the liberty of asking, that Your Excellency would be pleased to furnish him with what money he may want in moderation, and take his drafts payable to us for sums paid him, which we shall receive here, and apply to the public service.

“We also join with his family in their earnest request that you would favor him with your counsels, which you may be assured will be an act of benevolence gratefully remembered and acknowledged by a number of very worthy persons here who have interested themselves extremely in the welfare of that amiable young nobleman.

“With the greatest respect we have the honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency’s.”

The commission which La Fayette had received from Congress was, as yet, only an honorary one, conferring upon him no real command. La Fayette was now with Washington at his headquarters. He was yearning for active duties, and impatient to prove by personal exploits his zeal in the cause of liberty. Washington wrote to Congress regarding La Fayette’s position, but received the unsatisfactory reply, “that the commission given to the Marquis de La Fayette was only honorary, and that he could not yet receive an appointment.” Again did the generous spirit of the young hero meet only a cold rebuff in answer to his warm offers of personal service. He determined now to win his position by his own actions, and the opportunity was not long in arriving.

Benj. Franklin

27On the 11th of September, 1777, was fought the battle of Brandywine. “The British fleet under Sir William Howe, whose movements along the American coast at one time seeming to threaten Philadelphia, and at another appearing to meditate an attack upon Charleston, had caused much apprehension and doubt, had, at last, entered the Chesapeake; and, having proceeded up the Elk River as far as it was safely navigable, landed the forces at the ferry on the 25th of August. The determination of an assault upon Philadelphia was no longer questionable. The day before Sir William Howe landed, General Washington, to inspire the citizens with confidence, paraded his troops through the streets of Philadelphia, and then proceeded boldly to the Brandywine. The popular clamor, favored by the voice of Congress, demanded a battle, and Washington determined to risk one, though he greatly apprehended that he could not successfully compete with the strength of the battalions marching against him. But a battle, though disastrous, would be less injurious than to suffer the enemy to advance to Philadelphia without opposition.

“Washington, having halted for a few days on the banks of the Brandywine to refresh his troops, and get a better knowledge of the face of the country and the plans of the enemy, sent forward two divisions under Green and Stephens, who proceeded nearer to the head of the Elk, and encamped behind White Clay Creek. Three miles farther on, at Iron Hill, was stationed General Maxwell, at the head of an effective corps of light infantry, formed from a regiment of Morgan’s riflemen, which had been detached to the northern army.

“Posting the cavalry along the lines, Washington, with the main body, crossed the Brandywine, and took up his position behind Red Clay Creek, on the road which Sir 28William Howe would have to traverse on his march to Philadelphia. La Fayette was with him, and watched with the liveliest interest the preparations for the approaching contest. These were made with consummate adroitness and prudence; but Sir William Howe was no common foe; and the direction which he seemed contemplating for his vastly superior force decided Washington that a change of his own position was necessary. A council of war was held on the night of the 9th of September, when it was determined to retire behind the Brandywine, and meet the enemy near Chadd’s Ford, from the heights which ranged along upon the opposite side of the river.

“On the morning of the 11th of September, soon after daybreak, La Fayette sprang to his feet at the intelligence that the whole British army was in motion, and advancing towards them on the direct road leading over Chadd’s Ford. General Maxwell had been advantageously stationed, so that he could command this road from the hills, on the south side of the river; and the first action accordingly began with him.

“The foe advanced in two magnificent columns, the right commanded by General Knyphausen, and the left by Lord Cornwallis. The plan of Howe was, that Knyphausen’s division should occupy the attention of the Americans, by making repeated feints of attempting the passage of the ford, while Cornwallis should make a long sweep up the river, and cross it at Birmingham. Knyphausen accordingly advanced with his column, and speedily dislodging General Maxwell from his post, forced him to cross over, though with but little loss. A furious cannonading was instantly begun, and other demonstrations made, which indicated the intention of the British immediately to attempt the passage of the 29ford. The day was occupied in preventing this, till eleven o’clock in the morning, when the movement of Cornwallis was first announced to Washington. A smile of delight played upon his countenance, and he immediately determined upon one of those bold but judicious plans for which he was remarkable.

“Placing himself at the head of the centre and left wing of the army, he resolved to cross the river in person, and overwhelm Knyphausen before Cornwallis could be summoned back to his aid. His ranks were already formed for the passage, and his troops had answered to the proposition with deafening shouts, when a messenger arrived with the intelligence that Cornwallis had only made a feint of crossing the fords above, and was now actually bringing his division down the southern side of the river, to re-unite with Knyphausen. The tidings were agony to Washington; though, false, they came in a form which constrained him to believe them true, and his bold project was accordingly abandoned. His troops were impatient for the encounter, but for two hours he could only give them quiet directions, while he endeavored, in distressing suspense, to gain some clew to the movements of the enemy on the opposite side.

“At about two o’clock in the afternoon his uncertainty was removed, when certain intelligence reached him, that Lord Cornwallis, after having made a circuit of nearly seventeen miles, had forded the river above its forks, and, accompanied by Sir William Howe, was advancing upon him. Close action was immediately prepared for, and all along the American lines ran the accents of welcome for the conflict. The three divisions which formed the right wing, under Generals Sullivan, Stirling, and Stephens, were detached, and, moving up the Brandywine, fronted the British column marching 30down the river. Selecting an advantageous piece of ground near Birmingham, with the river on their left, and, having both flanks covered by a thick wood, they hastily formed and awaited the attack.

“La Fayette, who had kept by the side of Washington during these scenes, and marked them with absorbing interest, soon saw that the divisions designed to meet Cornwallis were to receive most of the heavy blows of that day’s battle, and petitioned and obtained permission to join them. A burst of enthusiasm greeted his arrival, as he threw himself into the midst of the troops, eagerly awaiting the approach of the foe. The opportunity which he sought was not wanting long. The host was visible, sweeping in grand and imposing array over the plain before them. When he saw the enemy, Lord Cornwallis formed in the finest order, and hastening forward, his first line opened a brisk fire of musketry and artillery upon them. It was about half-past four when the battle began. The Americans returned the fire with great injury, but the impetuosity with which the English and Hessian troops threw themselves upon their ranks was more than they could withstand.

“For a time both parties fought with unparalleled bravery, and the carnage was terrible. For some time it was a doubtful struggle, but the fiery emulation which stimulated the English and the Hessians at last compelled the Americans to give way before them.

“The right wing first yielded, then the left, while the central division, where La Fayette was bravely fighting, was the last to breast the storm, which now, concentrating its strength, spent its fury upon those devoted ranks. Firm as a rock, they bore themselves proudly against the tide of victory, which rolled in fearfully upon them. By a skilful manœuvre, Cornwallis had managed to separate 31them from the two wings, when defeat became inevitable. The whole fire of the enemy was united against them, and the confusion became extreme. The troops at first wavered, then rallied, then wavered again, and at last fell into a disorderly retreat. It was in vain that La Fayette endeavored to check them; defying danger, he stood almost single-handed against the on-coming host, and endeavored to reanimate his flying comrades by his own example. It was all fruitless. A ball struck him, and as he fell, those remaining on the field gave way.

“Gimat, aide-de-camp to the Marquis, assisted his master in getting upon a horse, and, though the blood was flowing profusely from his wound, La Fayette reluctantly turned and joined the fugitives. General Washington at this moment arrived with fresh troops upon the field. Greene’s divisions had marched four miles in forty-two minutes, but were too late to avert the disasters of the day. La Fayette, as soon as he saw Washington, started to join him, but loss of blood obliged him to stop and have his wound bandaged. While submitting to this a band of soldiers came upon him so suddenly that he had barely time to remount for flight, escaping, as by a miracle, the shower of bullets which whistled around his form.

“A general rout was the order of the day. The road to Chester was crowded with the retreating. Knyphausen had forced the passage of Chadd’s Ford, notwithstanding the obstinate resistance of Generals Wayne and Maxwell, who had been left to defend it. Washington found that all that could be done was to stay the pursuit. So successful were his efforts, and those of General Greene, that, as night approached, Sir William Howe called in his troops and gave over the chase. La Fayette 32was unwearied in his endeavors to save the army. Forgetting himself, his wound, and everything but this one object, he exerted himself to the utmost amid the darkness and dreadful confusion of that night, to restore order among the fleeing and despairing soldiery. At Chester Bridge, twelve miles from the scene of battle, he was in part successful.”

The generals and the commander-in-chief arrived, and La Fayette, at last fainting from loss of blood and fatigue, was borne away to receive the attention which his situation demanded. The next day he wrote to his wife as follows:—

Philadelphia, Sept. 12th.

“I must begin by telling you that I am perfectly well, because I must end by telling you that we fought seriously last night, and that we were not the stronger party on the field of battle. Our Americans, after having stood their ground for some time, ended at length by being routed. While endeavoring to rally them, the English honored me with a musket ball, which slightly wounded me in the leg; but it is a trifle, my dearest love: the ball touched neither bone nor nerve, and I have escaped with the obligation of lying upon my back for some time, which puts me much out of humor. I hope you will feel no anxiety. This event ought, on the contrary, rather to reassure you, since I am incapacitated from appearing on the field for some time. I have resolved to take great care of myself; be convinced of this, my love. This affair will, I fear, be attended with bad consequences for America, but we will endeavor, if possible, to repair the evil. You must have received many letters from me, unless the English be as ill-disposed towards my epistles as towards my legs. I have not yet received one letter, and I am most impatient to hear from you. It is dreadful to 33be reduced to hold no communication except by letter with a person whom one loves as I love you, and as I shall ever love you, until I draw my latest breath. I have not missed a single opportunity, not even the most indirect one, of writing to you. Do the same on your part, my dearest life, if you love me. Adieu; I am forbidden to write longer.”

After the battle of Brandywine Congress adjourned to Bristol, as Philadelphia was thought to be in danger; and La Fayette was carried to Bethlehem and placed in the care of the Moravian Society until his wound should be healed. In October he thus wrote to his wife:—

“I wrote to you, my dearest love, the 12th of September; the twelfth was the day after the eleventh, and I have a little tale to relate to you concerning that eleventh day. To render my action more meritorious, I might tell you that prudent reflections induced me to remain for some weeks in bed, safe sheltered from all danger; but I must acknowledge that I was encouraged to take this measure by a slight wound which I met with, I know not how, for I did not, in truth, expose myself to peril. It was the first conflict at which I had been present; so you see how very rare engagements are. It will be the last of this campaign, or, in all probability, at least, the last great battle; and if anything should occur, you see that I could not myself be present.

“My first occupation was to write you the day after that affair; I told you that it was a mere trifle, and I was right; all I fear is, that you may not have received my letter.

“As General Howe is giving, meanwhile, rather pompous details of his American exploits to the king his master, if he should write that I am wounded, he may 34also write that I am killed, which would not cost him anything; but I hope that my friends, and you especially, will not give faith to the reports of those persons who last year dared to publish that General Washington and all the general officers of his army, being in a boat together, had been upset, and every individual drowned. But let us speak about the wound: it is only a flesh wound, and has touched neither bone nor nerve. The surgeons are astonished at the rapidity with which it heals; they are in an ecstasy of joy each time they dress it, and pretend it is the finest thing in the world. For my part, I think it most disagreeable, painful, and wearisome; but tastes often differ. If a man, however, wished to be wounded for his amusement only, he should come and examine how I have been struck, that he might be struck precisely in the same manner. This, my dearest love, is what I pompously style my wound, to give myself airs and render myself interesting.

“I must now give you your lesson as wife of an American general officer. They will say to you, ‘They have been beaten’; you must answer, ‘That is true; but when two armies of equal number meet in the field, old soldiers have naturally the advantage over new ones; they have, besides, had the pleasure of killing a great many of the enemy, many more than they have lost!’ They will afterwards add, ‘All this is very well; but Philadelphia is taken, the capital of America, the rampart of liberty!’ You must politely answer: ‘You are all great fools! Philadelphia is a poor, forlorn town, exposed on every side, the harbor of which was already closed; though the residence of Congress lent it—I know not why—some degree of celebrity.’ This is the famous city which, be it added, we shall, sooner or later, make 35them yield back to us. If they continue to persecute you with questions, you may send them about their business in terms which the Vicomte de Noailles will teach you, for I cannot lose time by talking to you of politics.

“Be perfectly at ease about my wound; all the faculty in America are engaged in my service. I have a friend who has spoken to them in such a manner that I am certain of being well attended to. That friend is General Washington. This excellent man, whose talents and virtues I admired, and whom I have learned to revere as I know him better, has now become my intimate friend. His affectionate interest in me instantly won my heart. I am established in his house, and we live together like two attached brothers, with mutual confidence and cordiality. This friendship renders me as happy as I can possibly be in this country. When he sent his best surgeon to me, he told him to take charge of me as if I were his son, because he loved me with the same affection. Having heard that I wished to rejoin the army too soon, he wrote me a letter full of tenderness, in which he requested me to attend to the perfect restoration of my health. I give you these details, my dearest love, that you may feel quite certain of the care which is taken of me. Among the French officers who have all expressed the warmest interest in me, M. de Gimat, my aide-de-camp, has followed me about like my shadow, both before and since the battle, and has given me every possible proof of attachment. You may thus feel quite secure on this account, both for the present and the future.

“I am at present in the solitude of Bethlehem, which the Abbé Raynal has described so minutely. This establishment is a very interesting one; the fraternity lead an agreeable and very tranquil life—but we will talk 36over all this on my return. I intend to weary those I love, yourself, of course, in the first place, by the relation of my adventures, for you know that I was always a great chatterbox.

“You must become a prattler also, my love, and say many things for me to Henriette—my poor little Henriette! embrace her a thousand times; talk of me to her, but do not tell her all I deserve to suffer: my punishment will be, not to be recognized by her on my arrival; that is the penance Henriette will impose upon me.”

In the life of Madame de La Fayette, written by her daughter, Madame de Lasteyrie, this touching account is given of La Fayette’s wife at this time.

“In the month of April, 1777, my father carried out his plan of going to America. It is easy to judge of my mother’s grief on receiving tidings so new, so unexpected, and so terrible. In addition to all she was herself suffering; she had the pain of witnessing my grandfather’s anger. ‘The French ladies,’ Lord Stomont, the English ambassador, wrote to his government, ‘blame M. de La Fayette’s family, for having tried to stop him in so noble an enterprise. If the Duc d’Ayen,’ one of them said, ‘crosses such a son-in-law in such an attempt, he must not hope to find husbands for his other daughters.’

“My mother felt that the more she excited pity, the more my father would be censured. All her endeavors were then to conceal the tortures of her heart, preferring to be thought childish or indifferent to bringing down greater blame on his behavior. My mother found much comfort in the kindness shown to her by my grandmother, whose noble mind made her appreciate each detail of her son-in-law’s conduct.

37“It was with truly maternal tenderness that she broke to her daughter the different accounts of my father’s departure, of his arrest, of his return to Bordeaux, and of his ultimate embarkation at the Port du Passage in Spain.

“The first accounts of my father’s arrival in America reached my mother a month after the birth of my sister Anastasie. His charming letters, the accounts of his deeds, the success he had already achieved, caused her a delight mingled with apprehensions for the dangers of war. The news of my father having been wounded at the battle of Brandywine reached my mother’s ears, but still more alarming reports were hidden from her.”

After being wounded at Brandywine, La Fayette heard of the birth of his second daughter, Anastasie. He thus tenderly wrote to his adored wife:—

“How happy your safety has made me. Dearest heart, I must speak of it all through my letter, for I can think of nothing else. What rapture to embrace you all,—the mother and the two little girls,—to make them intercede with you for their truant father.”

Concerning this first visit of La Fayette to America Madame de La Fayette herself thus writes:—

“M. de La Fayette executed in April the scheme he had been forming for six months past, of going to serve the cause of independence in America. I loved him tenderly. On hearing the news of his departure, my father and all the family fell into a state of violent anger. My mother, dreading these emotions for me, on account of the state of health I was in, alarmed at the dangers her dearly beloved son had gone to seek so far, having herself, less than anybody in the world, the thirst of ambition and of worldly glory or a taste for enterprise, appreciated, nevertheless, M. de La Fayette’s conduct as 38it was appreciated two years later by the rest of the world. Totally casting aside all care with regard to the immense expense of such an enterprise, she found, from the first moment, in the manner in which it had been prepared, a motive for distinguishing it from what is termed une folie de jeune homme. His sorrow on leaving his wife and those who were dear to him convinced her that she need not fear for the happiness of my life save in proportion to her fears for his. It was she who gave me the cruel news of his departure, and, with that generous tenderness which was peculiar to her, she tried to comfort me by finding the means of serving M. de La Fayette.

“At that time my mother’s youngest sister married M. de Ségur, one of M. de La Fayette’s friends. My mother devoted to her all the moments she could dispose of, but I was still the continual object of her solicitude. She saw how much good she did me by showing her affection for M. de La Fayette. Whenever M. de La Fayette’s touching letters reached us, I could see how thoroughly she believed in his tenderness for me. At the end of two months my dear Anastasie was born. It seemed as if I already foresaw what a gift God was bestowing on me; from the first moment of her birth I felt that in the midst of the greatest trials I was still capable of joy. My child received her grandmother’s blessing, and was carried by her to the baptismal font.

“The first news from M. de La Fayette arrived on the first of August, one month after Anastasie’s birth. The comfort it gave me was fully shared. My mother was indefatigable in her efforts to obtain some accounts of him, to send him news from us, and to make herself useful to him though separated by so great a distance. The 39few details which reached us respecting his arrival, and the favorable impression he had made on the public mind in America, did not surprise my mother, but renewed her courage and made her still more thankful to Providence who was so visibly protecting and guiding him. But shortly afterwards we heard that M. de La Fayette had been wounded at the battle of Brandywine. I need not say what were my mother’s feelings on hearing such intelligence. She succeeded in keeping from me the report of his death, which was spread about at that time, and to prevent false news from reaching my ear; she first took me to her father’s place in Burgundy, and then sent my sister and me on a visit to the Comtesse Auguste de La Marck, at Raismes. The Comte de La Marck was Mirabeau’s friend.

“During the winter of 1778 my mother turned all her efforts towards obtaining intelligence from America. We heard occasionally from M. de La Fayette. The alliance between France and the United States caused my mother great satisfaction; I had never seen her take such interest in any political event.”

Thus tenderly this young wife of eighteen was shielded by her mother’s care during this trying absence of the young husband whom she so adored. Regarding the unusual and ideal love existing between La Fayette and his devoted wife in their early married life, their daughter Virginie, afterwards the Marquise de Lasteyrie, thus writes:—

“I do not think it is possible to have an idea of my mother’s way of loving. It was peculiar to herself. Her affection for my father predominated over every other feeling without diminishing any. It might be said she felt for him the most passionate attachment, if that expression was in harmony with the exquisite delicacy 40which kept her from any sort of jealousy, or, at least, from any of those evil impulses generally attendant upon that feeling. Neither had she ever a moment of exigence. Not only was it impossible for my father ever to perceive a wish that could be unwelcome to him, but, even in the depth of her heart, never did there lurk a bitter feeling. She was fourteen and a half when she married. At that time her mind was violently agitated by religious doubts. Notwithstanding the very tender feeling which drew her towards my father, she was much troubled by the thought of the solemn engagement she was taking at so early an age. All she felt appeared to her beyond her strength, and she placed herself under the protection of God, to whom in the midst of her disquietudes she never ceased to look for support.

“My mother’s grief at my father’s departure to join his regiment made her feel how deeply she was attached to him. She did not leave her paternal home. In consequence of the extreme youth of both my parents, for my father was but sixteen years of age, it had been agreed that they should pass several years at the Hôtel de Noailles, the town residence of my mother’s family.

“The following winter was very gay. My mother as well as her sister frequently went both to the play and to balls. She enjoyed all these pleasures with the liveliness of her age and disposition. Nevertheless, I do not think she ever allowed herself to join in any before it had been proved to her that she was conscientiously obliged to partake in them. Never, even in her earliest youth, did she allow herself to taste a single worldly amusement without being actuated by motives of duty superior to those which forbade them. She did not join in them without reflection, but, once decided, she would enjoy herself thoroughly and without scruple. It is 41worthy of remark that the religious doubts which tortured her should not have made her less timorous on this point. On the contrary, she was incessantly applying for the grace of God in order to learn the fulness of truth. He granted her prayers; her mind ceased to be troubled. She made her first communion that same year, on the first Sunday after Easter, and gave herself up to God, in whom she continued to trust so faithfully amidst all the vicissitudes of life. Shortly afterwards, her first child, little Henriette, was born.”

Before La Fayette’s wound, received at Brandywine, was sufficiently healed to permit him to wear a boot, he was so impatient to enter into active service, that he offered himself again as a volunteer, and joined an expedition which was then fitting out under General Greene, to operate in New Jersey. Preparations were made to give battle to Lord Cornwallis; but that officer having received large re-enforcements, General Greene, though greatly disappointed, deemed it inexpedient to dare an attack. But young La Fayette could not consent to retire without attempting to strike a blow. He was accordingly placed at the head of a small company, for reconnoitring, and authorized to make an attack if he thought it advisable. While he was examining the enemy’s position, his little band came suddenly upon a picket of four hundred Hessians. La Fayette’s company numbered only three hundred men; but he led them gallantly to the attack, and the Hessians were soon flying before them. La Fayette followed, and the Hessians meeting re-enforcements, turned to meet their brave pursuers. Great as the odds were against him, La Fayette and his valiant band boldly met the enemy, and again put them to flight, pursuing them until dark; they returned to camp with only five men wounded and one dead. Such was the battle of Gloucester.

42This heroic action so impressed Congress with the bravery of La Fayette, that they promptly responded to Washington’s renewed request in behalf of the young marquis; and on the 1st of December, 1777, the following resolution was passed:—

Resolved, That General Washington be informed it is highly agreeable to Congress that the Marquis de La Fayette be appointed to the command of a division in the continental army.”

Three days after, La Fayette was publicly invested with his rank, and placed over the division of Virginia troops, lately lead by General Stephens.

The campaign of 1777 was now drawing to its close. Sir William Howe, having recalled Lord Cornwallis, endeavored to force Washington from his position; but though there were several skirmishes, in which La Fayette distinguished himself, Washington would not be decoyed by his crafty foe, and Howe marched back to Philadelphia without having effected a battle.

The Revolutionary army now went into winter quarters at Valley Forge. La Fayette thus describes the condition of their troops at this time:—

“The unfortunate soldiers were in want of everything; they had neither coats, hats, shirts, nor shoes; their feet and legs froze until they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them. From want of money they could not obtain either provisions or any means of transport. The colonels were often reduced to two rations, and sometimes to one. The army frequently remained whole days without provisions, and the patient endurance of both soldiers and officers was a miracle, which each moment served to renew. But the sight of their misery prevented new engagements; it was almost impossible to levy recruits; it was easy to desert into the 43interior of the country. The sacred fires of liberty were not extinguished, it is true, and the majority of the citizens detested British tyranny, but the triumph of the North (Gates’ defeat of Burgoyne) and the tranquillity of the South had lulled to sleep two-thirds of the continent.”

La Fayette endured with uncomplaining patience the greatest privations. He adopted the American dress, habits, and food. He allowed himself to fare no better than his comrades in war; and though his entire life heretofore had been spent in ease and luxury, he repined not at cold and scanty provisions, but rather gloried in his personal sacrifices. He thus writes from Valley Forge to his father-in-law, the Duke d’Ayen, in France:—

“The loss of Philadelphia is far from being so important as it is conceived to be in Europe. If the difference of circumstances, of countries, and of proportions between the two armies were not duly considered, the success of General Gates would appear surprising when compared with the events which have occurred with us, taking into account the superiority of General Washington over General Gates. Our general is a man formed, in truth, for this revolution, which could not have been accomplished without him. I see him more intimately than any other man, and I see that he is worthy of the adoration of his country. His tender friendship for me and his complete confidence in me relating to all political and military subjects, great as well as small, enable me to judge of all the interests he has to conciliate, and all the difficulties he has to conquer.

“I admire each day more fully the excellence of his character and the kindness of his heart. Some foreigners are displeased at not having been employed, although it did not depend on him to employ them; others, whose 44ambitious projects he would not serve, and some intriguing jealous men, have endeavored to injure his reputation; but his name will be revered in every age by all true lovers of liberty and humanity. Although I may appear to be eulogizing my friend, I believe that the part he makes me act gives me the right of avowing publicly how much I admire and respect him.

“America is most impatiently expecting us to declare for her, and France will one day, I trust, determine to humble the pride of England. This thought, and the measures which America appears determined to pursue, give me great hopes for the glorious establishment of her independence. We are not, I confess, as strong as I expected; but we are strong enough to fight, and we shall do so, I think, with some degree of success. With the assistance of France we shall gain the cause that I cherish, because it is the cause of justice; because it honors humanity; because it is important to my country; and because my American friends and myself are deeply engaged in it. The approaching campaign will be an interesting one. It is said that the English are sending against us some Hanoverians; some time ago they threatened us with what was far worse,—the arrival of some Russians. A slight menace from France would lessen the number of these re-enforcements. The more I see of the English, the more thoroughly convinced I am that it is necessary to speak to them in a loud tone.

“After having wearied you with public affairs, you must not expect to escape without being wearied also with my private affairs. It is impossible to be more agreeably situated in a foreign country than I am. I have only feelings of pleasure to express, and I have each day more reason to be satisfied with the conduct of Congress towards me, although my military occupations 45have allowed me to become personally acquainted with but few of its members. Those I do know have especially loaded me with marks of kindness and attention. The new president, Mr. Laurens, one of the most respectable men of America, is my particular friend. As to the army, I have had the happiness of obtaining the friendship of every individual; not one opportunity is lost of giving me proofs of it.

“I passed the whole summer without receiving a division, which you know had been my previous intention; I passed all that time at General Washington’s house, where I felt as if I were with a friend of twenty years’ standing. Since my return from Jersey, he has desired me to choose among several brigades the division which may please me best. I have chosen one entirely composed of Virginians. It is weak in point of numbers at present, just in proportion, however, to the weakness of the whole army, and almost in a state of nakedness; but I am promised cloth, of which I shall make clothes, and recruits, of which soldiers must be made, about the same period; but unfortunately the latter is the more difficult task, even for more skilful men than I.

“The task I am performing here, if I have acquired sufficient experience to perform it well, will improve exceedingly my future knowledge. The major-general replaces the lieutenant-general and the field-marshal in their most important functions, and I should have the power of employing to advantage both my talents and experience, if Providence and my extreme youth allowed me to boast of possessing either. I read, I study, I examine, I listen, I reflect; and the result of all is the endeavor to form an opinion into which I infuse as much common sense as possible. I will not talk much for fear of saying foolish things; I will still less risk 46acting much, for fear of doing foolish things; for I am not disposed to abuse the confidence which the Americans have so kindly placed in me. Such is the plan of conduct which I have followed until now, and which I shall continue to follow; but when some plans occur to me which I believe may become useful when properly rectified, I hasten to impart them to a great judge, who is good enough to say he is pleased with them.

“On the other hand, when my heart tells me that a favorable opportunity offers, I cannot refuse myself the pleasure of participating in the peril; but I do not think that the vanity of success ought to make us risk the safety of an army, or of any portion of it, which may not be formed or calculated for the offensive. If I could make an axiom with the certainty of not saying a foolish thing, I should venture to add that whatever may be our force, we must content ourselves with a completely defensive plan, with the exception, however, of the moment when we may be forced to action, because I think I have perceived that the English troops are more astonished by a brisk attack than by a firm resistance.

“This letter will be given you by the celebrated Adams, whose name must undoubtedly be known to you. As I have never allowed myself to quit the army, I have never seen him. He wished that I should give him letters of introduction to France, especially to yourself. May I hope that you will have the goodness to receive him kindly, and even to give him some information respecting the present state of affairs? I fancied that you would not be sorry to converse with a man whose merit is so universally acknowledged. He desires ardently to succeed in obtaining the esteem of our nation. One of his friends himself told me this.”

47About this time a base and treacherous intrigue was formed against Washington. General Gates’ victory over Burgoyne covered his name with a blaze of glory, and censurers of Washington’s prudent policies were not slow in suggesting that Horatio Gates was entitled to the honor of receiving the post of commander-in-chief; and there were not wanting ambitious partisans and disloyal spirits to swell the ranks of the plotting discontents. Treachery and falsehood now joined their crafty hands in fellowship, and together working their machinations, they strove by base insinuations to break down the influence of Washington, and even endeavored to enlist the true-hearted La Fayette in favor of their vile schemes. But the friendship of the young marquis could not be weakened by any artful plot, nor could his firm alliance be shaken by any promises of rank or power.

It was at this time that he sent to Washington this manly and appreciative letter:—

My Dear General: I went yesterday morning to headquarters, with an intention of speaking to your excellency, but you were too busy, and I shall inform you in this letter what I wished to say.

“I don’t need to tell you that I am sorry for all that has happened for some time past. My sorrow is a necessary consequence of my most tender and respectful friendship for you, which affection is as true and candid as the other sentiments of my heart, and much stronger than so new an acquaintance seems to admit; but another reason to be concerned in the present circumstances is the result of my ardent and perhaps enthusiastic wishes for the happiness and liberty of this country. I see plainly that America can defend herself if proper measures 48are taken, and now I begin to fear lest she should be lost by herself and her own sons.

“When I was in Europe, I thought that here almost every man was a lover of liberty, and would rather die free than live a slave. You can conceive of my astonishment when I saw that Toryism was as openly professed as Whiggism itself; however, at that time I believed that all good Americans were united together; that the confidence of Congress in you was unbounded. Then I entertained the belief that America would be independent in case she should not lose you. Take away for an instant that modest diffidence of yourself (which, pardon my freedom, my dear General, is sometimes too great, and I wish you could know as well as myself what difference there is between you and every other man), you would see very plainly that, if you were lost for America, there is nobody who could hold the army and the revolution six months. There are open discussions in Congress; parties who hate one another as much as the common enemy; stupid men, who, without knowing a single word about war, undertake to judge you, to make ridiculous comparisons. They are infatuated with Gates, without thinking of the different circumstances, and believe that attacking is the only thing necessary to conquer. These ideas are entertained by some jealous men, and perhaps secret friends to the British government, who want to push you, in a moment of ill-humor, to some rash enterprise upon the lines, and against a much stronger army. I should not take the liberty of mentioning these particulars if I had not received a letter about this matter from a young, good-natured gentleman at York, whom Conway has ruined by his cunning, but who entertains the greatest respect for you.”

49La Fayette then recounts the efforts which the enemies of Washington had made to win his allegiance from the commander-in-chief, and closes by reiterating his tender and profound respect.

Washington, in replying to this letter, thanks La Fayette for the “fresh proof of friendship and attachment which it gave him,” and in conclusion writes: “But we must not, in so great a contest, expect to meet nothing but sunshine. I have no doubt that everything happens for the best, that we shall triumph over all our misfortunes, and, in the end, be happy,—when, my dear Marquis, if you will give me your company in Virginia, we will laugh at our past difficulties and the folly of others, and I will endeavor, by every civility in my power, to show you how much, and how sincerely, I am your affectionate and obedient servant.”

A new board of war had been instituted by Congress, designed to have a general control of military affairs. Of this board Gates was made president, and his influence was given in favor of measures contrary to the views of Washington. As La Fayette could neither be persuaded nor bribed to be false to Washington, the conspirators conceived a new plan. An expedition into Canada was proposed, and Congress went so far as to make a resolution regarding said expedition, and give all control of the same into the hands of the Board of War. This was the opportunity wished for by Washington’s enemies. Without consulting Washington, La Fayette was informed that he was appointed to the command of this expedition, and ordered to report at Albany, where the troops were to rendezvous. The instructions given him were of the vaguest kind, and, as after-events proved, intended to mislead him. Washington having advised La Fayette to accept the commission, the marquis departed, 50taking with him his countryman, the Baron de Kalb, as second in command. As authority for these statements, we would refer to the “Mémoires et Manuscrits” of La Fayette, published by his family in Paris, in 1837, in which La Fayette himself declares these facts, and where the following letter appears. A note is also added by his son, which says: “He wrote to Congress that he could not accept the command only upon the condition that he should remain subordinate to General Washington, and should be considered as an officer despatched by him, to whom he should address his letters, of which those received at the bureau of war should be but duplicates. These demands, and all others which he had made, were granted.” The result of this expedition may be learned by the accompanying letter from La Fayette to Washington.

In previous letters, which we will not quote, the marquis entered into minute details regarding the entire expedition, from the time of his departure until his arrival at Albany, enumerating the many strange and suspicious circumstances which came to his knowledge. He then sums up the situation in the following letter:—

My dear General: I have an opportunity of writing to your Excellency, which I will not miss by any means, even should I be afraid of becoming tedious and troublesome; but if they have sent me far from you, I don’t know for what purpose, at least I must make some little use of my pen, to prevent all communication from being cut off between your Excellency and myself. I have written lately to you my distressing, ridiculous, foolish, and indeed nameless situation. I am sent with great noise, at the head of an army, for doing great things; the 51whole continent, France and Europe herself, and what is the worst, the British army, are in great expectations. How far they will be deceived, how far we shall be ridiculed, you may judge by the candid account you have got of the state of affairs.

“There are things, I dare say, in which I am deceived; a certain colonel is not here for nothing; one other gentleman became very popular before I came to this place: Arnold himself is very fond of him. Every side on which I turn to look I am sure a cloud is drawn before my eyes; but there are points I cannot be deceived upon. The want of money, the dissatisfaction among the soldiers, the disinclination of every one (except the Canadians, who thereby would stay at home) for this expedition, are as conspicuous as possible. I am sure I shall become very ridiculous and be laughed at. My expedition will be as famous as the secret expedition against Rhode Island. I confess, my dear General, that I find myself of very sensitive feelings whenever my reputation and glory are concerned in anything. It is very hard indeed that such a part of my happiness, without which I cannot live, should depend upon schemes which I never knew of but when there was no time to put them into execution. I assure you, my most dear and respected friend, that I am more unhappy than I ever was.

“My desire for doing something was such that I have thought of doing it by surprise, with a detachment, but this seems to me rash and quite impossible. I should be very happy if you were here to give me some advice, but I have nobody to consult with. They have sent to me more than twenty French officers, but I do not know what to do with them. I beg you will acquaint me with the line of conduct you advise me to follow on every point. I am at a loss how to act, and indeed I do not 52know what I am here for myself. However, as being the highest officer (after General Arnold) who has desired me to take the command, I think it is my duty to guard the affairs of this part of America as well as I can. Though General Gates holds the title and power of commander-in-chief of the Northern Department, as two hundred thousand dollars have arrived, I have taken upon myself to pay the most important of the debts we are involved in. I am about sending provisions to Fort Schuyler; and will go and see the fort. I will try to get some clothes for the troops, and buy some articles for the next campaign. I have directed some money to be borrowed upon my credit to satisfy the soldiers, who are much discontented. In all I endeavor to do for the best, though I have no particular authority or instructions. I will come as near as I can to General Gates’ intentions, but I anxiously desire to get an answer to my letters.

“I fancy (between us) that the actual scheme is to have me out of this part of the continent, and General Conway in chief command under the immediate direction of General Gates. How they will bring it about I do not know, but you may be sure something of that kind will appear. You are nearer than myself, and every honest man in Congress is your friend; therefore you can foresee and prevent, if possible, the evil, a hundred times better than I can. I would only give the idea to your Excellency.

“Will you be so good as to present my respects to your lady? With the most tender affection and highest respect I have the honor to be, etc.”

Deeply sympathizing with the trying position of the high-spirited young marquis, Washington used his influence to have him recalled; but in such manner as should 53honor his fidelity and exonerate his name from any blame. His kind efforts in behalf of La Fayette were successful, and on the second of March the Board of War was directed “to instruct the Marquis de La Fayette to suspend for the present the intended invasion, and at the same time inform him that Congress entertained a high sense of his prudence, activity, and zeal; and that they were fully persuaded nothing has or would have been wanting on his part, or on the part of the officers who accompanied him, to give the expedition the utmost possible effect.”

La Fayette accordingly returned to Valley Forge, and rejoined Washington. How inexpressibly comforting to the harassed heart of Washington must have been the faithfulness of this young knight, who laid his sword and fortune at the feet of his adopted father, before whose character and virtue he bowed with devotion and stanch loyalty.

On the 19th of May, 1778, Sir William Howe, then commanding the British troops occupying Philadelphia, planned to give the fair Tory ladies a delightful surprise. Valley Forge was about twenty miles from Philadelphia, and already Washington had begun several manœuvres in the opening campaign. La Fayette had been detached with a picked company of two thousand men, and ordered to cross the Schuylkill, and take up his post as an advance guard of the army. In accordance with these instructions, the marquis had stationed himself at Barren Hill, about midway between Valley Forge and Philadelphia. This interesting piece of news soon reached Sir William Howe, and he thereupon determined to entrap the marquis, and exhibit him at a banquet which he had ordered to be prepared, and to which he had invited his lady friends, promising that they should upon that 54occasion behold the captured marquis, whose fame, fortune, youth, and chivalry had long engaged their attention and excited their deepest curiosity, and caused them eagerly to desire a sight of this young nobleman.

But Sir William Howe and his fair Tory friends reckoned without their host. Though the marquis was scarcely twenty-one, he was not so easily outwitted by even such a military tactician as the renowned British commander. He also heard of this fine plan to entrap him, and determined by a hazardous and brilliant manœuvre to elude his foe. There was but one method practicable, but it required great daring and cunning. La Fayette was convinced that he must recross the river. To attempt this seemed destruction; but his inventive wit and quick planning came to his rescue. He would feign an attack, himself lead a portion of his band boldly against the British general, who had been stationed by Howe to guard the ford. This he did, meanwhile ordering the remainder of his men to cross the river under cover of this stratagem. The plan was entirely successful. The British, imagining that La Fayette’s whole division was coming against them, halted and prepared for battle. This delay was La Fayette’s opportunity; perceiving that part of his troops had crossed the river, according to directions, he slowly withdrew his own forces, and ere his enemies were aware, his entire band had arrived on the other side of the river; and when the British reached Barren Hill, La Fayette’s late camp, their intended prey had escaped and were marching towards Valley Forge.

“Finding the bird flown, the English returned to Philadelphia, spent with fatigue and ashamed of having done nothing. The ladies did not see M. de La Fayette, and General Howe himself arrived too late for supper.”

55General Washington had watched through a glass the imminent peril which threatened the marquis; and when he clasped him in his arms, his heart was stirred, and his eyes glistened with deep feeling. Loud acclamations saluted the gallant band of soldiers, and their young leader became only second in their hearts to Washington. From that moment the influence of La Fayette was unlimited. His youth made his exploit all the more remarkable, and his courage won their profoundest admiration.

M. Chastellux, in his work entitled “Journey from Newport to Philadelphia,” thus wrote of La Fayette’s influence in the army: “We availed ourselves of the cessation of the rain to accompany his Excellency [General Washington] to the camp of the marquis [General La Fayette]. We found all his troops ranged in line of battle on the heights to the left, and himself at their head, expressing both by his deportment and physiognomy that he preferred seeing me there to receiving me at his estate in Auvergne. The confidence and attachment of his troops are most precious in his eyes; for he looks upon that species of wealth as one of which he cannot be deprived. But what I find still more flattering to a young man of his age, is the influence which he has acquired in political as well as in military circles. I have no fear of being contradicted when I assert that mere letters from him have often had more influence in some of the states of the Union than the strongest invitations on the part of the Congress. On seeing him it is difficult to determine which is the more surprising circumstance, that a young man should have already given so many proofs of talent, or that a man so proved should still leave so much room for hope. Happy will his country be if she knows how to avail herself of his 56aid; and happier still, should that aid become superfluous to her!”

But just as the welcome words of commendation from his beloved chief fell upon the ear of La Fayette, sad tidings were wafted to him from over the sea. The darling little Henriette, who had not yet learned to lisp her father’s name when he parted with her, but since then had tried with baby prattle to tell her love for her cher papa, had been stricken down; the infant tongue had been silenced, the wondering eyes closed, and the devoted father must wait until he too passed beyond life’s river, to be recognized by his much-loved Henriette.

With sorrowful heart he pens these touching lines to his idolized wife:—

“What a dreadful thing is absence! I never experienced before all the horrors of separation. My own deep sorrow is aggravated by the feeling that I am not able to share and sympathize in your anguish. The length of time that elapsed before I heard of this event also increased my misery. Consider, my love, what a dreadful thing it must be to weep for what I have lost, and tremble for what remains. The distance between Europe and America appears to me more enormous than ever. The loss of our poor child is almost constantly in my thoughts. This sad news followed almost immediately that of the treaty; and while my heart was torn by grief, I was obliged to receive and take part in expressions of public joy.

“If the unfortunate news had reached me sooner, I should have set out immediately to rejoin you; but the account of the treaty, which we received the first of May, prevented me from leaving this country. The opening campaign does not allow me to retire. I have always been perfectly convinced that by serving the 57cause of humanity and that of America I serve also the interests of France.

“Embrace a million times our little Anastasie; alas! she is all that we have left. I feel that my divided tenderness is now concentrated upon her. Take the best care of her. Adieu!”



Battle of Monmouth—General Lee’s Seeming Treachery—Washington on the Field—La Fayette’s Coolness in the Face of Danger—An Incident of the Battle—Arrival of the French Fleet—La Fayette’s Sagacity in Negotiations—Resolution of Congress commending him—Letter from the President of Congress—La Fayette’s Reply—La Fayette’s Letter to Washington—Washington’s Affectionate Answer—La Fayette solicits Leave of Absence to return to France—Washington’s Letter to Congress—La Fayette’s Letter to the President of Congress—Congress grants the Request—La Fayette’s Illness—Anxiety regarding him displayed by Washington and the Army—His Recovery—A Visitor describes his Appearance—Letter to Washington from on Board the Alliance—Dangers at Sea—La Fayette’s Arrival in France—Virginie La Fayette describes the Joy occasioned by the Return of her Father—La Fayette’s Letter to President Laurens—Sword presented to La Fayette by Congress—La Fayette’s Efforts in France in Behalf of America—La Fayette returns to America—His Note to Washington announcing his Arrival—His Reception in Boston—Congress renders Thanks to the Young Marquis—Discouragements in the Army—Treachery of Benedict Arnold—La Fayette’s Letter regarding the Plot—La Fayette’s Letter to his Wife—Appointed to the Command of the Virginia Troops—Discouraging Difficulties—La Fayette’s Undaunted Perseverance—His Politic Measures—La Fayette describes his Position to Washington—La Fayette’s Refusal to hold Communication with Arnold—Washington’s Commendation—Lord Cornwallis assumes Command of the English Army—His Contempt for the Youthful Marquis—His Opinion concerning the “Boy”—The Despised “Boy’s” Unexpected Stratagem—Brisk Skirmish—La Fayette’s Commendation of General Wayne—The Marquis outwits Cornwallis by Means of a Spy—La Fayette’s Letter to Washington—Arrival of the French Fleet—Cornwallis 59Entrapped—Loyalty of La Fayette—Arrival of Washington and Rochambeau—Siege of Yorktown—Capitulation of the English—Surrender of Cornwallis—Public Rejoicing—Letter from La Fayette to M. de Maurepas—Also to M. de Vergennes—La Fayette’s Letter to his Wife—His Return to France—Virginie La Fayette describes the Home Picture—Letter to Washington from La Fayette.

“Liberty’s in every blow!
Let us do or die.”—Burns.

ON Sunday, the 28th of June, 1778, the battle of Monmouth was fought. General Lee, who commanded the troops first in action, with seeming treachery ordered a retreat; and though La Fayette endeavored to stem the tide of defeat, a total rout seemed certain, when Washington rode upon the field, and seeing his orders had been disobeyed, he accosted Lee with cutting severity, and gave instant commands to turn about. “Long live Washington!” rang the shout along the ranks, and the white charger, bearing the chieftain, was looked upon as a herald of victory. The irresistible genius of that quiet man turned back the tide of war, and forced the British to retreat, and night alone prevented the Americans from pushing on to a further attack. Everywhere had La Fayette been seen encouraging his men. Where the greatest danger was, there was always his place. With the utmost coolness he gave orders or obeyed the directions of his chief. Colonel Willet, who had volunteered as an aide to General Scott, who commanded the infantry, says that in the hottest of the fight he saw La Fayette ride up, and in a voice cool, steady, and slow, and with as much deliberation as if nothing exciting prevailed, said: “General, the enemy is making an attempt to cut off our right wing—march to its assistance with 60all your force.” So saying, he galloped off, being exceedingly well mounted, though plainly dressed.

An officer under the immediate command of La Fayette said of him at this battle: “I have been charmed with the blooming gallantry and sagacity of the Marquis de La Fayette, who appears to be possessed of every requisite to constitute a great general.”

In the “Historical Anecdotes of the Reign of Louis XVI.,” an incident of this battle is related as follows:—

“During the American war a general officer in the service of the United States advanced with a score of men, under the English batteries, to reconnoitre their position.

“His aide-de-camp, struck by a ball, fell at his side, while the officers and orderly dragoons fled precipitately. The general, though under the fire of the cannon, approached the wounded man to see whether he had any signs of life remaining, or whether any assistance could be afforded him. Finding the wound had been mortal, he turned his eyes away with emotion, and slowly rejoined the group which had gotten out of the reach of the pieces. This instance of courage and humanity took place at the battle of Monmouth. General Clinton, who commanded the English troops, knew that the Marquis de La Fayette usually rode a white horse; and it was upon a white horse that the general officer who retired so slowly was mounted. Sir Henry Clinton, therefore, commanded the gunners not to fire. This noble forbearance probably saved General La Fayette’s life. At that time he was but twenty-two years of age.”

During the summer of 1778 an expedition against Newport, then held by the British, was planned. A French fleet under Count d’Estaing had arrived. The plan was to move against Newport by land and sea. When all was arranged, the Count d’Estaing for some 61reason changed his purpose, and the expedition was necessarily abandoned. In the negotiations La Fayette displayed much zeal, and hearing that the American army was flying before the enemy, he immediately started for the scene, and by his intrepid courage turned the tide of pursuit, and brought back the troops without the loss of a man. This brave conduct of La Fayette met with universal commendation, and in his honor Congress passed the following resolution:—

Resolved, That Mr. President be requested to inform the Marquis de La Fayette that Congress have a due sense of the sacrifice he made of his personal feelings in undertaking a journey to Boston, with a view of promoting the interests of these states, at a time when an occasion was daily expected of his acquiring glory in the field, and that his gallantry in going on to Rhode Island, when the greatest part of the army had retreated, and his good conduct in bringing off the pickets and out-sentinels, deserve their particular approbation.”

Mr. Laurens, who was then President of Congress, accompanied this resolution with the following letter:—

Philadelphia, Sept. 13, 1778.

Sir: I experience a high degree of satisfaction in fulfilling the instructions embraced in the enclosed act of Congress of the ninth instant, which expresses the sentiments of the representatives of the United States of America, relative to your excellent conduct during the expedition recently undertaken against Rhode Island. Receive, Sir, this testimonial on the part of Congress as a tribute of the respect and gratitude offered to you by a free people.

“I have the honor to be with very great respect and esteem, Sir, your obedient and most humble servant,

Henry Laurens, President.”

62To these communications La Fayette replied:—

Camp, Sept. 23, 1778.

“Sir: I have just received the letter of the 13th instant with which you have favored me, and in which you communicate the honor which Congress has been pleased to confer by the adoption of its flattering resolution. Whatever sentiments of pride may be reasonably excited by such marks of approbation, I am not the less sensible of the feelings of gratitude, nor of the satisfaction of believing that my efforts have, in some measure, been considered as useful to a cause in which my heart is so deeply interested. Have the goodness, Sir, to present to Congress my unfeigned and humble thanks, springing from the bottom of my heart, and accompanied with the assurances of my sincere and perfect attachment, as the only homage worthy of being offered to the representatives of a free people.

“From the moment that I first heard the name of America, I loved her; from the moment that I learned her struggles for liberty, I was inflamed with the desire of shedding my blood in her cause; and the moments that may be expended in her service, whenever they may occur, or in whatever part of the world I may be, shall be considered as the happiest of my existence. I feel more ardently than ever the desire of deserving the obliging sentiments with which I am honored by the United States and by their representatives, and the flattering confidence which they have been pleased to repose in me has filled my heart with the liveliest gratitude and most lasting affection.”

La Fayette’s youthful enthusiasm and his love of his country were both so intense that his first impulse was to resent any national slight as a personal affront.

63La Fayette wanted to send a challenge, in 1778, to Lord Carlisle, an English commissioner, who, in a letter to the American Congress, had in his opinion used a phrase insulting to France. Washington at once wrote to him disapproving the challenge.

“The generous spirit of chivalry,” he said, “when banished from the rest of the world has taken refuge, my dear friend, in the highly wrought feelings of your nation. But you cannot do anything if the other party will not second you; and though these feelings may have been suitable to the times to which they belonged, it is to be feared that in our day your adversary, taking shelter behind modern opinions and his public character, may even slightly ridicule so old-fashioned a virtue. Besides, even supposing his lordship should accept your challenge, experience has proved that chance, far more than bravery or justice, decides in such affairs. I therefore should be very unwilling to risk, on this occasion, a life which ought to be reserved for greater things. I trust that his Excellency, Admiral the Count d’Estaing, will agree with me in this opinion, and that so soon as he can part with you, he will send you to headquarters, where I shall be truly glad to welcome you.”

The English commissioner, as Washington had anticipated, declined the challenge upon public grounds, adding: “In my opinion such national disputes may be best settled by the fleets under Admiral Byron and the Count d’Estaing.”

About this time La Fayette wrote from his camp to Washington, as follows:—

“Give me joy, my dear General: I intend to have your picture. Mr. Hancock has promised me a copy of the one he has in Boston. He gave one to Count d’Estaing, and I never saw a man so glad at possessing 64his sweetheart’s picture as the admiral was to receive yours.”

To these fond words Washington thus replied:—

“The sentiments of affection and attachment which breathe so conspicuously in all your letters to me are at once pleasing and honorable, and afford me abundant cause to rejoice at the happiness of my acquaintance with you. Your love of liberty, the just sense you entertain of this valuable blessing, and your noble and disinterested exertions in the cause of it, added to the innate goodness of your heart, conspire to render you dear to me; and I think myself happy in being linked with you in bonds of the strictest friendship.

“The ardent zeal which you have displayed during the whole course of the campaign to the eastward, and your endeavors to cherish harmony among the officers of the allied powers, and to dispel those unfavorable impressions which had begun to take place in the minds of the unthinking, from misfortunes which the utmost stretch of human foresight could not avert, deserved, and now receive, my particular and warmest thanks.

“Could I have conceived that my picture had been an object of your wishes, or in the smallest degree worthy of your attention, I should, while Mr. Peale was in camp at Valley Forge, have got him to take the best portrait of me he could, and presented it to you; but I really had not so good an opinion of my own worth as to suppose that such a compliment would not have been considered as a greater instance of my vanity, than means of your gratification; and therefore, when you requested me to sit to Monsieur Lanfang, I thought it was only to obtain the outlines and a few shades of my features, to have some prints struck from.”

Reports now reached La Fayette that the French ministry 65were planning an attack upon England; whereupon he wrote to the Duke d’Ayen:—

“I should consider myself as almost dishonored if I were not present at such a moment. I should feel so much regret and shame, that I should be tempted to drown or hang myself, according to the English mode. My greatest happiness would be to drive them from this country, and then to repair to England, serving under your command.”

Feeling that his presence was now required in France, and that he could there best serve America, La Fayette solicited from Congress a leave of absence, that he might return to his own country. General Washington sent the following letter to the President of Congress by La Fayette:—

Headquarters, Oct. 6, 1778.

Sir: This letter will be presented to you by Major-General La Fayette. The generous motives which formerly induced him to cross the ocean, and serve in the armies of the United States are known to Congress. The same praiseworthy reasons now urge him to return to his native country, which under the existing circumstances has a claim to his services.

“However anxious he was to fulfil the duty which he owes to his king and country, that powerful consideration could not induce him to leave this continent while the fate of the campaign remains undecided. He is, therefore, determined to remain until the termination of the present campaign, and takes advantage of the present cessation from hostilities to communicate his designs to Congress, so that the necessary arrangements may be made at a convenient season, while he is at hand, if occasion should offer, to distinguish himself in the army.

“At the same time, the marquis, being desirous of 66preserving his connection with this country, and hoping that he may enjoy opportunities of being useful to it as an American officer, only solicits leave of absence, for the purpose of embracing the views which have been already suggested. The pain which it costs me to separate from an officer who possesses all the military fire of youth, with a rare maturity of judgment, would lead me, if the choice depended on my wishes, to place his absence on the footing which he proposes. I shall always esteem it a pleasure to be able to give those testimonials of his service to which they are entitled, from the bravery and conduct which have distinguished him on every occasion; and I do not doubt that Congress will, in a proper manner, express how sensibly they appreciate his merits and how much they regret his departure. I have the honor to be, etc.,

George Washington.”

La Fayette proceeded to Philadelphia, bearing this letter from Washington. Having arrived there, he at once addressed the following letter to the President of Congress:—

Philadelphia, Oct. 13, 1778.

Sir: However attentive I ought to be not to employ the precious moments of Congress in the consideration of private affairs, I beg leave, with that confidence which naturally springs from affection and gratitude, to unfold to them the circumstances in which I am at present situated. It is impossible to speak more appropriately of the sentiments which attach me to my own country than in the presence of citizens who have done so much for their own. So long as I have had the power of regulating my own actions, it has been my pride and pleasure to fight beneath the banners of America in the defence of a cause 67which I may dare more particularly to call ours, as I have shed my blood in its support.

“Now, Sir, that France is engaged in war, I am urged, both by duty and patriotism, to present myself before my sovereign, to know in what manner he may be pleased to employ my services. The most pleasing service that I can render will be that which enables me to serve the common cause among those whose friendships I have had the happiness to obtain, and in whose fortunes I participated when your prospects were less bright than they now are. This motive, together with others which Congress will appreciate, induce me to request permission to return to my own country in the ensuing winter. So long as a hope remained of an active campaign, I never indulged the idea of leaving the army, but the present state of peace and inaction leads me to prefer to Congress this petition. If it should be pleased to grant my request, the arrangements for my departure shall be taken in such a manner that the result of the campaign shall be known before they are put into execution. I enclose a letter from his Excellency, General Washington, consenting to the leave of absence which I wish to obtain. I flatter myself that you will consider me as a soldier on leave of absence, ardently wishing to rejoin his colors as well as his beloved comrades. If, when I return to the midst of my fellow-citizens, it is believed that I can, in any manner, promote the prosperity of America, if my most strenuous exertions can promise any useful results, I trust, Sir, that I shall always be considered as the man who has the prosperity of the United States most at heart, and who entertains for their representatives the most perfect love and esteem. I have the honor to be, etc.,

La Fayette.”

68Congress readily granted this request, and after directing that a letter should be written to La Fayette thanking him for his disinterested zeal and the services which he had rendered to the United States, Congress passed the resolution that: “The Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America at the court of Versailles be directed to cause an elegant sword, with proper devices, to be made and presented in the name of the United States to the Marquis de La Fayette.”

While La Fayette was making his preparations to return to France, he was stricken down by a violent fever which for a time threatened to be fatal. The entire army displayed the most intense interest regarding his state, and great was the joy when the physicians at length announced that the marquis would recover. General Washington visited him daily at Fishkill, where he was taken sick, and paid him every kind and tender attention in his power. During La Fayette’s convalescence a gentleman visited him, who thus describes his appearance at that time:—

“By the request of Colonel Gibson I waited on the Marquis de La Fayette. The Colonel furnished me with a letter of introduction, and his compliments, with inquiries respecting the Marquis’ health. I was received by this nobleman in a polite and affable manner. He is just recovering from a fever, and is in his chair of convalescence. He is nearly six feet high, large, but not corpulent, being not more than twenty-two years of age. He is not very elegant in his form, his shoulders being broad and high, nor is there a perfect symmetry in his features; his forehead is remarkably high, his nose large and long, eyebrows prominent and projecting over a fine animated hazel eye. His countenance is interesting and impressive. He converses in broken English, 69and displays the manners and address of an accomplished gentleman.”

A vessel called the Alliance had been furnished La Fayette for his voyage to France. On January 11, 1779, he penned these farewell lines to Washington, written on board the Alliance:—

“Farewell, my dear General. I hope your French friend will ever be dear to you. I hope I shall soon see you again, and tell you myself with what emotion I now leave the coast you inhabit, and with what affection and respect I am forever, my dear General, your respectful and sincere friend,

La Fayette.”

But notwithstanding the face of the young marquis was thus set homeward, it was not all smooth sailing. Terrible storms tossed the little vessel to and fro, and for a time it seemed as though the huge waves would engulf the frigate. The main top-mast was blown away, the vessel rolled upon the heavy swells, apparently at the mercy of the tempest, while the dashing billows broke over the dismantled craft, which was soon half filled with water, and seemed doomed to destruction.

But the darkness of the stormy night was followed by the radiance of a calm and lovely morning. The golden sunshine flooded the surface of the ocean, and the Alliance sailed safely on her homeward way. But storms were not the only dangers which beset the path of La Fayette. A mutinous plot was formed among the sailors, and only the promptness and energy of the marquis, in ordering the arrest of thirty-one of the mutineers, and placing them in irons, so awed the others that tranquillity was secured.

With what inexpressible eagerness La Fayette must have turned to watch the first glimpse of his beloved land—that 70land where dwelt his idolized wife and little babe whose eyes had never yet rested on its father’s face.

His fame had gone before him, and his name was known and spoken with pride and honor in every city and hamlet of his native country. La Fayette landed at Brest in February.

His daughter thus describes her mother’s ecstasy at this longed-for meeting:—

“The intensity of my mother’s joy was beyond all expression.

“This happiness was soon disturbed by fresh alarms which prevented her enjoying in peace my father’s return. A projected invasion of England detained him a long time on the coast. During his stay in France he was continually employed in preparing fresh enterprises. My mother’s health was shaken at once by past anxieties and by the dread of future dangers. On the 24th of December, 1779, my brother was born.”

This brother of Virginie La Fayette was named George Washington La Fayette, in honor of his father’s revered friend. The expedition against England was, however, abandoned; and La Fayette turned his attention to forwarding the interests of America, by soliciting for her army assistance in men, money, and clothing. So earnest was his zeal that he offered to pledge his entire fortune in the cause of the Republic. He wrote as follows to President Laurens:—

“The affairs of America I shall ever look upon as my first business while I am in Europe. Any confidence from the king and ministers, any popularity I may have among my own countrymen, any means in my power, shall be, to the best of my skill, and to the end of my life, exerted in behalf of an interest I have so much at heart. If Congress believe that my influence may serve 71them in any way, I beg they will direct such orders to me, that I may the more certainly and properly employ the knowledge which I have of this court and country for obtaining a success in which my heart is so much interested.

“The flattering affection with which Congress and the American nation are pleased to honor me, makes me very desirous of letting them know—if I dare speak so frankly—how I enjoyed my private position. Happy in the sight of my friends and family, after I was by your attentive kindness safely brought again to my native shore, I met with such an honorable reception, and such kind sentiments as far exceeded any wishes I could have conceived. I am indebted for that inexpressible satisfaction which the good will of my countrymen towards me affords to my heart, to their ardent love for America, to the cause of freedom and its defenders, their new allies, and to the idea which they entertain, that I have had the happiness to serve the United States. To these motives, Sir, and to the letter Congress was pleased to write on my account, I owe the many favors the king has conferred upon me. Without delay I was appointed to the command of his own regiment of dragoons, and everything he could have done, everything I could have wished, I have received on account of your kind recommendations.”

The sword which Congress had voted should be presented to him was finished in August. It was of very elegant workmanship. Among other elaborate designs with which it was ornamented were representations of the battle of Gloucester, the retreat of Barren Hill, the battle of Monmouth, and the retreat of Rhode Island. The sword was presented to the Marquis de La Fayette by a grandson of Dr. Franklin, accompanied by a letter 72written by Benjamin Franklin, in which he said, “By the help of the exquisite artists France affords, I find it easy to express everything but the sense we have of your worth and our obligations to you.”

So enthusiastic were La Fayette’s efforts in behalf of America, and such was his perseverance, that the prime minister of France exclaimed in astonishment, “He would unfurnish the palace of Versailles to clothe the American army!” to which La Fayette, eagerly responded, “I would!

At length La Fayette received the welcome tidings that the king and ministry had at last acceded to his repeated requests; and he was instructed “to proceed immediately to join General Washington, and to communicate to him the secret that the king, willing to give the United States a new proof of his affection and of his interest in their security, is resolved to send to their aid, at the opening of the spring, six vessels of the line and six thousand regular troops of infantry.”

On the 19th of March, 1780, La Fayette sailed from France to bear to America this joyful news; and at the entrance of Boston harbor he wrote these words of greeting to Washington, and despatched them by a messenger to announce his arrival:—

“Here I am, my dear General, and in the midst of the joy I feel in finding myself again one of your loving soldiers, I take but the time to tell you that I came from France on board a frigate which the king gave me for my passage. I have affairs of the utmost importance, which I should at first communicate to you alone. In case my letter finds you anywhere this side of Philadelphia, I beg you will wait for me, and do assure you a great public good may be derived from it. To-morrow we go up to the town, and the day after I shall set off in 73my usual way to join my beloved and respected friend and general.”

When La Fayette landed in Boston he was received with marked attention. The day was given up to public rejoicing; bells were rung, cannon boomed, and the shouts of the cheering multitude, mingled with the strains of martial music, as America paid homage to her adopted son. But these public honors, gratifying as they were, could not detain the faithful young hero, whose first desire was to clasp to his heart the form of his adopted father and to look into the face of his beloved general. Perhaps nowhere else in history is another instance of such peculiar love and lasting friendship as was displayed by La Fayette and Washington. The young knight bowed at the feet of his chief, regarding him as something almost more than mortal in the perfection of his character and the attraction of his nature; while the general, upon whose shoulders rested the responsibility of a nation, felt his heart lightened and his soul comforted by the sympathy and appreciation of this self-sacrificing young marquis.

Congress was not tardy now in rendering appropriate thanks to the young marquis, and passed a resolution in his honor. But Congress was not so ready to come to the help of the suffering American army. Washington again made an appeal in their behalf. “For the troops to be without clothing at any time,” he wrote, “is highly injurious to the service and distressing to our feelings; but the want will be more peculiarly mortifying when they come to act with those of our allies.”

La Fayette, as usual, started a relief fund from his private purse, offering the ladies of Philadelphia, who were making donations in aid of the suffering troops, one hundred guineas in the name of Madame La Fayette.

74Amid innumerable discouragements Washington prepared for the coming campaign. It was not until July that the long-expected French fleet arrived, and then only part of the promised assistance. Five thousand five hundred men were sent, leaving two thousand, with all the arms, munitions of war, and clothing promised to La Fayette, to follow later. The intention of the American army had been to unite with the French allies in an attack upon New York. But the second part of the French fleet was blockaded in the port of Brest by a British squadron, thus disconcerting all the plans of the allies. The immediate attack upon New York was accordingly abandoned.

It was in September of this year, 1780, that the treachery of Benedict Arnold was consummated. Washington had, at the earnest solicitation of La Fayette, left the camp to meet with Count de Rochambeau, the leader of the French forces, and the Chevalier de Ternay, the admiral of the French fleet. This important interview had been arranged to take place at Hartford, Conn. It was during the absence of Washington that the traitor Arnold carried into execution his infamous plot. La Fayette thus describes his discovery of the nefarious deed, in a letter to the Chevalier de la Luzerne:—

“When I parted from you yesterday, Sir, to come and breakfast here with General Arnold, we were far from foreseeing the event which I am now going to relate to you. You will shudder at the danger to which we were exposed; you will admire the miraculous chain of unexpected events and singular chances which have saved us; but you will be still more astonished when you learn by what instrument this conspiracy has been formed. West Point was sold,—and sold by Arnold,—the same 75man who formerly acquired glory by rendering such immense services to his country. He had lately entered in a horrible compact with the enemy and but for the accident which brought us here at a certain hour, but for the combination of chances that threw the adjutant-general of the British army into the hands of some peasants, beyond the limits of our stations, at West Point and on the North River, they would both at present, in all probability, be in the possession of the enemy.



“When we set out yesterday for Fishkill, we were preceded by one of my aides-de-camp and one of General Washington’s [Colonels Hamilton and McHenry], who found General Arnold and his wife at breakfast, and sat down at the table with them. While they were together, two letters were given to Arnold, which apprised him of the arrest of the spy. He ordered a horse to be saddled, went into his wife’s room to tell her he was ruined, and desired his aide-de-camp to inform General Washington that he was going to West Point, and would return in the course of an hour.

“On our arrival here we crossed the river and went to examine the works. You may conceive our astonishment when we learned, on our return, that the arrested spy was Major André, adjutant-general of the English army; and when among his papers were discovered the copy of an important council of war, the state of the garrison and works, and observations upon various means of attack and defence, the whole in Arnold’s own handwriting.

“The adjutant-general wrote also to the general avowing his name and situation. Orders were sent to arrest Arnold; but he escaped in a boat, got on board the English frigate, the Vulture, and as no person suspected his flight, he was not stopped at any post. Colonel 76Hamilton, who had gone in pursuit of him, received soon after, by a flag of truce, a letter from Arnold to the general, in which he entered into details to justify his treachery, and a letter from the English commander, Robertson, who, in a very insolent manner, demanded that the adjutant-general should be delivered up to them, as he had only acted with the permission of General Arnold.”

La Fayette was one of the fourteen generals who tried Major André, and who were forced to the painful decision that the interests of America demanded that he should suffer the extreme penalty of the law, as a spy, which was death by hanging. Washington would have been glad to exchange André for the traitor Arnold, that to him might be meted out his just deserts; but Sir Henry Clinton would not give up Arnold, though he made efforts to save André. Arnold’s villany was afterwards rewarded by the commission of brigadier-general in the British army, and he was placed at the head of some English troops then ravaging the southern part of Virginia. His malignant spirit gloated in acts of atrocious cruelty, and he allowed his men to pillage and destroy, sparing neither old nor young, neither women nor children.

La Fayette now entered upon a series of marches, manœuvres, skirmishes, and strategic expeditions, which ended at last in the capture of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown: this was largely due to La Fayette’s successive masterly stratagems and skilful plans. It has been said of La Fayette, that his name was never tarnished by a single military blunder. Others have displayed equal courage in the face of dangers, and calmness on the field of battle, but his military genius consisted in a tact and skill in extricating an army from apparently insurmountable 77perils that would have baffled veteran generals well versed in the stratagems of war.

But the untiring soldier was none the less a tender father and devoted husband; in the midst of preparations for the coming campaign he snatches a moment to write thus fondly to his “dearest heart”:—

“The Americans continue to testify for me the greatest kindness. There is no proof of affection which I do not receive each day from the army and nation. I experience for the American officers and soldiers that friendship which arises from having shared with them for a length of time dangers, sufferings, and both good and evil fortune. We began by struggling together, for our affairs have often been at the lowest possible ebb. It is gratifying to me to crown this work with them by giving the European troops a high idea of the soldiers who have been allied with us. To all these motives of interest for the cause and the army are joined my sentiments of regard for General Washington.

“Embrace our children a thousand and a thousand times for me. Their father, although a wanderer, is not less tender, nor less constantly occupied with them, and not less happy at receiving news from them. My heart dwells with peculiar delight on the moment when those dear children will be presented to me by you, and when we can embrace and caress them together.”

Having sent this loving message across the sea, the young knight-errant entered upon another campaign in defence of liberty. Sir Henry Clinton had sent out two thousand men under General Phillips to re-enforce Arnold in Virginia. Learning this, Washington despatched La Fayette to Virginia, to take command of the troops there collecting, and to prevent, if possible, any junction of Phillips with Cornwallis. The marquis was only too 78eager for active duty, and took up his line of march with the troops previously under his charge, for Baltimore. But these northern soldiers soon began to express their dissatisfaction with such an expedition. They were without tents, shoes, hats, and, as the marquis said, “in a state of shocking nakedness”; and they refused to continue this unlooked-for march. To render his condition still more distressing, La Fayette was informed by the Board of War that they were utterly unable to render his troops any aid.

La Fayette’s nature seemed rather to be nerved by obstacles to greater strength and superior judgment than weakened and discouraged. A perplexing dilemma was often his greatest opportunity. Washington could not aid him, the Board of War announced themselves powerless; and La Fayette was left to face his overwhelming perplexities alone.

He boldly issued an order to his troops, in which he sympathized with their hardships, and frankly told them that he was about to enter upon an enterprise, of great difficulty and danger, and expressed his confidence that his soldiers would join him in the hazardous expedition. But if any should be unwilling to accompany him, he assured them that a free permit would be given them to join their corps in the North, and that by applying to him, they could be saved from the crime and disgrace of desertion. Not a man after that left the heroic band, and a lame sergeant hired a place in a cart that he might keep up with the army.

Arriving at Baltimore, La Fayette borrowed upon his personal credit ten thousand dollars, which he immediately appropriated to supplying the needs of his soldiers. He wrote to General Greene thus:—

“As our brave and excellent men are shockingly destitute 79of linen, I have borrowed, from the merchants of Baltimore a sum on my credit which will amount to to about two thousand pounds, and will procure hats, shoes, blankets, and a pair of linen overalls to each man. I hope to set the Baltimore ladies at work upon the shirts, which will be sent after me, and the overalls will be made by our tailors. I will use my influence to have the money added to the loan which the French court have made to the United States, and in case I cannot succeed, bind myself to the merchants for payment, with interest, in two years.”

Most willingly did the ladies of Baltimore give their aid in preparing garments for the troops, and La Fayette proceeded with his division towards Virginia. Phillips and Arnold had separated their forces for a time, that they might better carry on their work of pillaging; but in April they reunited their divisions, and planned an attack upon Richmond.

But the vigilant marquis was before them; marching with great celerity, he entered and took possession of the city, and was there joined by Baron Steuben, with his corps of regular troops, and by General Nelson, with a band of Virginia militia. The chagrin of the British was intense when they discovered that they had been outwitted by La Fayette and that he had gained this important post.

La Fayette thus describes to Washington his position at this time:—

“When General Phillips retreated from Richmond, his project was to stop at Williamsburg, there to collect contributions which he had imposed. This induced me to take a position between Pamunkey and Chickahominy rivers, which equally covered Richmond and some other interesting parts of the state, and from where I detached 80General Nelson with some militia towards Williamsburg. Having got as low down as that place, General Phillips seemed to discover an intention to make a landing, but upon advices received by a vessel from Portsmouth, the enemy weighed anchor, and, with all the sail they could crowd, hastened up the river.

“This intelligence made me apprehensive that the enemy intended to manœuvre me out of Richmond, where I returned immediately, and again collected our small force. Intelligence was the same day received that Lord Cornwallis—who, I had been assured, had embarked at Wilmington—was marching through North Carolina. This was confirmed by the landing of General Phillips at Brandon, south side of James River.

“Apprehending that both armies would meet at a central point, I marched towards Petersburg, and intended to have established a communication over Appomattox and James rivers; but on the 9th General Phillips took possession of Petersburg, a place where, his right flank being covered by James River, his front by Appomattox, on which the brigades had been destroyed in the first part of the invasion, and his left not being open to assault except by a long circuit through fords that at this season are very uncertain, I could not—even with an equal force—have got any chance of fighting him unless I had given up this side of James River and the country from which re-enforcements are expected. It being the enemy’s choice to force us to an action, while their own position insured them against our enterprises, I thought it proper to shift this situation, and marched the greater part of our troops to this place [Welton], about ten miles below Richmond. Letters from General Nash, General Jones, and General Sumner are positive as to the arrival of Colonel Tarleton, and announce that of Lord Cornwallis at Halifax.

81“Having received a request from North Carolina for ammunition, I made a detachment of five hundred men, under General Muhlenburg, to escort twenty thousand cartridges over Appomattox, and, to divert the enemy’s attention, Colonel Gimat, with his battalion and four field-pieces, commanded their position from this side of the river. I hope our ammunition will arrive safely, as before General Muhlenburg returned he put it in a safe road with proper directions. On the 13th General Phillips died, and the command devolved upon General Arnold. General Wayne’s detachment has not yet been heard from. Before he arrives it becomes very dangerous to risk an engagement where—as the British armies are vastly superior to us—we shall certainly be beaten, and by the loss of arms, the dispersion of militia, and the difficulty of a junction with General Wayne, we may lose a less dangerous chance of resistance.”

La Fayette, meanwhile, endeavored to strengthen his forces, and so disciplined his troops that they became prepared to act with the greatest efficiency and celerity at a moment’s notice. It was at this time that La Fayette received a letter from Arnold, in continuance of a correspondence which the marquis had opened with Phillips previous to his death, regarding an exchange of prisoners. When the letter from the infamous traitor was brought to him by a messenger, La Fayette refused to touch the document, while he assured the bearer that he would hold no communication whatever with its author, adding, “In case any other English officer should honor him with a letter, he would always be happy to give the officers every testimony of esteem.”

