George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Major General Lafayette, 4 October 1778

To Major General Lafayette

Fish-kill Octr 4th 1778.

My dear Marquis,

I have had the pleasure of receiving, by the hands of Monsr de la Colombe, your favour of the 28th Ulto; accompanied by one of the 24th, which he overtook somewhere on the Road. The leave requested in the former, I am as much interested to grant, as to refuse my approbation of the Cartel, proposed in the latter.1

The generous Spirit of Chivalry, exploded by the rest of the World, finds a refuge—My dear friend—in the sensibility of your Nation only—But it is in vain to cherish it, unless you can find Antagonists to support it; and however well adapted it might have been to the times in which it existed, in our days it is to be feared that your opponent, sheltering himself behind modern opinion, and under his present public Character of Commissioner, would turn a virtue of such ancient date, into ridicule—Besides, supposing his Lordship accepted your terms—experience has proved, that chance is as often, as much concerned in deciding these matters as bravery—and always more than the justice of the Cause; I would not therefore have your life, by the remotest possibility, exposed, when it may be reserved for so many greater occasions. His Excellency the Admiral I flatter myself, will be in Sentimt with me; and, as soon as he can spare you, send you to head Quarters, where I anticipate the pleasure of seeing you.

Having wrote very fully to you a few days ago,2 and put the Letter under cover to Genl Sullivan, I have naught to add at this time, but to assure you, that with the most perfect regard I am Dr Sir Yr Most Affecte friend & Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1For GW’s consent for Lafayette to come see him, see GW to John Sullivan, this date. Lafayette met GW at Fishkill either later on this date or sometime the next day, when, contrary to GW’s wishes, he wrote Lord Carlisle challenging him to a public duel (Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 2:187–89). Carlisle replied to Lafayette on 11 Oct., refusing to be drawn into such an affair (Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 2:189).

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