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of morning breaks upon the benighted and tempest-tossed mariner, so did this timely assistance cheer the hearts of the war-worn and almost despairing soldiers of Freedom. The enthusiastic Frenchman, though but a beardless youth, was immediately taken into the affections and the confidence of Washington. Soon, too, did he flash his maiden sword upon his hereditary foes and proved, upon the field of Brandywine, that his blood flowed as freely as his treasure in the cause he had espoused. That blood was the blood of the young Lafayette. But nineteen summers had passed over his brow, when he was thus found fighting side by side with the veteran warriors of Bunker Hill.
How came he here? Born to a high name and a rich inheritance; educated at a dissipated and voluptuous court; married to a young and beautiful woman;-how came he to break through the blandishments of love and the temptations of pleasure and thus be found fighting the battles of strangers, far away in the wilds of America ? It was because, from his infancy, there had grown up in his bosom a passion more potent than all others: the love of liberty. Upon his heart a spark from the very altar of Freedom had fallen and he watched and cherished it with more than vestal vigilance. This passionate love of liberty; this fire which was thenceforth to glow unquenched and undimmed, impelled him to break asunder the ties both of pleasure and affection. He had heard that a gallant people had raised the standard of revolt against oppression and he hastened to join them. It was to him the Crusade of Liberty; and, like a Knight of the Holy Cross, he had enlisted in the ranks of those who had sworn to rescue her altars from the profane touch of the tyrant.
More congenial to him by far were the hardships, the dangers, and the freedom of the American wilds than the ease, the luxury, and the slavery of his native court. He exchanged the voice of love for the savage yell and the hostile shout; the gentle strains of the harp and lute for the trumpet and drum and the still more terrible music of clashing arms. Nor did he come alone or emptyhanded. The people in whose cause he was about to peril his life and his fortune were too poor to afford him even the means of conveyance, and his own court threw every
obstacle in the way of the accomplishment of his wishes. Did this dampen his ardor? Did this chill his generous aspiration ? No; it added new vigor to each. "I will fit out a vessel myself,” exclaimed the enthusiastic youth; and in spite of the sneers of the young and the cautions of the old the gallant boy redeemed his pledge. Soon a proud ship was seen flying fast and falcon-like across the wide Atlantic. She landed on our shores like a bird of promise; and by her present aid and hopes of future succor infused new vigor into our almost palsied arms.
Such was the commencement of a career destined to be more brilliant than any of which we read in tale or history, realizing the wildest wishes of youthful enthusiasm and showing how the romance of real life often exceeds the strangest fictions of the imagination. From the moment of joining our ranks the young hero became the pride and the boast of the army. He won the affections of the stern-browed and iron-souled warriors of New England and was received with open arms by the warmhearted and chivalrous sons of the South. Though the down of manhood had scarcely begun to spring upon his cheek, yet were his counsels eagerly listened to by the hoary leaders and the scarred veterans of the war. On the field of battle he was impetuous and brave; in the council the wisdom of Nestor flowed from his lips.
But it is not my intention to go into a detailed account of the services rendered by Lafayette to the country of his adoption. Suffice it to say that, throughout the Revolutionary struggle, with unchanged fidelity and undeviating devotion, he continued to pour forth his blood and his treasure in the sacred cause he had espoused; and when at length, full of honors, without one single stain upon his bright escutcheon, he returned to his native land, the voices of millions of freemen were united in invoking the blessing of heaven upon his head. Thenceforth a halo of glory surrounded him, and he was hailed by all the world as the Apostle of Liberty! Full well did he deserve the title! For not more truly does the needle point to the pole than did all his feelings point to the great principles of civil freedom.