General Washington warmly commended this action, and wrote to La Fayette: “Your conduct upon every occasion meets my approbation, but in none more than in your refusing to hold correspondence with Arnold.”

82Lord Cornwallis now assumed chief command of the English army. On the 24th of May Cornwallis crossed the James River, at the head of all his troops, and made his first direct advance upon La Fayette. The marquis had retreated to Richmond, and thus writes to Washington: “Were I anyways equal to the enemy, I should be extremely happy; but I am not strong enough even to get beaten. The government in this state has no energy, and the laws have no force; but I hope the present Assembly will put matters on a better footing. I had a great deal of trouble to put things in a tolerable train; our expenses were enormous, and yet we can get nothing. Arrangements for the present would seem to put on a better face but for this superiority of the enemy, who will chase us wherever they please. They can overrun the country, and, until the Pennsylvanians arrive, we are next to nothing in point of opposition to so large a force. This country begins to be as familiar to me as Tappan and Bergen. Our soldiers are hitherto very healthy. I have turned doctor, and regulate their diet.”

The English looked with exultation and disdain upon their apparently weak foe, and Lord Cornwallis wrote with confidence, “The boy cannot escape me!” But the despised “boy” was of a more heroic and irresistible nature than the proud general imagined, and would yet give him a most perplexing chase, and at length catch his boastful foe in so cunning a trap that all the English hosts could not deliver him; and this same “boy” should stand by and witness his surrender.


For some time a sort of military game of “hide-and-seek” was kept up by Lord Cornwallis and La Fayette. It was Cornwallis’ plan to entrap him; it was La Fayette’s plan to elude him. The marquis moved his division with such unexpected celerity, that when the English general 83thought that he had him securely hedged in at any particular point, he would straightway find, to his chagrin, that his antagonist was miles away, sometimes before him, sometimes behind him, now on this side, then on that, and on one occasion, in order to guard some valuable stores at Albemarle Old Court House, La Fayette passed his foe in the night; and while Cornwallis supposed that he had so disposed of his force that the enemy must be entrapped, and smiled to himself at the easy manner in which the prey would fall into his hands in the morning, as all the roads to Albemarle Court House had been carefully guarded, the marquis played his own little strategic game, and when the day dawned, the proud English lord, with deep mortification, received tidings that his adversary was already before him, on the direct road to Albemarle, and his English lordship had been baffled in securing either the coveted stores or the more coveted American army.

On the 6th of July occurred a brisk skirmish between the opposing forces. The British army were crossing the James River, on the march from Williamsburg to Portsmouth. La Fayette, thinking that the larger part of the troops had already crossed, ordered an attack to be made upon what he supposed to be the rear-guard. This time he had indeed fallen into one of Lord Cornwallis’ traps. In order to deceive the Americans, only a small detachment had been sent forward, and when it was attacked by the force under General Wayne, known as “Mad Antony,” the little band of Americans found themselves facing the entire English force. La Fayette, who was stationed at a short distance with the main army, rightly conjectured, from the very heavy firing, that more than a rear-guard were engaged, and sent assistance to Wayne, with orders to fall back. So swift 84had been the attack and so sudden the retreat, that Cornwallis suspected a snare, and did not follow up his triumph.

General Wayne thus described the attack: “This was a severe conflict. Our field officers were generally dismounted by having their horses killed or wounded under them. I will not condole with the marquis for the loss of two of his as he was frequently requested to keep at a greater distance. His natural bravery rendered him deaf to admonition.”

General Wayne’s conduct was thus praised by La Fayette: “It is enough for the glory of General Wayne and the officers and men he commanded to have attacked the whole British army with a reconnoitring party only, close to their encampment, and by this severe skirmish hastened their retreat over the river.”

Active warfare was now for a time suspended. Cornwallis was intrenched at Portsmouth, and La Fayette occupied himself in watching his enemy with untiring vigilance. The marquis succeeded in having his own servant hired by Cornwallis as a spy, and by this means, as the man was always true to his first master, La Fayette was enabled to keep well posted concerning all the movements in the opposing encampment.

To General Washington La Fayette thus writes:—

“I am an entire stranger to everything that passes out of Virginia, and Virginia operations being for the present in a state of languor, I have more time to think of my solitude. In a word, my dear General, I am homesick, and if I cannot go to headquarters, wish, at least, to hear from thence. I am anxious to know your opinion concerning the Virginia campaign. That the subjugation of this state was the great object of the ministry is an indisputable fact. I think your diversion 85has been of more use to the state than my manœuvres, but the latter have been much directed by political views. So long as my lord wished for an action, not one gun has been fired; but the moment he declined it, we began skirmishing, though I took care never to commit the army. His naval superiority, his superiority of horse, of regulars, his thousand advantages over us, are such that I am lucky to have come off safe. I had an eye upon European negotiations, and made it a point to give his lordship the disgrace of a retreat.

“From every account, it appears that a part of the army will embark. The light infantry, the guards, the 80th Regiment, and Queen’s Rangers are, it is said, destined for New York. Lord Cornwallis, I am told, is much disappointed in his hopes of command. Should he go to England, we are, I think, to rejoice for it. He is a cold and active man,—two dangerous qualities in this southern war.

“The clothing you long ago sent to the light infantry has not yet arrived. I have been obliged to send for it, and expect it in a few days. These three battalions are the best troops that ever took the field. My confidence in them is unbounded. They are far superior to any British troops, and none will ever venture to meet them in equal numbers. What a pity these men are not employed along with the French grenadiers; they would do eternal honor to our arms! But their presence here, I must confess, has saved this state, and, indeed, the southern part of the continent.”

Hearing that the expected French fleet was to arrive in Chesapeake Bay, instead of New York harbor, the contemplated attack upon New York was abandoned by Washington, and Virginia was chosen as the scene of action. Washington accordingly prepared for a southern 86movement with great prudence and secrecy. Count de Rochambeau was in favor of the expedition, and readily assented to join Washington’s forces with the French under his command. For a time Washington did not dare to make known his plans to La Fayette, lest his despatches should fall into the hands of the enemy; but he requested La Fayette to remain in Virginia, adding, “You will not regret this, especially when I tell you that, from the change of circumstances with which the removal of part of the enemy’s forces from Virginia to New York will be attended, it is more than probable we shall also entirely change our plan of operations.”

This hint was sufficient for the keen-witted marquis, who answered: “I am of the opinion, with you, that I had better remain in Virginia. I have pretty well understood you, my dear General, but should be happy to have more minute details, which, I am aware, cannot be intrusted to letters.”

La Fayette also wrote to his wife: “It was not prudent in the general to confide to me such a command. If I had been unfortunate, the public would have called that partiality an error of judgment.”

But Washington well knew the character and capacity of the young marquis, and trusted him probably more than his older and more experienced generals. La Fayette had already proved that his courage would never lead him to make rash ventures, but when hazardous enterprises were necessary, no danger could unnerve him, and no unexpected dilemma could confuse him.

On the 30th of August the French fleet under Count de Grasse arrived. The Marquis de Saint-Simon landed with three thousand men, and La Fayette joined his force to them and took up a strong position at Williamsburg. 87Washington having completely outwitted General Clinton, by feigning an intended attack on New York, had started on the 19th of August, with the entire American army, and, crossing the Hudson, they began their march to Virginia.

In announcing their departure to La Fayette, Washington wrote to the marquis, enjoining upon him the closest watchfulness, lest the enemy should escape his vigilance, adding: “As it will be of great importance towards the success of our present enterprise that the enemy, on the arrival of the fleet, should not have it in their power to effect retreat, I cannot omit to repeat to you my most earnest wish that the land and naval forces which you will have with you may so combine their operations that the British army may not be able to escape. The particular mode of doing this I shall not, at this distance, attempt to dictate. Your own knowledge of the country, from your long continuance in it, and the various and extensive movements which you have made, have given you great opportunities for observation, of which I am persuaded your military genius and judgment will lead you to make the best improvement. You will, my dear Marquis, keep me constantly advised of every important event respecting the enemy or yourself.”

Cornwallis, who had taken his position at York and Gloucester, where he had been actively engaged in erecting heavy fortifications, now suddenly found himself completely surrounded by his foes, being blockaded by sea and land, with hardly a possibility of escape. He sent an urgent request to Sir Henry Clinton for succor, and finding, after having carefully reconnoitred La Fayette’s position at Williamsburg, that any attempt to pass it and retreat to the South would be useless, 88he awaited with impatience his expected re-enforcements.

La Layette’s loyalty to Washington and his faithful obedience was at this time severely tried. As the Count de Grasse had permission to serve on the American coast only until the middle of October, and as he and the Marquis St. Simon were anxious to distinguish themselves, they urged La Fayette to make an immediate attack upon the enemy, without awaiting the arrival of Washington and the Count de Rochambeau. “It is right,” they argued, “that you who have had all the difficulties of this campaign should now be rewarded with the glory of its successful termination.” They represented that the incomplete state of the fortifications of Cornwallis made his defeat sure, as he could not resist a sudden attack. These were powerful reasons to the young and impulsive marquis; but his loyalty and better judgment prevailed, and he resisted all appeals to commence the attack, and waited in patience the arrival of Washington and Rochambeau.

On the 14th of September Washington and Rochambeau arrived at Williamsburg, and La Fayette was rejoiced to behold the consummation of one of his fondest wishes, which was to see Washington at the head of the united French and American armies. Plans were immediately completed for the siege of Yorktown. Washington highly approved of all the measures adopted by La Fayette, and a brilliant success seemed certain.

But a new difficulty unexpectedly arose, which was only removed by the persuasive influence of La Fayette. Information reached the French admiral that the British fleet in New York had received important additions, and he thereupon determined to sail directly against the 89English fleet. Washington perceived that if they were deserted by the French fleet, their victory over Cornwallis might be very uncertain. He accordingly wrote a letter to Count de Grasse, and sent it by La Fayette, urging the marquis to use his personal influence to prevent this calamity. La Fayette realized the crisis of affairs, and successfully appealed to the count; and the French fleet therefore remained to aid the American army.

The troops from the North having arrived on the 28th, the entire army, moving forward in four columns, halted about twelve miles in front of the enemy, and the famous siege of Yorktown was begun.

The investment was complete. Cornwallis looked out in vain for any chance to escape. The Americans gradually surrounded the town with earthworks, redoubts, and trenches, and on the night of the 6th of October a trench seven hundred feet was commenced within six hundred yards of the British lines. So silently was this work done by the French and Americans that the garrison was entirely unaware of it until daylight, by which time the embankments were so high as to shield the men from the enemy’s fire. Batteries and redoubts were speedily erected, and such an unrelenting cannonading was kept up against the garrison that they were forced to withdraw their cannon from the embrasures; and most of their batteries were torn in pieces. On the night of the 11th, Washington opened his second parallel within three hundred yards of the lines. This, like the former, was begun noiselessly and was not discovered by Cornwallis until the next morning. There were two redoubts of the English that seriously interfered with the work of the besiegers, by a constant fire. Washington determined to attack them. La Fayette 90was appointed to lead the Americans, who should attack one of the redoubts, and the Baron de Viomesnil led a band of Frenchmen against the other.

The baron had once remarked to La Fayette that he thought the French method of attack superior to that of the Americans. La Fayette answered, “We are but young soldiers, and we have but one sort of tactics on such occasions, which is to discharge our muskets and push on straight with our bayonets.”

Both leaders were now to carry out their preconceived military tactics. La Fayette made an impetuous attack and captured the redoubt, and still hearing firing from the other, he sent his aide-de-camp to the baron, inquiring if he should send him assistance. Viomesnil answered, “Tell the marquis that I am not yet master of my redoubt, but that I shall be in less than five minutes.” He kept his word, and before that time had passed, he entered his captured redoubt in perfect military order. Both had been equally successful; but La Fayette was ahead as to time, and the baron, in following strict military rule, was forced to expose his men to a terrible fire from the enemy. The bravery with which this difficult onset was made was highly gratifying to Washington; and he complimented both officers in the orders for the succeeding day. The captured redoubts were included in the second parallel, and soon some howitzers were mounted upon them, and their destructive fire was turned upon the besieged.

Cornwallis now determined to make a bold effort, and he sent out Lieutenant-Colonel Abercrombie at the head of eight hundred chosen men to make a desperate sortie against two batteries of the besieging enemy. So valiant was their charge that they gained possession and spiked four guns, but they were repelled by the Chevalier de 91Chastellux, and forced to retire. The condition of Cornwallis was now desperate. His ordnance had been dismounted by the terrible firing of the Americans, his walls were crumbling, and nearly all his defences were razed. He resolved to try one more daring design. This was to cross over in the night to Gloucester Point, with such of his troops as were not disabled, and endeavor by forced marches to join the army in New York. The attempt was made, and one division passed over unperceived by the Americans, but a violent storm suddenly arose and drifted the boats down the river, and the plan was abandoned.

On the morning of the 17th Lord Cornwallis opened negotiations and offered to capitulate. On the 19th formal articles of surrender were signed, and Cornwallis and his army were made prisoners of war. “The Americans and French took possession at noon of two bastions, and the garrison defiled between the armies at two o’clock P.M., with drums beating, carrying their arms, which they afterwards piled, with twenty pair of colors. Lord Cornwallis feigned sickness, to avoid surrendering before his soldiers, and General O’Hara accordingly appeared at the head of the garrison. ‘When he came up,’ says Rochambeau, ‘he presented his sword to me. I pointed to General Washington, who was opposite me, at the head of the American army, and told him that the French army being auxiliaries on the continent, it was the American general who was to signify his orders to him.’ As the result of this capitulation 8000 prisoners, of whom 7000 were regular troops and 1000 sailors; 214 pieces of cannon, of which 75 were brass; and 22 pair of colors, passed into the hands of the allies. The men, artillery, arms, military chest, and public stores of every denomination were surrendered 92to Washington, the ships and seamen to the Count de Grasse.”[2]

2. “Mémoires et Manuscrits.”

Lord Cornwallis sent a messenger to La Fayette, “to tell the marquis that, after having made this long campaign against him, he wished to give him a private account of the reasons which had led him to surrender.” The next day La Fayette went to see him. “I know,” said the English general, “your humanity to prisoners, and I recommend my poor army to you.”

“You know, my lord,” replied La Fayette, “the Americans have always been humane towards imprisoned armies.”

Thus did La Fayette refuse even to accept a compliment which seemed to separate him from his American comrades in arms.

The bells in every town and hamlet throughout the country rang out the joyful news of this great victory. Bonfires blazed on every hill-top. Congress repaired in solemn procession to the Dutch Lutheran church, to return thanks to God for this providential deliverance. The names of Washington and La Fayette, Rochambeau and De Grasse, resounded throughout the world. The commander-in-chief ordered that suitable religious services should be held in camp in honor of that Divine Providence who had vouchsafed to them this great blessing.

Lt G {en} de Grasse

On the 20th of October, 1781, La Fayette thus wrote to M. de Maurepas:—

Camp, near York.

“The tragedy is over; the piece is played, Monsieur le Comte, and the fifth act comes to an end.

“I had a little torture during the first, but at last my 93heart experiences a lively joy, and it gives me not a little pleasure to congratulate you upon the happy success of our campaign.

“I cannot give you the details, Monsieur le Comte, which I intrust to Lauzun, to whom I wish much happiness in crossing the ocean, which he will traverse with the corps of the legion of Tarleton.

“M. de Rochambeau brings to you the account relative to the army which he commands; but if the honor of having commanded for so long a time the division of M. de Saint-Simon gives me the right to speak of my obligations to that general and to his troops, this duty will give me infinite delight.

“Will you kindly, Monsieur le Comte, present my homage to Madame la Comtesse de Maurepas and to Madame de Flamarens, and accept the assurance of my affection, of my remembrances, and of my respect.”

From the same place La Fayette wrote also to M. de Vergennes, as follows:—

“Receive my congratulations, Monsieur le Comte, upon the fortunate turn which has at last come to politics. M. de Lauzun will give you all the details. I am happy that our campaign of Virginia has been so well finished; and my respect for the ability of Lord Cornwallis renders his capture all the more precious to me. After this attempt what English general will come to place himself at the head to conquer America?

“Their Southern manœuvres have not ended more happily than those in the North, and the affair of General Burgoyne has been repeated.

“Adieu, Monsieur le Comte; the time which I have for writing is so brief that I will only add the assurance of respect and of tender attachment.”

94From on board the Ville de Paris, in the Chesapeake Bay, La Fayette thus writes to his wife:—

Oct. 22, 1781.

“Behold the last instant, my dear heart, in which it is possible for me to write you. M. de Lauzun is about to join the frigate and depart for Europe. Some business with the admiral affords me the pleasure of giving to you the latest news of the past two days.

“That which has occurred regarding public events will be detailed by M. de Lauzun. The end of this campaign is truly brilliant for the allied armies. There has been in our movements a rare harmony, and I should have been much disappointed had I not the satisfaction of this happy ending of my campaign in Virginia.

“You are aware of all the difficulties that the superiority and the talents of Lord Cornwallis have occasioned us; the advantage which we had following the recovery of the territory lost, and which ended in the position which we forced Lord Cornwallis to take; it was at that moment that everybody rushed in upon him.

“I count amongst my many pleasant experiences the time when the division of M. de Saint-Simon was reunited to my army; and, also, when I alternately commanded the three adjutant-generals with the troops under their order. I pity Lord Cornwallis, of whom I have the most exalted opinion. He wished to test such estimation, and after the capitulation gave me the pleasure of returning the incivility of Charleston. I do not purpose to carry vengeance any further.

“My health is excellent. I have not received any injury during my operations. Present my most tender homage to Madame d’Ayen, to M. le Maréchal de 95Noailles; a thousand compliments to all my sisters, to l’Abbé Fayon, to M. de Margelay.

“I embrace a thousand and a thousand times our dear children. Adieu! adieu!”

Washington desired to follow up the advantages which the Americans had gained, by an expedition against Charleston; but as De Grasse had prior orders from his sovereign, preventing his remaining longer in America, the project was abandoned, and the American army retired into winter quarters.

Again La Fayette sought permission from Congress to visit his native land, and after receiving the highest testimonials from Washington and Congress, and also from the king and ministry of France, he sailed from Boston in the frigate Alliance, on the 22d of December, 1781.

The greatest enthusiasm was excited by La Fayette’s arrival in France. Royal salons courted his presence, and high-born dames and gallant cavaliers vied to do him homage. Even sovereigns deigned to note with especial honor his return. Madame de La Fayette was present at a grand fête at the Hôtel de Ville, in celebration of the Dauphin’s birth, when the news was proclaimed that La Fayette, the conqueror of Cornwallis, had just arrived; and, sympathizing with the impatient joy of the fond wife, the queen herself ordered her carriage and accompanied Madame de La Fayette to the Hôtel de Noailles, where La Fayette had just alighted.

The joy of the reunion between La Fayette and his family is more fittingly told in the words of his daughter Virginie than by another.

Speaking of her father’s second visit to America, she says:—


“My father left France once more for America, where the war still continued. The grief which my mother felt was still greater than at his first departure. Her attachment had been increased both by her anxieties on his account and by the enchanting moments she had spent with him. She was then nineteen. Her impressions had become stronger and deeper; a more intimate and serious confidence had associated her riper intellect with my father’s opinions and designs: her mind was with him as well as her heart.

“Nevertheless, what she suffered during the campaign of Virginia surpassed all she had yet endured. As the English papers, which alone brought any news, always depicted the situation as desperate, the most disastrous reports came to her knowledge; but she had the courage to hide them from her mother, and endeavored to bear all her sufferings alone.

“The brilliant conclusion of that campaign which had been conducted by my father, and had ended by the capture of Lord Cornwallis, caused her a happiness which had been purchased by prolonged sufferings. My father arrived unexpectedly in Paris on the 21st of January, 1782. The joy of seeing him again, returned with so much glory out of so many dangers, and the fascination of his presence, were intensely felt by my mother. So overpowering were her feelings that for several months she felt ready to faint every time he left the room. She was alarmed at the vehemence of her passion, fearing that she could not always conceal it from my father, and that it might become annoying to him, and she therefore endeavored to restrain it for his sake only.”

This touching little scene of an ideal love-life is a charming picture in La Fayette’s history. Scarcely anywhere in history can be found the record of two souls 97in such perfect harmony of thought and feeling as the Marquis and Marquise de La Fayette. To the end their life was unmarred by the least discord or misunderstanding. The world crowned him with honor; and he laid at her feet his diadem of glory, and felt himself rewarded by her tender smile of approving love.

It is fitting that we should here quote a few lines from a letter written to Washington by La Fayette, in October, 1782, announcing the birth of this same Virginie, who afterwards became such a faithful narrator of the beautiful life of the Marquis and Marquise de La Fayette. The marquis says:—

My dear General: Since the arrival of Colonel Gimat not one line from you has come to me; this afflicts me intensely, because when I have not the pleasure of being with you it is absolutely necessary for me that I should receive letters from you.

“This will be handed to you by General Dupontail and Colonel Gouvion, who return to America. I wish I could do the same; but you know that I am detained here by the American plenipotentiaries, in the hope of serving our cause, which is always to me the principal object.

“General Dupontail will give you the public news; I have communicated those of a more secret nature to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and I have requested him to transmit my letter to your Excellency. You will be able to form your opinion upon the situation of affairs; but although their progress does not permit me (on account of the reasons which I have already explained) to leave this country at the present time, my personal opinion is, that a victory is necessary before a general peace can be brought to a conclusion.

“I have charged Colonel Gouvion to say to you those 98things which had better not be written, relative to my projects.

“Madame La Fayette desires me to present to you, also to Madame Washington, her respects and affectionate regards. She has a little daughter, just arrived; and though the infant is somewhat delicate, I hope that she will grow up strong. I have taken the liberty of giving to her the name of Virginie.

“I beseech you, my dear General, to present my respects to Madame Washington, and my affectionate compliments to the family. I hope that my conduct, guided by the motives of seeking the greatest public good, and for American interests, will receive from you that approbation which I prefer to that from all the rest of the world. Adieu, my dear General!”



Preparations in France in Behalf of America—Peace Negotiations—La Fayette’s Unselfish Loyalty—His Diplomatic Measures at the Court of Spain—News of the Treaty of Peace in America—Washington’s Letter of Commendation to La Fayette—La Fayette’s Efforts in the Interests of American Commerce—Secures Exemption of Duties on Oil—Washington’s Invitation from Mount Vernon—La Fayette’s Return to America—Memorable Visit to Mount Vernon—Triumphal Reception of the Nation’s Guest—His Ovation at Boston—Congress tenders La Fayette a Farewell—Last Parting between Washington and La Fayette—Act of the Maryland Assembly to naturalize the Marquis de La Fayette—His Return to France—La Fayette’s Visit to Frederick the Great—His Description of the Prussian Warrior—Memorable Dinner at Sans Souci—La Fayette’s Sympathies for the Oppressed African Race—His Letter to Washington on the Subject of Slavery—La Fayette’s Philanthropic Example at Cayenne—Washington’s comments upon the Same—La Fayette’s Efforts in Behalf of Persecuted French Protestants—Madame Washington’s Housewifely Gift to Madame La Fayette—Comments upon the French Alliance, and the Character of General La Fayette, by Hon. Chauncey M. Depew.

“On the light of Liberty you saw arise the light of Peace, like

‘another morn,
Risen on mid-noon’;

and the sky on which you closed your eye was cloudless.”

Daniel Webster.

LA FAYETTE in France was not unmindful of the interests of America. Largely through his influence a grand armament was put in preparation by France and Spain, to encounter the British power in the West Indies and North America. Sixty vessels and twenty-four thousand 100men assembled at Cadiz. La Fayette was appointed chief of the staff of both armies. These vast preparations were looked upon by England with alarm, and quickened their negotiations with the United States for arranging a peace.

At this time La Fayette wrote the following letter to Washington, dated at Brest, December, 1782, and marked “Tout-à-fait confidentielle”:—

My dear General: My preceding letters have apprised you that though the politicians speak much of peace, an expedition is about to take place, of which the command has been given to Count d’Estaing. I will add that, having been solicited to take part in it, I have accepted willingly, thinking it was the only means in the world of succeeding in that which you have charged me to obtain.

“Colonel Gouvion ought to be with you, and I refer, my dear General, to that letter which I have sent to you by him; also to some notes which I have written in cipher. Les Antilles are the first object. Spain will come after. We have nine ships of the line to send by the first favorable wind. Your Excellency knows that the Count d’Estaing has gone to Spain. We have the maritime superiority. Will you prepare your propositions and your projects relative to New York, Charleston, Penobscot, and the New World? A French vessel will be sent to America, and from there, by your orders, to the West Indies.

“I will write you by the next opportunity. I have the honor of sending to you, with this, a copy of a letter to Congress. I hope that you can say that you are satisfied with my conduct. In truth, my dear General, it is necessary to my happiness that you should think thus. 101When you are absent, I strive to do that which seems to me that you would have counselled if you had been present. I love you too much to be for a moment satisfied unless I can think that you approve my conduct.

“They talk much of the peace. I think, entre nous, that the greatest difficulty will come from the Spaniards, and, moreover, I believe that the enemies are not sincere.

“They have piled up disputes and artifices à propos to the question of the American limits, and thus it rests. My opinion is, that at the bottom of their hearts they are determined, if they can, to attempt to bring about some turn of their affairs in the next campaign. God grant that we shall be able to make a vigorous effort, particularly as regards New York.

“I arrived here but yesterday morning, and am much occupied with the affairs of the service.”

On the 20th of January, 1783, the final treaty was signed. La Fayette was then at Cadiz preparing to sail to America, bearing the news of the glad tidings of peace, when an occurrence took place which revealed the unselfishness of his ambition, and the loyalty of his love for America. Mr. Carmichael, who had been appointed by Congress Chargé d’Affaires to the court of Madrid, was not received by the king of Spain in his diplomatic relation, although that monarch had signed the treaty acknowledging the independence of the States. In this emergency, Mr. Carmichael wrote to La Fayette, seeking his aid. The marquis generously determined to deprive himself of the great pleasure of announcing to Washington the joyful news of the treaty; and he therefore sent a letter to the President of Congress, communicating the tidings of peace, while he himself hastened to Madrid to negotiate in behalf of the honor of America; and he 102obtained from the king the full recognition of the American ambassador in his official character.

The following is the memorable letter of La Fayette to Congress, announcing the treaty of peace:—

To the President of Congress.
Cadiz, Feb. 5, 1783.

Sir: With such celerity as I can despatch a ship, I hope to inform Congress of the news of a general peace. Moreover, such are my sentiments under these circumstances that I cannot delay to present my felicitations. These sentiments one can judge of better through a knowledge of my heart, which, by means of such expressions, can only feebly render its emotions.

“I remember our former times with pleasure and with pride. Our present situation renders me happy. I behold in the future a tempting prospect.

“The preceding letters have made known to Congress how, until now, I had the intention of leaving France. I have been detained by some despatches. I refer to my letter of the 3d for a fuller explanation of my conduct.

“Now the noble struggle is ended. I rejoice in the benefits of peace. There are here anchored nine ships of the line, with twenty thousand men, with whom the Count d’Estaing was about to join the combined forces of the West Indies, and which would have co-operated with our American army. It had even been arranged that while the Count d’Estaing was employed elsewhere, I should enter the St. Lawrence at the head of a French corps. For that which concerns myself, I have no regrets; but independent of personal considerations, you know that I have always longed for the addition of Canada to the United States.

103“I promised myself to return to America after the peace. Notwithstanding the pain of being detained, it is necessary to defer this voyage. Any sacrifice will not be counted by me for the accomplishment of my duties; and since it has pleased Congress to order that their ministers should consult with me, my first interest is to merit their confidence.

“From my letter to M. Livingston, one can form an opinion of our situation in Spain. They have demanded my aid, and I have given it. They desire my services, and instead of departing for America I will go to Madrid, which is so far from my plan; but I believe that it will be better for me to go there during the residence of Mr. Jay in Paris; so that nothing shall hinder me, unless Congress honors me with their orders. I shall embark in the coming June, because I am very eager to behold again the American shores.

“To-day our noble cause has triumphed; our independence is firmly established; and American virtue has obtained its recompense. I hope no efforts will be neglected to strengthen the federal union.

“May the states be always strongly united in a manner to defy European intrigues! Upon such union will repose their importance and their happiness. This is the first wish of a heart most truly American, and which cannot refrain from expressing these words.

“I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect, etc.”

After divers negotiations attempted from the commencement of the year 1782, the preliminaries of a peace between France and England were signed at Versailles, on the 20th of January, 1783, by M. de Vergennes and Mr. Fitz-Herbert, plenipotentiary of his British Majesty. 104These preliminaries were converted into a definite treaty of peace the 3d of September, 1783. It was signed, for France, by M. de Vergennes; for Spain, by the Count d’Aranda; and for England, by the Duke of Manchester. The final treaty between Great Britain and the United States was signed at Paris, Jan. 20, 1783, by Mr. David Hartly, on the one side, and by Messrs. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, on the other side. This sitting had also concluded at Paris the peculiar treaty between Great Britain and the états-généraux of Holland.

We cannot refrain from quoting also a portion of the delightful letter written to Washington by La Fayette, of the same date as the above communication, addressed to Congress.

My dear General: If you were such a man as Cæsar, or as the king of Prussia, I should have been much grieved for you to behold the grand tragedy terminated, in which you have played so great a rôle. But I congratulate myself with my dear general over this peace which has accomplished all our wishes.

“Recall to your mind our times at Valley Forge, and let the remembrance of those past dangers and afflictions add greater joy to the happiness of our present situation. What sentiments of pride and satisfaction I feel in pondering upon the circumstances which determined my engagement in the cause of America! As for you, my dear General, one can truly say that it is all your work; such must be the sentiments of your good and virtuous heart, in this happy moment which establishes and which crowns the revolution which you have made.

“I feel that every one will envy the happiness of my descendants, as they cherish and honor your name. To 105have had one of their ancestors amongst your soldiers, to know that he had the happy fortune to be the friend of your heart, will be an eternal honor in which they will glory; and I shall bequeath to the eldest amongst them, down to the latest of my posterity, the favor which you have been willing to confer upon my son George.

“I was intending to go to America with the news of the peace. You know me too well, my dear General, not to judge of the pleasure which I felt in advance, at the hope of embracing you and being reunited to my companions in arms. Nothing could please me so much as that delightful prospect; but I have been suddenly forced to change the execution of my favorite plan, and as I have had at last the happiness of receiving a letter from you, I know that you will approve of my prolonging my absence, for political motives.

“A copy both of my letter to Congress and that which I have written officially to M. Livingston, requesting that they may be communicated to you, will inform you more fully of the reasons which press me to depart for Madrid. After that, I shall go to Paris, and in the month of June embark for America. Happy, ten-times happy shall I be to embrace my dear general, my father, my best friend, whom I cherish with an affection and respect which I feel so deeply that I know it is impossible to express it!

“You will see by my letter to Congress that independently of the plans which had been proposed to you, and for which were united immense forces by sea and land, it had at length been decided that I should enter into Canada. I have had the hope of embracing you at Montreal, when I was to have been joined by a detachment of the army. The necessity of some diversion secured 106for us the consent of Spain; but these projects have vanished, and we ought to console ourselves in thinking of the happiness of that part of the continent to which you have given deliverance.

“I am impatient, my dear General, to hear from you, and to inform you of myself, for which purpose I send my servant by this vessel, and for whom I have arranged that he be landed on the coast of Maryland. I hope to receive your reply before leaving France, and I shall be then where I wish to go. If you are at home, I will direct my way toward the Chesapeake Bay.

“You cannot, my dear General, employ your influence more wisely than to persuade the American people to strengthen the federal ties. This is a task which appeals to your heart, and I consider this result as necessary. Be assured that the European politicians will be disposed to create a division amongst the states. This is the time when the powers of Congress ought to be fixed, their possible limits determined, and the Articles of Confederation revised. This work, which should interest all the friends of America, is the last test; this is wanting to the perfection of the temple of Liberty.

“And the army, my dear General! What is to be its future? I hope that the country will be grateful. If it is otherwise, I shall be very unhappy. Our part of the army, will they remain united? If not, I hope that we shall not lose our noble titles as officers and soldiers of the American army; and that in a time of danger we can be recalled from all corners of the world, and reunited for the defence of a country which has been so heroically saved.

“I am anxious to know the measures which will be taken. Truly, I count upon your kindness to write me a very detailed letter, not only in the public interests, 107but also because I have the desire to be informed of all that which concerns you personally.

“Adieu! adieu, my dear General! If the Spaniards had common sense, I should have been spared this wretched journey to Madrid, but I am called there by a duty to America.

“Let us return, at present, to our own affairs; for I will urge you to return to France with me. The best way to arrange it will be for Madame Washington to accompany you. She will render Madame de La Fayette and myself perfectly happy. I pray your Excellency to offer my compliments to Tilghman, to George, to all the staff. Remember me to all my friends in the army. Have the kindness to speak of me to your respected mother. I wish her happiness, with all my soul. Adieu, yet once more, my dear General, with all the sentiments, etc.”

La Fayette’s letter, bearing its weighty message, was sent in a fast-sailing vessel appropriately named The Triumph. This ship arrived in Philadelphia on the 23d of March, 1783, bringing to Congress the intelligence of the treaty of peace. Testimonials in honor of La Fayette were passed by Congress, and Washington wrote to him these words of commendation:—

“It is easier for you to conceive, than for me to express, the sensibility of my heart at the communication of your letter of the 5th of February, from Cadiz. It is to these communications we are indebted for the only account yet received of a general pacification. My mind, upon the receipt of this intelligence, was instantly assailed by a thousand ideas, all of them contending for pre-eminence; but, believe me, my dear friend, none could supplant or ever will eradicate that gratitude 108which has arisen from a lively sense of the conduct of your nation, and to my obligations to many of its illustrious characters (of whom, without flattery, I place you at the head), and from my admiration of your august sovereign, who, at the same time that he stands confessed the father of his own people, and the defender of American rights, has given the most exalted example of moderation in treating with his enemies.

“The armament which was preparing at Cadiz, and in which you were to have acted a distinguished part, would have carried such conviction with it, that it is not to be wondered at that Great Britain should have been impressed with the force of such reasoning. To this cause, I am persuaded, the peace is to be ascribed. Your going to Madrid from thence, instead of coming immediately to this country, is another instance, my dear Marquis, of your zeal for the American cause, and lays a fresh claim to the gratitude of her sons, who will at all times receive you with open arms.”

American independence having been secured, La Fayette now interested himself in advancing the commercial influence of America in France. The whale fishery was an important American industry; and La Fayette, by persevering efforts, secured a total exemption of duties on sixteen thousand quintals of oil, to be furnished by merchants of Boston to the contractor-general for lighting the cities of Paris and Versailles. Regarding this he modestly wrote: “I worked very hard to bring even as much as this about, and am happy at having at last obtained a point which may be agreeable to New England and the people of Boston. I wish they may, at large, know I did not neglect their affairs; and although this is a kind of private bargain, yet as it amounts to a value of about eight hundred thousand French livres, 109and government has been prevailed upon to take off all duties, it must be considered a matter of no little importance.”

From the quiet retreat of Mount Vernon, Washington wrote to the marquis, and renewed his previous invitation to visit him when peace should have been accomplished. The weary warrior thus pictures his retired life:—

“At length I have become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac; and under the shadow of my own vine and fig-tree, free from the bustle of the camp and the busy scenes of public life, I am solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments of which the soldier, who is ever in pursuit of fame; the statesman, whose watchful days and sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries (as if this globe was insufficient for us all); and the courtier, who is always watching the countenance of his prince, in the hope of catching a gracious smile, can have very little conception. I have not only retired from all public employments, but am retiring within myself, and shall be able to view the solitary walk and tread the paths of private life with heart-felt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased with all; and this, my dear friend, being the order of my march, I will move gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers.”

Again La Fayette turned his face toward the New Land of Liberty. He arrived in New York in August, 1784, where he was received with distinguished honors, and his journey to Philadelphia and Baltimore was a succession of triumphs. Bells echoed from mountain-peak to hill-top, cannon boomed their thunders of welcome, and old Revolutionary soldiers gathered around 110their honored comrade with admiring respect. But he hastened to the alluring heights of Mount Vernon, where his beloved chief and general impatiently awaited his arrival. Twelve days of delight he spent with Washington in that picturesque retreat.

Triumph after triumph yet awaited the nation’s guest, the now illustrious but still youthful Marquis de La Fayette; loved better in America as the valiant major-general than as the gentleman of rank. But amid all the cities that strove to do him honor, Boston, this time, outstripped them all. His ovation there occurred on the anniversary of the surrender of Cornwallis, and the governor of the state, the president the Senate, and the speaker of the House of Representatives assembled in the great hall where thousands awaited to do him honor. The apartment was brilliantly and appropriately ornamented, and emblems of the thirteen states of the Union floated from arch and pillar. After dinner thirteen patriotic toasts were drunk, followed each by thirteen guns stationed in the square without. As the name of Washington was spoken, and La Fayette arose to reply, a curtain behind the marquis was mysteriously lifted, revealing a noble portrait of the great general encircled with laurels and decorated with the entwined flags of America and France. La Fayette, surprised and moved, regarded those loved features with evident emotion, and his silent admiration was at length broken by a voice exclaiming, “Long live Washington!” And the cry was quickly taken up, and from all the people rose a shout of vociferous applause, “Long live Washington!


Congress, then assembled at Trenton, tendered a farewell to their illustrious guest; and to the courtly greeting of Mr. Jay, chairman of the committee appointed to wait upon him, La Fayette made this fitting reply:—

111May this immense temple of Freedom ever stand a lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, and a sanctuary for the rights of mankind! and may these happy United States attain that complete splendor and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings of their government, and for ages to come rejoice the departed souls of its founders!”

And the echoes of La Fayette’s words come still rolling down the years, “May this temple of Freedom stand!”

La Fayette’s parting from Washington was most tender and affecting. As the old general pressed to his heart the youthful form of his beloved and adopted son, tears filled his eyes, and La Fayette, too, looked through dim mists, and both were proud to show their mutual love.

With a prophetic presentiment that they should never meet again, Washington afterwards wrote to La Fayette these touching words:—

“In the moment of our separation, and every hour since, I have felt all that love, respect, and attachment for you, with which length of years, close connection, and your merits have inspired me. I often asked myself, as our carriages separated, whether that was the last sight I should ever have of you; and though I wished to say no, my fears answered yes! I called to mind the days of my youth, and found that they had fled to return no more; that I was now descending the hill I had been fifty years climbing, and that, though I was blessed with a good constitution, I was of a short-lived family, and might soon expect to be entombed in the mansion of my fathers. These thoughts darkened the shades and gave a gloom to the picture, and, consequently, to my prospect of seeing you again.”

112And truly this was their last meeting and their last parting on this earth. When, in after years, La Fayette again visited America, Washington slept under the sod at Mount Vernon, and the sorrowful marquis could only satisfy his affectionate remembrance of that ideal friendship by dropping his silent tears upon the tomb of his adopted father.

The following act to naturalize Major-General the Marquis de La Fayette and his heirs male forever was passed November session, 1784, by the Assembly of Maryland:—

Whereas, the General Assembly of Maryland anxious to perpetuate a name dear to the state, and to recognize the Marquis de La Fayette as one of its citizens, who, at the age of nineteen, left his native country, and risked his life in the late revolution; who, on his joining the American army, after being appointed by Congress to the rank of major-general, disinterestedly refused the usual reward of command, and sought only to deserve, what he attained, the character of patriot and soldier; who, when appointed to conduct an incursion into Canada, called forth, by his prudence and extraordinary discretion, the approbation of Congress; who, at the head of an army in Virginia baffled the manœuvres of a distinguished general, and excited the admiration of the oldest commanders; who early attracted the notice and obtained the friendship of the illustrious General Washington; and who labored and succeeded in raising the honor and name of the United States of America: Therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland, That the Marquis de La Fayette and his heirs male forever shall be, and they, and each of them, are hereby deemed, adjudged, and taken to be natural-born citizens of this state, and shall henceforth be entitled to all the immunities, rights, and privileges of natural-born citizens thereof, they and every one of them, conforming to the constitution and laws of this state, in the enjoyment and exercise of such immunities, rights, and privileges.”

113A similar act was also passed by the legislature of Virginia.

La Fayette returned to Paris in January, 1785. During this year the marquis visited the courts of many of the German princes, and was everywhere received with marked distinction. But the fawning of courtiers could not move La Fayette from his declared position as an upholder of freedom. Even old Frederick the Great was forced to acknowledge the power of the impulsive champion of liberty. La Fayette was invited by the admiring tyrant to Sans Souci, and the Prussian monarch treated him with distinguished consideration. Many were their warm discussions upon liberty and the American Revolution, the success of which made even the haughty old king tremble on his tottering throne.

In one of these conversations Frederick declared that the American Republic would not last. “She will return to the good old system by and by,” said he; to which La Fayette, with earnestness, replied: “Never, Sire; never! Neither monarchy nor aristocracy can ever exist in America. Do you believe that I went to America to obtain military reputation? It was for liberty I went there. He who loves liberty can only remain quiet after having established it in his own country.”

To which the old tyrant grimly and sarcastically answered: “Sir, I knew a young man, who, after having visited countries where liberty and equality reigned, conceived the idea of establishing the same system in his own country. Do you know what happened to him?”

“No, Sire.”

“He was hanged,” said the old monarch, with a meaning smile.

When La Fayette took his leave of the Prussian warrior, Frederick presented to the marquis his miniature set 114in diamonds, as a token of his admiring regard. In La Fayette’s “Memoirs” he thus sketches Frederick the Great as he appeared at the time of this visit:—

“I have been to Potsdam,” says the marquis, “to pay my court to the king; and though I had heard much of his appearance, I was not fully prepared to see him dressed in an old, ragged, dirty uniform, all covered with Spanish snuff, his head leaning over one shoulder, and his fingers almost dislocated with gout. But what surprised me most was the fire, and occasionally the softness, in his eyes—the handsomest eyes I have ever seen; so that his face can be as charming when he is pleased as it can be stern and threatening at the head of his army. I was in Silesia when he reviewed thirty-one battalions and seventy-five squadrons—thirty thousand men in all, seventy-five hundred of them being cavalry.

“It is with the greatest pleasure that I viewed the Prussian army! nothing can be compared to the beauty of the troops,—to the discipline which rules in all the ranks, to the simplicity and uniformity of their movements. It is a perfectly regular machine, wound up these forty years, and which has not suffered from other changes than those which could render it more simple and more swift. All the situations which one can suppose in a war, all the movements which ought to be introduced, have been, by constant habit, so inculcated in their heads, that all these operations are made almost mechanically.

“If the resources of France, the vivacity of her soldiers, the intelligence of her officers, the national ambition, the delicate sensibilities which they are known to possess, had been applied to a system as well carried out, we should have been then as much ahead of the Prussians 115as our army is at this moment inferior to theirs; and that is much to say.


“I have seen also the Austrians, but not all assembled. Their general system of economy should be more admired than the manœuvres of their troops. Their method is not simple; our regiments are better than theirs, and such advantage as they could have in line over us, we could with a little practice surpass them. I really believe that there is no need for more instructions of details in some of our best regiments than in those of the Prussians; but their manœuvres are infinitely preferable to ours.

“In a week I dined with the Prussian king, his dinner lasting three hours. The conversation was confined to the Duke of York, the king, myself, and two or three others, so that I had plenty of opportunity to listen to him, and to admire the vivacity of his wit and the charm of his graciousness.

“At last I almost forgot he was a despot, selfish and severe. Lord Cornwallis was there. The king placed him next me at table, and on his other hand he had the son of the king of England; then he asked a thousand questions on American affairs.”

This was surely a strange combination of circumstances and of guests; but just this sort of ironical environments would delight the sarcastic soul of the cunning old warrior.

La Fayette had an equally strange experience in America. During his campaign in Virginia, in an action in which he was in command, General Phillips was killed, and this general had been the officer who had commanded the enemy’s troops at Minden when the father of La Fayette was slain.

La Fayette met Cornwallis again in 1801, when the 116English lord came over to Paris to negotiate a general peace.

American independence having been secured, La Fayette’s sympathies were aroused in behalf of the oppressed African race. His soul abhorred injustice of any sort, and when he met a wrong he always endeavored to aid in righting it.

He did not content himself with æsthetically expressing his sympathy, but his enthusiasm always led him to action. Whatsoever he did he entered into with his whole might, and where there was wrong and oppression, he felt himself called upon to devote his energies, his position, and his purse in the cause of the oppressed. So greatly was he moved in behalf of the negro slaves, that he wrote to Washington soon after the American war as follows:—

“Permit me, my dear General, now that you are about to enjoy some repose, to propose a plan for elevating the African race. Let us unite in purchasing a small estate where we may try the experiment of freeing the negroes, and use them only as tenants. Such an example as yours would render the practice general; and if we should succeed in America, I will cheerfully devote a part of my time to render the plan fashionable in the West Indies. If it be a wild scheme, I would rather be mad in that way than be thought wise on the other tack.” Although Washington, Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Patrick Henry, and others cordially sympathized with him, nothing definite was done except by the indefatigable La Fayette himself. Not waiting for others, he purchased a plantation in Cayenne, upon which were a large number of slaves, and in order to prepare them for gradual emancipation, he began to fit them for their freedom by a thorough course of education.

117Regarding this philanthropic act of La Fayette, his daughter Virginie writes:—

“An earnest wish to contribute to all that was good, and a horror for all injustice, were prominent features in my mother’s character. It was, therefore, with deep satisfaction that she witnessed my father’s efforts in favor of the abolition of the slave trade. He purchased a plantation at Cayenne, La Belle Gabrielle, in order to give the example of gradual emancipation. Every just and liberal idea found a place in my mother’s heart, and her active zeal made her seek ardently for every means of putting them into immediate execution. My father entrusted her with all the details of this undertaking, in which the desire of teaching the negroes of that plantation the first principles of religion and of morals was united with the wish she shared with my father of making them worthy of liberty. Her charity was excited by the hope of teaching the blacks to know and love God, and of proving to the free-thinkers who sympathized with the negroes that the success of their undertaking would be in great part due to religion. The events of the Revolution have not allowed us to see these hopes realized, but we have at least had the satisfaction of hearing that the negroes of La Belle Gabrielle did not commit the atrocities which were perpetrated in other places.”

Regarding this philanthropic plan of La Fayette’s for the uplifting of the negroes, Washington thus wrote to him in 1786: “Your late purchase in Cayenne, with a view of emancipating your slaves, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit might diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country! But I despair of seeing it. Some petitions were presented to the Virginia Assembly 118at its last session for the abolition of slavery, but they could scarcely obtain a hearing. To set the slaves afloat at once would, I really believe, be productive of much inconvenience and mischief; but by degrees it certainly might, and assuredly ought, to be effected, and that, too, by legislative authority.”

La Fayette also interested himself at this time in behalf of the persecuted French Protestants. Though himself belonging to the Romish Church, he was neither bigoted nor intolerant, and hated the tyranny of priests as bitterly as the tyranny of kings.

In the midst of the sterner subjects regarding war and politics, which form so large a part of the correspondence between Washington and La Fayette, it may be pleasing to note the following homely little incident which brings both men in somewhat closer relationship with lesser mortals whose lives are made up of petty details and home affairs. In the “Mémoires et Manuscrits” of La Fayette, a work published by his family, in Paris, in 1837, and which has never been entirely translated into English, only scattered letters having been from time to time culled therefrom, for the various sketches given regarding the life of La Fayette, we have noticed much valuable and interesting information not elsewhere to be found.

Among the correspondence of General La Fayette many letters from Washington were collected, several of which were quoted in their proper chronological order, and of the date of June, 1786, we find the following little note, which is interesting, as it takes us into the home-circle at Mount Vernon, and shows us the goodly housewife in the person of Lady Washington, and the kindly host rather than the stately general in this picture of Washington. The note reads as follows:—


My dear Marquis: You will be astonished to see so ancient a date upon the letter which I send you, if I did not say to you that the ship which was to have carried this letter has since returned. Nothing new has occurred since then, and I would not give you the weariness of a second epistle, if I had not forgotten to say to you that Madam Washington sends to Madame de La Fayette a cask of ham. I know not if these are better, or even as good, as those in France, but these are of our own making, and you know that the ladies of Virginia pride themselves upon the excellence of their ham, and we remember that it was a dish much to your taste. She has therefore desired that I offer them to you. I had wished to send with them a barrel of old brandy peaches, but I have not been able to procure enough of good quality to be placed by the side of your luscious wines, and so I send them not. After all, these two gifts would be more proper to offer as a ration after a long march in the rain than to figure upon your table in Paris.”

The Honorable Chauncey M. Depew, in his memorial address, delivered at the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the gift of France to America, thus ably comments upon the French alliance, and the character of General La Fayette:—

“The French alliance, which enabled us to win our independence, is the romance of history. It overcame improbabilities impossible in fiction, and its results surpass the dreams of imagination. The most despotic of kings, surrounded by the most exclusive of feudal aristocracies, sending fleets and armies officered by the scions of the proudest of nobilities to fight for subjects in revolt and the liberties of the common people, is a paradox 120beyond the power of mere human energy to have wrought or solved. The march of this mediæval chivalry across our states, respecting persons and property as soldiers never had before, never taking an apple or touching a fence-rail without permission and payment, treating the ragged Continentals as if they were knights in armor and of noble ancestry, captivating our grandmothers by their gallantry, and our grandfathers by their courage, remains unequalled in the poetry of war. It is the most magnificent tribute in history to the volcanic force of ideas and the dynamitic power of truth, though the crust of the globe imprison them. In the same ignorance and fearlessness with which a savage plays about a powder magazine with a torch, the Bourbon king and his court, buttressed by the consent of centuries and the unquestioned possession of every power to the state, sought relief from cloying pleasures and vigor for enervated minds in permitting and encouraging the loftiest genius and the most impassioned eloquence of the time to discuss the rights and liberties of man. With the orator the themes were theories which fired only his imagination, and with the courtiers they were pastimes or jests. Neither speakers nor listeners saw any application of these ennobling sentiments to the common mass and grovelling herd whose industries they squandered in riot and debauch, and whose bodies they hurled against battlement and battery to gratify ambition or caprice. But these revelations illuminated many an ingenuous soul among the young aristocracy, and with distorted rays penetrated the Cimmerian darkness which envelopedenveloped the people. They bore fruit in the heart and mind of one youth, to whom America owes much, and France everything,—the Marquis de La Fayette. As the centuries roll by, and in the fulness of time the rays 121of Liberty’s torch are the beacon lights of the world, the central niches in the earth’s Pantheon of Freedom will be filled by the figures of Washington and La Fayette.

“It is idle now to speculate whether our fathers could have succeeded without the French alliance. The struggle would have been indefinitely prolonged and probably compromised. But the alliance secured our triumph, and La Fayette secured the alliance. The fabled argosies of ancient, and the armadas and fleets of modern, times were commonplace voyages compared with the mission enshrined in this inspired boy. He who stood before the Continental Congress and said, ‘I wish to serve you as a volunteer, and without pay,’ and at twenty took his place with Gates, and Green, and Lincoln as major-generals in the Continental army. As a member of Washington’s military family, sharing with that incomparable man his board, and bed, and blanket, La Fayette won his first and greatest distinction in receiving from the American chief a friendship which was closer than that bestowed upon any other of his compatriots, and which ended only in death. The great commander saw in the reckless daring with which he carried his wound to rally the flying troops at Brandywine, the steady nerve with which he held the column wavering under a faithless general at Monmouth, the wisdom and caution with which he manœuvred inferior forces in the face of the enemy, his willingness to share every privation of the illy-clad and starving soldiery, and to pledge his fortune and credit to relieve their privations, a commander upon whom he could rely, a patriot he could trust, a man he could love.

“The surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga was the first decisive event of the war. It defeated the British plan to divide the country by a chain of forts up the Hudson 122and conquer it in detail. It inspired hope at home and confidence abroad. It seconded the passionate appeals of La Fayette and the marvellous diplomacy of Benjamin Franklin; it overcame the prudent counsels of Necker, warning the king against this experiment; and won the treaty of alliance between the old Monarchy and the young Republic. La Fayette now saw that his mission was in France. He said, ‘I can help the cause more at home than here.’ and asked for leave of absence. Congress voted him a sword and presented it with a resolution of gratitude, and he returned, bearing this letter from that convention of patriots to his king, ‘We recommend this young nobleman to your Majesty’s notice, as one whom we know to be wise in council, gallant in the field, and patient under the hardships of war.’ It was a certificate which Marlborough might have coveted, and Gustavus might have worn as the proudest of his decorations. But though king and court vied with each other in doing him honor, though he was welcomed as no Frenchman had ever been by triumphal processions in the cities and fêtes in villages, by addresses and popular applause, he reckoned them of value only in the power they gave him to procure aid for Liberty’s fight in America. ‘France is now committed to war,’ he argued, ‘and her enemy’s weak point for attack is in America. Send there your money and men.’ And he returned with the army of Rochambeau and the fleet of De Grasse.

“‘It is fortunate,’ said De Maurepas, the prime minister, ‘that La Fayette did not want to strip Versailles of its furniture for his dear Americans, for nobody could withstand his ardor.’ None too soon did this assistance arrive, for Washington’s letter to the American commissioners in Paris passed it on the way, in which he made 123this urgent appeal: ‘If France delays a timely and powerful aid in the critical posture of our affairs, it will avail us nothing should she attempt it hereafter. We are at this hour suspended in the balance. In a word, we are at the end of our tether, and now or never deliverance must come.’ General Washington saw in the allied forces now at his disposal that the triumph of independence was assured. The long, dark night of doubt and despair was illuminated by the dawn of a hope. The material was at hand to carry out the comprehensive plans so long matured, so long deferred, so patiently kept. That majestic dignity which had never bent to adversity, that lofty and awe-inspiring reserve which presented an impenetrable barrier to familiarity, either in council or at the festive board, so dissolved in the welcome of these decisive visitors that the delighted French and the astounded American soldiers saw Washington for the first and only time in his life express his happiness with all the joyous effervescence of hilarious youth.

“The flower of the young aristocracy of France, in their brilliant uniforms, and the farmers and frontiersmen of America, in their faded continentals, bound by a common baptism of blood, became brothers in the knighthood of liberty. With emulous eagerness to be in at the death, while they shared the glory, they stormed the redoubts at Yorktown, and compelled the surrender of Cornwallis and army. While this practically ended the war, it strengthened the alliance and cemented the friendship between the two great peoples. The mutual confidence and chivalric courtesy which characterized their relations has no like example in international comity. When an officer from General Carlton, the British commander-in-chief, came to headquarters with an offer of 124peace and independence, if the Americans would renounce the French alliance, Washington refused to receive him; Congress spurned Carlton’s secretary bearing a like message; and the states, led by Maryland, denounced all who entertained propositions of peace which were not approved by France as public enemies. And peace with independence meant prosperity and happiness to a people in the very depths of poverty and despair. France, on the other hand, though sorely pressed for money, said, in the romantic spirit which permeated this wonderful union: ‘Of the 27,000,000 livres we have loaned you, we forgive you 9,000,000 as a gift of friendship, and when with years there comes prosperity, you can pay the balance without interest.’

“With the fall of Yorktown La Fayette felt that he could do more for peace and independence in the diplomacy of Europe than in the war in America. His arrival in France shook the continent. Though one of the most practical and self-poised of men, his romantic career in the New World had captivated courts and peoples. In the formidable league which he had quickly formed with Spain and France, England saw humiliation and defeat, and made a treaty of peace by which she recognized the independence of the Republic of the United States.

“The fight for liberty in America was won. Its future here was threatened with but one danger,—the slavery of the negro. The soul of La Fayette, purified by battle and suffering, saw the inconsistency and the peril, and he returned to this country to plead with state legislatures and with Congress for the liberation of what he termed ‘my brethren, the blacks.’ But now the hundred years’ war for liberty in France was to begin. America was its inspiration, La Fayette its apostle, and the returning 125French army its emissaries. Beneath the trees by day and in the halls at night, at Mount Vernon, La Fayette gathered from Washington the gospel of freedom. It was to sustain and guide him in after years against the temptations of power and the despair of the dungeon. He carried the lessons and the grand example through all the trials and tribulations of his desperate struggle and partial victory for the enfranchisement of his country. From the ship, on departing, he wrote to his great chief, whom he was never to see again, this touching good by: ‘You are the most beloved of all the friends I ever had or shall have anywhere. I regret that I cannot have the inexpressible pleasure of embracing you in my own house, and welcoming you in a family where your name is adored. Everything that admiration, respect, gratitude, friendship, and filial love can inspire is combined in my affectionate heart to devote me most tenderly to you. In your friendship I find a delight which no words can express.’ His farewell to Congress was a trumpet blast which resounded round a world then bound in the chains of despotism and caste. Every government on the continent was an absolute monarchy, and no language can describe the poverty and wretchedness of the people. Taxes levied without law exhausted their property; they were arrested without warrant, and rotted in the Bastile without trial, and they were shot as game, and tortured without redress, at the caprice or pleasure of their feudal lords. Into court and camp this message came like the handwriting on the wall at Belshazzar’s feast. Hear his words: ‘May this immense temple of freedom ever stand a lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, a sanctuary for the rights of mankind, and may these happy United States attain that complete splendor and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings 126of their government, and for ages to come rejoice the departed souls of its founders.’ Well might Louis the Sixteenth, more far-sighted than his ministers, exclaim, ‘After fourteen hundred years of power the old monarchy is doomed.’”



The French Revolution approaching—Ominous Signs—The Price of Bread—Causes back of the Famine—Influence of the American Revolution—Reckless Extravagance of the French Courts—Public Finances in a State of Chaotic Ruin—Maurepas, Turgot, de Clugny, Necker, and Calonne—Convocation of the Notables—La Fayette chosen a Member—The Direful Financial Chasm—The Notables confronted by the Dreadful Deficit—La Fayette upholds the People’s Rights—His Letter to Washington upon Public Affairs—Washington writes of American Prosperity—La Fayette demands the Convocation of the States-General—The Notables aghast at Such Audacity—Louis obliged to yield to Popular Clamor—Convocation of the States-General—La Fayette chosen a Deputy—The Tiers État—Their Demands—Their Reception—Their Resolve—Defiance of the Tiers État—La Fayette joins the National Assembly—His Famous Declaration of Rights—A Riotous Mob—Storming of the Bastile—La Fayette assumes Command of the National Guards—His Ideas of Liberty Subservient to Law and Order—His Difficult Position—Execution of Foulon—La Fayette’s Resignation—Appeal of the National Guards—La Fayette resumes Command—Awful Juggernaut of the Revolution—A Versailles!—Carlyle’s Description—King Louis and Marie Antoinette at the Mercy of the Mob—La Fayette rescues them—Le Roi à Paris—Versailles deserted.

“What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.”—Burke.

PARIS ran red with blood. The ghastly knife of the guillotine fell incessantly. The terrible tocsin sounded forth its ominous knell under the black midnight sky, and clanged its harsh and horrid discords in 128the midst of the summer’s stillness, and the glowing brightness of midday. Why were these demons of chaotic riot let loose upon the doomed city? Why had men, and even women, become like wild beasts, thirsting only for blood? Ah! there had gone forth unheeded another wail, before the awful cry of Blood! Blood! Blood! rang through the land. From the homes of twenty-five millions of people had ascended the pitiful appeal for Bread! Bread! Bread! And they had been answered only by the exasperating spectacle of gorgeous banquets, spread in the splendid salons of Versailles, where the weak-minded king and the selfish, shortsighted nobles surfeited themselves with luxuries, while the people died of starvation unheeded.

“What is the price of bread?” asked a stranger of a workingman’s wife. “Three francs twelve sous the quartern,” was the answer. “The price is fixed at twelve sous, but it is not to be had. My husband is obliged to pass a whole day at the door of the baker. He loses his wages of three francs; so that the bread comes to three francs twelve sous the quartern.”

But soon it rises to fourteen sous. “A brisk business is doing on the bridges, in the open places, where men passing with a loaf of bread under their arms re-sell it to the workmen for twenty sous.”

“We want powder for our wigs,” Jean Jacques Rousseau had said; “that is the reason of the poor wanting bread.”

“And the reproach touches the hearts of actresses and fashionable ladies; they discard powder, or use as little as possible: the starch-makers are ordered to employ barley instead of wheat; the pupils of the college Louis le Grand resolve to eat rice, and to offer twenty-eight sacks of wheat. The king forbids the playing of the 129fountains at the fêtes, in order to turn the water to the Versailles mills; but it is of no use: the associates of the grain monopoly, the makers of the vile Famine Pact, cause a fictitious scarcity by having the markets pillaged, the mills burned, the corn thrown into the river by a band of ruffians. Poor Louis is astonished, and begins to doubt whether he is really king of France.” But there were other causes back of the famine which led to the volcanic outburst of the French Revolution. For long years the terrible mine had been preparing beneath the French monarchy, and at length exploded with awful destruction and blood-curdling horrors.

The dazzling glory of the gorgeous Louis XVI., with all its power and grandeur, was reared over a sleeping volcano, destined to shock the continent of Europe, when at length its slow fires should unite their direful forces for the last mighty eruption.

The glorious success of the American Revolution inspired suffering people in all lands with a clearer hope of future freedom. Regarding its effect upon France a writer says:—

“It is difficult to suppose that so many thousand officers and soldiers had visited America, and fought in behalf of her rights, without being imbued with something of a kindred spirit. There they beheld a new and happy nation, among whom the pride of birth and the distinctions of rank were alike unknown; there they for the first time saw virtue and talents and courage rewarded; there they viewed with surprise a sovereign people fighting, not for a master, but themselves, and haranguing, deliberating, dispensing justice, and administering the laws, by representatives of their own free choice. On their return the contrast was odious and intolerable; they beheld family preferred to merit, 130influence to justice, wealth to worth; they began to examine into a constitution in which the monarch, whom they were now accustomed to consider as only the first magistrate, was everything, and the people, the fountain of all power, merely ciphers; and they may well be supposed to have wished, and even languished, for a change.

“In fine, the people being left entirely destitute of redress or protection, the royal authority paramount and unbounded; the laws venal, the peasantry oppressed; agriculture in a languishing state, commerce considered as degrading; the public revenues farmed out to greedy financiers; the public money consumed by a court wallowing in luxury; and every institution at variance with justice, policy, and reason,—a change became inevitable in the ordinary course of human events; and, like all sudden alterations in corrupt states, was accompanied with the temporary evils and crimes that made many good men look back on the ancient despotism with a sigh.

“But it was not, however, the influence of the officers and soldiers fresh from the field of American liberty which gave the most fatal blow to the dynasty of the Bourbons. The wanton and reckless extravagance of past courts, culminating in the splendid lustre of Le Grand Monarque, whose dazzling genius and rod of iron won shouts of enthusiastic admiration, even amid the groans of oppression, but whose gorgeous state could be maintained only at the expense of his people’s degradation and bondage, followed by the disreputable court of the despicable Louis XV., had brought the public finances to a condition of chaotic ruin. The annual deficit amounted to millions; and when poor, weak, good-natured Louis XVI. ascended the throne, it was even then tottering upon the edge of the awful abyss, which 131soon engulfed king and nation in its black and baleful horrors.... When the fearful gulf became visible to Louis XVI. and his cabinet, they looked around despairingly for some means of escape. Maurepas, Turgot, M. de Clugny, and Necker have each tried to stay the coming of the direful doom, but each and all have failed. And now M. de Calonne becomes comptroller-general. Now surely the royal inmates of the Œil-de-Bœuf may breathe more freely. Obstacles seem for a while to flee away before this incomparable comptroller-general.”

“I fear this is a matter of difficulty,” said her Majesty, Queen Marie Antoinette.—“Madame,” replied the comptroller, “if it is but difficult, it is done; if it is impossible, it shall be done.” Truly most admirable was such an all-conquering comptroller-general!

But deficits will not be removed by promises, however prodigal of wind and words, and royal deficits of millions form too wide an abyss for even this boastful comptroller to bridge.

“If we cannot cross this yawning gulf at a leap, what shall we do?” ask king and nobles of their pet Calonne. “We must hold a Convocation of the Notables,” replies the intrepid comptroller-general.

And so the Assembly of the Notables was convened by royal proclamation, and on the 22d of February, 1787, La Fayette, who had been chosen a member from his province, took his seat with his associates in this memorable gathering.

And now the dreadful secret must be revealed; these titled notables must be conducted to the edge of this terrifying precipice, and made to gaze into the black depths of the financial chasm. Consternation blanches the cheeks of these assembled lords; but the courage of 132La Fayette is not extinguished, nor his love of liberty impaired, nor his bold spirit benumbed by evils however monstrous, or difficulties however defiant. To right the wrong is ever his aim, and to remove the root of error is always his persevering endeavor. Back of the ruinous deficit of millions is a still deeper abyss of evil, into which the brave soul of La Fayette courageously gazes; and though startled at the infamous disclosures of corruption, injustice, bitter abuses, and shameful oppressions, he is not appalled, but in the face of king and nobles he rises chivalrously as the people’s champion, and demands redress. Though a brother of the king is president of this council, though he must protest against both monarch and court, with dignified firmness he fearlessly exclaims: “I repeat with renewed confidence the remark that the millions which are dissipated are collected by taxation, and that taxation can only be justified by the real wants of the state; that the millions abandoned to peculation or avarice are the fruits of the labor, the tears, and perhaps the blood of the people, and that the computation of unfortunate individuals, which has been made for the purpose of realizing sums so heedlessly squandered, affords a frightful subject of consideration for the justice and goodness which, we feel convinced, are the natural sentiments of his Majesty.”

But La Fayette stood alone as the upholder of the people’s rights; the principles of liberty which he thus boldly declared were received with horrified amazement by the old aristocracy, and the heart of the weak monarch was filled with strange foreboding. Before the Assembly closed its session, the heroic words of La Fayette had begun to work their brave mission. Threats of danger reached his ears; but his eye did not quail; he 133was not awed into silence. His enemies proposed to the king that he should be sent to the Bastile; but their menaces were only received with a smile by La Fayette, who dauntlessly continued his efforts in behalf of the down-trodden people.


The following letter from La Fayette to Washington will give a clearer insight regarding the opinions of the marquis upon public affairs:—

Paris, May 25, 1788.

My dear General: In the midst of our internal troubles it is a great consolation for me to enjoy the assured prosperity of my adopted country, because the news from America gives me the hope that the constitution will be accepted. Permit me once more, my dear General, to beseech you not to refuse the presidency. The constitution, such as is proposed, responds to many desires; but I fear there are, regarding it, certain passages which will not be completed without danger, if the United States have not the happiness of possessing their guardian angel, who will appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of each clause, and will be aware, before re-entering his quiet retreat, how to determine with precision the degree of force which it is indispensable to give the government, and to limit those powers which one might abuse; in short, to indicate that which remains to be done, in order to attain that perfection to which the new constitution is nearer than that of any other form of government, past or present.

“The affairs of France are reaching a crisis, of which the good results are most uncertain, as the people in general have no inclination to come to extremities. Mourir pour la liberté is not the motto upon this side of the Atlantic; as all the classes are more or less dependent, 134as the rich love their repose, at the same time that the poor are enervated by misery and ignorance, we have but one resource: it is to reason with them, and to inspire the nation with a sort of passive discontent, or non-obedience which will fatigue the levity and baffle the plans of government.

“The Parliaments, in spite of their inefficiency, have been the necessary champions to move. You will see by the publications—because I have sent you all which have appeared—that the king has raised pretensions, and that the courts of justice are established upon principles so contradictory, that one can scarcely believe that these assertions have been declared in the same country and in the same age. Affairs cannot remain thus; the government has employed the force of arms against the disarmed and expelled magistrates. And the people, say you?—The people, my dear General, have been so benumbed that it has made me sick, and medicines have been necessary to cool my blood. That which has greatly increased my indignation is a bench of justice where the king has created a plenary court composed of judges, of peers, and of courtiers, without a single real representative of the people, and the impudence of the ministers who have dared to say that all the taxes and loans will be registered.

“Thanks to God, we have prevailed against them, and I begin to hope for a constitution. The magistrates have refused to sit in the plenary courts. The thirty-eight peers, of whom a small number have some sense and some courage, will not obey. Some of them, such as my friend La Rochefoucauld, conduct themselves nobly; the others follow at a distance. The Parliaments have unanimously protested, and made an appeal to the nation. The greater part of the inferior courts 135represent the new régime. Discontent is displayed everywhere, and in several provinces has not been repressed. The clergy who find themselves assembled at this time make remonstrances; the advocates refuse to plead; the government is embarrassed, and begins to resort to apologies; the governors in some cities have been pelted by stones and mud.

“In the midst of these troubles and of this anarchy the friends of liberty fortify themselves daily, close the ear to all negotiations, and declare that they will have a National Assembly or nothing.

“Such, my dear General, is our present situation. For my part, I shall be satisfied to think that, after a little, I shall be in an assembly of the representatives of the French nation, or at Mount Vernon.

“I am so absorbed by these affairs that I will say little to you upon European politics. My disapprobation of the projects of the administration, and the small attempts I have made against it, have forced me to discontinue to see the archbishop; but I become more united to him and to the keeper of the seals, the more I have made clear my indignation against the infernal plan. I am well pleased that the decree regarding America was passed before these troubles, and I occupy myself, through other ministers, in endeavoring to suppress totally the duties upon oil and whalebone, so that the French and American negotiations will be placed upon a basis of equality, even under the revenue premiums, and that without obliging the fishermen to leave the coasts of their country. If we become reunited, it will be necessary to consider immediately the commerce with the West Indies.

“I am happy that we have here M. Jefferson for an ambassador; his talents, his virtues, his excellent character, 136all constitute a great statesman, a zealous citizen, and a precious friend.

“I pray you, my dear General, to receive my tender homages, etc.”

Regarding Washington’s feelings in view of accepting the presidency, the following lines to La Fayette upon that subject will not be without interest. They were written in answer to La Fayette’s ardently expressed hopes that his revered commander-in-chief would not refuse the important office which the needs of his country forced upon him. The letter was written in 1788.

“I have but a few things, nothing new, except to respond to the opinion which you have already expressed. You think that it will be expedient to accept the office of which you speak; your sentiments are more in accordance with those of my other friends than with mine.

“In truth, the difficulties appear to me to multiply and increase in approaching the period when in accordance with the general belief it will be necessary to give a definite response. In case the circumstances should in some sort force upon me my acceptance, be assured, my dear sir, that I accept the burden with sincere reluctance and with great self-distrust—that which will probably be little credited by the world.

“If I know well the bottom of my heart, the conviction that I fulfil a duty will alone determine me to resume an active part in public affairs; at that time I shall endeavor to form a plan of conduct, and at the risk of losing my past reputation and my present popularity; I will work without respite to remove my fellow-citizens from the difficult situation where they find themselves, in need of credit; and to establish a system of politics 137which, if it will be followed, will insure their future power and prosperity.

“I believe I perceive a ray of light illuminating the way which leads to that end. The present state of affairs and the tendency of public opinion give me the hope that there will result union, honesty, industry, and frugality—those four pillars of public felicity.”

But this encouraging picture of American affairs was offset by direful scenes in France.

Feeling that justice demanded that if the people were to be taxed they should be represented, La Fayette offered to the Assembly a memorial for the king, in which he entreated his Majesty to convoke a National Assembly, which might accomplish the regeneration of France.

“What, sir!” exclaimed the President of the Council, starting from his seat in astonishment; “do you ask for the convocation of the States-General?”

“Yes, my lord, and even more than that,” was La Fayette’s dauntless reply.

“You wish me then to write and announce to the king that the Marquis de La Fayette moves to convoke the States-General?”

“Yes, my lord,” calmly answered the marquis.

This daring proposition appalled the Notables, but was hailed with shouts of acclamation by the public. The States-General was first convoked by Philippe le Bel, in 1303, and had only rarely assembled since that time. The despotic governments looked upon this institution with abhorrence, for in it the common people were represented. It was composed of the three estates of the kingdom,—the nobles, the clergy, and tiers état, or common people,—and Louis and his court were determined if possible to avoid this dreaded Assembly. But the shout 138rang out from every quarter of France, in answer to the clarion bugle note which La Fayette had so bravely sounded even in the very midst of the enemy’s camp. “Give us the States-General!” From the Alps and the Pyrenees, the shores of the Mediterranean, and the borders of the Channel, was re-echoed the wild cry, “Give us the States-General!” And Louis, unable to resist the raging tempest of popular opinion, yielded to their demand, and the States-General was by royal edict convened on the 5th of May, 1789.

