"It is a singular phenomenon, that such a character as that of M. de Lafayette, should have appeared in the foremost rank of the French noblesse; but he can neither be censured nor exculpated with impartiality, without being acknowledged to be such as I have described him. It then becomes easy to understand the different contrasts which naturally arose between his disposition and situation. Supporting monarchy more from duty than attachment, he drew involuntarily towards the principles of the democrats, whom he was obliged to resist; and a certain kindness for the advocates of the republican form, was perceptible in him, although his reflection forbade the admission of their system into France. Since the departure of M. de Lafayette for America, now forty years ago, we cannot quote a single action or a single word of his, which was not direct and consistent. Personal interest never blended itself in the least with his public conduct: success would have displayed such sentiments to advantage; but they claim the attention of the historian in spite of circumstances, and in spite of faults, which may serve as a handle to his opponents."
M. Lafayette was returned a member of the chamber of deputies from his own department, in 1819, though his election was opposed by the ministerial party. Some members rejoiced to see again among them, the "friend and disciple of Washington;" while others, the adherents of monarchy, viewed him with distrust and jealousy, as "the veteran general of the revolution." He was not a very active member of this legislative body; for he was convinced it would be in vain to attempt restoring the constitution of 1789. He seldom attended the assembly: but on several questions, when he was present, discovered the same political sentiments which directed his conduct in the early days of the revolution. The minister offered a proposition for establishing a censorship over the public journals, and for arresting persons suspected of being inimical to the restoration of the Bourbons. Lafayette spoke against the proposed law, "as subversive of all order, of all right, and of the natural and just privileges of the citizens." He referred to the evils consequent upon all arbitrary proceedings against persons merely suspected of being unfriendly to the government, and to the probable mischiefs which would arise from a severe restriction upon the liberty of the press. The minister himself acknowledged, that the proposition was not wholly consistent with the national rights of the citizens; but insisted upon its expediency in the present state of the nation. At this time, also, he reminded the ministers of promises, which had been made by the political friends of Louis XVIII. in favor of the liberties of the people. He "conjured them to maintain the liberties of France, within the limits prescribed by the constitution." "To violate it," said he, "is to dissolve the mutual guarantees of the nation and of the throne; it is to give ourselves up to a total primitive freedom from all duties and all laws." This discussion was unusually animated, and Lafayette was very decided in his opposition to the measure. The course pursued by the court was condemned; and some severity of remark was indulged in, as to the designs of ministers. The ministerial party obtained but a small majority in favor of the law; and some fermentation was excited in Paris in relation to this subject. The liberals, or the friends of constitutional freedom, were insulted, and the life of Lafayette was openly menaced.
This year, a society was formed among the friends of constitutional freedom, for the relief of those, who were arrested on mere suspicion, or on a charge of violating the restrictions on the press; but who were believed to be unjustly suspected, and who had been found entirely innocent, even in the eye of the law, rigid as were its provisions. This was a numerous society; consisting of fifty four members of the chamber of deputies, and many other opulent and literary citizens; at the head of which we find the name of M. Lafayette.
The distinguished Americans and Englishmen who have visited Lafayette, at his family mansion of La Grange, describe his residence and its inmates as most beautiful and interesting. "It is situated in the fertile district of La Brie, thirty miles from Paris, remote from any common road, and far distant from the bustling world. In the midst of a luxuriant wilderness, rising above prolific orchards and antiquated woods, appears the five towers of La Grange, tinged with the golden rays of the declining sun. The deep moat, the draw bridge; the ivied tower and arched portals, opening into a large square court, has a feudal and picturesque character; and the associations which occur, on entering the residence of a man so heroic, so disinterested, so celebrated, fill the mind with peculiar admiration, and excite the most lively interest." The family party, partaking more of patriarchal than of courtly manners, is composed of individuals mutually attached, and anxious only for mutual improvement and happiness. It represents the younger members, as employed in their studies or engaged in innocent recreations so salutary to the youthful temper and constitution: and the older, as occupied in useful and literary pursuits, or devoted to the more enlivening pleasures of conversation.
"The venerable head of this happy family, at the age of sixty seven, is in the full possession of every talent and faculty. His memory has all the tenacity of youthful recollection. On his person, time has yet made little visible impression. Not a wrinkle furrows the ample brow; and his unbent and noble figure is still as upright, bold and vigorous, as the mind which informs it. Grace, strength and dignity still distinguish the fine person of this extraordinary man; who, though more than forty years before the world, engaged in scenes of strange and eventful conflict, does not yet appear to have reached his grand climactic. Active on his farm, graceful and elegant in his salon, it is difficult to trace, in one of the most successful agriculturists, and one of the most perfect fine gentlemen of France, a warrior and a legislator. But the patriot is always discernible. His conversation is enriched with anecdotes of all that is celebrated in character or event, for the last fifty years. His elegant and well chosen collection of books, occupies the highest apartments in one of the towers of the chateau; and, like the study of Montaigne, hangs over the farm yard of the philosophical agriculturist. It frequently happens, said M. Lafayette, to one of his visitors as they were looking from a window on some flocks, which were moving beneath, that my merinos and my hay carts dispute my attention to Hume or Voltaire."
Of the benevolent affections of Lafayette, his whole life affords abundant proofs. He was possessed of the most patriotic and generous feeling. Numerous instances are also related of his kindness to individuals, and of his private benefactions. The children of his tenants, and neighbours were objects of his generosity and complacency. And those who are unjustly oppressed or defrauded, were sure to find in him, an able advocate. The widow of an American officer, of French parentage, who was left destitute at the death of her gallant husband, had a claim for patrimonial estates in France. The legal evidence to substantiate her claim was exceedingly difficult to be procured. The case was made known to Lafayette, and he never ceased his exertions until he recovered the greater part of the estate.
Soon after the arrival of young Lafayette in Boston, 1795, he wrote to General Washington, then President of the United States, informing him of his situation, and requesting advice and counsel from the friend of his father. As the chief magistrate of the nation, it would not have been prudent in Washington, publicly to interfere in his behalf—Lafayette, at this period, was almost equally obnoxious to the rulers of France, as any one of the royal family. He had, indeed, been most unjustly denounced and proscribed by the dominant party; but they pretended he was attached to a monarchy; and a public official act of patronage in the President, towards young Lafayette, would have furnished a pretext for complaint against the government. Washington had already given proof, that he did not approve of the conduct of the French Directory, nor of the proceedings of their minister in America. But though a prudent policy forbid all official attention and aid to the son of Lafayette the generous & noble feelings of Washington induced him to give assurances of personal regard, and of a readiness to afford all proper assistance towards the education and support of this youthful subject of political persecution. He wrote to his friend, Hon. George Cabot, stating the reasons for declining to act officially or publicly in the case; but requesting Mr. C. to assure young Lafayette that he might consider him as a father, a friend and protector. Washington expressed a desire in this letter, that he should become a member of the university in Cambridge, if qualified for admission, where he would be under the inspection and tuition of excellent men; for he was aware that want of employment would lead to dissipation; and that the season of youth was to be diligently improved for the cultivation of the mind. He desired Mr. C. to call on him to meet any expenses which might accrue in his education and support. The French tutor, who attended young Lafayette, chose to have him under his own private instruction; and he did not enter the university. The kindness and generosity of Washington were not the less meritorious in the appeal made to him by the son of his own, and of his country's friend.
Among the many eminent characters by whom General Lafayette was visited in his retirement at La Grange, after his return to France, (in 1800) was CHARLES J. FOX, the celebrated British statesman. The family of Mr. Fox, for several generations, was ranked among the whip party in England, and firm friends of the glorious revolution of 1689; when the House of Stuart was excluded from the throne, and William and Mary acknowledged as the legitimate sovereigns. Mr. Fox was of the same political school with the elder PITT, whose powerful talents were successfully exerted for the glory of Great Britain, in the latter part of the reign of George II. and who was a firm and decided advocate for the rights of the British colonies in 1775. When Lafayette and family were confined in the dungeons at Olmutz, Mr. Fox, with others, then members of the British Parliament, pleaded the cause of these unhappy sufferers, with great eloquence, but without effect. He had been personally acquainted with the celebrated French philanthropist, before this period; and was attached to his character and principles, as a zealous friend of civil liberty. The interview between these two highly distinguished reformers is represented to have been peculiarly interesting. Perhaps, the plans of reform proposed by Mr. Fox, could not have been carried into effect, at that time, without danger to the stability of the British government; but the general character of Fox, gave evidence of the sincerity of his upright purposes; and of the purity of the motives by which Lafayette was actuated, in the course he pursued in France, in 1789, and subsequently, cannot be justly doubted, though the revolution did not result in the, political benefits be had anticipated.
When Mr. Fox was in Paris, some time in 1802, Lafayette hastened from his retired residence, at La Grange, to call on him. The writer, who gives an account of this meeting, observes, "that a stranger of an interesting and graceful figure, came gently in," where he and Mr. Fox were sitting, at the hotel in Paris, "advanced rapidly; and, embracing Mr. Fox, showed a countenance full of joy, while tears rolled down his cheeks; Mr. Fox testified equal emotion. It was M. de Lafayette, the virtuous and unshaken friend of liberty. He had come from the country to see Mr. Fox, and to invite him to his house. In a few moments their sentiments were interchanged. The review of the past was taken in a moment; and they soon appeared to be affectionate friends, who having parted for a few days, were now reunited. Lafayette viewed the new state of things with regret; not from any personal dislike of the first consul, but from a rooted and principled conviction, that arbitrary power is injurious to the happiness of mankind.
