Lafayette’s Two Revolutions

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Lafayette had, as he wrote, abandoned himself to his destiny that late summer afternoon on the plain of Sedan. His destiny was to prove a strange one. It was the rising Bonaparte, who had brutally seized the opportunities Washington’s disciple was too scrupulous to take advantage of, who was eventually to secure his release. For three decades thereafter Lafayette was occasionally to reappear at critical moments in French history, a dignified but ineffectual ghost out of a vanished generation that had gone to its doom in an effort to apply Anglo-Saxon methods to Continental politics.