La Fayette was chosen a deputy by the nobility of Auvergne. To say “let States-General be” was easy; to say in what manner they shall be is not so easy. “How to shape the States-General? There is a problem. Each body corporate, each privileged, each organized class, has secret hopes of its own in that matter, and also secret misgivings of its own; for, behold, this monstrous twenty-million class, hitherto the dumb sheep which these others had to agree about the manner of shearing, is now also arising with hopes! It has ceased or is ceasing to be dumb; it speaks through pamphlets, or at least brays and growls behind them, in unison, increasing wonderfully their volume of sound. What is the third estate? What has it hitherto been in our form of government? Nothing. What does it want? To become something.” These are questions and answers which must now be met. The Assembly was opened with great pomp. A solemn procession in which king, nobles, clergy, and the tiers état all repaired in grand state to Notre Dame, paraded through the streets, and formed a splendid spectacle which was greeted by the people with joyous demonstrations and loud acclamations.

At the first meeting of the Assembly, the three orders convened in separate departments. Here arose the first 139difficulty. The nobles and the clergy were unwilling to meet with the representatives of the common people, and the tiers état were determined to maintain their contested rights. La Fayette advocated the cause of the tiers état in the assembly of the nobles, but the aristocracy would not yield, and at the end of five weeks the States-General as a united body was still inactive. At length the tiers état resolved upon momentous action. They formed themselves into a legislative body, under the name of the National Assembly, and declared their intention to accomplish political reform. The king and nobles received this unexpected news with consternation. La Fayette warmly urged a union between the departments, but the king and aristocracy refused. Louis then determined to awe these rebellious subjects to submission. He ordered the doors of the hall where the tiers état usually met to be closed and guarded. When the members gathered and found their usual place of meeting denied them, they proceeded to another, and thereupon issued their defiant demand,—A Constitution for the French People; and they solemnly declared with oath, in view of the indignity which had been offered to them by the crown, “never to separate, and to assemble whenever circumstances should require, till the constitution of the kingdom should be established and founded on a solid basis.”

At length, on the 23d of June, the king and nobles assembled in the hall formerly occupied by the tiers état, and after some delay the doors were opened to that body, and the king reproached them for taking the title of National Assembly, and bade them renounce it, and also commanded that the Assembly should immediately separate. The king then left the hall, followed by the nobles and part of the clergy. But scarcely had the sound of the footsteps of royalty died away ere a man arose in 140the Assembly. It was Mirabeau. With eyes flashing like stars from the gloomy shadows of his pock-marked, disfigured countenance, he exclaimed:—

“What means this insulting dictation? this threatening display of arms? this flagrant violation of the national temple? Who is it that dictates to you the way in which you shall be happy? He who acts by your commission. Who is it that gives you imperious laws? He who acts by your commission,—the minister, who by your appointment is vested with the execution of the laws,—of laws which we only have a right to make.

“To us, twenty-five millions of people are looking to guard from further desecration the sacred ark of liberty, to release them from the burdensome yoke which has so long crushed them, and to give them back their own inalienable right to peace, liberty, and happiness. Gentlemen, an attempt is made to destroy the freedom of your deliberations. The iron chain of despotic proscription is laid upon you. A military force surrounds your Assembly. Where are the enemies of France? Is Catiline at our gates? Gentlemen! I demand that, clothing yourself in your dignity and your legislative authority, you remain firm in the sacredness of your oath, which does not permit us to separate till we have framed a constitution—till we have given a Magna Charta to France.”

Then as the grand master of ceremonies again reminded the Assembly of the commands of the king, Mirabeau exclaimed, “Go and tell your master that we are here by the order of the people, and that we shall depart only at the point of the bayonet.”


La Fayette, with the forty-seven who had stood by his side in declaring the expediency of uniting with the 141commons, now left the nobility, and took his seat in the National Assembly. The king and aristocracy, finding at length that their resistance was useless, submitted to the popular demand, and on the 27th of June the three orders met together and commenced their united deliberations.

La Fayette was closely observed by all parties. He spoke often in the Assembly, and always on the side of freedom. On the 11th of July he brought forward his famous Declaration of Rights; which after a long and stormy debate, during which it was warmly supported by the republicans, and denounced by the adherents of despotism, was adopted; and the name of La Fayette, “THE PEOPLE’S FRIEND!” was on every lip and enshrined in every heart throughout the kingdom.

This renowned Declaration of Rights reads as follows:—

“Nature has made all men free and equal; the distinctions which are necessary for social order are founded alone on the public good.

“Man is born with inalienable and imprescriptible rights, such as the unshackled liberty of opinion, the care of his honor and life, the right of property, the complete control over his person, his industry, and all his faculties; the free expression of his opinion in every possible manner; the worship of the Almighty; and resistance against oppression.

“The exercise of natural rights has no other limits than those which are necessary to secure their enjoyment to every member of society.

“No man can be made subject to laws which he has not sanctioned, either himself, or through his representatives, and which have not been properly promulgated and legally executed.

“The principle of all sovereignty rests in the people. 142No body or individual can possess any authority which does not expressly emanate from the nation.

“The sole end of all government is the public good. That good demands that the legislative, executive, and judicial powers should be distinct and defined, and that their organization should secure the free representation of the citizens, the responsibility of their deputies, and the impartiality of the judges.

“The laws ought to be clear, precise, and uniform in their operation toward every class of citizens.

“Subsidies ought to be liberally granted and the taxes proportionally distributed.

“And as the introduction of abuses and the rights of succeeding generations will require the revisions of all human institutions, the nation ought to possess the power, in certain cases, to summon an extraordinary assembly of deputies, whose sole object shall be to examine and correct, if it be necessary, the faults of the constitution.”

On the 14th of July a riotous crowd march to the Invalides, and having armed themselves with the twenty-eight thousand muskets found there, and dragging twenty cannon, they proceed to storm the Bastile. After five hours the Bastile is taken by the people, and the Revolution, which might perhaps have been stayed by different measures on the part of the government, is henceforth destined to work out its direful doings.


The National Guard, composed of citizens rather than mercenary soldiers, was now formed, and La Fayette was entrusted with the command. The key of the demolished Bastile was given to him, as the most worthy person to receive this memorial of past oppression. La Fayette was now looked up to by the people as their defender, and the masses gave him warm but fickle homage. Toulongeon says of him: “La Fayette, whose name and 143reputation acquired in America were associated with liberty itself, was at the head of the Parisian National Guard. He enjoyed at once that entire confidence and public esteem which are due to great qualities. The faculty of raising the spirits, or rather of infusing fresh courage into the heart, was natural to him. His external appearance was youthful and bold, which is always pleasing to the multitude. His manners were simple, popular, and engaging. He possessed everything which is wanting to commence and terminate a revolution,—the brilliant qualities of military activity and the calm confidence of courage in times of public commotion. La Fayette was equal to everything, if everything had been done fairly and openly; but he was unacquainted with the dark and narrow road of intrigue.”

La Fayette’s idea of liberty was always accompanied with a firm belief in law and order; it was not the liberty of unbridled license. When he first upheld the Revolution in France, it was with the same spirit with which he had aided the American Revolution, contending only for liberty and order; and when, during the Reign of Terror, riot and license held the reins of power, then La Fayette was to be found not in sympathy with this wild, reckless turmoil, but always standing by the recognized government, though that government were even a monarchy, and risking his own life to save those royal lives, who so poorly repaid his generous and chivalrous devotion as even to turn with contemptuous coldness toward him who had sacrificed his own popularity to save them from destruction.

At the head of the National Guard La Fayette had a most difficult task to perform during those days of riotous commotion. His sympathies were with the oppressed people; his duty was to maintain public order; his loyalty 144made him true to his king. When the unfortunate minister Foulon was seized by the mob and dragged before the Assembly, where the rioters clamored loudly for his death, La Fayette thus appealed to the furious crowd:—

“I am known to you all; you have appointed me your commander,—a station which, while it confers honor, imposes upon me the duty of speaking to you with that liberty and candor which form the basis of my character. You wish, without a trial, to put to death the man who is before you; such an act of injustice would dishonor you; it would disgrace me; and were I weak enough to permit it, it would blast all the efforts which I have made in favor of liberty. I will not permit it. I am far from desiring to save him, if he be guilty; I only wish that the orders of the Assembly should be carried into execution, and that this man be conducted to prison, to be judged by a legal tribunal. I wish the law to be respected; law, without which there can be no liberty; law, without whose aid I would never have contributed to the revolution of the New World, and without which I will not contribute to the revolution which is preparing here. What I advance in favor of the forms of law ought not to be interpreted in favor of M. Foulon. But the greater the presumption of his guilt is, the more important is it that the usual formalities should be observed in his case, so as to render his punishment more striking, and by legal examinations, to discover his accomplices. I therefore command that he be conducted to the prison of L’Abbaye St. Germain.”


These remarks were hailed with applause by those within hearing of them; but at this moment a fresh mob broke into the Assembly, and set up a furious yell for vengeance; and notwithstanding the loud intercessions 145of La Fayette, deaf to everything but their wild fury, the rioters seized the hated Foulon, and rushing forth, hanged him to a lamp post in front of the Hôtel de Ville.

Liberty and law may both be spoken almost synonymously with the name of La Fayette. His abhorrence of such lawless acts of vengeance was as strong as his zeal for freedom. Horrified at the lawlessness of the populace, and feeling that his honor was thereby jeopardized, La Fayette determined to resign his office as commander-in-chief of the National Guard, which he did in the following letter addressed to the mayor of Paris:—

Sir: Summoned by the confidence of its citizens to the military command of the capital, I have uniformly declared that in the present state of affairs it was necessary, to be useful, that confidence should be full and universal. I have steadily declared to the people that, although devoted to their interest to my last breath, yet I was incapable of purchasing their favor by unjustly yielding to their wishes. You are aware, sir, that one of the individuals who perished yesterday was placed under a guard, and that the other was under the escort of our troops, both being sentenced by the civil power to undergo a regular trial. Such were the proper means to satisfy justice, to discover their accomplices, and to fulfil the solemn engagements of every citizen toward the National Assembly and the king.

“The people would not hearken to my advice; and the moment when the confidence which they promised, and reposed in me, is lost, it becomes my duty, as I have before stated, to abandon a post in which I can no longer be useful. I am, with respect,

La Fayette.”

146The news of La Fayette’s resignation spread consternation throughout the city. The National Guard flocked around him to beseech him to retain his position as their commander. The mayor and council waited upon him at midnight, to solicit him to withdraw his resignation. But La Fayette calmly declined, and the next day appeared before the Assembly to state his reasons for so doing, in the following dignified and courteous terms:—

“Gentlemen, I come to acknowledge the last testimonies of your kindness with all the warmth of a heart whose first desire, after that of serving the people, is to be loved by them, and to express my astonishment at the importance they deign to attach to an individual, in a free country, where nothing should be of real importance except law. If my conduct on this occasion could be regulated by my sentiments of gratitude and affection, I should only reply to the regrets with which you and the National Guard had honored me by yielding obedience to your entreaties; but, as I was guided by no feeling of private interest when I formed that resolution, so also, in the midst of the various causes for agitation that surround us, I cannot allow myself to be governed by my private affections.

“Gentlemen, when I received such touching proofs of affection, too much was done for me and too little for the law. I am convinced how well my comrades love me, but I am still ignorant to what degree they cherish the principles on which liberty is founded. Deign to make known to the National Guard this sincere avowal of my sentiments. To command them, it is necessary that I should feel certain that they unanimously believe that the fate of the constitution depends upon the execution of law, the only sovereign of a free people; that individual liberty, the security of each man’s home, religious liberty, 147and respect for legitimate authority, are duties as sacred to them as to myself. We require not only courage and vigilance, but unanimity, in these principles; and I thought, and still think, that the constitution will be better served by my resignation, on the grounds I have given, than by my acquiescence in the request with which you have deigned to honor me.”

The National Guards were already assembled, impatiently awaiting La Fayette’s answer; and upon receiving this decision, they immediately passed the following resolution:—

“The National Assembly has decreed that the public forces should be obedient, and a portion of the Parisian army has shown itself essentially disobedient. General La Fayette has only ceased to command that army because they have ceased to obey law. He requires a complete submission to the law, not a servile attachment to his person. Let the battalions assemble. Let each citizen-soldier swear on his word and honor to obey the law. Let those who refuse be excluded from the National Guards. Let the wish of the army, thus regenerated, be carried to General La Fayette, and he will conceive it his duty to resume command.”

After some hesitation La Fayette resolved to resume his command, and withdrew his resignation. His desires were only for the public good. When urged by the municipality of Paris to accept some remuneration for his services, he unselfishly replied:—

“My private fortune secures me from want. It has outlasted two revolutions; and should it survive a third, through the complaisance of the people, it shall belong to them alone.”

Mirabeau said of La Fayette: “There is one man in the state who, from his position, is exposed to the hazard 148of all events; to whom successes can offer no compensation for reverses; and who is, in some manner, answerable for the repose, we may even say the safety, of the public,—and that man is La Fayette.”

But La Fayette was not superhuman. His arm could not turn backward the awful Juggernaut of the oncoming revolution. The corruption and oppression of past centuries could not be wiped out by the untarnished purity of life and principles of this self-sacrificing Knight of Liberty. And beneath the bloody wheels of the huge Juggernaut of license,—law, liberty, and La Fayette were all to be ruthlessly sacrificed.

The sword of Damocles hung suspended over the head of the unfortunate king, and the throne was tottering, soon to be engulfed in hopeless ruin.

On the morning of the 5th of October, a woman, frenzied with hunger, rushed into a guard-house, and seizing a drum, ran with it along the streets, accompanying her wild beating with the frantic cry of “Bread! bread!” As the crowd increases, every voice takes up the shrill shriek for bread, until at last the mad chorus changes to a furious clamor, and the words “To Versailles!” “A Versailles!“ ring out in hoarse yells from street to street, and the alarm bell sounds the direful tocsin which sends a knell of despair to every listener’s heart.

The news of the riot reaches La Fayette, and he says: “As soon as the tidings reached me, I instantly perceived that, whatever might be the consequence of this movement, the public safety required that I should take part in it, and after having received from the Hôtel de Ville an order and two commissaries, I hastily provided for the security of Paris, and took the road to Versailles, at the head of several battalions.”


Alarmed lest the Guard themselves might be induced 149to join in the revolt, he halted on the way and made every one renew his oath of fidelity to the king and obedience to the law. A description of this momentous march is nowhere so quaintly and so graphically told as by Carlyle, who, in spite of certain sarcasms, seems to appreciate La Fayette’s difficult position, and surely it would seem as though only the grim irony of fate could have placed this Knight of Liberty in the midst of such lawless rioters: and yet, throughout all these trying circumstances, La Fayette is not once inconsistent to his avowed principles; and whether he sympathizes with the people’s wrongs, or endeavors to shield his king from their furious attacks, he is ever true to his principles of right and honor.

And so we will let Carlyle take La Fayette to Versailles in his own inimitable way.

“The Three Hundred have assembled; all the Committees are in activity; Lafayette is dictating despatches for Versailles, when a deputation of the Centre Grenadiers introduces itself to him. The deputation makes military obeisance; and thus speaks, not without a kind of thought in it: ‘Mon Général, we are deputed by the six companies of Grenadiers. We do not think you a traitor, but we think the government betrays you; it is time that this end. We cannot turn our bayonets against women crying to us for bread. The people are miserable; the source of the mischief is at Versailles; we must go seek the king, and bring him to Paris. We must exterminate [exterminer] the Regiment de Flandre and the Gardes-du-Corps, who have dared to trample on the National Cockade.

“‘If the king be too weak to wear his crown, let him lay it down. You will crown his son; you will name a Council of Regency, and all will go better.’

150“Reproachful astonishment paints itself on the face of La Fayette, speaks itself from his eloquent chivalrous lips in vain. ‘My General, we would shed the last drop of our blood for you, but the root of the mischief is at Versailles; we must go and bring the king to Paris; all the people wish it’ (tout le peuple le veut).

“My General descends to the outer staircase, and harangues once more in vain. ‘To Versailles! To Versailles!’ Mayor Bailly, sent for through floods of Sansculottism, attempts academic oratory from his gilt state-coach, realizes nothing but infinite hoarse cries of, ‘Bread! To Versailles!’ and gladly shrinks within doors. La Fayette mounts the white charger; and again harangues and reharangues, with eloquence, with firmness, indignant demonstration, with all things but persuasion.

“‘To Versailles! To Versailles!’ so lasts it hour after hour, for the space of half a day.

“The great Scipio-Americanus can do nothing; not so much as escape. ‘Morbleu, mon Général!’ cry the Grenadiers, serrying their ranks as the white charger makes a motion that way; ‘you will not leave us, you will abide with us!’ A perilous juncture; Mayor Bailly and the Municipals sit quaking within doors; My General is prisoner without; the Place de Grève, with its thirty thousand regulars, its whole irregular, Saint Antoine and Saint Marceau, is one minatory mass of clear or rusty steel; all hearts set, with a moody fixedness, on one object. Moody, fixed are all hearts: tranquil is no heart, if it be not that of the white charger, who paws there with arched neck, composedly champing his bit, as if no world, with its Dynasties and Eras, were now rushing down. The drizzly day bends westward; the cry is still, ‘To Versailles!’

151“Nay, now, borne from afar, come quite sinister cries; hoarse, reverberating in long-drawn hollow murmurs, with syllables too like those of ‘Lanterne!’ Or else, irregular Sansculottism may be marching off, of itself, with pikes; nay, with cannon. The inflexible Scipio does at length, by aide-de-camp, ask of the Municipals whether or not he may go. A letter is handed out to him, over armed heads; sixty thousand faces flash fixedly on his; there is stillness, and no bosom breathes till he has read. By Heaven, he grows suddenly pale! Do the Municipals permit? ‘Permit, and even order,’ since he can no other. Clangor of approval rends the welkin. To your ranks, then; let us march!

“It is, as we compute, towards three in the afternoon. Indignant National Guards may dine for once from their haversacks; dined or undined, they march with one heart. Paris flings up her windows, ‘claps hands,’ as the Avengers with their shrilling drums and shalms tramp by; she will then sit pensive, apprehensive, and pass rather a sleepless night.

“On the white charger, La Fayette, in the slowest possible manner, going and coming, and eloquently haranguing among the ranks, rolls onward with his thirty thousand. Saint Antoine, with pike and cannon, has preceded him; a mixed multitude of all and of no arms hovers on his flanks and skirts; the country once more pauses agape: Paris marche sur nous.

“Towards midnight lights flare on the hill; La Fayette’s lights! The roll of his drums come up the Avenue de Versailles. With peace or with war? Patience, friends! With neither. La Fayette is come, but not yet the catastrophe.

“He has halted and harangued so often on the march; spent nine hours on four leagues of road. At Montreuil, 152close on Versailles, the whole host had to pause, and, with uplifted right hand in the murk of night, to these pouring skies, swear solemnly to respect the king’s dwelling, to be faithful to king and National Assembly. Rage is driven down out of sight by the laggard march; the thirst of vengeance slaked in weariness and soaking clothes. Flandre is again drawn out under arms; but Flandre grown so patriotic, now needs no ‘exterminating.’ The wayworn battalions halt in the Avenue; they have, for the present, no wish so pressing as that of shelter and rest.

“Anxious sits President Mounier; anxious the Château. There is a message coming from the Château, that M. Mounier would please to return thither with a fresh deputation swiftly, and so at least unite our two anxieties. Anxious Mounier does of himself send, meanwhile, to appraise the general that his Majesty has been so gracious as to grant us the acceptance pure and simple. The general, with a small advance column, makes answer in passing, speaks vaguely some smooth words to the National President, glances only with the eye at that so mixtiform National Assembly, then fares forward towards the Château. There are with him two Paris Municipals; they were chosen from the three hundred for that errand. He gets admittance through the locked and padlocked gates, through sentries and ushers, to the royal halls.

“The court, male and female, crowds on his passage to read their doom on his face, which exhibits, say historians, a ‘mixture of sorrow, of fervor and valor,’ singular to behold. The king, with Monsieur, with ministers and marshals, is waiting to receive him. He ‘is come,’ in his highflown chivalrous way, ‘to offer his head for the safety of his Majesty’s.’ The two Municipals state 153the wish of Paris; four things of quite pacific tenor. First, that the honor of guarding his sacred person be conferred on patriot National Guards, say the Centre Grenadiers, who as Gardes Françaises were wont to have that privilege. Second, that provisions be got if possible. Third, that the prisons, all crowded with political delinquents, may have judges sent them. Fourth, that it would please his Majesty to come and live in Paris. To all which four wishes, except the fourth, his Majesty answers readily Yes; or indeed may almost say that he has already answered it. To the fourth he can answer only Yes or No, would so gladly answer Yes and No! But in any case, are not their dispositions, thank Heaven, so entirely pacific? There is time for deliberation. The brunt of the danger seems past.

“La Fayette and D’Estaing settle the watches; Centre Grenadiers are to take the guard-room, they of old occupied as Gardes Françaises; for indeed the Gardes-de-Corps, its late ill-advised occupants, are gone mostly to Rambouillet. That is the order of this night; sufficient for the night is the evil thereof. Whereupon La Fayette and the two Municipals, with highflown chivalry take their leave.

“So brief has the interview been, Mounier and his deputation were not yet got up. So brief and satisfactory, a stone is rolled from every heart. The fair palace dames publicly declare that this La Fayette, detestable though he be, is their saviour for once. Even the ancient vinaigrous Tantes admit it; the king’s aunts, ancient Graille and Sisterhood, known to us of old. Queen Marie Antoinette has been heard often to say the like.

“Towards three in the morning all things are settled; the watches set, the Centre Grenadiers put into their old guard-room, and harangued; the Swiss and few remaining 154body-guard harangued. The wayworn Paris battalions, consigned to the hospitality of Versailles, lie dormant in spare beds, spare barracks, coffee-houses, empty churches.

“The troublous day has brawled itself to rest; no lives yet lost but that of one war-horse. Insurrectionary Chaos lies slumbering round the palace like ocean round a diving-bell,—no crevice yet disclosing itself. Deep sleep has fallen promiscuously on the high and on the low, suspending most things, even wrath and famine. Darkness covers the earth. But, far on the northeast, Paris flings up her great yellow gleam far into the wet, black night. For all is illuminated there, as in the old July nights; the streets deserted, for alarm of war; the municipals all wakeful; patrols hailing with their hoarse Who goes?

“La Fayette, in the HôtelHôtel de Nôailles, not far from the Château, having now finished haranguing, sits with his officers, consulting. At five o’clock the unanimous best counsel is, that a man so tossed and toiled for twenty-four hours and more, fling himself on a bed and seek some rest....

“The dull dawn of a new morning, drizzly and chill, had but broken over Versailles. Rascality is in the Grand Court.... Barricading serves not; fly fast, ye body-guards: rabid Insurrection, like the hell-bound chase, uproaring at your heels.... ‘Save the Queen!’ Tremble not, women, but haste, for, lo! another voice shouts far through the outermost door, ‘Save the Queen!’ It is brave Miomandre’s voice that shouts this second warning. He has stormed across imminent death to do it; fronts imminent death, having done it....

“Trembling maids-of-honor hastily wrap the queen, not in robes of state. She flies for her life across the Œil-de-Bœuf, 155against the main door of which, too, Insurrection batters. She is in the king’s apartment, in the king’s arms; she clasps her children amid a faithful few. The imperial-hearted bursts into mother’s tears: ‘O my friends, save me and my children’ (O mes amis, sauvez-moi et mes enfants!). The battering of insurrectionary axes clangs audible across the Œil-de-Bœuf. What an hour!...

“Now, too, La Fayette, suddenly aroused, not from sleep (for his eyes had not yet closed), arrives, with passionate eloquence, with prompt military word of command. National Guards, suddenly roused by sound of trumpet and alarm drum, are all arriving. The death-melly ceases; the first sky-lambent blaze of insurrection is got damped down; it burns now, if unextinguished, yet flameless, as charred coals do, and not extinguishable. The king’s apartments are safe. Ministers, officials, and even some loyal national deputies are assembling round their Majesties. Now, too, is witnessed the touching last flicker of etiquette, which sinks not here in the Cimmerian world-wreckage without a sign! as the house cricket might still chirp in the pealing of a trump of doom. ‘Monsieur,’ said some master of ceremonies, as La Fayette, in these fearful moments, was rushing towards the inner royal apartments, ‘Monsieur, le roi vous accordeaccorde les grandes entrees’ (Monsieur, the king grants you the grand entries)—not finding it convenient to refuse them.

“However, the Paris National Guard, wholly under arms, has cleared the Palace, and even occupies the nearer external spaces, extruding miscellaneous patriotism, for the most part, into the grand court, or even into the forecourt. The body-guards, you can observe, have now of a verity hoisted the national cockade, for they step forward to the windows or balconies, hat aloft in 156hand, on each hat a huge tricolor, and fling over their bandoleers in sign of surrender, and shout, Vive la nation! To which how can the generous heart respond but with, Vive le roi! vivent les gardes-du-corps! His Majesty himself has appeared with La Fayette on the balcony, and again appears. Vive le roi! greets him. Her Majesty, too, on demand, shows herself, though there is peril in it. ‘Should I die,’ she said, ‘I will do it.’ She stands there alone, her hands serenely crossed on her breast. Such serenity of heroism has its effect. La Fayette, with ready wit, in his highflown, chivalrous way, takes that fair, queenly hand and, reverently kneeling, kisses it; thereupon the people do shout, Vive la reine!

“So that all, and the queen herself, nay, the very captain of the body-guards, have grown national! The very captain of the body-guards steps out now with La Fayette. On the hat of the repentant man is an enormous tricolor, large as a soup platter or sunflower, visible to the utmost forecourt. He takes the national oath with a loud voice, elevating his hat; at which sight all the army raise their bonnets on their bayonets, with shouts. Sweet is reconciliation to the heart of man. La Fayette has sworn Flandre; he swears the remaining body-guards down in the Marble Court; the people clasp them in their arms: O my brothers, why would ye force us to slay you? Behold, there is joy over you, as over returning prodigal sons! The poor body-guards, now national and tricolor, exchange bonnets, exchange arms; there shall be peace and fraternity. And still, ‘Vive le roi!’ and also, ‘Le roi à Paris!


“Yes, the king to Paris; what else? Ministers may consult, and national deputies wag their heads; but there is now no other possibility. You have forced him to go willingly. ‘At one o’clock!’ La Fayette gives 157audible assurance to that purpose; and universal insurrection, with immeasurable shout and a discharge of all the firearms, clear and rusty, great and small, that it has, returns him acceptance. What a sound! heard for leagues! a doom-peal! That sound, too, rolls away into the silence of ages. And the Château of Versailles stands ever since vacant, hushed, still, its spacious courts grass grown, responsive to the hoe of the weeder. Times and generations roll on, in their confused gulf-current, and buildings, like builders, have their destiny.”



The King and Queen in Paris—La Fayette’s Letter to Washington—Presents him with the Key of the Bastile—The Constitution growing under the Hands of the Assembly—The Memorable 14th of July—Grand Festival of Federation in the Champ de Mars—Taking the Oath—Carlyle’s Description—La Fayette the Cynosure of All Eyes—He declines to accept Permanent Command—Farewell Words of the Deputies of the National Guard—Vacillating Paris and Vacillating Louis—La Fayette’s Letter to Washington—La Fayette’s Efforts in Defence of King and Constitution—The Queen gives Audience to the Marquis—The Flight of Royalty—La Fayette’s Danger—His Unflinching Courage—He declines the Throne—Royalty captured—La Fayette the Real Head of the Government—Supremacy of the Jacobins—Mob in the Champ de Mars—Louis accepts the Constitution—Resignation of La Fayette—War declared—La Fayette resumes Command—His Stirring Proclamation to his Soldiers—Letters to Washington—Plots of La Fayette’s Enemies—His Fearless Letter to the Assembly—Mob at the Tuileries—La Fayette appears in Paris—His Jacobin Foes—Blind Prejudice of the King and Queen—His Efforts in their Behalf ungratefully refused—The Reign of Terror—Decree of Accusation—La Fayette’s Forced Flight—His Letter to his Wife—Taken Prisoner by the Austrians—La Fayette and his Fellow-Prisoners given over to the Prussians—His Loathsome Dungeon—Transferred to Olmütz—Further Tortures—Attempt at Escape.

“License they mean when they cry liberty.”—Milton.

THE outburst for the time being is quelled. The king and queen have been brought by the surging mob to the gates of their royal residence in Paris. As they 159enter the portals, the mob cries, “Now we will have bread! we have with us the baker, and the baker’s wife, and the baker’s son!” and poor Louis falsely imagines that peace has come.

As the year of 1790 dawned, La Fayette hoped that the light of liberty was rising. He realized that France was not ready yet for a republic, but a constitutional monarchy might unite king and people.

In March, 1790, La Fayette writes thus to Washington:—

My dear General: I have learned with much pain that you have not received any of my letters. I hope, however, that you have not suspected me of being guilty of negligence.

“It is difficult in the midst of our troubles to be informed in time of good occasions; but this time it is by M. Cayne, who departs for London, that I confide the care of making known to you news concerning me.

“Our revolution proceeds on its march as well as it is possible with a nation who receives all at once its liberties, and is therefore liable to confound them with license. The Assembly has more hatred against the ancient system than experience to organize the new constitutional government. The ministers regret their ancient power, and dare not avail themselves of that which they have; in short, as all which existed has been destroyed, and replaced by institutions still very incomplete, there is ample material for criticisms and calumnies.

“Add to this that we are attacked by two sets of enemies,—the aristocrats, who aspire to a counter-revolution, and the factions, who wish to destroy all authority, perhaps even to attempt the life of members of the royal family. These two parties foment these troubles.

160“After having said all this, my dear General, I will say to you with the same frankness, that we have made admirable and almost incredible destruction of all abuses and all prejudices; all that which was not useful to a people, and all that pertained not to them, have been cut off, which, in consideration of the topographical situation, moral and political, of France, we have performed more changes in ten months than the most presumptuous patriots could have hoped for, and the reports of our anarchy and our internal troubles have been much exaggerated.

“After all, this revolution, where one only desires to find (as at one time in America) a little more energy in the government, will extend and establish liberty; it will be made to flourish in the whole world, and we can wait tranquilly through some years until a convention corrects the faults which could not be perceived at present by men scarcely escaped the yoke of aristocracy and despotism.

“You know that the Assembly has adjourned all discussion upon the West Indies, leaving all things in their natural state. The ports remain thus open to American commerce. It was impossible, under present circumstances, to take a definite resolution. The next legislature will form its decision according to the demands of the colonies, which have been invited to present them, and particularly regarding their subsistence.

“Permit me, my dear General, to offer you a painting representing the Bastile, such as it was some days after I had given the order to destroy it. I give to you also the principal key of that fortress of despotism. It is a tribute which I owe to you, as a son to my adopted father, as an aide-de-camp to my general, as a missionary of liberty to his patriarch.

161“Adieu, my beloved General; offer my tender respects to Madame Washington; speak of my affectionate regard to George, Hamilton, Knox, Harrison, Humphrey,—all my friends. I am with tenderness and respect,

“Your affectionate and filial friend.”


But La Fayette’s fond hopes regarding the dawning of liberty in his cherished land were doomed to speedy and terrible disappointment.

The constitution was growing under the hands of the Assembly; the executive and legislative and judicial departments were carefully examined and established upon a better model. Vacillating Louis, assenting and dissenting to every proposition, was at length partially pledged to a freer constitution. Then came the 14th of July and the grand festival in the Champ de Mars. King, queen, and court, churchmen and soldiers, nuns and countesses, nobles and peasants, all were to participate in this national ceremony. Four days before the celebration the different deputations met in the Hotel de Ville to choose a president for the federation. La Fayette was hailed President by universal acclamation. He wished to decline the honor, but the Assembly refused to excuse him. And still another honor awaited him. By a special act of the Assembly the king had been appointed, for the day of the ceremony, supreme commander of the National Guard. This office he delegated to La Fayette, who thus became high constable of all the armed men in the kingdom.

On the 13th of July the Confederates, with La Fayette at their head, repaired to the National Assembly to pay their homage to the monarch and to that body. La Fayette thus addressed the members: “You well knew the necessities of France and the will of Frenchmen when you destroyed the gothic fabric of our government and 162laws, and respected only their monarchical principle; Europe then discovered that a good king could be the protector of a free, as he had been the ground of comfort to an oppressed, people. The rights of man are declared, the sovereignty of the people acknowledged, their power is representative, and the bases of public order are established. Hasten, then, to give energy to the power of the state. The people owe to you the glory of a new constitution, but they require and expect that peace and tranquillity which cannot exist without a firm and effectual organization of the government. We, gentlemen, devoted to the revolution and united in the name of liberty, the guarantees alike of individual and common rights and safety,—we, called by the most imperative duty from all parts of the kingdom, founding our confidence on your wisdom and our hopes on your services,—we will bear without hesitation to the altar of the country the oath which you may dictate to its soldiers. Yes, gentlemen, our arms shall be stretched forth together, and, at the same instant, our brothers from all parts of France shall utter the oath which will unite them together. May the solemnity of that great day be the signal of the conciliation of parties, of the oblivion of resentments, and of the establishment of public peace and happiness. And fear not that this holy enthusiasm will hurry us beyond the proper and prescribed limits of public order. Under the protection of the law, the standard of liberty shall never become the rallying point of license and disorder. Gentlemen, we swear to you to respect the law which it is our duty to defend, swear by our honor as free men, and Frenchmen do not promise in vain.”

To King Louis, La Fayette then addressed these loyal words: “Sire, in the course of those memorable events which have restored to the nation its imprescriptible 163rights, and during which the energy of the people and the virtues of their king have produced such illustrious examples for the contemplation of the world, we love to hail, in the person of your Majesty, the most illustrious of all titles,—chief of the French, and king of a free people. Enjoy, Sire, the recompense of your virtues, and let that pure homage which despotism could not command be the glory and reward of a citizen-king. The National Guards of France swear to your Majesty an obedience which shall know no other limits than those of the law, and a love which shall only terminate with their existence.”

Let Carlyle again describe the scene on that memorable 14th of July.

“In spite of plotting aristocrats, lazy, hired spademen, and almost of destiny itself, for there had been much rain, the Champ de Mars is fairly ready. The morning comes, cold for a July one; but such a festival would make Greenland smile. Through every inlet of that national amphitheatre—for it is a league in circuit, cut with openings at due intervals—floods in the living throng, covering without tumult, space after space. Two hundred thousand patriotic men, and, twice as good, one hundred thousand patriotic women, all decked and glorified, as one can fancy, sit waiting in the Champ de Mars.

“What a picture, that circle of bright-dyed life, spread up there on its thirty-seated slope, leaning, one would say, on the thick umbrage of those avenue trees, for the stems of them are hidden by the height; and all beyond it mere greenness of the summer earth, with the gleam of waters, or white sparklings of stone edifices. On remotest steeple and invisible village belfry stand men with spy-glasses. On the heights of Chaillot are many-colored, 164undulating groups. Round, and far on, over all the circling heights that embosom Paris it is as one more or less peopled amphitheatre, which the eye grows dim with measuring. Nay; heights have cannon, and a floating battery of cannon is on the Seine. When eye fails, ear shall serve. And all France, properly, is but one amphitheatre; for in paved town and unpaved hamlet men walk, listening, till the muffled thunder sounds audibly on their horizon, that they, too, may begin swearing and firing.

“But now to streams of music come confederates enough, for they have assembled on the Boulevard St. Antoine, and come marching through the city with their eighty-three department banners and blessings, not loud but deep; comes National Assembly, and takes seat under its canopy; comes Royalty, and takes seat on a throne beside it; and La Fayette, on a white charger, is here, and all the civic functionaries; and the confederates form dances till their strictly military evolutions and manœuvres can begin.

“Task not the pen of mortal to describe them; truant imagination droops, declares that it is not worth while. There is wheeling and sweeping to slow, to quick, to double-quick time. Sieur Motier, or Generalissimo La Fayette—for they are one and the same, and he, as general of France in the king’s stead, for twenty-four hours—must step forth with that sublime, chivalrous gait of his, solemnly ascend the steps of Fatherland’s altar, in sight of heaven and of scarcely breathing earth, and pronounce the oath: to king, to law, to nation, in his own name and that of armed France; whereat there is waving of banners and sufficient acclaim.


“The National Assembly must swear, standing in its place; the king himself, audibly. The king swears; and 165now be the welkin split with vivats; let citizens, enfranchised, embrace; armed confederates clang their arms; and, above all, let that floating battery speak. It has spoken, to the four corners of France! From eminence to eminence bursts the thunder, faint heard, loud repeated. From Arras to Avignon, from Metz to Bayonne, over Orleans and Blois, it rolls in cannon recitative. Puy bellows of it amid his granite mountains; Pau, where is the shell cradle of great Henri. At far Marseilles, one can think the ruddy evening witnesses it; over the deep blue Mediterranean waters, the castle of If, ruddy-tinted, darts forth from every cannon’s mouth its tongue of fire; and all the people shout, ‘Yes, France is free!’ Glorious France, that has burst out so into universal sound and smoke, and attained the Phrygian cap of Liberty.”

It is not king, or queen, but La Fayette, who is this day the cynosure of all eyes, as he ascends the altar and takes the prescribed oath. His noble nature is neither paralyzed by difficulties nor weakened by popular applause. For the people’s love he is grateful, but to gain that approbation he would not relinquish one iota of his principle. Neither does any rank or power tempt him to seek his personal aggrandizement. When urged by the deputation at this time, that he should accept the permanent command of the military force of the realm he unselfishly refused, accompanying his declination with these disinterested words:—

“Let not ambition take possession of you; love the friends of the people, but reserve blind submission for the law, and enthusiasm for liberty. Pardon this advice, gentlemen; you have given me the glorious right to offer it, when, by loading me with every species of favor which one of your brothers could receive from you, my 166heart, amidst its delightful emotions, cannot repress a feeling of fear.”

That the confederates fully appreciated the noble motives which actuated his decision in this matter is revealed by their farewell words to him:—

“The deputies of the National Guard of France retire with the regret of not being able to nominate you their chief. They respect the constitutional law, though it checks, at this moment, the impulse of their hearts. A circumstance which must cover you with immortal glory is, that you, yourself, promoted the law; that you, yourself, prescribed bounds to our gratitude.”

Paris and Louis were too vacillating and unstable to allow any permanent peace, or permit France to enjoy any prolonged prosperity. Before the 1st of August the solemn oath which had been taken on the Champ de Mars was forgotten by both king and people. The same contentions were again fanning the flames of a still more ominous conflagration.

On the 26th of August, 1790, La Fayette thus writes to General Washington:—

“We are disturbed with revolts among the regiments; and, as I am constantly attacked on both sides by the aristocratic and the factious parties, I do not know to which of the two we owe these insurrections. Our safeguard against them is the National Guard. There are more than a million of armed citizens, among them patriotic legions, and my influence with them is as great as if I had accepted the chief command. I have lately lost some of my favor with the mob, and displeased the frantic lovers of licentiousness, as I am bent on establishing a legal subordination. But the nation at large is very thankful to me for it. It is not out of the heads of aristocrats to make a counter-revolution. Nay, they do 167what they can with all the crowned heads of Europe, who hate us. But I think their plans will either be abandoned or unsuccessful. I am rather more concerned at a division that rages in the popular party. The club of the Jacobins and that of ’89, as it is called, have divided the friends of liberty, who accuse each other; the Jacobins being taxed with a disorderly extravagance, and ’89 with a tincture of ministerialism and ambition. I am endeavoring to bring about a reconciliation.”

“To defend the king and the constitution” was La Fayette’s unswerving purpose. There had been a time when he had hoped that France might become a republic like the United States; but as he carefully watched successive events he became convinced that the nation was not prepared for such a change, and henceforth he decided in favor of a constitutional and limited monarchy; and notwithstanding the king’s exasperating blindness, in regarding La Fayette as his enemy rather than his defender, and the queen’s open enmity, La Fayette enacted faithfully and consistently the double and difficult rôle of upholding the rights of royalty at the same time that he was defending the sacred rights of the people.

Madame Campan says in her “Memoirs of Marie Antoinette”:—

“The queen gave frequent audiences to M. de La Fayette. One day, when he was in her inner closet, his aides-de-camp, who waited for him, were walking up and down the great room where the persons in attendance remained. Some imprudent young women were thoughtless enough to say, with the intention of being overheard by those officers, that it was very alarming to see the queen alone with a rebel and a brigand. I was hurt at such indiscretion, which always produced bad effects, and I imposed silence on them. One of them persisted in the 168appellation brigand. I told her that, as to rebel, M. de La Fayette well deserved the name, but that the title of leader of a party was given by history to every man commanding forty thousand men, a capital, and forty leagues of country; that kings had frequently treated with such leaders, and if it was convenient to the queen to do the same, it remained only for us to be silent and respect her actions. On the morrow the queen, with a serious air, but with the greatest kindness, asked what I had said respecting M. de La Fayette on the preceding day, adding that she had been assured I had enjoined her women silence, because they did not like him, and that I had taken his part. I repeated to the Queen what had passed, word for word. She condescended to tell me that I had done perfectly right.”

As La Fayette was the commander of the National Guard, and as Louis and Marie Antoinette had been brought forcibly to Paris, and were in some sense under the surveillance of La Fayette and his Guard, they were unable to perceive that he was their best friend, and they at length determined to fly from their enforced restraint in Paris. The plan was made and executed.

“And so the royalty of France is actually fled? This precious night, the shortest of the year, it flies and drives! But in Paris, at six in the morning, when some patriot deputy, warned by a billet, awoke La Fayette and they went to the Tuileries? Imagination may paint, but words cannot, the surprise of La Fayette, or with what bewilderment helpless Gouvion rolled glassy Argus’ eyes, discerning now that his false chambermaid had told true!”

A new danger now assailed La Fayette. The infuriated mob, apprised that the king had escaped, laid the blame upon his keeper. “Down with La Fayette!” 169“Away with the traitor!” are the cries which meet his ear, as he boldly faces the vast throngs of excited Parisians who crowd around the Hôtel de Ville. With folded arms and calm dignity, he stood before the riotous mob. With unflinching courage he surveyed that surging mass in silence for a moment; then, when he spoke, it was neither to excuse nor defend himself. His thoughts, as ever, were not for himself; only for the interests of the people. Casting his piercing glance over the multitude he exclaimed, in clarion tones, in which there was no quavering of fear or hesitation in their clear ring:—

“If you call this event a misfortune, what name would you give to a counter-revolution, which would deprive you of your liberty?”

Filled with admiration for his courage, and inspired with the emotion of applause, which, in the fickle fancy of the French so quickly follows its opposite, wrath, the vast multitude rent the air with one deafening shout: “Let us make La Fayette our king!”

But the loyal Knight of Liberty instantly replied, with stern disapprobation:—

“I thought that you professed a better opinion of me. What have I done that you do not believe me fit for something better?”

And the admiring people, recognizing his magnanimous unselfishness, shouted with wild enthusiasm:—


Meanwhile, in the National Assembly, it was announced that La Fayette was in danger from the mob, at the Hôtel de Ville. A deputation was sent to him, offering an escort, to protect him from the violence of the people. To whom La Fayette courteously replied: “I will order an escort for you, as a mark of respect; but, for myself, I shall return alone. I have never been in 170more perfect safety than at this moment, though the streets are filled with the people.”

Prompt means were taken for the arrest of the royal fugitives.

“By first or by second principles, much is promptly decided: ministers are sent for; instructed how to continue their functions; La Fayette is examined, and Gouvion, who gives a most helpless account—the best he can.... La Fayette’s aide-de-camp, Romœuf, riding à franc etrier, on that old herb-merchant’s route, quickened during the last stages, has got to Varennes, where the ten thousand now furiously demand, with fury of panic terror, that royalty shall forthwith return Paris-ward, that there be not infinite bloodshed.... So then our grand royalist plot, of flight to Metz, has executed itself. On Monday night royalty went; on Saturday evening it returns; so much, within one short week, has royalty accomplished for itself.”

A decree was passed by the Assembly, suspending Louis from his kingly functions, as it was contended that by his flight he had voluntarily abdicated the throne; and a guard was placed over the king, queen, and Dauphin.

La Fayette, as commander-in-chief of the National Guards, was in reality the head of the government in France. Though Louis was his captive, he endeavored by every attention of respect to make him feel his restraint as little as possible.

The Jacobins had now gained the supremacy in France. They contended that the people should elect a ruler instead of Louis, whom they declared had relinquished his rights. The Assembly were not yet prepared for this step, and they resolved to restore Louis to power.

A decree was therefore issued by the Assembly, removing the ban from Louis, and declaring that he was not 171culpable for his recent journey. This decree raised a storm of opposition. The day after the bill was passed, a vast mob assembled in the Champ de Mars, to protest against this unpopular measure.

Quickly the crowd raised a riotous tumult, and again La Fayette, the Patriot, stood in their midst. But this time his voice could not be heard on account of their wild clamors, which filled the air and were echoed from surrounding streets. When his words of command were partially understood, their frenzy had reached too high a pitch to be quelled; threats were muttered against him, and even a musket was fired at his breast. But his fearless spirit was resolved to put down this dangerous insurrection, and he was determined not to leave the spot until his efforts had been successful. By his nerve, and quick plans as speedily executed, the rioters were at length forced to give way, but not until blood had been shed, for which his enemies called him to an account.

Appreciating the necessity for a firmer government, the Assembly completed its constitution, and it was submitted to Louis for his acceptance. Poor vacillating Louis was ill-pleased with this same constitution, but the past had taught him that it was safest to submit; and thereupon he repaired to the Assembly and accepted the constitution, and on the 30th of September it was declared that the Constituent Assembly had terminated its sittings. This Assembly had been in existence three years, and had enacted 1309 laws and decrees.

A few days afterwards La Fayette resigned his office as commander-in-chief of the National Guard, deeming that his country no longer required his public services, and desiring intensely to retire to his private estates and enjoy the delights of a quiet life. He sent the following letter to his late comrades in arms:—

172“To serve you until this day, gentlemen, was a duty imposed upon me by the sentiments which have animated my whole life. To resign now, without reserve, to my country, all the power and influence she gave me for the purpose of defending her during recent convulsions,—is a duty which I owe to my well-known resolutions, and it amply satisfies the only sort of ambition I possess.”

The Guard could not part with him without renewed expressions of admiration for their idol. Finding that they could not move him, by their persuasions, to withdraw his resignation, they forged a sword from the bolts of the Bastile, and presented it to him, with profound marks of their esteem and affection. The municipality of Paris voted him a medal, and ordered a complimentary inscription to be placed upon the bust of La Fayette, which had been presented by Virginia to the city of Paris twelve years before.

“Now that his Majesty has accepted the constitution, to the sound of cannon-salvoes, who would not hope? La Fayette has moved for an amnesty, for universal forgiving and forgetting of revolutionary faults; and now surely the glorious revolution, cleared of its rubbish, is complete.... Welcome, surely, to all right hearts, is La Fayette’s chivalrous amnesty. The National Constituent Assembly declares that it has finished its mission; so, amid glitter of illuminated streets and Champs Elysées, and crackle of fireworks, and glad deray, has the first National Assembly vanished.... La Fayette, for his part, will lay down the command. He retires, Cincinnatus-like, to his hearth and farm, but soon leaves them again.”


But the king and court seem blindly destined to bring about their own destruction. The Royalists, far from distinguishing between such men as La Fayette, Robespierre, 173and Pétion, strengthened the hands of the two last, thinking by those means to weaken the former. The court, incited by the queen, treated La Fayette with a blindfold hatred, by opposing Pétion to him at every turn. When the honest, well-meaning soldier was about to be elected mayor of Paris, Marie Antoinette, through her machinations, caused the nomination of Pétion, who employed his exalted position in overturning the throne and the constitution. But not only was France at the mercy of the factions within, but foreign hosts threatened them without.

La Fayette’s quiet life of repose was soon disturbed. Startling rumors reached Paris that a large army was preparing for an invasion. Quick to respond to his country’s call, La Fayette relinquished his coveted delights of rest and reunion with his family, and accepted the command of one of the three armies which France was raising to meet the advancing foe.

At this time La Fayette issued the following stirring proclamation to his army:—

Soldiers of our Country!

“The legislative corps and the king, in the name of the French people, have declared war. Since the country, by constitutional means and by her will, calls us to defend her, what citizen can refuse to her his arm?

“At this moment, when we leaders take again the oath which was pronounced by the nation and army upon the altar of the Federation, I come to explain my intentions, and to recall to you my principles.

“Convinced by the experience of a life devoted to Liberty, that she can only be preserved in the midst of citizens submissive to the laws, as she can only be defended by disciplined troops, I have served the people 174without cajoling them, and in my constant struggle against license and anarchy I have incurred the honorable hatred of the ambitious, and of all factions.

“To-day that the army awaits me, it is not with a pernicious complaisance, but with an inflexible discipline, and with a rigorous fulfilment of duty, that I will justify the affection which they accord to me, and the esteem which they owe me.

“But since I control free men by the imperious will of a chief, it is necessary that we all feel—general, officers, and soldiers—that in this coming war it is a combat to the death between our principles and the pretensions of despots. We must work for the rights of each citizen and the safety of all. We must work for the constitution which we have sworn by, and for the sacred cause of liberty and equality. In short, we must work for the National Sovereignty, by which only we shall be able to resist any such combination of force and danger as there may be; and without which, not only will the French people, but humanity itself, be betrayed.

“Soldiers of Liberty! it is not sufficient for merit to be brave; be patient, indefatigable. Your general ought to plan and order; you, to obey. Be generous! respect a disarmed enemy. Those troops which always grant quarter, and will never receive it, will be invincible. Let us be disinterested, so that the shameful idea of pillage will never soil the nobility of our motives. Let us be humane; it will make every one admire our sentiments and bless our laws.

“Resolve ye, with your general, that we shall see Liberty triumph, or that we shall not survive her.

“Soldiers of the Constitution! fear not that she ceases to watch you when you fight for her. Fear not when you go to defend your country, that these internal dissensions 175shall trouble your firesides. Without doubt the legislative corps and the king will intimately unite in the decisive moment to insure the empire and the law, every one, and their property will be respected. Civil and religious liberty will not be profaned; the peaceable citizen will be protected, whatever may be his opinions; the culpable will be punished, whatever may be his pretences.

“All parties will be dispelled, and the constitution alone will rule; and upon the rebels who have attacked with open voice, and upon the traitors, who have perverted it by their vile passions, will be meted out such judgment as shall make them fear it inwardly and respect it outwardly.

“Yes, we will have the reward of our labor and of our blood. Let us all attest with confidence,—both the representatives elected by the people who have sworn to transact only the duties of the constitution, as we its dangers; and the hereditary representative, the citizen-king, whom the constitution has firmly established upon the throne; and all the other depositories of authority to whom the constitution has delegated power,—let them all believe that the execution of that authority is a duty which the constitution has laid upon them, as obedience is demanded from those who must submit to them; and that any one transgresses the laws in not making them to be obeyed, as they were placed in office that the laws might be defended.

“Let us also affirm, all ye National Guard, that the constitution, newly born, shall find us united for its establishment, and that the constitution, in peril, will always find us ready to defend it; for patriotism renders even glorious the calumnies which we may have to endure in support of the constitution.

176“As for us, furnished with the arms which liberty has consecrated, and with the declaration of rights, let us march towards our enemies!”

The central army was assigned to La Fayette, with his headquarters at Metz. War was declared against Austria on the 20th of April, and on the 24th La Fayette was ordered to collect his regiments and report at Metz by the 1st of May. This required such marvellous celerity that his enemies hoped he would fail to accomplish it, but on the appointed day La Fayette was at the post assigned, awaiting further orders. From his camp at Metz La Fayette wrote thus to Washington:—

“This is a very different date from that which had announced to you my return to the sweets of private life, a situation hitherto not very familiar to me, but which, after fifteen revolutionary years, I had become quite fit to enjoy. I have given you an account of the quiet and rural mode of living I had adopted in the mountains where I was born, having there a good house and a late manor, now unlorded into a large farm, with an English overseer for my instruction. For as I have relinquished my title of nobility, I manage my estate as a simple country gentleman. I felt myself very happy among my neighbors, no more vassals to me nor anybody, and had given to my wife and rising family the only quiet weeks they had enjoyed for a long time, when the threats and mad preparations of the refugees, and, still more, the countenance they had obtained in the dominions of our neighbors, induced the National Assembly and the king to adopt a more rigorous system than had hitherto been the case.

“I had declined every public employment that had been offered by the people, and, still more, had I refused 177consent to my being appointed to any military command; but when I saw our liberties and constitution were seriously threatened, and my services could be usefully employed in fighting for our old cause, I could no longer resist the wishes of my countrymen; and as soon as the king’s express reached my farm, I set out for Paris; from thence to this place; and I do not think it uninteresting to you, my dear General, to add, that I was everywhere on the road affectionately welcomed.”

Again La Fayette writes to Washington, in March, 1792, from Paris, whither he had been recalled from Metz by political affairs:—

My dear General: I have been called from the army to the capital for a conference between two other generals, the ministers, and myself; and I am at present about to return to my post. The coalition of the continental powers concerning that which touches our affairs, is certain, and will not be broken by the death of the Emperor Leopold II. But as regards the preparations for their continental war, it is yet doubtful whether our neighbors will dare approach in order to extinguish a flame so contagious as that of liberty.

“The danger for us is in the state of anarchy which arises from the ignorance of the people, from the immense numbers of non-proprietors, and from the habitual mistrust regarding every kind of measure of the government. The difficulties are augmented by the discontents and the distinguished aristocrats, because these two parties unite in counteracting our ideas of public order.

“Do not believe, however, my dear General, the exaggerated accounts which you will receive, especially those which come from England. Liberty and equality will be preserved in France, that is certain; but if they succumb, 178you may know well that I will not have survived them. Yon can be assured, however, that we go forth to meet this painful present situation, by an honorable defence, and for the amelioration of our internal affairs.

“We have not had time to prove just at what point our constitution can bring to us a good government. We know only that it is established upon the rights of the people, destroys nearly all abuses, changes French vassalage into national dignity; in short, it renders to men the enjoyment of their faculties, which nature has given to them, and which society assures to them.

“Permit me, my dear General, to present to you alone an observation upon the last choice of an American ambassador. I am a personal friend of Gouverneur Morris, and I have always been, as an individual, content with him; but the aristocratic principles, and even counter-revolutionary ones which he has professed, render him scarcely the proper person to represent the only nation of which the government resembles ours, since both of them are founded upon the plan of a democratic representation. I will add, that as France finds herself surrounded by enemies, it would seem that America ought to desire to conform herself to the changes in our government.

“I speak not only of those which democratic principles can hasten and introduce, but of those new projects of the aristocracy, such as the re-establishment of a nobility, the creation of a chamber of peers, and other political blasphemies of that kind, which, so far as we are able, we shall not have realized in France.

“I have desired that we should establish an elective senate, a more independent judiciary corps, and a more energetic administration; but it is necessary that the people should be taught to know the advantages of a firm government before knowing how to reconcile it with their 179ideas of liberty, and to distinguish it from those arbitrary systems which it has overthrown.

“You see, my dear General, I am not an enthusiast regarding all the clauses of our constitution, though I love those principles which resemble those of the United States; as to the exception of an hereditary president of executive power, I believe it conforms to our circumstances at present.

“But I hate all that resembles despotism and the aristocracy, and I cannot relinquish the desire that these principles, American and French, should be in the heart and upon the lips of the ambassador of the United States in France. I make these reflections in case only that some arrangements conformable to the wishes of Gouverneur Morris can in the sequel be made.

“Permit me to add here the tribute of praise which I owe to M. Short for the sentiments which he has expressed, and for all the esteem which he has inspired in this country, I desire that you should personally recognize it.

“There are changes in the ministry preparing. The king has chosen his council from the most violent portion of the popular party, that is to say, from the club of the Jacobins, a kind of Jesuitical institution more likely to make deserters from our cause than to attract to us followers. These new ministers, however, are not suspected of being able to have a chance of re-establishing order. They discuss that which they should apply to themselves. The Assembly is little enlightened; they value too highly popular applause. The king in his daily conduct from time to time acts very well. After all, the thing will go on, and the success of the revolution cannot be placed in doubt.

“My command extends upon the frontiers from Givet 180to Bitche. I have sixty thousand men, and this number will be increased by young men who will come from all parts of the empire to complete the regiments. The voluntary recruits are animated by a spirit most patriotic. I go to make an entrenched camp with thirty thousand men, and with a detached corps of four to five thousand; the remainder of the troops will occupy strong places. The armies of the Maréchaux Luckner and Rochambeau are inferior to mine, because we have sent several regiments south; but in case of war we can gather respectable forces.

“If we have yet some reasons for discontent, we can, however, hope to attain our just cause. License, under the mask of patriotism, is our greatest evil, because it menaces property, tranquillity, and even liberty.

“Adieu, my dear General; think sometimes of your respectful, tender, and filial friend.”

But La Fayette’s confidence in his countrymen was repaid by ingratitude; and he was yet to learn that few men were actuated by his unselfish loyalty and stern integrity.


His enemies now plotted his ruin. A treacherous plan was laid to draw off his expected re-enforcements, so that when he reached Givet, he would find himself at the mercy of the advancing foe. This disgraceful scheme was put into execution, and La Fayette, finding himself exposed to overwhelming dangers, wisely retreated to his former post to await further developments. But soon the direful rumors from Paris filled his patriotic heart with more painful concern than his own perilous position. “Would that he had trusted me!” exclaimed magnanimous La Fayette, as courier after courier brought news of the woes thickening around the helpless, weak 181king. In a letter to the Assembly, La Fayette boldly declared war against the defiant Jacobins, who were fast clutching the reins of government, or, rather, planning a counter-revolution, which should give up the city and the nation to the diabolical power of a wild anarchy and unbridled license. It was this memorable letter in which he said: “Can you dissemble even to yourselves that a faction—and to avoid all vague demonstrations, the Jacobin faction—have caused all these disorders? It is that society which I boldly denounce; organized in its affiliated societies like a separate empire in the metropolis, and blindly governed by some ambitious leaders, this society forms a totally distinct corporation in the midst of the French nation, whose power it usurps by tyrannizing over its representatives and constituted authorities. Let the royal authority be untouched, for it is guaranteed by the constitution; let it be independent, for its independence is one of the springs of our liberty; let the king be revered, for he is invested with the majesty of the nation; let him choose a ministry which wears the chain of no faction; and if traitors exist, let them perish under the sword of the law.”

No other man in France would have dared to write such a letter; and this brave letter lost him his popularity, for the masses were imbued with the influence of the Jacobins. This party now took an oath to destroy the fearless marquis who had thus laid bare their base designs. They harangued the mob, and persuaded them to believe that Louis and La Fayette were leagued against them. It required little to inflame the excited people. Twenty thousand men from the lowest ranks paraded the streets, and with wild shouts of “Down with the king! to the Tuileries!” they swept onward to the palace, and with yells of execration they trampled down 182the guard and burst into the very apartment of the king. Louis for once was roused and played the part of a man. His calmness awed the mob; and the Assembly sending a deputation to his relief, the multitude were persuaded to retire.

This news was wafted quickly to La Fayette; and on the 28th of June he appeared in Paris. He left the army, and came alone as a simple citizen, and, visiting the Assembly, he boldly met their charge against him, which was that he had made an attempt at dictation; and he was there to answer this slander, and to demand reparation for the indignity to which the king had been subjected. He ended his speech with the words, “Such are the representations submitted to the Assembly by a citizen whose love for liberty, at least, will not be disputed.”

But the Jacobin leaders had now the upper hand in the Assembly; and they declared him guilty of treason. And when the chivalrous and true-hearted La Fayette waited upon the king, for whom he had risked his reputation and his life, “he was insulted by the courtiers, coolly received by the king, and the queen expressly forbade any one to give him the slightest support. His efforts at rallying around him the National Guard, in order to march upon the Jacobins and make them prisoners, proved equally fruitless. He returned full of grief, but not utterly discouraged, to the army, whence he continued to offer his services to the king; but all his offers were rejected. ‘The best counsel I can give M. de La Fayette,’ answered the king, ‘is to serve as a scarecrow to the factions in following his profession as a general.’”


The Princess Elizabeth, more clear-sighted than Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, advised that the royal family should throw themselves with confidence into 183the protection of the only man who could save the king and deliver his family from the awful dangers which threatened them. But the imprudent queen is reported to have replied, “It is better to perish than to be saved by La Fayette and the Constitutionals.”

Thus was this noble-spirited man rewarded by those whom he had risked his life to try to save.

The awful Reign of Terror came remorselessly striding on in its resistless march of death. La Fayette made one more attempt to save the perverse and blinded king and queen. A plan was formed for removing the royal family from Paris, and placing them under the protection of the army of which La Fayette had command; but the haughty Marie Antoinette replied, “No; we have once owed our lives to La Fayette; but I should not wish it to be the case a second time.” Thus was their last chance of escape refused, and the Reign of Terror soon numbered them among its victims.

And the diabolical Reign of Terror also laid its ghastly hand upon the freedom of the Knight of Liberty, and against his illustrious name wrote this infamous “Decree of Accusation”:—

National Assembly, Aug. 17, 1792.

“I. It appears to this Assembly that there is just ground for accusation against M. de La Fayette, heretofore commander of the army of the North.

“II. The executive power shall, in the most expeditious manner possible, carry the present decree into execution; and all constituted authorities, all citizens, and all soldiers are hereby enjoined, by every means in their power, to secure his person.

“III. The Assembly forbids the army of the North any longer to acknowledge him as a general, or to obey 184his orders; and strictly enjoins that no person whatsoever shall furnish anything to the troops, or pay any money for their use, but by the orders of M. Dumouriez.”

This decree was widely circulated throughout the army. Against such a hydra-headed demon of persecution it was useless to attempt to contend. La Fayette’s only safety lay in flight. For his king and his country he had sacrificed all that was dear to him in life; and this was his thankless reward.

At this time La Fayette thus wrote to his wife:—

“I make no apology to you or my children for having ruined my family; no one among you would wish to owe fortune to conduct contrary to my conscience.” Surely the actions of his heroic wife and brave children fully confirmed his exalted opinion of them.

After taking every necessary precaution for the safety of his army, La Fayette and his three friends, Messieurs Latour-Maubourg, Bureaux de Pusy, and Alexandre Lameth, with a little party of twenty-three exiles, departed from France and turned their faces towards the Netherlands. Reaching Rochefort, La Fayette and his friends endeavored to obtain passports. But La Fayette was quickly recognized, and the commandant instantly despatched a messenger to the Austrian general at Namur, with the startling intelligence that he held in safe-keeping the illustrious La Fayette, one of the bravest generals of France. The Austrian general, Moitelle, could scarcely credit this astounding piece of good fortune. “What!” exclaimed he, “La Fayette? La Fayette?” Turning to one officer, he cried, “Run instantly and inform the Duke of Bourbon of it”; to another the order was given, “Set out this moment and carry this news to his Royal Highness at Brussels”; and sending others here and there to 185spread the wonderful intelligence: before many hours the news had been despatched to half the princes and generals in Europe, that the illustrious La Fayette was a captive in the hands of the allies. The prisoners were conducted to Namur, then to Nivelles, and afterwards to Luxembourg, where an attempt was made to assassinate La Fayette by some of the French refugees. The Austrians finally decided that La Fayette and his three companions should be given over into the power of the Prussians. The captives were accordingly closely guarded and hurried to Wessel. Here they were separated and thrown into different cells. The many shameful indignities which they suffered and the hardships of their cruel prison life soon prostrated La Fayette, and he became dangerously ill, and for a time his life was despaired of. No mitigation of his confinement was, however, allowed him. Once the king of Prussia offered him aid if he would assist in the plans forming against France. La Fayette received this base message with indignant scorn, and bade the officer return and inform his master “that he was still La Fayette.”

The king, foiled in his attempt to weaken the stanch loyalty of the heroic marquis, who would not swerve one hair‘s-breadth from his conscientious principles, even for the longed-for boon of liberty, determined to wreak his mortified pride by inflicting further cruelties upon the helpless captives, whom, though he could not bribe to dishonor, he might still torture to death.

The monarch resolved to gratify his malignity by removing them to still more dismal and unhealthy dungeons. Whereupon, the prisoners were conducted to Magdebourg; and as they were thrown into the loathsome vaults of that prison, they were informed that they should never again behold the light of day. Here they 186existed, desolate and despairing, for a year. Frederic William occasionally sent to learn if their sufferings were sufficiently intense to satisfy his fiendish cruelty, and then devised new torments. La Fayette dared not send letters to his wife, fearing that his writing would be recognized, and accordingly addressed them to a friend in England, hoping that his family would in some manner receive them. He thus describes his situation:—

“Imagine an opening made under the rampart of the citadel, and surrounded with a strong high palisade; through this, after opening four doors, each armed with chains, bars, and padlocks, they come, not without some difficulty and noise, to my cell, three paces wide, five and a half long. The wall is mouldy on the side of the ditch, and the front one admits light, but not sunshine, through a little grated window. Add to this two sentinels, whose eyes penetrate into this lower region, but who are kept outside the palisade, lest they should speak; other watchers not belonging to the guard; and all the walls, ramparts, ditches, guards, within and without the citadel of Magdebourg, and you will think that the foreign powers neglect nothing to keep us within their dominions.

“The noisy opening of the four doors is repeated every morning to admit my servant; at dinner, that I may eat in the presence of the commandant of the citadel and of the guard; and at night, to take my servant to his prison. After having shut upon me all the doors, the commandant carries off the keys to the room where, since our arrival, the king has ordered him to sleep.

“I have books, the white leaves of which are taken out, but no news, no newspapers, no communications,—neither pen, ink, paper, nor pencil. It is a wonder that I possess this sheet, and I am writing with a toothpick. 187My health fails daily.... The account I have given you may serve for my companions, whose treatment is the same.”


At length, despairing of making La Fayette yield by any cruelties, however barbarous, the Prussian king, fearing that the peace which he was concluding with France would require the surrender of La Fayette, he determined to transfer him, with Maubourg and De Pusy, to the Austrians.

Olmütz was selected by their new jailers, and the prisoners were accordingly carried thither.

ThoughThough placed within the same castle, and occupying cells in the same corridor, the friends were as completely guarded against all intercourse with each other, and all knowledge of each other’s condition, as if an ocean or a continent separated them. As they entered their cells, it was declared to each of them, “that they would never come out of them alive; that they would never see anything but what was enclosed within the four walls of their respective cells; that they would hold no communication with the outer world, nor receive any kind of information of persons or things there; that their jailers were even prohibited from pronouncing their names; that in the prison reports and government despatches they would be referred to only by the number of their cells; that they would never be suffered to learn anything of the situation of their families, or even to know of each other’s existence; and that, as such a situation of hopeless confinement would naturally incite to suicide, knives and forks, and all other instruments by which they might do violence to themselves, would be thenceforth withheld from them.”

Such were Austria’s improvements upon the cruelties of Prussia.

188In a dark and loathsome dungeon, the walls of which were twelve feet thick, and guarded by doors of wood and iron, covered with bolts and bars, the only air admitted into the cell coming through a loophole in the wall, beneath which was a ditch of stagnant water whose poisonous effluvium stifled the suffering victim on a bed of rotten straw filled with vermin, by the side of which stood a worm-eaten table and broken chair, lay the sick and tortured La Fayette, whose keen anxieties regarding the fate of his adored wife and children were added to the bodily torments which his enemies inflicted upon him. Again he became ill. His physician represented to the authorities that fresh air was absolutely necessary; three times the brutal answer was sent, “He is not yet sick enough.” At length, however, he was allowed a daily walk of a few moments under the eye of his jailer.

The news of the imprisonment of La Fayette had been received with profound sorrow throughout the world. Many efforts had been put forth in his behalf from time to time. While La Fayette was at Magdebourg, the American minister in France took upon himself the responsibility of directing the banker of the United States, at Hamburgh, to advance ten thousand florins, which were sent to La Fayette, and was the means of procuring for him many needed comforts. This act was afterwards ratified by Congress under the head of military compensation.

The imprisonment of his loyal and devoted young friend caused the warm heart of Washington the deepest anguish, but, as the president of a neutral nation, his public acts were governed by caution; though his personal influence as a man in behalf of his friend was strong in endeavoring to secure the release of 189the marquis. To Mr. Pinckney, then in Europe, he thus wrote:—

“I need hardly mention how much my sensibility has been hurt by the treatment this gentleman has met with, or how anxious I am to see him liberated therefrom; but what course to pursue as most likely and proper to aid the measure is not quite so easy to decide on. As President of the United States, there must not be a commitment of the government by any interference of mine; and it is no easy matter in a transaction of this nature for a public character to assume the garb of a private citizen in a case that does not relate to himself. Yet such is my wish to contribute my mite to accomplish that desirable object, that I have no objection to its being known to the imperial ambassador in London, who, if he think proper, may communicate it to his court, that this event is an ardent wish of the people of the United States, to which I sincerely add mine. The time, the manner, and even the measure itself, I leave to your discretion; as circumstances, and every matter which concerns this gentleman, are better known on that than they are on this side of the Atlantic.”

At length a young German physician, Dr. J. Erick Bollman, filled with admiration for the illustrious and persecuted La Fayette, although he had never seen him, nevertheless enthusiastically espoused his cause, and determined to attempt the liberation of the marquis. Meeting at Vienna Francis Kinlock Huger, the son of Colonel Huger, of South Carolina, at whose house La Fayette was first received when he landed in America, the two young men resolved to attempt at all risks to themselves his releasethemselves his release. They were so far successful, that by their aid La Fayette eluded his jailers, while out for exercise, and mounted a horse provided by his friends, 190and succeeded in reaching Sternberg, but was there again arrested and carried back to endure still greater tortures in his loathsome prison at Olmütz. His two devoted friends were also captured and obliged to suffer imprisonment for six months, as a punishment for their unselfish deed; while La Fayette was informed by his cruel tormentors that his zealous friends were to be executed for their attempt in his behalf.



Writings of Virginie La Fayette—Her Account of the Approach of the Revolution—Her Narrative of her Father’s Part in the Terrible Tragedy—Her Mother’s Anxieties—Dangers of the La Fayette Family—Arrest of Madame La Fayette—Her Heroic Courage—News of the Imprisonment of General La Fayette—Letter of Madame La Fayette to M. Roland—Madame La Fayette released on Parole—Her Letter to the King of Prussia—M. Roland secures Madame La Fayette’s Release from Parole—Madame La Fayette rearrested—Brave Conduct of her Daughter Anastasie—Madame La Fayette imprisoned at Brioude—Her Kind Attentions to her Fellow-prisoners—Her Jailer bribed to allow the Visits of her Children—The Arrest of Madame La Fayette’s Sister, Mother, and Grandmother—Madame La Fayette removed to Paris—Ineffectual Efforts in her Behalf—The Mother, Sister, and Grandmother of Madame La Fayette perish upon the Scaffold—Madame La Fayette’s Pathetic Description of their Dreadful Doom.

“Why, headstrong liberty is lash’d with woe,
There’s nothing situate under heaven’s eye,
But hath his bound in earth, in sea, in sky.”

LEAVING La Fayette for a time in his gloomy prison at Olmütz, we will turn once again to the writings of Virginie La Fayette (Madame de Lasteyrie) for the home picture of La Fayette’s history during the memorable French Revolution. She says:—

“The Revolution had for a long time back been gradually approaching. The States-General were convoked and met in the month of May, 1789. After the 14th of July father was elected commander-in-chief of the 192National Guard of Paris. His whole existence was bound up with the events of that period. You may imagine the cruel anxiety in which my mother passed the three first years of the Revolution. She was free from all prejudice; besides, she had long shared my father’s principles, which would in any case have been her own; she approved, she admired his conduct; she was the partner of all his views, and was supported in the midst of her moral sufferings by the thought that he was working to obtain the triumph of right. The first misfortunes of the Revolution filled her soul with such bitterness that she was insensible to the natural feelings of amour-propre, which my father’s conduct would otherwise have called forth. Her only satisfaction was to see him often sacrifice his popularity to oppose any disorderly or arbitrary act. She had adopted liberal opinions, and professed them openly, but she possessed that feminine tact, the shades of which it would be impossible to delineate, and was thereby prevented from being what was then called a femme de parti. Her disposition led her not to fear the censure of certain coteries, but she shuddered when she thought of the incalculable consequences of the events which were taking place, and she was incessantly praying for the mercy of God, whilst she fulfilled all the requirements of her arduous life.

“She accepted the requests, which were made to her by each of the sixty districts of Paris, to collect subscriptions at the blessing of their banners and at other patriotic ceremonies. My father kept open house. She did the honors in a manner which charmed her numerous guests; but what she suffered in the depths of her heart can only be understood by those who have heard her talk of those times.

“She beheld my father at the head of a revolution, 193the issue of which it was impossible to foresee. Each calamity, each disturbance, was looked upon by her without the slightest illusion as to the success of her own cause. She was, however, supported by my father’s principles, and so convinced of the good it was in his power to do, and of the evil it was in his power to avert, that she bore with incredible fortitude the continual perils to which he was exposed. Never, has she often told us, did she see him leave the house during that period without thinking that she was bidding him adieu for the last time. Although no one could be more terrified than she was when those whom she loved were in danger, still, during that time she was superior to her usual self, devoted in common with my father to the hope of preventing crime.