"In his retirement, and filled with gloomy prospects of the republic, he lived in the most private and simple manner. In the bosom of an amiable and affectionate family, he found every consolation. He frequented no place of amusement; and, with a very limited fortune, exhibited the bright example of a public man, content with a little, free from all envious and angry feelings: and willing to live in dignified silence, when he had not the power or influence to do good."
The visit of Mr. Fox and his friend to La Grange, is thus described—"The towers and wood of the chateau appeared in peaceful repose, as we drove near; and when we gained a full view of the building, I felt great emotion; it was the residence of a great and good man—a patriot and friend of mankind, whose life had been consecrated to virtue and liberty; the family came to the hall to meet us, happy in themselves, and rejoicing to see the illustrious friend of Lafayette! I cannot forget that moment—no silly affectation, no airs of idle ceremony were seen at the residence of him, who had gloriously struggled for America, and had done all he could for France.
"M. de Lafayette and Madame received Mr. and Mrs. Fox with the heartiest welcome. The family consisted of two daughters, and a son and his wife, all young and elegant; all living with M. de Lafayette, as a brother and friend. His graceful and manly form, his benevolent countenance, his frank and warm manners, which made him almost adored by his family, and a placid contentedness, nearly allied to cheerfulness; altogether had an irresistible effect, in gaining the affections and esteem of those admitted to his more intimate society.
"Madame de Lafayette, of the noble family of Noailes, was a superior and admirable woman, possessing the high polish of the ancient nobility, eloquent and animated. Fondly attached to M. de Lafayette and her family, she regretted nothing of past splendor; she possessed an affectionate husband, and was happy in retirement. The son was a pleasing young man, and his wife engaging and interesting; the daughters were charming women, entirely free from the insipid languor or wretched affectation, which in young ladies of fashion so much destroys originality of character, and makes us find, in one of the fashionables, the prototype and pattern of thousands. In a word, this amiable and happy family seemed united by one bond of affection, and to desire nothing beyond the circle of their own tranquil mansion.
"The chateau and estate of La Grange, which Madame, who was an heiress, had brought with her, was all that remained of his fortune. He had lost every thing besides in the madness of revolutionary confiscation; and had not yet been able to procure restitution or compensation. To add to the interest of the scene, General Fitzpatrick who had known Lafayette in America, and had vainly attempted, in the British house of Commons, to rouse the ministry to a sense of humanity and justice for him, joined the party at La Grange, at this time. That accomplished man was an addition to our society, and was received most affectionately by the family of Lafayette. I have often contemplated with great pleasure, Mr. Fox, General Fitzpatrick and M. de Lafayette walking in the long shady grove near the chateau, speaking of past times, the war in America, and the revolution in France. The rare sight of three such characters was grateful to any one who felt friendly to the cause of civil liberty, and valued men for their services to humanity, rather than for successful ambition.
"Lafayette spoke a good deal of America; and we learnt from him something of his various and useful services for that country, at the court of Louis, as well as of his personal efforts, during the struggle for independence. His political career in France had not the same happy result, as in America; but it should be considered, that his situation in the former was arduous beyond measure. A friend to limited monarchy, and to the legitimate rights of the people, at a time when the support of one was deemed hostility to the other, he found it impossible, consistent with his principles, to follow the mania of the nation. A king of integrity and firmness, with Lafayette as his counselor, might have been safe, even in the tumultuous times preceding the seizure of civil power by sanguinary demagogues. But Louis, it is feared, wanted both these qualities; certainly the latter. Lafayette failed, therefore, in his patriotic views; not as Bonaparte is said to have insinuated, because he aimed at what was impracticable; but because those whose interest it was to second his views, did not support him. A ruined throne and desolate country subsequently attested the purity of his principles, and the soundness of his judgment."
General Lafayette is of the Catholic religion, which has been long established, and is still generally professed, in France. But he discovers nothing of that exclusive and intolerant spirit which has distinguished the church of Rome, more especially in ages past. He took an active part in favor of the proposition, in 1789, for securing the rights of conscience and the privileges of worship to the protestants of France, according to, their own particular belief. It was not to be supposed that one of his enlightened views, and knowledge of human nature, would be a bigot in religion; or would attach undue importance to the external forms and the mere ceremonies of worship. He is not, however, to be classed with many learned men in Roman Catholic countries, in modern times, who merely profess the papal system because it is the religion of the state, while they are real infidels; or skeptical as to the essential doctrines of christianity. It is not improbable that his intercourse with liberal and candid yet pious men is America, in his early years, served to produce in his mind charitable sentiments toward those who were educated in a system differing somewhat from that which he had been taught to revere, in its ceremonies and even in some of its dogmas. He was several years intimately acquainted with Washington, Lincoln and other military characters, who were men of sincere, though of unostentatious piety; as well as with many of the clergy of our country, whom he could not but esteem and respect; and the natural effect of such intercourse would be a liberality of opinion on religious subjects. It is, indeed, a consideration, creditable, in some measure, to those who admit it, and tending also to prove that christianity is calculated and designed to be an universal religion, that intelligent men of different countries and sects unite in receiving all the essential and practical doctrines of revelation. In a word, "that God is no respecter of persons; but that in every nation he who feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted of him."
Having followed Lafayette through many years of an active and eventful life, and having witnessed his course in various critical and responsible situations, we may be prepared to form a correct estimate of his talents, his wisdom and his virtues. It is far from our wishes to pronounce an unqualified or exaggerated panegyric on his character. But for the honor of our species and in justice to this eminent philanthropist, it is proper that his heroic and generous actions, and his firmness and perseverance of purpose in the cause of civil liberty and of the rights of mankind, should be duly appreciated. And when we reflect upon the ardour and constancy of his efforts in favour of American Independence; upon his personal sacrifices and exposure to danger in our behalf, in the field, and his solicitations as our advocate at the court of Louis; upon his warm attachment to Washington, and to the other patriots and heroes of our glorious revolution; upon his attempts afterwards to improve the government of his own country and to place some check upon the despotic power of a selfish, calculating ministry; upon his uniform resolute, and fearless opposition to the wild projects of factious men, who obtained ephemeral influence in France, but whose conduct was equally hostile to the rights and welfare of the people as that of the agents of an absolute monarch; upon his steady and firm support of the constitution, formed by the deputies of the people, and designed to guarantee their liberties; upon his desire to support the dignity of the monarch, in unison with the rights of the citizens, and his wishes to afford security to the person of Louis; and upon his efforts to restore related and constitutional liberty, at the time the present king returned to France, and when Napoleon was aiming at unlimited power as perpetual dictator, are we not obliged to acknowledge, that few men; very few, indeed, have done so much for the social happiness of their fellows; that very few deserve the gratitude and applause, which may be justly claimed for this very eminent asserter of the rights of man. Success is too often made the criterion of human merit. It is matter of great congratulation, that our revolutionary struggle was successful; and it is believed, that Lafayette, by his influence in France, and his personal exertions here, contributed very much to its happy termination. In his own country, afterwards, he was not so fortunate in attaining and securing the object at which he aimed. But to the accurate and deep observer of character and events, it will probably be apparent, that no one, however resolute, could have established a government in France in 1790, upon the just recognition of the rights of man, and the exercise of power, (even limited power) in the reigning Prince. That Lafayette was upright and disinterested in his purpose, perhaps, no candid impartial man will deny; that any one could have produced a more fortunate issue, is at least very doubtful. He did not want decision, or energy. He often acted with great promptness, and gave proof of ready mental resources. He was also brave, and fearless of personal danger. Other men might have conducted with more energy; but it would have been at the hazard of a thousand lives and in violation of constitutional principles. That Lafayette was not more efficient, or more despotic, when he commanded the national guards, and the populace of Paris went to Versailles and insulted the royal family; or when the Jacobin faction, in June 1792, were ready to denounce him and to prostrate the constitution, did not argue want of energy but the influence of principle and a salutary love of order.
When it is recollected what important and disinterested services the Marquis de Lafayette had performed for America, in the most critical periods of our revolutionary war, and how active and uniform he had been, through all the changes and excesses in his own country for upwards of thirty years, it cannot be thought unreasonable, that the citizens of the United States held his character in high estimation, and were desirous of greeting him once more, on their own territory, which he had assisted by his zeal and valour to defend. In his letters to his friends here, and in the interviews, which he had with American gentleman at his own hospitable mansion, he frequently expressed a wish and an intention of again visiting this favored land of liberty. He cherished precious recollections of the times, long since past, when he joined with many brave and honorable spirits in the sacred cause of freedom. To the patriots and heroes who achieved our independence, he had a most sincere and cordial attachment; and his military associates who survived, and their children, who had often heard of his heroic and generous deeds, were eager on their part to welcome him to their country and their affections; and to show to him and to the world, that they entertained a high sense of his sacrifices and efforts in securing to them the privileges and blessings they so richly enjoy.
