La Fayette - Vol. 1

La Fayette - Vol. 1

La Fayette - Vol. 1

La Fayette - Vol. 1

Excerpt

In venturing to add another book to the list, already long, of works on La Fayette, I ought, perhaps, to prefix it with a word of explanation. In 1917 I was asked to speak at the ceremonies held on the Fourth of July at La Fayette's tomb in Picpus Cemetery. It was the moment of our entry into the World War, and all the implications of the time and place combined to awaken in me an interest that survived the occasion. I began to read everything about La Fayette that I could find, and the more I read, the more I came to like him; something of the peculiar charm he must have radiated in life still glowed from the dullest page. In time I had collected pretty much everything that had been published, and at last, about four years ago, I began to write the book that, after such an interest so long sustained, was of course inevitable in the case of one with whom writing was an old and incorrigible habit.

The life of La Fayette was the history of his times, an inseparable part of the vast revolutionary cycle with which it was conterminous in its long span. He was not yet twenty when he engaged in his first revolution, and he was seventy‐ three when he undertook his last. In his youth he saw old Louis XV playing at cards with Madame DuBarry in the salons of Versailles; he was presented to George III at St. James's Palace and fought by the side of Washington from Brandywine to Yorktown. And then after being tossed about by the whirlwind of the French Revolution, spending long years in prison and exile, defying Napoleon under the . . .

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