The opposition, mortified in the most poignant degree, prepared industriously to give a retort the next morning. Accordingly the battery was opened on the next day (July 2) by Mr. Gilbert Livingston, a kinsman of the Chancellor, with a serious and illiberal invective.—Not being possessed either of talents for repartee or abilities to reason, he answered the Chancellor with personal abuse—accused him of being an Infidel and a Tory—and loaded him with epithets which painted a monster instead of the most amiable of men. So unprovoked an attack excited in both parties the utmost disgust. The sentiments in the features of his friends was evidenced by a look of melancholy disgust; in those of his enemies by a smile of ineffable disdain: some of his party even left the room with apparent indignation.
Having finished, he sat down, not with a countenance of conscious confusion; not with that look of sorrowful perplexity, which men of sense and sensibility feel when the warmth of an unguarded moment has exposed them to censure or contempt; but with a calm invariable composure, and a self-satisfied felicity of face. This most generous man was followed by the Hon. JOHN WILLIAMS, who came forth a doughty champion, and brandished his falchion in a most gigantic style.—He brandished it a while; but could not find his foe.—All around looked on the glittering blade with a sweet complacency, which robbed him of his rage;—and after a few harmless circles in the air, he restored the mighty weapon peaceful to its scabbard.
Mr. M. SMITH rose, and with sufficient decency and considerable ingenuity, together with a tolerable dash of humor, retorted on the Chancellor.—His wit seemed to have no tincture of malevolence, not to be aimed at the person or character, but the arguments and imagination of his antagonist.—His raillery, however, did not, like that of the Chancellor, spring spontaneous and sudden from the occasion; it seemed more premeditated and artificial; and, as was remarked of Demosthenes' Orations, smelt of the lamp.
The CHANCELLOR then rose, and replied to each one's attack, with perfect temper and the most engaging good humor.—In particular, he addressed his honorable relation, who had the most cruelly assaulted him; lamented pathetically that his worthy kinsman, regardless of their common ancestry and the tender ties of blood, should have aimed his dagger too at the bosom of his friend:—And exclaimed with affectionate astonishment, in the words of Caesar, "and thou too Brutus."—The Chancellor's former speech shewed the rich extent of his fancy; in the present all were amazed with the instantaneous elasticity of his genius.—In the former his wit was a pure, but delightful varying current; in the latter, it was an electrical shock.
After the Chancellor was seated, on the motion of Mr. JONES, the committee proceeded to take up the next clause, which authorises Congress to make loans: Here Mr. LANSING proposed an amendment, restricting Congress from making any loans, but by the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses. This proposition occasioned some debate, in which Mr. JAY, Mr. HAMILTON, Mr. HARRISON, and the CHIEF JUSTICE [Richard Morris], bore a part; they shewed, in the clearest manner, the impropriety and dangerous consequence of such an amendment— Those who supported the amendment, were Mr. M. SMITH, Mr. LANSING, and the GOVERNOR: while the Governor was speaking, Col. Livingston, who arrived at Poughkeepsie, in 9 hours and 1-4 from this city, made his appearance in the Convention Chamber, with the interesting intelligence of the ratification of Virginia, which occasioned such a buz through the House, that little of his Excellency's Speech was heard.
The debate on Mr. LANSING'S motion having subsided, Mr. JONES brought forward another amendment, to the clause which enables Congress to establish Post-offices and Post-roads—His amendment was to restrict Congress from laying out or repairing any roads, without the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same may be. This instead of a debate, created much laughter, and the committee with a view of taking time to consider of the importance of the motion, rose and adjourned.
In the afternoon, a respectable number of Fœderalists, whose exultations on the happy news from Virginia, were too great to be confined to their own breasts, had a meeting to congratulate each other, fired ten cannon in honor of the ten adopting States, and with three huzzas sent the welcome news to their friends in the country.