The feelings of General Lafayette will appear by the letters he wrote to his friends in this country, when he was expecting to make his long-intended visit. The following is an extract from one addressed to an old revolutionary friend, who had previously written to Lafayette. "I am deeply affected by your kindly remembrance. No one among the survivors, who sharedin our glorious cause and military fraternity, can be attached more than I am, to the memory of our departed brethren, and to the ties which bind together the surviving American companions in arm. Since our youthful revolutionary times, many vicissitudes have passed over our heads. But in every situation, I have enjoyed, with great delight, the recollection of our struggle so glorious and so pure; of our Columbian country, so excellent and promising; of our brotherly army, so gallant, so virtuous and so united. How happy for us to see the present prosperous result of the contest, which our toils and our blood have shared the honor to support."
In January 1824, when it was known, that General Lafayette proposed to take passage for the United States, the Representatives of the nation, in Congress assembled, requested the President "to offer him a public ship for his accommodation; [he declined this offer, and chose to embark in a private vessel;] and to assure him, in the name of the people of this great Republic, that they cherished for him a grateful and affectionate attachment."
The Legislature of Massachusetts also, at its session in June last, adopted a resolve, "requesting the Governor to make such arrangements, as would secure to this distinguished friend of our country, an honorable reception, on the part of this State, and authorising him to draw any sum from the public treasury to meet the expenses arising thereupon."
The Society of Cincinnati of Massachusetts, at their anniversary meeting on the fourth of July, it being then expected that General Lafayette would soon visit the United States, unanimously passed the following vote. "It being reported, that General Lafayette, an original member of the Society of Cincinnati, intends visiting the United States in the course of the present year, voted, that a Committee be appointed to consider what measures it will be proper for this Society to adopt on the arrival of this our distinguished brother; whose meritorious and disinterested services to our country, in the war of the revolution, cannot be too highly appreciated, and whose whole life has been devoted to the vindication of the rights of man." A committee was then appointed for the purpose, of which Hon. John Brooks (late Governor) was the chairman.
Letters were written to General Lafayette, before he left France by several distinguished individuals, and by the Mayor of New-York and of Boston, in the name and behalf of those corporations, expressing a strong desire, that he would visit America, as it was reported he intended, and informing him of the universal and sincere disposition of the citizens, to present him a tribute of esteem and gratitude.
In a letter dated at Paris, May 26, in reply to the invitation of the citizens of Boston, communicated to him by the Mayor, in their name, under date of March 20th, 1824, he observed, "that amidst the new and high marks of benevolence which the people of the United States and their Representatives had lately deigned to confer upon him, he was proud and happy to recognize those particular sentiments of the citizens of Boston, which had blessed and delighted the first years of his public career, the grateful sense of which had ever been to him a most valued reward and support." "I joyfully anticipate the day," he added, "not very remote, thank God, when I may revisit the cradle of American, and in future, I hope, of universal liberty. Your so honorable and gratifying invitation would have been directly complied with, in the case to which you are pleased to allude. [Footnote: This was the particular request that he would land at Boston, if he did not come in a public ship, and feel obliged to arrive at Washington.] But while I profoundly feel the honor intended by the offer of a national ship, I hope I shall incur no blame, by the determination I have taken, to embark as soon as it is in my power, on board a private vessel. Whatever port I first attain, I shall with the same eagerness hasten to Boston, and present its beloved and revered inhabitants, as I have now the honor to offer it to the City Council and to yourself, the homage of my affectionate gratitude and devoted respect."
When this letter of Lafayette was communicated to the Common Council of the city, a large and respectable committee was chosen "to make suitable arrangements for his reception, should he first arrive at the port of Boston; and that on his visiting this city, should he disembark at some other place in the United States, the committee provide for his accommodation, during his residence here; and to adopt all such measures as they might deem proper, to extend to him the hospitality of the city, and to exhibit the feelings of gratitude, which the whole body of citizens entertain for the splendid services, ardent patriotism and private worth of the illustrious visitor."
Hon. Mr. Lloyd, Senator from this State in the Congress of the United States, and particularly attached to Lafayette from family alliances, on hearing of his intended visit to America, also addressed a friendly note to him, at an early day, requesting the honor of receiving him at his hospitable mansion. But the city authorities were desirous, that General Lafayette, who might be justly considered the guest of the people and of the nation, should be accommodated by the city in a more public manner: and Mr. Lloyd, with his usual courtesy and regard to public opinion, resigned his particular claims, although he was among the first and most eminent of the citizens of Boston, to show peculiar and distinguished attention to the favorite of the American people.
In his answer to the letter of Mr. Lloyd, he says, "in whatever part of the United States I shall find myself, on reaching the beloved shore of America, I shall lose no, time in my eagerness to revisit the city of Boston, and answer the flattering invitation I have received. You do justice to the delight I shall feel, at the sight of the felicity and prosperity, which is the reward of a virtuous revolution, founded on the principles of true liberty and self-government."
* * * * *
VISIT OF GENERAL LAFAYETTE
UNITED STATES—IN 1824
His arrival was anticipated with great interest and impatience. Preparations were in contemplation, particularly in New-York and Boston, several weeks before he arrived, to receive him with such public marks of veneration and joy, as were justly due to one so distinguished by an ardent love of liberty, and by meritorious exertions for the welfare of our country.
General Lafayette arrived in the harbour of New-York on the morning of the 15th of August, accompanied by his son, George W. Lafayette, and his friend, M. Le Vasseur. A steam boat was in waiting, at the entrance of the harbour, and they were immediately conducted to Staten Island, the residence of the Hon. Mr. Tompkins, Vice President of the United States, where he passed the remainder of the day, being Sunday. This is but a short distance from the city of New-York: here many public characters and other distinguished citizens repaired; on the day of his arrival, to offer him their respectful salutations. The next day he entered this populous city; and his reception was most splendid and cordial. Perhaps no hero of ancient or modern times, if we except the respectful and universal attention paid to Washington, when he made the tour of the United States in 1789, was ever greeted with such a sincere and enthusiastic welcome.
"At an early hour, the whole city was in motion; almost every man, woman and child was preparing to witness the landing of their much respected guest. The shops and stores were closed, and all business was suspended for the day. The ringing of bells, the roar of cannon, and the display of the national flag, at all public places and on board the shipping, proclaimed that it was a day of joy, in which all were anxious to partake. Before 12 o'clock, the battery, the adjoining wharves and every place commanding a view of the passage from Staten Island, were crowded to excess. It was supposed there were nearly 50,000 persons upon the battery, including the troops. This elegant promenade, since its enlargement, is said to be capable of holding nearly the whole population of the city, (130,000) but a large portion of the front was occupied by the brigade of artillery and other troops. The castle garden, almost contiguous to the battery, and its gallery, were also crowded by the citizens.
"Between 10 and 11 o'clock, a large steam ship, manned with about 200 United States seamen, and decorated with the flags of every nation, sailed for Staten Island. She was followed by six large steam boats, all crowded with passengers, decorated with flags, and enlivened by bands of music. In one of them, which exhibited only flags of the United States and of the State of New-York, proceeded the committee of, arrangements of the city, the officers of the United States army and navy, the general officers of the militia, the committee of the Society of Cincinnati, &c. On board this steam boat, General Lafayette embarked at Staten Island, for the city, at about one o'clock. This was announced by a salute from the largest steam ship, manned by the national troops, and from fort Lafayette. The procession then moved for the city, and presented to its inhabitants, a most beautiful and magnificent scene. About two o'clock the General landed at the battery, where he was received by a salute from the troops, and the hearty and reiterated cheers of the immense throng which had assembled to welcome him to our shores.
"It is impossible fully to describe the enthusiasm of joy which pervaded and was expressed by the whole multitude. Here the General had a fair specimen of the affection and respect, which is felt for him by every individual of this extended country. He seemed much moved by these expressions of attachment, and bowed continually to the people who pressed about him. After resting a few moments at the castle garden, he proceeded in an elegant barouche drawn by four horses, escorted by the dragoons and troops, through Broadway to the City Hall. The windows, balconies, and even the roofs of the houses were filled with ladies, all welcoming the General as he passed, by their smiles and waving of handkerchiefs.
"At about 4 o'clock, the procession arrived at the City Hall, where General Lafayette was received by the Mayor and Common Council, and formally welcomed and congratulated on his safe arrival in the country. After receiving the marching salute of the troops in front of the City Hall, he was conducted to the City Hotel, where he dined with the members of the corporation. In the evening, the front of the City Hotel, and many other adjoining buildings, were handsomely illuminated. The theatres and public gardens displayed transparencies; fire-works and rockets in honor of the occasion."—The committee of the Cincinnati waited on General Lafayette, at Staten Island; and were received by him with peculiar marks of affection and friendship. The committee consisted of several field officers of the revolutionary army, some of whom were upwards of eighty years of age.
The following is the address of the Mayor of New-York, to General Lafayette, when he arrived at the city Hall:
"In the name of the municipal authority of the city, I bid you a sincere welcome to the shores of a country, of whose freedom and happiness you will ever be considered one of the most honored and beloved founders. Your contemporaries in arms, of whom indeed but few remain, have not forgot, and their posterity will never forget the young and gallant Frenchman, who consecrated his youth, his talents, his fortune and his exertions to their cause; who exposed his life, who shed his blood, that they might be free and happy. They will recollect with profound emotions, so long as they remain worthy of the liberties they enjoy, and of the exertions you made to obtain them, that you came to them in the darkest period of their struggle; that you linked your fortune with theirs, when it seemed almost hopeless; that you shared in the dangers, privations and sufferings of that bitter struggle; nor quitted them for a moment till it was consummated on the glorious field of Yorktown. Half a century has elapsed since that great event, and in that time your name has become as dear to the friends, as it is inseparably connected with the cause of freedom, both in the old and in the new world.
