This is the first time for many years that I have participated in a school festival.
I have received no invitation since 1824, when I was a little boy in a class in a Latin school, when we were turned out in a grand procession on yonder Common at nine o'clock in the morning.
And for what?
Not to hear eloquent music.
No; but for the sight of something better than art or music, that thrilled more than eloquence, a sight which should live in the memory forever, the best sight which Boston
ever saw,--the welcome to Lafayette
on his return to this country after an absence of a score of years.
I can boast, boys and girls, more than you. I can boast that these eyes have beheld the hero of three revolutions; this hand has touched the right hand that held up Hancock
Not all this glorious celebration can equal that glad reception of the nation's benefactor by all that Boston
could offer him,--a sight of its children.
It was a long procession, and, unlike other processions, we started punctually at the hour published.
They would not let us wander about, and did not wish us to sit down.
I there received my first lesson in hero-worship.
I was so tired after four hours waiting I could scarcely stand.
But when I saw him,--that glorious old Frenchman!--I could have stood until to-day.
Well, now, boys, these were very small times compared with this.
Our public examinations were held up in Boylston Hall.
I do not believe we ever afforded banners; I know we never had any music.
Now they take the classes out to walk on the Common at eleven o'clock. We were sent out into a small place eight feet by eleven, solid walls on one side and a paling on the other, which looked like a hencoop; there the public Latin scholars recreated themselves.
They were very small times compared with these.
As Mr. Dana
referred to the facilities and opportunities