I went down this morning to the president to know the determination of the Corporation with respect to a private Commencement; and was told that the petition of the Class was rejected: because they supposed that if public Commencements were lain aside, there would be no stimulus to study among the scholars: and they are afraid, that by granting our petition, they might establish a precedent which the following Classes, would take advantage of, and claim as a right, what we only request as a favour. Another reason which Mr. Willard said, had weight, although the gentlemen did not choose to avow it publicly, was their fear of offending the future governor by depriving him of that opportunity to show himself in splendor and magnificence.1
I walked down to Boston with Forbes. The weather was very fine. Dined at Dr. Welch’s, and soon after dinner set off, for Braintree: drank tea at My Uncle Adams’s, and got home, at about 7 in the evening.
1. Relations between the College and John Hancock were uneasy because of the unsettled problem of Harvard’s finances arising from Hancock’s tenure as treasurer. Hancock, who had been appointed in 1774, neglected to receive or pay the College accounts. Finally, in 1777, he was eased out of office, which he considered an insult, and Ebenezer Storer was appointed in his place. Hancock was slow to clear up the overdue accounts, and in 1780 Harvard renewed its request for a settlement to no avail. Four years later Hancock took fresh offense over the seating plan of the Lafayette dinner, but nevertheless paid up some of the debt shortly thereafter. The whole matter, however, was not settled until 1795, two years after Hancock’s death. His heirs even then paid only simple, not compound, interest on the arrears (Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936, Cambridge, 1936. description ends , p. 153–156).