"The people of the United States look up to you as to one of their most honored parents—the country cherishes you as one of the most beloved of her sons. I hope and trust, Sir, that not only the present, but the future conduct of my countrymen, to the latest period of time, will, among other slanders, refute the unjust imputation, that republics are always ungrateful to their benefactors.
"In behalf of my fellow citizens of New-York, and speaking the warm and universal sentiments of the whole people of the United States, I repeat their welcome to our common country."
To this address, General Lafayette replied as follows:—
"While I am so affectionately received by the citizens of New-York and their worthy representatives, I feel myself overwhelmed with inexpressible emotions. The sight of the American shore, after so long an absence; the recollection of the many respected friends and dear companions, no more to be found on this land; the pleasure to recognize those who survive; the immense concourse of a free republican population, who so kindly welcome me; the admirable appearance of the troops; the presence of a corps of the national navy; have excited sentiments, to which no language is adequate: You have been pleased, Sir, to allude to the happiest times, the unalloyed enjoyment of my public life. It is the pride of my heart to have been one of the earliest adopted sons of America. I am proud, also, to add, that upwards of forty years ago I was honored with the freedom of this city. I beg you, Sir; I beg you; gentlemen, to accept yourselves, and to transmit to the citizens of New-York, the homage of my profound and everlasting gratitude, devotion and respect."
On the two following days after his arrival in New-York, General Lafayette received the gratulations of a great number of the citizens; and on the latter, was addressed by committees of the society of Cincinnati, and of the Historical Society; and also visited the navy yard of the United States. On board of the ship Washington, of 74 guns, his reception was very splendid, and a sumptuous repast was provided. On Thursday, deputations from the Frenchmen resident in the city, and from the gentlemen of the Bar, waited on him, and presented congratulatory addresses.
In his answer to the committee of the Historical Society, he observed,—"The United States are the first nation on the records of history, who have founded their constitution upon an honest investigation and clear definition of their natural and social rights. Nor can we doubt, but that, notwithstanding the combinations made elsewhere by despotism against the sacred rights of mankind, immense majorities in other countries will not in vain observe the happiness and prosperity of a free, virtuous and enlightened people."
To the gentlemen of the Bar, he replied—"Testimonies of esteem from so respectable a body as the Bar of New-York, are highly flattering. I most deeply sympathize, gentlemen, in your regret for the friend (Hamilton) whose prodigious talents made him as eminent in your profession, as he had been is our military, when he deserved Washington's most intimate confidence. The truly republican form of the American constitutions, cannot but endear them to every citizen of the United States. Yet, to any one, who with an American heart, has had opportunities of a comparison with other countries, the blessings of these institutions must appear still more conspicuous."
The address of the French gentlemen in New-York, was very affectionate and respectful, referring, in highly complimentary style, to the services of Lafayette both in France and America. His reply is indicative, at once, of patriotism, of attachment to the cause of rational freedom, and of his regard for the United States, the land of his adoption. "It is a great happiness for me, on my arrival in this land of liberty, to receive the congratulations of my countrymen. At the moment of my departure, the testimonials of affectionate attachment of many of my fellow citizens, the parting accents from the shores of France, left in my heart the most grateful emotions. I delight to participate with you the feelings which I experienced in this happy American land, to which I am bound by so many ties. We also, patriots of 1789, sought to establish the national dignity, the security of property and the happiness of our beautiful France, upon the sacred foundations of liberty and equality. Notwithstanding our misfortunes, the cotemporaries of that epoch will inform you, that the revolution of 1789, has greatly ameliorated the condition of an immense majority of the people. Do not let us despair of the cause of liberty: It is still dear to the hearts of Frenchmen; and we shall one day have the felicity of seeing it established in our beloved country."
During the four days he remained in New-York, all gentlemen and ladies of the most respectable families were individually introduced to him; and he manifested great pleasure at the cordial welcome, with which he was universally greeted. Splendid evening parties were given in honor of the "nation's guest," at which he met many individuals whom he had known more than forty years before. His interviews with "the war-worn veterans," with whom he had been associated in times of danger, for the liberties of the country, were peculiarly interesting and affecting. He embraced them; but his feelings were so powerful, that he could not give utterance to his sentiments for many minutes.
After his arrival at New-York, he early announced his intention to visit Boston, where he had been particularly invited by distinguished individuals, and by the city authorities; especially as the commencement at the University in Cambridge, the literary jubilee of the State, was to be celebrated in a few days. While in New-York, he received invitations by committees or letters from Philadelphia, Albany, New Haven and some other cities, to make a visit to those places respectively; but his desire was first to visit Boston, if possible. Accordingly, he left New-York, where his reception had been so very gratifying to his feelings, and where the citizens were still eager to show him honorable civilities, on Friday morning, for Boston, through New Haven, New London and Providence. He was attended by a committee of the Common Council, the Major General of militia and his suite, the General and field officers of the artillery and infantry, and by strangers and citizens of distinction on horseback, and escorted by the Huzzars of the 2d and 14th regiments, to Harlem, where he was saluted by the 3d regiment of infantry. On leaving this place, he was saluted by the Lafayette guards of the 2d regiment. The principal part of the troops then returned; and the first regiment of horse artillery continued the escort to the line of Connecticut. A salute was fired at a place called Putnam's hill, on account of the memorable feat performed there by General Israel Putnam, in the revolutionary war. The suite of Lafayette consisted of his son and M. Le Vasseur, who accompanied him in his voyage from France, and four of the Aldermen of New-York. The city corporation had provided an elegant carriage to accommodate him in his journey to Boston, and deputed four of their number to attend him in his route. He traveled with great rapidity, passing the distance of thirty miles in three hours. He appeared perfectly capable of enduring fatigue, and discovered the activity and sprightliness of vigorous manhood.
They reached New Haven about midnight, on his approach to which he was met by the governor's guard, and escorted into that city. Most of the buildings on the principal streets were illuminated, and a national salute was fired. "The night was almost turned into day, and the scene was very brilliant and impressive." He was detained at all the villages on the road from New-York to New Haven, through the eagerness of the citizens, to see and be introduced to this distinguished hero of the revolution. The public road was thronged with multitudes of both sexes and youth, who greeted him with reiterated acclamations; and continued "welcome, welcome." They prepared sincere, though simple offerings of respect to the man, "who fought not for honor or for pay;" but in imitation of his political, American parent, was devoted, life and property, to the cause of our country's freedom. After a public breakfast, a visit to the college, and calls upon Mrs. Trumbull, the widow of the late governor of the state, Hon. Mr. Daggett, senator in Congress, and some other eminent characters, he left New Haven, for New London, Saturday morning, attended by the city authorities and escorted by a company of cavalry, a part of the distance, until met by another troop of horse, by which General Lafayette and suite were then attended to Saybrook, on Connecticut river, about forty miles from New Haven. Part of the Sabbath was passed in New London; and at this place, he attended public worship. He expressed a desire to avoid traveling on that day, as much as possible. At New London, and at most other places on his journey, he met some of his old revolutionary companions, who were delighted to see again in their own free and happy country, a man who had devoted his earliest days and zealous efforts to secure its independence.
He reached Providence on Monday, the 23d, at 12 o'clock, having been met at an early hour, on the boundary line between Connecticut and Rhode Island, by the aids of the Governor of the last named state. When he arrived at the limits of the town of Providence, an immense crowd of citizens were assembled to bid him welcome, and to offer him their hearty gratulations. The houses and streets in the western part of the town, where he entered, were filled with citizens, who greeted him as he passed with reiterated cheers. "When he arrived in front of the State House, he alighted, and was received in a very interesting manner. The avenue leading to the building was lined with female youth, dressed in white, holding in their hands branches of flowers, which they strewed in his path, at the same time waving their white handkerchiefs. Lafayette appeared much gratified and affected by this simple, but touching arrangement. In the senate chamber, he was introduced to the Governor and many other distinguished characters; among whom were several late officers of the revolutionary army. These he embraced with much affection; and his emotions were so great, he was unable to address them. He recognized Captain Olney, the moment he saw him, among a crowd of citizens. This gentleman commanded a company under General Lafayette, at the siege of Yorktown, and was the first to force the redoubts thrown up by the British troops, and carried by our light infantry, in a most brilliant manner, when led on to the assault by their commander in person. At this interview, so affecting and interesting, a thrill ran through the whole assembly, and not a dry eye was to be found among the throng of spectators; while the shouts of the multitude, at first suppressed, and then uttered in a manner tempered by the scene, evinced the deep fueling and proud associations it had excited." Another respectable veteran, of eighty-five years of age, was found among the multitudes assembled to render their affectionate homage to Lafayette. He was a volunteer in the expedition on Rhode Island, in the autumn of 1778, and assisted in conducting the retreat from that place; under direction of the Marquis, when the militia were in great danger from the superior number of the British forces. The aged patriot was overwhelmed with joy, on beholding once more, his beloved general.