“The various events of the Revolution, the dangers incurred by my father, the manner in which he supported every principle of justice and of liberty against all parties, form the history of my mother’s anxieties and consolations during two years and a half. You have read in the history of the Revolution that considerable uproar was raised on the Monday of Passion Week, 1791, to prevent the king from going to Saint Cloud, where he wished to receive the sacrament from the hands of priests who had not taken the oath to support the constitution. The king did not put this plan into execution, notwithstanding the endeavors of my father, who entreated Louis XVI. to persist in his intention, which he undertook to have executed. The king refused.

“My father, displeased with the National Guard, who had but feebly supported him in presence of the populace, and with the king’s weakness, which rendered it impossible to retrieve the faults committed on that day, thought fit to resign the command of the National Guard 194of Paris, and to avoid all entreaties, he quitted his own house. My mother remained at home, transported with joy at the resolution he had taken, and was charged by him to receive in his stead the municipality and the sixty battalions who came to implore him to resume his command. She replied to each individual in the words which my father himself would have dictated, carefully marking by her demeanor the distinction she made between the most respectable chefs de bataillon, and those who, like Santerre, had necessitated by their misconduct my father’s resignation, and who that day all united in taking the same step and repeating the same protestations. My mother, perplexed as she was in performing so difficult a task, was overjoyed at the thought that my father had returned to private life. This satisfaction lasted four days. Having thus marked his displeasure at disorders which he had not been able to prevent, my father yielded to the general entreaties. He resumed his command, and my mother her trials and anxieties.

“On the 21st of June of the same year, 1791, the king left Paris secretly, but was soon brought back from Varennes, where he had been arrested. In no other circumstance of my father’s life did my mother so much admire him as in the one which I am now relating. She beheld him, on the one hand, relinquishing all his republican tendencies to join in the wish of the majority; on the other hand, amidst the difficulties in which he was placed by his position, taking every responsibility, bearing all censure so as to insure the safety of the royal family, and spare them, as much as was in his power, every painful detail. My mother hastened to the Tuileries so soon as the queen began to receive, and before the constitution had been accepted. She found herself there 195the only woman connected with the patriote party, for she believed as my father did, that politics at such a moment ought not to rule personal intercourse.


“The Jacobins raised on the 17th of July a considerable outbreak. The brigands commenced by murdering two men. Martial law was proclaimed. It is difficult to form an idea of my mother’s mortal anguish while my father was in the Champ de Mars, exposed to the rage of an infuriated multitude, which dispersed crying out that my mother must be put to death and her head carried to meet him. I remember the fearful cries we heard, I remember the alarm of everybody in the house, and above all my mother’s joy at the thought that the brigands who were coming to attack her were no longer surrounding my father in the Champ de Mars. While embracing us with tears of joy, she took every necessary precaution against the approaching danger with the greatest calmness, and above all with the greatest relief of mind. The guard had been doubled, and was drawn up before the house, but the brigands were very near entering my mother’s apartment by the garden looking upon the Place du Palais-Bourbon, and were already climbing the low wall which protected us, when a body of cavalry passed on the Place and dispersed them.

“The“The constitution having been accepted by the king, the Constituent Assembly ended its sittings, and was replaced by the Legislative Assembly. My father gave up the command of the National Guard, and set out for Auvergne with my mother in the beginning of October. The journey was long, for they were often obliged to stop in order to acknowledge the marks of sympathy they received on the way. We followed in another carriage, and my brother joined us shortly afterwards.

“This interval of repose was of short duration. My 196father was appointed to the command of one of the three armies which were formed at that time. He left Chavaniac in December, 1791. This departure, the expectation of an approaching war, the dread of fresh disturbances, all contributed to renew my mother’s distress: those who might have shared her feelings had left her. My grandmother, and, soon after, my aunt de Noailles were obliged to return to Paris. She bade them a farewell which she was far from supposing was to be the last.

“War was declared in the month of March, 1792. It began by several skirmishes with my father’s army, in one of which M. de Gouvion, who had been major-general of the National Guard, was killed. My mother was filled with terror and harassed by fearful forebodings. The disturbances at home added to her dismay.

“My father’s letter to the Legislative Assembly, written from the camp of Maubenge, on June 16, 1792, against the Jacobins, and his appearance at the bar to support it, mingled with these anxieties the satisfaction she was accustomed to find in all his actions. But one can well understand how much she must have suffered at such a distance, on seeing him exposed to so many and such various dangers. He invited her to go and join him; but in those times of public commotion she feared that if she accepted his proposal, he might be accused of wishing to put his family in safety: she was also afraid of impeding his movements, which depended on so many uncertain events. After having thought it over several days, she decided upon sacrificing herself and remaining at Chavaniac.

“Shortly after the noble resolution my mother had taken of remaining at Chavaniac, she received intelligence of the insurrection of the 10th of August. She 197heard almost at the same time that my grandfather, the Duc d’Ayen, who had been defending the king at the Tuileries, and my uncle, M. de Grammont, who had been sought for amongst the dead, had both escaped the dangers of that dreadful day. The newspapers gave details of my father’s resistance at Sédan. But it was soon evident that all was useless, and nothing could be compared to the anguish of my mother’s heart during the days which followed. The public papers were full of sanguinary decrees which were submitted to everywhere except in the district under my father’s command. A price was set on his head, promises were made at the bar of the Assembly to bring him back, dead or alive. At length, on the 24th of August, she received a letter from her sister, Madame de Noailles, telling her that my father was out of France. My mother’s joy was equal to her despair on the preceding days.

“We were in daily expectation of the house being pillaged. My mother provided for everything, burnt or concealed her papers; then, in consequence of the alarming intelligence she received, she resolved to place her children in safety. A priest assermenté[1] came to offer her a place of refuge amidst the mountains. M. Frestel took my brother there during the night. The same evening she sent us to Langeac, a small town about two leagues from Chavaniac, and thus having made every arrangement, she calmly awaited coming events. She remained with my aunt, whom it would have been impossible to persuade to leave the place.

1. Prêtre assermenté, one who accepted the Constitution.

“Nevertheless, some days afterwards, calmer feelings having prevailed around her, my mother thought it might be useful for her to go to Brioude, the chief town 198of the district. There she received from many people proofs of the most lively interest; but she refused the marks of sympathy proffered by several aristocrates ladies, declaring she would take as an insult any token of esteem which could not be shared with my father, and which would tend to separate her cause from his.

“By a decree of the ‘district,’ the seals were affixed on the house. My mother herself had caused this measure to be taken, so as to command respect from the brigands, who were every day expected. The word émigré was not inscribed in the official report, and the respect shown by the two commissaries led her to hope that she had nothing to dread, at least on the part of the administration. She therefore yielded to the earnest entreaties of her daughters, and allowed them to return to Chavaniac. We found her in possession of two letters from my father, written after his departure from France. These letters cheered her greatly. Although she flattered herself that he would soon be released, she was nevertheless much agitated by the news of his arrest.

“On the 10th of September, 1792, at eight o’clock in the morning, the house was invested by a party of armed men. A commissary presented my mother with an order from the Committee of Public Safety, giving directions for her to be sent to Paris with her children. This order was enclosed in a letter from M. Roland, charging him with the execution of this decree. At that very moment my sister entered the room. She had managed to escape from our governess so as to take away all means of hiding her and separating her from my mother.

“My mother did not show the least alarm. She wished to put herself as soon as possible under the protection of those authorities who could give her effectual aid. She had the horses harnessed immediately, and 199while the preparations for departure were being made, her writing-desk was opened, and my father’s letters seized.

“‘You will see in them, sir,’ said my mother to the commissary, ‘that if there had been tribunals in France, M. de La Fayette would have submitted to them, certain as he was that not an action of his life could criminate him in the eyes of real patriots.’

“‘Nowadays, madam,’ he answered, ‘public opinion is the only tribunal.’

“During that time the soldiers were exploring the house. One of them, on seeing the old family pictures, said to the housekeeper, who was nearly blind from old age:—

“‘Who are these? some grand aristocrates, no doubt?’

“‘Good people who are no more,’ she answered. ‘If they were still alive, things would not be going on as badly as they are now.’

“The soldiers contented themselves with running their bayonets through several pictures. My mother slipped away to give orders for my concealment. Then, with my sister, who would not leave her for a minute, and my aunt, then seventy-three years of age, they departed, followed by their servants, who hoped to make themselves useful by mixing with the soldiers.

“The journey was most trying. They spent the night at Fix. The next morning, on arriving at Le Puy, my mother requested to be immediately conducted to the ‘Département.’ ‘I respect orders coming from the administration,’ she said to the commissary, ‘as much as I detest those coming from elsewhere.’

“The entrance into the town was perilous; a few days previously a prisoner had been massacred on his way through the suburbs. My mother said to my sister, 200‘If your father knew you were here, how anxious he would be; but at the same time what pleasure your conduct would give him.’

“The prisoners arrived without injury, although several stones were thrown into the carriage. They alighted at the ‘Département,’ the members of which had been immediately convoked. As soon as the sitting began, my mother said that she placed herself with confidence under the protection of the ‘Département,’ because in it she beheld the authority of the people, which she always respected wherever it could be found.

“‘You receive, Messieurs,’ she added, ‘your orders from M. Roland or from whomsoever you please. As for me, I only choose to receive them from you, and I give myself up as your prisoner.’

“She then requested my father’s letters should be copied before they were sent to Paris, observing that falsehoods were often brought before the Assembly; she asked leave to read these letters aloud. Some one having expressed the fear that doing so might be painful to her. ‘On the contrary,’ she replied, ‘I find support and comfort in the feelings they contain.’ She was listened to at first with interest, then with deep emotion.

“After having read the letters and looked over the copies, she begged not to leave the house of the ‘Département’ as long as she remained at Le Puy. She exposed the injustice of her detention, how useless and perilous a journey to Paris would be, and concluded by saying that if they persisted in keeping her as a hostage, she would be much obliged to the ‘Département,’ were she allowed to make Chavaniac her prison, and in that case she offered her parole not to leave it. It was decided in the next sitting that the ‘Département’ should present her 201request to the minister. While awaiting the reply, the prisoners were to inhabit the building belonging to the administration.

“While in prison, my mother received touching marks of sympathy. She was often watched by friendly National Guards, who would ask to be employed on that duty in order to prevent its being entrusted to evil-disposed keepers. She sometimes received accounts of my brother, who still remained in the same place of refuge; and of me, for she had thought fit to have me also concealed at a few leagues from Chavaniac.

“At this time public affairs were most inauspicious. All honest officials took favorable opportunities for resigning, and were replaced by Jacobins. We learnt that my father, instead of being set free, had been delivered up by the coalition to the king of Prussia, and was on his way to Spandau. The impression produced on my mother by this news was dreadful. She was in despair at having given her parole to stay at Chavaniac; for notwithstanding the impossibility of leaving France, she could not bear the thoughts of pledging her word to give up seeking every means of rejoining my father.

“M. Roland’s answer came at the end of September. He allowed my mother to return to Chavaniac, a prisoner on parole, under the responsibility of the ‘administration.’ My mother thus received the permission she had asked for at the precise moment when she was struck with dismay by the situation my father was in, and by the dangers he was running now at the hands of foreign powers, as lately at those of the revolutionists at home.

“The ‘Département’ decided that the commune would each day supply six men to guard my mother, who went to the assembly-room immediately on hearing of this resolution.

202“‘I here declare, gentlemen,’ she said, ‘that I will not give the parole I offered if guards are to be placed at my door.

“‘Choose between these two securities. I cannot be offended by your not trusting me, for my husband has given still better proofs of his patriotism than I have of my honesty; but you will allow me to believe in my own integrity, and not to add bayonets to my parole.’

“It was decided that no guard should be set, and that the municipality would every fortnight report my mother’s presence at Chavaniac. My mother, on learning that M. Roland had expressed his disapprobation of the massacres of September, and that he alone could free her from the engagementengagement she had contracted decided, notwithstanding her reluctance, on writing to him the following letter:—

“‘Sir: I can only attribute to a kind feeling the change you have brought about in my situation. You have spared me the dangers of a too perilous journey, and consented that my place of retirement should be my prison. But any prison whatever has become insupportable to me since I learnt that my husband has been transferred from town to town by the enemies of France, who were conducting him to Spandau. However repugnant to my feelings it may be to owe anything to men who have shown themselves the enemies and accusers of him whom I revere and love as I ought to do, it is in all the frankness of my heart that I vow eternal gratitude to whoever will enable me to join my husband, by taking all responsibility from the ‘administration,’ and by giving me back my parole, if in the event of France becoming more free it were possible to travel without danger.

203“‘It is on my knees, if necessary, that I implore this favor; imagine by that the state I am in.

“‘Noailles La Fayette.

“M. Roland thus answered:—

“‘I have put, madam, your touching request under the eyes of the committee. I must nevertheless observe that it would seem to me imprudent for a person bearing your name to travel through France, on account of the unpleasant impression which is at the present moment attached to it. But circumstances may alter. I advise you to wait, and I shall be the first to seize a favorable opportunity.’

“My mother answered him immediately as follows:—

“‘I return you thanks, sir, for the ray of hope with which you have brightened my heart, so long unaccustomed to that feeling. Nothing can add to what I owe to my parole and to the administrateurs who rely upon it. No degree of misfortune could ever make me think of breaking my word, but your letter renders that duty a little more supportable, and I already begin to feel something of that gratitude I promised you if, delivered through your hands, I were restored to the object of my affections, and to the happiness of offering him some consolation.

“‘Noailles La Fayette.

“Three months had elapsed since we had heard anything about my father. The public papers had announced his transfer to Wessel instead of Spandau: since then they had been silent. My mother wrote an unsealed letter to the Duke of Brunswick, entreating the generalissimo of the allied troops to send her some news of her husband through the French army.

“She also wrote thus to the king of Prussia:—

204“‘Sir: Your Majesty’s well-known integrity admits of M. de La Fayette’s wife addressing herself to you without forgetting what she owes to her husband’s character. I have always hoped, sir, that Your Majesty would respect virtue wherever it was to be found, and thereby give to Europe a glorious example. It is now five long, dreadful months since I last heard anything of M. de La Fayette, so I cannot plead his cause. But it seems to me that both his enemies and myself speak eloquently in his favor: they by their crimes, I by the violence of my despair. They prove his virtue, and how much he is feared by the wicked; I show how worthy he is of being loved. They make it a necessity for Your Majesty’s glory not to have an object of persecution in common with them. Shall I myself be fortunate enough to give you the occasion of restoring me to life by delivering him?

“‘Allow me, sir, to indulge in that hope as in the one of soon owing to you this deep debt of gratitude.

“‘Noailles La Fayette.

“In December M. Roland obtained from the committee the repeal of the order for my mother’s arrest. She was still under the surveillance to which the ci-devant nobles were subjected, and could not leave the department without express permission. But she was disengaged from her promise, and she was not discouraged. Pecuniary interests also detained my mother in France, not on her own account nor on that of her children, but because she looked upon it as a sacred duty before leaving the country to see the rights of my father’s creditors acknowledged.

“The events of the 31st of May, which assured the triumph of the terrorist party, brought no alteration at 205first in our situation, but took from us all hopes for the future.

“Towards the middle of June my mother received, through the minister of the United States, two letters from my father, written from the dungeon of Magdebourg. The anxiety they occasioned with respect to my father’s health marred the joy we felt in receiving them....

“At that period of the Revolution, many émigrés’ wives thought it necessary, for the preservation of their children’s fortune and for their personal safety, to obtain a divorce. My mother esteemed and even respected the virtue of several persons who thought themselves obliged to take this step. But as for herself, the scruples of her conscience would not have allowed her to save her life by feigning an act contrary to Christian law, even when no one could be deceived. However, another motive influenced her, though this one would have sufficed. Her love for my father made her find pleasure in all that was a remembrance of him. Whilst many pious and tender wives sought for safety in a pretended divorce, never did she address a request to any administration whatever, or present a petition, without feeling satisfaction in beginning everything she wrote by these words: ‘La Femme La Fayette.’

“On the 21st of Brumaire [Nov. 12] my mother received the intelligence that she was to be arrested on the following day. She kept this news from us till the next morning. The hours passed away in cruel expectation. M. Granchier, commissary of the Revolutionary Committee, arrived at the château in the evening of the same day, with a detachment of the National Guard of Paulhaguet. We all collected in my mother’s room, where the order of the Committee for her arrest was read 206aloud. She presented the certificate of civism given her by the commune. M. Granchier answered that it was too old, and that it was of no use, not having been countersigned by the Committee.

“‘Citoyen,’ my sister then asked, ‘are daughters prevented from following their mother?’

“‘Yes, mademoiselle,’ answered the commissary.

“She insisted, adding that, being sixteen, she was included in the law. He seemed moved, but changed the subject. My mother kept up everybody’s courage. She tried to persuade us that the separation would not be a long one.

“The jail at Brioude was already full. The newly arrived prisoners were, nevertheless, crammed into it. My mother found herself in the midst of all the ladies of the nobility, with whom she had had no intercourse since the Revolution. At first they were impertinent, but they soon shared in the admiration my mother inspired in all those who approached her. The society of the prison was divided into coteries, which cordially hated each other; but for my mother every one professed attachment.

“My mother soon became aware that she could do nothing for her deliverance, and that, to escape greater misfortunes, her best plan was to avoid attracting attention. One day she ventured to suggest the necessity of giving more air to a sick woman confined in a small room with eleven other people. This brought down on her a volley of abuse impossible to describe. My mother was happy to find place in a room which served as a passageway, and where three bourgeoises of Brioude were already established. By these persons she was received in a very touching manner.

“The news my mother received at that time from 207Paris caused her most painful agitation. My grandmother and my aunt de Noailles were put under arrest in their own house, at the Hôtel de Noailles. We had occasional opportunities of communicating with my mother. We used to send her clean linen every week. The list was sewn on the parcel, and each time we wrote on the back of the page, which nobody ever thought of unsewing. She would answer us in the same way. But this mode of correspondence was not safe enough to be employed in giving any other details than those concerning our health.

“The innkeeper’s daughter, a child of thirteen, sometimes managed, when carrying the prisoners’ dinner, to approach my mother. Blows, abuse of language, all was indifferent to that courageous girl, so that she could succeed in beholding my mother, and in letting us know that she was in good health.

“In the course of January [1794] we found out that it was not impossible to bribe the jailer and to gain admission into the prison. M. Frestel (my brother’s tutor) undertook the negotiation, which was not without danger. He succeeded. It was settled that he would take one of us every fortnight to Brioude. My sister was the first to go. She started on horseback in the night, remained the whole of the following day with the good aubergiste, who was devoted to us, and spent the night with my mother. But when daylight came, they were obliged to tear themselves from each other. My sister brought back joy in the midst of us with the details of this happy meeting. We had, each in our turn, the same satisfaction.

“My mother’s health bore up as well as her fortitude. She was the comfort of those who surrounded her, ever seeking to be of service to her companions. Thinking 208she might be useful to some infirm women, she proposed to them to have their meals with her. She contrived to persuade them that they were contributing to the common expense, when nearly all the cost fell upon herself. She also cooked for them. The prison life was most wearisome. The room in which she slept with five or six people was only separated by a screen from the public passage.

“My mother soon became plunged in the deepest affliction. She learned that my grandmother, my aunt, and the Maréchale de Noailles, my grandfather’s mother, had been transferred to the Luxembourg.

“Towards the end of May the order to convey my mother to the prison of La Force, in Paris, reached Brioude. You may fancy our despair when we received our mother’s letter. The messenger had been delayed, and it was to be feared that she was no longer at Brioude. M. Frestel set off immediately. He was bearer of all the small jewelry possessed by the members of the household, who had given them to be sold in order to avoid my mother being conveyed in a cart from brigade to brigade.

“On arriving at Brioude, M. Frestel obtained a delay of twenty-four hours. We soon joined him at the prison. We found my mother in a room by herself, but fetters were placed near the pallet upon which she had thrown herself to seek a little repose. The violence of my sister’s despair was fearful to witness. Owing to M. Frestel’s entreaties, she obtained leave from my mother to follow her, and to accompany him in order to implore the aid of the American minister. She remained only a short time at the prison, and left us to go to Le Puy for the purpose of obtaining a permit to travel out of the department. She was to join my mother on the way.

“My brother and I remained in the horrible room in 209which my mother was confined. We all three offered up our prayers to God. At twelve o’clock M. Gissaguer entered the room and said it was time to depart. My mother gave her last instructions to George and to myself, and made us promise to seek and to seize upon every means of joining my father. She grieved at seeing us undergo so young such cruel misfortunes.

“My sister passed that day at Le Puy. In spite of innumerable obstacles she succeeded in seeing the citoyen Guyardin. She conjured him to have an inquiry made with respect to my mother’s conduct and to forward it to Paris. He did not move, remained seated at his bureau, and continued writing, while she was addressing him in the most urgent manner. He refused to read a letter from my mother handed to him by Anastasie, saying that he could not trouble himself about a prisoner who was summoned to Paris, and adding most vulgar jokes to his refusal. My unfortunate sister left the room in a most violent state of despair and indignation. The cruel Guyardin did not grant her the necessary permission to travel out of the department and to follow my mother’s carriage, and my poor sister, in despair, was obliged to let M. Frestel set off without her.

“My mother arrived in Paris on the 19th of Prairial, three days before the decree of the 22d, which organized une terreur dans la Terreur. At that time no less than sixty people were daily falling victims of the Revolutionary Tribunal. All seemed to forebode approaching death to my mother. You may fancy the anguish of mind in which we spent the two months which followed my mother’s departure for Paris. We were daily expecting to hear of the greatest misfortune which could befall us. Towards that time the château of Chavaniac and the furniture were sold.

210“The peasants of the commune brought us with hearty good will all that was necessary for our subsistence. Every day it was reported that my aunt and my sister were to be sent to the prison of Brioude, whilst my brother and myself were to be taken to the hospital. As for my mother, the life she was leading at La Petite Force was dreadful. At the end of a fortnight my mother was transferred to Le Plesis. This building, formerly a college where my father had been educated, had been turned into a prison.

“Since the law of the 22d of Prairial, the Revolutionary Tribunal sent each day sixty persons to the scaffold. One of the buildings of Le Plesis served as a depot to the Conciergerie, so every morning twenty prisoners could be seen departing for the guillotine. ‘The thought of soon being one of the victims,’ my mother wrote, ‘makes one endure such a sight with more firmness.’ Twice she fancied that she was being called to take her place amongst the victims.

“My mother passed forty days at La Force and Le Plesis, expecting death at every moment. In the midst of the tumult caused by the revolution of the 10th Thermidor, it was for a moment believed that fresh massacres would take place in the prisons; but soon afterward the news of Robespierre’s death reached the captives, and it became known to them that the executions of the Revolutionary Tribunal had ceased. My mother’s first thought was to send to the Luxembourg. The jailer’s answer revealed to her the fearful truth. My grandmother, with my aunt de Noailles and the Maréchale de Noailles had been sent to the scaffold on the 4th Thermidor: the three generations perished together. How can I give you an idea of my mother’s despair? ‘Return thanks to God,’ she wrote to us later, ‘for having preserved my strength, my life, my reason; do not regret that you were far from 211me. God kept me from revolting against Him, but for a long time I could not have borne the slightest appearance of human comfort.’”


Madame La Fayette in her “Life of the Duchesse d’Ayen” gives the following interesting though painful particulars regarding the execution of her mother, grandmother, and sister:—

“My mother and my sister were put under arrest in the first days of October, but allowed to remain well guarded at the Hôtel de Noailles. A month later I myself was taken as a prisoner to Brioude, and it became still more difficult to correspond.

“Persecutions went on increasing. One day the detenus had to answer questions on their actions and on their thoughts. My mother and my sister were prepared, and answered those who questioned them with their usual tact and straightforwardness. The inventory of all that was in their possession was drawn up. My mother, fearing she might be made to swear that she had concealed nothing, had hung to her side, in the shape of a watch chain, all the diamonds which were left her. They were not taken; she sold them that same day to a jeweller, who gave her immediately the money she required to pay the small debts which were owing, but she never received the full amount of what was due her, the jeweller having been beheaded on the following day.

“Nothing in the world was now left them, save some few trifles of my sister’s, which were sold, and what belonged to M. Grellet (tutor to my sister’s children), who had given them all he possessed. This extreme poverty and all its consequences are hardly worth mentioning in the midst of so many other and greater trials. Each day brought some new misfortune or some fresh disaster. My father not being able to obtain satisfactory 212certificates of residence, was obliged to leave his family and return to Switzerland, where he had been living for some time for his health. My father’s men of business had all been arrested. It was soon the turn of the members of ‘Parlement,’ and M. de Saron, my mother’s brother-in-law, was executed on Easter Sunday, 1794.

“For some time past even women had not been spared. Yet my mother and my sister were far from thinking that their personal safety was threatened; their hearts were, however, prepared, and they had asked M. Carrichon if he would have the courage to accompany them to the foot of the scaffold.

“At last, in the month of May, they were ordered to quit the Hôtel de Noailles; and, after having been led through Paris from prison door to prison door, they were at last conducted with the Maréchale de Noailles (my father’s mother) to the Luxembourg. On arriving there my mother’s courage did not fail her, and she was much calmer than she had been for a long time past.

“The care my grandmother required occupied them incessantly. Notwithstanding all the misfortunes which were falling on her at once, my mother forgot none of those who were dear to her. It was M. Grellet who broke to her the news of my arrival in the prisons of Paris; she cruelly felt this fresh misfortune, and succeeded in sending me prudent advice.

“At last, after having seen falling around her nearly all the victims who had been heaped into the same prison, as well as those who were dearest to her, she was summoned with her mother-in-law and daughter to the Conciergerie, that is to say, to death. They arrived at the Conciergerie worn out with fatigue. M. Grellet had repaired to a café next to the gate, and succeeded in exchanging a few words with my sister.

213“Deprived of everything, they had barely sufficient money to obtain a glass of currant water. The persons who shared their cell prepared a single miserable bed for the three prisoners. My mother was dejected, and could not yet believe that so great a crime was possible. She stretched herself on the pallet, and entreated my sister to lie down by her side.

“Madame de Noailles refused to lie down, saying that she had too short a time to live for it to be worth while to take that trouble. Her mother passed part of the night in trying to persuade her to do so. ‘Think,’ she said, ‘of what we shall have to go through to-morrow.’

“‘Ah, mamma!’ my sister answered, ‘what need have we to rest on the eve of eternity?’

“She asked for a prayer-book and a light, by which she was enabled to read. She prayed during the whole night. She interrupted herself occasionally to attend to her grandmother, who slept for several hours at different intervals, and who, each time she woke, would read over and over again her acte d’accusation, repeating to herself:—

“‘No; I cannot be condemned for a conspiracy which I have never heard of; I shall defend my cause before the judges in such a manner that they will be obliged to acquit me.’ She thought of her dress, and feared that it might be tumbled; she settled her cap, and could not believe that, for her, that day was to be the last.

“The next morning, my mother, somewhat rested, saw more clearly the doom which awaited her, showed great courage, spoke tenderly of her grandchildren, and begged of the prisoners who were present to take charge of her watch for them. ‘It is the last thing I can send them,’ she said. She took some chocolate with the Madames de Boufflers (relations of M. de La Fayette), and was afterwards 214summoned to the horrible tribunal. I have been told that my sister, whilst dressing my mother, seemed still to find happiness in attending upon her. She was heard to say, ‘Courage, mamma, it is only one hour more!’

“My sister, the Vicomtesse de Noailles, entreated the prisoners to send to her children an empty pocket-book, a portrait, and some hair. But she was told that such a mission would endanger the persons who occupied the room. The name of her sister, Madame de La Fayette, was pronounced in that fearful abode. She imposed silence for fear of putting me in danger. She made no attempt to seek repose. Her eyes remained opened to contemplate that heaven into which she was about to enter. Her face reflected the serenity of her soul. The idea of immortality supported her courage. Never was so much calm witnessed in such a place. But she would forget everything to be of use to her mother and grandmother.

“Nine o’clock struck. The Huissiers carried off their victims; tears were shed by those who had only known them for twelve hours. The mothers made some arrangements for the event of an acquittal. But my sister, who did not doubt of the doom which awaited them, thanked Madame Lavet (one of their fellow-prisoners), with that charming manner which was in her a gift of nature, expressed all her gratitude for her kind attentions, and added, ‘Votre figure est heureuse; vous ne périrez pas.’

“M. Grellet, who the day before had been confined in a cell for three hours on account of the interest he had evinced for the prisoners, having been released as by a miracle, repaired to M. Carrichon. This good priest, as well as M. Brun, obtained from Heaven strength enough to follow the prisoners on the way from the Conciergerie 215to the scaffold; there my sister recognized M. Carrichon, and, with a presence of mind sublime at such a moment, she pointed him out to my mother, who appeared agitated, but who collected all her courage, and received fresh strength by the grace of absolution. From that moment till the last, her thoughts were no longer on earthly things; and during the three-quarters of an hour she had to wait at the foot of the scaffold, she did not cease to pray with fervor and resignation. MM. Brun and Carrichon remained till all was over. I feel that the thought of following in footsteps so dear would have taken from the horror of so awful an end.

Je renonce à rien exprimer, parce que ce que je sens est inexprimable.



Dreadful Scenes of the French Revolution—M. Carrichon’s Account of the Last Days of the Maréchale de Noailles, the Duchesse d’Ayen, and the Vicomtesse de Noailles—They are sent to the Luxembourg—Are taken before the Revolutionary Tribunal—Their Condemnation—Heroism of the Young Vicomtesse de Noailles—The Insulting Mob—The Protecting Thunder Storm—Their Last Prayers—Arrival at the Scaffold—Their Impressive Appearance—Their Unflinching Courage—Their Heavenly Resignation—The Last Farewell—Execution of the aged Maréchale de Noailles—The Duchesse d’Ayen upon the Scaffold—Angelic Appearance of the Vicomtesse de Noailles—The Last End—Virginie La Fayette’s Narrative—Her Brother, George Washington La Fayette, sent to America—Letter from Madame La Fayette to Washington—Madame La Fayette and her Daughters obtain Permission to share the Captivity of the General—Their Arrival at Olmütz—The Pathetic Meeting—Letter from Madame La Fayette—Virginie describes their Prison Life—Letter from Madame La Fayette to the Emperor—Her Illness—Ignominious Offer of Liberty—La Fayette declines to accept the Shameful Conditions—General Bonaparte opens their Prison Doors—La Fayette’s Letter to Napoleon—Letter from Madame de Staël—Efforts in Behalf of La Fayette in England and America—La Fayette’s Letter to Joseph Masclet—Madame La Fayette’s Letter to Washington—Washington’s Letter to the Emperor of Germany in Behalf of the Marquis—General Latour-Maubourg describes Prison Life at Olmütz—La Fayette’s Unconquered Spirit—Washington’s Letter to him at the Time of his Release—La Fayette’s Letter to Masclet.

“O Liberty! Liberty! how many crimes are committed in thy
name!”—Madame Roland.

THE dreadful scenes of the French Revolution send a chill of horror to our souls as we read of them, but we realize with more painful clearness the direful deeds 217of those bloody days when some eye-witness of those awful, heart-rending times pictures for us some individual doom and some particular scene. The following narrative of the death of Mesdames d’Ayen and de Noailles by M. Carrichon, priest of the congregation of the Oratory, will give a most vivid idea of the sufferings of these women, who, with Madame de La Fayette, must be classed amongst the most illustrious heroines of the French Revolution.

“The Maréchale de Noailles, the Duchesse d’Ayen, her daughter-in-law, and the Vicomtesse de Noailles, her granddaughter, were detained prisoners in their own house from November, 1793, till April, 1794. The first I only knew by sight, but was well acquainted with the two others, whom I generally visited once a week.

“Terror and crime were increasing together; victims were becoming more numerous. One day, as the ladies were exhorting each other to prepare for death, I said to them, as by foresight: ‘If you go to the scaffold, and if God gives me strength to do so, I shall accompany you.’

“They took me at my word, and eagerly exclaimed: ‘Will you promise to do so?’ For one moment I hesitated; ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘and so that you may easily recognize me, I will wear a dark blue coat and a red waistcoat.’ After that they often reminded me of my promise.

“In the month of April, 1794, during Easter week, they were all three conveyed to the Luxembourg. I had frequent accounts of them through M. Grellet, whose delicate attentions and zealous services were of such service both to them and to their children. I was often reminded of my promise.

“On the 27th of June, on a Monday or a Friday, he came to beg of me to fulfil the engagement I had taken with the Maréchal de Mouchy and his wife.

218“I went to the Palais de Justice, and succeeded in entering the court. I stood very near, with my eyes fixed upon them during a quarter of an hour. M. and Madame de Mouchy, whom I had only seen once at their own house, and whom I knew better than they knew me, could not distinguish me in the crowd. God inspired me, and with His help I did all I could for them. The Maréchal was singularly edifying, and prayed aloud with all his heart.

“The day before, on leaving the Luxembourg, he had said to those who had given him marks of sympathy: ‘At seventeen years of age I entered the breach for my king; at seventy-seven I mount the scaffold for my God; my friends, I am not to be pitied.’

“I avoid details which would become interminable. That day I thought it useless to go as far as the guillotine; besides, my courage failed me. This was ominous for the fulfilment of the promise I had made to their relations, who were thrown into the deepest affliction by this catastrophe. They had all been confined in the same prison, and had thus been of great comfort to each other.

“I could say much about the numerous and dismal processions which preceded or followed that of the 27th, and which were happy or miserable according to the state of mind of those who composed them; sad they always were, even when every exterior sign denoted resignation, and promised a Christian death; but truly heart-rending when the doomed victims had none of these feelings, and seemed about to pass from the sufferings of this world to those of the next.

“On the 22d of July, 1794, on a Tuesday, between eight and ten o’clock in the morning, I was just going out. I heard a knock. I opened the door and saw the 219Noailles children with their tutor, M. Grellet. The children were cheerful, as is usually the case at that age, but under their merriment was concealed a sadness of heart caused by their recent losses and by their fears for the future. The tutor looked sad, careworn, pale, and haggard. ‘Let us go to your study,’ he said, ‘and leave the children in this room.’ We did so. He threw himself on a chair. ‘All is over, my friend,’ he said; ‘the ladies are before the Revolutionary Tribunal. I summon you to keep your word. I shall take the boys to Vincennes to see little Euphémie [their sister]. While in the wood I shall prepare these unfortunate children for their terrible loss.’

“Although I had long been prepared for this news, I was greatly shocked. The frightful situation of the parents, of the children, of their worthy tutor, that youthful mirth so soon to be followed by such misery, poor little Euphémie, then only four years old,—all these thoughts rushed upon my mind. But I soon recovered myself, and after a few questions and answers full of mournful details, I said to M. Grellet, ‘You must go now, and I must change my dress. What a task I have before me! pray that God may give me strength to accomplish it.’

“We rose, and found the children innocently amusing themselves, looking gay and happy. The sight of them, the thought of their unconsciousness of what they were so soon to learn, and of the interview which would follow with their little sister, rendered the contrast more striking, and almost broke my heart.

“Left alone after their departure, I felt terrified and exhausted. ‘My God, have pity on them and on me!’ I exclaimed. I changed my clothes and went to two or three places. With a heavy load on my heart, I turned 220my steps towards the Palais de Justice, between one and two o’clock in the afternoon. I tried to get in, but found it impossible. I made inquiries of a person who had just left the tribunal. I still doubted the truth of the news which had been told me. But the answer destroyed all illusion and all hope; I could doubt no longer.

“Once more I went on my way and turned my steps towards the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. What thoughts, what agitation, what secret terrors distracted my poor brain! I opened my heart to a friend whom I could trust, and who, speaking to me in God’s name, strengthened my courage. At his house I took some coffee, which seemed to relieve my head.

“Thoughtful and irresolute, I slowly retraced my steps towards the Palais de Justice, dreading to get there, and hoping not to find those whom I was seeking. I arrived before five o’clock. There were no signs of departure. Sick at heart, I ascended the steps of the Sainte Chapelle; then I walked into the grande salle, and wandered about. I sat down, I rose again, but spoke to no one. From time to time I cast a melancholy glance towards the courtyard, to see if there were any signs of departure.

“My constant thought was that in two hours, perhaps in one, they would be no more. I cannot say how overwhelmed I was by that idea, which has affected me through life on all such occasions, and they have only been too frequent. While a prey to these mournful feelings, never did an hour appear to me so long or so short as the one which elapsed between five and six o’clock on that day. Conflicting thoughts were incessantly crossing my mind, which made me suddenly pass from the illusions of vain hope to fears, alas! too well founded.


“At last I saw, by a movement in the crowd, that the 221prison door was on the point of being opened. I went down and placed myself near the outer gate, as for the previous fortnight it had become impossible to enter the prison yard. The first cart was filled with prisoners, and came towards me. It was occupied by eight ladies, whose demeanor was most admirable. Of these, seven were unknown to me. The last, who was very near me, was the Maréchale de Noailles. A transient ray of hope crossed my mind when I saw that her daughter-in-law and her granddaughter were not with her; but alas! they were in the second cart.

“Madame de Noailles was in white; she did not appear more than twenty-four years of age; Madame d’Ayen, who looked about forty, wore a dress striped blue and white. Six men got in after them. I was pleased to see the respectful distance at which the two first placed themselves so as to leave more liberty to the ladies. They were scarcely seated when the mother became the object of that tender solicitude for which her daughter was well known.

“I heard it said near me, ‘Look at that young one! how anxious she seems! See how she is speaking to the other one!’ For my part I felt as if I heard all they were saying: ‘Mamma, he is not there.’ ‘Look again.’ ‘Nothing escapes me; I assure you, mamma, he is not there.’

“They had evidently forgotten that I had sent them word that it would be impossible for me to gain admittance into the prison yard. The first cart stopped before me during at least a quarter of an hour. It moved on; the second followed. I approached the ladies; they did not see me. I went again into the Palais de Justice, and then a long way round, and stood at the entrance of the Pont-au-Change, in a prominent place. Madame de 222Noailles cast her eyes around her; she passed and did not see me. I followed the carts over the bridge, and thus kept near the ladies, though separated from them by the crowd. Madame de Noailles, still looking for me, did not perceive me. Madame d’Ayen’s anxiety became visible on her countenance. Her daughter watched the crowd with increasing attention, but in vain. I felt tempted to turn back. ‘Have I not done all that I could?’ I inwardly exclaimed. ‘Everywhere the crowd will be greater; it is useless to go any farther.’ I was on the point of giving up the attempt.

“Suddenly the sky became overclouded; thunder was heard in the distance; I made a fresh effort. A short cut brought me, before the arrival of the carts, to the Rue Saint-Antoine, nearly opposite the too famous Force. At that moment the storm broke forth. The wind blew violently; flashes of lightning and claps of thunder followed in rapid succession; the rain poured down in torrents. I took shelter at a shop door. The spot is always present to my memory, and I have never passed it by since without emotion. In one moment the street was cleared; the crowd had taken refuge in the shops and gateways. There was less order in the procession, both the escort and the carts having quickened their pace. They were close to the Petit Saint-Antoine, and I was still undecided. The first cart passed. By a precipitous and involuntary movement I quitted the shop door, rushed towards the second cart, and found myself close to the ladies. Madame de Noailles perceived me, and smiling, seemed to say, ‘There you are at last? How happy we are to see you! How we have looked for you! Mamma, there he is.’ Madame d’Ayen appeared to revive. As for myself, all irresolution vanished from my mind. By the grace of God I felt possessed of extraordinary courage. 223Soaked with rain and perspiration, I continued to walk by them. On the steps of the church of Saint-Louis I met a friend, who, filled with respect and attachment for the ladies, was endeavoring to give them the same assistance. His countenance, his attitude, showed what he felt. I placed my hand on his shoulder, and shuddering, said, ‘Good evening, my dear friend.’

“The storm was at its height. The wind blew tempestuously, and greatly annoyed the ladies in the first cart, more especially the Maréchale de Noailles. With her hands tied behind her, with no support for her back, she tottered on the wretched plank upon which she was placed. Her large cap fell back and exposed to view some gray hairs. Immediately a number of people who were gathered there notwithstanding the rain, having recognized her, she became the sole object of their attention. They added by their insults to the sufferings she was enduring so patiently. ‘There she is,’ they cried, ‘that Maréchale who used to go about with so many attendants, driving in such fine coaches; there she is in the cart just like the others.’ The shouts continued, the sky became darker, the rain fell heavier still. We were close to the cross-road preceding the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. I went forward, examined the spot, and said to myself, ‘This is the place for granting them what they so much long for.’

“The cart was going slower. I turned towards the ladies and made a sign which Madame de Noailles understood perfectly. ‘Mamma, M. Carrichon is going to give us absolution,’ she evidently whispered. They piously bowed their heads with a look of repentance, contrition, and hope. Then I lifted up my hand, and without uncovering my head, pronounced the form of absolution and the words which follow it very distinctly and with 224supernatural attention. Never shall I forget the expression of their faces. From that moment the storm abated, the rain diminished, and seemed only to have fallen for the furtherance of our wishes. I offered up my thanks to God, and so did, I am sure, these pious women. Their exterior appearance spoke contentment, security, and joy.

“As we advanced through the ‘Faubourg,’ the rain having ceased, a curious multitude again lined the two sides of the street, insulting the ladies in the first cart, but above all the Maréchale. Nothing was said to the others. I sometimes walked by the side of the carts and sometimes preceded them.

“At last we reached the fatal spot. I cannot describe what I felt. What a moment! what a separation! what an affliction for the children, husbands, sisters, relations, and friends who are to survive those beloved ones in this valley of tears! There they are before me full of health, and in one moment I shall see them no more. What anguish! yet not without deep consolation at beholding them so resigned.

“We came in sight of the scaffold. The carts stopped, and were immediately surrounded by the soldiers. A ring of numerous spectators was soon formed, most of whom were laughing and amusing themselves at the horrible sight. It was dreadful to be amongst them!

“While the executioners and his two assistants were helping the prisoners out of the first cart, Madame de Noailles’ eyes sought for me in the crowd. She caught sight of me. What a wonderful expression there was in her face! Sometimes raised towards heaven, sometimes lowered towards earth, her eyes so animated, so gentle, so expressive, so heavenly, were often fixed on me in a manner which would have attracted notice if those 225around me had had time for observation. I pulled my hat over my eyes, without taking them off her. I felt as if I could hear her say: ‘Our sacrifice is accomplished! we have the firm and comforting hope that a merciful God is calling us to Him. How many dear to us we leave behind! but we shall forget no one. Farewell to them and thanks to you! Jesus Christ who died for us is our strength; may we die in Him! Farewell! May we all meet again in heaven!’

“It is impossible to give an idea of the animation and fervor of those signs, the eloquence of which was so touching that the bystanders exclaimed: ‘Oh, that young woman, how happy she seems! how she looks up to heaven! how she is praying! But what is the use of it all?’ And then, on second thoughts, ‘Oh, the rascals! the bigots!’

“The mother and daughter took a last farewell of each other and descended from the cart. As for me, the outer world disappeared for a moment. At once broken-hearted and comforted, I could only return thanks to God for not having waited for this moment to give them absolution, or, which would have been still worse, delayed it till they had ascended the scaffold. We could not have joined in prayer while I gave and they received this great blessing as we had been enabled to do in the most favorable circumstances possible at such a time. I left the spot where I was standing and went over to the other side while the victims were getting out. I found myself opposite the wooden steps which led to the scaffold. An old man, tall and straight, with white hair and a good-natured countenance, was leaning against it. I was told he was a fermier-general. Near him stood a very edifying lady whom I did not know. Then came the Maréchale de Noailles exactly opposite me, dressed in black, 226for she was still in mourning for her husband. She was sitting on a block of wood or stone which happened to be there, her large eyes fixed with a vacant look. I had not omitted to do for her what I had done for so many, and in particular for the Maréchal and Maréchale de Mouchy. All the others were drawn up in two lines looking towards the Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

“From where I stood I could only perceive Madame d’Ayen, whose attitude and countenance expressed the most sublime, unaffected, and devout resignation. She seemed only occupied with the sacrifice she was about to make to God through the merits of the Saviour, his divine Son. She looked as she was wont to do when she had the happiness of approaching the altar for holy communion. I shall never forget the impression she made on me at that moment. It is often in my thoughts. God grant that I may profit by it!

The Maréchale de Noailles was the third person who ascended the scaffold. The upper part of her dress had to be cut away in order to uncover her throat. I was impatient to leave the place, but yet I wished to drink the cup of bitterness to the dregs and to keep my promise, as God was giving me strength to do so, even in the midst of my shuddering horror. Six ladies followed; Madame d’Ayen was the tenth. How happy she seemed to die before her daughter! The executioner tore off her cap. As it was fastened with a pin which he had forgotten to remove, he pulled her hair violently; and the pain he caused was visible on her countenance.

“The mother disappeared; the daughter took her place. What a sight to behold that young creature, all in white, looking still younger than she really was, like a gentle lamb going to the slaughter! I fancied I was witnessing the martyrdom of one of the young virgins or holy 227women whom we read of in the history of the Church. What had happened to the mother also happened to her; the same pain in the removal of the cap; then the same composure and the same death. Oh, the abundant crimson stream that gushed from the head and neck! ‘How happy she is now!’ I thought, as the body was thrown into the frightful coffin.

“It would appear that Madame de Noailles, as well as her mother, had exhorted her fellow-victims, and amongst them a young man whom she heard blaspheming. As she was ascending the scaffold, she turned towards him and said, ‘En grâce, Monsieur, dites, “Pardon.”

“May Almighty God in his mercy bestow on the members of that family all the blessings which I ask and entreat them to ask for mine! May we all be saved with those who have gone before us to that happy dwelling where revolutions are unknown; to that abode which, according to the words of Saint Augustine, has Truth for its king, Charity for its law, and will endure for Eternity.”

Once more we return to the account of Virginie La Fayette, Marquise de Lasteyrie:—

“For some time after the 10th of Thermidor, the prisoners still considered themselves as being between life and death. The massacres had ceased; but they might be renewed. My mother received frequent visits from M. Carrichon, the holy priest who had accompanied my grandmother and my aunt to the foot of the scaffold, who had given them absolution, and had witnessed their sacrifice. You can imagine all she felt on hearing the admirable details he gave her of the last moments of those angelic women.

“Meanwhile, the endeavors to obtain my mother’s release were incessant. The American minister continued 228indefatigable in his exertions. At last the members of the Committee gave an order for her release.

“My mother’s first care was to go and thank M. Monroe for all he had done in her behalf.

“It was six days after she had left prison that George joined my mother, who had sent for him. My mother longed to see my sister and me, but she would not leave Paris before having obtained for my brother a passport for America. Knowing that my father’s wish would be to send him to the United States, she did not hesitate to make the sacrifice of separating herself from George. M. Frestel was to accompany him. My mother wrote the following letter to General Washington:—

“‘Sir: I send you my son. It is with the deepest and most sincere confidence that I put my dear child under the protection of the United States, which he has ever been accustomed to look upon as his second country, and which I myself have always considered as being our future home under the special protection of their President, with whose feelings towards his father I am well acquainted.

“‘My wish is that my son should lead a very secluded life in America, that he should resume his studies, interrupted by three years of misfortunes, and that, far from the land where so many events are taking place which might either dishearten or revolt him, he may become fit to fulfil the duties of a citizen of the United States, whose feelings and whose principles will always agree with those of a French citizen.

“‘I shall not say anything here of my own position, nor of the one which interests me still more than mine. I rely upon the bearer of this letter to interpret the feelings of my heart, too sorrowful to express any others 229but those of the gratitude I owe to MM. Monroe, Skypwith, and Mountflorence, for their kindness and their useful endeavors in my behalf.

“‘I beg M. Washington will accept the assurance, etc.

“‘Noailles La Fayette.

“It can easily be imagined how cruelly my mother suffered on separating herself from her son, and on sending him, at fourteen, alone, amongst strangers, two thousand leagues off. But such would have been my father’s wish, and she found strength in that thought.

“My mother, after bidding farewell to George, had nothing more to keep her in Paris. She started for Auvergne. We went to meet her. You may fancy the ecstasy of our joy on seeing her. At last my mother’s passport was granted. She had provided for everything. All her actions, all her thoughts since my father’s departure had tended to find the means of joining him. It was after many difficulties and anxieties that we arrived at Vienna. The old Prince de Rosemberg, grand chamberlain, was moved by her appeal, and obtained for her an audience of the emperor, unknown to his ministers. We accompanied her. She was received with politeness, and simply asked permission to share my father’s captivity. The emperor answered: ‘I grant it to you; as for his liberty, that would be impossible; my hands are tied.’ To the expression of her gratitude for the favor she had just obtained, my mother added that the wives of my father’s friends imprisoned with him at Olmütz would envy her happiness. He replied: ‘They have only to act like you. I shall do the same for them.’ My mother said that she had heard of several vexations in use in the Prussian prisons, and she begged the emperor to allow her to address herself directly to him for the requests 230she might have to make. He answered: ‘I consent. But you will find M. de La Layette well fed and well treated. I hope you will do me justice. Your presence will give him fresh satisfaction. Anyhow, you will be pleased with the commanding officer. In jail the prisoners are only distinguished by their numbers, but as for your husband, his name is well known.’

“My mother left the audience-chamber, in an ecstasy of joy. She was obliged to pass a week more in Vienna, to hasten the despatch of the order which was to give her admittance into the prison. At last, after many delays, the order for admitting my mother into the prison of Olmütz was delivered to her by Ferraris, minister of war. He told her at the same time that he thought it his duty to advise her to reflect on the course she was taking, to warn her that she would be most uncomfortable, and that the prison life she was going to lead might have serious consequences for her and for her daughters. My mother did not even listen to him, and we set off immediately.

“We arrived on the second day after our departure, at eleven o’clock in the morning. Never shall I forget the moment when the post-boy pointed out to us in the distance the steeples of Olmütz. My mother’s emotion is still present to my mind. She was for some time choked with tears, but, as soon as she recovered the power of speech, she blessed God by these words of Tobit’s prayer:—

“‘Blessed be God that liveth forever, and blessed be His kingdom, for He doth scourge and hath mercy; He leadeth down to hell, and bringeth up again; neither is there any that can avoid His hand. Confess Him before the Gentiles, ye children of Israel: for He hath scattered us among them. There declare his greatness, and extol 231Him before all the living; for He is our Lord, and He is the God our Father forever. And He will scourge us for our iniquities, and will have mercy again, and will gather us out of all nations, among whom He has scattered us. Therefore see what He will do with you, and confess Him with your whole mouth, and praise the Lord of might, and extol the everlasting King. Let my soul bless God the great King.’

“We drove to the house of the commander of the town. He sent the officer in charge of the prison to conduct us. After having been admitted through the first door, which was locked on the guard itself, we arrived, by passing through several long passages, to the two padlocked doors of my father’s room. My father had not been informed of our arrival. Three years of captivity, the last of which had been passed in complete solitude,—for, since the attempt at escape, he had not even seen his servant,—continual anxiety with respect to all the objects of his affection, sufferings of every kind, had deeply impaired his health; he was fearfully altered. My mother was struck with the change, but nothing could diminish the rapture of her joy, save the bitterness of her irreparable losses. My father, after the first moment of happiness caused by this unexpected meeting, dared not make any inquiries. He knew there had been a reign of terror in France, but he had not learned the names of the victims. The day passed without his venturing to ask any question; my mother had not courage enough to break the subject herself. It was only in the evening, after we had been locked in an adjoining but separate room, which had been assigned to my sister and myself, that she told my father that her grandmother, her mother, and her sister had perished on the scaffold.”

232Madame La Fayette wrote thus to her aunt, when reunited to her husband:—

“Thanks to your good advice, dear aunt, I have attained my wishes. If I had been known, I could never have entered the Austrian dominions; and if I had not kept very quiet at Vienna until M. de Rosemberg had arranged my audience, I should never have succeeded. The emperor very politely granted us permission to be imprisoned with M. de La Fayette, and said at the same time that the affair was very complicated, and did not depend on him alone; but he assured us he should be well treated, and that our presence serait un agrément de plus.... Fancy the feelings of M. de La Fayette, who for eighteen months had not been permitted to learn even if we existed, and who had seen no one but his jailers, when, without any preparation, we entered his room....

“Would you like to know the sort of life we lead here? At eight o’clock the jailers call us to breakfast, after which I am locked up with my little girls till midday. We all dine together, and the turnkey comes in twice, to take away the dishes, and to bring in supper. We are all together until eight o’clock, when they carry off my little girls to their cage. The keys of their room are always delivered to the commandant, and they are locked in with all sorts of absurd precautions. We three pay for our food out of my money. We have more than we can eat, but inexpressibly dirty.... It is a great blessing to us both that the children keep well in this unwholesome place. My own health is not very good ... but nothing to make me uneasy. Of course you feel that nothing could induce us to leave M. de La Fayette. His health is really improved since our arrival. His terrible emaciation and pallor are the same, though both his 233keepers and himself assure me that they are nothing like what they were a year ago. But no one can go through four years of such captivity with impunity. I have not been able to see his fellow-captives, Messieurs de Maubourg and de Pusy, nor even to hear their voices; from the age one of their late keepers supposed them to be they must have grown terribly older.”

“You know the details of our captivity at Olmütz,” writes Virginie; “my mother shared in all its hardships. We had not the slightest intercourse with the outside. The doors were only opened for the officer’s visit at meal time. We were refused a woman for household work. On entering the prison we were asked for our purses, and three silver forks found in our luggage were seized. The use of a knife and fork was refused us, and we were obliged, during the whole time, to eat with our fingers. My mother applied to the authorities on all these subjects, but all her requests were refused.

“My mother deeply felt the grief of being unable to alleviate the sufferings of her companions in captivity. But as for herself, no words could express her happiness. You can only imagine it by remembering what was the ruling passion of her life from the age of fourteen, and how much she had gone through from frequent separations and incessant labors which had so constantly called my father from his home, as from the great dangers to which he had been exposed. She had passed three horrible years almost without a hope of ever seeing him again. At last she possessed that happiness which, during all her life, she had been longing for; each day she beheld the influence of her presence on my father’s health, and the solace she afforded him; she was surprised at feeling so happy, and reproached herself for being satisfied with her situation while my father was still a prisoner. 234She was allowed now and then to write, under the eyes of the officer on duty, short unsealed letters to the banker, who remitted the money necessary for our food. Permission to write to her son was refused, in order that no intelligence from the prison of Olmütz should reach the United States. It was with a toothpick and a small piece of India ink that she wrote my grandmother’s life on the margins of the engravings of a volume of Buffon.

“As might have been expected, my mother’s health had suffered much. Never did she show more meritorious submission to my father’s wishes than when she determined to write to the emperor for permission to go and consult the doctors at Vienna. At the end of seven weeks the commander of Olmütz came to intimate a verbal refusal to leave the prison unless she gave up all hopes of returning. He asked at the same time for a written answer. It was as follows:—

“‘The commander of Olmütz having declared to me that, on my request to go for a week to Vienna in order to consult the doctors, his Imperial Majesty does not permit me under any pretence whatever to go to Vienna, and only allows me to leave this prison on condition never to enter it again, I have the honor here to renew my answer. It was my duty towards my family and friends to try and obtain the advice necessary for my health, but they well know that I cannot accept the conditions offered to me. I cannot forget that while we were both on the eve of perishing, I through the tyranny of Robespierre, M. de La Fayette through the physical and moral sufferings of his captivity, I was neither allowed to receive any accounts of him, nor to let him know that his children and I were still alive. I shall not expose myself to the horrors of another separation.

235“‘Therefore, whatever may be the state of my health, or the hardships of this abode for my daughters, we shall all three take advantage of his Imperial Majesty’s goodness in allowing us to share this captivity in all its details.

Noailles La Fayette.

“My mother’s illness made rapid progress. The doctor was only allowed to see her a moment during the officer’s visit. Being ignorant of the French language he could not understand her, but would express in Latin his fears to my father. This state lasted eleven months, during which no alleviation of the prison treatment was obtained. She had not even an armchair. Her sufferings did not in the least impair her spirits. Seeing her always serene, always enjoying my father’s company, and the consolations she had brought with her, we were all less anxious than we ought to have been.

“My sister supplied the place of outdoor workmen; she even made shoes for my father. But her principal occupation was to write under his dictation on the margins of a book. My mother attended to my education, and used to read with me; but the margins of a book, the toothpicks, and the bit of India ink were things too precious for my use. In the evening my father used to read aloud to us: I still remember the pleasure of those moments.

“In the interior of the prison we had established a correspondence with our companions in captivity, with the help of the soldiers, whom we bribed by the pleasure of a good meal. Of a night, through our double bars, we used to lower, at the end of a string, a parcel with part of our supper, to the sentry on duty under our windows, who would pass the packet in the same manner to MM. de 236Maubourg and de Pusy, who occupied separate parts of the prison.

“In the month of July, 1797, the Marquis de Chasteler, Austrian general, was sent by the emperor to Olmütz, in order to offer their liberty to the prisoners on condition that they would promise never again to appear in his dominions. The day they received this proposal they heard that the French government, who insisted on their deliverance, had declared at the same time that they could not return to France. Notwithstanding this proof of ill-will, the three friends, who had been allowed to meet a moment in order to consult together on their decision, refused to make any agreement which did not preserve entire the rights of their country on their persons; this restriction caused the prison doors to be closed on them again.”

The following was La Fayette’s declaration in answer to the offer of liberty upon conditions which he considered too ignoble to comply with:—

Olmütz, July 25, 1797.

“The commission with which the Marquis de Chasteler is entrusted appears to me to reduce itself to three points: First, His Imperial Majesty wishes to have a statement of our situation at Olmütz. I am disposed to present no complaint to him. Several details will be found in my wife’s letters transmitted or sent back by the Austrian government, and should his Imperial Majesty not consider it sufficient to re-peruse the instructions sent from Vienna in his name, I will willingly furnish the Marquis de Chasteler with all the information he may desire.

“Secondly, His Majesty the emperor wishes to be assured that immediately after my liberation I shall set 237out for America. That intention I have often expressed, but as an answer would, under present circumstances, appear like an acknowledgment of the right to impose on me such a condition, I think it inexpedient to comply with the demand.

“Thirdly, His Majesty the emperor and king has done me the honor to announce to me that, as the principles which I profess are incompatible with the safety to the Austrian government, he cannot consent to my return to his states without his special permission. There are certain duties, the fulfilment of which I cannot decline; I have some towards the United States; I have others towards France,—I cannot under any circumstances shrink from the performance of those which I owe to my country. With this reservation I can assure General the Marquis de Chasteler of my fixed determination never to set foot in any state subject to his Imperial Majesty the King of Bohemia and Hungary.

La Fayette.

Regarding this brave action of the Marquis de La Fayette, who had been languishing for five years in his loathsome prison, but who would not purchase liberty at the sacrifice of one iota of his avowed rights and principles, his daughter Virginie says:—

“My mother fully appreciated this noble conduct. In the midst of her sufferings she would willingly have paid with many months of captivity the pleasure caused her by my father’s declaration in answer to the proposals made by the Austrian government. Two months elapsed before we received any new communication. At last General Bonaparte and General Clarke, the French plenipotentiaries, required that the prisoners of Olmütz should be delivered without further delay.

238“After many difficulties, the order was forwarded to open the gates of the citadel to the prisoners of Olmütz. We set off for Hamburg on the 19th of September, 1797. Five years and one month had elapsed since my father’s arrest, and twenty-three months since we had joined him. At Dresden, Leipsic, Halle, and Hamburg our journey was a prolonged triumph. Crowds thronged to see my father and his companions.”

Immediately upon his release from prison La Fayette’s first care was to thank M. de Talleyrand, and to write the following letter to General Bonaparte:—

Hamburg, Oct. 6, 1797.

Citoyen Général: The prisoners of Olmütz, happy to owe their deliverance to your irresistible arms, had, during their captivity, rejoiced at the thought that their liberty and their life were attached to the victories of the republic and to your personal glory. It is with the utmost satisfaction that they now do homage to their liberator. We should have liked, Citoyen Général, to have offered to you in person the expression of these feelings, to have witnessed with our own eyes the scenes of so many victories, the army which has won them, and the general who has placed our resurrection amongst the miracles he has accomplished. But you know that the journey to Hamburg has not been left to our choice. From the place where we took leave of our jailers we address our thanks to their victor.

“In the solitary retreat on the Danish territory of Holstein, where we shall try to recover our health, we shall unite our patriotic wishes for the republic with the most lively interest in the illustrious general to whom we are still more attached on account of the services he has rendered to the cause of liberty and to our country 239than for the special obligation we rejoice in owing to him, and which the deepest gratitude has forever engraved in our hearts.

Salut et respect,
La Fayette,
La Tour-Maubourg,
Bureaux de Pusy.”

Among the letters which greatly gratified La Fayette upon his liberation was the following from Madame de Staël, addressed to him when it was announced that he was to be delivered.

June 20, 1797.

“I hope this letter will reach you. I should like to be one of the first to tell you of the feelings of indignation, grief, hope, fear, anxiety, discouragement, with which your fate has filled, during these last five years, the hearts of all those who love you. I do not know whether it is possible to make these cruel recollections bearable to you; nevertheless, I may say, that, while calumny was destroying every reputation, while faction, unable to triumph over the cause, was attacking every individual, your misfortunes have preserved your glory; and if your health can be restored to you, you come out whole from a tomb where your name has acquired fresh lustre.

“Come directly to France; there is no other country for you. You will find that republic which your opinions led you to wish for when your conscience bound you to royalty. You will find it illustrated by victory and free from the crimes which stained its origin. You will uphold that republic, because without it no liberty can exist in France, and because, as a hero and as a martyr, you are so united with freedom that I pronounce your 240name and the name of liberty at the same moment to express what I wish for the honor and welfare of France.

“Come to France; there you will find devoted friends; and let me hope that my constant care for your welfare and my useless efforts to serve you may entitle me to a small place in your thoughts.”


During La Fayette’s long imprisonment many persons in England, France, and America interested themselves in efforts in his behalf. Of these one of the most indefatigable was Joseph Masclet, a man of rare merits. During the Reign of Terror he went to England to save his life. He was not personally acquainted with La Fayette, having never even seen him at that time, but he warmly sympathized with his principles and admired his sterling virtues. He constantly wrote against the detention of La Fayette, and published numerous articles in the Hamburg journals upon the subject, using the nom-de-plume of “Eleutheros,” the Greek for freeman. It was in vain that the Austrian cabinet took every measure to discover “Eleutheros,” though several emissaries were sent to London to find the unknown person who thus dared to brave the anger of the Austrian government. Masclet was supported in England in these philanthropic efforts in behalf of La Fayette and his companions in misfortune, Generals Latour-Maubourg and Bureaux de Pusy, who were imprisoned with him in Olmütz, by Fox, Wilberforce, Sheridan, and at their head General Fitzpatrick and General Tarleton, who had fought against La Fayette in Virginia; but these now all united to plead with the Pitt ministry and the calumniators of La Fayette. In December, 1796, General Fitzpatrick made that eloquent speech in the English House of Commons, in behalf of the prisoners at Olmütz, which 241produced great sensation in Europe, which ended as follows:—

“That an humble address be presented to his Majesty, that it appears to this House that the detention of Generals La Fayette, Bureaux de Pusy, and Latour-Maubourg, in the prison of his Majesty’s ally, the emperor of Germany, is highly injurious to his Imperial Majesty and to the common cause of all the allies; and humbly implore his Majesty to intercede in such manner as to his wisdom shall seem proper for the deliverance of these unfortunate persons.”

The friendship between La Fayette and Masclet continued strong until the death of the latter. Immediately upon La Fayette’s release from Olmütz, he addressed the following letter to the faithful “Eleutheros,” who had been untiring in his efforts in his behalf.

Witmold, 9th Brumaire, year 6.

“How is it possible, my dear friend, that since the period of our deliverance you have not yet received the homage of my gratitude, and the expression of my sincere friendship? M—— must have explained to you that my delay in writing could have proceeded only from the hope of enjoying a happiness still greater. I am far from renouncing that happiness; I have need of it more than ever, and I demand it from you with the feeling of confidence which you have given me a right to express. I am not apprehensive of abusing that right, and it is gratifying to me to use it. I forbear to speak of my obligations towards you, my dear friend; the question relates to more than my own liberty and my own life, since my wife, my daughters, my two friends, and our faithful domestics have been restored along with me. How many other obligations to which my heart is incessantly 242alive should I not still have to recapitulate, were I to endeavor to portray my gratitude! but it is inexpressible—inexhaustible—like your friendship, and I should feel delighted to thank you by pressing you to my heart.

“You have had news of our deliverance, of our journey, of our health; that of my wife in particular is so bad that we have been forced to stop in the nearest place of safety. To have embarked even for a short voyage would have caused great injury to some of our party. Travelling by land, after the first eight days, would have been uncertain, and my wife would have been unable to bear it without undergoing a degree of fatigue that would have been dangerous in her exhausted situation. We therefore propose to settle for some time in a very isolated retreat between Kiel and Ploën. That territory is subject to the king of Denmark, and his connection with the Republic will, I trust, prevent him from molesting French citizens whose principles may be displeasing to him, but whose only occupation will consist in the care of their health, and who, unfortunately, in their present position, can serve liberty only by their wishes.

“You have doubtless been made acquainted with my opinion on the events of the 18th Fructidor, and I am aware that my opinion on that subject is not yours. Perhaps mine is influenced by my profound contempt for the counter-revolutionists, and by some regret at not having gone out at a moment when liberty of opinion and a bad tone of society would, it is said, have authorized a republican declaration. But I cannot deceive myself as to the nature of the measures that have been taken; as to the constitution that has been sworn, and which, by the way, is infinitely better than that which I was to have defended; as to the personal characters 243of several of the proscribed parties; as to the declaration of rights, which, waiving all considerations of an author’s self-love, shall always form the rule of my opinions and conduct; finally, as to the principle, in which I have been confirmed by experience, that Liberty can, and ought to be, assisted only by means worthy of her. If I deceive myself in my disapprobation of some of the present measures, the fault is not mine; I have been enabled to form a judgment on them only by means of some apologies and public papers; and in frankly laying before you the sentiments of the most republican heart that ever existed, I most ardently desire to hear from you the reasons which have induced so sincere and so enlightened a patriot as yourself to form a different opinion.

“Our first act of liberty at Hamburg was an act of respect to the representative of the Republic, an account of which he must have forwarded to the government. We have written to Bonaparte in the midst of his triumphs, and to Clarke in the midst of his reverses, for both have considerable claims upon our gratitude. But as it appears to us that the official tribute ought to be addressed to the minister of foreign relations, the first organ of the government in taking steps which have released us from captivity and death, we have written to Talleyrand, as the natural depository of our acknowledgments, as the individual to whom we owe an account of our existence in a foreign country, and as joining to his ministerial claims that which he possesses upon our personal gratitude. We trust that by these three steps taken by us at Hamburg, in Italy, and at Paris, we have fulfilled all suitable duties and formalities. The pleasure of our deliverance is augmented beyond measure by the idea that we owe it to the triumphs of the Republic, to the kind feelings of our fellow-citizens, and to the zeal 244of our best friends, among whom you are acquainted with one whose abilities are as superior as his heart is excellent, one for whom I feel the most affectionate regard, whom I ardently long to embrace, to whom I have a thousand things to say, and a thousand questions to put, and whom I shall cordially cherish till my latest breath.

La Fayette.

In 1792 Madame La Fayette had written to Washington in behalf of her husband, as follows: “While he suffers this inconceivable persecution from the enemies without, the faction which reigns within keeps me a hostage at one hundred and twenty leagues from the capital. Judge, then, at what distance I am from him. In this abyss of misery, the idea of owing to the United States and to Washington the life and liberty of M. de La Fayette kindles a ray of hope in my heart. I hope everything from the goodness of the people with whom he has set an example of that liberty of which he is now made the victim. And shall I dare speak what I hope? I would ask of them, through you, for an envoy, who shall go to reclaim him in the name of the republic of the United States, wheresoever he may be found, and who shall be authorized to make, with the power in whose charge he may be placed, all necessary engagements for his relief, and for taking him to the United States, even if he is there to be guarded as a captive. I hope my request is not a rash one. Accept the homage of the sentiments which have dictated this letter, as well as that of attachment and tender respect.”

Trying as it was for Washington to refuse this request in his public capacity, as he felt he could not make an official demand which might involve his country in embarrassments; 245he did all that he could as a private individual in his friend’s behalf, and to the emperor of Germany he thus wrote:—

“It will readily occur to your Majesty that occasions may sometimes exist, on which official considerations would constrain the chief of a nation to be silent and passive, in relation even to objects which affect his sensibility and claim his interposition as a man. Finding myself precisely in this situation at present, I take the liberty of writing this private letter to your Majesty, being persuaded that my motives will also be my apology for it.

“In common with the people of this country, I retain a strong and cordial sense of the services rendered to them by the Marquis de La Fayette, and my friendship for him has been constant and sincere. It is natural, therefore, that I should sympathize with him and his family in their misfortunes, and endeavor to mitigate the calamities which they experience; among which, his present confinement is not the least distressing.

“I forbear to enlarge upon this delicate subject. Permit me only to submit to your Majesty’s consideration whether his long imprisonment and the confiscation of his estates, and the indigence and dispersion of his family, and the painful anxieties incident to all these circumstances, do not form an assemblage of sufferings which recommend him to the mediation of humanity! Allow me, sir, on this occasion to be its organ, and to entreat that he may be permitted to come to this country on such conditions and under such restrictions as your Majesty may think it expedient to prescribe.

“As it is a maxim with me not to ask what, under similar circumstances, I would not grant, your Majesty will do me the justice to believe that this request appears 246to me to correspond to those great principles of magnanimity and wisdom which form the basis of sound policy and durable glory.

“May the Almighty and Merciful Sovereign of the universe keep your Majesty under his protection and guidance.”

To Gouverneur Morris, who had superseded Mr. Monroe as minister to France, Madame de Staël wrote urgently in behalf of La Fayette. She says in one of her letters to Mr. Morris:—

“You are travelling through Germany, and, whether on a public mission or not, you have influence, for they are not so stupid as not to consult a man like you. Open the prison doors of M. de La Fayette. Pay the debt of your country. What greater service can any one render to his native land than to discharge her obligations of gratitude? Is there any severer calamity than that which has befallen La Fayette? Does any more glaring injustice attract the attention of Europe?”

Mr. Morris not only spared no sacrifice for the marquis, but aided his suffering family, and was chiefly instrumental in securing the liberation of Madame La Fayette. But for five long years Prussia and Austria defended their infamous conduct by declaring “that La Fayette’s freedom was incompatible with the safety of the present governments of Europe.”

General Latour-Maubourg, in a letter written during their imprisonment at Olmütz, thus graphically describes their prison life:—

“Do not suppose that I have made a mistake in lodging the domestic from Paris in two chambers which are large, handsome, and the best in the enclosure, whilst General and Madame La Fayette have but two small cells, their daughters but a narrow kennel, with a single 247wretched bed; and whilst Pusy and myself, in addition to the common inconveniences, have those attached to the neighborhood of the guard-house and out-houses, the dampness of which is such, that the wall touching them is covered with saltpetre. The genius of the imperial administration has thought of everything that can render our seclusion complete, and harass us in the slightest matters.

“The waters with which we are surrounded furnish, in addition to a multitude of flies that are extremely troublesome, frequent fogs, which occasion dangerous fevers, and to which the town of Olmütz owes its reputation for unwholesomeness.

“Besides, the gutters passing beneath our windows always emit an insufferable stench, and exhale a mephitic vapor that is absolutely pestilential. Our prisons, without excepting even that of the ladies, are furnished with a sorry bed without curtains, two deal tables, two chairs, a range of wooden pegs, a wardrobe, and a stove which is lighted from the outside.

“Hitherto, you perceive that we have had none of the conveniences promised by the emperor to Madame La Fayette. It is probably a great honor to be his Majesty’s guest, particularly in a prison: but the thing is really no laughing matter. The breakfast is of chocolate, or coffee with milk, at the prisoner’s option, and both are execrable, as you may well imagine when you are informed that they are made by a vivandière, in a small kitchen, into which the soldiers from the barracks enter at pleasure, and where their whole time is spent in smoking. It thus happens that everything eaten by us is impregnated with a strong savor of tobacco, and we are even fortunate when we do not find large pieces of that weed in what is given to us. Our dinner is served up in 248deep earthenware dishes; and with regard to cleanliness, as everything comes from the kitchen of the same vivandière, whose execrable ragouts, rancid butter, and spices I might forgive, were she herself less dirty. To fill up the measure of disgust, everything—meat, soup, vegetables, fricassees—must be eaten with a pewter spoon, without knife or fork, and had we not brought napkins along with us, some fragment of which still remain, the sleeves of our coats must have served for that purpose. Two pint jugs are brought to us full, one of coarse, flat, red wine, the other of dirty water, and we must drink out of both, because, as it was explained to me, ‘the emperor chooses it.’ You will conceive, the disgust inspired by these jugs, when I add that when removed from our chambers they are placed in the windows of the corridor, where they are exposed to insects, dust, tobacco smoke, and what is still worse, left for the use of the soldiers, who drink out of them and perform their ablutions in them. They are cleaned only at stated periods, at the beginning and in the middle of each month, with a wisp of straw.