During the sanguinary scenes of the French Revolution, when the people had quaffed so deeply at the fountain of
liberty that they became drunk and frenzied with the unusual draughts, Lafayette alone lost not his equanimity. He alone dared to oppose the wild excesses of the Jacobins; and though he was unable entirely to stem the maddened torrent, which seemed let loose from hell itself, yet many are the thanks due to his unwearied exertions to restrain it within the banks of law and order. Throughout those troublesome times he was found at his post, by the side of the Constitution and the laws; and when at length the whole foundations of society were broken up and the wild current of licentiousness and crime swept him an exile into a foreign land, still did he hold fast his integrity of soul. In the gloomy dungeons of Olmutz, the flame of patriotism glowed as brightly and as warmly in his breast as ever it did when fanned by the free breezes of the mountains. The dungeons of Olmutz! What associations are connected with the name! They form a part of the romance of history. For five long years was the Friend of Liberty immured in the prison of the tyrant. In vain did the civilized world demand his release. But what nations could not effect, came near being accomplished by the devoted exertions of two chivalric young men; and one of them was a South Carolinian whose father had extended the hospitality of his house to Lafayette, when on his first visit to America he landed in the city of Charleston. Strange, that, after the lapse of so many years, the little child who had then climbed upon his knee should now be periling his life for his rescue! There is nothing in history to compare with this romantic episode of real life, unless, perhaps, the story of the minstrel friend of the lion-hearted Richard, wandering through those very dominions, tuning his harp beneath every fortress, till at length his strains were answered and the prison of the royal Crusader discovered. But the doors of the Austrian dungeon were at length thrown open and Lafayette returned to France. Great changes, however, had taken place in his absence. The flood of the Revolution had subsided. The tempest of popular commotion had blown over, leaving many and fearful evidences of its fury; and the star of the Child of Destiny had now become lord of the ascendant. Small was the sympathy between the selfish and ambitious Napoleon and
Lafayette, the patriot and philanthropist. They could no more mingle than the pure lights of heaven and the unholy fires of hell. Lafayette refused with scorn the dignities proffered by the First Consul. Filled with virtuous indignation at his country's fate, he retired from the capital; and, devoting himself awhile to the pursuits of private life, awaited the return of better times.
Here we cannot but pause to contemplate these two wonderful men, belonging to the same age and to the same nation: Napoleon and Lafayette. Their names excite no kindred emotions; their fates no kindred sympathies. Napoleon—the Child of Destiny—the thunderbolt of war —the victor in a hundred battles—the dispenser of thrones and dominions; he who scaled the Alps and reclined beneath the pyramids, whose word was fate and whose wish was law. Lafayette—the volunteer of Freedom—the advocate of human rights—the defender of civil liberty—the patriot and the philanthropist—the beloved of the good and the free. Napoleon-the vanquished warrior, ignobly flying from the field of Waterloo, the wild beast, ravaging all Europe in his wrath, hunted down by the banded and affrighted nations and caged far away upon an oceangirded rock. Lafayette, a watchword by which men excite each other to deeds of worth and noble daring; whose home has become the Mecca of freedom, toward which the pilgrims of Liberty turn their eyes from every quarter of the globe. Napoleon was the red and fiery comet, shooting wildly through the realms of space and scattering pestilence and terror among the nations. Lafayette was the pure and brilliant planet, beneath whose grateful beams the mariner directs his bark and the shepherd tends his flocks—Napoleon died and a few old warriors——the scattered relics of Marengo and of Austerlitz-bewailed their chief. Lafayette is dead and the tears of a civilized world attest how deep is the mourning for his loss. Such is, and always will be, the difference of feeling toward a benefactor and a conqueror of the human race.
In 1824, on Sunday, a single ship furled her snowy sails in the harbor of New York. Scarcely had her prow touched the shore, when a murmur was heard among the multitudes which gradually deepened into a mighty shout
of joy. Again and again were the heavens rent with the inspiring sound. Nor did it cease; for the loud strain was carried from city to city and from State to State, till not a tongue was silent throughout this wide Republic from the lisping infant to the tremulous old man. All were united in one wild shout of gratulation. The voices of more than ten million freemen gushed up towards the sky and broke the stillness of its silent depths. But one note and one tone went to form this acclamation. Up in those pure regions clearly and sweetly, did it sound: “Honor to Lafayette!” “Welcome to the Nation's Guest!” It was Lafayette, the war-worn veteran, whose arrival on our shores had caused this widespread, this universal joy. He came among us to behold the independence and the freedom which his young arm had so well assisted in achieving; and never before did eye behold or heart of man conceive, such homage paid to virtue. Every day's march was an ovation. The United States became for months one great festive hall. People forgot the usual occupations of life and crowded to behold the benefactor of mankind. The iron-hearted, gray-haired veterans of the Revolution thronged around him to touch his hand, to behold his face, and to call down Heaven's benisons upon their old companion-in-arms. Lisping infancy and garrulous old age, beauty, talents, wealth, and power, all, for a while forsook their usual pursuits and united to pay a tribute of gratitude and welcome to the nation's guest. The name of Lafayette was upon every lip, and wherever his name was, there, too, was an invocation for blessings upon his head. What were the triumphs of the classic ages, compared with this unbought love and homage of a mighty people? Take them in Rome's best days, when the invincible generals of the Eternal City returned from their foreign conquests, with captive kings bound to their chariot wheels and the spoils of nations in their train; followed by their stern and bearded warriors and surrounded by the endless multitudes of the seven-hilled city, shouting a fierce welcome home; what was such a triumph compared with Lafayette's? Not a single city, but a whole nation riding as one man and greeting him with an affectionate embrace! One single day of such spontaneous homage were worth