« ÎnapoiContinuați »
LAFAYETTE'S LAST VISIT TO THIS COUNTRY.
1. AGAIN, in his old age, Lafayette determined to look on the young republic that had escaped the disasters which had overwhelmed France. When his plans were made known, our government offered to place a national vessel at his disposal; but he declined accepting it, and embarked at Havre in a merchantman, and arrived at New York, August 15, 1824. He was at this time sixty-seven years old.
2. His reception in this country, and triumphal march through it, is one of the most remarkable events in the history of the world. Such gratitude and unbounded affection were never before received by a man from a foreign nation. As he passed from Staten Island to New York, the bay was covered with barges decorated with streamers; and when the beautiful fleet shoved away, the bands struck up, "Where can one better be, than in the bosom of his family?"
3. Never did this favorite French air seem so appropriate; not even when the shattered Old Guard closed sternly around its Emperor, and sang it amid the fire of the enemy's guns; as when a free people thus chanted it around the venerable Lafayette. As he touched the shore, the thunder of cannon shook the city; old soldiers rushed weeping into his arms; and, "Welcome Lafayette!" waved from every banner, rung from every trumpet, and was caught up by every voice, till Welcome, welcome!" rose and fell in deafening shouts from the assembled thousands.
4. During the four days he remained in the city, it was one constant jubilee; and when he left for Boston, all along his route, the people rose to welcome him. He traveled every night till 12 o'clock, and watch-fires were kept burning on the hill-tops, all along his line of progress. Blazing through the darkness, they outshone the torches that heralded him,
Havre (Hav'r;) a seaport town in the northern part of France.
while in the distance, the pealing of bells from every church spire announced his coming. The same enthusiastic joy received him at Boston; and when he returned to New York, the city was wilder than ever with excitement.
5. In Castle-garden there was a splendid illumination in honor of him; the bridge leading to it was surmounted by a pyramid sixty feet high, with a blazing star at the top, from the center of which flashed the name of Lafayette. The planks were covered with carpets, and trees and flowers innumerable lined the passage. Over, the entrance was a triumphal arch of flowers; huge columns arose from the area, supporting arches of flowers, and flags, and statues.
6. As he entered this wilderness of beauty, the bands struck up, "See, the conquering hero comes!" and shouts shook the edifice to its foundations. He had scarcely taken his seat in a splendid marquee, prepared for his reception, when the curtain before the gallery in front of him lifted, and there was a beautiful transparency, representing La Grange," with its grounds and towers, and beneath it, "This is his home." Nothing could be more touching and affectionate than this device; and as Lafayette's eye fell upon it, a tear was seen to gather there, and his lip to quiver with feeling.
7. Thus the people received the "people's friend." From New York he went to Albany and Troy, and one long shout of welcome rolled the length of the Hudson, as he floated up the noble stream. Returning, he went to Philadelphia, and, passing through the same scenes that had been enacted in every city he had visited, continued his route to Mount Vernon, to visit the tomb of Washington. The thunder of cannon announced his arrival at the consecrated ground, calling to his mind the time when he had seen that now lifeless chieftain move through the tumult of battle.
8. Wishing no one to witness his emotions, as he stood beside the ashes of his friend, he descended alone into the vault. With trembling steps and uncovered head he passed down to the tomb. The secrets of that meeting of the living
La Grange; Lafayette's place of residence in France.
with the dead no one knows; but when the aged veteran came forth again, his face was covered with tears.
9. He then took his son and secretary by the hand, and led them into the vault. He could not speak; his bursting heart was too full for utterance, and he mutely pointed to the coffin of Washington. They knelt reverently beside it, kissed it, then rising, threw themselves into Lafayette's arms, and burst into tears. It was a touching scene, there in the silent vault, and worthy the noble sleeper.