“From these details you will perceive that, as a relief from our vexations, which are the more annoying as they have not even the semblance of necessity; and to diminish the tedious length of the days, we have no other resource than reading. In Silesia we had been allowed the use of paper, pen, and ink; but at the mention of this our jailers were greatly astonished, and bestowed contemptuous epithets on the want of intelligence displayed by the Prussians in tormenting their victims. We were deprived even of the letters which we had received from our relatives and friends, and were informed that we were separated from the rest of the world, that we must forget our own names, and recollect 249only our numbers, by which only we were to be known, and that we should never hear each other spoken of.

“You ask how we dressed? Like beggars; that is to say, in rags, since our worn-out clothes have not been replaced. La Fayette, however, wanted breeches, and I have been informed that a tailor was ordered, without taking his measure, to make a large pair of trousers for him, and a waistcoat of coarse serge, at the same time informing him that cloth was too dear for him. I believe that the garment alluded to was purposely made in such a manner as to prevent him from wearing it, and that Madame La Fayette supplied the deficiency by purchasing cloth on some pretext or other. In the articles of shoes and stockings he is strangely provided, for those he wears Mademoiselle Anastasie was obliged to make with her own fair hands, out of the stuff of an old coat. For my own part, I wear a waistcoat and nankeen trousers made at Nivelle, nearly five years ago, and you may therefore judge of the state of maturity at which they have arrived. Were I to make my appearance in the street, any charitable soul would offer me alms. Three months ago, however, I was supplied with new shoes; the old ones had been soled thirteen times, and for the new ones I was indebted merely to the obstinacy of the cobbler who found it utterly impossible to perform the operation for the fourteenth time. Whilst my shoes were being made I was obliged to remain in bed.”

Notwithstanding La Fayette’s many privations and persecutions during his long imprisonment, his moral courage remained unimpaired. He had been languishing for five years in a state between life and death. He had lost all his hair, and had several times been attacked by dangerous fevers bred by the dampness and infectious air of his dungeon. In the midst of his many misfortunes 250his coolness and presence of mind never for an instant deserted him. After his attempt to escape, having been recaptured and brought back to Olmütz, he was at first confined in a large apartment, but was soon afterwards commanded by an officer to pass into an adjoining room.

“For what purpose?” asked La Fayette.

“That your irons may be put on,” replied the officer.

“Your emperor has not given you such an order,” boldly exclaimed the illustrious prisoner; “beware of doing more than he requires, and of displeasing him by exceeding his orders through an ill-timed zeal.”

The officer, impressed with the truth and courage of this remark, insisted no further, and La Fayette was thus spared from being obliged to endure the humiliating torture of being ironed during the remainder of his imprisonment. Neither did his great sufferings break his spirit. One day the officer on guard, beholding La Fayette at his meal, and seeing that he was forced to eat with his fingers, asked him if that mode was entirely new to him.

“Oh no!” replied La Fayette, with cool irony; “I have seen it employed in America, amongst the Iroquois.”

When La Fayette was first released from his prison at Olmütz, he found that he had come back to a changed world. The king, queen, court, Assembly, and constitution, all were gone! The awful Reign of Terror which swept over his country had left many empty places among his friends, and the France which met his ardent gaze was greatly different from that upon which his longing eyes turned as he had been obliged to depart from her coasts in haste and with baffled hopes.


Writing to a friend who had cautioned him against freely expressing his opinions, lest he might find himself in further trouble, La Fayette boldly answered: “I 251risk nothing in speaking as I think, because I would not and could not be employed by any party except according to my own ideas. The result is that, except on some very great occasion of serving the liberty of my country after my own fashion, my political life is ended. To my friends I shall be full of life, and to the public a sort of picture in a museum or book in a library. Those who know my views and wishes must be convinced that the services I should wish to render to my country are of a nature to be combined with the mode of living which suits my position, my wife, all my family, and myself; that is to say, with a quiet philosopher’s establishment on a good farm,—far enough from the capital not to be interfered with in my solitude, and to see only intimate friends.”

Immediately upon the release of La Fayette, Washington addressed to him the following letter from Mount Vernon, dated Oct. 8, 1797:—

“This letter will be presented to you, I hope, by your young son, well worthy of having such parents as yourself and your amiable wife.

“I could say to you much better than I can express it here all that I have felt for your sufferings; concerning my efforts for your release, the measures which I adopted, although without success, to facilitate your deliverance from an unjust and cruel captivity; and my joy at last in beholding its termination.

“I desire to congratulate you, and be assured that no one could offer it with an affection more profound and sincere. Each action of your life gives me a right to rejoice at the liberty which you have received, and also at the restoration of security in your country; and if the possession of these blessings cannot entirely compensate for the trials which you have endured, they will mitigate, at least, the painful remembrance.

252“The conduct of your son since he landed upon American soil has been most exemplary, from all accounts, and has procured for him the affection and the confidence of all who have had the pleasure of knowing him. His filial affection, his ardent desire to embrace his parents and his sisters in the first moment of their deliverance, have not permitted him to await here more authentic news; and as nothing has been heard which should influence him to suspend this resolution, I have not refused my assent to his departure, that he might fly to the arms of those who are so dear to him, because, according to last accounts, he ought, in truth, to find them in Paris.

“M. Frestel has been a devoted guardian to George; a father could not have watched with greater care over his cherished son; and he merits in a high degree all that can be said of his virtues, his good judgment, and his prudence. Your son and he carry with them the wishes and the regrets of our family and of all who know them.

“At all times be assured you have held a high place in the affections of this country. I will not tax your time to speak to you of that which regards me personally, except to say to you that I have once again retired to my own fireside, where I will remain, forming wishes for the prosperity of the United States, after having labored for years for the establishment of their independence, of their constitution, and of their laws. Those wishes will constantly have for their object also the welfare of all mankind, as long as the little day of my life upon the earth shall be continued. I have said adieu to public affairs, and I desire to withdraw entirely from politics. But M. Frestel and George will report me more fully upon this point. Although they have always avoided taking any part in our discussions, they have 253not been inattentive spectators of that which has passed before their eyes. They will give you a general idea of our situation, and of those parties who, in my opinion, have troubled the peace and tranquillity.

“If your remembrances or your circumstances shall bring you on a visit to America, accompanied by your wife and daughters, not one of its inhabitants will receive you with more cordiality and tenderness than Madame Washington and myself. Our hearts are full of affection and admiration for you and them.”

At the time of La Fayette’s release from Olmütz he wrote to Masclet the following letter regarding the military career of his son, George Washington La Fayette, which is interesting as revealing some of the peculiar circumstances which surrounded the family at that time, and also La Fayette’s impressions regarding the state of France:—

“Talleyrand and you imagine that had George been in the army, the Directors, in replying to Brune, would have made a formal exception in my favor; not more so, perhaps, than the Convention made in favor of the father of Moreau, on the day when the latter took the fort of l’Ecluse. But even supposing that the uniform worn by all the young aristocrats who seek to connect themselves with the Republic had produced such an effect upon the government, you will observe that my son could not have returned in time to follow Bonaparte, unless I had made excessive haste to send him; and when my deliverer was apprehensive of compromising himself by replying to my letters, when he was himself said to be threatened with an act of accusation, it would have been imprudent to send to him the son of a man to whose treasons the Directory and the President of the Council of Five Hundred had recently called public attention. Since that period 254you have not regretted the wars of Switzerland for him. Had he been attached to Championnet, he would probably have been associated in a criminal trial; had he served with Joubert, he would have been disgraced, and would perhaps have participated in the extreme disgust which that general cannot refrain from expressing; whereas at present he is free and full of ardor, and we may examine the question of his entrance into the service, which has become much more tempting, to use his own expression, since we have undergone reverses.

“The fact is, that George, who is a republican patriot,—and I have met with few such in my lifetime,—has, besides, a passion for the military profession, for which I think him adapted, as he possesses a sound and calm judgment, a just perception, a strong local memory, and will be equally beloved by his superiors, his comrades, and his subordinates. I love him with too much tenderness to make any distinction between his desires and mine; and I am too great an enemy of oppression of every description to place restraint on the wishes of a beloved son nearly twenty years of age. I could joyfully see him covered with honorable scars; but beyond that supposition I have not the courage to contemplate existence.

“Other objections, however, present themselves to my mind. I do not call them insurmountable, for I admit that the opposite opinion is plausible; and it is only because it appears indisputable to you that I endeavor to reduce it to its just value. Let us, in the first place, lay aside your comparison with my journey to America, whither I proceeded to oppose the despotism of a government which had violated fewer natural and social rights, from the foundation of the colonies to the Declaration of Independence, than the Directory daily violates 255amongst those who have been subjugated to its power. We must not be led away by the flattering sounds of republic and liberty. Algiers, Venice, and Rome under Tiberius, caused the first name to be heard; and as for the second, do you think that the young patricians who demanded of Sylla the honor to introduce Roman liberty into Asia had more energy than he who said to his governor, ‘Why is not this man killed who disposes of the life and property of his fellow-citizens?’—‘The reason is that nobody ventures upon the deed.’—‘Then give me a sword, and I will kill him.’ That individual, as you know, was Cato.

“It is no doubt gratifying to serve an ungrateful country either in one’s own person or in that of a son; but, in this instance, ingratitude can hardly be said to exist, since benevolence reappears with liberty; it is a proscription by the oppressive faction of the country, which is at present prolonged by an arbitrary government, till the return of liberty; and for the constant enemy of despotism, it is not indispensable to serve the despotic pentarchy of France. There are also particular inconveniences in my son’s case. You know that in organized countries—in England, for instance—activity of service seems to imply the approbation of the governing party; but without admitting that difficulty, imagine George at the table of a leader, drinking, three months hence, to the fortunate day of the 10th of August, which was the signal for the assassination of our friends, or ordering one of my accomplices to be shot!

“If, at least, some return to liberal ideas should become manifest,—if I could perceive the avant-coureurs of a national and legal government,—the inexpressible desire which I feel for such a blessing would induce me to welcome with avidity the smallest drop of liberty that 256might fall from heaven. I cordially detest the ancient powers; I ardently wish that the new doctrine may be established upon a firm basis; this coalition is composed of my implacable enemies. I entertain no personal hostility towards the present government; I have even obligations to some of them; and the persecution which I have suffered is too honorable to me for its avowed motives to suffer me to be shocked at it.

“You know that I love my country, and that its welfare, in whatever quarter it might originate, would give me the highest gratification: consequently no bitterness can enter into the severity of my objections, which I would instantly waive, were liberty, or even the dawn of liberty, again perceptible in France; but I have felt desirous of explaining to you, my dear friend, what has hitherto prevented me from yielding to the natural ardor of my son, and what has struck himself in hearing my remarks on the subject.

“At the same time I admit that the opposite opinion, even under existing circumstances, has considerable weight. France, whether free or not, is still our country, and there are more germs of liberty in her democratic organization than could enter into the counter-revolution. Her adversaries are the decided enemies of our purest principles, and have taken up arms only to accomplish her utter destruction. If it appears unsuitable that, when Europe is divided into two bands, a young man of nineteen years of age should be found in neither, it is evident that the place of a patriot—of my son—can only be under our national standards. The late reverses have imparted a more defensive character to our wars, and a leader incapable of acts of pillage has just been appointed to the army of Italy; in a word, if it be permitted, or let us even say, if it be a 257duty to hesitate, there are many reasons at this moment for the adoption of your advice.”

At a later period La Fayette wrote to the same friend to inform him of his son’s departure for Italy:—

“I heartily thank you, my dear Masclet, for your congratulations on the wished-for appointment. The new-made officer is hastening to the field, and hopes to embrace you to-morrow, before his and your departure. Sure it is, the standard of the rights of men is not on the side against which he is going to fight. May they be in France the reward of victory!

“With sanguine expectations I am waiting for news from Italy. Bonaparte will conquer. Our situation in Germany is glorious indeed; a brilliant campaign and an honorable peace are, I think, to be depended upon. Adieu, my dear Masclet.

La Fayette.


La Fayette arrives at Witmold—Return of his Son from America—Madame La Fayette’s Journey to Paris—La Fayette’s Letter to her—His Letter to the Directory—Madame La Fayette appeals to Directeur Sieyès—18th Brumaire—La Fayette returns to France—His Letter to Napoleon announcing his Arrival—The Premier Consul is Displeased—Madame La Fayette’s Visit to Napoleon—Virginie describes her Mother’s Last Sickness and Death—La Fayette’s Love for his Wife—His Tender Letters narrating Touching Scenes at her Death-Bed.

“Give me again my hollow tree,
A crust of bread, and liberty.”—Pope.

REGARDING the few short years remaining in the heroic and unselfish life of Madame La Fayette, her daughter Virginie and her husband are her best biographers. After their release from Olmütz Virginie La Fayette thus writes:—

“At last, on the 10th of October, 1797, we arrived at Witmold. From my aunt De Tessé, who owned this property of Witmold, we received the most tender reception. Here my mother recovered her strength, and found repose of body and mind. My father found his friends. He was fond of Madame de Tessé, and had with her on every point complete community of opinions. His political life had met with her constant approbation, and you may fancy what charm five years of silence at Olmütz added to Madame de Tessé’s lively, animated, and piquante conversation.

“Shortly afterwards my brother arrived from Mount 259Vernon. Under General Washington’s paternal care he had become a man. My mother was happy, and so were her children. My sister often met at that time Charles de Latour-Maubourg, the younger brother of my father’s friend. Anastasie was captivated by his handsome countenance, and the noble feelings he expressed. Their wedding, celebrated at Madame de Tessé’s, was a fresh link between two families whose old friendship had been sealed by misfortune.

“The course of my mother’s convalescence was disturbed by the imperious necessity of returning to France, where she was summoned by family business. She alone could follow up the affairs of the family, for she alone could return to France, as her name was on none of the lists of proscription or suspicion.”

During this absence of Madame La Fayette her husband thus wrote to her from Vianen, near Utrecht. Young La Fayette had joined the French army in Holland. It was rather a singular fact that while the father, the illustrious upholder of the liberties of his country, was unable to enter his native land, his son was fighting her battles. While not allowed to return to France, the thoughts of La Fayette turned yearningly toward America, and he thus expressed his desires to his wife in a letter written to her at that time:—

“Yesterday and to-day George and I have been planning a farm for you, either in the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah, in the state of Virginia, not far from Federal City and even Mount Vernon, or in the lovely fields of New England, within reach of the town of Boston, for which you know my fancy. I do not conceal from myself, dear Adrienne, the fact that I, who complain of the serfs of Holstein as a sad surrounding for a friend of liberty, should find negro slaves in the valley of the Shenandoah; 260for if in the northern states there is equality for all, in the southern it exists only for the whites. It is true that, with our ideas of Cayenne, we might console ourselves somewhat. I should, however, prefer New England, and at the same time I feel all the reasons which ought to draw us near Mount Vernon and the seat of government. But we only want the first dollar to buy our farm with.”

Notwithstanding the painful anxieties which filled his mind, consequent upon his own uncertain position, La Fayette was ever keenly alive to the interests of others, especially of his friends. The following letter was written by him during his own exile, to the Directory, in behalf of his friends who had been his companions in prison:—

Citizen Directors: Permit a citizen who owes his liberation to the government of his country now to avail himself of that obligation to demand of you an act of justice. I am not about to speak of myself; and though my heart and my reason equally remind me of my rights, I appreciate the circumstances which keep me still at a distance from my country; but in offering up my prayers for her liberty, her glory, and her happiness I purpose to speak to you of the few officers who, on an occasion, the responsibility of which belongs to me alone, thought themselves obliged to accompany their general and were made prisoners by the enemy. Their patriotism, which has been tried from the beginning of the Revolution, has been preserved in all its ardor and purity, and the Republic cannot have more faithful defenders.

“Salutation and respect,
La Fayette.”

261While General La Fayette was at Witmold, just after his release, he received the following letter from the illustrious Alexander Hamilton, who, six years after, fell in the fatal duel with Aaron Burr:—

New York, April 28, 1798.

“I have been most happy, my dear Marquis, to receive at last a letter from you. It confirms that which I had already learned of your disposition; that though your engagements have not permitted you to follow the fortunes of the French Republic, you have never ceased to be attached to it. I frankly avow that my sentiments on that point differ from yours. The execution of the king and the massacres of September have cured all my sympathy for the French Revolution. I have never believed that one could make France a republic, and I am convinced that this attempt, so long as it shall be prolonged, can only bring misfortune.

“Amidst the sad results of this revolution, I regret extremely the discussions which have arisen between our countries, and which seem to menace a complete rupture. It will be useless to retrace the causes of the actual state. I will only say that the project of alliance with Great Britain, of which we have been accused, we have not been a party to, although our adversaries have believed it useful to their views to report such an opinion in France.

“I give you this assurance upon the strength of our ancient friendship. The future will prove that my assertion is true. The basis of the politics of the party to which I belong is to avoid all intimate or exclusive relations with any foreign power.

“But, leaving politics, the rest of my letter will be consecrated to assuring you that my friendship for you will survive all revolutions and all vicissitudes. No one 262more than myself realizes how much cause our country has to love you, to desire your happiness, and to wish to contribute thereto. As I feel so sensitively for you, I hope that I shall never show it to you in an equivocal manner.

“In the actual state of our relations with France, I cannot press you to come here, and until a radical change shall operate in France I shall be grieved to learn that you have returned there. If a prolongation of this evil order of things shall be continued in your country, and shall make you wish to seek elsewhere a permanent asylum, you can be assured of finding in America a reception tender and cordial. The only thing in which all our parties accord is in the affection which they equally feel towards yourself.”

The difficulties alluded to by Hamilton between the United States and France, which almost resulted in open warfare, were caused by false rumors of an alliance between Great Britain and the United States, occasioned by England’s endeavors to draw neutral America into hostilities with France, regarding the liberty of commerce. To this letter La Fayette sent the following reply:—

Witmold, Aug. 12, 1798.

“Your letter of the 28th of April caused me much happiness, my dear Hamilton. You speak to me with a touching friendship of the warm reception which awaits me in America, but you cannot, you say, press me to hasten my departure under actual circumstances. Truly, my dear friend, it is much against my desires that I have been forced to defer it for so long a time. Immediately upon my deliverance I had wished to embark; but it was impossible for my wife, in the state of her health, to set 263sail, and I could not resolve to leave her. I have been waiting until the moment when she could undertake a journey to France, necessary to our affairs. I wait news from her. Would that I also might receive that which shall give me the hope of a reconciliation between the United States and the French government.

A Hamilton

“You know that if my attachment to my native country has not been altered, the measures of her governors are repugnant in general to my sentiments; and in spite of the obligations which I am under to some of them for my deliverance, I cannot be considered as their personal friend. You know, also, that the independence, the dignity, the prosperity of the United States are more dear to me than to any one; my opinion ought, then, to have some weight with you. For I believe, be assured, as far as I can judge, at this distance where I am, in the best intentions which the Directory have in this respect.

“Under this supposition, my dear friend, at a moment when no one power of continental Europe can resist the French Republic, I believe it conformable to honor and to the interests of the United States to come half way toward a reconciliation. Never, and much less since your declarations, would I be so unjust towards any one of my best friends as to suppose that the spirit of party prejudices, or private grievances, could, under such grave circumstances, influence their conduct. Let America, so far as she has been wronged, maintain her dignity and her rights; but if an ancient alliance, which no one could pretend to regret or improve, can bring itself to her remembrance, I have confidence that the two parties which divide the countries will re-unite to effect a reconciliation.

“Since you have spoken to me of the difference of our opinions upon the European revolution, I would return to the time when, following that which I have often 264predicted, I found myself engaged in the struggle; up to August, then, in spite of the offers of a powerful faction, I believed it to be my duty to resist or to die in remaining always faithful to my constitutional oath.

“The passionate love of liberty which took me to America disposed me naturally to adopt a democratic and republican system. Afterwards, moved by all the dangers of royalty and of an English aristocracy, I remembered also the faults of our previous experiences. I concluded that the science of a social organization had not been sufficiently studied, and I desired that it should have a universal trial. The first principles, however, appeared to me indubitable. The fundamental doctrines of the rights of the man and the citizen, reduced to what I believed to be necessary and sufficient, were proclaimed by me; and after the national triumph of July 14, 1789, a civil militia was instituted, to measure itself against the permanent armies of Europe.

“Very soon after, all ancient abuses, all hereditary pretensions disappeared. However, an hereditary president of executive power had been established in the royal family, and that decision was so conformed to the will of the people, to the opinions of their representatives, and to other circumstances, that in the month of June, 1791, almost an entire majority of our constitutional assembly, heretofore discontented, thought better to replace upon the throne a constitutional king, than to complete the establishment of a republican government. The extent of the English prerogative was judged inadmissible, particularly on account of our military situation. If one believes that a constitutional monarchy, such as ours, might be modified so that it might gradually arrive at the adoption of a government entirely elective, such an inconvenience would be less grievous than that of 265usurpations upon the rights of the national sovereignty, or upon the liberty of citizens. It was after this manner of viewing affairs, that in the midst of popular outrages, the intrigues of factions, and the machinations of foreigners, a constitution was freely discussed and adopted by the nation. It had faults, truly, but it contained nothing contrary to the rights of men, and it included means, lawful and easy, for ameliorations.

“It is against this constitution that the old governments have united; it is to them, as well as to the Jacobins, that we must attribute our ruin. Until then, the excesses so often unpunished had not been official. When anarchy and the assassin had put down the honest patriot, the kings had the satisfaction of seeing extinguished all desire of imitation in Europe.

“Their hopes of conquest, however, were disappointed. The National Guard, dismissed from the interior, ran to the frontiers and fought with an irresistible force for national independence. During three years the Republic had been in France but a name tarnished by an extravagant and sanguinary tyranny. To these misfortunes succeeded the establishment of a constitution which was violated on the 18th Fructidor.

“I do not pretend that France at present enjoys liberty; but though the first constitution and that of the year III., preferable on many accounts (in particular by the establishment of two Chambers), cannot be considered by me but as secondary objects compared to the importance of the fundamental doctrine, I am persuaded that liberty can be consolidated in France and in other countries, upon the basis of an elective government, sooner than upon that of hereditary presidents. This opinion is not only the result of my republican inclinations; it comes also from the situation of 266men and of things. It has been even adopted by many unpatriotic monarchists who found that the resurrection of the French monarchy when it became a question of determining the powers of the king, caused more trouble than it had advantages.

“How in this situation have I not recognized with joy the American principles of my old friend, that it would be impolitic to re-establish an hereditary magistracy, the destruction of which had been illegal, but for which I had never desired immortality. Wherefore, shall I not hope that the elective governments, with differences of form and similarity of principle, could be so combined as to assure the establishment of a true liberty? Is it then indispensable to be free to have a king? Will that obligation necessarily be attached to a vast territory and people? I do not think so. And so far as the experiment has been tried I have found that it would be better to follow the American principles than for us to take the English method.

“But this is talking too much of politics, my dear Hamilton. I have not the pretension to believe that, upon such a subject, friends who have formed a strong opinion can persuade the one or the other. I have wished only to show you the motives for my conduct.

“I thank you very tenderly for the earnest and affectionate manner in which you have expressed the good wishes of America in my favor, and your own feelings. I appreciate deeply my obligations towards that well-beloved country and shall always be ready to give my life for her prosperity. I am happy and proud of the sentiments which her virtuous and constant citizens have preserved, of those of my more intimate companions—of yours, particularly, my dear Hamilton. I hope that you are assured that our ancient friendship has not suffered 267in my heart the least diminution, and that from the first instant when our fraternal union was formed, until the last moment of my life, I shall be always your most devotedly attached friend.”


But we will again let Virginie tell the story of her father’s return to France.

“France was far from being in a quiet state. During the whole summer the country was greatly agitated. The terrorist party was once more gaining alarming strength. On different points great advantages had been obtained by the troops of the Coalition. An English army had disembarked at the Helder. Terrified at all that was said in Paris, my mother trembled at the thought of seeing fresh barriers arising between my father and herself. Owing to the good will of the Batavian government he was allowed to remain in Holland, notwithstanding General Brune’s injunctions to the contrary. But if my father could not depend on the protection of the French armies, what would happen if those of the Coalition marched into Holland, bringing with them the counter-revolution? My mother, in her anxiety, resolved to go to the Directeur Sieyès, then chief of the party opposed to the Jacobins. She told him of the dangers to which my father was exposed, and warned him that if the foreign armies were victorious, he would take refuge on the French territory.

“Sieyès answered that it would be imprudent for him to return to France, and that he would be safer in the states of the king of Prussia. ‘Who kept him a prisoner!’ answered my mother. ‘M. de La Fayette would prefer, if necessary, a prison in France, but he has more confidence in his fellow-countrymen.’

“All was in this alarming uncertainty when the revolution 268of the 18th Brumaire took place, and changed the face of affairs. With that just appreciation of things which never forsook her, my mother at once deemed it necessary that, without loss of time, and without asking anybody’s permission, my father should return to France at the very moment when justice was proclaimed. She wished him to return ere time had brought the slightest change, and without any other authorization than the liberal intentions then proclaimed by the new government. She obtained a passport for him under an assumed name, and M. Alexandre Romœuf, one of his former aides-de-camp, brought it to him. My mother was accustomed to foresee my father’s intentions, to judge with marvellous tact what it was best for him to do: she would guess his wishes. He, on his side, had entire confidence in her opinion. Therefore, without any further delay, he started immediately and arrived in Paris.”

But La Fayette did not sneak into France like a culprit; he knew his course had been above reproach, and he boldly announced his arrival to Napoleon in the following manly note:—

“From the day when the prisoners of Olmütz owed their liberty to you, to this, when the liberty of my country lays me under still greater obligations to you, I have thought that the continuance of my proscription was not expedient for the government or for myself. Accordingly I am now in Paris. Before going into the country, where I shall meet my family,—before even seeing my friends here,—I delay not a moment to address myself to you; not that I doubt that I am in my appropriate place wherever the Republic is founded upon a worthy basis, but because both my duty and my feelings prompt me to bear to you in person the expression of my gratitude.”


Bonaparte was taken completely by surprise. The 269“man of the people” had outgeneralled the “conqueror of Italy.”

Though he could not outwardly express his dissatisfaction, his displeasure was made very evident. Virginie La Fayette says:—

“The Premier Consul received this news with a very bad grace. He would have wished my father to remain in Holland, and to solicit like everybody else permission to enter France. The ministers declared that my father must return to Utrecht, there to wait till his name should be effaced from the list of émigrés. Those of our friends who approached the Premier Consul assured us that nobody dared for the present say a word to him on the subject. My mother went to see him and was graciously received. She explained to General Bonaparte my father’s peculiar situation, and the effect his return would produce on the mind of every honest patriot. The general was struck with the nobleness, prudence, and tact of her language. ‘I am charmed, Madame,’ he said, ‘to make your acquaintance; vous avez beaucoup d’esprit, mais vous n’entendez pas les affaires.’ Nevertheless, it was decided that my father should remain openly in France without asking for any permission, and that he should go to the country, there to remain during the legal term of his proscription.

“My sister and her husband arrived from Holland. My brother had already joined my father, and we established ourselves first at Fontenay, then at La Grange, one of my grandmother’s estates which had fallen to my mother.

“One of the objects my father had in view on re-entering France was to facilitate the return of his companions in exile. Many difficulties were to be conquered. This task was entrusted to my mother. She was obliged to go 270constantly to Paris in order to plead the cause of those faithful friends. She succeeded; there is not one amongst them, I believe, who does not owe his radiation to her personal exertions.

“The remainder of this precious life was consecrated to us. Repose would have best suited my father even under Bonaparte’s consular magistracy, but under Napoleon’s imperial despotism honor prescribed retirement. The dearest wish of my mother’s heart was to lead a private life. If, after so many fatigues and sufferings, quiet had not been necessary, the possibility of peacefully consecrating herself to the affections which filled her soul, to the one especially which surpassed them all, was the only happiness she could desire. She felt too deeply, too passionately, I may say, the emotions of family life to wish for any other. Neither the grandeur of her former position, nor even the lustre of her misfortunes, had given birth in her mind to that restless pride which cannot bear to return to a homely life. Though her devoted courage had arisen above the greatest trials, still the feelings and easy duties of an obscure destiny would have sufficed to satisfy her heart. Love filled her whole being.

“God permitted her to enjoy, during the last years of her life, greater happiness than she had ever ventured to hope for. My mother’s health was greatly impaired, but her natural and simple courage acted as a charm to deceive us. We beheld her always serene and tender, taking the liveliest part in the happiness caused by the birth of her three eldest grandchildren. She bore with gentle fortitude the anxieties of which my brother and my husband were the objects during the campaigns of 1805 and 1806. She heard with joy of George’s good fortune when he saved his general’s life at the battle of Eylau. The peace which followed brought on for her a 271period of unmingled happiness. At the end of the spring of 1807, it seemed that God had accomplished all my mother’s desires in this world. A few days after the return of my brother and of my husband, in August, my mother was taken with violent pains and strong fever. On the 11th of October she heard mass for the last time in the chapel of La Grange. The disorder attacked her brain in a most fearful manner. My mother’s delirium was peculiar and entirely in keeping with her character; she was completely absorbed by her affection for those she loved; in her wanderings she would mistake herself on our situations, never on our characters: she knew us to the last. One day she called my sister to her and said: ‘Have you an idea of what maternal feeling is? Are you like me? Do you know all its joys? Is there anything sweeter, deeper, stronger? Do you feel, like me, the want of loving and of being loved?’

“Her love for God and for my father occupied almost exclusively her last moments. What she was for my father in the midst of this delirium is not to be conceived. The effect his presence produced on her, the choice of the words she used to express her love, with more confidence than she had ever shown before; how, with complete incoherence in her ideas, she followed up interests which, though imaginary, were in keeping with her character and her opinions; the charm with which she spoke to him of God and of religion,—all this cannot be expressed by words, and such a delirium could only be hers. ‘God owed her the reward,’ M. de Grammont said to my father, ‘of permitting her thus to reveal to you the depth of her tenderness.’

“In the midst of this delirium she repeated three times over Tobit’s prayer, the same she had recited on seeing the towers of Olmütz. We lost her on Christmas night, 272at twelve o’clock, in the year 1807. It was at the foot of our Saviour’s cradle that our sacrifice was accomplished. In the morning she had bestowed her blessing on each of us. Her last words were, ‘I do not suffer.’ She also said to us, ‘May the peace of the Lord be with you.’ And to my father, ‘I am entirely yours’ (Je suis toute à vous).”

M. Jules Cloquet says in his recollections of La Fayette:—

“La Fayette had a high regard for the domestic virtues, which he considered the basis of society and the only certain and pure source of public prosperity. He even wished to introduce them into politics; and his public life was in this respect a picture of his private life. He always spoke with respect and tenderness of both his parents, whom he lost almost in his infancy. In his children he cherished the memory of their mother (Mademoiselle de Noailles), whom he had loved most tenderly, and whose name he never mentioned but with visible emotion. One day during his last illness I surprised him kissing her portrait, which he always wore suspended to his neck, in a small gold medallion. Around the portrait were the words, ‘Je suis à vous,’ and on the back was engraved this short and touching inscription, ‘Je vous fus donc une douce campagne: eh bien! bénissez moi’ (I was then a gentle companion to you! So then give me your blessing!).

“I have since been informed that regularly every morning La Fayette sent out his valet Bastien, shut himself up in his room, and taking the portrait in both hands, looked at it earnestly, pressed it to his lips, and remained silently contemplating it for about a quarter of an hour. Nothing was more disagreeable to him than to be disturbed during this daily homage to the memory of his virtuous partner.” His grief for her loss may be 273judged of from the two following letters written by him at the time of this overwhelming affliction:—

“I was certain, my dear Masclet, that you would tenderly regret the adorable woman whom you were pleased to celebrate before you were personally acquainted with her, and to cherish from the period when she was herself able to express to you her grateful friendship. It would be ungrateful in me to entertain a doubt of your participation in my grief; but although such a doubt was far from my thoughts, I have derived a melancholy gratification from the renewed assurance of your feelings, and for that assurance I thank you most cordially. I willingly admit that under great misfortunes I have felt myself superior to the situation in which my friends had the kindness to sympathize, but at present I have neither the power nor the wish to struggle against the calamity which has befallen me, or rather to surmount the deep affliction which I shall carry with me to the grave. It will be mingled with the sweetest recollections of the thirty-four years during which I was bound by the tenderest ties that perhaps ever existed, and with the thought of her last moments, in which she heaped upon me such proofs of her incomparable affection. I cannot describe the happiness which in the midst of so many vicissitudes and troubles I have constantly derived from the tender, noble, and generous feeling ever associated with the interests which gave animation to my existence. Assure Madame Masclet of my attachment and gratitude. You know my friendship for you, my dear Masclet, and that I am yours most cordially,

La Fayette.”

Letter from M. de La Fayette to M. de Latour-Maubourg, on the death of Madame de La Fayette:—

January, 1808.

“I have not yet written to you, my dear friend, from the depth of misery in which I am plunged. You have already heard of the angelic end of that incomparable woman. I feel I must again speak of it to you. My grieved heart loves to open itself to the most constant, the dearest confidant of all its thoughts. As yet you have always found me stronger than circumstance, but now this event is stronger than me. Never shall I recover from it.

“During the thirty-four years of an union in which her tenderness, her goodness, the elevation of her mind, charmed, adorned, honored my life, I felt myself so used to all that she was to me, that I could not distinguish it from my own existence. She was fourteen, and I was sixteen, when her heart occupied itself with everything that could interest me. I knew I loved her, I knew I needed her; but it is only now that I can distinguish what is left of me for the remainder of a life which I had thought was to have been entirely devoted to worldly matters.

“The foreboding of her loss had before never crossed my mind until I received a note from Madame de Tessé as I was leaving Chavaniac with George. I was struck to the heart. On arriving in Paris after a rapid journey, we found her very ill; there was a slight improvement the next day, which I attributed to the pleasure of seeing us; but soon afterwards her head was affected. She said to Madame de Simiane, ‘I was going to have a malignant fever, but I shall be well attended to, and shall get the better of it.’

“It was not a malignant fever; but unhappily it was something still worse. One day only Corvisart had great hopes. Our dear invalid was already beginning to wander 275when her confessor came to see her. In the evening she told me: ‘If I go to another dwelling, you know how much I shall think of you there. Although I shall leave you with reluctance, the sacrifice of my life would be little if it could insure your eternal happiness.’

“The day she received the sacrament she was anxious to see me near her. Delirium came on afterwards; you never saw anything so extraordinary and so touching. Imagine, my dear friend, a mind completely disordered, thinking itself in Egypt, in Syria, amongst the events of the reign of Athalie, which Celestine’s lessons had left in her imagination, strangely blending every idea that was not from the heart; in short, the most constant delirium, and withal that kindness which always seeks for something pleasing to say. There was also a refinement in the way she expressed herself, a loftiness of thought which astonished every one. But what was admirable above all was that tenderness of heart which she was incessantly showing to her six children, to her sister, to her aunt, to M. de Tessé: she thought she was with them at Memphis; for, by a miracle of feeling, her mind was never invariably fixed but where I was concerned. It seemed as if that impression was too deep to be obliterated, was stronger than sickness, stronger than death itself. Life had already fled; feeling, warmth, existence, all had taken refuge in the hand which pressed mine. Perhaps she did even yield to her affection and her tenderness more completely than if she had had the full possession of her faculties.

“Do not imagine that the dear angel was alarmed at the thought of a future world. Her religion was all love and confidence; the fear of hell never came near her mind. She did not believe in it for beings good, sincere, and virtuous, whatever their opinions might be. ‘I do 276not know what will happen at the moment of their death,’ she would say; ‘but God will enlighten them.’

“However, had her mind been clear, she would have thought of what she called her péchés, though she did not believe in any other divine punishment than that of being deprived of the sight of the Supreme Being.

“And how often have you heard me joking her about her aimables hérésies. Who knows whether the fear of increasing my regret would not have partly restrained the outpouring of her feelings, in the same manner as when, during our married life, her utter unselfishness prevented her from yielding to what was most impassioned in her nature? ‘There was a period,’ she said a few months ago, ‘when, after one of your returns from America, I felt myself so forcibly attracted to you that I thought I should faint every time you came into the room. I was possessed with the fear of annoying you, and tried to moderate my feelings. You can scarcely be dissatisfied with what remains.’

“‘What gratitude I owe to God,’ she would repeat during her illness, ‘that such passionate feelings should have been a duty. How happy I have been!’ she said the day of her death. ‘What a lot to be your wife!’ And when I spoke to her of my tenderness, she answered in a touching tone: ‘Is it true? Is it indeed true? How good you are! Repeat it again; it does me so much good to hear you. If you do not find yourself sufficiently loved, lay the fault upon God; He has not given me more faculties than that I love you,’ she said, in the midst of her delirium, ‘Christianly, humanly, passionately.’

“When she was pitied for her sufferings, the fear of exaggerating them to herself and to others would come upon her. One day as I was watching her with a look of pity, ‘Oh! I am overpaid,’ she said, ‘by that kind look.’

277“She often begged of me to remain in the room, because my presence calmed her. Sometimes, however, she would ask me to go and attend to my business; and when I answered that I had nothing else to do than to take care of her, ‘How good you are,’ she would exclaim with her feeble though pénétrante voice; ‘you are too kind; you spoil me; I do not deserve all that; I am too happy!’

“Her delirium was intense. It bore principally on the reign of Athalie, on the family of Jacob, in which she liked to persuade herself that I was tenderly beloved, on the contentions of Israel and Judah. ‘Would it not be strange,’ she said, ‘if, being your wife, I were obliged to sacrifice myself for a king?’

“She was in fear of troubles, of proscriptions, and prepared herself to meet them with the fortitude which characterized her in real dangers. She thought there was to be a persecution against Christians, and reckoned upon me to protect the oppressed. ‘It appears to me,’ she said, ‘that the world is beginning over again; nothing but fresh experiments. Why are not all things going on according to your wishes?’ All these thoughts were confused in her head; she believed we were in Egypt and Syria.

“We thought once her ravings had ceased. ‘Am I not mad?’ she exclaimed. ‘Come nearer; tell me if I have lost my reason.’ I answered that I should be very sorry to take for absurdities all the kind things she had said to me. ‘Have I said anything kind? But I have also said many silly things; have we not acted the tragedy of Athalie? What! I am married to the sincerest of men, and I cannot know the truth. It is still your kindness; you want to spare my head. Do speak; I am resigned to the disgrace of being mad.’

“We succeeded at length in calming her. I told her 278she was valued and loved. ‘Ah!’ she answered, ‘I do not care to be valued, so long as I am loved.’ Another time she said: ‘Fancy what a state my poor head is in; what an odd thing it is that I cannot remember whether Virginie and M. de Lasteyrie are betrothed or united. Help me to collect my thoughts.’

“Sometimes we could hear her praying in her bed. She made her daughters read prayers to her. There was something heavenly in the manner she twice repeated Tobit’s prayers applicable to her state, the same she had recited to her daughters on seeing the steeples of Olmütz for the first time.

“I approached her. ‘It is from the book of Tobit,’ she said: ‘I sing badly; that is why I recite it.’ Another time she composed a most beautiful prayer which lasted full an hour.

“One day I was speaking to her of her angelic gentleness. ‘Yes,’ she said; ‘God has made me gentle; though my gentleness is not like yours; I have not such high pretensions. You are so strong as well as so gentle, and you are very good to me.’

“‘It is you who are good,’ I answered, ‘and generous above all. Do you remember my first departure for America? Everybody against me, and you hiding your tears at M. de Ségur’s marriage. You tried not to appear in grief, for fear of bringing down more blame upon me.’ ‘True,’ she said, ‘it was rather nice for a child. But how kind of you to remember so far back!’

“She spoke very sensibly of her daughters’ happiness, of the good and noble character of her sons-in-law. ‘Nevertheless, I have not been able to make them as happy as I am. It would have required all God’s power to have brought about that again.’

“It is not to boast, my dear friend, that I tell you all 279this, although one might well be proud of it, but I find comfort in repeating to you and to myself how tender and how happy she was.

“How happy she would have been this winter—all her children near her, the war finished for George and Louis, the birth of Virginie’s child, and, I may add, after an illness which, owing to our past fears, would have made her doubly dear to us. Had she not to the last, the kindness of thinking of my amusements at La Grange, of my farm, of all that was of daily interest to me! When I spoke to her of returning home: ‘Ah!’ she said, ‘that would be too delicious. My God, my God!’ she exclaimed, ‘six more poor years of La Grange!’ She wanted to return there with me, and begged of me to start before her. I entreated her to allow me to stay, and asked her to rest a little. She promised to do her best; and as she became calmer, ‘Well,’ she said, ‘remain, wait a little; I shall go quietly to sleep.’

“The disordered state of her brain did not prevent her having misgivings as to her approaching end. The night which preceded the last I heard her saying to her nurse, ‘Do not leave me; tell me when I am to die.’ At my approach her fears subsided; but when I spoke to her of recovery, of returning to La Grange: ‘Oh no! I am going to die. Have you any cause of complaint against me?’

“‘For what, my dear? you have always been so good and so loving!’

“‘Have I, then, been a gentle companion to you?’

“‘Yes; assuredly.’

“‘Well, then, give me your blessing.’

“On all these last evenings, when she thought I was going to leave her, she would ask for my blessing.

“I spoke to her of the happiness of our union; of my 280tenderness. She took pleasure in hearing me repeat the assurance of my love. ‘Promise me,’ she said, ‘to preserve that affection forever. Promise me.’

“You may well believe that I promised.

“‘Are you satisfied with your children?’ she added.

“I told her how completely they satisfied me.

“‘They are very good,’ she said; ‘support them with all your love for me.’

“Then delirium coming on again, ‘How do you think they feel with respect to the house of Jacob?’

“I assured her that they entered into all her feelings.

“‘Ah!’ she replied, ‘my feelings are very moderate, except those I have for you.’

“Twice only her excitement became intense. It was then the wanderings of maternal love. One day George, to prevent her speaking too much, had for several hours kept away from her room. When he came in again, she evidently thought he had just returned from the army. The wildness of her joy on seeing him made her heart beat in a fearful manner. Another time she fell into an ecstasy of joy at the thought of an anniversary dear to our hearts—of the day when, twenty-eight years before, she had given me George. That anniversary was the day of her death.

“One cannot admire sufficiently the meekness, the patience, the unchanging kindness of that angelic woman during this long and cruel malady. In her delirium, which lasted a whole month, she was always thinking of us and fearing to weary her friends. ‘I am very troublesome,’ she would often say; ‘my children,’ she one day added, ‘must make up their mind to have a silly mother since you are willing to have such a silly wife.’ But never the slightest sign of impatience nor of ill humor. Even when it was most repugnant to her to drink anything, 281a word from me or from her children, or, in our absence, the idea that the nurse might be blamed, sufficed to decide her; and up to the last, each service was acknowledged by a kind word, a motion of the head or of the hand.

“‘Never,’ the doctor said, ‘have I seen in the course of a long practice anything to be compared to that adorable disposition and to delirium so extraordinary. No, never have I seen anything which could give me the idea that human perfection could go so far.’

“A few moments before she breathed her last she murmured to us that she was not suffering. ‘No doubt she does not suffer,’ exclaimed the nurse; ‘she is an angel.’

“It was very remarkable to what a degree her wanderings corresponded with the different shades of her affection. When I was concerned, her judgment was always sound. Though placing us all in the most fantastic situations, her mind was never at fault with respect to my principles and feelings. She would exclaim, ‘Decide; you are leader; it is our happy lot to obey you.’ One day I was attempting to calm her; she gayly repeated this verse:—

‘A vos sages conseils, Seigneur, je m’abandonne.’

“With respect to our children,—I speak of all six,—whom she always recognized and welcomed, whom she always spoke to in the kindest and most loving manner, and whose various characters and dispositions ever remained clearly present to her mind, there was still something less lucid in her thoughts than with regard to me. As for her grandchildren, she spoke of them several times to me with charming details; but more frequently her ideas were confused with respect to their number, 282their sex, and even to the existence of the two last. She was most affectionate throughout to her sister, Madame de Montagu; she frequently inquired from us both how my mother was, fancying we had seen her lately. We shuddered on hearing her calmly say on the morning of her death, ‘To-day I shall see my mother.’

“The last day she told me, ‘When you see Madame de Simiane, give her my love.’ Thus her heart was all life when her poor limbs were already numbed by approaching death.

“I have already told you without any particulars that she had received the sacraments. I was present during the ceremony, which was more painful to us than to herself, for she had already taken the sacrament in her bed a short time previously.

“The next day, before she became quite speechless, Madame de Montagu and my daughters, fearing that my presence might prevent her from praying at her ease, asked me to leave them. My first impulse was to refuse their request, however tenderly and timidly made; I had a passionate desire to occupy her thoughts exclusively. However, I repressed my feelings, and gave up my place to her sister. I was scarcely gone when she called me back. So soon as I got nearer, she again took my hand in hers, saying, ‘Je suis toute à vous.’ These were her last words.

“It has been said that she had often lectured me. That was not her way; she frequently expressed, in the course of her delirium, the idea that she would go to heaven. She told me several times, ‘This life is short and full of troubles; let us unite in God and depart together for eternity.’ She wished us all, and me in particular, the peace of the Lord. Such is the manner in which that dear angel expressed herself during her illness, as 283well as in the will she had made a few years ago, and which is a model of refinement, of elevation of mind, and of eloquence from the heart.

“It seems as if, by dwelling on these details, I was trying to defer that last period, when, on seeing the doctor giving up all hopes of her recovery, and only thinking of prolonging life, we felt that for her there was to be no to-morrow. Until then we had only appeared before her two or three at a time; but that day, as she seemed to be seeking for us, we saw no harm in admitting all the members of the family, who seated themselves in a semi-circle before her, so that she could see every one. ‘What a pleasant sight!’ she said, while looking on us with complacency.

“She called for her daughters in turn, and had a charming word for each of them. She gave them each her blessing. I feel confident that she was happy during that morning. And how could the last moments be otherwise than calm for her whose piety, far from being troubled by terrors and scruples, never ceased to be all the time of her illness, before and during her delirium, all love and gratitude for the blessings, to use her own words, which God had bestowed and was still bestowing on her? for her who, notwithstanding the state of her brain, never lost a single joy which a heart such as hers could feel? Her delirium even became less confused. Instead of asking Madame de Montagu how my mother was, she told her, ‘I look upon you as having succeeded to her.’

“No doubt she felt that the last moment was approaching, when, after having told me in so touching a manner: ‘Have you been happy with me? Are you kind enough to love me? Well, then, give me your blessing.’ and when I answered: ‘You love me also, you will give me 284your blessing’blessing’; she gave me hers for the first and last time in a solemn and loving manner. Then her six children, each in turn, kissed her hand and face. She looked at them with inexpressible tenderness.

“Still more surely had she the idea of her approaching end, when, fearing a convulsion, as I believe, she made me a sign to step back; and, as I remained near her, she laid my hand on her eyes with a look of tender gratitude, thus giving me to understand what was the last duty she expected from me.

“We felt during these hours of gentle agony a struggle between the want of expressing our love, which she enjoyed so much, and the belief that these emotions wore out the little that was left in her of life. I kept in my words with nearly as much care as I repressed my sobs, when the touching expression of her eyes, a few scarcely uttered words, tore from my lips the expression of the feelings with which my heart was bursting. She revived, and found strength to exclaim: ‘Is it then true you have loved me? How happy I am! Kiss me.’ She raised her poor arms, which were almost lifeless, with wonderful animation. She passed one round my neck, and drawing my head towards hers, she pressed me to her heart, repeating: ‘What a blessing! how happy I am to be yours!’ Until her right hand became motionless, she carried mine successively to her lips and to her heart. My left hand did not leave hers, and as long as she breathed, I could feel that pressure, which seemed still to mean, ‘Je suis toute à vous.’

“We all surrounded her bed, which had been drawn into the middle of the room. She motioned to her sister to sit down by her. Her three daughters were continually applying hot towels to her hands and arms to preserve the last remnant of warmth. We knelt down, 285following the slow motion of her breath. There was no appearance of pain, the benevolent smile was playing upon her lips, my hand was still within hers; and thus this angel of goodness and love breathed her last. We bathed with tears the lifeless remains of that adorable being. I felt myself dragged away by M. de Mun and M. de Tracy, and so bade my last farewell to her, and to all happiness on earth....

“On Monday that angelic woman was borne to the spot near which repose her grandmother, her mother, and her sister, amongst sixteen hundred other victims....

“We found in her writing-book a letter to me written in 1785, several injunctions made in 1792, and an official will of 1804. This memorandum, which was only a rough copy, was nevertheless a masterpiece of tenderness, of refinement, and of heart-felt eloquence. It speaks of religion with simple and touching sublimity.

“I love, my dear friend, to confide to your bosom all these recollections of the past; for what else now remains, save recollections, of that adorable woman to whom I have owed during thirty-four years an ever-enduring and unclouded happiness? She was attached to me, I may say, by the most ardent feelings; yet never did I perceive in her the slightest shade of selfishness, of displeasure, or of jealousy. If I look back to the days of our youth, how many unexampled proofs of delicacy and generosity come across my mind! She was associated heart and soul with all my political wishes and opinions, and Madame de Tessé might well say that her devotion was a mixture of the catechism and the declaration des droits. I must again refer to an expression of her aunt’s, who said to me yesterday, ‘I never could have believed that it was possible to be so fanatic 286of your opinions, and at the same time so devoid of party spirit.’

“You know as well as I do all she was, and all she did during the Revolution. It is not for having come to Olmütz, as Charles Fox so elegantly expressed it, on the wings of duty and of love, that I mean to praise her now; it is for having remained in France until she had secured, so far as lay in her power, the material comforts of my aunt and the rights of my creditors; it is for having had the courage to send George to America. What noble imprudence to remain, the only woman in France endangered by the name she bore, but who always refused to change it!

“Each of her petitions and declarations began by these words: La femme La Fayette. Indulgent as she was with respect to calumny and party hatred, never did she allow, even at the foot of the scaffold, a reflection upon me to pass without protesting against it. She had prepared herself to speak in that spirit before the tribunal, and we have all seen how good, simple, and easy in common life was that lofty-minded and courageous woman. Her piety was also of a peculiar nature. I may say that during thirty-four years I never once experienced from it the slightest shadow of inconvenience. No affectation in her religious practices, which were always subordinate to my convenience. I have had the satisfaction of seeing the least pious of my friends as well received, as much esteemed, and their virtues as fully acknowledged by her as if there had been no difference of religious opinions between her and them. Never did she express to me anything but hope, even conviction, that upon mature reflection, with the uprightness of heart she knew I possessed, I should end by being convinced. The recommendations which she has left me are in the 287same spirit, entreating me to read, for the love of her, several books which I shall examine again with the most solemn attention. She used to call religion sovereign liberty, to make me appreciate it more, and often repeated with pleasure these words of Abbé Fauchet: ‘Jesus Christ, my only master’ (Jésus Christ, mon seul maître).

“This letter would never come to an end, my dear friend, if I gave way to the feelings which inspire it. I shall only add that that angelic woman has, at least, been surrounded with love and regret well worthy of her....

“Adieu, my dear friend; with your help I have borne sorrows great and hard to endure, to which the name of misfortune might have been given until the greatest of all misfortunes had been experienced. But, though absorbed in the deepest grief, though given up to one thought, one devotion not of this world, though still more than ever I feel the want to believe that all does not die with us, I still appreciate the pleasures of friendship—and what a friendship is yours, my dear Maubourg!

“I embrace you in her name, in my own, in the name of all you have been to me since we have known each other.

“Adieu, my dear friend,
La Fayette.”


La Fayette presented to the Premier Consul—His Interview with Napoleon—La Fayette declines the Office of Senator, and the Post of Ambassador to the United States—La Fayette meets Lord Cornwallis—Interview with Napoleon—La Fayette’s Fearless Loyalty to his Principles—La Fayette and Joseph Bonaparte—La Fayette refuses to vote for the Decree declaring Napoleon First Consul for Life—His Letter to Napoleon, explaining his Reasons—La Fayette’s Comments upon his Opposition to Bonaparte—Klopstock’s Dying Message to the Marquis—Madame de Staël’s Letter from Rome—La Fayette’s Meeting with Charles Fox—La Fayette in Jury—President Jefferson offers to him the Governorship of Louisiana—La Fayette declines—The Emperor Napoleon’s Remarks regarding La Fayette—Joseph Bonaparte offers to the Marquis a Seat in the House of Peers—La Fayette declines—Prince Joseph offers the Grand Cordon—La Fayette courteously declines the Honor—He is chosen a Member of the Chamber of Deputies—La Fayette appointed by the Assembly to meet the Allied Generals, after the Overthrow at Waterloo—Lord Stewart’s Ignominious Proposal—La Fayette’s Indignant Reply—Louis XVIII. again on the Throne—La Fayette retires to La Grange—Descriptions of his Home Life—His Charming Château—His Prosperous Farm—His Model Family—La Fayette again chosen a Member of the Chamber of Deputies—The Charge of Treason—La Fayette’s Fearless Declaration—His Speech in the Chamber—Upon Governmental Expenses—Public Instruction—Examination of the Ancient Régime—La Fayette refuses to claim the Title of Marquis since the Decree abolishing Orders of Nobility.

“This is true Liberty: when freeborn men,
Having to advise the public, may speak free;
289Which he who can and will deserves high praise;
Who neither can nor will may hold his peace.
What can be juster in a state than this?”—Milton.

THE account of the death of Madame La Fayette, which occurred in 1807, has taken us a few years beyond the time we had reached in the history of La Fayette’s political career, and we return to the period of his return to France after his long imprisonment. Shortly after this, La Fayette received the painful intelligence of the death of General Washington. He had fondly cherished the hope of again visiting his adored friend at Mt. Vernon, and perhaps taking his wife and family to behold his illustrious American general. The marquis immediately wrote a letter of condolence and sympathy to the family of Washington, and received from them a pair of pistols which General Washington had left to La Fayette in his will.

In 1800 La Fayette and Maubourg were presented to the First Consul at the Tuileries. Napoleon received them with great politeness, and amidst their expressions of personal gratitude to Bonaparte, they added many compliments regarding his Italian campaign. Napoleon sometimes discussed with La Fayette American matters and affairs in Europe.

Napoleon, speaking to La Fayette of his campaigns in America, once remarked, “The highest interests of the whole world were there decided by the skirmishes of patrols.”

One day Bonaparte said to him, “You must have found the French much cooled on the subject of liberty?”

“Yes,” replied La Fayette; “but they are in a state to receive it.”

290“They are disgusted,” answered the First Consul. “Your Parisians—for instance, the shop-keepers—oh, they want no more of it!”

“I did not use the expression lightly, General,” said La Fayette; “I am not ignorant of the effect of the follies and crimes which have defiled the name of liberty; but the French are perhaps more than ever in a state to receive it. It is for you to give it; from you they await it.”

Napoleon proffered to La Fayette the office of senator, but it was declined. The post of ambassador to the United States was then offered him, but as he felt himself almost a citizen of America, he was not willing to go there in such capacity as should force him to watch her with a jealous eye in order to uphold the rights of his own country.

Concerning this offer La Fayette wrote to Masclet: “I shall not go to America, my dear Masclet, at least not in a diplomatic capacity. I am far from abandoning the idea of making private and patriotic visits to the United States, and to my fellow-citizens of the New World, but at present I am much more intent upon farming than upon embassies. It seems to me that were I to arrive in America in any other costume than an American uniform, I should be as embarrassed with my appearance as a savage in breeches.”

In 1802 La Fayette met at a dinner party Lord Cornwallis, the newly appointed British minister to France. During their conversation Cornwallis asked La Fayette’s opinion regarding Napoleon’s administration, as to whether it was consistent with his ideas of liberty. La Fayette boldly replied that it was not. Spies were not long in carrying this daring answer to Bonaparte. Napoleon was displeased; and when next he met La 291Fayette, he said, “Lord Cornwallis claims that you are not yet corrected.”

“Of what?” asked La Fayette—“of my love of liberty? What should disgust me with that? The extravagances and crimes of terrorist tyranny have only served to make me hate more heartily every arbitrary régime, and attach myself more strongly to my principles.”

“But you have spoken to him of our affairs,” said the Consul, with evident displeasure.

“No one is further than myself,” replied La Fayette, “from seeking a foreign ambassador to censure what is passing in my own country; but if he ask me if this is liberty, I must answer No.”

“I must say to you, General La Fayette,” said Bonaparte,—“and I perceive it with pain,—that, by your manner of speaking of the acts of the government, you give its enemies the weight of your name.”

“What more can I do?” was the fearless reply. “I live in the country in retirement; I avoid, as far as I can, occasions of speaking of public affairs; but when any one demands of me if your administration of the government is conformable to my ideas of liberty, I shall say that it is not. I wish to be prudent, but I cannot be false.”

“But are you not convinced,” replied he, “that in the state in which I found France I was forced to irregular measures?”

“That is not the question,” he answered. “I speak neither of the time, nor of this or that act; it is the tendency—yes, General, it is the tendency of affairs—which pains me and disturbs me.”

“As to the rest,” Napoleon then replied, “I have spoken to you as the chief of the government; and in that 292capacity I complain of you. But as a private individual I ought to be content, because, in all which has been told me concerning you, I have perceived that in spite of your severity upon the acts of government, there has always been on your part personal good will for me.”

“You are right,” he answered. “A free government with you at its head—I should have nothing more to desire.”

One day La Fayette dined at the house of Madame de Staël, with Joseph Bonaparte and some members of that ephemeral opposition, whom Napoleon had not expelled.

“You are dissatisfied,” Joseph said to him, in the midst of the conversation. “You are not with us; but permit me to say to you that you are no more with these gentlemen. They desire a rotation of directors who differ in their striking of the shoulder. To-day it is one man; to-morrow it will be another; in place of that, if we have a régime conformed to your principles, you would be pleased that my brother should remain chief.”

When La Fayette was asked to vote for the decree declaring Napoleon First Consul for life, he replied:—

“I cannot vote for such a magistracy until public liberty has been sufficiently guaranteed. Then I will give my vote to Napoleon Bonaparte.”


La Fayette addressed to the First Consul the following letter at this time:—

La Grange, May 20, 1802.

General: When a man filled with the gratitude which he owes you, and too much alive to glory not to admire yours, has placed restrictions on his suffrage, those restrictions will be so much the less suspected when it is known that none more than himself would delight to see you chief magistrate for life of a free 294republic. The 18th Brumaire saved France, and I felt that I was recalled by the liberal professions to which you have attached your honor. We afterwards beheld in the consular power that restorative dictatorship, which, under the auspices of your genius, has achieved such great things—less great, however, than will be the restoration to liberty. It is impossible that you, General, the first in that order of men (whom, to quote and compare, would require me to retrace every page of history) can wish that such a revolution, so many victories, so much blood and miseries, should produce to the world and to ourselves no other results than an arbitrary system. The French people know their rights too well to have entirely forgotten them. But perhaps they are better able to recover them now with advantage than in the heat of effervescence; and you, by the power of your character and the public confidence; by the superiority of your talents, your situation, and your fortune, may, by re-establishing liberty, subdue our dangers and calm our inquietudes. I have no other than patriotic and personal motives in wishing for you, as the climax of our glory, a permanent magistrative post; but it is in unity with my principles, my engagements, the actions of my whole life, to ascertain, before I vote, that liberty is established on a basis worthy of the nation and of you. I hope you will now acknowledge, General, as you have already had occasion to do, that to firmness in my political opinions are joined my sincere sentiments of my obligations to you.”

This memorable letter was never answered.

La Fayette, in his “Mémoires,” thus comments upon his opposition to Napoleon: “It appears that Bonaparte had for a long time preserved his good-will towards me; 295and even after my letter, when one had declared before him, that there had not been any opposition to the Consulate for life, except from the Jacobin votes:—

“‘No,’ said he, ‘there were the enthusiasts for liberty: La Fayette, for example.’

“M. de Vaines, a member of the Cabinet Council, to whom he addressed his remark, observed that without doubt, I had believed it to be my duty to vote according to my principles, because no one could doubt of my personal attachment to Bonaparte.

“‘Really,’ replied he, ‘he ought to be content with the government.’

“The blame of this rupture has often been laid entirely to my charge; but his resolution and his character left me no hope of being useful. As he advanced farther in his fatal course, the rupture was more inevitable. If any one has the desire of tracing for himself the good will of my feelings towards Bonaparte, he has only to search through my correspondence with my friends. It suffices that these letters, written at different times, free me from all reproach of ambition or caprice.

“The foreigners who most desired to see me in office, were not tardy in feeling that I was right. But I will never despair of liberty.

“‘The character of General La Fayette,’ said Klopstock, a little while after my release from Olmütz, ‘prevents him from well knowing his nation; how could he believe them capable of possessing free institutions?’

“His judgment was an error, which the excesses of the Jacobins had but too far scattered. Later, one of his friends, who was also mine, wrote to me thus: ‘Klopstock died with his old attachment for you. We had together a long conversation regarding you, when I made to him my last, visit; he approved of you, and besought 296me that I should write to you, and salute you most cordially for him. I present to you this last homage, coming, so to speak, from the other world.’

“I was also touched, without doubt, to read in a letter written from Rome (by Madame de Staël): ‘I shall hope always for the human race as long as you exist. I address you this sentiment from the sublime Capitol, and the benedictions of its shades come to you through my voice.’

“To multiply such citations, and to repeat the most flattering opinions from Europe and America, I should have the appearance of giving way to a vanity from which it is easy to defend one’s self after one has acted amidst great circumstances; and particularly, after one has been the butt of some enthusiasm, one feels that there is nothing but a true esteem which is worthy of regard. I have myself said elsewhere, ‘There is, then, some good in my retirement, since it publishes and maintains the idea that liberty is not abandoned without exception and without hope.’”

La Fayette thus describes his meeting with Charles Fox:—

“The Peace d’Amiens brought over a great number of Englishmen. ‘They are all malecontents,’ observed the ambassador Livingston; ‘some have expected to find France wild; they have found her flourishing: the others hoped to see here traces of liberty; all are disappointed.’ I was at Chavaniac when Charles Fox and General Fitzpatrick arrived in Paris. They wished to send for me, as I was one of the principal objects of their visit. I hastened to join them. M. and Madame Fox, Fitzpatrick, MM. John and Trotter, passed several days at La Grange. I met at Paris the Lords Holland and Lauderdale, the new Duke of Bedford, M. Adair, and 297M. Erskine, whom I pressed in vain to write regarding the jury of England and of France. ‘The first years of the Revolution,’ said they, ‘we had great hopes; but the excesses have ruined the good cause.’

“One day Fox, with his amiable goodness of heart, said to me in the presence of my son, that I should not be too much affected by an unavoidable delay. ‘Liberty will return,’ said he, ‘but not for us; for George, perhaps, and surely for his children.’”

About this time La Fayette met with a severe injury, caused by a fall upon the ice. His hip-bone was broken, and the accident was followed by a long and painful illness.

In 1803 President Jefferson offered to appoint La Fayette governor of the newly acquired territory of Louisiana. The land allotted to La Fayette as a former major-general in the American army was selected from the fertile fields of that territory. But notwithstanding La Fayette’s love for America, he felt constrained to remain in France, and therefore declined the kindly proffered honor.

After Napoleon had been crowned emperor, he is reported to have said to his Council, one day: “Gentlemen, I know your devotion to the power of the throne. Every one in France is corrected; I was thinking of the only man who is not,—La Fayette. He has never retreated from his line. You see him quiet; but I tell you he is quite ready to begin again.”


During the brief reign of Louis XVIII. and the banishment of Napoleon to Elba, La Fayette appeared only once at court. When the sudden return of Bonaparte startled the world, and the trembling King Louis saw his power depart, one of the king’s minister’s exclaimed: “All is lost! There is no endurance, no indignity, to which the king would not submit, to retain his throne.”

298“What!” said another; “even La Fayette?”

“Yes,” replied the first; “even La Fayette himself.”

When Napoleon again resumed the reins of power and re-established an hereditary peerage, La Fayette was pressed to take his seat by Joseph Bonaparte, who had been sent to the marquis by Napoleon; but La Fayette’s reply to the offered honor was consistent with all his former actions.

“Should I ever again appear on the scene of public life, it can only be as the representative of the people.”

Regarding the efforts of Joseph Bonaparte in his behalf, La Fayette says: “I was preparing to return to Chavaniac in September, 1804, when my relative and friend, Ségur, Grand Master of Ceremonies, wrote to me that Joseph Bonaparte had charged him with a message for me.

“‘The Prince Joseph,’ said he to me, at Paris, some time afterwards, ‘wishes to attribute your retirement to a sentiment of the philosopher; but he observes with pain and disquietude that his brother regards it as a state of hostility. The friendship of Prince Joseph for you, presses you to place a limit to this situation. He regretted that you have not wished to be a senator. He asked only your name. You would not have to leave La Grange. His idea to-day is still less exceptional. There is a question of your being one of the dignitaries of the Legion of Honor; in short, said he, your military record in America and Europe is such as gives this thing but the consequence adapted to your retirement, which in refusing will have a hostile effect. But before going farther, he wished to be assured that you will not refuse it.’

“I began to reply, but Ségur besought me to reflect, 299and the following is what I repeated the next day: ‘I am greatly touched by the good will of Prince Joseph; but he will permit me to observe to him that in my singular position, the Grand Cordon, although I am well pleased that he should offer it, would seem to me to be ridiculous, admitting even that it were the accompaniment of an office. But it follows that I am to be nothing, and in being that, it follows so much the more, as this is nothing more than the chivalry of an order of things contrary to my principles; I cannot therefore accept it. The qualification given to my retirement is strange when one compares the imperial power to my little influence; but if it is indispensable that I should be something, I should be less repugnant to the Senate; where, however, my opinions would oblige me to incur, on the other hand, a more just title of reproach than the emperor gives to me. I demand, then, that the friendship of his brother should remove from me all these conditions.’

“My response was well carried. ‘For the present,’ said Prince Joseph, ‘when I know the intentions of M. de La Fayette, I will profit by the occasions to serve him, but in accordance with his opinions.’”

Having thus declined the peerage, La Fayette being warmly urged by the inhabitants of his district, accepted the appointment as their representative to the elective body, instituted to sit in connection with the Peers. As a member of the Chamber of Deputies, he continued to maintain and uphold his liberal principles with fearless eloquence whenever occasion demanded it. After the overthrow at Waterloo, La Fayette stipulated in the Assembly that the liberty and life of Napoleon should be guaranteed by the nation, and endeavored to obtain for him two frigates to conduct Bonaparte safely to the 300United States; but it was too late. La Fayette was sent by the Assembly to meet the victorious generals, and prevent, if possible, their coming to Paris, by proposing terms of capitulation. Lord Stewart said to La Fayette: “I must inform you, sir, that there can be no peace with the allied powers, unless you deliver up Bonaparte to us.” “I am surprised,” replied La Fayette, with calm dignity and suppressed scorn, “that to propose so base an act to the French nation, you address yourself by choice to a prisoner of Olmütz.”

Louis XVIII. was again forced upon the French people by the allies, contrary to the wishes of both the nation and La Fayette; and the marquis accordingly once again retired to La Grange. Here he received his many friends and visitors with the most stately and yet warm-hearted cordiality, blending the courtesy of the gentleman of noble family with the sincerity and frankness of the man of the people.

An English lady who enjoyed the pleasure of being a guest at La Grange in 1818 thus pictures the life there:—

“Charming days, more charming evenings, flow on in a perpetual stream of enjoyment here. In the mornings Madame George La Fayette, the Countess Lasteyrie, and the Countess Maubourg are busy with the children, and do not appear. The visitors amuse themselves or are with the general, unless his occupations prevent. Then comes a walk or drive—sometimes a long excursion. After dinner at four o’clock, conversation; in the evening, music or talking. Before breakfast I find all the young people at their easels, painting from models in the anteroom; then they go to their music (there are three pianos, and a music-master and an English governess live in the house); then they all turn out into the beautiful park for two hours, and then resume their studies for 301two hours more. But I never saw such happy children; they live without restraint, and except while at their lessons, are always with the grown people. If the little ones are noisy, they are sent into the anteroom; but their gentleness and good conduct are astonishing, considering, too, that eleven of the twelve are always with us.” All of La Fayette’s children continued to make their home with him until the time of his death; and his grandchildren were a constant source of delight to him.

Another delightful description of the home life at La Grange is given by Lady Morgan, who visited France about this time. She says:—

“General La Fayette has not appeared in Paris since the return of the Bourbon dynasty to France. And I should have left that country without having seen one of its greatest ornaments, had not a flattering invitation from the Château La Grange enabled me to gratify a wish, long and devoutly cherished, of knowing, or at least of beholding, its illustrious master. Introduced by proxy to the family of La Fayette, by the young and amiable Princess Charlotte de B——, we undertook our journey to La Grange with the same pleasure as the pilgrim takes his first unwearied steps to the shrine of sainted excellence.

“In the midst of a fertile and luxuriant wilderness, rising above prolific orchards and antiquated woods, appeared the five towers of La Grange, tinged with the golden rays of the setting sun. Through the branches of the trees appeared the pretty village of Aubepierre, once, perhaps, the dependency of the castle, and clustering near the protection of its walls. A remoter view of the village of D’Hieres, with its gleaming river and romantic valley, was caught and lost alternately in the serpentine mazes of the rugged road; which, accommodated 302to the grouping of the trees, wound amidst branches laden with ripening fruit, till its rudeness suddenly subsided in the velvet lawn that immediately surrounded the castle. The deep moat, the drawbridge, the ivied tower and arched portals, opening into the square court, had a feudal and picturesque character; and combined with the reserved tints and fine repose of evening, associated with that exaltation of feeling which belonged to the moment, preceding a first interview with those on whom the mind has long dwelt with admiration or interest.

“We found General La Fayette surrounded by his patriarchal family—his excellent son and daughter-in-law, his two daughters (the sharers of his dungeon in Olmütz) and their husbands, eleven grandchildren, and a venerable granduncle, the ex-grand prior of Malta, with hair as white as snow, and his cross and his order worn as proudly as when he had issued forth at the head of his pious troops against the ‘paynim foe,’ or Christian enemy.

“Such was the group that received us in the salon of La Grange; such was the close-knit circle that made our breakfast and our dinner party, accompanied us in our delightful rambles through the grounds and woods of La Grange, and constantly presented the most perfect unity of family interests, habits, tastes, and affections.

“We naturally expect to find strong traces of time in the form of those with whose names and deeds we have been long acquainted, of those who had obtained the suffrages of the world, almost before we had entered it. But, on the person of La Fayette, time has left no impression; not a wrinkle furrows the ample brow; and his unbent and noble figure is still as upright, bold, and vigorous as the mind that informs it. Grace, strength, 303and dignity still distinguish the fine person of this extraordinary man; who, though more than forty years before the world, engaged in scenes of strange and eventful conflict, does not yet appear to have reached his climacteric.

“Bustling and active in his farm, graceful and elegant in his salon, it is difficult to trace, in one of the most successful agriculturists, and one of the most perfectly fine gentlemen that France has produced, a warrior and a legislator. The patriot, however, is always discernible.

“In the full possession of every faculty and talent he ever possessed, the memory of M. La Fayette has all the tenacity of unworn youthful recollections; and, besides these, high views of all that is most elevated in the mind’s conception. His conversation is brilliantly enriched with anecdotes of all that is celebrated, in character and event, for the last fifty years. He still talks with unwearied delight of his short visit to England, to his friend Mr. Fox, and dwelt on the witchery of the late Duchess of Devonshire with almost boyish enthusiasm. He speaks and writes English with the same elegance he does his native tongue. He has made himself master of all that is best worth knowing in English literature and philosophy.

“I observed that his library contained many of our most eminent authors upon all subjects. His elegant and well-chosen collection of books occupies the highest apartments in one of the towers of the château; and, like the study of Montaigne, hangs over the farm-yard of the philosophical agriculturist. ‘It frequently happens,’ said M. La Fayette, as we were looking out of the window at some flocks which were moving beneath, ‘it frequently happens that my merinos and my hay carts 304dispute my attention with your Hume or our own Voltaire.’

“He spoke with great pleasure of the visit paid him at La Grange some years ago by Mr. Fox and General Fitzpatrick. He took me out, the morning after my arrival, to show me a tower richly covered with ivy. ‘It was Mr. Fox,’ he said, ‘who planted that ivy! I have taught my children to venerate it.’

“The Château La Grange does not, however, want other points of interest.... Founded by Louis Le Gros, and occupied by the Princes of Lorraine, the mark of a cannon-ball is still visible in one of its towers, which penetrated the masonry, when attacked by Maréchal Turenne. Here in the plain, but spacious, salon-à-manger, the peasantry of the neighborhood and the domestics of the castle assemble every Sunday evening in winter to dance to the violin of the concierge, and are regaled with cakes and eau sucrée. The general is usually, and his family are always, present at these rustic balls. The young people occasionally dance among the tenantry, and set the example of the new steps, freshly imported by their Paris dancing-master.

