<br /> Lee Letter: b340

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Lafayette

I thank you, my dear marquis, for your very affectionate letter, by Mr. Houdon; that gentleman arrived in Philadelphia, and proceeded immediately to Mount Vernon; he has been ever since with General Washington, so that I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing him in this city. It is very happy for America, that events of such high importance should have taken place here as to invite artists, of Mr. Houdon’s great reputation, to visit us. I hope that he will find every thing here agreeable to his wises. As I take strong every thing that conduces to your happiness, so I have contemplated with pleasure, the great satisfaction you must have received at the review of those excellent troops of the emperor and of Prussia. A philosophic mind is apt, however, to regret that such fine exertions of human art should so often be employed for the destruction of the human species. I will comfort myself here by hoping, that these will be used to suppress and control, not to promote the bad purposes of ambition. It raises high the glory of Louis the Sixteenth, that his reign has been so eminent for promoting the good of mankind, whilst sovereigns in general, employ their power to increase the miseries of human nature! Will it not happen, during the reign of this glorious monarch, that those lawless pirates, upon the African coast of the Mediterranean, will be compelled, by some proper system, to respect the rights of men, and the laws of nations, instead of receiving annual stipends for not doing what it is really infamous to do. I mean roaming about to injure, oppress, and destroy, their unoffending fellow creatures. Among the many leagues that are formed, why may not one be made for the purpose of protecting the rights of humanity. I hope, sir, that you have not forgotten your design, again to make us happy, by your return to these United States. I have the honour to be, with sentiments of the highest affection and friendship, my dear marquis,

Your most ob’t and very humble serv’t.



Printed in R. H. Lee, Memoir of Richard Henry Lee, 2:68. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 404 – 5.