10. From thence he went to Yorktown, where a magnificent reception was given him. Proceeding south, he passed through all the principal cities to New Orleans, and thence up the Mississippi to Cincinnati, and across to Pittsburg, and finally to western New York, through which he hastened rapidly to Boston, to be present at the laying of the cornerstone of the Bunker's Hill monument.
11. Previously to his southern trip, however, he had visited congress, and been received by that body with distinguished honor. A few days after this a bill was passed, giving him a hundred and forty thousand dollars, as payment, in part, for the money he had expended in our behalf. He had clothed and fed our naked, starving soldiers at his own cost; expended money for the State; fought our battles; endured, suffered, and toiled for our welfare; yet he never asked, never expected, compensation. His had been entirely a free-will offering; his youth, his wealth, his life, all, an unselfish, noble sacrifice to a weak, but brave people, struggling to be free.
12. This generous, and yet only just, remuneration, took Lafayette by surprise, and affected him deeply. Indeed, to a heart like his, the open arms and overflowing affection of the people were a sufficient reward. The entire nation had risen to do him homage. "Honor to Lafayette!" "Welcome to Lafayette, the nation's guest!" and such like exclamations, had met him at every step.
a Bunker's Hill monument; a monument built of granite, two hundred and twenty feet high. It is situated in Charlestown, near Boston.
13. Flowers were strewed along his pathway; his carriage detached from the horses, and dragged by the enthusiastic crowd, along ranks of grateful freemen, who rent the heavens with their acclamations. From the heads of government, down to the lowest menial, all had united in pouring blessings on his venerable head. Melted to tears by these demonstrations of love, he had moved like a father amid his children, scattering blessings wherever he went.
14. One of his last acts in this country was to lay the corner-stone of the Bunker Hill monument. He had placed the stone over Baron De Kalb's grave, in South Carolina, and now it was fit that he, the last survivor of the majorgenerals of the American Revolution, should consecrate the first block in that grand structure. Amid the silent attention of fifty thousand spectators, this aged veteran and friend of Washington, with uncovered head, performed the imposing ceremonies, and "Long live Lafayette," swelled up from the top of Bunker Hill.
15. At length, after having passed through almost the entire Union in the space of a few months, he embarked, the eighth of September, for his native land. The Brandywine was sent out by government to convey him home; and when it reached Havre, the officers, wishing to express their admiration of him, deputed their first lieutenant, Gregory, to convey their sentiments.
16. The young officer, overcome by his feelings, was unable to utter a word; but in the spirit of true heroism, ran to the stern of the vessel, and snatching the flag that waved there, handed it to him, saying, "We cannot confide it to more glorious keeping." He then made a short address, to which Lafayette replied, saying: "I hope, that displayed from the most prominent part of my house, at La Grange, it will always testify to all who may see it, the kindness of the
a Baron De Kalb; a major-general in the American army. He was born in Germany, about the year 1717. In 1777, he came to this country, and took part in the war of the Revolution.
American nation toward its adopted and devoted son." The people thronged around him as he traveled through France, and he was everywhere hailed "The people's friend!"
LAMENT FOR LAFAYETTE.
1. ALL lonely and cold, in the sepulcher slumbers
The name by which freemen met death with a smile.
2. Then arise, ye proud bards! give our hearts' mighty sadA voice not unworthy a theme so sublime, [ness, For him, the bright day-star of freedom and gladness, Whose memory will glow through the far flight of time! He is gone, and forever! the pride of our nation,
That bright sun of freedom in glory hath set; The heroes who bled for our country's salvation, Now joy in thy presence, O brave Lafayette!
3. Thou camest to our shore when the day-star of freedom Was proudly dispelling dark tyranny's night, When millions awoke to the rank she decreed them,
And the millions of despots were scattered in flight; When the star-spangled banner waves sheen in the moru
The heart of the freeman will bound at thy name; [ing, Thou champion of freedom! fell tyranny scorning,
One world was too small for the blaze of thy fame!
a "Giant of freedom;" Lafayette. b Sheen; bright, shining.