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The Spirit of Lafayette   By: (1865-)

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THE SPIRIT OF LAFAYETTE

THE SPIRIT OF LAFAYETTE

BY JAMES MOTT HALLOWELL Former Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts

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GARDEN CITY NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY 1918

Copyright, 1918, by DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian

DEDICATED TO THE AMERICAN SOLDIER IN FRANCE WHO HAS ANSWERED THE CALL OF LAFAYETTE

THE SPIRIT OF LAFAYETTE

The Spirit of Lafayette

I

A few years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence a hostile Mohawk chief met in council a representative of the young American republics for the purpose of concluding a treaty of peace. The representative of young democracy was a soldier of France, the Marquis de Lafayette. Primitive America on the one hand, ancient Europe on the other! "Father," said the Indian, "we have heard thy voice and we rejoice that thou hast visited thy children to give to them good and necessary advice. Thou hast said that we have done wrong in opening our ears to wicked men, and closing our hearts to thy counsels. Father, it is all true; we have left the good path; we have wandered away from it and have been enveloped in a black cloud. We have now returned that thou mayest find in us good and faithful children. We rejoice to hear thy voice among us. It seems that the Great Spirit has directed thy footsteps to this council of friendship to smoke the calumet of peace and fellowship with thy long lost children."

The Indian warrior's vision was true in a greater sense than he knew. Through him the soul of America spoke to the soul of Europe, and it spoke of the fellowship of man. Perhaps the footsteps of this soldier of France were indeed directed by a high Providence. Perhaps he was himself a message from the infinite. I love, for my own part, to believe that at his birth there appeared in this world an eternal and mighty spirit, a spirit perhaps from another age or sphere. Who knows? Why not? Who is there can look into the great unknown, the vast and impenetrable depths of the heavens, and say that this could not be, and was not so? How else explain this child of a French monarchy, brought up among the titled nobility of France, who amidst such conditions grew to manhood the devotee of freedom and the ever loyal champion of democracy?

Lafayette was born on September 6, 1757, at the Ch√Ęteau de Chavagnac in the province of Auvergne in the monarchy of France. Two months before his birth his father was killed in battle. Left to the sole guidance of an indulgent mother, surrounded by flattering attendants and the enervating influences of wealth and noble birth, he faced the empty and useless life of a mere titled, wealthy aristocrat. What saved him? To add to these inauspicious beginnings, he was, at the age of twelve, sent to Paris to the College du Plessis where his rank and wealth introduced him to all the gaieties and dissipations of exclusive fashionable Parisian society. His mother died when he was but thirteen, leaving him in the full possession of large and valuable estates, the absolute master of his own destiny, and subject to the indulgences and corruptions of one of the most notorious courts of all Europe. Of a winning personality, he was appointed one of the King's pages, a position much coveted by the princes and nobles of the kingdom. He was also enrolled in the King's Regiment of Mousquetaires, and at the age of fifteen through the favour of the Queen obtained a commission, an honour conferred as a mark of especial royal regard. He was married at the age of sixteen, and his young wife was a daughter of the aristocratic house of Noailles, one of the most powerful and influential families of the French court... Continue reading book >>




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