Travels Through North America, during the years 1825 and 1826
At four o'clock, P. M. I drove with Mr. Vaux to the Masonic Hall, where the dinner was to be given. About seventy persons, mostly gentlemen of my acquaintance, were present. The President of the United States sat on the right of Judge Peters, who was president of the dinner, and sat in William Penn's chair; I sat on the left of this worthy old gentleman, and on my left was the orator of the day, Mr. Ingersoll. Behind Judge Peters's chair was William Penn's portrait, painted in oil, and under that was a copperplate of his well known treaty with the Indians. The vice-president of the table was Mr. Duponceau, a Frenchman who has resided in this country forty-seven years, and during the revolution was adjutant to Baron Steuben; he is a lawyer, and pleads very well in the English language. This gentleman possesses a rare talent for languages, and has a particular fondness for the German. Goethe's Faust is his favorite work, and as I agreed with his taste, we entertained ourselves for a long time with Faust, alternately reciting our favorite passages. The first health that was drank, was naturally that of the President of the United States; his excellency rose, and in a short speech thanked them heartily; as my health was drank, I also rose, excused my imperfect knowledge of the English, and begged permission to thank them in the French language, wherein I could express myself better and more fluently. I then spoke a few words from the bottom of my heart, expressing the sincere interest I take in the happiness and welfare of this country; I congratulated the society on the pious feelings with which they celebrate the memory of their ancestors, and particularly of that excellent man who laid the foundation of this great community; these would be the best security for their future prosperity. I expressed my gladness at being present on this occasion, to witness their animated sentiments, thanked them, feeling fully for the kind reception I had met with, and told them that this festival, which was still more valuable on account of the presence of the chief magistrate of this great nation, would never fade from my memory, and that I hoped to leave behind me friends in the new world when I should have returned to the old. I concluded with wishes of blessings and happiness. It appeared to me that my plain address was not unkindly received. The president retired at eight o'clock, and I remained until ten. Among the commonly called volunteer toasts, the following were drank: "Weimar, the native country of letters!" I rose and said, that to this toast I could only answer by a modest silence, as it was worthy to be answered by a learned man from Weimar, and unfortunately I could not pretend to be one. When young, I had left home for a military school, to run my career in the chances of war, so that the sciences did not enter my door. I therefore, gave them in reply, the following toast: "Pennsylvania, the asylum of unfortunate Germans!" This toast was received with great applause. The venerable Judge Peters sung a song, which he composed the preceding evening, with a great deal of vivacity, and every one was merry and lively.