Arose much later than I had any idea of, and after breakfasting, went down to the Athenaeum but could find no news. Cambridge deserted today because La Fayette is to be received with much form and to make his triumphal entry into Boston. Great preparations have been made and it is expected every thing will be very splendid. For my part I have seen many such shows and have ever disliked them. I therefore did not take the trouble to go to Boston today, but went home and very coolly sat down to read Waverley. As I went on, I found myself more and more pleased, there was something so perfectly easy in the incident and the characters are all so interesting, that a man is led on from step to step until he feels quite intensely. I did not relish it by any means the less because I had read it before. It is rather singular that I have often commenced it but could never get over the tedium of the first five chapters and that, although these very chapters contain some sensible remarks, I read it over but never went farther and, when I read the novel, I neglected these Chapters. McIvor is a finely sketched portrait, Flora also except that she has a little more female sternness than is pleasant in association, and Rose is a little, a very little too milk and watery. The old Baron is admirable, but my friend, the hero of the tale, is little more than a puppet. I finished the first volume of Percy Mallory and was obliged to desist as I could not get the second. A very different novel and one which if I ever finish it, I shall notice in it’s proper place.
In the afternoon, I was interrupted for half an hour by a visit from 300Dwight who had just returned from Salem, where he had been on a visit to Wheatland. He appeared in very good spirits indeed. I attended Prayers, for the last time in the Junior Year, and heard a ridiculously affected Prayer from Mr. Heyward on the subject which the President had spoken so feelingly upon long since. He took his last opportunity and made the most of it. At tea the students came in thick, Wheatland and Tudor came back and we looked somewhat like old times again. After tea I took a walk with Tudor and had some conversation with him. He afterwards came to my room where we sat and smoked all the Evening. He does not appear to be in exceedingly good spirits. Something, but I cannot tell what, weighs upon him. After he went, I remained up until I had finished Waverley. XI.
Arose and walked out immediately to the Athenaeum. The village was becoming very much crowded as it was the all important Commencement day. I remained here until I thought every body whom I knew had got into the Chapel. There is in me an invincible reluctance to accompany any of my Quincy acquaintance to a public place, as I not only dislike the trouble, but they cling so together and in the flock something “outré” is always to be feared. I also wish to discourage the plan of coming to Cambridge as it is not pleasant to me. I myself went out in front of the piazza of the University and waited there while the procession was forming and for La Fayette to arrive. He did at last among the acclamations of the multitude. He got out and was received by the President with an address which he answered. The crowd was very great. He appears to be younger than he really is, about sixty when he is sixty five.1 He is not a handsome man and never was, he has a pleasant eye and agreable expression in his countenance, with a very winning manner which has taken every where. The enthusiasm of the people with respect to him is astonishing, he was almost prevented from moving yesterday and today there was nothing but a sea of heads to be seen. It was rather affecting as it moves the very noblest feelings in the human heart. The services, the age and the patriotism of this man receive no more than their due reward. They, after this ceremony, all walked into the Meeting House where the Exercises were performed. The house was so exceedingly crowded that it was impossible to get in and after one trial I gave up all idea of it. I therefore amused myself going round the Common observing the display of the passions of men. It was a singular scene and for a quantity of rogues, 301knaves and whores matched almost any in the world. Most deficient however in the last mentioned article. I spent much of the day thus but after the parts were over, which I understood were exceedingly fine, I dined and then went to Whitney’s to see Abby and Elizabeth and carry them to town if it was necessary, but it was not. George then made an agreement to come at seven to go to town and go through the ceremony of inviting La Fayette to Quincy, but no George came and I spent the evening at Richardson’s. XI.
Actually Lafayette was 67.