“In the summer this patriarchal reunion takes place in the park, where a space is cleared for the purpose, shaded by the lofty trees which encircle it. A thousand times, in contemplating La Fayette, in the midst of his charming family, the last years of the life of the Chancellor de l’Hopital recurred to me, ... he whom the naïve Brantome likens to Cato! and who, loving liberty as he hated faction, retired from a court unworthy of his virtues, to his little domain of Vignay, which he cultivated himself.”

In 1819 La Fayette was again chosen a member of the Chamber of Deputies. His many stirring and eloquent 305speeches in favor of liberty, and his fearless denunciations of despotic tyranny, aroused the fear and hatred of Louis XVIII. In 1823 the king ordered his solicitor-general to accuse La Fayette of treason. The charge was made publicly in the Chamber of Deputies, and for a moment was received with profound silence. Then La Fayette slowly rose from his seat, and with calm and commanding dignity took his stand upon the tribune. With folded arms he surveyed the assembly with unquailing eye; and then he spoke: “In spite of my habitual indifference to party accusations and animosities, I still think myself bound to say a single word upon this occasion. During the whole course of a life entirely devoted to liberty, I have constantly been an object of attack to the enemies of that cause; under whatever form, despotic, aristocratic, or anarchic, they have endeavored to combat it. I do not complain, then, because I observe some affectation in the use of the word ‘proved,’ which the solicitor-general has employed against me; but I join my honored friends in demanding a public inquiry, within the walls of this chamber, and in the face of the nation. Then, I and my adversaries, to whatever rank they belong, may declare, without reserve, all that we have mutually had to reproach each other with for the last thirty years.”

His accusers recoiled from such a daring, and to them condemnatory, challenge, and La Fayette was acquitted; but the government, by intrigues and bribery, defeated his re-election.

The following speech of La Fayette, delivered in the Chamber of Deputies in 1821, and published in the New York American, of July, that same year, will give some idea of the fearless eloquence of the marquis, which 306dauntless frankness so incensed the corrupt court and enraged the Bourbon king.

The New York American thus comments upon the speech:—

“We have allotted a considerable portion of our paper to-day to a speech of General La Fayette, delivered last month in the French Chamber of Deputies; and, in doing so, we shall gratify, as we hope, that deep feeling of interest with which every act of that ‘soldier of America,’ as he proudly calls himself, is looked upon by his fellow-citizens of the United States. It will be seen that, true to his early principles, this veteran friend of freedom still maintains the doctrines to which this country owes its existence and glory, and which, shackled and fettered indeed, but still prevailing, he has the high honor of having transplanted, sheltered, and under all changes adhered to in France. It has, indeed, been truly and beautifully said of La Fayette that he was among those who took an active part in the French Revolution, perhaps the only one ‘who had nothing to ask of oblivion.’ Pure and disinterested in his views and in his conduct, the public good has ever been his object and his sole aim; and the blessings of this great nation, in whose favor he early drew his noble sword, and the respect of every lover of liberty in every clime, bear testimony to the consistency of a life which, midst every variety of changes and perils, has never been sullied by meanness nor dishonored by crime.”

General La Fayette’s Speech.

During the discussions on the budget on the 4th of June, which, in making appropriations for the expenditures of the country, laid open to remark all the various interests of France, M. La Fayette, having been called 307on to speak, presented himself at the tribune, and, after the lively expressions of interest which his presence there excited in the Chamber had subsided, spoke as follows:—

“The general discussion of the budget gives us the right of making some summary remarks upon each of its provisions. The public debt, however contracted, is sacred. I regret, in common with others, its recent increase; but without recriminations here, as the errors of the first restoration, which produced the 20th March, or as to the fatal landing which came to mingle itself with the progress of a more salutary and less turbulent resistance, or as to the conditions of the last treaty of peace, stipulated exclusively between the powers at war with France and the august ally of those powers, I will confine myself to drawing from the past an important lesson for the future, which is, that it would have cost, as I said at the time, much less to expel the coalition of foreigners than to treat with it; and that, if ever such a state of things should recur, and that, following the example of Napoleon and the provisional government, the rulers of France should hesitate to call out the people en masse, it would be alike the duty and the safety of that people themselves to leap to their arms, and combining with one accord the million arms of her warlike generation and devoted youth, to bury beneath them, as she might do, the violators of her independence.

“The civil list has been voted for the whole duration of this reign; but when, in consequence of encroachments and dilapidations forty million francs of personal revenue for the monarch and his family begin to be considered as insufficient, it is allowable to look at—I will not say that country of ten millions of inhabitants, where the salary of the chief magistrate is not equal to that of 308a French minister, but at the monarchical, aristocratic, and expensive government of England; where, nevertheless, the provision for the princes is smaller than in France; and where more than half the civil list is employed in paying the diplomatic corps, ministers, and judges; where the sum for which the king is not bound to account does not exceed a million and a half of francs.... Whatever may have been the losses and the pressure caused by a just defence against the aggressions of European cabinets, and which the ambition of a conqueror provoked, it must be owned, by more than one act of perfidy on the part of those courts, has since immeasurably increased; the enormous amount of the pension list arises from other causes. These are to be found in the rapid succession of the different governments in France, each anxious to create vacancies in favor of its friends; and, above all, in the recent irruption of a crowd of pretenders, all claiming rewards for having, either in will or in deed, in foreign pay or in domestic insurrections, on the highways or in obscure idleness, and even beneath the imperial liveries, manifested or dissembled their opposition to those governments which, each flattered in its turn, are now all called illegitimate. It is thus, that by deviations and apostasies from a revolution of liberty and equality, we have finished by seeing Europe during some years inundated with two complete assortments of dynasties,—nobility and privileged classes....

“I come now, gentlemen, to the second part of our expenses, the contingent part of the budget; but before remarking upon its items separately, I would ask how we can conscientiously support, by voting the ways and means, a government so scandalously expensive, and of which the system is hostile to the rights and to the wishes of almost all those who contribute to its support; and who, 309doubtless, only pay these contributions with a view to be honestly served, and by those who will study the national interest. It is to be hoped that this year the special application of every sum to the object for which it was voted will be closely scrutinized, as is the case in other countries....

“My unwillingness to vote for the expenses of foreign affairs arises from the conviction that our diplomacy at present is an absurdity. In truth, gentlemen, the system, the agents, the language, all appear to me foreign to regenerated France; she is again subjected to doctrines that she had branded, to powers she had so often conquered, to habits contracted among her enemies, to obligations for which, on her own account at least, she has no cause to blush. In the meanwhile, Europe, aroused by us thirty years ago to liberty, checked indeed since, as it must be confessed, by the view of our excesses and the abuse of our victories, has resumed, and will preserve, notwithstanding recent misfortunes, that great march of civilization, at the head of which our French place is marked, a place in which the eyes of all people who are free, or aspiring to become so, should not seek us in vain.

“Well, gentlemen, in this division of Europe between two banners,—on the one side, despotism and aristocracy; on the other, liberty and equality,—that liberty and equality which we first proclaimed there,—where do we find the soi-disant organs of France? exempt, it is true, and I am happy to acknowledge it, from a hostile co-operation, in the aggression of the satellites of Troppau and Laybach, whom a success of little duration, as I hope, will only render more odious; they are also entitled to our thanks for not having insulted France by any positive participation in those recent declarations of 310the three powers, which, in order not to offend the majority in this house, I will only characterize by repeating my ardent wishes, the wishes of my life, for the emancipation of the people, the independence of nations, and the morality and dignity of the true social order. We have, nevertheless, seen the agents of the French government, in their subaltern participation in the first deliberation of these congresses, not even to raise themselves to the level, so easily attained, of liberality evinced by the British diplomatists....

“Such are not the doctrines of France. I speak not now of my personal incredulity of the doctrine of the divine right of kings; but I recall to you that already, long before ’89, the era of the European revolution, when we Soldiers of America felt honored by the name of rebels and insurgents then lavished upon us, all in virtue of social order by the English government, Louis XVI. and his ministers had expressly recognized the sovereignty of the United States, founded as it was upon the principles of their immortal declaration of independence.

“These principles, since received into the bosom of the constituent assembly, proclaimed in a degree, sworn to by the king and his august brother amidst the greatest of our patriotic solemnities, have been since acknowledged, even in the usurpations of the imperial despotism,—they were since repeated from this tribune as a protecting truth by the friends of the charter and the royal throne on the 19th of March, 1815, for then it was not said that the charter was the counter-revolution; and, indeed, in order to ascertain the share due to the revolution of the rights recognized by the charter, that share which has so often been denied, it would suffice to read again an august proclamation, dated from Verona 311in July, 1795. These principles, professed at this day among that people who are our natural allies, outweigh all the exploded pretensions which we have since renewed, the moment that a noble effort of the nations subjected by our arms had forced their old governments in spite of themselves to recover the independence which they had so completely, so servilely, so affectionately alienated for the benefit of their conqueror; to whom, in a recent note from Troppau, they have preserved the noblest title he ever bore, in calling him the soldier of the Revolution.

“In truth, gentlemen, the crimes and misfortunes which we deplore are no more the Revolution than the Saint Bartholomew was religion, or those you would call monarchical, the eighteen thousand judicial murders of the Duke of Alva....

“I will only make one remark as to the public instruction. The constitution of ’91 said, ‘There shall be organized a system of public instruction open to all citizens, gratuitous with respect to the indispensable parts of education, and widely disseminated.’ Your committee, on the contrary, exalting themselves to the height of the emperor of Austria’s address to the professors at Laybach, look upon gratuitous instruction as a social disorder, and are particularly desirous to suppress the amount destined for the encouragement of elementary instruction, principally because it serves to favor the Lancasterian system, which your committee does not think will harmonize with the spirit of our institutions. Now, gentlemen, the Lancasterian system is, since the invention of printing, the greatest step which has been made for the extension of prompt, easy, and popular instruction....

“The expenses of the navy department are enormous. The navy of the United States has already been cited to 312you; that navy, whose flag, since its establishment and during two spirited wars against the flag of Britain, has never once failed with equal, and often with inferior, force, to gain the advantage. The provisions, the pay,—everything there, as has been observed to you,—are higher than with us. Its cruisers amounted lately to two ships of the line, nine frigates and fifteen smaller vessels, protecting a commerce of more than 1,200,000 tons, without including the fisheries or the coasting trade. The expenses of their navy department were fixed last session at two and one-half millions of dollars, and half a million more to build new vessels, making sixteen millions of francs, calculated, indeed, for twelve vessels of the line and twenty frigates, etc. But what a difference between this sum and fifty millions of francs, which are said to be insufficient for our navy!...

“I shall not consider it as a departure from the question under discussion as to the general administration of the kingdom, if, by a rapid examination of the ancient régime, I shall endeavor to furnish an answer to the wishes and regrets of which it still seems the object. It was from the destruction of this régime that we saw disappear that corporation of clergy which, exercising all sorts of influences and refusing all share in the common burdens, increased continually and never alienated its immense riches, but divided them among themselves; which, rendering the law an accomplice in vows too frequently forced, covering France with monastic orders devoted to a foreign head, collected contributions both in the garb of wealth and mendicity; and which, in its secular organization, formed so considerable a portion of the idle and unproductive class that the daily ministers of the altar were the most insignificant portion of what was called the first order of the state.

313“We saw disappear that corporation of sovereign courts where the privilege of judging was venal of right, and, in fact, hereditary in the nobility; when feudal judges, chosen and revocable by their seigneurs, presided; when the diversity of codes and the laws of arrests made you lose before one tribunal the cause you had gained before another.

“We saw disappear that financial corporation oppressing France beyond endurance, and by leases, whose monstrous government exceeded in expense and profit the receipts of the royal treasury, whose immense code, now here recorded, formed an occult science which its agents alone had the right or the means of interpreting, and which, in rewarding perjury and informers, exercised over all unprotected men a boundless and remorseless tyranny.

“We saw disappear those distinctions of provinces, French, conquered, foreign, etc., each surrounded with a double row of custom-house officers and smugglers, from whose intestine war the prisons, the galleys, and the gibbet were recruited at the will of the stipendiaries of him who farmed the revenue, and those other distinctions of noble or common property; when the parks and gardens of the rich paid nothing, while the land and the person of the poor man were taxed in proportion to his industry; when the tax upon the peasant and upon his freehold recalled to nineteen-twentieths of the citizens that their degradation was not only territorial, but individual and personal.

“By its destruction, that constitutional equality was consecrated which makes the general good the only foundation of distinctions acknowledged by law. The privileged class lost the right of distributing among themselves exclusive privileges, and of treating with contempt 314all other classes of their fellow-citizens. No Frenchman was now excluded from office because he might not come of noble blood; or degraded, if noble, by the exercise of a useful profession....

“What more is there to regret? Is it the scheme of taxation, regulated by the king at the will of a minister of finance, whom I myself have seen changed twelve times in fourteen years, and which taxation was distributed arbitrarily among the provinces, and even among the contributors?...

“Is it the capitation tax, established in 1702, to achieve the peace, and never afterwards repealed? The two-twentieths diminished on the contributions of the powerful and made heavier on those of the poor; the land tax, of which the basis was in Auvergne, nine sous out of twenty, and amounting sometimes to fourteen, on account of the vast increase of privileged persons created by traffic in places? Finally, is it the odious duties on consumption, more odious than the droits réunis of Napoleon? Is it the criminal jurisprudence, when the accused could neither see his family, his friends, his country, nor the documents by which he was to be tried?... When the verdict, obscurely obtained, might be aggravated at the pleasure of the judges by torture? for the torture preparatory to the examination had been alone abolished....”

The New York American, of April, 1824, relates the following: “Our La Fayette has, it seems, given fresh offence lately to the ultra-royalists, which the following translation will explain. He had been summoned as a witness on a trial; the crier being ordered to call over the witnesses, the following scene occurred:—

Crier. The Marquis de La Fayette.

Mr. La Fayette. I beg to observe to the court, that in the list of witnesses I am named by a title which, since 315the decree of the Constituent Assembly in 1791 (the decree abolishing orders of nobility), I have ceased to bear.

President of the Tribunal. Crier, call Mr. La Fayette.

“This simple declaration has drawn down on the veteran all the wrath of the ultra presses; and he has been seriously accused of having in making it, violated the charter or constitution. This notable instrument, it seems, sets forth ‘that the ancient nobility resume their rights’; and because the soldier of liberty refuses to be confounded in title with the thousand little marquises about the court, he is charged with an offence against the constitution of his country. The servile flatterers of power, whether wielded by the self-made Corsican or the son of St. Louis, may well rail at an example of consistency which shames their rapid and oft-repeated tergiversations.

“It may be interesting to many to add, that on his examination in giving his name and age, as is usual in French trials, General La Fayette states himself to be sixty-six years old.

“We regretted at the time to observe in the resolutions passed by Congress, that our early friend was mentioned by his title, and we see the more reason to regret it now, as it will furnish an occasion for the taunts of the French press, as contrasted with the declaration above stated.”



La Fayette and his Son sail for America—Ruse of the French Police—La Fayette’s arrival in America—His Reception in New York—Meeting his Old Companions in Arms—Various Cities visited—Public Dinner at Westchester—Reception at Albany—Address of the Mayor—The General’s Reply—La Fayette received by Congress—Welcome by Mr. Clay—La Fayette’s Fitting Answer—An Incident—M. Levasseur recounts their Visit to Ex-President Monroe—La Fayette visits General Jackson—The Renowned Pistols—La Fayette’s Interesting Comments—Old Hickory’s Enthusiastic Declaration—Scene at the Tomb of Washington—La Fayette pays Homage to the Ashes of the Illustrious Dead—Dinner given by Congress in Honor of La Fayette—Visit of a Committee from Both Houses—Act of Congress concerning him—Address of the Committee—General La Fayette’s Reply.

“Yes; to this thought I hold with firm persistence;
The last result of wisdom stamps it true;
He only earns his freedom and existence
Who daily conquers them anew.”—Goethe.

ON the 12th of July, 1824, La Fayette, accompanied by his son, George Washington, and his private secretary, M. Levasseur, set sail from Havre for his last visit to America. When the fact became known that La Fayette contemplated this journey, the French police immediately endeavored to spy out his motives for so doing, to discover if they had any political significance.

This incident is taken from a French paper:—

“As soon as it was known that M. de La Fayette was going to the United States, M. Delavau became anxious to 317find out what preparations he was making for his departure, and everything that passed in his hotel. For this purpose a list of subscribers for the relief of an old officer was forged, and to it were attached the names of Messrs. Ternaux, Lafitte, Benjamin Constant, and other deputies. A police officer named Placi was employed on this occasion; and he called at the house of M. de La Fayette, and saw M. Levasseur, his secretary, who questioned him with great caution; and from the awkward answers of the policeman discovered the trick. M. Levasseur told him that M. de La Fayette was not within at that moment, and if he would return in half an hour he would be sure of meeting the general, who, no doubt, would afford him every assistance in his power. The policeman, confident of the success of his visit, returned many thanks, and promised to come back at the appointed time.

“M. Levasseur ordered a servant to follow him, and he was traced to a house where other police agents were assembled; and they were heard congratulating each other upon the capital breakfast which they could eat the next morning at the expense of General La Fayette. The policeman returned in half an hour, and was introduced to M. de La Fayette, who received him in the kindest manner, and addressed him thus:—

“‘Well, sir, what are you?’

“‘I am, sir,’ said the policeman, ‘an old officer, who has been greatly persecuted.’

“‘Probably,’ said the general, ‘you belong to M. Delavau’s regiment?’

“‘No,’ said Placi.

“‘Well,’ continued the general, ‘as you will not tell the truth, I will try and force you to do so.’

“The general, then addressing himself to his secretary, 318told him to order up the servants and direct them to tie the policeman in a chaise, and carry him to his château in the country and burn him. They obeyed the general’s orders, and fastened Placi with cords in the post-chaise; but soon as he saw it was no joke (not being able to move hand or foot), he begged to be allowed to speak a few words to the general; and on being brought before him, threw himself upon his knees, and asked for pardon, and at the same time delivering up the paper which he had received as instructions. M. de La Fayette granted him his liberty, and transmitted the instructions, with a letter to M. Delavau, which the latter (of course, through modesty) has not thought proper to publish in the newspapers.”

The following account of the arrival of La Fayette in America is taken from the files of the Niles Register, a newspaper published in Baltimore at that time. The date is August, 1824.

“It is with feelings of the utmost pleasure we announce the arrival of this distinguished soldier and patriot of the Revolution. He came a passenger in the Cadmus from Havre, accompanied by his son, George Washington La Fayette, and arrived at the quarantine ground, near New York, on the 15th inst. He landed from the Cadmus at an early hour in the morning, and repaired to the dwelling of the Vice-President on Staten Island.

“Immediately on his arrival being known, he was waited on by a committee of the corporation of New York and a great number of distinguished citizens. He is in excellent health, full of conversation, and rejoiced beyond measure in having his foot upon American ground. On the following day he was conducted to the city, amidst every demonstration of joy that a grateful people could bestow, reflecting the highest credit on the 319patriotic citizens of New York, and a just tribute to the veteran whose blood and treasure so essentially contributed to the enjoyment of our present blessings.”

The following interesting particulars are extracted from the New York Commercial Advertiser:—

“The committee, having chartered the steamship Robert Fulton and the steamboats Chancellor Livingston, Oliver Ellsworth, Henry Eckford, Connecticut, Bellona, Olive Branch, Nautilus, etc., they were all superbly dressed with flags and streamers of every nation, and directed to meet and form an aquatic escort between the south part of the Battery and Governor’s Island, and thence proceed in order to Staten Island. The squadron, bearing six thousand of our fellow-citizens, majestically took its course toward Staten Island, there to take on board our long-expected and honored guest. At one o’clock the fleet arrived at Staten Island, and in a few minutes a landau was seen approaching the hotel near the ferry. The general, the Vice-President, and ex-governor Ogden of New Jersey having alighted, a procession was formed, and the venerable stranger, supported by these gentlemen, followed by all the officers of the island and a crowd of citizens, passed through a triumphal arch, round which was tastefully entwined the French and American colors. He was here met by the committee of the common council, who conducted him on board the Chancellor. On entering this splendid vessel, the marines paid him military honors. He was now introduced to the committees from most of our honored associations and the general officers representing the infantry. The West Point band all this time were playing, ‘See! the conquering hero comes,’ ‘Ou peut on être mieux,’ ‘Hail Columbia,’ and the ‘Marseillaise Hymn.’

“The steamship now fired a salute, and the whole 320squadron got under way for the city. Decidedly the most interesting sight was the reception of the general by his old companions in arms, Colonel Marinus Willet, now in his eighty-fifth year, General Van Cortland, General Clarkson, and other Revolutionary worthies. He knew and remembered them all. It was a reunion of a long-separated family.

“After the ceremony of embracing and congratulations were over, he sat down alongside of Colonel Willet, who grew young again and fought all his battles over. ‘Do you remember,’ said he, ‘at the battle of Monmouth I was a volunteer aid to General Scott? I saw you in the heat of battle. You were but a boy; but you were a serious and sedate lad.’ ‘Aye, aye; I remember well. And on the Mohawk I sent you fifty Indians; and you wrote that they set up such a yell that they frightened the British horse, and they ran one way and the Indians another.’ No person who witnessed this interview will ever forget it; many an honest tear was shed on the occasion.

“La Fayette landed amidst the cheers and acclamations of 30,000 people, who filled the Castle, Battery, and surrounding grounds within sight. After partaking of some refreshment, the whole cavalcade moved in the direction of the City Hall. The general rode uncovered, and received the unceasing shouts and the congratulations of 50,000 freemen, with tears and smiles, which bespoke how deeply he felt the pride and glory of the occasion.

“After the ceremonies of presentation at the City Hall, he was conducted to his lodgings at the City Hotel; and he had the extraordinary condescension and good feeling to come out and shake hands with six or seven hundred American youths, the future conservators 321of his fame. This circumstance has planted in the minds of these little ones the strongest affection for the man, which will go with them through life and endure till its close.

“Such is a faint outline of the proceedings of a day which shines proudly in the annals of our country; proceedings which were more brilliant than any that have ever been witnessed in America, and which will rarely, if ever, be equalled.”

Deputations from various cities called upon La Fayette: among them was a deputation from the corporation of Baltimore, to whose greeting La Fayette replied in expressive terms. “Ah, Baltimore!” he exclaimed; “well do I recollect Baltimore, and with feelings of peculiar gratitude; for to the merchants of Baltimore, and particularly to the ladies of Baltimore, I was indebted for assistance which enabled me to open the Virginia campaign. Without them, I do not know what I could have done.”

General La Fayette visited the following places during his triumphal journey through America, between the time of his arrival in August, 1824, and his departure in September, 1825, being received everywhere with the warmest enthusiasm and honored with the most distinguished attentions. At New York, Boston, Providence, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington,—and, in fact, everywhere,—he was honored with such ovations as the country had never before witnessed. We can only name the various cities which were honored by his presence, and a few incidents which occurred. After his reception at New York, he visited successively the following places: Providence, Boston; then returned to New York; and having been again received by crowds of people whose desire to behold him was unabated, he 322attended a splendid civic fête at Castle Garden, and then proceeded to visit West Point, Newburg, Poughkeepsie, Clermont, Catskill, Hudson, Albany, Troy, Jersey City, Newark, Elizabethtown, New Brunswick, Princeton, Trenton, Morrisville, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Frenchtown, Baltimore, Washington, Alexandria, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Monticello, Charlottesville, Annapolis, from whence he returned to Washington and Baltimore.

The Magazine of American History of December, 1887, quotes the following description, taken from the New York Evening Post of 1824, regarding the brilliant fête given at Castle Garden on the 14th of September, 1824, in honor of the nation’s guest, General La Fayette:—

“We hazard nothing in saying it was the most magnificent fête given under cover in the world. It was a festival that realizes all that we read of in the Persian tales or Arabian Nights, which dazzled the eye and bewildered the imagination, and which produced so many powerful combinations by magnificent preparations as to set description almost at defiance. We never saw ladies more brilliantly dressed; everything that fashion and elegance could devise was used on the occasion. Their head-dresses were principally of flowers, with ornamented combs, and some with plumes of ostrich feathers. White and black lace dresses over satin were mostly worn, with a profusion of steel ornaments, and neck chains of gold and silver, suspended to which were beautiful gold and silver badge medals bearing a likeness of La Fayette, manufactured for the occasion. The gentlemen had suspended from the button-holes of their coats a similar likeness, and with the ladies, had the same stamped on their gloves. A belt or sash with the likeness of the 323general, and entwined with a chaplet of roses, also formed part of the dress of the ladies.

“Foreigners who were present admitted that they had never seen anything equal to this fête in the several countries from which they came, the blaze of light and beauty, the decorations of the military officers, the combination of rich colors which met the eye at every glance, the brilliant circle of fashion in the galleries,—everything in the range of sight being inexpressibly beautiful, and doing great credit and honor to the managers and all engaged in this novel spectacle. The guests numbered several thousands; but there was abundant room for the dancing, which commenced at an early hour and was kept up until about three o’clock in the morning.”

At a public dinner given to General La Fayette at Westchester, Dr. Darlington, late member of Congress from that district, offered the following classic toast:—

The Fields of Brandywine! ... irrigated on the Cadmean system of agriculture, with the blood of revolutionary patriots ... the teeming harvest must ever be independent freemen.”

The Niles Register, of Baltimore, gives the following interesting descriptions of the reception of La Fayette at Albany, and the memorable public welcome given him by Congress:—

“On alighting at the capitol, the general was conducted to the senate chamber, where he was received by the mayor and the members of the corporation. He was addressed by the mayor of Albany, as follows:—

“‘Your visit in this country is received with universal and heart-felt joy. Your claims upon the gratitude and friendship of this nation arise from your heroic devotion to its freedom, and your uniform assertion of the rights of man. The progress of time has attested the 324purity of your character and the lustre of your heroism, and the whole course of your life has evinced those exalted virtues which were first displayed in favor of the independence and liberty of America.

“‘In the hour of difficulty and peril, when America, without allies, without credit, with an enfeebled government, and with scanty means of resistance, confiding in the justice of her cause, and the protection of Heaven, was combating for her liberties against a nation powerful in resources and all the materials of war, when our prospects of success were considered by many more than doubtful, if not desperate, you devoted all your energies and all your means to our defence; and, after witnessing our triumphant success, your life has been consecrated to the vindication of the liberties of the Old World.

“‘When Franklin, the wisest man of the age, pronounced you the most distinguished person he ever knew; when Washington, the illustrious hero of the New World, honored you with friendship the most sincere, and with confidence the most unlimited, they evinced their just discernment of character, and foresaw the further display of faculties and virtues which would identify your name with liberty, and demonstrate your well-founded claims to the gratitude, the love, and the admiration of mankind.

“‘The few surviving statesmen and soldiers of the Revolution have gathered around you as a friend and a brother; the generation that has risen up since your departure cherish the same feelings; and those that will appear in the successive future ages will hail you as the benefactor of America and the hero of liberty. In every heart you have a friend, and your eulogium is pronounced by every tongue. I salute you as an illustrious benefactor of our country; and I supplicate the blessings 325of Heaven on a life sanctified in the sublime cause of heroic virtue and disinterested benevolence.’”

To which the general returned the following reply:—

Sir: The enjoyments of my visit to the beautiful country and happy shores of the North River cannot but be highly enhanced by the affectionate reception and the civic testimonies of esteem which are conferred upon me in this city, and the manner in which you are pleased to express sentiments so gratifying to my heart. Not half a century has elapsed since this place, ancient, but small, was my headquarters, on the frontiers of an extensive wilderness, since, as commander in the northern department, I had to receive the oath of renunciation to a royal distant government, of allegiance to the more legitimate sovereignty of the people of the United States.

“Now, sir, Albany, become a considerable city, is the central seat of the authorities of the state of New York. Those wildernesses rank among the most populous and best cultivated parts of the Union. The rising generation has, in two glorious wars, and still more so in her admirable institutions, asserted an indisputable superiority over the proud pretender to a control upon her.

“To these happy recollections, sir, you have the goodness to add remembrances of my early admission among the sons and soldiers of America, of friendships the most honorable and dear to me. I will not attempt to express the feelings that crowd on my mind, and shall only beg you, sir, and the gentlemen of the corporation to accept the tribute of my respectful and devoted gratitude.”

The reception of La Fayette by Congress, in the Hall of Representatives, was peculiarly flattering and gratifying.

326“At an early hour the galleries began to fill with spectators; and soon after eleven o’clock, many ladies entered the hall and took possession of the sofas and seats which were appropriated for their reception. The doors were afterwards thrown open, and the Senate entered in procession and took seats on the right side of the chair.

“At one o’clock, George Washington La Fayette and Colonel Levasseur, the general’s secretary, entered the house, and took their seats on one of the sofas by the side of the Secretary of State.

“In a few moments General La Fayette entered the house, supported on his right by Mr. Mitchell, the chairman of the select committee, and on his left by Mr. Livingston, and followed by the committee. The speaker and members then arose, and the procession advanced towards the centre of the house. Mr. Mitchell introduced La Fayette in the following words:—

“‘Mr. Speaker: The select committee, appointed for that purpose, have the honor to introduce General La Fayette to the House of Representatives.’

“The general was then conducted to the sofa placed for his reception, when the speaker, Mr. Clay, addressed him in the following words:—

“‘General: The House of Representatives of the United States, impelled alike by its own feelings and by those of the whole American people, could not have assigned to me a more gratifying duty than that of presenting to you cordial congratulations upon the occasion of your recent arrival in the United States, in compliance with the wishes of Congress; and to assure you of the very high satisfaction which your presence affords on this early theatre of your glory and renown. Although but few of the members who compose this body shared with you in the war of our Revolution, all have, 327from impartial history, or from faithful tradition, a knowledge of the perils, the sufferings, and the sacrifices which you voluntarily encountered, and the signal services, in America and in Europe, which you performed for an infant, a distant, and an alien people; and all feel and own the very great extent of the obligations under which you have placed our country. But the relations in which you have ever stood to the United States, interesting and important as they have been, do not constitute the only motive of the respect and admiration which the House of Representatives entertain for you. Your consistency of character, your uniform devotion to regulated liberty, in all the vicissitudes of a long and arduous life, also commands its admiration. During all the recent convulsions of Europe, amidst, as after the dispersion of every political storm, the people of the United States have beheld you, true to your old principles, firm and erect, cheering and animating, with your well-known voice, the votaries of liberty, its faithful and fearless champion, ready to shed the last drop of that blood which here you so freely and nobly spilt in the same holy cause.

“‘The vain wish has been sometimes indulged that Providence would allow the patriot after death to return to his country and to contemplate the intermediate changes which had taken place,—to view the forests felled, the cities built, the mountains levelled, the canals cut, the highways constructed, the progress of the arts, the advancement of learning, and the increase of population. General, your present visit to the United States is a realization of the consoling object of that wish. You are in the midst of posterity. Everywhere you must have been struck with the great changes, physical and moral, which have occurred since you left us. Even this 328very city, bearing a venerated name, alike endeared to you and to us, has since emerged from the forest which then covered its site. In one respect you behold us unaltered, and this is in the sentiment of continued devotion to liberty, and of ardent affection and profound gratitude to your departed friend, the father of his country, and to you, and to your illustrious associates in the field and the cabinet, for the multiplied blessings which surround us, and for the very privilege of addressing you which I now exercise. This sentiment, now fondly cherished by more than ten millions of people, will be transmitted, with unabated vigor, down the tide of time through the countless millions who are destined to inhabit the continent to the latest posterity.’

“While the speaker was addressing him, General La Fayette was very visibly affected. At the close of the address he seated himself for a moment to regain composure, and then rose, and in tones made thrilling by intense feeling, he made the following reply:—

“‘Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives: While the people of the United States and their honorable representatives in Congress have deigned to make a choice of me, one of the American veterans, to signify in his person their esteem for our joint services and their attachment to the principles for which we have had the honor to fight and bleed, I am proud and happy to share those extraordinary favors with my dear Revolutionary companions; yet it would be, on my part, uncandid and ungrateful not to acknowledge my personal share in those testimonies of kindness, as they excite in my breast emotions which no words are adequate to express.

“‘My obligations to the United States, sir, far exceed any merit I might claim; they date from the time when 329I had the happiness to be adopted as a young soldier a favored son of America; they have been continued to me during almost a half-century of constant affection and confidence; and now, sir, thanks to your most gratifying invitation, I find myself greeted by a series of welcomes, one hour of which would more than compensate for the public exertions and sufferings of a whole life.

“‘The approbation of the American people and their representatives for my conduct during the vicissitudes of the European revolution is the highest reward I could receive. Well may I stand firm and erect, when in their names, and by you, Mr. Speaker, I am declared to have in every instance been faithful to those American principles of liberty, equality, and true social order, the devotion to which, as it has been from my earliest youth, so it shall continue to be to my latest breath.

“‘You have been pleased, Mr. Speaker, to allude to the peculiar felicity of my situation, when, after so long an absence, I am called to witness the immense improvements, the admirable communications, the prodigious creations, of which we find an example in this city, whose name itself is a venerated palladium. In a word, all the grandeur and prosperity of those happy United States, who, at the same time they nobly secure the complete assertion of American independence, reflect on every part of the world the light of a far superior civilization.

“‘What better pledge can be given of a persevering national love of liberty, when those blessings are evidently the result of a virtuous resistance to oppression, and institutions founded on the rights of men and the republican principle of self-government?

“‘No, Mr. Speaker, posterity has not begun for me, since, in the sons of my companions and friends I find the same public feelings, and, permit me to add, the same 330feelings in my behalf which I have had the happiness to experience in their fathers.

“‘Sir, I have been allowed, forty years ago, before a committee of a congress of thirteen states, to express the fond wishes of an American heart; on this day I have the honor and enjoy the delight to congratulate the representatives of the Union, so vastly enlarged, on the realization of those wishes, even beyond every human expectation, and upon the almost infinite prospects we can with certainty anticipate; permit me, Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the House of Representatives, to join to the expression of those sentiments a tribute of my lively gratitude, affectionate devotion, and profound respect.’

“Both the address of the speaker of the House, and the reply of General La Fayette, were listened to with the most intense and admiring attention. As soon as the general had concluded his reply, Mr. Mitchell moved that the House should adjourn. After the adjournment, the speaker left his chair, and advancing to General La Fayette, offered his personal congratulations, while shaking him warmly by the hand. The members of the House were then introduced individually to their honored guest, by the speaker, and after some time spent in receiving and shaking hands with those who pressed forward to claim the honor of thus welcoming personally the distinguished guest of the nation, General La Fayette retired, bearing with him the admiring devotion and profoundest love of the people of his adopted country.”

Regarding an incident which occurred during La Fayette’s last journey in America, the Niles Register says:—

“To preserve, in some small degree, an account of the feelings which the arrival of our venerable friend has elicited, we have noticed a few of the exhibitions of it that 331have taken place, but every narrative of them falls far short of the reality of what has happened. The people are wild with joy, and the gratitude and love of all persons, of every age, sex, and condition, seems hardly to be restrained within the bounds of propriety—as if it would cause many to forget what was due to themselves and the general, whom they delight to honor. At one place they failed so far in self-respect as to contend with horses for the privilege of drawing the Revolutionary chief in his carriage! It is hoped that the general will not be thus insulted again—for insulted he must be, when he sees the sovereigns of this great and glorious country aiming at the most magnificent destinies, converted into asses or other beasts of burden. It is his desire to be treated like a man, not as a titled knave or brainless dandy. Let him be hugged to the heart of all who can approach him, so far as not to endanger his health, and incur the risk of ‘killing him with kindness’—let the trumpet to the cannon speak, the cannon to the heavens, and the ardent prayers of free millions ascend to the throne of the Omnipotent, that blessings may be heaped upon him; but, in all this, let us remember that we are men like unto himself and republicans.”

Among the many interesting incidents of La Fayette’s tour in America given by his secretary, M. Levasseur, in a work entitled “La Fayette in America,” we have space for only three or four. M. Levasseur thus recounts an incident of their visit to Ex-President Monroe:—

“General La Fayette was daily making preparations for his return to Europe, but before leaving the soil of America he was anxious to revisit some of his old friends in Virginia, and especially he desired to see him who, as chief magistrate, had received him at the seat of government, and who, now retired to private life, 332continued in cultivating his moderate patrimonial estate, to give his fellow-citizens an example of every virtue. The general mentioned his wish to President Adams, who immediately offered to accompany him in the visit, saying that ‘he would gladly avail himself of such an occasion to go and offer to his predecessor his tribute of respect and attachment.’

“On the 6th of August, accordingly, we started for Oak-hill, the residence of Mr. Monroe, thirty-seven miles from Washington. Mr. Adams took the general in his carriage, together with George La Fayette and one of his friends; I followed in a tilbury with a son of the President, and thus, without suite or escort, we left the city.

“At the bridge over the Potomac we stopped to pay toll—the toll-gatherer, after counting the number of persons and horses, received from the President the sum required and we went on; scarcely, however, had we proceeded a few steps when we heard behind us a voice, saying, ‘Mr. President, Mr. President, you have paid me a shilling short!’ and immediately the toll-gatherer came running up with the money in his hand, explaining how the mistake arose. The President heard him attentively, went over the calculation with him, and finding that the man was right, put his hand out to pay him, when all at once the toll-gatherer recognized General La Fayette in the carriage, and forthwith insisted upon returning the amount of his toll, saying, ‘All bridges and all gates are free to the Guest of the Nation.’

“Mr. Adams, however, observed that on this occasion the general was not travelling officially nor as the Guest of the Nation, but simply as an individual and a friend of the President, which character gave him no title to exemption. This reasoning struck the toll-gatherer as just: he took the money and withdrew. Thus during 333the whole course of his travels in the United States the general was once only subject to the customary tolls, and that was precisely on the occasion when he was accompanied by the chief magistrate of the nation—a circumstance which in any other country would probably have insured him the privilege of exemption.”

Regarding this incident a writer remarks:—

“We do not know how this simple narrative may strike others, but to us it affords a more remarkable illustration of the simplicity and real equality resulting from our institutions than the most elaborate argument could do.”

M. Levasseur also thus relates the visit of La Fayette to General Jackson at the Hermitage:—

“At one o’clock we embarked with a numerous company to go to dine with General Jackson, residing at the distance of some miles up the river. We there found many ladies and neighboring farmers who had been invited by Mrs. Jackson to come and take part in the fête she had prepared.

“The first thing that struck me on arriving at the residence of General Jackson was the simplicity of his habitation. Still a little governed by my European habits, I demanded if this could really be the dwelling of the most popular man in the United States; of him whom the country proclaimed one of its most illustrious defenders; and in fine, of him who, by the will of the people, had been on the point of arriving at the supreme magistracy!

“General Jackson showed us, in all their details, his garden and his farm, which appeared to be cultivated with the greatest intelligence. We remarked everywhere the greatest order and the most perfect prosperity, and might readily have believed ourselves with one of the richest and most skilful farmers of Germany.

334 Andrew Jackson

“On re-entering the house, some friends of General Jackson, who probably had not seen him for a long time, begged him to show them the arms that he had received after the last war. He yielded with a good grace to their request, and caused to be placed on the table a sabre, a sword, and a pair of pistols. The sword was presented to him by Congress, and the sabre, I believe, by the body of the army who fought under his orders at New Orleans. These two arms of American manufacture are remarkable for the elegance of the workmanship, and yet more for the honorable inscriptions with which they are covered. But it was particularly to the pistols that the general wished to draw our attention. He presented them to General La Fayette, and asked if he recollected them. The latter, after some moments of attentive examination, answered that he did remember them to be those which he had offered in 1778 to his paternal friend Washington, and that he experienced sincere satisfaction in now finding them in the hands of a man so worthy of such an inheritance. At these words the countenance of Old Hickory was suffused with a modest blush, and his eyes sparkled as in the days of victory.

“‘Yes,’ said he, ‘I believe myself worthy of it’ (pressing at the same time to his bosom his pistols and the hands of La Fayette), ‘if not for what I have done, at least for what I desire to do for my country.’

“All the citizens applauded this noble confidence of the patriot-hero, and felt convinced that the arms of Washington could not be in better hands than those of Jackson.”

But the most impressive scene pictured by M. Levasseur is the following description of La Fayette’s visit to the tomb of Washington:—

“Leaving Washington and descending the Potomac, 335after a voyage of two hours, the guns of Fort Washington announced that we were approaching the last abode of the Father of his Country. At this solemn signal, to which the military band accompanying us responded by plaintive strains, we went on deck, and the venerable soil of Mount Vernon was before us; at this view an involuntary and spontaneous movement made us kneel. We landed in boats and trod upon the ground so often worn by the feet of Washington. A carriage received General La Fayette, and the other visitors silently ascended the precipitous path which conducted to the solitary habitation of Mount Vernon.

“Three nephews of General Washington took La Fayette, his son, and myself, to conduct us to the tomb of their uncle; our numerous companions remained in the house; in a few minutes after, the cannon of the fort, thundering anew, announced that La Fayette rendered homage to the ashes of Washington. Simple and modest as he was during life, the tomb of the citizen-hero is scarcely perceived amid the sombre cypresses by which it is surrounded. A vault slightly elevated and sodded over, a wooden door without inscriptions, some withered and some green garlands, indicate to the traveller who visits this spot the place where rest in peace the puissant arms which broke the chains of his country. As we approached, the door was opened, La Fayette descended alone into the vault, and a few minutes after re-appeared with his eyes overflowing with tears. He took his son and me by the hand and led us into the tomb, where by a sign he indicated the coffin of his paternal friend, alongside of which was that of his companion in life, united to him in the grave. We knelt reverently near his coffin, which we respectfully saluted with our lips, and rising, threw ourselves into the arms of La Fayette, and mingled our tears with his.”

336On the 1st of January, 1825, a dinner was given to General La Fayette by the members of both houses of Congress. The scene is thus described by one of the Washington papers:—

“At half-past four o’clock the front rooms of Williamson’s buildings, now occupied by private families, were thrown open for the company, having been politely tendered for that purpose. In about half an hour afterwards the President of the United States entered the room accompanied by his secretaries. At half-past five General La Fayette arrived attended by his son, Mr. George Washington La Fayette, and his secretary, M. Levasseur; and at six o’clock the company (which, including the invited guests, amounted to about two hundred) sat down to dinner. Mr. Gaillard, the president pro tem. of the Senate, and Mr. Clay, the speaker of the House of Representatives, presided. On the right of Mr. Gaillard sat the President of the United States, and on his left General La Fayette, supported by his Revolutionary brethren. On the right of Mr. Clay sat the Secretary of State, and on his left the Secretary of War.

“The hall was adorned with pictures and flags arranged with elegance and taste. The flags from the war and navy departments were obtained for the occasion, and contributed to revive in the mind associations dear to the heart of every American.”

Among many toasts we can only mention the one to the memory of Washington, and the following to La Fayette:—

“General La Fayette, the great apostle of rational liberty. Unawed by the frowns of tyranny, uninfluenced by the blandishments of wealth, and unseduced by popular applause; the same in the castle of Olmütz, as in the active scenes of his labor and height of his renown.”

337After this toast was drunk, General La Fayette rose and thus responded:—

Gentlemen of both Houses: I want words to express the respectful, grateful sense I have of all the favors and kindnesses you are pleased to confer upon me. I hope you will do justice to the warm feelings of an American heart, and I beg leave to propose the following toast:—

Perpetual union among the United States—it has saved us in our time of danger—it will save the world.

This toast was received with the wildest enthusiasm, and after many others in behalf of the army, navy, people of America, free press, etc., the distinguished guests withdrew.

On the first day of January, 1825, a joint committee of both Houses waited upon General La Fayette, and presented to him a copy of the following act of Congress concerning him:—

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled:—

“That in consideration of the services and sacrifices of General La Fayette in the War of the Revolution, the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized to pay to him the sum of two hundred thousand dollars, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That there be granted to the said General La Fayette and his heirs one township of land; to be laid out and located under the authority of the President, on any of the unappropriated lands of the United States.

H. Clay,
“Speaker of the House of Representatives.
John Gaillard,
“President of the Senate, pro tempore.
“Washington: Approved Dec. 28, 1824.
James Monroe.

338The address of the committee was as follows:—

General: We are a committee of the Senate and House of Representatives charged with the office of informing you of the passage of an act, a copy of which we now present. You will perceive from this act, sir, that the two Houses of Congress, aware of the large pecuniary as well as other sacrifices which your long and arduous devotion to the cause of freedom has cost you, have deemed it their privilege to reimburse a portion of them, as having been incurred in part on account of the United States. The principles which have marked your character will not permit you to oppose any objection to the discharge of so much of the national obligation to you as admits of it. We are directed to express to you the confidence as well as request of the two Houses of Congress that you will, by an acquiescence in their wishes in this respect, add another to the many signal proofs you have afforded of your esteem for a people whose esteem for you can never cease until they have ceased to prize the liberty they enjoy, and to venerate the virtues by which it was acquired. We have only to subjoin an expression of our gratification in being the organs of this communication, and of the distinguished personal respect with which we are,

“Your obedient servants,

  S. Smith,
Robert Y. Hayne,
D. Bouligny,
Committee of the
  W. S. Archer,
S. Van Rensselaer,
Philip S. Markly,
Committee of the

Washington, Jan. 1, 1825.”

339To this address of the committee the general returned the following answer:—

Washington, Jan. 1, 1825.

Gentlemen of the Committee of both Houses of Congress:—

“The immense and unexpected gift which, in addition to former and considerable bounties, it has pleased Congress to confer upon me calls for the warmest acknowledgments of an old American soldier and adopted son of the United States, two titles dearer to my heart than all the treasures in the world.

“However proud I am of every sort of obligation received from the people of the United States, and their representatives in Congress, the large extent of this benefaction might have created in my mind feelings of hesitation, not inconsistent, I hope, with those of the most grateful reverence. But the so very kind resolutions of both Houses delivered by you, gentlemen, in terms of equal kindness, precludes all other sentiments except those of the lively and profound gratitude, of which, in respectfully accepting the munificent favor, I have the honor to beg you will be the organs.

“Permit me, also, gentlemen, to join a tender of my affectionate personal thanks to the expression of the highest respect, with which I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

La Fayette.”


Interesting Ceremony at Washington—Letter to Liberator Bolivar—Bolivar’s Reply—Comments of the Niles Register upon the Departure of the Nation’s Guest—Description of the Farewell Ceremonies—Parting Address of President Adams—General La Fayette’s Impressive Reply—Parting Scenes—The General escorted to the Potomac—Military Review—La Fayette embarks on a Steamer—Parting Salute—The Fleet pauses at Mount Vernon—La Fayette’s Last View of Washington’s Tomb—La Fayette transferred to the Brandywine—Farewell in the Captain’s Cabin—Comments of the Press upon La Fayette’s Memorable Visit—A Belfast Journal—The Vermont North Star—A French Author’s Address to the Youth of France—A Letter from Paris—La Fayette’s Reception at Havre—Gift presented to the General by the Midshipmen of the Brandywine—La Fayette’s Words of Thanks—Reception of General La Fayette at La Grange—The Edinburgh Observer Comments upon the Visit of La Fayette to America.

“’Tis liberty alone that gives the flower
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume;
And we are weeds without it.”—Cowper.

“AN interesting ceremony took place at Washington a day or two before the departure of the Nation’s Guest. This was the presentation to the representative of the Columbian Republic certain presents to be forwarded by him to Bolivar, the Liberator. The presents consisted of a medal of gold presented to Lady Washington by the city of Williamsburg, in honor of her illustrious husband, and also a portrait of General Washington, inclosing in the back of the picture a lock 341of the patriarch’s hair. These gifts were presented by George Washington P. Custis, by the honored hands of the last of the generals of the army of North American independence—General La Fayette. The following is a translation of the letter written by General La Fayette to the president, Liberator Bolivar, which, together with a letter from George Washington Custis, accompanied the gifts.”

President Liberator: My religious and filial devotion to the memory of General Washington could not be better appreciated in his family than by the honorable charge now bestowed upon me. While I recognize the perfect likeness of the portrait, I am happy to think that among all existing characters, and all those recorded in history, General Bolivar is the one to whom my paternal friend would have preferred to offer it. What shall I say more to the great citizen whom South America has hailed by the name of liberator, a name confirmed by both worlds, and who, possessing an influence equal to his disinterestedness, carries in his heart the love of liberty, without any exception, and of the republic, without any alloy? However, I feel authorized by the public and recent testimonies of your kindness and esteem to present you with the personal congratulation of a veteran of our common cause, who, on the eve of his departure for another hemisphere, shall follow with his best wishes the glorious complement of your labors, and that solemn congress at Panama where will be consolidated and completed all the principles and all the interests of American independence, freedom, and policy.

“Accept, President Liberator, the homage of my deep and respectful attachment.

La Fayette.

342To which letter La Fayette subsequently received the following reply:—

Lima, March 16, 1826.

General: For the first time I behold the characters traced by the hand of the benefactor of the New World. I owe that happiness to Colonel Mesh, who has just handed me your honorable of the 13th October last.

“It is with inexpressible pleasure that I learned from the public papers that you had had the goodness to honor me with a treasure from Mount Vernon. The likeness of Washington, and one of the monuments of his glory, are, it is said, to be presented to me by you in the name of the illustrious citizen’s eldest son of liberty in the New World. How shall I express the value which my heart attaches to a testimony of esteem so glorious for me? The family of Mount Vernon honor me beyond my hopes; for Washington, from the hands of La Fayette, is the most sublime recompense that man could desire.

“Washington was the courageous protector of social reform, and you, sir, you are the heroic citizen, the champion of liberty, who served America with the one hand, and the Old World with the other. What mortal could suppose himself worthy of the honor with which you deign to overwhelm me? Hence my confusion is in proportion with the extent of gratitude, which I offer to you with the respect and veneration which every man owes to the Nestor of liberty.

“I am, with the greatest consideration, your respectful admirer,


The Niles Register of September 3, 1825, says:—

“General La Fayette will commence his return voyage 343to Europe, by proceeding to the new and splendid frigate Brandywine, on the 8th inst., which now lies in the Potomac; and millions of wishes will be offered up that he may have prosperous gales and pleasant weather, and a happy meeting with his friends, a long life of serenity and peace, and a triumphant exit from this world to that which is to come. Highly favored man—who hast thyself seen and felt all that grateful posterity can confer for imperishable deeds of virtue, farewell!—and, if so it shall yet be that the evening of thy days and thy night of death are passed in this land of the free, every house will be open to receive thee, or every heart be engaged to invoke eternal blessings upon thee.”

From the same paper, dated September 10, we quote the following:—

“La Fayette has departed. He left Washington on Wednesday last in the steamboat Mount Vernon, and in due season reached the new frigate Brandywine lying at the mouth of the Potomac, which was also visited by the steamboat Constitution, from Baltimore, with a large party of gentlemen. All was done that could be done to honor the Nation’s Guest, and the people were not less zealous to show their affection for him on the day of his departure, than to press about him on that of his arrival among us more than a year ago. For some time past he had made his home with the President, from whom and all else he received every civility and kindness that it was possible, by those who loved him the more the better they knew him, to bestow upon him. We shall give some of the particulars of the ceremonies and proceedings that took place on the interesting occasion. The parting in the grand hall of the President’s house filled with citizens and officers, on Wednesday 344last, is described as one of the most sublime and affecting scenes that can be imagined. The President’s address to him is a composition worthy of the occasion; he delivered it with great emotion, yet with much dignity; but hardly one was present who did not feel the tears moistening his eyes or trickling down his cheeks, and many will be in like manner affected even when they read it. La Fayette’s reply is also eloquent and abounds with feeling. The silence of the grave prevailed while either was speaking. When the latter had ended he gave vent to his tears with embraces, and all partook of his emotions.

“The last three weeks which the Nation’s Guest spent in our happy land were exceedingly well appropriated. After witnessing the magnificent ceremony at Boston on the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, he leisurely returned to the city of Washington, visiting many of his personal friends on the way, and reviewing the battle-field at Brandywine.

“From the city of Washington he made delightful excursions into Virginia, in which it happened that three out of all the Presidents which we have had yet, reside as citizens.

“The last days of his visit were properly spent by La Fayette in the nation’s house, on the invitation of its present possessor, the chief magistrate of the United States. Mr. Adams was in his early youth a favorite with the general, having much personal communication with him; and of his disposition and ability to represent the hospitality and feeling of the millions of free people over whose affairs he presides there could not be a doubt. La Fayette was at home in the national house, in the city of Washington, and in the heart of a family which offered every inducement that can operate on the human 345mind to make him comfortable: this was his abode till the moment of his departure to embark in the Brandywine, named in compliment to him, and peculiarly fitted for his accommodation—her ‘giddy mast’ bearing the stripes and the stars, her bosom to contain the person of our guest; a man of whom it may be said, ‘take him all in all, we ne’er shall look upon his like again,’ unless he shall again visit our shores; one who was the same, great and good, in prosperity and adversity—grateful for kind offices, forgiving of injuries, zealous to confer benefits, modest when on the pinnacle of human glory, dignified and collected in the proud presence of kings. But I must not proceed—if, after Mr. Adams’ display of eloquence and power, he who commands words and they obey him, honestly confessed ‘a want of language to give utterance to his feelings’—who among us may attempt it? I shall, therefore, proceed to notice some of the things which happened at the departure of La Fayette, with this simple remark, that if there is any American who can read, unmoved, Mr. Adams’ valedictory address to him, or the reply of the general to that address, I would not possess that man’s heart for his fortune though he were a Crœsus.

“The 7th inst. was the day appointed for his departure. The civil and military authorities and the whole people of Washington had prepared to honor it. The banks were closed and all business suspended, and nothing else engaged attention except the ceremonies prescribed for the occasion.

“At about twelve o’clock the authorities of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria, the principal officers of the general government, civil, military, and naval, some members of Congress, and other respectable strangers were assembled in the President’s house to take 346leave of La Fayette. He entered the great hall in silence, leaning on the marshal of the district and on the arm of one of the President’s sons. Mr. Adams then with much dignity, but with evident emotion, addressed him in the following terms:—

Address of the President of the United States to General La Fayette, on taking leave of him at his departure on the 7th of September, 1825.

“‘General La Fayette: It has been the good fortune of many of my distinguished fellow-citizens, during the course of the year now elapsed, upon your arrival at their respective places of abode, to greet you with the welcome of the nation. The less pleasing task now devolves upon me, of bidding you, in the name of the nation, adieu.

“‘It were no longer seasonable, and would be superfluous, to recapitulate the remarkable incidents of your early life—incidents which associated your name, fortunes, and reputation in imperishable connection with the independence and history of the North American Union.

“‘The part which you performed at that important juncture was marked with characters so peculiar, that, realizing the fairest fable of antiquity, its parallel could scarcely be found in the authentic records of human history.

“‘You deliberately and perseveringly preferred toil, danger, the endurance of every hardship, and the privation of every comfort, in defence of a holy cause, to inglorious ease, and the allurements of rank, affluence, and unrestrained youth, at the most splendid and fascinating court of Europe.

“‘That this choice was not less wise than magnanimous, 347the sanction of half a century, and the gratulations of unnumbered voices, all unable to express the gratitude of the heart with which your visit to this hemisphere has been welcomed, afford ample demonstration.

“‘When the contest of Freedom, to which you had repaired as a voluntary champion, had closed, by the complete triumph of her cause in this country of your adoption, you returned to fulfil the duties of the philanthropist and patriot in the land of your nativity. There, in a consistent and undeviating career of forty years, you have maintained, through every vicissitude of alternate success and disappointment, the same glorious cause to which the first years of your active life had been devoted,—the improvement of the moral and political condition of man.

“‘Throughout that long succession of time, the people of the United States, for whom and with whom you had fought the battles of liberty, have been living in the full possession of its fruits—one of the happiest among the family of nations. Spreading in population; enlarging in territory; acting and suffering according to the condition of their nature; and laying the foundations of the greatest, and, we humbly hope, the most beneficent power that ever regulated the concerns of man upon earth.

“‘In the lapse of forty years, the generation of men with whom you co-operated in the conflict of arms has nearly passed away. Of the general officers of the American army in that war, you alone survive; of the sages who guided our councils; of the warriors who met the foe in the field or upon the wave, with the exception of a few, to whom unusual length of days has been allotted by Heaven, all now sleep with their fathers. A succeeding, and even a third, generation have arisen to take 348their places; and their children’s children, while rising up to call them blessed, have been taught by them, as well as admonished by their own constant enjoyment of freedom, to include in every benison upon their fathers, the name of him who came from afar, with them, and in their cause to conquer or to fall.

“‘The universal prevalence of these sentiments was signally manifested by a resolution of Congress, representing the whole people, and all the states of this Union, requesting the President of the United States to communicate to you the assurances of grateful and affectionate attachment of this government and people, and desiring that a national ship might be employed at your convenience, for your passage to the borders of our country.

“‘The invitation was transmitted to you by my venerable predecessor; himself bound to you by the strongest ties of personal friendship; himself one of those whom the highest honors of his country had rewarded for blood early shed in her cause, and for a long life of devotion to her welfare. By him the services of a national ship were placed at your disposal. Your delicacy preferred a more private conveyance, and a full year has elapsed since you landed upon our shores. It were scarcely an exaggeration to say that it has been to the people of the Union a year of uninterrupted festivity and enjoyment, inspired by your presence. You have traversed the twenty-four states of this great confederacy. You have been received with rapture by the survivors of your earliest companions in arms. You have been hailed as a long-absent parent by their children, the men and women of the present age; and a rising generation, the hope of future time, in numbers surpassing the whole population of that day when you fought at the head, and by the 349side of their forefathers, have vied with the scanty remnants of that hour of trial, in acclamations of joy at beholding the face of him whom they feel to be the common benefactor of all. You have heard the mingled voices of the past, the present, and the future age, joining in one universal chorus of delight at your approach; and the shouts of unbidden thousands, which greeted your landing on the soil of freedom, have followed every step of your way, and still resound, like the rushing of many waters, from every corner of our land.

“‘You are now about to return to the country of your birth, of your ancestors, of your posterity. The executive government of the Union, stimulated by the same feeling which had prompted the Congress to the designation of a national ship for your accommodation in coming hither, has destined the first service of a frigate recently launched at the metropolis, to the less welcome but equally distinguished trust, of conveying you home. The name of the ship has added one more memorial to distant regions and to future ages, of a stream already memorable at once in the story of your sufferings and of our independence.

“‘The ship is now prepared for your reception, and equipped for sea. From the moment of her departure, the prayers of millions will ascend to Heaven, that her passage may be prosperous, and your return to the bosom of your family as propitious to your happiness as your visit to this scene of your youthful glory has been to that of the American people.

“‘Go, then, our beloved friend; return to the land of brilliant genius, of generous sentiment, of heroic valor; to that beautiful France, the nursing mother of the twelfth Louis, and the fourth Henry; to the native soil of Bayard and Coligni, of Turenne and Catinat, of Fénélon 350and d’Aguesseau. In that illustrious catalogue of names which she claims as of her children, and with honest pride holds up to the admiration of other nations, the name of La Fayette has already for centuries been enrolled. And it shall henceforth burnish into brighter fame; for if, in after days, a Frenchman shall be called to indicate the character of his nation by that of one individual during the age in which we live, the blood of lofty patriotism shall mantle in his cheek, the fire of conscious virtue shall sparkle in his eye, and he shall pronounce the name of La Fayette. Yet we, too, and our children, in life and after death, shall claim you for our own. You are ours by that more than patriotic self-devotion with which you flew to the aid of our fathers at the crisis of their fate.

“‘Ours by that long series of years in which you have cherished us in your regard. Ours by that unshaken sentiment of gratitude for your services which is a precious portion of our inheritance. Ours by that tie of love, stronger than death, which has linked your name for the endless ages of time, with the name of Washington.

“‘At the painful moment of parting from you, we take comfort in the thought, that wherever you may be, to the last pulsation of your heart, our country will be ever present to your affections; and a cheering consolation assures us that we are not called to sorrow most of all, that we shall see your face no more. We shall indulge the pleasing anticipation of beholding our friend again. In the meantime, speaking in the name of the whole people of the United States, and at a loss only for language to give utterance to that feeling of attachment with which the heart of the nation beats as the heart of one man—I bid you a reluctant and affectionate farewell.’

351“To which General La Fayette made the following answer:—

“‘Amidst all my obligations to the general government, and particularly to you, sir, its respected chief magistrate, I have most thankfully to acknowledge the opportunity given me, at this solemn and painful moment, to present the people of the United States with a parting tribute of profound, inexpressible gratitude.

“‘To have been, in the infant and critical days of these states, adopted by them as a favorite son, to have participated in the toils and perils of our unspotted struggle for independence, freedom, and equal rights, and in the foundation of the American era of a new social order, which has already pervaded this, and must for the dignity and happiness of mankind successfully pervade every part of the other hemisphere, to have received at every stage of the Revolution, and during forty years after that period, from the people of the United States and their representatives at home and abroad, continual marks of their confidence and kindness, has been the pride, the encouragement, the support of a long and eventful life.

“‘But how could I find words to acknowledge that series of welcomes, those unbounded and universal displays of public affection, which have marked each step, each hour, of a twelve months’ progress through the twenty-four states, and which, while they overwhelm my heart with grateful delight, have most satisfactorily evinced the concurrence of the people in the kind testimonies, in the immense favors bestowed on me by the several branches of their representatives, in every part and at the central seat of the confederacy.

“‘Yet gratifications still higher awaited me: in the wonders of creation and improvement that have met my 352enchanted eye; in the unparalleled and self-felt happiness of the people, in their rapid prosperity and insured security, public and private, in a practice of good order,—the appendage of true freedom,—and a national good sense,—the final arbiter of all difficulties,—I have had proudly to recognize a result of the republican principles for which we have fought, and a glorious demonstration to the most timid and prejudiced minds of the superiority, over degrading aristocracy or despotism, of popular institutions founded on the plain rights of man, and where the local rights of every section are preserved under a constitutional bond of union. The cherishing of that union between the states, as it has been the farewell entreaty of our great paternal Washington, and will ever have the dying prayer of every American patriot, so it has become the sacred pledge of the emancipation of the world, an object in which I am happy to observe that the American people, while they give the animating example of successful free institutions in return for an evil entailed upon them by Europe, and of which a liberal and enlightened sense is everywhere more and more generally felt, show themselves every day more anxiously interested.

“‘And now, sir, how can I do justice to my deep and lively feelings for the assurances, most peculiarly valued, of your esteem and friendship; for your so very kind references to old times, to my beloved associates, to the vicissitudes of my life; for your affecting picture of the blessings poured by the several generations of the American people on the remaining days of a delighted veteran; for your affectionate remarks on this sad hour of separation, on the country of my birth, full, I can say, of American sympathies; on the hope so necessary to me of my seeing again the country that has deigned, near a 353half-century ago, to call me hers? I shall content myself, refraining from superfluous repetitions, at once, before you, sir, and this respected circle, to proclaim my cordial confirmation of every one of the sentiments which I have had daily opportunities publicly to utter; from the time when your venerable predecessor, my old brother in arms and friend, transmitted to me the honorable invitation of Congress; to this day, when you, my dear sir, whose friendly connection with me dates from your earliest youth, are going to consign me to the protection, across the Atlantic, of the heroic national flag, on board the splendid ship, the name of which has been not the least flattering and kind among the numberless favors conferred upon me.

“‘God bless you, sir, and all who surround us. God bless the American people, each of their states, and the federal government. Accept this patriotic farewell of an overflowing heart; such will be its last throb when it ceases to beat.’”

“As the last sentence was pronounced,” says the National Intelligencer, “the general advanced, and, while the tears poured over his venerable cheeks, again took the President in his arms. He retired a few paces, but, overcome by his feelings, again returned, and uttering in broken accents, ‘God bless you!’ fell once more on the neck of Mr. Adams. It was a scene at once solemn and moving, as the sighs and stealing tears of many who witnessed it bore testimony. Having recovered his self-possession, the general stretched out his hands, and was, in a moment, surrounded by the greetings of the whole assembly, who pressed upon him, each eager to seize, perhaps for the last time, that beloved hand which was opened so freely for our aid, when aid was so precious, and which grasped, with firm and undeviating hold, 354the steel which so bravely helped to achieve our deliverance. The expression which now beamed from the face of this exalted man was of the finest and most touching kind. The hero was lost in the father and the friend: dignity melted into subdued affection, and the friend of Washington seemed to linger with a mournful delight among the sons of his adopted country. A considerable period was then occupied in conversing with various individuals, while refreshments were presented to the company. The moment of departure at length arrived, and having once more pressed the hand of Mr. Adams, he entered the barouche accompanied by the secretaries of state, of the treasury, and of the navy.”

Another writer says:—

“The parting being over, the carriage of the general, preceded by the cavalry, the marine corps, and Captain Edwards’ rifle corps, and followed by the carriages containing the corporate authorities of the cities, of the district, and numerous military and high civil officers of the government, moved forward, followed by the remaining military companies. In taking up the escort the whole column moved through the court in front of the President’s mansion, and paid him the passing salute as he stood in front to receive it. The whole scene—the peals of artillery, the animating sound of numerous military bands, the presence of the vast concourse of people, and the occasion that assembled them—altogether produced emotions not easily described, but which every American will readily conceive.

“On reaching the bank of the Potomac, near where the Mount Vernon steam vessel was in waiting, all the carriages in the procession, except the general’s, wheeled off, and the citizens in them assembled on foot around that of the general. The whole military body then 355passed him in review, as he stood in the barouche of the President, attended by the secretaries of state, of the treasury, and of the navy. After the review, the general proceeded to the steam vessel, under a salute of artillery, surrounded by as many citizens, all eager to catch the last look, as could press on the large wharf; and at four o’clock, this great and good and extraordinary man trod for the last time the soil of America, followed by the blessings of every patriotic heart that lives on it.

“As the vessel moved off, and for a short time after, the deepest silence was observed by the whole of the vast multitude that lined the shore. The feeling that pervaded them was that of children bidding a final farewell to a venerated parent. The crowd remained gazing after the retiring vessel, until she had passed Greenleaf’s Point, where another salute repeated the valedictory sounds of respect, and these again were, not long after, echoed by the heavy guns of Fort Washington, and reminded us of the rapidity with which this benefactor and friend of our country was borne from it.

“The general was accompanied to the Brandywine by the Secretary of the Navy, the mayors of the three cities of the district, the commander-in-chief of the army, the generals of the militia of the district, Commodore Bainbridge, Mr. Custis, of Arlington, and several other gentlemen.”

The trip to the Brandywine, and the ceremonies on board of the frigate on the reception of the general, are thus described by one of the passengers in the steamboat Mount Vernon:—

“The moment of separation arrived. The Mount Vernon received her venerable freight, and the general, from the midst of the suite, whom the government had detailed as an escort of honor, waved his hand and bowed 356to the thousands who thronged the shores, an affectionate adieu.

“Under the discharge of artillery, and the fervent benedictions of the vast assemblage who still lingered and looked, when they no longer spoke, a last farewell, the Mount Vernon proceeded on her way.

“On passing Alexandria, the wharves and shipping were crowded with citizens and neighbors, all business was suspended, and the ‘hum of men’ was hushed in the respectful silence which pervaded this ‘parting hour.’ The general, uncovered, took the station which would place him nearest to his friends, where he could best give and best receive the salute of mutual attachment and esteem. So abstracted from ordinary considerations were the minds of all parties, that the steersman neared the town till the general became enveloped in the smoke of the cannon, which, however appropriate to enemies, were nearer than is usual to friends. The boat, after passing, returned, and repassed the town, again and again producing the most enthusiastic expressions of affectionate farewell. The ramparts of Fort Washington paid their honors, as the mansion, the groves, and the tomb of Mount Vernon opened to view. The progress of the little fleet was arrested, that the last of the generals might pay his pious homage and filial duty to the tomb of the paternal chief.

“La Fayette arose—the wonders which he had performed for a man of his age, in successfully accomplishing labors enough to have tested his meridian vigor, whose animation rather resembles the spring than the winter of life, now seemed unequal to the task he was about to perform,—to take a last look at the grave of Washington! He advanced to the effort: a silence the most impressive reigned around, till the strains of sweet 357and plaintive music completed the grandeur and sacred solemnity of the scene. All hearts beat in unison with the throbbings of the veteran’s bosom, as he looked, and that for the last time, on the sepulchre which contains the ashes of the first of men. He spoke not, but appeared absorbed in the mighty recollections which the place and the occasion inspired.

“After this noble scene, the fleet resumed its course, and, after a voyage of safety and expedition, anchored near the Brandywine the ensuing morning. The general was received in the commodore’s barge, and repaired, through very inclement weather, to the gallant bark which is to bear him to his other home. He was placed on the deck of the ship by an ornamented chair, rigged for the special purpose, and under a salute from the main battery—the music of the band, and the greetings of the commodore, his officers, and many guests, who were assembled for this interesting event; but above all, by the warm embrace of the Revolutionary worthies, who had repaired to the ship to take another farewell of their beloved associate of the heroic time. After a sumptuous collation served in the captain’s cabin, and a number of feeling and appropriate toasts, among which was the following by La Fayette:—

“‘The national flag of the United States; ever the pledge of glory; on this day the rendezvous of friendship’; and by Mr. Custis, of Arlington:—

“‘The Brandywine, which bears to his native land the last of the generals of the army of American independence, and the great apostle of the rights of mankind.—May the winds of Heaven not visit her course too roughly, but with kindest breath swell the bosom of her sails, and the guardian genius that protects the just and good, be an ever-watchful Palinurus to guide her helm.’ 358After which Colonel Bentalou, of Baltimore, offered the following toast:—

“‘The memory of General Washington—the military father and beloved friend of our nation’s guest.’

“This toast was drunk standing, and the final moment of separation having arrived, the last adieus were spoken.

“The barges of the ship bore the sorrowing guests to their respective vessels, while the thunders of the superb Brandywine told to the echoes around the adieu to La Fayette.”

The day had been boisterous and rainy, but just as the affecting scene had closed, the sun burst forth in all his glory, as a propitious omen.

The editor of the Irishman, a journal conducted at Belfast, in the issue of September, 1825, in commenting upon the proceedings at Washington on the occasion of the farewell to La Fayette, says:—

“We this day give our readers one of the most interesting scenes which can be laid before the human mind,—the departure and farewell address of the greatest republic the world ever saw, to that veteran hero, whose sword was one of the first in the field to assert her freedom. The address of Mr. Adams is a chaste and beautiful composition,—a triumphant recapitulation of the glories of liberty,—and the reply of the old soldier is characterized by all the fire of youth and wisdom of age. The Irishman feels no small pleasure in being the first journal to give these immortal productions to the people of Ireland.”

The North Star, printed at Danville, Vermont, says, regarding La Fayette’s last act in America:—

“We are informed that General La Fayette has addressed a letter to General Fletcher, from on board the Brandywine, on the subject of the imprisonment of 359General William Barton, and inclosed a draft, with a request that the sum for which General Barton was confined should be paid. That request has been complied with, and General Barton was informed that he was no longer a prisoner. With what emotions of surprise and gratitude this intelligence was received by the valiant captor of Prescott can be better imagined than described. The scene was rendered more interesting by the peculiarly delicate manner in which the business was conducted and the fact announced by General Fletcher. All participated in the satisfaction which was expressed, that General Barton was at liberty to return to his family, after a separation of more than thirteen years.”

Mr. Kerate, a French author of a work entitled “Divine Worship,” taking our reception of La Fayette as his standard, addresses the French youth, and thus urges their ambition to fly to the succor of the Greeks:—

“A man is at this moment traversing the continent of North America. The whole population crowds around him; from the sources of the rivers, from the recesses of the forests, they flock to see him; the maidens of the banks of the Ohio crown him with flowers; the youths desire to behold him, to touch his garments; the old men to press his hand before they lose him. These marks of respect will be transmitted from generation to generation; they will become family documents. At his approach the magistrates make room to receive him among them; his presence diffuses joy in the cities; he brings glory to the tombs of the brave; it might be thought that they had waited for him to begin their immortality; he himself is loaded with benedictions and honors. What, then, has he done? Is he a prince or a potentate? No! With the means at the command of a private man he assisted an oppressed nation. Young 360Frenchmen! this is the picture you should have before your eyes; it is worthy of you.”