On account of a previous engagement to be in Boston, Monday night, or early on Tuesday morning, General Lafayette was obliged, though reluctantly, to leave Providence the afternoon of the day he arrived there. As he left the town he walked some distance, in order to view the troops, which were drawn up in the public street leading towards Boston; and then entered his carriage, accompanied by the Governor and several other public characters; and amidst the cheers of the people proceeded on his journey. He was also attended by the society of Cincinnati of the State of Rhode Island, as far as Pawtucket river, the southern bounds of Massachusetts. When some one expressed an apprehension, that he might be fatigued by his rapid traveling and the various scenes through which he passed in the course of the day, he quickly replied, that he experienced too great pleasure, to be sensible of any fatigue.
At Pawtucket, he was met by the aids of Governor Eustis, the Chief Magistrate of the State of Massachusetts, who had been dispatched, the day before, to receive him at the line of the Commonwealth, and to escort him on his way to the capital. Although it was now evening, at several places on the road, large bodies of the militia were collected to salute him; and assemblies of ladies and gentlemen were occasionally met, who offered this illustrious stranger, but respected friend of their country, their tribute of applause and affection. He was too sensible of their sincerity and warmth of their felicitations, not to delay his journey at several villages, and to reciprocate their kind and cordial salutations. It was nearly midnight when he reached the town of Dedham, about ten miles from Boston. Most of the houses in this pleasant village were handsomely illuminated; and a great number of the inhabitants of both sexes were assembled to greet him. During the short pause he was able to make here, he was introduced to many of the principal citizens of the town and vicinity, who had been anticipating his arrival for some hours. When he passed through Roxbury, at about 1 o'clock, he was accompanied by a large cavalcade of citizens of that place and from Boston; and a salute was fired by the Roxbury corps of artillery. His arrival here was also announced by the ascent of rockets from an eminence in the centre of the town; and the note of preparation was thus given for the parade and pleasure of the succeeding day, which had been anticipated with uncommon interest and delight. Lafayette and suite proceeded to the mansion of his Excellency the Governor, to which they had been invited; and the meeting between them was truly affectionate and cordial.
On Tuesday the 24th the inhabitants of Boston hailed the morning light with peculiar emotions, and were abroad at an early hour, preparing for the general testimonies of gratitude and respect to be presented to the "nation's guest." Many of the older citizens recollected him in his youthful days; when he visited the town, forty-six years ago, at the request of Congress and Washington, to prevail on the French admiral to co-operate with his fleet in some contemplated attack upon the British Forces. They had not forgotten his zeal and ardor in the cause of America. They knew his great attachment to and respect for the immortal chief of the American army, and the confidence, which Washington cherished for Lafayette. Here too were many revolutionary officers and soldiers, who had often witnessed his unwearied activity and personal courage in seasons of difficulty and danger. The Society of Cincinnati in this State contained many of his personal friends, who shared with him in the toils and honors of the war of independence; they had assembled, also, to offer the hand of friendship and affection to their distinguished brother in arms; and to tell him of the happiness which he had been instrumental, with others, in securing to ten millions of freemen. The curiosity of the young was awakened to hear of the generous deeds and meritorious services of this celebrated visitor from the old world. They were eager to learn his worth and, his virtues. For they knew their grave and sober sires would not be so greatly moved by the approach of any ordinary character, whatever might be his title or his fame. The sensibility of the female breast was excited to a lively glow, in reflecting upon the character of this eminent foreigner, who had not only given proofs of great devotion to the cause of America, and to the interests of civil liberty, but whose moral and social virtues claimed for him the respect and admiration of all those who loved innocence or commiserated distress. And all classes, without intending to lessen the pre-eminent services and virtues of Washington, who, under providence was the great and chief agent in achieving our independence, and in preserving it, after it had been once established—or to undervalue the important efforts and courage of many other revered heroes and patriots, too numerous to be here named. All, all, were eager to join in the spontaneous offering of gratitude and affection to one so justly celebrated and so greatly beloved.
He entered the city, the capital of the state, about 11 o'clock; "and his reception was a triumph and a jubilee. The day was as bright as his laurels, and as mild as his virtues. The various bodies designated to compose the procession, and perform the honors of the day, assembled at an early hour, and at the time appointed." The cavalcade was formed in Common street, at 9 o'clock. It was very numerous, and consisted of the citizens of Boston, of all ranks and classes, on horseback. Proceeding to the extreme southerly part of the city, near the line of Roxbury, they were joined by the Mayor and Aldermen, and members of the Common Council, the Society of Cincinnati, a great number of public civil characters and strangers of distinction, all in carriages; by the general and field officers of the first division of militia, and officers of the army and navy of the United States. An innumerable concourse of people on foot lined the side walks of the spacious street, where the procession was to be formed, the entrance to the city from Roxbury, and fortunately named WASHINGTON-STREET. The cavalcade then proceeded to the mansion of Governor Eustis, which is a short distance, within the town of Rosbury, and escorted General Lafayette and suite to the line, where the city authorities and others, who were to compose the procession, were in waiting to receive him. Here he was greeted by the immense assemblage of citizens, with repeated and enthusiastic acclamations, for several minutes, when the mayor welcomed him with much feeling, in the following speech.
"SIR—The Citizens of Boston welcome you on your return to the United States; mindful of your early zeal in the cause of American Independence, grateful for your distinguished share in the perils and glories of its achievement.—When urged by a generous sympathy, you first landed on these shores, you found a people engaged in an arduous and eventful struggle for liberty with apparently inadequate means, and amidst dubious omens. After a lapse of nearly half a century, you find the same people prosperous beyond all hope and all precedent; their liberty secure; sitting in its strength; without fear and without reproach.
"In your youth you joined the standard of three millions of people, raised in an unequal and uncertain conflict. In your advanced age you return and are met by ten millions of people, their descendants, whose hearts throng hither to greet your approach and rejoice in it.
"This is not the movement of a turbulent populace, excited by the fresh laurels of some recent conqueror. It is a grave, moral, intellectual impulse.
"A whole people in the enjoyment of freedom as perfect as the condition of our nature permits, recur with gratitude, increasing with the daily increasing sense of their blessings, to the memory of those, who, by their labors, and in their blood, laid the foundation of our liberties.
"Your name, sir,—the name of LAFAYETTE, is associated with the most perilous, and most glorious periods of our Revolution;—with the imperishable names of Washington, and of that numerous host of heroes which adorn the proudest archives of American history, and are engraved in indelible traces on the hearts of the whole American people.
"Accept, then, sir, in the sincere spirit in which it is offered, this simple tribute to your virtues.
"Again, sir, the citizens of Boston bid you welcome to the cradle of American Independence, and to scenes consecrated with the blood shed by the earliest martyrs in its cause."
General Lafayette then rose in his carriage, and in a most interesting and felicitous manner, replied as follows:—
"The emotions of love and gratitude, which I have been accustomed to feel on my entering this city, have ever mingled with a sense of religious reverence for the cradle of American, and let me hope it will hereafter be said, of Universal Liberty.
"What must be, sir, my feelings, at the blessed moment, when, after so, long an absence, I find myself again surrounded by the good citizens of Boston—where I am so affectionately, so honorably welcomed, not only by old friends, but by several successive generations; where I can witness the prosperity, the immense improvements, that have been the just reward of a noble struggle, virtuous morals and truly republican institutions.
"I beg of you, Mr. Mayor, Gentlemen of the City Council, and all of you, beloved citizens of Boston, to accept the respectful and warm thanks of a heart, which has, for nearly half a century, been particularly devoted to your illustrious city."
The reply of the General was received with new plaudits of the assembled people; and "welcome, welcome Lafayette! friend of Washington! friend of America! Friend of liberty!" was repeated again and again; and the heights of Dorchester and Roxbury echoed with the joyful acclamation.
The procession was then formed, and passed through Washington, Milk, Broad, State, Court and Common-streets; to Boylston-street, adjoining the south part of the Common, in the following order—"Three marshals, the Boston corps of Light Dragoons, a battalion of Light Infantry, composed of the Fusiliers, Boston Light Infantry, Winslow Blues, Washington Light Infantry, New-England Guards, Rangers, and City Guards; and a full band of music. Then followed the chief marshal, attended by aids; members of the City Council, Committee of Arrangements, the President of the Common Council and senior Alderman, all in carriages. Here was placed another marshal, immediately preceding the elegant barouche, drawn by four beautiful white horses, in which rode the distinguished GUEST of the city and of the nation, accompanied by the mayor, with marshals also on either side. The son and friend of Lafayette, and gentlemen aldermen from New-York, next followed in carriages; and these were succeeded by the society of the Cincinnati, public characters, Judges and Legislators, and distinguished strangers, in carriages also. Immediately after, two marshals; field and staff officers of the militia, mounted on horseback, and followed also by two marshals. The cavalcade of citizens, of all ranks and in great numbers, with marshals attending, closed the voluntary but triumphant procession.
The dwelling houses and stores on the streets through which the procession was conducted, were crowded with inhabitants in every part. The ladies thus situated, caught the enthusiasm of the occasion, waved their white handkerchiefs, and, with smiles and gladness, greeted the veteran hero, who appeared affected and delighted by these demonstrations of a joyful welcome. The moment Lafayette arrived at the line of the city, the bells struck, and rang merry peals, while the procession was passing through the streets.
