Mr. CHILDS, As you have frequently declared that your paper should be free and impartial, permit me to request that you will be pleased to give the following a place in your next paper, and you will oblige A CUSTOMER.
To the PRINTER of the DAILY ADVERTISER.
SIR, I have ever considered it a duty incumbent on every one, who attempts to give a relation of whatever comes under his observation, to do it with candor and decency:—I am led to this remark, by reading in your paper of this day, an extract of a letter from Poughkeepsie, dated June 21. I attended the debates in Convention at the time the letter writer mentions; but before I make any comments on his epistle, would beg leave to correct one of his mistakes, altho' not of much importance, as to the general subject of his letter—It is this—He says, "to-day (meaning the 21st, which was the day before he arrived at Poughkeepsie) the Convention was opened, &c.["] It should have been stated the 23d, for it was on that day Mr. Harrison opened the debates he alluded to. Permit me now to make some general remarks on the extract. It is readily admitted, that Mr. Lansing is not as great a speaker as the Chancellor [Robert R. Livingston]; but, I believe it will be acknowledged by all, or the greater part of the persons then present, that his arguments were not destitute of ingenuity and good sense; and altho' they might not have met the approbation of some of his auditors, yet he by no means deserved the epithets given him, of being "miserably wretched and deformed in every public feature." It would be the height of injustice not to allow that the Chancellor is a gentleman of the first abilities, and confessedly one of the greatest orators in the State, but it is a truth, that it was the opinion of many gentlemen who were Members of the Convention, as well as others, that the Chancellor, in his reply to Mr. Smith, had obviously given a variety of constructions to his (Mr. Smith's) definition of an aristrocracy, which were more fanciful than solid.
The letter writer says, Mr. Smith had taken some very improper liberties with the Chancellor, and holds up an idea, that Mr. Smith's arguments tended to personality; having been present at the time he delivered the Speech, I must beg leave to assure the gentleman (who acknowledges it was spoken the day before his arrival) that Mr. Smith's arguments were general and not particularly pointed at any gentleman then in Convention, which, I believe, will appear to general satisfaction, when the debates of that day are published.
I presume the writer of the letter in question, wishes to be understood as speaking metaphorically, when he says, that the Chancellor took Mr. Smith by the hand, and that "if ever a man was ridiculously introduced into a public assembly he was." And further, that "the Chancellor embraced him about twenty minutes." I have my doubts how far this may be strictly metaphorical language, but I will assert that it is not literally true, for the Chancellor neither took Mr. Smith by the hand, nor did he embrace him. I would be glad to be informed on what the gentleman grounds his assertion, that during the twenty minutes the Chancellor embraced Mr. Smith, "the prayer of the House (which also includes the Members of the Convention) was, that the "Lord should have mercy on his feelings."—Before he made such a positive assertion, he ought to have known the sentiments of at least the greater part if not the whole of the persons who were then present. But I do not think that any one, except the writer, considered Mr. Smith's situation so truly deplorable as to require their prayers.
The debates of that day, I expect will be published in the course of next week, when we shall have the Chancellor's Speech, and Mr. Smith's reply; from the latter, it will appear that Mr. Smith did not feel himself so deeply wounded, as to be incapable of defending himself; and I will venture to assert, that he justified his arguments to the satisfaction of many respectable Members of the Convention, and although his speeches may not be so well decorated with the flowers of rhetoric, as those of the Chancellor, whose peculiar study it has been to make use of flowery language, yet it is acknowledged by very good judges, that he is as close a reasoner, and good logician, as but few in the State.
I shall pass over the panegyric on the Chancellor, who having paid "very particular attention" to the letter writer, I confess it would have been very ungrateful in him not to have returned his civilities.
The writer is mistaken when he says, "the Governor nor any other gentleman have yet spoken." It will be found in the regular course of the debates, that the Governor had spoken twice, in reply, I believe, to some of Mr. Hamilton's arguments, and that Mr. Tredwell made a few remarks on the subject then under consideration, after Mr. Jay had concluded his speech.
I will only further remark, the writer pleases himself with the idea, that if arguments, urged in favor of amendments, are not more formidable than those which have already been brought forward, the Constitution will be unquestionably carried; in a short time, I believe, he will be convinced of the fallacy of his expectations, and that the objections of the gentlemen who are in opposition to the proposed Constitution, without amendments, have not been so destitute of good sense and sound reasoning or argument, as he imagines.