A letter from Paris, dated Sept. 7th, and published in one of the London papers, says:—

“Our ministers are under a good deal of embarrassment in regard to the manner of receiving La Fayette, who, according to the accounts brought by the Edward Bonaffe, must soon arrive. The moment our ministers heard that the general was coming in the frigate Brandywine, they despatched orders to the authorities at Havre, to prevent any kind of meeting and every mark of honor which might be attempted to be bestowed upon him. On the other hand, the most respectable of the merchants and other inhabitants have resolved to express their esteem for his character by every means in their power. The military commandant is a violent royalist, but the mayor is a good-natured, moderate man, who wishes to avoid every sort of tyrannical measures. The American frigate is another subject of embarrassment. It is usual, when a frigate enters the port, for her to salute the batteries with fifteen guns, but this salute must be returned by an equal number. Now, our government are afraid that, if they reply to the American salute, the people will think they are expending powder in honor of La Fayette; but if they do not agree to return, they will be obliged to let the frigate enter without saluting, for they well know that the American captain will not burn a match without an assurance of reciprocity.”

The editor of the Niles Register adds:—

“The writer of the letter justly estimates the fact. Morris and his crew would rather fight the largest and the best-fitted frigate that ever belonged to France, than fire a salute but with the belief that it would be returned, 361gun for gun. The stripes and stars may be hauled down by a conqueror, but shall not be disgraced.”

The Niles Register for November says:—

“La Fayette was received at Havre with the greatest enthusiasm. It does not appear that the government had taken any measures to prevent a favorable greeting of him. The Brandywine saluted the forts, which returned an equal number of guns. On the day of his disembarkation, the general proceeded to his country-seat, accompanied for two leagues by a numerous cavalcade, consisting of young men of the principal families of Havre and its neighborhood.”

When General La Fayette was about to leave the frigate Brandywine, on her arrival at Havre, a farewell address was presented to him by the midshipmen attached to the ship. To this flattering attention General La Fayette thus verbally replied:—

My dear young Friends: I am unable to express my feelings towards you. Before I had the pleasure of your acquaintance I considered it an honor to belong to the United States navy: since then my knowledge of you as individuals has added to my admiration of the chivalry of your profession, and rendered sanguine my expectations of its future achievements. Your country has reason to be proud of you; I part from you with regret: but should your duties or inclinations bring you again to France, remember that La Grange is the home of every American. Farewell!”

The Paris Constitutionnel of the 20th December, 1825, contained a circumstantial account of the reception of La Fayette at La Grange, after his return from his visit to America. The neighboring villages united in a public festival in his honor, notwithstanding strong efforts on the part of the municipal authorities to prevent rejoicing of any kind.

362The following is a translation of one of the addresses delivered to the general by deputations, together with one of his answers.

Address: “At length we again behold you, grown younger from the atmosphere of liberty which you have been breathing, and the spectacle of the happiness of a powerful and grateful people, which you have contemplated with delight. Like the Americans, we could wish to describe to you our love, pleasure, and admiration; but these sentiments, agitating too strongly our hearts, deprive us of the power of so doing.”

To which the general replied:—

“The affecting welcome which awaited me here, and the fresh testimonials of attachment which you lavish upon me to-day, fill up the measure of my joy in finding myself in the bosom of my family and in the midst of you, my dear friends and neighbors. During my journeys over the free and prosperous territories of the United States it was sweet to me to think that the voices of that excellent and admirable people would resound even as far as your abodes, and that you would enjoy them for me.

“The enemies of the people’s cause have cast it as a reproach upon me that, in expressing my sentiments at the American meetings, I thought also of you. They were right to believe this; and, in fact, at the sight of the wonders of the public prosperity and private happiness which, in that immense country, are the fruits of liberty, equality, legal and national order, it would have been difficult for me to forget the wish I had ever cherished, that my French countrymen should exercise the same rights and obtain the same felicity.

“You see me now restored to my retreat of La Grange, which is dear to me on so many accounts; 363and to those agricultural employments of which you know me to be so fond, and which, for a long series of years, I shared with you, my neighbors, and the greater part of the friends who surround me. Your regard, fully reciprocated on my part, causes them to be more and more prized. Accept, I pray you, my thanks for the fine festival that you have prepared for me, and that fills my heart with delight and gratitude.”

More than six thousand persons were present at this joyous commemoration of the return of him whom they called the American Nation’s Guest. The dancing was continued throughout the night, and the air was filled with cries of “Long live La Fayette!” “Long live the friend of the people!” On the following day the general received a number of distinguished visitors from Paris.

The Edinburgh Observer thus comments upon this memorable visit of La Fayette to America:—

“After a residence of nearly twelve months in the United States, General La Fayette has at last returned to Europe. Hitherto we have, somehow, abstained from saying a single word on the extraordinary spectacles by which his visit has been throughout distinguished. We have, like all mankind, been struck mute, as it were, by each successive gushing out of the spontaneous and unpurchased homage of ten millions of free people. We have stood by, in almost stupid wonder, while so many more than classic triumphs, so much higher than classic feelings, were performing and bursting around us, hardly knowing, indeed, whether we had to deal with the honest excitement of a real and gallant people, or were cheated by the solemn phantasies of a race of Bedlamites. It was not, in fact, till after the blinding pageant had passed away that we could bring ourselves to talk soberly either 364of its fitness or its reality. At last, however, the question does rush upon our minds: Why have all these things been? How is it that for twelve long months we have heard of nothing but processions, feastings, and jubilees, among a people pre-eminent among all men for thrift, jealousy, and stubbornness? What can this or any man have done, to turn upon himself the rejoicing lustre of so many millions of eyes, to call down blessings from so incalculable a host of uplifted hands, and to feel the honors and gratitude of a mighty people wafted to his bosom as by the voice of a single man? What is it, in fact, that has swayed the hearts of these stout republicans throughout the twenty-four communities, that has hurried, all along that vast line, every woman from her distaff, and every infant from its cradle, to shout, on the steps of a total stranger to their blood, and has now melted so many jarring interests into one general prayer of regret, thankfulness, and safety? This is not anything like a venal sycophancy to dignity or riches or descent; it is not the conventual homage of one great authority to another, nor can it be placed even among the reasonable but frigid trophies of a mere general merit. It is too stupendous, too immediate, too much akin to the burning ardor of children to a parent. It is a portion of the unbounded gratitude of a gallant people to the founder of their freedom. It is no mere temporary return of any present benefit, but a part of the perpetual worship owing to an author of their political existence. It is the homage of America to the Nestor of the Revolution. Her early warriors are now no more. Her Franklins and Washingtons have long since sunk, one after another, amid the tears of their people, into an illustrious tomb. One commander alone remains who fought at Flat-Bush, at Brandywine, and at Yorktown. What wonder, 365then, that the honors, and almost the merits, of the extinguished mighty should seem to concentrate around their sole surviving fellow? Generation after generation has sundered him from everything in America that could excite rivalry and add a sting to passion. He left them in a feverish and bloody infancy; he has returned in their peaceful and majestic manhood. He left them worn, divided, and impoverished; he has found them strong, unanimous, and rich. He has come to see the grain quietly waving over the fields of slaughter; to find their once vacant harbors crowded with a gallant navy; their unsheltered beaches secured by impregnable works; their swampy forests swarming with a gay and growing population. And he can say, what no living leader can say with him, ‘This is partly my work; in the heart of a corrupted state I digested the manual of freedom; hemmed round by the blandishments of luxury, I preserved the spirit of independence; I forsook the court for the sword; I adopted danger for ease; and here are my rewards!’ It was the younger Scaliger, we believe, who would have preferred the honor of writing a single ode of Horace, to the empire of Germany, and he was right. But what are the honors of all the odes of all the Horaces that ever lived, to this pride of a patriot’s bosom, to the outbursting of a nation’s gratitude? After all, there is much more in these things than the merit or the praise of any one person, or any one set of persons. It is not man individually, but man collectively, that is here chiefly concerned. These rewards and these deservings are, in fact, the recognition by Nature of her own nobility. They form the evidence which she bears to the eternity of her own character; they are the proud effusions of her thankfulness to the power which impressed that character upon her.”



Charles X.—La Fayette again elected to the Assembly—His Speech upon the Disposition of the Budget of 1826—The Public Debt—The Civil List—Capital Punishment—Trials by Jury—A Pressing Political Question—The Possible Position of France—Expedition into Spain—Freedom of Worship—Separation of Church and State—National Instruction—Internal Administration of France—Examination of the War Department—The French Navy—Banquet to General La Fayette by the Young Men of Auvergne—La Fayette’s Letter to the Son of De Witt Clinton—La Fayette’s Letter of Thanks to the Bookbinders of Baltimore, upon the Reception of a Gift—Also his Letter to the Bookbinders of the Same City—The Artist David presents to Congress his Bust of General La Fayette—Description of the Bust—La Fayette a Great-Grandfather—Address of General La Fayette at a Fourth of July Dinner in Paris—Speech of La Fayette in the Chamber of Deputies—His Comments on England—Greece—Russia—Portugal—National Law—Algiers—La Fayette’s Remarks on the Holy Alliance—His Tour through the French Provinces—Comments of the London Press—Letter from Paris—Journal of Commerce of Lyons—La Fayette’s Reception at Lyons—Excursion on the River Saone—Banquet on the Borders of the Rhone, at the Salon Gayet—La Fayette’s Response to the Toast—This Triumphal Journey occasions Chagrin among the Enemies of French Liberty—Their Spite upon some Officials—The People of the Commune commend the Deposed Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Vizelle—Testimonials in their Honor.

“Boundless intemperance
In nature is a tyranny; it hath been
Th’ untimely emptying of the happy throne,
And fall of many kings.”—Shakespeare.

THE death of Louis XVIII. placed Charles X. on the throne of France, But nothing was to be hoped 367from him. He was a more tenacious upholder of the old tyrannical régime than his brother; indeed, he himself declared, “La Fayette and I are the only two men in France who have remained perfectly firm in their principles through the Revolution.” That was probably true; but his principles were far removed from those of the liberty-loving La Fayette.

La Fayette was again elected to the Assembly in 1827, and his declarations were as fearless, and his liberal measures as unpopular with the government as ever. As an illustration of La Fayette’s views upon public affairs at that time, we quote the following speech of the marquis, on the subject of the final disposition of the budget of 1826, pronounced at the sitting of the Chamber of Deputies, of the 23d of June, 1828.

Gentlemen: When in compliance with the rules of this house, I announced my intention of addressing you on the concerns of a preceding year, I had not heard the reading of the report of your committee, which I consider a true model of that kind of labor; but such is my conviction that the state of public accounts for former years affords useful data to the discussion of a future budget, I will indulge a few remarks in addition to what has already been said on the subject.

“I beg leave in the first place to call your attention to the state of our social organization, for I am undoubtedly one of those who cannot forget that, by the revolution of ’89, a long series of oppressions, arising not only out of hereditary, sacerdotal, and judiciary privileges and institutions, but also from the prostitution of our commercial, agricultural, and domestic interests, have been erased from the codes of France. The seeds of improvement and public welfare, disseminated through 368almost every class of our countrymen, notwithstanding the baneful influence of persecutions, miseries, and despotisms, have at last been brought to maturity. The return of peace cannot fail to have promoted their development, and the enjoyment of public liberty promises successful and abundant harvest. But whilst nations advance, governments retrograde; and let us consider, gentlemen, what is our present situation.

“A redundant luxuriance of ministerial bounties, resting upon factitious administrations, which themselves are founded upon nothing; a multitude of offices created for the sake of emolument, and emoluments for the sake of patronage; every section of France sacrificed to a system of concentration, of which our metropolis, prosperous in so many other respects, presents those deplorable contrasts which our honorable colleague, Mr. Charles Dupin, has lately introduced to your notice; the precious lights of academies, of public lectures and learned schools, above all, of the polytechnic school, dazzling the eyes of a population, who, as some have just observed, are still denied the means of learning the first elements of reading, and in the midst of whom it is yet made a question whether it is proper that the people should be able to read; in a word, an unexampled host of generals, staff officers, privileged bodies, foreign corps, but few soldiers and a nation, formerly one entire army, who for a long time conquered all Europe combined against her independence, but now disorganized and disarmed, as if a conquered people: with this state of things, can it be believed, gentlemen, that a few trifling amendments of committees, and some oratorical criticisms, will be adequate to the thorough reform of a social existence that might be called the inverse ratio of constitutional order!

“There is no bitterness in my observations, gentlemen; 369they are dictated by the conscience of a simple individual, and in the interest of those who, in undertaking to manage the affairs of a mighty nation, should at least use their endeavor to persuade the people that if they themselves had the power of managing their own concerns, they would not exercise it to greater advantage.

“The public debt, enormously increased for the last fifteen years, the civil list, the crown revenue, the pensions of the royal family, are not within the limits of our control. Every debt is sacred, but some are yet in suspense. For example, whilst all the European powers were largely indemnified according to their pretensions (English claims even to three times the amount allowed to French creditors), had the United States shown some hostile feelings towards us, or had they merely asserted their claims in concert with the other powers, their demands would have been immediately liquidated. But they have never yet been adjusted, because that nation would not join the enemies of France, who were then to be found in her bosom, notwithstanding what has sometimes been said at this tribune to the contrary.

“With regard to the civil list, gentlemen, it might perhaps be desirable, both for its proper management and the personal comfort of the king, that the appropriations not included within the king’s personal expenses should have been granted under the forms of accountability adopted in the civil list of England.

“The appropriation for the criminal judiciary department furnishes me another opportunity of again proffering my warmest wishes for the abolition of capital punishment, which the uncertainty of human comprehension renders so alarming, and which must particularly appall those generations who have so irretrievably suffered from the furies of parties; and also for the abolishment 370of branding, called for on all sides. May the minister at the head of the judiciary department affix his name to these two salutary measures!

“One of my honorable friends has adverted to the gratuitous magistracy of English justices of the peace. I do not envy this pretended benefit of our neighbors, and it is my opinion that those great proprietors are not the most proper persons to exercise a sovereign jurisdiction over all the petty offences committed within their department; but I cheerfully concur in the unanimous voice for restoring the principle of temporary election in justices of the peace.

“Nothing can be more gratifying to my feelings than to have heard, on the last discussion on trials by jury, the pledge that the propriety of extending the benefit of this institution to the transgressions of the press will be taken into consideration at the next session.

“I cannot withhold my assent to the observations of the report on the whole of ministerial budgets. I had myself said at this tribune in 1819, ‘It would be highly beneficial that every ministry should inquire, with all conscientious severity, into what is necessary to the due performance of their duties, and should propose in all remaining details, terms as generous and complete as they please, for the security and comforts of those actually in office, provided that ministers should be divested of all parasitical service, and children brought up to a more profitable labor than the industry of obtaining situations, which is so detrimental to every kind of industry, and to the independence of a vast number of citizens.’ The specification,—I mean the application,—which can never be too minute, of every appropriation to every item of expenditure, has already made some progress; but how profuse those specifications, beyond which there 371is ministerial exertion, when compared with English budgets, of which I now hold in my hand three departments,—the artillery, war, and navy; and yet this is not a cheap government, to use an expression that has so often been charged upon me, and which I am so unwilling to deny.

“The minister for foreign affairs has opened his career under the most critical circumstances; his official duties will be dictated by the loyalty of his personal character. The great political question is now, to decide whether this government will continue to follow the track of old diplomatic traditions, or whether, divested of all foreign influence and reminiscence, it will boldly assume the rank it behooves us to take at the head of European civilization; a post which, in my opinion, has always remained vacant, notwithstanding appearances contradicted by facts; a stand to which no foreign power any longer dares lay any claim. From that exalted station, France may and ought to resist coalitions in which none of her interests are involved. For my own part, I should have expected more satisfactory explanations and details before giving my assent to the late loan of eighty millions, but none would more readily consent to the measures necessary for the liberty and independence of Greece; to enable her by assistance to defend herself; to erect a barrier against the ambition of other powers; to abolish the ignominious sale of fellow-beings, and rescue from slavery all those wretched victims of whom our interference has hitherto been inadequate to their deliverance; and in this I should foresee the advantage of our commercial relations, which, in spite of narrow prejudices, will always find a benefit in extending to other people the blessings and comforts of education and liberty.

372“France, so long accustomed to triumph over the most formidable coalitions, wonders at finding herself encumbered under petty manœuvres, the mysteries of which she cannot unravel.

“I will not mention our unfortunate and criminal expedition into Spain, nor the cruel lessons given to despotism, oppression, and aristocracy in the peninsula, the various and beautiful provinces of which are, I hope, destined to a better fate. But I must beg leave to call your attention to our enormous and foolish error with regard to the new American states.... What blindness, gentlemen, what complacency, can induce us obstinately to withhold our assent to the recognition of the South American republics, in return for insult, ingratitude, and bankruptcy? The British government itself, it is true, although under the direction of an illustrious minister, hesitated a while before adopting that step; but it no sooner saw the immense advantages accruing to the United States, from the priority of that recognition, and a timely official declaration of protection and sympathy, than it hastened to associate itself in the honor and profit of their new relations. After long expectations, gentlemen, France is still reduced to those half-way measures that create mistrust and discontent, whilst it is a well-known fact that French productions and manufactures find a better market in that extensive territory than those of all other nations.

“Whilst the freedom of worship is guaranteed by the charter, and its equality sanctioned by our new morals and habits, it is unnecessary to remark that, even under the ancient régime, Catholic affairs never formed a special branch of the ministry. Amidst the attacks of the pretended supporters of the altar, I will also deprecate that cold fanaticism which endeavors to represent Christianity, 373an institution originally founded on social equality, as hostile to the rights and opinions of the people thus calling, as it were, for a sort of retaliating animadversion against opinions and practices that are totally distinct from worldly ambition. I will seek for the solution of that inextricable dilemma of the duty of the priest, considered both as speaking in the name of Heaven, and as a pay officer of state; but where shall I find it but in that country where religious freedom is more generally prevalent than in France, where the ministers of religion are more respected, and sectarians live in peace; in that government where no rights and regulations can give umbrage, but where, being altogether foreign to and distinct from all civil institutions and form of government, religious societies are formed without restraint and choose their own ministers.

“The separation of the ecclesiastical department from the ministry of public instruction, I consider as much an act of piety as of sound judgment. But too much has yet been left to the infringements of the Catholic clergy. It is not only a religion of the state, but also a very prevailing one still to be found in those ordinances which ought to have secluded its special dogmas within the walls of the church, and confined its distinction of creeds to the circle of private families.

“National instruction, gentlemen, and especially elementary education, that main-spring of public reason, of practical morality, of public peace and comfort, is at present the first want of the French population, as it is the first duty of government. You all know, gentlemen, how this duty is to be discharged. Methods of instruction have heretofore been protected in an inverse ratio to their being perfect and easy. Neither your paltry vote of 50,000 francs, nor 500,000 francs, can be 374adequate to the redemption of that most important of all social obligations. Under a competent and legal system of public instruction, I would consider five millions as the most desirable appropriation of a budget.

“Many statesmen appear to have forgotten,—some perhaps have never been aware,—that by the law of the 3d Brumaire, year IV., France was provided with the best system of instruction that ever existed in any country. It could not be consistent with that power which severed from the institute the class of moral and political sciences. Napoleon created the university, the monopoly and exigencies of which wounded the feelings of private families and displeased the true friends of liberty, but which was afterwards indebted to the invasion of Jesuitism, a privilege of another kind, for the credit of being looked upon as a liberal institution. In order to satisfy all parties it would be necessary, at the next session, to offer a plan for the organization of public instruction, wherein all the national duties of teaching should be strictly laid down, and all individual liberties respected; but every plan of education, particularly in its elementary bearings, would require the co-operation of true civil administrations.

“Why is it, gentlemen, that in utter contempt of the most solemn pledges, we have preserved for fourteen years the whole imperial structure of the internal administration in France? those factitious municipalities, those unsettled councils, those despotic and turbulent prefectures and sub-prefectures, which have never been amended except for successively adding to their inconveniences, attributions, and appointments? When shall we see every section manage its own concerns,concerns, provide for all its own exigencies, and retain within its territory that portion of the taxes that we are afterwards compelled 375to send back to it? Is this idea unknown in France? But the constituent assembly, whatever has been said to the contrary at this tribune, had not only proclaimed useful and true doctrines; it had also organized a system of administration elected by the citizens, and was abolished only by the consulate and by the empire. Is it replete with such great difficulties? But when in 1815, Napoleon, in a fit of liberalism, restored the municipalities in accordance with the law of ’91, elections were made with remarkable celerity and moderation. The only embarrassment that could arise would be in the government, if instead of abiding by the dictates of eternal truth and of contemporary reason, it found it necessary to combine principle with exception, right with privilege, thereby perplexing and deluding the purest intentions.

“I will follow the report of the committee in the examination of the war department, merely with the view to support the proposition of placing in the civil list the payment of the king’s military household. You have also heard on this subject the excellent discourse, to which my honorable friend, General Gerard, has given all the weight of his experience and of his glory. The minister of war, in offering observations that will be made the subject of future deliberations, has just expressed his desire of completing our system of defence. Here, gentlemen, we naturally bring back to our memory the urgent call recently made by the ministry upon our patriotism to obtain the means necessary to a preserving policy, a respectable military strength, a guarantee of public tranquillity, a national dignity; and to an union of the people with the government. The minister had before represented the nation rising in a body at the voice of their king. I will not attempt, gentlemen, the solution of the problem; the 376knot has been untied by a celebrated writer whose authority is daily referred to.

“The stationary National Guard, says an ordinance of the king, dated March, 1815, comprising a mass of three millions of landed and industrious proprietors, constitutes a local force extended on every point....

“From this formidable mass, whose dearest interests attach them to the soil, may be formed voluntary corps constituting movable columns....

“Thus the nation, fighting on every point with the army, either in the line or as auxiliaries, will prove that a great people cannot unwillingly be brought under the yoke that they have once shaken off.

“Gentlemen, I will only remind the government that eight years ago, in the session of 1820, the ministers then acknowledged that they had been in possession, for eight months, of the project of a law drawn up by a special commission, and you all know how it has hitherto resulted.

“The glory of the French navy has resounded in every heart. The name of Navarino has been proclaimed with an unanimous concert by the throne and in the chamber, as it had been echoed by the whole nation; the brave Admiral de Rigny is perfectly secure against the censure of a recall. The infamous traffic of human flesh has been partly suppressed, but it is not yet totally extinct. With an entire confidence in the sentiments of the minister of marine on these important questions, I submit to his wisdom the idea of placing the slave trade on the same footing as piracy, as the law of the United States has given the example, since followed by England. With regard to the management of our colonies, gentlemen, there is so much to say that I could not briefly enter on the subject. I will merely remark that the system of 377colonization of the ancients is, in any opinion, much preferable to that of modern times.

“In the law under consideration the minister of finance has undoubtedly surpassed all his colleagues; but when a thorough discussion is about taking place, I do not feel sufficient confidence to anticipate the opinions that you will hear from colleagues more learned and more skilful than myself. I should even consider myself worthy of reproach, had I not made it a duty to offer some of my ideas, but especially to call at this tribune for more effectual social reforms than can possibly be achieved by way of amendments.”

La Fayette was constantly the recipient of attention and distinguished honors, both in America and in France. The young men of Auvergne gave him a splendid banquet on the 23d of June, 1828. The old general’s toast was: “To the assembled young men of the three departments of Auvergne, and to our dear mountains; the volcanoes of these are extinct, but the sacred fire of liberty will never be extinguished among them.”

The marquis never forgot any of his friends, especially his American comrades, and his affection for the fathers was continued to the sons, as the subjoined letter to Charles A. Clinton, written to him by La Fayette upon receiving the news of the death of his father, De Witt Clinton, will demonstrate.

Paris, March 30, 1828.

My dear Sir: Your personal and friendly attentions to me make you a natural organ of the melancholy and affectionate feeling which I wish to be conveyed to the family of your lamented father. I regret the mournful and unexpected event as an immense loss to the public, and a great personal cause of grief to me. Bound as 378I was to the memory of my two beloved Revolutionary companions, your grandfather and grand-uncle, I had found a peculiar gratification in the eminent talents and services of their son and nephew, and in his kind and liberal correspondence, until personal and grateful acquaintance had impressed me with all the feelings of a more intimate friendship. I beg you to be to your afflicted family the interpreter of my deep sympathies, and to believe me forever

“Your most sincere friend,
La Fayette.”

At the celebration of the commencement of the Ohio and Baltimore Railroad, which occurred on the 4th of July, 1828, a pair of handsome morocco slippers, and a pair of beautiful white satin shoes were made by the cordwainers during the procession. The morocco slippers were presented to the venerable Carroll, on the ground; and the white satin shoes were subsequently transmitted to General La Fayette, together with the badges worn by the association. This compliment received the following reply:—

Lagrange, Sept. 11, 1828.

Gentlemen: With affectionate feelings of pleasure, I have received your kind letter, the badge bearing a likeness of our matchless Washington, and of my excellent friend, the surviving signer of independence, the ensigns of your association as they were worn by your worthy president, and an elegant pair of ladies’ white satin slippers, which were manufactured in the procession. For those gratifying marks of your remembrance and friendship, I beg you to accept my most grateful thanks. The anniversary of American independence, the commencement of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, have been happy associations. 379So I have seen, as it were, the commencement of your city in the first years of the Revolutionary struggle, of which this very day is one of the (1777) anniversaries, that of the battle of Brandywine; and it has been lately to me a matter of proud delight to witness the immense progress of Baltimore, a great and rapid increase of which we may now more than ever anticipate. Its happy effects upon every sort of trade and industry cannot be doubted, and I offer you the cordial congratulation and good wishes of your sincere and obliged friend,friend,

La Fayette.”

The general also transmitted the following to the book-binders of the city, and to the editors of the American:—

Lagrange, Sept. 11, 1828.
To the book-binders of Baltimore.

Gentlemen: With a lively sense of gratitude, I have received your kind letter, and a copy of the apron and badge which on the late celebration, doubly dear to an American heart, were worn by the book-binders of Baltimore. Testimonies of your remembrance and affection are at all times highly gratifying to me, nor could they prove more welcome than on this momentous occasion, when the anniversary day of independence is hailed in common with the commencement of one of its most promising results, amidst the immense progress of every kind that has taken place since it has first been my happy lot to be admitted as a soldier of the United States, and particularly as a citizen of Maryland. I am proud to have been enabled to show specimens of American book-binding which every day excite European admiration. I beg you, gentlemen, to accept the respectful acknowledgments and affectionate good wishes of a veteran who would have been happy, in the procession, to have followed 380his venerable friend, the surviving signer of the glorious declaration; and to have expressed to you, on that great day, the sentiments of his deep gratitude and warm attachment.

La Fayette.

“After other business during the second session of the twentieth Congress the Vice-President communicated a letter from the President of the United States, transmitting one received from Monsieur David, the artist, member of the Institute of France, professor of the School of Painting at Paris, and member of the Legion of Honor, who presents to Congress the bust of General La Fayette, which has been received with it.”

The following is a translated copy of the letter:—

Paris, Sept. 11, 1828.

To the President: I have made a bust of La Fayette, and would willingly raise a statue to his honor—not for himself, because he has no need of it, but for ourselves, who approve in so lively a manner the desire of expressing to him the affectionate regard and admiration with which we are inspired. The youth of the French nation is filled with admiration for the virtues of the youth and the old age of him whose likeness I send you.

“They envy the glory that was acquired upon the American soil, by the side of the immortal Washington, and the defence of your noble rights.

“They envy that glory which has been acquired on the soil of France, in the midst of the troubles of Paris and of Versailles, where, in breasting the storm, he wanted courage as little in the struggles of debate as he did in contending with the sword. They envy the glory which covers the brow whitened by age, but still sparkling with the fire of liberty and of patriotism.

381“It is in the name of this youthful feeling of the French nation, ambitious to imitate everything generous and great, that I offer you a work upon which my hands have been employed for some time and with great care.

“I could wish that it was more worthy of the subject—more worthy of the place which I am desirous to see it occupy. Yes, sir, I could wish that the bust of our brave general, of our illustrious deputy, should be elevated on a pedestal in the audience chamber of Congress, near the monument erected to Washington himself; that the son be placed by the side of the father, or, if you please, that the two brothers in arms, the two companions in victory, the friends of order and of law, may be no more separated in our estimation than they were in their devotion to the cause of liberty and in the hour of peril.

“La Fayette is one of the ties that unite the two worlds. He visited the new one to remain there for a few months, and to salute once more your sacred land of justice and equality, and has returned to us after having partaken of your feasts and received the honor and the benediction of your nation.

“I hasten to render my homage in return—I present you with his image. It will be a memento that the original may often recall to the National Assembly those eternal principles upon which the independence of the state reposes, and which are the foundation of their safety.

“I am, with profound respect, Mr. President, your very humble and obedient servant,


Member of the Institute of France, and professor in the School of Painting; member of the Legion of Honor.

382The following is a description of the bust as given in the National Intelligencer:—

“The bust is of a fine white marble, and is the work of P. J. David, of D’Angers, in France.

“It is of a size larger than the life, and exhibits a fine likeness of that distinguished apostle of liberty. On the front is ‘Au général La Fayette,’ and the name and residence of the artist, with the year (1828) of its execution. On the left side is an inscription, indented in the stone, in the following words: ‘La Fayette’s speech in the House of Representatives, Dec. 10, 1824.—What better pledge can be given of a persevering national love of liberty, when these blessings are evidently the results of a virtuous resistance of oppression, and institutions founded on the rights of man, and the republican opinion of self-government?’

“On the right side is the following:—

“‘La Fayette’s last words in his answer to the President’s farewell speech, Washington, Sept. 7, 1825: God bless you, sir, and all who surround us. God bless the American people, and each of their states, and the federal government. Accept this patriotic farewell of an overflowing heart; and such will be its last throb when it ceases to beat.’”

The New York American of December, 1828, says:—

“A letter from General La Fayette, of December 29, from Lagrange, tells us—and as he belongs to the nation, we may repeat—that Madame Perier (the eldest daughter of Mr. George La Fayette) has just made him a great-grandfather. The same letter says, ‘I expect to be in town in a few days, and enjoy the agreeable American society which has convened there from the several parts of the Union. It will be something like a Washington winter.’”

383The following is the substance of General La Fayette’s address at the Fourth of July dinner in Paris, in 1829:—

“The health of their venerable guest, General La Fayette, having been given, the general in returning thanks, stated the pleasure which he felt in celebrating this anniversary, which enabled him, as it were, again to breathe the American atmosphere. He spoke with high gratification of their associating him with the principles for which he had struggled under the illustrious and well-beloved Washington. The independence of the United States began a new era of political civilization, which will finally extend over the whole world, and which is founded on the natural rights of mankind. He was proud to own that the first declaration of those rights bore the indelible imprint of its American origin. He referred in eloquent terms to the delight with which all generous minds had hailed the recent triumph in Great Britain over religious intolerance, and earnestly advised the Americans in consolidating their constitution not to listen to European suggestions, nor admit any exotic materials. He concluded by giving a toast to ‘National Legitimacy,’ which, while it choked and destroyed the weeds of privilege, nourished the roots of natural and solid right.”

In 1829 General La Fayette came into possession of a large property under the indemnity law, being the fortune of his own and his wife’s family, of which the Revolution had deprived them.

We will quote from one more speech of La Fayette, in the French Chamber of Deputies, on the 9th of July, 1829. The question under discussion was the accordance of an eventual credit of fifty-two millions of francs.

“Gentlemen,” said La Fayette, “though I have voted 384against approving the budget of expenses, in the hope that its refusal would prove a prompt and efficacious means of obtaining those institutions and economies which France has for so long a time expected, yet I feel disposed to vote in favor of the credits demanded, provided the chamber receives those explanations which it stands so much in need of. I do not see in the great quarrel of the east, as regards ourselves, anything beyond our importance as an intermediate power in what is called the balance of Europe; only two classes, the oppressors and the oppressed; in the demarkation of states, nothing but their natural limits; in the well-being of a people, nothing but the advantage of all; and in the policy of France, nothing but a liberal and independent part to act. You know, gentlemen, that great and powerful alliance which would enslave and brutalize the human family. It covers the peninsula with blood, oppresses Italy, and throws other states into disorder. Vienna is its metropolis, and in spite of other pretensions, Don Miguel is its ideal type.

“England has pretended to favor the world with another beacon, whose light is sometimes extinguished, and at other times shines but to decoy; upon this point inquire of Italy, of Spain, and of Portugal. It is for France then, gentlemen, which finds herself more in accord with our ideas of the new civilization, to place herself at the head of that civilization; in that consists her glory and her interest; there, too, in case of need, will be found her ambition; and there, also, the dignity and the safety of her government. But to perform that noble task it is necessary that the government resolve no longer to fear either a representative or an armed nation, and that abandoning its former relations, it may be able to say to foreign powers, ‘Next to God, it is to 385the people of France that I am indebted for being elevated above your influence and beyond your pretensions.’

“I will confine myself, gentlemen, to a few remarks on the grounds to which our attention has been invited by the application made for the credits now under consideration.

“Some of my honorable friends have spoken harshly of the expedition to the Morea; they have even thought that it was in no degree whatever entitled to public approbation; but I have so ardently desired some kind of interference, particularly French interposition, in behalf of Greece, that I cannot join them in their criticisms, and as to our portion of that generosity which was manifested in the relief afforded, without speaking of Russia, whose motives are obvious, it would be sufficient to advert to two discourses from the throne, in one of which the battle of Navarino is called by Charles X. glorious, while from George IV. it received the appellation of untoward, to prevent us from confounding the shades of the two interests in the cause of Greece, and to mark the distinction between the cannonading at Terceira and the hospitality at Brest. The last protocol, however, from London has humbled my pride and diminished my expectations.

“Why, gentlemen, have the Greeks taken up arms? why have they endured so many calamities? why have they so freely shed their blood? It was to free themselves from paying tribute to the Turks; to build up again their ancient country; and to enjoy in their own way the blessings of self-government. But now, gentlemen, the protocol brings into fresh existence the odious tribute; the greatest part of Greece is shut out from Greece, and to govern the small portion which remains 386it is proposed to look, I know not where, or for whom, but for some foreign prince, a hospodar, a mongrel of the East and of the West, in whom the Greeks will only behold a vassal of the Porte, and for whom they must pay an additional tribute.

“All this, gentlemen, may be very agreeable to Russia, which dreams already of new subjects there; and to England, which has always feared that in that country she would find rivals in the coasting trade; but not to France, whose interest it is to have there a friendly and powerful nation, a barrier against the conquering and commercial ambition of other powers. Upon that topic it is that we look for explanations. The government of Italy is enslaved by the influence of Austria. Italy, were she free, would be our friend. Spain, whose methods of justice consist in strangling by turns the patriots and the Carlists, will never, in truth, be our ally until she again becomes constitutional.

“As to Portugal, it is in vain that the English government has lately sought to balance the mock sovereignty of the cortés of Miguel against those institutions which the British ambassador, let it be said, by the by, had imported for it from Brazil.

“Gentlemen, the partisans of national laws cannot accept this concession; there is no legitimacy there where nothing can be found but a despotic violation of all rights, social as well as natural. Besides, we do not know in what manner these pretended cortés have been formed, and how the deputies, who were not of Miguel’s choice, were rejected. Let us hope, gentlemen, that public indignation, and the stupid attacks which have been lately made on the flags of other nations, will soon put an end to this infamous usurpation, and that in the mean time France will ever protest against the horrid expedient 387which would deliver up a young and innocent victim to the brutality of Don Miguel. I will not deny, gentlemen, that there have been troubles in South America and in Mexico, and that perhaps they yet exist there. Their troubles, however, have been exaggerated. I attribute them principally to two causes: to the threats, the impotent threats, of Spain, which lead to the permanence of disproportioned armies and the agitation of their leaders; the other cause is to be found in European intriguers, who persevere in obstinately attempting to introduce their old institutions into these new states. Put a period to the two causes, and the tranquillity of commerce will be immediately restored.

“The minister of commerce observed a few days since that there was nothing in common between diplomatic relations and commercial interests in these countries. I have, however, in my possession a Mexican Gazette, containing a decree by which the productions of states that shall not have recognized the republic in the course of the present year shall be subjected to an additional duty, whilst those which shall send, during the year 1829, diplomatic agents to that country, shall be treated more favorably. It is time, gentlemen, that the government should at length yield to the commercial views of France.

“As regards Algiers, I will leave that question to one of my honorable friends, who is better acquainted with it than myself; but I cannot forbear referring to a more serious attack on the national honor than that of the dey of Algiers throwing his fan. I allude to what has passed lately relative to the expulsion of Galloti. The delivering up of an alien for political causes has been unanimously reprobated in every age and by every country. Eminent jurisconsults have assured me that the laws of our country have been violated by the expulsion of that 388individual. I am willing, however, to admit that there has been, on the part of French agents, error and precipitancy, and consequently, as I doubt not, repentance. There has, however, been deception somewhere, and violence has been offered to the honor of France. Highway robbery and judgments in this case have been referred to; but are you ignorant of what judgments are, or of what they may be under absolute governments?

“Suppose, for example, Don Miguel were to say: ‘Behold the man who has in the palace of the king assassinated, with his own hand, the Marquis of Loulé, the best friend of my father! Give him up to me that I may punish him for the crime.’ Would the accusation be believed?

“In a word, gentlemen, the honor of France has been outraged; justice must be done; Galloti must be demanded; the demand must be enforced; he must be restored to the soil of France, and the national honor must in some way receive signal reparation.

“I will conclude, gentlemen, by observing that the explanations which the discussions may produce shall decide my vote.”

At a sitting of the Chamber of Deputies General La Fayette made the following remarks on the “Holy Alliance”:—

“There was a vast and powerful league which desired to command and brutalize the human species. It has oppressed Italy, devastated the peninsula, and had disturbed other states. Its chief seat is Vienna, and Don Miguel its ideal type. England has pretended to set up another system, but it was only to lure states to their ruin. It was the business of France to place herself at the head of civilization—her glory, her interest, and her ambition to require it; but to fulfil this noble destiny it 389was necessary that the government should determine not to fear either a nation represented or a nation armed, and, renouncing all connections, it should say to foreign powers, ‘After God, it is to the French people that I am indebted for being placed above your influence and beyond your pretensions.’”

During 1829 General La Fayette made a tour through some of the French provinces, and his reception by the people appears to have rivalled the enthusiasm displayed in his honor in the United States. One London paper says:—

“Never was a king so feasted and treated as this venerable remnant of the Revolution has been. In every quarter he has been received with shouts of triumph and congratulatory addresses, which, while they have been complimentary to him, have generally, also, been made the vehicle for strong philippics against the new order of things. From Grenoble to Lyons the road was thronged by continual crowds of people who came to testify their regard for the principles which had guided his political conduct, and the esteem which they entertained towards himself personally.” g The Times observes: “The old general, from his early services in the cause of liberty,—from his immense sacrifices for his country,—from his intrepid consistency of character during a political career of forty years, during which the world turned around him or changed its principles several times, while he remained unchanged, is deservedly an object of great esteem and admiration. But why is he brought forward, or why does he make himself prominent on this occasion, type as he is of the Revolution? And why, when he does appear, is he so enthusiastically received? For no other reason but because the king has made choice of what is considered a 390counter-revolutionary cabinet, and because the people are desirous of evincing their adherence to the free institutions which they think at present threatened, by testifying their grateful admiration for one of the founders and champions of their freedom. Every shout of applause thus uttered for General La Fayette is a shout of defiance against the ministers; and every libation poured to his health is a kind offering to the memory of past struggles for liberty. The repetition of such scenes would have been thought impossible about two months ago.”

The following description of General La Fayette’s reception at Lyons is taken from an extract of a letter dated Paris, Sept. 16, 1829:—

“General La Fayette has paid a visit this summer to his birthplace in Auvergne, and has been received on his passage in a manner worthy of his noble virtues, public as well as private. From his arrival at Chavaniac until his entry at Lyons, in every town and village through which he passed, he has witnessed the spontaneous homage of the patriotism of their inhabitants. The population of villages far distant from the road he travelled precipitated themselves before him on his passage, and the inhabitants of the cities through which he passed presented themselves en masse to welcome him within their walls. In spite of the orders sent by the ministry at Paris to the departmental authorities, to endeavor to suppress as much as was in their power the preparations made to receive the general, his triumphal march since he left La Grange, from the borders of the river Manche, to the foot of the Alps, has no other example in history, excepting his visit to the United States. Escorted from city to city by large cavalcades of horsemen, through arches of triumph prepared for the occasion on the high 391roads, saluted continually with enthusiasm by assembled multitudes, the thoughts of the veteran defender of liberty were often diverted to his brilliant reception in a distant hemisphere, whose liberties are as dear to him as those of his native country.”

The Précurseur and Journal of Commerce of Lyons says:—

“The general arrived from Vienne on Friday, the 4th of September, escorted by one hundred and fifty horsemen. His arrival had been impatiently expected by the inhabitants of Lyons, and on reaching St. Synphoria, the deputation named to receive him were found waiting with a large cavalcade of horsemen and carriages, and a numerous assemblage of people who accompanied him to Lyons. At St. Synphoria the general descended from his carriage and was addressed by M. Prunelle, president of the deputation, who welcomed him on the part of the inhabitants of Lyons to this city; to which the general replied, in retracing the kindness with which he had been received at his last visit to that city before the Revolution in 1789, and expressing his gratitude for the flattering manner in which he was again received. He then ascended into an open barouche drawn by four horses, and conducted by two postilions, which were placed at his disposition by the deputation, and the procession proceeded to Lyons in the following order:—

“1st. A detachment of 400 horsemen, composed of young men from Vienne and Lyons.

“2d. The carriage with the deputation from the latter city.

“3d. The barouche containing the general, Mr. George La Fayette, and the president, M. Prunelle, surrounded by a cohort of citizens on foot.

“4th. The private carriages of the general, containing 392the Misses La Fayette, Mr. Adolphe Perrier, Mr. Bradford, United States consul, and the Count de Lasteyrie.

“5th. The carriages of the committee of arrangements.

“A line of private carriages then followed, and so great were they in number, that on the arrival of the head of the procession at the bridge Charles X. at Lyons, the last of the carriages had but just reached the extremity of the long Faubourg de la Gullotière, nearly two miles distant. The spectacle which presented itself on the entry of the general into the city was of the most magnificent description. An immense population, estimated at 70,000 persons, lined the bridge and streets through which the cortège moved, and the reiterated cries of ‘Vive La Fayette,’ and continued manifestation of public joy, which filled the air during his passage to the Hôtel du Nord, where a suite of apartments had been prepared for him, were gratifying proofs on the part of the enthusiastic population of Lyons, of the love and admiration for the noble character and patriotism of their illustrious guest. In the evening after his arrival an orchestra of one hundred and twenty musicians serenaded under his windows, and the hotel was surrounded until a late hour by crowds of the curious, anxious to behold the countenance of the prisoner of Olmütz and the ardent defender of the liberties of France.

“On the following day a splendid excursion on the river Saone, composed of about thirty boats of various descriptions, elegantly decorated, and some of them bearing the banners of France and of the United States, was prepared for the general, who embarked with his suite at twelve o’clock, greeted by the cheers of the immense assemblage of people who lined the borders of the river. On the arrival of the procession at the Isle Barbe, a salute was fired from the château of the island, whence, 393after a short stay, the general returned to Lyons in time to attend the dinner offered him and Mr. George La Fayette by the different lodges of freemasons of that city.

“On Monday the 7th inst. the grand banquet given in honor of the general took place at the magnificent salon Gayet, situated on the borders of the Rhone. The rooms were elegantly dressed with festoons, and at one end were seen the portraits of Washington and Franklin, and the bust of the distinguished guest crowned with a wreath of laurels. On his arrival at four o’clock, he was received with unanimous and reiterated cries of ‘Vive La Fayette!’ Five hundred of the inhabitants of Lyons, the élite of that city, sat down to a sumptuous dinner prepared for the occasion, at which presided M. Prunelle, assisted by thirty members of the committee of arrangements.

“At the dessert the following toasts were given:—

“1. By the president—The King of France.

“2. ‘General La Fayette—other warriors have been victorious in battle, and other orators have pronounced eloquent discourses; but none have equalled him in civic virtues.’

“General La Fayette then rose and said:—

“‘You have been witnesses, gentlemen, of the marks of affection and confidence with which the population of Lyons has deigned to receive me within their walls; you yourselves have participated in that kind reception in a manner so flattering, and I am surrounded at this patriotic banquet by objects of such interesting associations, that it would be superfluous, and above all impossible, to express to you my feelings at this moment; the remainder of my life, gentlemen, will be consecrated to them. I am proud and happy that my visit here has furnished another 394occasion to your city to express its constant hatred of oppression, its love for true liberty, and its determination to resist every attempt of the incorrigible contre-revolution.’ The general then spoke of the privileges granted to the people by the constitution; their rights of being tried by jury, and of elections, and of the censorship of the press; and after having paid a just tribute to the noble and patriotic attitude that the National Guard of Lyons took at the important epoch of 1815, he took occasion to examine the position of the Polignac ministry, and the violent measures which it threatens against the liberties of France. ‘We are menaced,’ said he, ‘by hostile projects; but how will they be effected? Will they succeed by means of the Chamber of Deputies? My honorable friend and colleague, M. Couderc, now at my side, and every one of my colleagues who are now seated at this banquet, will attest that in the moment of danger the Chamber of Deputies will show itself faithful to patriotism and honor. Is it proposed to dissolve the Chamber? If so, it will then be the business of the electors of France, who certainly will return only deputies worthy of themselves and of the nation.

“‘Is it contemplated to vitiate the elections by more ordinances, and thus exercise illegal power? Let the partisans of such measures remember that the force of every government exists only in the arms and in the purses of the individuals composing the nation. The French nation knows its rights, and knows, likewise, how to defend them. Let us hope, however, gentlemen, that the plots against the liberties of the people are merely visionary, and, in the mean time, accept from me the following toast:—

“‘The department of the Rhone, and the city of Lyons—the ancient metropolis of industry, and the courageous 395enemy of oppression. May its liberty, its dignity, and its prosperity be solidly founded on the full enjoyment of those social and natural rights which it has ever defended.’”

One hundred thousand copies of a pamphlet, containing an account of La Fayette’s late triumphal journey were published.

But this triumphal journey occasioned much chagrin among the enemies of French liberty, and the government, already growing more and more hostile to friends of liberty, took petty spite upon some of their officials, as the following will show.

The Paris Constitutional announced that “the minister of the interior has deposed the mayor and deputy-mayor of Vizille from their functions: the former, for having congratulated General La Fayette, upon his arrival in that town; and the latter, for having appeared on horseback when he entered.”

Another French paper says:—

“We stated yesterday the deposition of a mayor for having joined in the honors to La Fayette. We now add the proceedings to which this intended disgrace gave rise. ‘The intelligence of this event,’ says the Précurseur of Lyons, ‘inspired the inhabitants of the commune with the greatest indignation, not being able to conceive why peaceful citizens may not, without crime, honor one of the worthiest public men of the nation. The whole population assembled spontaneously in the public square; there each one expressed his regrets, and recalled with delight the useful and honorable acts of the displaced magistrates. Thence they proceeded to the office of the mayor, where these functionaries still were, and there Mr. Romain Peyron thus spoke, in the name of his fellow-citizens:—

396“‘Mr. Mayor and Mr. Deputy: The inhabitants of this commune have learned with the greatest pain that, by a decree of the minister of the interior, you were deprived of the functions you have discharged with so much zeal, and in which you have so justly acquired the confidence and esteem of those whom you had to serve. The motives which have afforded the new ministry a pretext for this act are too honorable to be made a cause for complaint! You are, gentlemen, the first citizens stripped of their official functions for having taken part in the honors paid to General La Fayette! Let us not envy the enemies of the public liberties this poor satisfaction while all France is still echoing with the acclamations which everywhere burst forth upon the passage of this great citizen, and especially in the second city of the kingdom!

“‘The general who was the object of this enthusiasm will live in history, in spite of the calumnies of party men! The people will always recollect that he was, at that time, the zealous defender of legal liberty, which, among us, includes attachment to constitutional monarchy; that, on the 5th and 6th of October, he twice saved the lives of the royal family; that, previously to the 10th of August, he sacrificed his popularity in order to snatch Louis XVI. from the dangers that threatened him; and that, proscribed for his energetic protest at the bar of the Legislative Assembly, and arrested in a neutral country, he expiated, in the dungeons of Austria, the crime of having always faithfully observed the line of duty!

“‘You, gentlemen, you too, fulfilled a duty, in not separating yourselves from all these under your care, in those imposing circumstances when the presence of our magistrates, as the organs of our unanimous sentiments, 397added a new value to their manifestation, and ensured tranquillity and good order in the midst of our rejoicings.

“‘Receive, therefore, the expression of our thanks and of our regret.’”

These testimonies of the esteem of their fellow-citizens abundantly compensated for the vengeance of the ministers.

The prefect of the department, having designated M. Buscaillon as provisional mayor, that respectable old man answered, “that M. Finant having been removed by the minister of the interior for having taken part in the honors paid to General La Fayette, he was bound to declare that he himself had done the same thing, together with all the other inhabitants of the commune, and that he could not, therefore, trouble the minister to do justice upon another in similar error.”

M. Buscaillon will long be remembered for his noble refusal of a place dishonored by so gross intolerance.



The Revolution of 1830—Proclamation to the French People—From the Journal du Commerce, Paris—Proclamation of Louis Philippe—La Fayette’s Official Announcement to the Municipality of Paris—Order of the Day issued by General La Fayette—Details of the Revolution—Charles X. driven from the Throne—The Deputies, escorted by the National Guards, offer the Throne to the Duke of Orleans—The Duke’s Reply—He is made Citizen King—Changes in the Charter—La Fayette’s Speech in the Chamber—Letters by La Fayette concerning this Political Upheaval—His Opinions regarding French Affairs—Review in the Champ de Mars—Order of the Day to the National Guards—La Fayette’s Account of the Revolution—La Fayette’s Personal Influence in France—Compliments of the London Press regarding him—La Fayette speaks on Capital Punishment in the Chamber—Letter from Paris regarding La Fayette’s Popularity—Encomiums in his Honor—Letter from Count de Lasteyrie—Incident of the Revolution—Resignation of La Fayette—Comments of the National Gazette—La Fayette’s Speech on the Slave Trade—His Remarks concerning the National Guard—La Fayette sums up the Results obtained by the Revolution of 1830—The Victory Popular—The Dynasty of Right Divine expelled—National Sovereignty declared—National Guard established—Liberty of the Press secured—Trial by Jury applied—New Electoral Law—Elective Administrations—La Fayette receives a Deputation from Philadelphia—Address of the American Minister—La Fayette’s Courteous and Patriotic Reply.

“Hereditary bondsmen! Know ye not,
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow?”

DURING the Revolution of 1830, in France, the following proclamations were issued to the French people:—

Addressed to the French by the deputies of departments assembled
at Paris.

Frenchmen! France is free. Absolute power raised its standard; the heroic population of Paris has overthrown it. Paris, attacked, has made the sacred cause triumph by arms,—which had triumphed in vain in the elections. A power which usurped our rights and disturbed our repose, threatened at once liberty and order. We return to the possession of order and liberty. There is no more fear for acquired rights; no more barrier between us and the rights which we still need. A government which may without delay secure to us these advantages is now the first want of our country. Frenchmen, those of your deputies who are already at Paris, have assembled, and till the Chambers can regularly intervene, they have invited a Frenchman who has never fought but for France—the Duke of Orleans—to exercise the function of lieutenant-general of the kingdom. This is, in their opinion, the surest means promptly to accomplish by peace the success of the most legitimate defence.

“The Duke of Orleans is devoted to the national and constitutional cause. He has always defended its interests and professed its principles. He will respect our rights, for he will derive his own from us. We shall secure to ourselves by laws all the guarantees necessary to liberty strong and durable.”


From the Journal du Commerce, Paris, July 31, noon:—

Inhabitants of Paris: The deputies of France, at this moment assembled at Paris, have expressed to me the desire that I should repair to this capital to exercise the functions of lieutenant-general of the kingdom.

“I have not hesitated to come and share your dangers, to place myself in the midst of your heroic population, and exert all my efforts to preserve you from the calamities of civil war and anarchy.

On returning to the city of Paris, I wore with pride those glorious colors which you have resumed, and which I, myself, long wore.

400“The Chambers are going to assemble; they will consider the means of securing the reign of the laws, and the maintenance of the nation.

“The Constitution will henceforth be a reality.

Louis Philippe D’Orleans.
Municipal Commission of Paris, July 31.

Inhabitants of Paris! Charles X. has ceased to reign over France. Not being able to forget the origin of his authority, he has always considered himself the enemy of our country, and of its liberties, which he could not understand. After having clandestinely attacked our institutions by all the means which fraud and hypocrisy gave him, he resolved, when he thought himself strong enough, to destroy them openly; to drown them in the blood of the French. Some five days have sufficed to annihilate his corrupted government, which has been only a permanent conspiracy against the liberty and prosperity of France. The nation alone is standing adorned with those national colors which it has conquered with its blood. It will have a government and laws worthy of itself.”

Staff of the National Guard.
Sent to the Municipality of Paris.

“General La Fayette announces to the mayors and members of the different arrondissements, that he has accepted the command-in-chief of the National Guard, which has been offered to him by the voice of the public, and which has been unanimously conferred upon him by the deputies now assembled at the house of M. Lafitte. He invites the mayor and municipal committees of each arrondissement to send an officer to receive the orders of the general at the Hôtel de Ville, to which he is now proceeding, and to wait for him there.

“By order of General La Fayette, member of the constitutional municipal committee of Paris.

  Lafitte, Lobau,
  Cassimir Perrier, Odier.”
  Gen. Gerard,  

Fellow-Citizens: You have, by an unanimous acclamation, elected me your general. I shall prove myself worthy of the choice of the Parisian National Guard. We fight for our laws and our liberties.

“Fellow-Citizens, our triumph is certain. I beseech you to obey the orders of the chiefs that will be given you, and that cordially. The troops of the line have already given way. The guards are ready to do the same. The traitors who have excited the civil war, and who thought to massacre the people with impunity, will soon be forced to account before the tribunals, for their violation of the laws and their sanguinary plots.

“Signed at general quarters,
“Le général du Bourg,
La Fayette.”

The following order of the day was issued by General La Fayette, on accepting the command of the National Guard:—

Aug. 2.

“During the glorious crisis in which the Parisian energy has re-conquered our rights, everything still remains provisional; there is nothing definitive but the sovereignty of those national rights, and the eternal remembrance of the glorious work of the people; but amidst the various powers instituted through the necessity of our situation, the reorganization of the National Guard is a most necessary defence for the public order, and one which is highly called for. The opinion of the prince exercising the high station of lieutenant-general of the kingdom, is that I should, for the present, take that command. In 1790 I refused to accept such an offer, made to me by 3,000,000 of my comrades, as that office would have been a permanent one, and might one day have become a very dangerous one. Now that circumstances are altered, I think it my duty, in order to serve liberty and my country, to accept the station of general commandant of the National Guard of France.

La Fayette.

402The Niles Register, published at Baltimore, thus writes at this time concerning the Revolution of 1830:—

“The details are long and exceedingly interesting. Charles has abdicated the throne of France, as well as his son, in favor of the Duke of Bordeaux, his grandson; but the French have now so little regard for the ‘divine rights’ of the Bourbons, as to refuse having a baby for their king; and it is highly probable that the Duke of Orleans will be invested with the sovereignty, according to the charter, with, perhaps, some small modifications. Our old friend, La Fayette, has so far fulfilled his best hopes, in preserving much respect for order amidst the bustling events that have lately happened in Paris, and his coadjutors seem entitled to the highest praise for the firmness and discretion with which they have acted; but the people have earned even more glory by their moderation, if it be possible, than by their valor. The result is wonderful indeed. A complete revolution effected in less than ten days, and extending all over France, and the people settled down into their usual avocations in peace! the tri-colored flag floats everywhere in the breeze; the Marseillaise Hymn is sung in the theatres; liberty is regained, and licentiousness has not followed in its train!

“In August the deputies proceeded in a body and on foot, escorted by the National Guard, to the Palais Royal, to offer the throne, which they had declared vacant, to the Duke of Orleans. To the declaration of the Chamber, read by M. Lafitte, in the presence of the Duke of Orleans, he thus replied:—

“‘I receive, with profound emotion, the declaration you present to me. I look upon it as the expression of the national will, and it appears to me in harmony with the principles I have professed all my life. Filled with 403recollections which always have induced me to wish that it might never be my destiny to ascend a throne, exempt from ambition, and accustomed to the peaceful life which I have led in the midst of my family, I cannot conceal from you all the emotions which agitate my heart on this most important occasion; but there is one that overmasters them all, and that is love of my country. I feel what it requires of me, and I will do it.’

“After this reply, delivered with much emotion, General La Fayette taking the arm of the Duke of Orleans, said in a loud voice:—

“‘This is such a prince as I desired.’

“The peers speedily followed the deputies, and waited upon the ‘citizen king,’ as they called him.

“The deputies having declared the throne vacant by the flight of the king and his family, proceeded to make certain alterations in the constitution, which, having passed through all necessary forms, and been accepted also by the Duke of Orleans, he took the oaths as king of France, on the 9th of August, and was proclaimed accordingly.”

Charles X., at different periods of his reign, having, for the purpose of obtaining a majority in the House of Peers, created many new peers, the following proposition was submitted to the Chamber of Deputies by M. Berard:—

“All nominations and creations of peers made under the reign of Charles X. are declared void and of none effect. The 27th article of the charter (giving the king power to create peers) shall be subjected to a new discussion in the sittings of 1831.”

These propositions being before the house, General La Fayette having ascended the tribune, amidst the most profound silence, thus spoke:—

404“In mounting this tribune for the purpose of expressing an opinion opposed to that of many friends of liberty, I am not yielding to a momentary impulsion, nor am I courting popularity, which I never preferred to my duty. (Cheers.) The republican principles which I have professed throughout my life, and under all governments, do not prevent me from being the defender of a constitutional throne raised by the people. The same sentiments animate me under the present circumstances, when it is judged desirable to raise to a constitutional throne, the prince lieutenant-general, and I am bound to avow that this choice the more perfectly fulfils my wishes the more I become acquainted with him. (Cheers.) I do not partake in the opinion entertained by many of my fellow-citizens as to an hereditary peerage. (Hear! hear!) A disciple of the American school, I have always conceived it to be necessary that the legislative body should be divided into two chambers, differently constituted; but I have never been able to comprehend how people could be hereditary legislators and judges. I have always thought that the introduction of aristocracy into public institutions was mixing them with a bad ingredient. It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I find you occupied with a project that meets the sentiments I have professed throughout my life, and which I only now repeat. My conscience forced me to make this repetition, and declare that I hope shortly to see the hereditary peerage suppressed. My fellow-citizens will do me the justice to acknowledge that if I have always been the upholder of liberty, I have at the same time been the supporter of public order.”

General La Fayette was everywhere received as a kind father. He had many able coadjutors in the great work performed, especially Lafitte and Gerard.

405The total number killed in Paris during the three days’ fighting in this revolution of 1830 was about eight thousand. La Fayette and his son devoted themselves with great kindness to the wounded, encouraging the surgeons and personally bestowing attentions and favors upon the sufferers.

The following letters written by La Fayette to various friends at this time will give a clear and concise idea of his opinions regarding this political upheaval in France.

The first two were addressed by La Fayette to General Bernard of Washington; the last, to a gentlemen in New York.

Paris, Sept. 8, 1830.

My dear General: Abundance of news must have reached you through the periodical papers. Nevertheless, I think it will be pleasing to you to receive some written details. You will have received some publications relating to our memorable week. You will also have read an account of the review by the king in the Champ de Mars, for the distribution of our tri-colored flags to the National Guard. The ceremony was as splendid as that of the federation of 1790. We had five hundred thousand spectators, and every one was struck with the celerity with which in less than three weeks we have organized nearly fifty thousand men of National Guard—armed, equipped, and filing off like veteran troops. The king handed successively to the general commander-in-chief the forty-eight tri-colored flags, each surmounted with a cock in lieu of the old imperial eagle, with this motto, ‘Liberty—Public Order—Days of 27th, 28th, 29th, July, 1830.’ The commander-in-chief took himself the new oath, and had it administered to the National Guard. The colors were entrusted to flag-bearers selected from among the mechanics who had distinguished themselves 406in fighting in the barricades. The National Guard are organizing throughout France. We have already fourteen thousand men for the two arrondissements only of St. Denis and Seaux.

“I send to you the order of the day which I addressed to the National Guard of the kingdom. Next week a law will be proposed for the final organization of the French National Guard. All the citizens will compose the stationary guard; the young men the movable National Guard. From seven to eight hundred thousand fighting men will thus form good corps of reserve.

“You know that some disturbances have taken place in Belgium; they will end, I think, by the separation of that country from Holland, under the same sovereign. We have not interfered except to signify that we shall not suffer that any foreign army should exercise any right of interference, leaving the nations to manage their own affairs according to their will, but not willing that other governments shall interfere to oppress our neighbors.

“I send you the exact account of what has taken place in the Chamber relative to South America and Mexico. You will see that I took care to mark the order of the recognitions already made, and to give to our dear United States the share which belongs to them.

“Our republican throne has been recognized immediately by the English government, and will soon, I hope, be recognized by the other powers. You will readily suppose that I did not say that this was the best of republics. I do not think so; and the constitution of the United States appears to me far preferable. But I believe we have done for the best in the present circumstances; and have prepared under a popular throne all republican institutions. 407There are not in France patriots more sincere and enlightened than the king and his son. I knew them but little before, but they have inspired me with the greatest friendship and confidence; and this sentiment is reciprocal.

“This, my dear general, is the point at which we have arrived. I do not mention to you some slight disturbances or errors among the mechanics. There is not in all this any ill intention, and reasoning alone has been sufficient to persuade them. After all, most of these slight disorders of which our adversaries have made so much have been instigated by disguised enemies; and there have been no real troubles but at Nismes; and the zeal of the neighboring National Guard and that of the line, under the tri-colored flag, soon repressed them.

“Receive the new assurances of my old and constant friendship.

La Fayette.
Order of the Day.
To the National Guards of the Kingdom of France,
Sept. 1, 1830.

“The general commanding-in-chief the National Guard of the kingdom, called by the confidence of the people to the head of the public forces in the glorious days of our late revolution, has thought it his duty, notwithstanding his refusal in 1790, to accept under the new state of things the important command conferred on him by the confidence of a patriot monarch, himself placed by the wishes of his fellow-citizens on the constitutional throne of the king of the French. But in consideration of the importance and multiplicity of his duties, the general commander-in-chief must necessarily rely (of which he has, indeed, the happy certainty) on the patriotism, upon 408the zeal, and, he may be permitted to add, the personal affection of his brothers in arms throughout the vast extent of our brave and free country of France.

“After forty years of memorable vicissitudes the old tri-colored flag of ’89, the flag of the national sovereignty, of liberty, and of public order, has just been gloriously, generously, and forever re-established; around this standard has rallied, with a spontaneous movement, and will soon be legally organized, all France in arms.

“The French people, profiting by the lessons of experience, by the progress of light and civic intelligence, and appreciating the glory and benefits of our political storms, casting off all that deprived their first impulses of their purity, feel much the more necessity for general and personal security, now that the happy division of property and the advancement of industry render it more and more necessary. Filled with respect and good will for the rights of other nations, and their bosoms glowing with ardor for all the rights, without distinction, of individual, civil and religious liberty, they cannot but maintain with firmness, and if it be necessary defend with energy, their own rights of independence, liberty, of legal order, the laws to which they have consented, and the popular throne which they have founded.

“It is the National Guard to whom these great duties are particularly confided; and as no foreign influence can prevail against the French nation, proud as she is of her retrospections, of her strength, and of the great and virtuous example she has just presented to the world, holding in her hands the sacred arms of liberty; so neither can any domestic intrigue, any of those temptations to disorder which the odious tactics of our adversaries formerly rendered so oppressive, now triumph over the spirit of wisdom, moderation, and at the same 409time of energy and persevering patriotism, which now characterize France as it is, and which was so admirably evinced by her brave men during the three great days.

“The general commander-in-chief, ready at all times to assist his fellow-soldiers with all the efforts of his devotion and of his personal independence, communicates to them this day some provisionary instructions through the medium of the inspector-general, whose long experience has greatly aided his labors.

“There will be no delay by the government in the presentation of a law for the final organization of the National Guard. It will have for its basis the law of ’91, and especially the vital principle of election by the citizens; but this is only an additional motive for forwarding at present with all our zeal the spontaneous movement which does honor and gives strength to France, and which presents her such as she ought to be to her friends, and, in case of need, to her enemies.

La Fayette.
Paris, Aug. 17, 1830.

“How much I should wish to be with you, my dear general, to rejoice together in the result of this last glorious and virtuous revolution. The people alone have achieved the whole; they have shown themselves as great in the victory as daring and intrepid in the struggle. Bodies of courageous mechanics were led by young students, and chiefly by pupils of the Polytechnique School, who were far more admirable than I can express.

“Our losses, during these three bloody days, have been great; those of our adversaries have been considerable. No sooner was a regiment engaged in the streets to carry off the barricades than new ones were thrown up in the 410rear. The attacks on the Louvre, Tuileries, and Hôtel de Ville were made with incredible valor. Levasseur was severely wounded, but we shall save him. I was, on the morning of the third day, established in the Hôtel de Ville, which had been taken and retaken; and the tricolored flag was waving over our heads. The king having halted at Rambouillet with ten or twelve thousand men, I ordered from fifteen to twenty thousand Parisians to march against him; the enemy retreated. Afterwards the Count d’Artois and family reached the port of embarkation, under the escort of our commissaries, without receiving the least insult during their journey through the French territory.

“The National Guard is organizing throughout France. The king we have elected is patriotic and popular. I would not say, as has been reported, that this is the best of republics, but I do say that it is a very republican monarchy, susceptible of improvement.

“Adieu, my dear general. I love you, and embrace you, with all my heart.

La Fayette.

The following letter was written by La Fayette to a friend in New York:—

“We might have declared a pure republic; but not without a great division of opinion, nor without danger both internal and external. And therefore the republicans generously preferred uniting themselves to the moderate monarchists (perhaps the majority of the nation), on condition that it should be a republican monarchy. The Duke of Orleans was chosen by the Chamber of Deputies in the name of the people, who seem well satisfied; and having recognized the principle that he derives his 411title from the will of the people, Louis Philippe reascends a popular throne.

“I did not say, as some newspapers related it, ‘that this was the best of republics.’ I declared, on the contrary, my doctrines, which are of the American school; but I perceive that, under all the circumstances, this is the best thing to be done; and from what I have since seen of the new king and his family, I am confirmed in the opinion that we have done right.

“We have now entered a progressive career of legislation, which will lead to a very liberal state of things.

“Thus the cause of the people—the liberty of Europe—has made in three days an immense stride, and this new revolution has sustained a character for disinterestedness, grandeur of soul, and generosity, which places what are called the lowest orders of the people in the first rank of French society. France is now her own sovereign, and every day confirms her title.

La Fayette.

The following are extracts of a letter of the Parisian correspondent of the London Morning Chronicle. Its date is the 8th of August.

“I think we shall have peace! But believe me, that question depends on the voice of one man—and that man is General La Fayette. If, on Friday night, when twelve thousand of the bravest and most intelligent of the youths of Paris marched down to the Chamber of Deputies to demand that there should be no hereditary peerage, and, in fact, no Chamber of Peers; if, I say, at that moment General La Fayette had said to those brave young men, ‘Yes, my friends, we will have a republic,’ before twenty-four hours France would have been declared a republic by the people. I do not say by the peers—by the deputies—by 412the bankers—by the rich merchants, or men of property; but I do say, by the people. And even yesterday if, in the Chamber of Deputies, when La Fayette rose to address the house, when there was the silence of death, and when each one dared not to breathe till they heard some words from the republican hero—if then La Fayette had said, ‘Gentlemen, I protest against your proceedings. France shall have a charter—but shall not have a king,’ France would have had no king, and France would have maintained her position though millions should have been slain. It is to General La Fayette that the Duke of Orleans owes the crown, which to-morrow will be placed upon his head. The Royalists and Ultra-royalists were prepared, to a man, to support the Republican party.”

Another correspondent of the London papers pays La Fayette the following compliment:—

“Amidst various admirable plans and measures, I must direct your attention above all to a proposition of abolishing the punishment of death. La Fayette gave a distinguishing proof of the real nature of his spirit by seconding, in a time of revolution, the abolishment of this penalty. He is no dealer in men’s lives—no hunter after blood. He saved Louis XVI. from the fury of a mob, Charles X. from destruction, the state from anarchy; and now he would even protect from ignominious death the authors of those fatal ordinances which have produced the shedding of so much blood, and left so many to mourn over the loss of husband, father, and friend. France is erecting to La Fayette a splendid monument: but posterity will do more; our grandchildren will call him the saviour of the liberties of France.”

In the Chamber of Deputies, on the 21st of August, a 413proposition being submitted to abolish the punishment of death (on which no decision had been made), General La Fayette rose and said:—

“I conceive, differing with my honorable colleague, that the abolition of the penalty of death is a principle, or rather a sentiment, that ought to be at once examined. It is no new idea that is now laid before you—the abolition of this penalty has been called for at every period; it was demanded by some highly respectable members of the Constituent Assembly, by Adrian Duport; it was demanded by the father of our honorable friend, the author of the commentary on Montesquieu. How deeply have we all to regret that it had not been abolished ages back! It is in the present day loudly called for in the United States of America. From this, gentlemen, you will perceive that many have formed a decided opinion upon the subject. For my own part, I shall demand the abolition of the penalty of death until I am convinced that human judgment is infallible. What frightful use of this penalty was made during our former revolution. The reflection fills my soul with horror! No man, I believe, ever made use of it during those disastrous times, without afterwards wishing it were possible he could redeem with his own blood the condemnations in which he had joined. But our present revolution has a character of generosity as well as of patriotism, and it would adorn its commencement were we to consummate this act of humanity. I, therefore, vote for its being taken into consideration.”

Extract of a letter from Paris, dated Aug. 10, to the editor of the Boston Sentinel:—

“General La Fayette can now be ranked with Washington without exaggeration. His late conduct has capped the climax of his glory. Few people at present 414realize the degree to which he is entitled to our admiration. When, on the first day of the contest, I was told that he had come to Paris from La Grange to accept the dangerous post of leader of the armed people, I could hardly credit the news. Who could then have divined the issue? And had it not proved successful, think of the terrible consequence to the old veteran. To escape to America with his life was the utmost he could have hoped in such an event. But he not only accepted the command, but did not fear to appear on horseback in military dress, in various parts of Paris, in prosecution of his arduous undertaking.

“But his fearless devotion to the cause of liberty constitutes the smallest part of his claim to our admiration. It is his magnanimity, his wonderful disinterestedness, and the purity of his patriotism that rank him with Washington. It must be recollected that he is an avowed republican, that he has always desired a republic for France. And yet the new king, Louis Philippe, is indebted to him personally for his crown. Yes, I am confident of this extraordinary fact. It is not generally known that a republic would certainly have been established, of which La Fayette might have been at the head, had it not been for his noble and disinterested preference of his country to himself. But he reflected that a republic, at this crisis, would be at the risk of foreign or civil war, or both. He was not afraid of either. He knew that he and the people could maintain a republic against both foreign and domestic foes.

“But he knew, also, that the Duke of Orleans would make a ‘republican king,’ and at the same time not endanger the public tranquillity. The magnanimous La Fayette then did not hesitate to give the duke his support, without which he never could have reigned. This I 415gather, not from newspapers, but from the state of the public mind expressed in innumerable ways, and particularly when the people came so near stopping the deliberations of the Chamber of Deputies the other day, and when nobody could calm them but La Fayette. People now cry about the streets medals of La Fayette, père des Français.”

From the London Morning Chronicle.

“In answer to a communication as to the light in which the French people would view the subscriptions for the sufferers at Paris, the following letter has been received:—

“‘National Guard of Paris.
“‘Hôtel de Ville, Aug. 10, 1830.

“‘Dear Sir: We have had a conference with General La Fayette on the subject of your letter, and beg you will communicate its results to the free men of England.

“‘We think that the cause of liberty would be essentially served if a deputation were named at a general meeting in London to present to General La Fayette, as commander of the National Guard, the subscriptions for the wounded of the sufferers, and at the same time to be the bearer of an address to the inhabitants of Paris, on the late events. We think it would be a noble occasion for each to give evidence to the other of their love of freedom and peace, and of their mutual esteem and friendship. It would be a step—a great step—towards the union of two cultivated nations; it would be a glorious example to the rest; it would be to supersede the holy alliance of kings by the holier alliance of the people.

“‘After the arrival of this deputation in Paris, a deputation would be named here to be the bearers of an address to the inhabitants of London, thanking them for 416their friendly exertions, and expressive of our hope for the establishment of the extension of liberty and good government.

“‘These, my dear Bowring, are the suggestions which we respectfully submit to the consideration of our kind friends. These we desire to be known in England, and to the world. This is a happy moment. Let us profit by it for the universal cause of man.

“‘An order of the day is at this moment being published, announcing to the people of Paris what the people of London are doing in their favor. All hearts are united in this good work. The Americans, too, are coming forward.

“‘Now then, zealously for the good cause! and let us place the charters of liberty beyond the race of tyrants.

“‘Yours wholly,
“‘Count de Lasteyrie.’”