Excepting the cavalcade, the procession passed through the Common from Boylston to Park street, on the eastern margin, and between too lines of children of both sexes, belonging to the several schools in the city. Their ages were from about eight to twelve, and nearly three thousand in number. Their dress was neat and uniform; the misses in white, and the masters in white pantaloons and blue spencers. They also wore ribbons in their breasts, stamped with a miniature likeness of Lafayette. As the carriage, in which the general rode, was passing, one of the misses darted from the line where she was standing, and begged to speak with him. She was handed into the carriage, and by the Mayor presented to Lafayette, who pressed an affectionate kiss on her blooming, yet blushing cheek. She had confidence, however, to address him, and to place a wreath of flowers, which she held, on his head. He made her a short but affectionate reply, and placed the wreath on the seat of the carriage. Attached to the wreath of flowers was a small piece of paper, carefully folded, which contained these lines: said to be composed by the mother of the child.
"An infant hand presents these blushing flowers, Glowing and pure as childhood's artless hours, Where roses bloom, and buds of promise smile, Repaying with their charms the culturers toil.
Oh! take them FATHER, they were culled for you! (Still bright with warm affection's sacred dew—) O let them live in thy benignant smile, And o'er thy brow of glory bloom awhile! 'Twined with the laurel Fame on thee bestowed When thy young heart with patriot ardor glow'd;
Self exiled from the charms of wealth and love, And, home, and friends, thou didst our champion prove, And, by the side of Glorious WASHINGTON, Didst make our grateful country all thine own!
Go, fragile offering, speak the ardent joy Our bosoms feel, which Time can ne'er destroy!"
Arches were thrown across several of the principal streets, through which Lafayette was conducted, covered with evergreens and flowers, and containing appropriate mottos. There were two in Washington-street, the largest, and part of the distance, the widest street in the City.—On one of these was very legibly written—"1776—WASHINGTON and LAFAYETTE. Welcome Lafayette—A Republic not ungrateful." On the other
"The Fathers in glory shall sleep, Who gather'd with thee to the fight; But the sons will eternally keep The tablet of gratitude bright. We bow not the neck And we bend not the knee, But our hearts, LAFAYETTE, We surrender to thee."
The lines were from the pen of a citizen of Boston, whose poetic talents had often delighted the public, and who had received the highest praise from those capable of appreciating the productions of genius.
When the possession arrived at the steps of the State House, near the head of Park Street, salutes were fired by a battalion of artillery on the eminence on the western part of the Common, and at the Navy Yard at Charlestown. Salutes were also fired by a battalion of artillery, placed on the heights of Dorchester, (now South Boston,) when General Lafayette reached the line of the city, at 11 o'clock. The President of the United States had caused an order to be issued, on the first arrival of Lafayette, at New-York, requiring, that he be received by the military officers of the nation, at all public posts, with the salutes and honors due to one of the highest rank in the army.
The Governor and Executive Council of the Commonwealth, were assembled in the spacious Senate Chamber to receive Lafayette in the name of the Representatives of the people, and in pursuance of their resolve of June preceding, as well as in accordance with their own personal feelings and wishes. His Excellency the Governor, here addressed him with great feeling, [Footnote: Governor Eustis was so affected, that he had to call on one of the aids to read the greater part of the address.] in the following concise and pertinent speech:
"SIR, OUR FRIEND,—
"In the name of the government, and in behalf of the citizens of Massachusetts, I have the honor to greet you with a cordial, an affectionate welcome.
"We thank God, that he has been pleased to preserve you through the scenes of peril and of suffering, which have distinguished your patriotic and eventful life, and that we are indulged with this occasion of renewing to you our grateful acknowledgements for the important services which you have rendered to our common country.
"In the last surviving Major General of the American revolutionary army, we recognize a benefactor and friend, from a distant and gallant nation; who, inspired by a love of liberty, subjected himself in his youth, to the toils and hazards of a military life, in support of our rights. Under our illustrious Washington, you were instrumental in establishing the liberties of our country, while your gallantry in the field, secured to yourself an imperishable renown.
"With the enjoyment of the blessings of independence, we shall never cease to associate the name of Lafayette, and our prayer to heaven will be for his health and prosperity."
To which the General, with much animation, replied:—
"When, in the name of the people and government of this State, your Excellency is pleased so kindly to welcome an American veteran, I am proud to share the honors and enjoyments of such a reception with my revolutionary companions and brother soldiers. Sir, I am delighted with what I see, I am oppressed with what I feel; but I depend upon you, as an old friend, to do justice to my sentiments."
Afterwards, a great number of gentlemen were introduced to Lafayette, in the Senate Chamber; of whom were the Judges and other public officers of the United States, of the State and of the City; members of the society of Cincinnati, with their venerable and distinguished President, Hon. John Brooks, late Governor of the Commonwealth. Lafayette recognized his old military and personal friend, at the first sight, and embraced him with great cordiality and affection. Some other veterans of the revolutionary army, who were present, he also recollected; and discovered strong emotions as they approached him and took his hand. Indeed, he was so eager to meet them, that he very generally first seized them, and clung to them with all the affection of a brother. The scene was inexpressibly affecting. There was not a heart untouched—not a cheek unmoistened by the falling tear. To weep then was not weakness; it was proof of gratitude and of a generous feeling, which is an honor to human nature.
By particular request, and to gratify the wishes of the people collected in front of the State House, General Lafayette appeared in the colonnade of this superb edifice, where he was greeted with loud and continued cheers. He was then conducted by the committee of arrangements, to the residence provided for him at the head of Park Street. A public dinner was given by the city authorities, in honor of their noble guest; and the invitation was extended to Senators and members of Congress, the Governor and Ex-Governor of the Commonwealth, judicial and other public characters.
A committee of the society of Cincinnati Called upon General Lafayette at the residence of the Governor, in Roxbury, and before his entrance into Boston. They were anxious to offer him their congratulations at the earliest moment; and to bid him welcome to the land they had unitedly struggled to defend. And a few days after his arrival, the whole society waited on him, when their President made the following address:—
"The Society of Cincinnati of the State of Massachusetts seize the earliest moment after your arrival in this city, of extending to you the hand of friendship and affection. We offer you our most cordial congratulations on your safe arrival again, after the lapse of forty years, on the shores of our favored country, once the theatre of our united toils, privations, and combats with a powerful foe, but now the peaceful domain of a great, a free, and independent people. We hail you, sir, in unison with the millions of our fellow citizens; most respectfully hail you as a Statesman, as a Philanthropist, and as the early, inflexible, and devoted friend, not only of our beloved country, but of the sacred principles of civil liberty and human rights. But we greet you under more tender and hallowed associations; in the endearing relation of a brother-soldier, who, in the ardor of youth commenced in the field with us your career of glory, in the holy cause of Liberty and American Independence.
"But here recollections crowd upon our minds too powerful for utterance. Words would but mock the deep emotions of our hearts should we attempt to express them, in contemplating the character, attributes, and services of the parental Chief, under whose auspices we trod together the field of honor. To the profound veneration and love for his memory that penetrates your bosom, we refer you as to a transcript of our own. It would be vain to imagine the joy that would swell the great mind of Washington, were he still living to recognize with our nation, the generous disinterestedness, the glowing ardor, the personal sacrifices, and the gallant achievements of his much loved Fayette. But it is equally vain to endeavor on this occasion, to exclude such interesting reflections from the mind, or to deny it the melancholy pleasure of lingering on the solemn reality, that not a single individual of the General Staff of the army of the American Revolution now survives to participate in the joy that your presence in the United States has awakened.
"To us it is peculiarly grateful that you are permitted after a lapse of so long a period, to witness the consummation of the principles of our revolution. You will perceive, sir, that the hopes and predictions of the wise and good men who were your particular associates in the arduous struggle, have been fulfilled and surpassed. You will behold a great people united in their principles of jurisprudence, cemented together by the strong ties of mutual interests and happy under the fostering influence of a free and energetic government.
"You will, therefore, allow us to reiterate our felicitations on your safe arrival among us, and to welcome you once more to the good land which your youthful valor contributed to elevate and distinguish.
"May your future life be as tranquil and happy as your past has been useful, uniform, and glorious."
To which the General returned the following answer:
"Amidst the inexpressible enjoyments which press upon my heart, I could not but feel particularly eager and happy to meet my beloved brothers in arms. Many, many, I call in vain; and at the head of them, our matchless paternal Chief, whose love to an adopted son, I am proud to say, you have long witnessed—But while we mourn together, for those we have lost, while I find a consolation, in the sight of their relations and friends, it is to me a delightful gratification, to recognise my surviving companions of our revolutionary army—that army so brave, so virtuous, so united by mutual confidence and affection. That we have been the faithful soldiers of independence, freedom, and equality, those three essential requisites of national and personal dignity and happiness; that we have lived to see those sacred principles secured to this vast Republic, and cherished elsewhere by all generous minds, shall be the pride of our life, the boast of our children, the comfort of our last moments.—Receive, my dear brother soldiers, the grateful thanks, and constant love of your old companion and friend."
