Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Fishkill, 4th Octr., 1778.
My dear Marquis,
I have had the pleasure of receiving, by the hands of Monsieur de la Colombe, your favor of the 28th ulto. accompanied by one of the 24th, which he overtook somewhere on the Road. The leave requested in the former,1 I am as much interested to grant, as to refuse my approbation of the Cartel proposed in the latter. 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 opinions, 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 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.2
Having wrote very fully to you a few days ago, and put the Letter under cover to Genl. Sullivan, I have nought to add at this time, but to assure you, that, with the most perfect regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1
[1 ]Permission to return to General Washington’s head-quarters, for the purpose of consulting him on certain points of intelligence which the Marquis had lately received from France.
[2 ]In an address to Congress by the British commissioners, after Governor Johnstone had retired from the commission (Congress having refused to hold any further intercourse with him), they expressed themselves in terms derogatory to France; not very wisely, it must be allowed, considering the relations that then existed between the French and American national councils. The address was signed by all the commissioners, but Lord Carlisle’s name appeared at the head, as president of the board. The French officers thought that Lord Carlisle ought to be called to account for the free remarks, which he had sanctioned by his signature. This duty appertained to Lafayette, he being the highest amongst them in rank. It seemed to accord, also, with his own feelings, and in one of the letters, to which the above was an answer, he had asked General Washington’s opinion. Neither the advice of Washington nor of Count d’Estaing could divert him from his purpose. A challenge was sent; but it was declined by Lord Carlisle, who said, in a civil and good-humored reply, that he considered himself responsible only to his country and King for his public conduct and language.
[1 ]“The coincidence between your Excelly’s sentiments respecting the Marquis de Lafayette’s cartel communicated in the letter with which you honored me the 20th, and those which I expressed to him on the same subject, is peculiarly flattering to me. I am happy to find, that my disapprobation of this measure was founded on the same arguments, which, in Your Excellency’s hands, acquire new force and persuasion. I omitted neither serious reasoning nor pleasantry to divert him from a Scheme in which he could be so easily foiled, without having any credit given to him by his antagonist for his generosity and sensibility. He intimated, that your Excelly. did not discountenance it, and that he had pledged himself to the principal officers of the french Squadron to carry it into execution. The charms of vindicating the honor of his country were irresistible; but, besides, he had in a manner committed himself, and could not decently retract. I however continued to lay my friendly commands upon him to renounce his project; but I was well assured, that, if he determined to persevere in it, neither authority nor vigilance would be of any avail to prevent his message to Lord Carlisle. And tho’ his ardor was an overmatch for my advice and influence, I console myself with the reflection, that his Lordship will not accept the challenge; and that while our friend gains all the applause, which is due to him for wishing to become the Champion of his Country, he will be secure from the possibility of such dangers as my fears wd. otherwise create for him, by those powerful barriers, which shelter his lordship, and which I am persuaded he will not in the present instance violate.