A Paris paper says:—

“A great many women took an active part in the combats in Paris, and several distinguished themselves by feats of extraordinary courage. A young and pretty girl, nineteen years of age, who, during the three days, appeared in front of the combatants armed with a musket, acquired such an ascendency over the citizens that they regarded her almost as their captain. Intrepid on the field of battle, she lavished her kind attentions on the wounded when the firing had ceased. So much heroism, devotion, and humanity excited the enthusiasm of all who witnessed it. On Saturday night this young girl was borne in triumph through the streets of Paris. A great crowd accompanied her, shouting cries of joy. In one hand she held a sword, and in the other the tricolored flag. Lighted torches shed a brilliancy on this gay cortège.”

417The Niles Register, February, 1831, thus describes the resignation of La Fayette:—

“The sitting of the Chamber of Deputies on the 27th of December, 1830, was numerously attended in consequence of the extraordinary degree of interest excited by recent occurrences. The Chamber was proceeding to the discussion of the law relative to the National Guard when La Fayette entered, and was received with universal applause, upwards of one hundred members going up to him and shaking his hand. The general then went toto the president, and after a short conversation with him, addressed the Chamber as follows:—

“‘In a neighboring nation it is the custom when a citizen retires from a distinguished office, for him to come before his fellow-citizens and explain the cause, and I am sure the Chamber will grant me the same favor. I have always considered that the post of commander-in-chief of the National Guard of France was incompatible with a constitutional monarchy, except under circumstances of the most absolute necessity. It was this conviction that led me in 1790, when 3,000,000 of National Guards wished to elect me their commander at the federation by 14,000 deputies, to apply to the Constituent Assembly, and urge them to issue a decree in opposition to this desire.

“‘Such still was my opinion when the lieutenant-general of the kingdom, who has since become our king, wished me to accept the same appointment, and I felt myself bound to accept it, but always retaining the intention of laying it down as soon as I was satisfied that it was no longer necessary for me to continue to hold it; earlier if peace remained unbroken, but at a later period had war ensued. The declared opinion of the Chamber has hastened the period, and out of respect for it I have 418not waited till the law was submitted to the other branches of the state.

“‘It is merely a matter of date; but I should be deeply hurt if any one imagined—and no one who has been acquainted with me during the last fifty-four years of my life can believe—that my conduct has been dictated by any personal feeling. I will go further, and say that this opinion of the Chamber has afforded me an opportunity. The high authority with which I was invested has given umbrage which you, gentlemen, must have heard of; and this umbrage has even been felt in certain diplomatic circles. The cause is now at an end, and I have no other honor than that of being one of your colleagues.

“‘One word more, gentlemen: I should not have given in my resignation, which the king has accepted with all that goodness he has ever shown toward me, before the crisis we have now happily gotten over was at an end. At this time my conscientious love of public order is satisfied, but I cannot say the same of my conscientious love of liberty. We must all recollect the programme announced at the Hôtel de Ville,—a popular throne supported by republican institutions. It was accepted, but we have not all put the same construction upon it: it has not always been interpreted by the councils of the king in the same sense in which it was understood by me, who am more impatient than others that it should be realized; and whatever may have been my personal independence in all situations I feel myself at the present moment more at my ease in discussing my opinions with you.

“‘For the rest, there are points upon which we shall always be in accord: we shall ever be united against our enemies, whether at home or from abroad. I still think 419that in the measures taken in the revolution of July we not only did that which we verily believed was for the best, but that we did all that was possible to be done. I am the more convinced of this since I have become intimately acquainted with the personage we have placed on the throne. On throwing off my uniform I have not changed my motto, “Liberty, Public Order.”

“‘Besides, how many legal means we have of expressing our thoughts and making our wishes known; for there is the tribune of this Chamber, and for every citizen there is the press which has rendered the country so many services; and then there is the peaceable mode of petitions. Having thus yielded to my desire of laying all my sentiments before you, I trust I shall still and ever retain your esteem and friendship.’”

“With what feelings,” says the National Gazette, “must the government of Austria view the present situation of La Fayette, whom it so long held as a malefactor in a dungeon! It is stated of Franklin that when he signed at Paris the treaty of alliance between the United Colonies and France, he put on the same coat which he wore when he was grossly insulted by Widderburn and the lords of the Privy Council in London. If La Fayette has retained the suit in which he escaped from Olmütz, he might resume it by the side of Philip when the Austrian ambassador has his first audience of the citizen king.”

Niles Register, November, 1830, quotes the following speech of La Fayette in the French Chamber of Deputies:—

“At a recent sitting of the Chamber, General La Fayette made the following remarks relative to the suppression of the slave trade. Our readers will see that on this, as on all other occasions, he was careful to render justice to the United States, whose character or institutions he 420omits no proper opportunity of holding up to respect and admiration. The annunciation of the minister of the marine is important as to destroying the distinction of color.

General La Fayette. ‘I feel always ready to unite in whatever tends to alleviate the unfortunate condition of the ancient and unhappy colony of St. Domingo; but after the debate which has just occupied our attention the Chamber will not be disappointed if I pass over the present question to the situation of the colonies which are still in our possession. I regret very much that, at the time of the Constituent Assembly, the resolutions were not persisted in, which united the free people of color with the other colonists, in declaring them entitled to the same rights. I also wish that the slave trade had been rigorously interdicted, and that a law for the gradual abolition of slavery had prevented the misfortunes occasioned by a sudden and imprudent emancipation. And, since, have we not had sufficient reason to lament this consular and imperial system, which sent our best troops to perish in the sad expedition to St. Domingo, and which caused the double outrage of re-establishing slavery and the slave trade at a time when none but French capital was engaged in this infamous traffic? Now, gentlemen, after so many sacrifices and misfortunes, we find ourselves behind with many other nations, at least in the suppression of the slave trade.

“The United States first, the English immediately afterwards, have assimilated it with piracy, the only means of repressing it, whilst the guilty can obtain pecuniary indemnification from those who employ them, who, for example, send ships to St. Thomas to carry on the direct trade for slaves. It is to avoid consuming time with special propositions and reference to the offices, 421that I entreat the minister of marine, who is present (and of whose favorable intentions in this respect I am well aware), to communicate to us, decidedly, the determination of government on this subject, and on the condition of the free men of color in our colonies.’”

The Minister of Marine. ‘I have the honor of stating to the Chamber that I agree entirely in the justice and humanity of the sentiments manifested by the illustrious general who has just descended from the tribune. The government proposes to present to the Chamber a law which will condemn all those to the penalties of piracy, who engage for the future in this infamous trade for human beings. It must be acknowledged that the trade has diminished, though, in spite of the precautions taken by government, it still exists in a great degree. The penalties enacted against piracy can alone suppress it entirely. Something may, at this time, however, be mentioned honorable to France, which is, that of all the European nations who have a maritime commerce, she is least of all given to this odious traffic. As to the fate of the free people of the colonies, the government acknowledges that free men can no longer exist in different conditions; thus the legislation which will be presented to you will give you an opportunity of consecrating this principle, that all free men, of whatever class or color they may be, are equal in the eyes of the law.’”

The Chamber ordered the petition to be referred to the ministers of finance and foreign affairs.

At the sitting of the Chamber of Deputies, on the 14th of December, 1830, speaking of certain propositions concerning the National Guard, La Fayette said:—

“I decline to enter into the question of cantons and communes. But if I am asked if you are now to discuss whether all France shall be armed, I answer, the question 422is already decided; the people did not wait in 1789, or in 1830, to deliberate, but marched against the enemy [sensation]; we must, therefore, prepare for war, as the best means of securing peace. We cannot hope to make all Europe in love with our institutions; there are those who still look with a jaundiced eye upon the accession of a citizen king to our throne.

“The revolution of Belgium, the eldest daughter of one great week, may yet excite uneasiness. At this moment you see Poland [Hear, hear!] ready to rival, in zeal and patriotism, the friends of liberty, not only in France, but in all other countries [fresh movements]. Poland [Hear, hear!] is, perhaps, upon the point of repairing the shame of the last year of Louis XV., and the immense fault which Napoleon committed when he neglected the occasion of restoring that fine country, after the three divisions which had destroyed it [loud acclamations from the left].

“We have announced our rule to be that we will not allow other powers to interfere, not only in our affairs, but in the affairs of other countries. Suppose foreign powers should think proper to seize upon Belgium, or to assist Holland; could we look on in cold blood? Certainly not [loud cheers]. The same thing may happen on the side of Poland. Suppose Austria, prevailed upon by Prussia, or for any selfish purpose of her own, was to make herself a party to the quarrel in Russian Poland—” [violent murmurs and marks of disapprobation. Several voices, “This supposition is unreasonable.”].

M. La Fayette (turning towards General Sebastian). “I speak in the presence of the minister of foreign affairs, who knows that the supposition is very natural. Why not, then, place ourselves in the fittest posture for defence?” [cheers].

423La Fayette thus sums up the results obtained by the Revolution of 1830, in a paper found among his manuscripts:—

“The victory having been entirely popular, it has baffled the combinations of the liberal aristocracy as much as those of the aristocratic nobility and of foreign countries.

“The dynasty of right divine has been expelled; the national sovereignty has been not only recognized, but exercised, more clearly than it had ever been in Europe, because, in the English Revolution of 1788, there were applied again in England the principles of legitimacy. William III. was elected because he was son-in-law of James II. and to avoid breaking the line of succession: the acts were signed William and Mary.

“In the French Revolution of ’89, the national sovereignty found itself declared in the right, but in fact had preserved the line legitimate, in the person of Louis XVI. To-day the crown has been given in the name of the people, and accepted as such by Louis Philippe, who is called thus because he had in his family six predecessors of that name. He was not saluted king only after he had signed and sworn to the conditions imposed upon him, in the name of the people, and ratified by the unhesitating assent of the population of Paris and of the departments.

“The National Guard have been re-established in an original institution; arms have been given to all Frenchmen; the officers have been chosen by the citizens, very much the same as in the United States they are nominated by the executive power. It is certainly a militia, the most universal and the most democratic which has ever existed.

“The liberty of the press has been rendered complete 424by the suppression of obstacles which yet existed, because one can regard as already decreed those proposed resolutions relative to printers, to libraries, and to securities.

“The trial by jury has been applied not only to the press, but also to other political misdemeanors, with immense advantage, and one will hear soon of applying the jury to other questions.

“The absurdities relative to double voting have been suppressed by the nomination of definite presidents and provisionary bureaux, by executive power. The age required for the electors has been reduced from thirty years to twenty-five, and for those eligible, from forty to thirty. It is conceded in advance that the new electoral law will lower the census as much for the electors as for those eligible, unless even that should be entirely suppressed.

“The succession to the Chamber of Peers has received a blow from which it cannot recover itself.

“The tri-colored flag is re-established throughout all France, and carries into all foreign countries the love and the example of liberty.

“The municipalities, the councils of departments, chosen by the old government from amongst the enemies of liberty, have been replaced by elective administrations, and established as a sort of republican and administrative federation. Behold then, in spite of hesitations, obstacles, and delays, we have advanced thus far at present! It remains to know what we have to do, for a complete revolution.

“1. To lower as much as we can the census of the new electoral law; even to introduce there, if possible, such amendments as shall tend to give an indirect participation of the representation of the people to those who are not admitted by election.

425“2. To render the administration, communal and departmental, as popular as we can, increasing their importance and diminishing that of the prefects who have not been commissioned by the executive power.

“3. That each Chamber of Deputies should find itself reorganized into a large party by more than one hundred resignations, which will give to each side a force of nearly one hundred voices; and as it will be at present impossible to dissolve the Chamber before the end of the session, as certain laws pertaining to the National Guard necessitate the continuation of the actual session, it is desirable that the next session should give to us a new Chamber; since the new law, though imperfect, will necessarily be very much preferable to the actual law.

“There will surely be a great diminishing of the civil list, and of the reforms appertaining to the budget. As to the rest, those of the budget can be modified at each session. It is necessary to demand the reform of the penal code.”

La Fayette here leaves this paper unfinished, but enough is given to form an opinion of his ideas of political reform.

The following is from Galigani’s Messenger:—

“A deputation of gentlemen from Philadelphia have been received at the Hôtel de Ville by the prefect of the Seine. The Americans presented an address expressive of the admiration entertained by the inhabitants of Philadelphia for the noble conduct of the Parisians during the glorious days of July. The deputation was introduced by General La Fayette. In the evening a grand dinner was given in honor of the occasion, at which Mr. Rives, the American minister, returned thanks for a toast of ‘the United States and the health of President 426Jackson’; in this speech Mr. Rives addressed the company as follows:—

“‘Permit me, gentlemen, to thank you for the honor you have done my country,—an honor, it may, at least, claim to merit by its cordial sentiments for France. It was my good fortune, gentlemen, to be an eye-witness of your glorious revolution of July, and to see, with unbounded admiration, how a population—brave and generous—can be forbearing after having been subjected to the most terrific trials; and what moderation it can exercise in the midst of a victory purchased by so many noble sacrifices. But it was not necessary to have been a personal witness of your revolution to admire and appreciate it. At the distance of more than a thousand leagues beyond the Atlantic Ocean it has been felt and appreciated in all its noble grandeur.

“‘The three memorable days have been hailed by every people as the triumph of human liberty; but with us, they have given rise to the same rejoicings as our national victories; we have celebrated your 29th July, as we celebrate our own 4th of July, with illuminations, processions, salutes, and all the demonstrations of patriotic exultation. This is a proof that the ties which formerly connected the two nations in a glorious alliance, still retain all their moral force; the evidence of a sympathy and fidelity to ancient recollections, which, I hope, will insure their cordial union under the auspices of an enlightened and upright king, whose constitutional throne and noble character present the best of guarantees at the same time for his own people and for foreign powers. I have the honor to propose a toast, which emanates from the bottom of all American hearts—“The king of the French, and the French nation.”’”

427We cannot resist adding an extract from the animated speech of General La Fayette upon this occasion:—

“Here I find, happily mingled together, all the recollections—all the sentiments and feelings of my life. I am surrounded by the grandsons of my early American companions, the sons of my comrades of ’89, and my new brethren in arms of 1830. In this Hôtel de Ville, twice the cradle of the freedom of Europe, have this day been presented the resolutions of the city of Philadelphia—of that city where, on the 4th of July, 1776, was proclaimed the declaration of independence, the date of a new era of liberty for the two worlds—of a liberty that, for the first time, was founded upon the genuine rights of the human race.

“Five years ago, at the commemoration of a great anniversary at Boston, on proposing as a toast, ‘The emancipation of the American hemisphere,’ which had been effected in the course of half a century, I prophesied that before the next fiftieth anniversary came round, the toast would be, ‘The emancipation of Europe.’ May this prediction be verified! A disciple of the American school, as you all well know,—and were I capable of forgetting it, there are many who would remind me of it,—it is most natural that I should drink to the memory of my teacher—my adopted father: I propose to you, ‘The memory of Washington.’”



La Fayette’s Personal Appearance—His Health—His Sight—Expression of his Countenance—His Temperate Habits—His Dress—His Economy of Time—La Fayette’s Home at La Grange—The Estate—The Grounds—The Terraced Lawns—Brilliant Flowers—The Ivy planted by Charles Fox—The Château—La Fayette’s Apartments—Numerous Mementos and Curiosities—Cannon of the Revolution of 1830—A Famous Cockatoo—The Small Chapel—The Trophy of Flags—Memorable Paintings—Interesting Engravings—American Declaration of Independence—Farewell Address of President Washington—The Illustrious Trio—The American Gallery—Private Apartments of La Fayette—Many Memorials—La Fayette’s Epaulettes—Interesting Uniforms—La Fayette’s Library—Famous American Folio—Seals, Banners, Civic Crowns, and other Mementos—Souvenirs of General Washington—His Glasses—Umbrella—Ring—Decoration of Cincinnati—Franklin’s Cane and Pin—Sad Mementos of Ríego—A Curious Box—American Relics—The Sword of Honor presented to General La Fayette by Congress—Full Description of this Sword—Monumental Vase presented by the National Guard of France—La Fayette’s Museum—Indian Curiosities—Benevolence of the La Fayette Family—La Fayette’s Character—His Moral and Intellectual Faculties—His Beau Ideal of Life—His Conscience—His Moral Integrity—His Love of Truth—His Patriotism—His Generosity—His Ambition—His Estimate of Reputation and Glory—His Equitable Disposition—His Rule of Conduct—His Physical Endurance—His Frankness—His Conversation—His Speeches—Comments upon his English Composition—His Style—His Letters—His Handwriting—His Ideas of Liberty and Equality—His Abhorrence of Violent Measures—His Undaunted Courage—His Ideas of Education—His Opinions regarding Labor—His 429Recognition of Liberty of Conscience—His Efforts in Behalf of the African Race—His Abhorrence of Slavery—His Efforts regarding Prison Reforms—His Horror of Capital Punishment—His Opinions in Questions of Morals, Jurisprudence, Policy, and Public Economy—Comments on his Character from the Encyclopædia Britannica—La Fayette’s Influence in France—Interesting Interview with La Fayette—His Occupations in Paris—His Last Sickness—His Death—His Grave.

“He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, And all are slaves besides.”—Cowper.

“LA FAYETTE was tall and well proportioned. He was decidedly inclined to stoutness, though not to obesity. His head was large; his face oval and regular; his forehead lofty and open; his eyes, which were full of goodness and intelligence, were large and prominent, of a grayish blue, and surmounted with light and well-arched, but not bushy eyebrows; his nose was aquiline; his mouth, which was habitually embellished with a natural smile, was seldom opened except to utter kind and gracious expressions; his complexion was clear; his cheeks were slightly colored, and, at the age of seventy-seven, not a single wrinkle furrowed his countenance, the ordinary expression of which was that of candor and frankness.

“Gifted with a strong and vigorous constitution, which was not developed till late in life, and which was enfeebled neither by the vicissitudes of a career passed amidst political convulsions, nor by the sufferings and privations which he underwent during his captivity, La Fayette, notwithstanding his advanced age, enjoyed his intellectual faculties to their full extent, and was rendered by his moral energy superior to circumstances which bow down or crush the generality of mankind.

“During the latter years of his life his health was 430good, or at most troubled at but rare intervals by slight indispositions, or by transient fits of gout....

“La Fayette’s sight was excellent; but of late his hearing had lost something of its delicacy, and the circumstance was the more perceptible whenever he felt indisposed. His perceptions, both morally and physically speaking, were keen, and he usually gave free vent to the manifestations of his agreeable impressions. Those of a contrary nature his strength of mind enabled him to support, or at least to dissemble, in order that he might spare his friends the knowledge of his sufferings.

“His physiognomy, which was habitually calm, gave a faithful reflection of the movements of his soul, and at times assumed much expression, though it was less under the influence of his sensations than of his sentiments. According to the circumstances in which he was placed, joy, hope, pity or gratitude, tenderness or severity, were by turns predominant in his eyes and in every feature of his countenance.

“His deportment was noble and dignified, but his gait, since the year 1803, was rather constrained, in consequence of the accident of a broken thigh, which compelled him to lean on his cane when walking, and prevented him from sitting down with ease and quickness, on account of a stiffness in the hip joint. His other movements were easy and natural, and though he had but little suppleness in his fingers, his gestures were graceful, and rarely abrupt, even in the moments when his conversation was most animated. The tone of his voice was naturally serious, soft, and agreeable, or strong and sonorous, according to the circumstances under which he spoke. When the subject of conversation was gay, he laughed heartily, but even the excess of his mirth was 431never displayed in sudden and violent bursts of laughter.

“He dined at home as often as possible, and his frugal meal invariably consisted of a little fish and the wing of a chicken; he drank nothing but water. I have not the least doubt that his sobriety and temperance, and the regularity of his regimen, greatly contributed to exempt him from the infirmities of old age.

“La Fayette’s dress was always extremely simple, and free from everything like pretension. He usually wore a long gray or dark-colored great-coat, a round hat, pantaloons, and gaiters, as represented in the full-length portrait executed some years ago by M. Scheffer, and which resembles him in every respect.

“He was remarkably clean and neat in his person, even to minuteness, and for this reason his valet de chambre, Bastien, who had been long in his service, and never quitted him, became at last indispensable for his comfort....

“During his latter years, La Fayette led an agreeable and regular existence, every instant of his time having its stated occupation. His moments of recreation were spent with his family, or amongst a circle of intimate friends, on whom he bestowed the hours not devoted to his legislative labors or to his numerous correspondents. He ever regarded time as a gift of which the best use was to be made, and, according to his own expression, ‘he was not at liberty to lose it himself, and still less to occasion the loss of it to others.’ If he was not always exact to the hour of appointment given or accepted by him, the multiplicity of his engagements and his preoccupation of mind were the cause of the delay; but in important cases his punctuality was praiseworthy.

“He never indulged in any of those social games to 432which people have recourse by way of amusement, or to kill time, as the phrase is generally used. He was fond of the country, and, when not detained in Paris by business, usually retired to La Grange, where his existence was altogether patriarchal.”

Entrance to Château La Grange

M. Cloquet in his quaint book of Recollections of La Fayette, gives a full and interesting description of La Fayette’s home at La Grange, of the grounds, château, La Fayette’s library, museum, and many curiosities gathered there. As Cloquet was his family surgeon and warm personal friend for years, as well as a frequent visitor to the La Fayette estate, and was also present at the death-bed of the illustrious general, his account may be deemed authentic. From his long and detailed description, covering more than one hundred pages, the following prominent features are here culled.

The estate of La Grange is situated thirteen leagues 433east of Paris. The château stands in the centre of a farm containing eight hundred French acres. The roads leading to the château cross the property, and are well laid out and carefully kept in order. The entrance into the park is through a wide, handsome avenue bordered with apple-trees. This avenue, turning to the left, passes by the farm and an old chapel, and crossing a plantation of chestnut-trees, extends for some distance through a grove of dark-green ornamental trees until it reaches the château. The drawbridge, which formerly existed over the moat, has been replaced by a stone bridge with parapets. The entrance is by a large door composed of two arches, the one having on the sides two deep excavations which received a portion of the woodwork and the chains of the old bridge, the other forming the real door. On either side of the door rises a substantial stone tower, in which narrow windows are pierced. The walls to the level of the tiled roof, by which they are surmounted, are covered with moss and tufted ivy, between the foliage of which may be seen the outline of the casement of the towers. The ivy was planted by the celebrated Charles Fox, during his stay at La Grange with General Fitzpatrick, after the Peace of Amiens. The court, through which is the entrance, has the form of an irregular square, and is light and spacious, and looks out upon the beautiful park on which it opens.

The following view of the château was furnished by General Carbonel, and represents part of the park, lawn, and residence. The château has two stories besides the ground floor. The walls are covered on the outside with ivy, Virginia jasmins, etc., and the entire dwelling is surrounded with fine trees and enormous weeping willows, which gracefully bend their branches towards the waters of the moat, which is from thirty to forty feet in 434breadth and seven feet in depth. The moat has been filled up on one side of the château, leaving a level passage to the lawn. The waters of the moat are clear and limpid, being fed by a stream that runs from one of the ponds of the farm, and fine fish are kept in it. On the outside it is surrounded with terraced slopes of green sward enamelled with brilliant flowers.

Château La Grange

On the ground floor of the château, and communicating with the vestibule, are a small chapel, a large dining-room, and further on, the kitchens. A wide stone staircase, well lighted, leads to the two reception-rooms, to the La Fayette museum, and to the corridors which conduct to the other apartments of the family, and to those reserved for friends.

435La Fayette’s apartments on the second floor consist of an ante-chamber, a bedroom, and a library, the windows of which look out upon the park, and command a view of the farm beyond. At the entrance of the vestibule are two small pieces of cannon, which the Parisians at the period of the Revolution of 1830 had mounted upon coach-wheels to attack the troops of Charles X. The conquerors afterwards presented them to La Fayette. Near the cannons a white cockatoo reposes on his perch. This fine bird was presented to the general by his friend Benjamin Constant because the cockatoo had always shown a marked preference for La Fayette, and welcomed his coming with joy, while to M. Constant’s other guests the bird was quite indifferent. The small chapel, opening on the vestibule, is now hung with black and devoted to the exclusive use of the family. The altar is adorned with an ivory crucifix and with silver candelabra. Two tablets on the wall contain Scripture quotations and passages from the Book of Tobias.

On the wall of the vestibule, facing the great door of the salon, may be seen a trophy of flags, artistically grouped, and recalling historical events. Amongst them are flags belonging to the old Paris National Guard of 1789, also tri-colored flags borne in the Revolution of 1830, together with several American and Polish flags. In one of the large reception-rooms are marble busts of Monroe and Quincy Adams, Presidents of the United States. Over the door is a painting representing the Port of Passage in Spain, where La Fayette first embarked for America. The Victory is shown just setting sail from the harbor. To the right and left of the door are two other fine paintings. One represents the French Federation in the Champ de Mars; the other, the storming of the Bastile. The latter painting was exhibited in 436the Louvre in 1790. La Fayette was examining it there with much enthusiasm, and exclaimed to his friend beside him, while gazing upon the stirring scene with ardent admiration, “Whoever becomes the possessor of that picture will be a happy man!” The artist, Robert, was at that moment standing behind La Fayette, and hearing the remark he advanced and said, “General, be happy; that picture is yours.”

On the wall to the right of this reception-room hang beautiful engravings of the American Declaration of Independence and the Farewell Address of President Washington.

One of the most interesting ornaments in this room is a marble bust of La Fayette, sculptured by the artist David, and placed on a small pedestal between the portraits of Washington and Franklin. The flag of the American frigate, the Brandywine, shades the portraits of these three friends, seemingly uniting their memories by its azure folds, while its silver stars float above their heads. Washington, La Fayette, and Franklin form an illustrious trio of immortal names. The second reception-room may be called the American Gallery. On one side stands a handsome bronze bust of Washington by the artist David. Above this bust hang the portraits of John Adams, and Quincy Adams, both Presidents of the United States. Upon the opposite wall are placed portraits of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson.

Corporal of the Prison at Olmütz
Vase presented by Midshipmen of the Brandywine

A small staircase leads to the private apartments of La Fayette. Near the entrance door is placed a portrait of the corporal of the prison of Olmütz, made from a sketch drawn by La Fayette’s daughter Anastasie during their imprisonment. She is said to have made the sketch upon her thumb-nail to avoid the notice of their 437jailers. The hangings in La Fayette’s bed-chamber are of yellow silk, the furniture is simple, and the walls of the room are covered with family portraits and engravings. On one side of the chimney hangs a large miniature of Mr. F. K. Huger, the son of Major Huger of South Carolina, who may be called La Fayette’s deliverer, on account of his bold attempt to secure his release from the prison of Olmütz. The portrait is surrounded with a gold frame of exquisite workmanship and inclosed 438in a box of massive gold. It was presented to La Fayette in 1825 by the city of Charleston. Above the bed is a painting representing a group of American officers, together with La Fayette and General Rochambeau, at the siege of Yorktown. Upon a chest of drawers is placed a silver vase presented to La Fayette by the midshipmen of the Brandywine frigate. Among numerous decorations on the vase, consisting of vine leaves, river gods, and acanthus leaves, the American eagle is carved on one side grasping in one of his talons a bundle of javelins, and in the other an olive-branch: above him floats a cloud spangled with stars. Upon the base of the vase are three bas-reliefs representing the Capitol at Washington, La Fayette’s visit to the tomb of Washington, and the arrival of the Brandywine at Havre.

Near the vase is a box containing the silver epaulettes, embroidered with three stars, which La Fayette wore as Commander-in-chief of the National Guard.

439 Seal and Clock belonging to La Fayette
Roman Standard presented by City of Lyons

Beside the chimney stands the cane usually carried by La Fayette. It was the gift of Commodore Taylor. The head is a stag’s horn, with a gold plate upon the side, with the name of the giver and receiver. In the presses of the bed-chamber are preserved the general’s clothes. Amongst them is a complete uniform of the Warsaw National Guard, presented by the Poles; also a blue cloth suit, given to him by the Americans of Carolina. The cloth of the coat and the massive gold buttons are of Carolina manufacture. On the buttons is the head of Washington.

Ring given by Grandson of Washington

La Fayette’s library contains numerous paintings, in the cameo style, representing Washington, Franklin, and many others. There are many fine works of German and English history, and various other valuable books. A special place is reserved for American works. The most remarkable among these is a superb manuscript folio, presented to La Fayette by the city of New York. It contains the acts and deliberations of that city, together with a narrative of the events which relate to La Fayette’s 440visit there. It is adorned with artistic pen drawings. The volume is richly bound, and to preserve it from injury is inclosed in a mahogany box with lock and key.


The furniture of this room is of mahogany, with the exception of two chairs, the cushions of which were embroidered by Madame La Fayette. In the table drawer are two seals; one bears La Fayette’s monogram; the other, the head of Washington, surrounded by rays. Among the other mementos in this room is a Roman standard, presented to General La Fayette by the city of Lyons. This trophy is ornamented with a crown of oak leaves, surmounted by the Gallic cock, inclosing a large shield, on one side of which is represented the self-devoted Curtius, precipitating himself into the gulf, the flames of which already envelop his horse’s breast, and on the other side of the shield is a lion, which had been adopted as the arms of that city.

Another interesting relic is a civic crown of silver, presented to La Fayette by the town of Grenoble. Near it is a handsome medal presented by the electors of Meaux. Upon one side is a striking likeness of La Fayette, together with the memorable dates, 1789 and 1830. On the other side, a civic crown forms a frame for the words of dedication.

441 Medal Presented by Electors of Meaux
Ring Given by Grandson of Washington

There are a number of quaint souvenirs of General Washington, which were highly prized by La Fayette. One is an ivory-handled pair of glasses mounted in silver, constantly used by Washington; also a long-handled parasol, with an ivory top, which was generally attached to the horse’s saddle when Washington travelled. There is also a piece of tapestry embroidered by Mrs. Washington, which was presented to La Fayette by her granddaughter. Here may be seen, too, the ring given to the marquis at Mount Vernon during his last visit to America, by the grandson of Mrs. Washington, in the name of the family. The chestnut hair in the middle of the ring is Washington’s; the white hair on each side, that of his wife. Around the hair are the words, “Pater Patriæ“; on the sides, “Mount Vernon”; and behind, the following inscription:—

La Fayette.

One of the most interesting among the Washington souvenirs is the Decoration of the Cincinnati, worn by Washington. The Society of the Cincinnati, recognizing the assistance which America had received from France, sent the decoration of the order to the Counts d’Estaing, de Grasse, de Barras, de Rochambeau, and to La Fayette. Washington had been president of the order. The decoration, of enamelled gold, is framed in a laurel crown, sustained by two cornucopiæ, interwoven together, from which issues fruit, and which are themselves suspended to the ribbon by an oblong ring, formed by two tresses attached together. The American eagle, with extended wings, occupies the middle of the crown, and bears a shield on each side. On one of the shields may be seen Cincinnatus leaning on his plough, and receiving the Roman deputies, who present him with the sword of the dictator. Around it are these words, written in letters of gold on a sky-blue ground: “Omnia. Relinquit. Servare. Rempu.

Pin presented by Franklin’s Granddaughter

On the other shield Cincinnatus is represented as 443resuming his agricultural labors, and guiding a plough. At a little distance is his cottage. This scene is illumined by the sun, and around are the words: “Soci. Cin. Rum. Inst. a.d. 1783. Virt. Prae.

The figures of the shields are of dead gold, the ground of green, and the background of carnation enamel. The decoration is attached to a sky-blue watered silk ribbon, edged with a white piping, in token of the alliance between France and America, and held together by a gold clasp. The ribbon used by Washington is much worn. On the morocco leather box which encloses the decoration, are the words, “Washington’s Cincinnati Badge.”

Crystal Box containing Mementos of Riégo
Ring containing Hair and Portrait of Jeremy Bentham

Here may also be seen a cane, formerly used by Franklin, which was given to La Fayette on his last visit to America. Also a pin, presented to La Fayette by Franklin’s granddaughter. This contains the hair, and presents Franklin’s monogram. Near it is a ring containing the hair and portrait of the celebrated English writer, Jeremy Bentham. In a crystal box, mounted in gold, and closed with a small padlock, lie two sad mementos of the unfortunate Riégo, who perished on the scaffold. Just before the terrible end he untied his black silk cravat and sent it, with a lock of his hair, to his wife. Madame Riégo afterwards divided these sacred relics with La Fayette. Through the clear crystal the memorable souvenirs may be reverently examined.

444Another curiosity is a round wooden box. The lid is divided into four parts formed of different woods. The walnut wood is from the last tree of the forest of Penn, cut down in 1818, opposite to the Hall of Independence. The elm wood is from the treaty tree. The oak is from the first bridge constructed on the Dock Creek. The mahogany is from the house of Christopher Columbus.

Round Wooden Box

There is also another interesting American relic, in the shape of a cane, upon which is carved a portrait of La Fayette. During La Fayette’s last visit to America an old captain sought him out in Nashville, and with tears in his eyes, embraced him, saying: “I have had two happy days in my existence—that on which I landed with you at Charleston, in 1777, and this day. I have seen and embraced you. I now desire to live no longer. I have nothing but this cane, on which you see your portrait; I request you to accept it, and to keep it in memory of one of your old soldiers and companions in arms.”

Another handsome souvenir is a sword presented to La Fayette by the New York militia. Also a sword of ivory and gold, presented to La Fayette by Colonel Muir in the name of the ninth regiment of artillery of New York.

Sword presented by the 9th Regt. of Artillery of New York.

But the memento of the greatest importance in the collection is probably the sword of honor presented to La Fayette by Congress, and transmitted to him by Franklin, through his grandson. We have mentioned this sword previously, but did not describe it. This weapon is a chef d’œuvre of art. During the Reign of Terror, Madame La Fayette, fearing it would be seized, ordered 445the sword to be buried. It remained concealed for many years and was thus saved.

When George La Fayette returned from America, while his father was still in exile, he disinterred this famous weapon, but found the blade had been completely destroyed by rust. George was able to preserve only the handle and the mounting, which he conveyed secretly to his father in Holland, running great risks thereby, as it was very dangerous to take gold out of France in those unsettled times. On La Fayette’s return to France, he conceived the happy idea of adjusting to this handle, the blade of the sword 446presented to him by the National Guard of Paris. This blade was manufactured from the iron bolts and bars of the Bastile, and presents some allegorical subjects connected with the destruction of that renowned fortress.

Sword presented by the American Congress.

The sword as it now appears is thus described. “The knob of the handle presents, on one side, a shield with La Fayette’s arms—a marquis’s coronet surmounted by a streamer—on which is inscribed the motto, ‘Cur Non.’ On the other side is a medallion representing the first quarter of the moon, whose rays are shed over the sea, and the land of the American continent, which is perceived 447on the horizon. The coasts of France form the foreground of the scene, surmounted by a floating band, on which are read the words: ‘Crescam ut Prosim,’—an allusion to the rising liberty and the subsequent prosperity of America. In the centre of the handle, on each side, are two oblong medallions: the first represents La Fayette, who has drawn the sword, and overthrown the English lion at his feet. The general is on the point of despatching him, but he pauses, extends his hand, and seems inclined to spare his life. On the other medallion America is represented as having just broken her fetters. She is portrayed under the form and features of a young woman, half-clad, seated under a military tent. In one hand she holds her broken chains, and with the other she presents a laurel branch to La FayetteFayette.

“Above and below the two preceding medallions are military emblems of arms, and two crowns of laurel which encircle the handle. On the sides of the guard are other trophies of arms; and on one of them are the words: ‘From the American Congress to Marquis La Fayette, 1779.

“The curved parts of the guard are carved on both sides, and represent on their medallions four memorable events of the American war in which La Fayette was distinguished by his prudence or his courage. They are ‘The Battle of Gloucester in the Jerseys,’ ‘The Retreat of Barren Hill,’ ‘The Battle of Monmouth,’ ‘The Retreat of Rhode Island.’

“The blade of the sword is flat and double-edged. On one side is a medallion damaskeened in gold, and suspended by chains of the same metal, which stand out admirably on the azure ground of the steel. It represents the taking of the Bastile. The populace of Paris, placed in the foreground of the scene, lay siege to the 448fortress, the ramparts of which give way under the repeated cannonade. The besieged make a vigorous resistance from the summit of the towers, and Fame flies through the air, announcing by sound of trumpet the first year of liberty. Beneath the medallion are two lighted flambeaux, from the centre of which issue the supporters of a bell put in motion to sound the tocsin. These flambeaux are joined by a crosspiece supporting a drapery, on which may be read, ‘The Revival of Liberty.’

“On the other side of the blade may be observed four medallions, also supported by chains tastefully arranged. In two of these medallions the polished steel of the blade is bare; in a third is seen a prisoner breaking the fetters which had been attached to his hands and feet, and quitting the stake to which he had been bound; the fourth represents the column of liberty erected on the ruins of the Bastile, and rising above the other buildings, which are perceived on the sides. Beneath the latter medallion is represented the head of Medusa, and on each side are two fires, the flames of which melt the chains interwoven together, and supporting and uniting these different objects. On the drapery, at the bottom, are engraved the words, ‘Year IV. of Liberty.’

Vase presented by the National Guard

“The mounting of the scabbard is of gold, and carved. On one side is perceived a large oval medallion, which represents Fame borne on the clouds. The goddess crosses the ocean, preceding the vessel which conveys La Fayette back to France, and which is perceived in the horizon. In one hand she holds the crown awarded to La Fayette by America, and in the other, the trumpet with which she announces his exploits to France, as indicated by the three fleurs-de-lis embroidered on the banner of the instrument. On the other side is an irregular shield 449encircled with a laurel branch, intended to receive La Fayette’s monogram.”

But we must not overlook one most impressive object in the general’s library. This is the magnificent monumental vase presented by the National Guard of France to La Fayette. It was commenced in 1831, but owing to some delay, it was not finished until 1835, at which time the illustrious La Fayette had passed beyond all earthly honors and human homage. It was accordingly presented in the name of the National Guard of France to George Washington La Fayette, who received the precious deposit in memory of his adored father, as a holy memento and noble inheritance, and reverently placed it in the general’s library, by the side of the other sacred relics consecrated to his memory.

“The vase, which is of silver gilt, and the stand, in the form of a votive altar and of the same metal, is about four feet high. The handles are formed of two strong vine-stalks, attached at one end to the edges of the neck, and supported at the other by two lions’ heads. The neck is enriched with a civic crown, and the bottom of the vase is ornamented with leaves of aquatic plants, separated by stems of the sugar-cane and coffee-tree. On one of the sides of the vase, the genius of the fine arts and the genius of industry, surrounded with their attributes, support a drapery, on which may be read,

To General La Fayette.’

“On the other side, surrounded with a glory, is the date 1830. The pedestal is square, with splayed-off corners, and is decorated with four statues and four bas-reliefs, which may be regarded as so many masterpieces of taste and historical illustration. The statues, which 450represent Liberty, Equality, Force, and Wisdom, are placed upright on a projecting ledge prepared to receive them. Liberty is represented under the form of a young woman in full drapery, and with a Phrygian cap on her head. In one hand she holds the national flag, and in the other, the sword to defend it, whilst she tramples under foot a set of broken chains. Equality is represented by a goddess holding in her right hand the levelling-plane, while she leans with her left upon a table of laws, thus presenting the symbol of constitutional equality. Force is represented by a female in the prime of life. Her head is covered, and she is partly clothed with a lion’s skin, which falls on her back and her left shoulder. She leans on a bundle of rods, to indicate 451that her strength depends on union. Wisdom is represented under the form of a young female of severe aspect; her drapery is tasteful, and her head is covered with the helmet of Minerva. Her calm and grave attitude indicates reflection.

“The four sides of the altar are ornamented with as many bas-reliefs, well chosen, and representing the following events connected with the life of La Fayette. The first bas-relief represents the capitulation of Lord Cornwallis. La Fayette, with the generals and the respective staffs of the French and American army, receives General O’Hara, as he delivers the sword of Cornwallis to Washington. The second bas-relief represents La Fayette taking the civic oath to the French Federation, July 14, 1790.

“The third bas-relief represents the visit of the Duke of Orleans, lieutenant-general of the kingdom, to the Hôtel de Ville, July 31, 1830.

“The fourth bas-relief represents the distribution of the standards to the National Guard at Paris, Aug. 29, 1830.”

The room which now serves for the museum was formerly the entrance to the apartment of Madame La Fayette. After her death, La Fayette ordered the door of communication to be walled up, so that the room could only be entered by himself through a back door. On stated days the marquis repaired thither, either alone or with his children, to pay sad homage to the memory of her who was enshrined in their hearts with an undying affection.

The museum is filled with numerous objects, such as models of machines, etc., many stuffed birds and reptiles, shells and minerals, together with a quantity of weapons 452of all kinds, and numberless Indian curiosities collected by La Fayette during his several visits to America.

The inmates of La Grange were illustrious for their many deeds of benevolence. Their poorer neighbors were constantly aided by the general and his children. In times of special sickness among the poor, large sums were expended by La Fayette and his family in their behalf. Many charming fêtes were held at the Château, and La Fayette was always the centre of a brilliant circle. The venerable marquis was a model host. His guests enjoyed freedom without restraint, and the most delightful entertainment without officiousness. His children and grandchildren seem to have inherited many of his fine traits of mind and character; and there are few instances given in history of such a perfect home-life as was witnessed at La Grange, especially before the removal of her who was the centre of all its sunshine and the guiding star of her illustrious husband.

The character of La Fayette was singularly lofty, and he was strongly attracted towards all that was good, great, noble, or generous in human nature. His moral and intellectual faculties were keen, his reason was solid, and his judgment was sure. He was not led into impracticable theories by too ardent an imagination, and his enthusiasms were always based upon his conscience and his reason.

His views of morality and politics were very comprehensive, but his beau ideal of life was always held within the bounds of possibility, and governed by the claims of usefulness, justice, and honor. He was great even in small circumstances, for he lifted the little to a place of importance by the exact attention he bestowed upon it. He judged mankind by his own exalted nature, and his illusions regarding them arose from the impossibility of 453such an upright mind as he possessed being capable of perceiving or believing that others were so far beneath the high motives which governed his own thoughts and actions. “His conscience was his guiding star, his courage the pilot that led him safe through the storm by which France was overwhelmed, and his progress through that grand epoch was marked by patriotism, civic courage, and a series of advantageous reforms and liberal institutions, with which he assisted to ameliorate the condition of France.”

La Fayette passed untainted through an age of corruption, and was proof against the seductive excesses of the court of Louis XV., and retained his moral integrity in the midst of the temptations and the terrible whirlwinds of political storms which raged with relentless fury during the reign of the unfortunate Louis XVI. To his early avowed principles of liberty and patriotism he was ever true as the needle to the magnet. No emoluments could bribe him to advocate a wrong principle; no terrors could deter him from stanchly and fearlessly upholding what his conscience acknowledged to be the cause of truth and liberty.

“La Fayette loved truth above all things, and rejected all that could change or corrupt its nature. Like Epaminondas, he would not have suffered himself, even in joke, to utter the slightest falsehood. He was the mirror of truth, even in the midst of political parties, whose condemnation he pronounced by presenting to them the hideous image of their passions. He thus offended without convincing them, and the mirror, being declared deceitful, was destined to be broken.” He was heard to say: “The court would have accepted me had I been an aristocrat, and the Jacobins, had I been a Jacobin; but, as I wished to side with neither, both united against me.”

454The following incident is related, illustrative of La Fayette’s generosity:—

“On the occasion of his last visit to America, General La Fayette having learned that the family of his old aide-de-camp, Colonel Neville, was in difficulties, before he embarked for France drew a bill of exchange in their favor, on the President of the United States, for the sum of four thousand dollars, and addressed it to the children of M. Neville. It may be easily conceived that the latter declined making use of it; but they keep it as a precious document which reflects equal honor on the memory of their father and on the noble generosity of La Fayette.”

La Fayette’s ambition was not a selfish desire to rise above others, to achieve personal fame; but to do good, by the performance of noble actions and important services in behalf of humanity. He thus defines his own impulses in a letter to the Bailli de Ploën: “An irresistible passion that would induce me to believe in innate ideas and the truth of prophecy, has decided my career. I have always loved liberty with the enthusiasm which actuates the religious man, with the passion of a lover, and with the conviction of a geometrician. On leaving college, where nothing had displeased me more than a state of dependence, I viewed the greatness and the littleness of the court with contempt, the frivolities of society with pity, the minute pedantry of the army with disgust, and oppression of every sort with indignation. The attraction of the American Revolution drew me suddenly to my proper place; I felt myself tranquil only when sailing between the continent whose powers I had braved, and the place where, although our arrival and our ultimate success were problematical, I could, at the age of nineteen, take refuge in the alternative of conquering 455or perishing in the cause to which I had devoted myself.”

La Fayette valued reputation and prized glory, but was indifferent to the personal power resulting from them. Being asked who, in his opinion, was the greatest man of his age, he replied: “In my idea, General Washington is the greatest man; for I look upon him as the most virtuous.”

M. Cloquet says of La Fayette’s equitable disposition:—

“I doubt if La Fayette was ever in a passion; at least I have no recollection of having seen him lose his temper, even under circumstances that might have occasioned or excused one of those violent movements of the soul which few men are able to master. When any circumstance annoyed him, he became taciturn, his forehead and eyebrows slightly contracted, and a shade of sadness was visible on his countenance; but these moments of uneasiness rather than of ill humor were not of long duration, and his features soon recovered their serenity. One day one of his friends had uttered, from the tribune of the Lower Chamber, certain opinions which he repelled as utterly at variance with his principles. The only phrase in which he expressed his dissatisfaction was, ‘Well, well, he lacks common sense.’ These words he pronounced in a firm tone of voice, though evidently with much emotion.”

That which was right was always the rule of La Fayette’s conduct; the inspirations of his heart and the voice of his conscience regulated his life. “Fais ce que dois, advienne que pourra” was his motto. His moral faculties exercised complete control over his physical powers; it was said of him, “He was an intelligence served by organs.” His calmness was only increased by an increase 456of danger, and the most imminent peril seemed but to inspire him with redoubled courage.

His surgeon, M. Cloquet, gives this instance of his marvellous powers of physical endurance:—

“During his last illness he acquainted us with the nature of the medical treatment which he had undergone in 1803 for a fracture of the thigh, occasioned by a fall on a slippery pavement. Deschamp and Boyer, whose memory I respect, and whom I am proud to have had for my masters, were summoned in their professional capacity to his assistance. The fractured limb was inclosed in a machine which kept it in a constant state of tension; and, as La Fayette had promised those skilful surgeons to support the pain with patience as long as they might judge it necessary for his cure, he uttered not a single complaint for the fifteen or twenty days during which the apparatus was applied. When it was removed, the surgeons were unable to conceal the annoyance they felt at the effect produced by the bandages. Deschamp turned pale; Boyer was stupefied; the upper bandages had, by their pressure, cut deeply into the muscles of the inside of the thigh, and laid bare the femoral artery: the action of the lower ones had been less violent, but they had produced a mortification of the skin at the back part of the foot and laid bare the tendons of the toes. In consequence of La Fayette’s stoical fortitude, the vigilance of his surgeons was completely at fault. Deep scars bore evidence of the truth of one of his observations to us, uttered, however, in confidence, through an apprehension of injuring, not the interests, but the memory of two individuals for whom he felt gratitude, although their exertions on his behalf had been unsuccessful. A length of time elapsed before he recovered from the lamentable consequences which resulted 457from his medical treatment, and which were followed by an almost complete anchylosis and lameness of the hip-joint.”

La Fayette’s frankness of nature was proverbial. An intimate friend of the family, Madame Dupaty, said of him:—

“To appreciate his frankness you must have known him as thoroughly as we did. He was too honest not to leave his keys always in the locks, even in politics.”

La Fayette’s conversation was graceful, easy, full of good humor, and peculiarly charming, without descending to frivolity. He was quick at repartee, and apt in uttering bon mots, as the following incidents will illustrate:—

“When he was arrested by the Austrians in 1792, an aide-de-camp of Prince de ——, the enemy’s general, came to him, on behalf of his superior, to demand the money of the army which he had been obliged to leave. La Fayette, astonished at the demand, laughed heartily; and when the aide-de-camp advised him to take the matter more seriously, ‘How can I help laughing?’ said he; ‘for all that I can understand of your demand is, that had your prince been in my place he would have run away with the military chest.’ The aide-de-camp had nothing to say in reply, took leave of the prisoner, and departed as he came.”

When he joined the nobles of Brittany, in 1788, in their movement against the government, the queen impatiently asked him why he, who was from Auvergne, meddled with the affairs of the Bretons. “I am a Breton, Madam,” replied La Fayette, “just as your Majesty is of the house of Hapsburg.”

As La Fayette’s mother was from Brittany, so the 458queen was descended from the house of Hapsburg by the female line.

None of the speeches pronounced by La Fayette in the Chamber of Deputies were prepared. His extempore addresses were eloquent, dignified, and clear. His language was persuasive and pleasing, and his speeches were intelligible to all classes, on account of their simplicity and the directness of their appeal.

A friend of La Fayette one day overheard the conversation of several French artisans, who were discussing in the street the merits of the articles in a newspaper they were reading, and after criticising with warmth many of the writers, the leader exclaimed, “Come, this man La Fayette at least speaks French: we can understand what he wishes to say.”

The English language was as familiar to La Fayette as the French, and he wrote both with great facility. His style was simple, concise, and clear-cut, forceful and elevated; his ideas were well defined, his principles and opinions decided and frankly avowed. Regarding the English correspondence of La Fayette with his friend Masclet, an Englishman thus comments:—

“La Fayette has happily avoided the two principal dangers to which the majority of those who attempt to write in a foreign language are exposed. His style is as free from servile imitation as from grammatical errors or faults of idiom: in a word, it is peculiar to himself; it displays the man, though under another costume. It is simple without meanness, concise without obscurity, dignified without affectation; and often contains those happy turns of expression which infuse such a charm into letters written in French. Scarcely ever does it contain one of those little particles which betray the foreign origin of the writer. His letters, it is true, present 459some inversions not authorized perhaps by modern custom, but by no means at variance with the genius of the language. On the contrary, they establish a sort of link between the writer and the old English authors. Such inversions are admirable for their delicacy and naïveté; without shocking the ear, or proving injurious to clearness of expression, they arrest the attention of the reader, deck themselves, as it were, in the smile resulting from his agreeable surprise, and prevent monotony of style. La Fayette writes English with much facility. His letters present no trace of painful effort or labored composition. He seems never to hesitate in his choice of a suitable word or turn of expression, though he sometimes forgets that the English language can with difficulty bend to that nervous and even elliptic concision of which a skilful French writer often avails himself with so much advantage. This forgetfulness occasionally gives an appearance of roughness and even abruptness to La Fayette’s style.

“His letters are irreproachable, as presenting a faithful picture of his mind; in reading them we feel irresistibly inclined to love the writer; and perhaps in this respect they are inferior to nothing ever composed by him in his own language. Amongst the English, and others who speak that language, such expressions as are employed to depict different degrees of friendship are certainly less numerous and less graceful than amongst the French; but, on the other hand, such expressions have been less frequently subject to the encroachments of gallantry or exaggerated politeness, and are consequently more candid and sincere. In the mouth of such a man as La Fayette, it will be readily imagined that all these qualities acquire new force.”

La Fayette’s handwriting was more legible in English 460than in French. His characters were small and well formed. Though he never made rough copies, his letters rarely presented erasures. A writer says of the value of his letters:—

“It is almost superfluous to say how La Fayette’s letters were received by those to whom they were addressed. It was enough to present them to meet with unlimited support, protection, and devotedness. The name of the writer was a species of talisman which opened every door; and it might have been said that to such as received his letters, a spark was communicated from his soul, and a desire to imitate his virtues. Some years ago one of my friends, who was abroad, showed a letter from La Fayette to a distinguished personage entrusted with the confidence of an absolute sovereign. At sight of the letter, the powerful functionary seemed electrified, rose from his seat in token of respect, and entreated my friend as a special favor to give him a fragment of the precious correspondence.”

La Fayette always gave precedence to his duty rather than his personal interests. To the Bailli de Ploën he wrote: “So many stupid remarks have been uttered by party spirit, that it may not be out of place here to assert that no private affection has ever diverted me from my public duty. In the course of three years of power I encouraged none to speak well of me; I prevented none from speaking ill; and to explain my conduct with regard to the notorious characters of the Revolution, it will be sufficient to verify their writings, speeches, and actions at the same period.”

Regarding his own ideas of liberty and equality, he wrote to the same friend: “For my part, as I feel persuaded that the human race was created to enjoy freedom, and as I have been born to promote the cause of 461liberty, I neither can nor will shrink from the participation which it has been my fate to take in this great event; wherever I have been able, and especially in my own country, I concurred on principle in all the enterprises undertaken against an illegitimate power which it was necessary to destroy, and I now declare to you that in 1787 and 1788 the resistance of the privileged classes—of the leaders of the aristocracy—had as much of the true character of faction as any other insurrection that I have since witnessed.”

La Fayette could never be persuaded to use violent measures in upholding even a good cause when such an expedient was not absolutely necessary. At one time during the Revolution, Mirabeau having recommended some very violent plans to La Fayette, urging that they were excusable for the execution of certain projects, La Fayette indignantly exclaimed, “M. de Mirabeau, it is impossible for an honest man to employ such means.”

“An honest man!” replied Mirabeau. “Ah! M. de La Fayette, it seems you wish to be a Grandison Cromwell: you will see to what that amalgamation will lead you.”

Wherever the voice of duty called La Fayette, no danger could make him flinch, no fear of insult could deter. During the days of October, 1789, when the palace of Versailles was filled with the raging, bloodthirsty mob, La Fayette hastened to an apartment where the crowd was the thickest, and calmly entered, and crossed the Salon without attendants. “There goes Cromwell!” cried one. Turning to the speaker, La Fayette replied with dignity, “Cromwell would not have entered here ALONE!” Notwithstanding the difference of opinion between La Fayette and Napoleon, whenever it appeared to La Fayette that his services could be of use to the 462best interests of his country, he was ever ready to sacrifice all personal feeling. Before the battle of Marengo, La Fayette addressed a letter to a friend, instructing him to deliver the communication to Napoleon, in case the battle of Marengo should be lost. In this letter La Fayette offered his services to Bonaparte, in defence of the independence of France. As the battle was won, the epistle was not delivered; but Napoleon was informed of the step which La Fayette contemplated taking in case of defeat. One day, while surrounded by his staff of officers, Bonaparte expressed his admiration of the patriotism of the man with whom he differed in opinion, and added, “Which of you, gentlemen, could have done better?”

La Fayette always recollected with pride and with pleasure the services rendered to France by the National Guard, and he thus wrote of them:—

“The Revolution had armed France; it was urgent to bestow on her an organization, and to that end the observations which I had made in America and in several parts of Europe were directed. The National Guard was instituted; this was the sole armed force which could maintain internal order without favoring military despotism, and by means of which foreign aggression could be repelled, whilst the ancient governments were reduced to the inability of defending themselves against us, unless they imitated us; or against their subjects, if they ventured to follow our example.”

La Fayette was a warm advocate in favor of educating the masses; he often said, “that a good education, physical, moral, and intellectual, was in his opinion the best inheritance that parents could transmit to their children; and he considered it to be their duty to make every sacrifice to insure to their offspring this imperishable advantage, 463which could not but in time prove conducive to their happiness and that of others.” He expressed to his physician his astonishment that in colleges young people were forced to study the course of different rivers in India or Mexico, whilst no pains were taken to impart to them a knowledge of themselves, by giving them some notions of their own organizations and the exercise of their functions. He was desirous that great pains should be taken with the moral and political education of the people, thus insuring their being well-informed and good citizens. He contended that education was calculated to purify the manners of a nation, and contribute to its happiness. And in proof of his own opinions, La Fayette himself might well have been cited as a type of a perfectly civilized being, whom civilization has improved instead of deteriorating; for he had avoided all its vices, and followed only with undeviating step the path traced by virtue and true liberty. He declared that every member of a well-constituted society should receive an education that might point out to him the path which he ought to pursue between his duties and his rights; and that such an education would prove much more effectual for the prevention than the law was for the repression of disorder.

La Fayette considered that labor was the first duty of man living in a social state, as it was only by labor that one’s debt to society could be repaid. He countenanced amusements when they were pure and healthful, and considered them a necessary relaxation from bodily or mental occupations.

La Fayette recognized liberty of conscience and was tolerant of all religious beliefs. “If it be a crime,” he declared, “to have preferred civil and religious liberty 464extended equally to all men and all countries, none is more guilty than myself.”

When La Fayette had been proscribed in 1792, the National Convention confiscated all his property, and ordered his negroes at Cayenne to be sold, in spite of the remonstrances of La Fayette, who declared that the negroes had been purchased only to receive their liberty after they had been prepared to exercise it by proper education, and not to be again sold as slaves. At a later period all the negroes of the French colonies were declared free by a decree of the National Convention. It is interesting to note in connection with this effort of La Fayette to bring about the abolition of slavery, that during his last visit to America he visited a free school of young Africans in New York, which had been founded and instituted by the society for the emancipation of the negroes. This incident is related of his visit to this school. A young negro approached La Fayette and said to him, with much emotion: “You see, General, these hundreds of poor African children who appear before you; here they share the benefits of education with the children of the whites: like them, they learn to cherish the recollection of the services which you have rendered to America, and they also revere in you an ardent friend to the emancipation of their race.”

La Fayette was very desirous of instituting prison reforms in France, but he was no advocate for the complete seclusion of prisoners. “Solitary confinement,” said he, “is a punishment which to be judged of must have been endured.” Surely he spoke from a bitter experience, for he had suffered its terrible tortures for one year. Capital punishment was held in horror by La Fayette, and he constantly raised his voice against such penalty, especially in matters of political misdemeanors. 465And no wonder that he shrank in loathing abhorrence from the bloody guillotine, after his experience of the awful Reign of Terror.

M. Cloquet says in his recollections of La Fayette, regarding his opinions on different subjects:—

“He was familiar with all questions of morals, jurisprudence, policy, and public economy, and he could have treated them all ex professo. I have frequently heard him speak of the resources of France and other states; of the relations which people and governments should have to each other; of constitutions, legitimacy, property; of commerce, industry, agriculture; of the art of war, the progress of civilization, the happiness of nations and individuals; and other questions which he treated in the most lucid manner, and which he solved with his natural good sense and simplicity.”

The Encyclopædia Britannica thus sums up the characteristics of La Fayette:—

“His life was beset with inconceivable responsibility and perils, for he was ever the minister of humanity and order among a frenzied people who had come to regard order and humanity as phases of treason. He rescued the queen from the murderous hands of the populace, not to speak of multitudes of humbler victims who had been devoted to death. He risked his life in many unsuccessful attempts to rescue others. He was obliged to witness the butchery of Foulon, and the reeking heart of Berthier torn from his lifeless body and held up in triumph before him. Disgusted with enormities which he was powerless to prevent and could not countenance, he resigned his commission; but so impossible was it to replace him that he was induced to resume it.

“In the Constituent Assembly, of which he was a 466member, his influence was always felt in favor of republican principles, for the abolition of arbitrary imprisonment, for religious tolerance, for popular representation, for the establishment of trial by jury, for the gradual emancipation of slaves, for the freedom of the press, for the abolition of titles of nobility, and the suppression of privileged orders.

“Few men have owed more of their success and usefulness in the world to their family rank than La Fayette, and still fewer have abused it less. He never achieved distinction in the field, and his political career proved him to be incapable of ruling a great national movement; but he had strong convictions which always impelled him to study the interests of humanity, and a pertinacity in maintaining them, which, in all the marvellous vicissitudes of his singularly eventful life, secured him a very unusual measure of public respect.

“No citizen of a foreign country has ever had so many and such warm admirers in America, nor does any statesman in France appear to have ever possessed uninterruptedly for so many years so large a measure of popular influence and respect. He had what Jefferson called a ‘canine appetite’ for popularity and fame, but in him the appetite only seemed to make him more anxious to merit the fame which he enjoyed. He was brave even to rashness; his life was one of constant personal peril, and yet he never shrank from any danger or responsibility if he saw the way open to spare life or suffering, to protect the defenceless, to sustain the law and preserve order.”

Hon. Chauncey Depew thus concisely comments upon La Fayette’s influence in France:—

“While the principles of the American Devolution were fermenting in France, La Fayette, the hero and 467favorite of the hour, was an honored guest at royal tables and royal camps. The proud Spaniard and the Great Frederick of Germany alike welcomed him, and everywhere he announced his faith in government founded on the American idea. The financial crisis in the affairs of King Louis on the one hand, and the rising tide of the popular passion on the other, compelled the summons of the Assembly of Notables at Versailles. All the great officers of state, the aristocracy, the titled clergy, the royal princes, were there, but no representative of the people. La Fayette spoke for them, and, fearless of the efforts of the brother of the king to put him down, he demanded religious toleration, equal taxes, just and equal administration of the laws, and the reduction of royal expenditures to fixed and reasonable limits. This overturned the whole feudal fabric which had been in course of construction for a thousand years. To make effectual and permanent this tremendous stride toward the American experiment, he paralyzed the court and cabinet by the call for a national assembly—an assembly of the people. Through that assembly he carried a declaration of rights, founded upon the natural liberties of man, a concession of popular privilege never before secured in the modern history of Europe; and, going as far as he believed the times would admit toward his idea of an American republic, he builded upon the ruins of absolutism a constitutional monarchy.

“But French democracy had not been trained and educated in the schools of the Puritan or the colonist. Ages of tyranny, of suppression, repression, and torture had developed the tiger and dwarfed the man. Democracy had not learned the first rudiments of liberty,—self-restraint and self-government. It beheaded king and 468queen; it drenched the land with the blood of the noblest and best; in its indiscriminate frenzy and madness it spared neither age nor sex, virtue nor merit, and drove its benefactor, because he denounced its excesses and tried to stem them, into exile and the dungeon of Olmütz. Thus ended in the horrors of the French Revolution La Fayette’s first fight for liberty at home. After five years of untold sufferings, spurning release at the price of his allegiance to monarchy, holding with sublime faith, amidst the most disheartening and discouraging surroundings, to the principles of freedom for all, he was released by the sword of Napoleon Bonaparte, to find that the untamed ferocity of the Revolution had been trained to the service of the most brilliant, captivating, and resistless of military despotisms by the mighty genius of the great Dictator. He only was neither dazzled nor dismayed, and when he had rejected every offer of recognition and honor, Napoleon said: ‘La Fayette alone in France holds fast to his original ideas of liberty. Though tranquil now, he will reappear if occasion offers.’ Against the first consulate of Bonaparte he voted, ‘No, unless with guaranties of freedom.’ When Europe lay helpless at the feet of the conqueror, and, in the frenzy of military glory, France neither saw nor felt the chains he was forging upon her, La Fayette, from his retirement of La Grange, plead with the Emperor for republican principles, holding up to him the retributions always meted out to tyrants, and the pure, undying fame of the immortal few who patriotically decide, when upon them alone rests the awful verdict, whether they shall be the enslavers or the saviors of their country.

“The sun of Austerlitz set in blood at Waterloo. The swords of allied kings placed the Bourbon once more on the throne of France. In the popular tempest of July, 469the nation rose against the intolerable tyranny of the king, and, calling upon this unfaltering friend of liberty, said with one voice: ‘You alone can save France from despotism on the one hand, and the orgies of the Jacobin mob on the other; take absolute power; be marshal, general, dictator if you will.’ But in assuming command of the National Guard, the old soldier and patriot answered, amidst the hail of shot and shell, ‘Liberty shall triumph, or we all perish together.’ He dethroned and drove out Charles X., and France, contented with any destiny he might accord to her, with unquestioning faith left her future in his hands. He knew that the French people were not yet ready to take and faithfully keep American liberty. He believed that in the school of constitutional government they would rapidly learn, and, in the fulness of time adopt its principles, and he gave them a king who was the popular choice, and surrounded him with the restraints of charter and an assembly of the people.”

M. Francis Hervé, editor of Madame Tussaud’s “Memoirs of the French Revolution,” gives the following account of an interview with La Fayette:—

“During an interesting conversation which took place at the apartments of the editor at Paris, a few months prior to the death of La Fayette, respecting the different forms of government, he observed that the approaches of liberty ought always to be very gradual, and not conferred at once upon those who had lived in a state of slavery under an arbitrary power, and without the benefit of education; which opinion was founded upon the long experience of a life which had been ever devoted to that subject. Although bent with age, the same philanthropy and energetic love of freedom glowed within him as that which characterized his youth, but tempered 470with maturer judgment; hence, when the Revolution of the three days took place, and he was called upon as the arbiter of France respecting her government, he decided for monarchy, with liberal institutions; but observed that, although a pledge was given for the promotion of the latter, yet it had never been redeemed; and he sighed as he made that declaration.”

La Fayette passed his winters in Paris, and at all seasons of the year, when he was a member of the Chamber of Deputies, he resided in the city during the sessions. He there occupied a suite of apartments in a large hotel No. 6 Rue d’Anjou, St. Honoré.

La Fayette’s occupations in Paris were extremely numerous. Besides his duties as a deputy, which he performed with scrupulous exactness, he was obliged to attend public meetings, committees, relief societies, boards of instruction, and constant social engagements. Notwithstanding his multifarious avocations he found time to devote to his domestic affairs and to his personal study. He was fond of society, and was a delightful and brilliant conversationalist.

A political duel which terminated in the death of M. Dulong, one of La Fayette’s fellow-deputies, was a severe blow to the marquis. Notwithstanding his age, La Fayette followed the body of his friend to the grave on foot, and when he returned home he was soon taken violently ill. Measures were taken which gave him partial relief, but he never entirely rallied from this attack. His health became so much improved, however, that he was allowed to receive the visits of his friends, who showed their sympathy and regard by the most constant attentions.

La Fayette’s Death Chamber.

But having been exposed to a severe thunder-storm, La Fayette returned home wet and exhausted, and was 471obliged again to take to his bed. His symptoms from time to time became more alarming, but in every interval of comparative freedom from the severity of his sufferings he was cheerful and hopeful. One morning, upon the arrival of his physician, La Fayette greeted him with a smile, and exclaimed: “The Swiss Gazette has just killed me, and yet you knew nothing of the matter! Nay, more: that I might die in due form, the celebrated Doctor ——, whom I hardly know, has been consulted.” He then handed the paper to the surgeon, saying, “After that, believe the public journals if you can.” The family of La Fayette were desirous of having a consultation of physicians about his case; but upon consulting him, he said: “To what purpose? Have I not entire confidence in you, and can any addition be made to the care which you take of me, and to the interest which you feel in my welfare?”

472One of his physicians replied: “We think we have done what is best in your case; but were there only a single remedy that might escape us, it is our duty to seek it. We wish to restore you as soon as possible to health, for we are responsible for your situation towards your family, your friends, and the French nation, of whom you are the father.”

“Yes, their father,” answered La Fayette, with a meaning smile, “on condition that they never follow a syllable of my advice.”

But his days upon earth were numbered. The valiant Knight of Liberty must forever sheathe his brave sword, and the clarion tones of his faithful voice would never again be heard in defence of the rights of his fellow-men. His last years were passed in peace crowned with the undying lustre of well-merited fame, and his self-sacrificing devotion in the cause of truth and liberty received its just remuneration in the adoring love of the people of two continents, united by his patriotic zeal in a brotherhood sworn to defend the glorious rights of freedom and humanity. Few men have been so universally idolized and so universally respected. His glory did not blaze with the dazzling brilliancy of Napoleon’s fame, nor can it be said to have equalled that of Washington; but in some respects his career is unparalleled in history; and as the champion of human liberty, irrespective of any clime and any color, unbiassed by any influence of rank, or wealth, or power; true as the magnet to the pole, in his stanch adherence to his avowed principles, La Fayette stands alone in the annals of the world as the chivalrous Knight of Liberty, wearing the colors of the goddess of freedom and waving his sword in dauntless defiance against the despotisms of the nations.

On the 20th of May, 1834, as the first blush of dawn 473was seen in the east, and the black curtains of the night were lifted, and the promise of a new day glowed in the distant horizon; as the birds chanted their morning matins of praise, and the earth, thrilled by the touch of nature, awoke to renewed beauty,—the vail which shrouds the unknown beyond was parted by unseen fingers, and the soul of La Fayette was wafted by ministering spirits into the presence of the Almighty Monarch of heaven and earth, whose Word had gone forth to all the world, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

In the quiet Picpus Cemetery, in France, in a small enclosure, the green grass is growing over the headless trunks of more than one thousand illustrious victims guillotined at the Barrière du Trône, during the Reign of Terror, and thrown together in this common grave, called the Cimetière des Guillotinés. Near by this memorable spot is La Fayette’s tomb, and by his side sleeps his heroic wife. No grand monument rears its stately head over their remains; nor is it needed. In letters of gold are inscribed upon the black marble tablet, which marks the last resting-place of Liberty’s Knight, the appropriate motto: “Requiescat in Pace.”

As the blackness of the marble is illumined by the gleaming letters of golden light, pronouncing a benediction upon the illustrious sleeper beneath, they become the symbol of the shining example of his self-sacrificing life, consecrated to the holy endeavor of dispelling the black shadows of oppression, that Liberty’s luminous light might flood the world with refulgent splendor.

La Fayette! Liberty! and Law! are the three shining words written upon the page of history by this heroic life.


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TENNYSON’S WORKS.Handy Volume Edition. Complete. Large type. From the latest text, including Earlier Poems. Cloth, gilt top, 8 vols., $6.00; parchment, gilt top, $10.50; half calf, gilt edges, $12.00; American seal russia, gilt edge, round corners, $15.00; full calf, flexible, gilt edges, round corners, $21.00; full calf, gilt edges, padded, round corners, $25.00; tree calf, gilt edge, $30.00.

All of the above are boxed in fancy leatherette or calf boxes, according to style of binding, and make the most elegant and convenient edition of this author’s poems.

WASHINGTON IRVING’S WORKS.—From new plates. Cloth, 12mo, 6 vols., $7.50; library edition, gilt top, $9.00; half calf, marbled, $15.00.

An admirable library edition of an American classic.

POEMS IN COLOR.—With 56 exquisite illustrations from original designs by W. J. Whittemore.

Sea Pictures, by Tennyson. I Remember, by Hood.
Sunrise on the Hills, by Longfellow. To a Waterfowl, by Bryant.
The Worship of Nature, by Whittier. To a Mountain Daisy, by Burns.

These bright-colored and suggestive little designs are illustrations in the best sense of the word. They interpret the poems. Nothing could be more appropriate for a Christmas or birthday remembrance. 6 volumes. Fancy paper covers, 50 cents each; cloth covers, stamped in gold, 75 cents each; celluloid covers, lithographed, $1.00 each.

INITIALS AND PSEUDONYMS.—A Dictionary of Literary Disguises. By William Cushing and Albert R. Frey. A new edition, enlarged and revised. Royal, 8vo, cloth, $5.00; half morocco, $7.50; interleaved, cloth, $7.50; interleaved, half morocco, $10.00.

A most convenient and even necessary adjunct for the desk of a literary worker.

CHRIST AND CHRISTIANITY SERIES.—By Rev. H. R. Haweis. 5 vols., 12mo, each $1.25.

Those who are familiar with Mr. Haweis’s vivid and fascinating style will welcome these five volumes, which are written with deeply religious and earnest feeling.

ST. PAUL’S PROBLEM AND ITS SOLUTION.—Dedicated to the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, and setting forth under the guise of fiction the work of this Society. By Faye Huntington, author of “Transformed,” “What Fide Remembers,” etc. 12mo. $1.25.

“It is a good helpful book, whose value and merits can be understood only through a personal reading.”—Church Press.

SIGRID.—An Icelandic Love Story. Translated from the Danish of Jon Thordssom Thoroddsen. 12mo. $1.25.

A charming picture of manners and customs in “Ultima Thule.”

Transcriber’s Note

French diacritical marks were largely absent, and, with a few exceptions, noted below, have not been added.

On p. 379, the paragraph beginning “After other business...”, appears in quotation marks, but it seems to be in the author’s voice. The punctuation is, however, retained here.

Several words occur only once, with a non-standard spelling, by 21st century standards: villany (p. 76), malecontents (p. 295), vail (p. 472). They are retained as printed.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original. The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.

24.6 and con[s]cious of their mistake Inserted.
120.30 the Cimmerian darkness which envel[l]oped the people Removed.
154.17 in the H[o/ô]tel de Nôailles Replaced.
155.24 le roi vous accord[s/e] les grandes entrees Replaced.
187.12 [“]Though placed within the same castle Removed.
189.32 to attempt at all risks to themselves his release sic: missing word
195.25 [“]The constitution having been accepted Added.
202.14 could free her from the engag[e]ment Inserted.
284.1 you will give me your blessing[”/’] Replaced.
373.32 manage its own concerns[,] provide for Inserted.
378.10 your sincere and obliged friend,[”] Removed.
416.10 The general then went to[ to] the president Removed.
446.15 she presents a laurel branch to La Fayett[t]e. Removed.