On Wednesday was the anniversary of commencement in Harvard University, at Cambridge. The corporation had requested the president, to send a particular invitation to General Lafayette, to be present on the occasion. He had expressed a wish, soon after his arrival at New-York, to attend that literary anniversary. The corporation heard of his intention with great satisfaction. They were sensible of his love of literature, and of his attachment to this ancient seminary. And they remembered, that the governors of the college appreciated his merits forty years before, by conferring upon him the highest honors they could bestow. At a meeting of the corporation on the 21st of August, it was voted—
"That the corporation learn with peculiar satisfaction, the intention of General Lafayette to visit this part of our country, at the period of the approaching commencement, and regard the event as auspicious to that joyous and interesting anniversary; and respectfully request, that he will favor the university with his company on that occasion; and thereby afford to the members of the university, and to those who are candidates for its honors, the opportunity of seeing and honoring the distinguished patriot and soldier, whose willing sacrifices and valuable services were devoted to the cause which has secured to the successive races of American youth, the blessings of education in a land of freedom; and whose virtuous and glorious career holds forth to the rising generation, a bright example of the qualities which ought to adorn those, who aspire to aid in the councils, or maintain the rights and interests of a free people."
General Lafayette was escorted from Boson to Cambridge, on Wednesday morning, by a company of cavalry, and accompanied by the Governor and Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth. In passing through Cambridge Port, he was gratefully cheered by the assembled citizens, and eloquently addressed by one of the most distinguished, in the name of the whole. The reply of Lafayette was characteristic and affectionate. He was met by the Corporation and Professors, on his arriving within the precincts of the college, and thus addressed by the learned President Kirkland—
"We bid you welcome, General Lafayette, to the most ancient of the seminaries of our land. The Overseers and Fellows of the University, the Professors and other officers, the candidates for the academic honors of this day, and the students, tender you their respectful, their affectionate salutations. We greet you with peculiar pleasure, at this literary festival, gratified that, you regard the occasion with interest, and espouse the attachment, which as members of a republic, we cannot fail to cherish to the cause of learning and education.
"As a man, sustaining his part through various scenes, prosperous and adverse, of an eventful life, your character and course, marked by moral dignity, have challenged particular respect and sympathy. As the patron, the champion and benefactor of America, you have a relation to us, by which we call you our own, and join gratitude and affection to exalted esteem. The early and costly pledges you gave of devotion to the principles and spirit of our institutions, your adoption of our perilous and uncertain contest for national existence, your friendship in the hour of our greatest need, have associated your name in the minds and hearts of Americans, with the dearest and most affecting recollections. The fathers teach their children, and the instructors their pupils, to hold you in love and honor; and the history of these states takes charge of your claims to the grateful remembrance of all future generations.
"It is a pleasing reflection attending the progress of these communities, that it justifies our friends and supporters; and that the predilections and hopes in our favor, which you indulged in the ardor of youth, have been followed by good auspices till your advanced age. We are, indeed, happy in presenting you the fruit of your toils and dangers, in the kindly operation of the causes, which you did so much to call into action, and we rejoice in every demonstration we are able to give, that your care for us has not been vain. Knowing how you feel yourself to have a property in our welfare, and sensible of the enjoyment accruing to your generous spirit from our prosperity, we find in these considerations, new motives to maintain liberty with ardor; and in the exercise of our functions, feel bound to endeavour to send out from our care, enlightened and virtuous men, employing their influence to secure to their country the advantages, and prevent and remedy the evils attending the wide diffusion among a people of political power.
"Accept our wishes and prayers for your health and happiness. May the Invisible Hand which has been your safeguard thus far, continue its protecting care. May the Supreme Disposer, the Witness and Judge of character and conduct, having appointed you a long and tranquil evening of days, receive you to the final and glorious reward of the faithful in a perfect state."
The following is the substance of the General's reply:—
"It is with real pleasure, sir, that I find myself again at this University, which I visited for the first time, more than forty years ago. The great improvements which have been made here during the interval, are striking evidences of the tendency of liberal political institutions, to promote the progress of civilization and learning. I beg, you to accept my warmest thanks for your kind expressions of personal civility to myself, and my best wishes for the continued prosperity of the valuable establishment over which you preside."
When he entered the place provided for the celebration of commencement, where a numerous company of ladies and gentlemen had assembled, to attend the ceremonies and literary performances of the day, there was an instantaneous and universal acclamation; not stunning and boisterous; but the decorous and chastened greeting of an intelligent audience. When he, reached the stage, he bowed repeatedly to the assembly, with great apparent sensibility. Several of the young gentlemen, alluded to him in their orations; and some dwelt particularly on his early devotion to the cause of America in the struggle for independence, with great effect. These notices, though short and indirect, were calculated to excite the grateful recollections of the audience; who responded to the sentiments with enthusiastic acclamations.
Thursday and Saturday mornings, for several hours, he received the personal compliments and congratulations of a great number of the inhabitants of Boston and vicinity, of both sexes. They were presented to him, on the spacious area of the ground floor of the State House. The house provided for his residence while in the city, though unusually large, was not well adapted for such crowds of visitors as pressed to behold him. Many aged people were presented, who had served with him in the revolutionary war, or recollected events of that period, which they were desirous to relate. Some were on crutches, and others bared their arms to show the honorable scars occasioned by the bayonet or ball of the enemy, in the "glorious fight" for freedom. Some could boast of having fought under his command, or by his side, at Brandywine and Monmouth; and others, that followed in his path of peril and glory in Virginia, in 1781, and assisted in successfully storming the redoubt at Yorktown, on the memorable evening of the 15th of October, which decided the fate of Cornwallis.
He seized the hands of these his old companions in arms, with great eagerness and emotion; and while they, in the honest pride of their souls related their "hair-breadth escapes," which led the spectators almost to envy their claims to such honourable boasting, the veteran hero exclaimed, "O my brave Light Infantry! My gallant troops!"—Several aged citizens who were personally engaged in opposing the British forces who marched to Lexington and Concord, for the purpose of destroying the Provincial stores collected at the latter place, were present at this interview. A gun was also shown to General Lafayette, from which was fired the ball, which killed the first of the regular troops slain on that memorable occasion. These meetings revived recollections important to be preserved, and served to remind the rising generations of the principles and deeds of their fathers. We trust they did not awaken any angry or hostile feelings towards an ancient enemy; but served only to kindle our gratitude to Almighty God, for his gracious interpositions in our behalf, and to perpetuate our respect for the remains of those who offered up their lives for our freedom and welfare.
On Thursday, by particular request of the literary society of "Phi Beta Kappa," so called, in the university, General Lafayette attended the celebration of their anniversary at Cambridge. It was never known before, that any one, however distinguished either for literature or virtue, was invited to dine with the society, unless a member of some other branch of the association. The departure in this case, from the invariable usages and rules of the society, is proof of the very high estimation in which Lafayette is held, and of the disposition, in all classes of citizens, to manifest their respect for his character. He proceeded to the university, about 1 o'clock, when he was again greeted with the hearty cheers of the citizens, as he passed the high-way, and when he arrived. The public performances on this occasion, were an oration and a poem. The latter was prepared at very short notice, and had particular reference to the visit of the illustrious hero and philanthropist, Lafayette. It purported to be the vision of the Genius of Liberty. It was a felicitous effort of the poetic muse. The gradual but certain dissolution of ancient despotic systems was predicted, as by the spirit of inspiration; and the blessings and joys of well regulated freedom were described with a masterly pencil, as extending and spreading in all parts of the civilized world. It was the electrifying voice of genius speaking to hearts full of gratitude and swelling with joyous emotions.
The orator was not less happy in his subject, nor less ingenious and eloquent in its illustration. His object was to present, in all its force, the motive to intellectual and literary effort. He assumed the progressive nature of the human mind; referred to the advances already made in science and the arts, and in civil governments; noticed the tendencies in society to higher improvements; and glanced at the facilities for social happiness and intellectual and moral excellence, in this western world, under our mild and republican institutions. It was an uncommon display of talent and research, and of profound observations on the present, improved and improving condition of man. He pointed out the happy destiny which awaited the United States, which a powerful imagination had predicted, but which sober facts also authorize us to expect; and called upon the literary and patriotic youth of our country to use all honorable efforts for hastening on this glorious issue. In speaking of the wisdom, firmness and courage of our patriotic fathers, by whom our liberties were secured, and our independence established, he paid a just tribute to the disinterested and heroic services of Lafayette, who cherished and aided our cause in the most gloomy periods of the war. The reference was most appropriate; and the statement of his zeal and efforts in our behalf, produced such a deep conviction of his devotion to America, and of his influence in obtaining the support of France, which, probably, saved our country from subjugation, that a deep and strong emotion was produced in the whole immense concourse; which, subdued as it was for a time, burst forth, at last, in overwhelming and almost convulsive agitations. The orator seemed not to aim at such an extraordinary impression. He reminded his hearers indeed of "truths surpassing fiction;" he brought to their recollection past scenes of danger endured, the generous and heroic deeds performed—he spake of the "Paternal Chief," who was the guide and support of other brave spirits, now laid low in the silence of death—The effect was wonderful: the whole audience were melted into tears of mingled gratitude and respect; gratitude for such patriotic services, and of respect for the memories of men, who had secured the blessings of civil liberty to the immense and increasing population of this extensive country. Lafayette was very sensibly affected, by this unexpected expression of gratitude for his early services, and by the strong emotions manifested by the assembly, at the name of Washington. The hours passed in the dining hall were consecrated to reminiscences of the interesting events which occurred in the revolutionary contest, to grateful recollections of the statesmen and heroes, who advocated and defended the cause of freedom, and thus led the way in the glorious march of human improvement and happiness, which the present generation is so rapidly pursuing. Here were assembled the judges of the land, the ministers of religion, the legislators of the state and nation, several of the heroes of the revolution, and numerous eminent literary characters from various parts of the United States, to unite with the younger sons of Harvard, in offerings of affectionate gratitude to a man, who had no gifts of power or titles of honor to bestow; but whose useful services and uniform course of honorable and benevolent purpose, in their estimation, claimed a higher tribute than was due to sceptered princes, or the most renowned conquerors of ancient or modern times.
On Friday morning, committees from Portsmouth, Portland, Newport, Haverhill, Newburyport, Plymouth, and from Bowdoin College, inviting him to visit those respective places; where the people were desirous to see him, and to offer personally their welcome salutations. He was unable to comply with these flattering invitations, as he had engaged to return to New-York, at an early day. But he received these testimonies of attachment with great sensibility; and expressed a hope to visit them before his final departure from the United States. He left his place of residence in Boston at 10 o'clock, accompanied by Governor Eustis and suit, Governor Brooks, the deputation from New-York, the Mayor and committee of arrangements of Boston, and proceeded to Charlestown, which he previously engaged to visit, at this time. As he passed through the streets in the north part of the city, the people pressed around him, testifying their regard, and cheering him on his way with repeated acclamations. Raised arches, wreathes of evergreen, and variegated colours added to the brilliancy of the scene. He was met at the centre of the bridge, which is the dividing line between Boston and Charlestown, by the Chief Marshal and his aids, and conducted to the square, where a committee of the citizens of that town was in waiting to receive him. A procession was then formed, headed by two marshals, and escorted by a regiment of light infantry, and a battalion of artillery, with martial music, consisting of the committee of arrangements, General Lafayette, his son and friend who accompanied him from France; the Governor and suite, Governor Brooks and General Dearborn, Judges of the Courts and members of the Supreme Executive Council of the State; deputation from New-York, Mayor and committee of Boston, officers of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the State; strangers of distinction, and civil officers of the town of Charlestown. It proceeded to Bunker Hill, where the chairman of the committee of the town, addressed Lafayette as follows:—
"In behalf of the inhabitants of Charlestown, the committee of arrangements present their respectful salutations to General Lafayette, and bid him a cordial welcome to this town. This joyful occasion revives high national feelings and recollections, and touches the springs of gratitude by reminding us of that interesting period of our history, which gave to our country a gallant hero, and to the rights of mankind a steadfast champion. While we participate in the thrill of delight, which every where hails the visit of our illustrious friend, we cannot suppress the peculiar emotion of our hearts on receiving you, sir, on the memorable heights of Bunker. On this holy ground, immortalized by the dead, and sacred to the manes of revolutionary heroes: Over these heights, liberty once moved in blood and tears;—her chariot on wheels of fire. Now she comes to her car of peace and glory; drawn by the affections of a happy people, to crown on these same heights, with civic honors, a favorite son, whose early strength was given to her sacred struggles, and whose riper years are now permitted to behold the splendor of her triumphs. In the fullness of our hearts we give thanks to Almighty God, who has guided and guarded your high career of peril and renown.
"Permit us, beloved General, again to welcome you to our borders;—to express our ardent hopes, that your valuable life may be prolonged to the utmost limits of earthly happiness;—that the land which has been enriched with the dew of your youth, may be honored as the asylum of your old age;— that the country which now blends your fame with the mild lustre of Washington, may henceforth hail you as a citizen of Washington's country;— and that, during the residue of your years, you may live amidst the attentions, as you will forever live in the hearts of a grateful and admiring people."
To this address the General replied—
"With profound reverence, sir, I tread this holy ground, where the blood of American patriots—the blood of Warren and his companions, early and gloriously spilled, aroused the energy of three millions, and secured the happiness of ten millions, and of many other millions of men in times to come. That blood has called both American continents to republican independence, and has awakened the nations of Europe to a sense, and in future, I hope, to the practice of their rights. Such have been the effects of a resistance to oppression, which was, by many pretended wise men of the times, called rashness; while it was duty, virtue;—and has been a signal for the emancipation of mankind.
"I beg you, sir, and the magistrates, and the citizens of Charlestown, to accept the homage of my gratitude for your kind welcome, and of those sentiments of affection and respect, which, for so many years, I have cherished toward their town."
While on this memorable eminence, he was informed by Governor Brooks, of the recent association for erecting a monumental pillar on that hallowed spot, to perpetuate the remembrance of the justly celebrated battle of the 17th of June, 1775; when a few regiments of undisciplined militia, made a brave stand against a large regular British force, commanded by generals of great experience and courage. This great event, so important in the annals of our country, as it convinced the English government of the resolution of the colonies to maintain the liberty which they claimed, and of the daring courage of the American people. This event is to be commemorated in June next, when fifty years will be completed, by an oration, and other public appropriate services and ceremonies. General Lafayette expressed great satisfaction of the proposal. He requested that he might be considered a subscriber for the monument; and assured the gentlemen present, that it would be his wish and endeavour to attend the celebration.
General Lafayette availed of this opportunity to visit the navy yard, in Charlestown, belonging to the United States, in compliance with a previous invitation from the officer commanding on the station: and he appeared highly gratified with the establishment in all its departments. He agrees entirely with those enlightened politicians of our own country, who have always considered a naval force of great advantage to America, if not absolutely necessary to our Independence. He dined this day with his Excellency the Governor, in company with several revolutionary veterans, and a large number of public characters of this and the neighbouring states, who were then on a visit to the capital.
Saturday, after receiving the salutations of the citizens, who were desirous of being presented to him, he set off for Medford, to visit his particular and valued friend, Governor Brooks. His reception in this beautiful village, is represented as very interesting. The citizens had comparatively short notice of the visit to that place; but they greeted him with great cordiality, and the honors bestowed were not unworthy of their distinguished guest. The main streets and the houses which he passed before he reached the mansion of Governor Brooks, were filled with children and people, who repeatedly bid him welcome, with great cordiality, and expressed their gratitude and joy on beholding the man, who they had learned, had done so much for their beloved country; and who was the respected friend of one among them, whom they always delighted to honor. A company of artillery fired a salute, as he entered the village; and several arches were thrown across the street, decorated with flags, and wreaths of flowers and evergreens. Under one of them he was met by the selectmen, one of whom thus addressed him—
"The selectmen of Medford, as the representatives of the town, deem it a grateful and honorable part of their duty to bid you welcome.
"They are proud, sir, that Medford is the birthplace of one of your companions in arms—a man, who by his bravery in the field, his patriotism and civic virtues, contributed to acquire as much glory to our country, as honor to himself.
"We rejoice, sir, that you both live to meet again, and to enjoy together the consolations fairly derived from your virtuous and heroic deeds.
"The minds of our countrymen traced your course with anxious solicitude, through the French revolution, from your first success in the cause of liberty, until the spirit of oppression confined you to a dungeon; and their hearts were gladdened, when, by the influence of our great and good Washington, their friend was at last set free. In the rich harvest you are now gathering of the expressions of esteem and gratitude of this numerous people, whose freedom and happiness your exertions so essentially contributed to establish, we hope you will find some compensation for all your trials, sacrifices and sufferings; and we feel much complacency, that, in this respect you have gained so complete a triumph over the monarchs of the world.
"Again sir, we bid you a most cordial welcome; and hope, the testimonials of approbation you are receiving from every heart and every tongue, will forever retain an instructive lesson to mankind, that patriots who endure. faithfully to the end, shall not lose their reward."
The General said in reply—"I am most happy in visiting my old brother soldier and friend, General Brooks, to be received with so kind a welcome: You speak of compensation, sir; the smallest part of the delight which I have experienced in America, would more than repay me for all my services and all my sufferings."
Several evening parties were given in honor of Lafayette, while he was in Boston, by some of its most distinguished citizens. On these occasions, he manifested great pleasure on meeting the children or relatives of the patriots of our revolution, with many of whom he had a personal acquaintance. It was delightful to observe the eagerness with which the ladies, old and young, pressed around him and the pride with which they boasted of hawing taken his hand. His countenance and manner discovered the joy which filled his heart, in cherishing recollections of past services, which he might indulge without vanity; and in perceiving the gratitude, which a deep sense of those services excited among all classes. He manifested a desire to attend the religious service of the Sabbath at the church in Brattle-street, where he had formerly joined in worship with Bowdoin, Hancock and Cooper; he was accordingly conducted there, accompanied by the Mayor of the City and Chief Justice of the State. The sermon, by the learned and pious pastor of that Church, which was an occasional one, was happily calculated to direct and chasten the feelings of the audience. He inculcated the sacred duty of confidence and joy in the providence and moral government of God, and of gratitude to those who had been raised up to be instruments of extensive blessings to our country. The most ardent were gratified, while the more sober and devout were pleased, that no complimentary panegyric was pronounced incompatible with the solemnity of the place and day. In the afternoon he visited. Hon. John Adams at Quincy; the truly venerable patriot of 1775; a decided, zealous advocate for independence in 1776; the able and faithful minister of the nation, at foreign courts; and sometime President of the United States. Mr. Adams is eighty-eight years of age, and his constitution much debilitated within a few years. But his powerful mind is still bright and vigorous; and he dwells with great enthusiasm upon the glorious prospects of our rising empire. His highly valuable services to the country can never be forgotten. For no one, if Washington be excepted, among the many firm asserters of our rights in the struggle for independence, could justly claim a greater portion of gratitude and praise from the present generation.