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title:“NY Ratification Convention Debates (June 23, 1788) - Sneer, New York Journal”
date written:1788-7-1

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:17 a.m. UTC
retrieved:April 20, 2021, 5:48 p.m. UTC

"NY Ratification Convention Debates (June 23, 1788) - Sneer, New York Journal." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 22. Ed. John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 1833-35. Print.

NY Ratification Convention Debates (June 23, 1788) - Sneer, New York Journal (July 1, 1788)

MR. GREENLEAF, I am neither federal nor anti-federal, as I know of, but a well wisher to America—as my judgment in politics has not been formed by a sufficient fund of political knowledge, I have never pretended to censure either one or the other party—but when I see common sense prostituted, and one of the most sinical petit maitres of the coxcomical brood (brood admits of the masculine and feminine construction) attempting to judge of propriety, good sense, or powers of elocution, to answer, as he supposes, a party purpose, I cannot refrain from general remarks. —I crave, as a favor, that you would republish the following LITERARY CURIOSITY (or burlesque upon literature) published in yesterday's Daily Advertiser [28 June], italisised, and interlarded, ready for roasting, in brackets, as follows:
Extract of a letter from a gentleman at Poughkeepsie, dated 21 [23] June 1788. "On Sunday, about three o'clock, I arrived at Poughkeepsie, where I was friendly received by Federal men, and very particular attention paid me by the Chancellor. [never was I taken so much charmingly superlative notice of before!] To day, at the usual hour, the Convention was opened by a person whose name I know not. [here the chancellor's attention was entirely thrown away—for our narrator, it seems, did not know his name!] The point which claimed the attention of the day, respected the number of Representatives.1 The argument was brought on by Richard Harrison, who spoke with modest diffidence, commanding respect and deserved attention: he was on the floor about twenty-five minutes. [Mr. Harrison is here most excruciatingly honored!] He was followed by John Lansing, who was miserably wretched and deformed in every public feature. [what a fatal thunder-bolt for poor John Lansing—surely he never need make another attempt!] After him arose the Chancellor, who spoke charmingly indeed. He let his fancy rove unchecked, and such bold and figurative language I before had never heard. The house was perfect silence—the eyes and MOUTHS of every man were fixed and OPEN—and his eloquence, like a river which had been abridged for a time, burst forth IRRESISTIBLY.—When he first rose his eyes bespoke passion, his countenance indicated an injury received, and it required no great sagacity to pronounce him a speaker in quest of revenge. [Oh! what a sweet little enchanting body the chancellor is! the gods adore him—he has more power over our sex than the statue of Venus de Medicis:—how astonishing it is, that the audience, with their open mouths, had not have eaten him up in their fit of love and transport: his cunning and sagacity is so exquisite, that he could smile in his neighbour's face, and run him through the body at the same time, out kind and most sagacious REVENG!] "The day before my arrival, it seems that Mr. Melancton Smith had taken some very improper liberties with the Chancellor, such as pointing at his means, which were devoted to luxury; his apathy towards the poor, his extensive property; his great ambition: subjects introduced to win the popular affections, and to create the most violent popular prejudices. [Mr. M. Smith was insolent indeed—who could have thought of his daring to speak to the Chancellor!] In speaking of poverty and riches, the Chancellor was fancifully eloquent, and feelingly descriptive; in remarking on his property, he was delicately pleasing, but in speaking of his ambition, the greatness of his mind and the virtues of his soul shone BRILLIANTLY SPLENDID, and even his enemies, who would feign be blind to his talents, could not but view his VIRTUES with envy and admiration. Mr. Smith had hinted, that the Chancellor wished an aristocratic form of government. Smith pointed out the abilities necessary to the form of an aristocracy, and, in a great measure, discovered his IGNORANCE of the plan of such a government. He having committed himself in this way, the Chancellor took him by the hand; and if ever a man was ridiculously introduced into a public assembly, HE was. The Chancellor EMBRACED him about twenty minutes; during which contact the prayer of the House was, that the Lord should have mercy on his FEELINGS! When he took his leave of him he compared him, as a politician, to an airy phantom who had only a local habitation. [here our hero became quite lunatic by the force of the bright, brilliant, resplendant, shining, vivifying, and intoxicating VIRTUES, and ABILITIES of the chancellor, and poor Smith falls a victim to the sublime, heroic, seraphic discernment of his petit maitre-ship; oh! what wrapturous kissing and ogling!] "After the Chancellor had concluded, Mr. Jay arose, commanding great respect and remarkable attention; he was heard with great pleasure and satisfaction; and, no doubt, he spoke convincingly on the points raised. He has the most peculiar knack of expressing himself I ever heard. FANCY, PASSION, and in short every thing that marks an ORATOR, he is a stranger to; and yet none who hear but are pleased with him, and captivated beyond expression. He appears to me not to speak as a scribe, but as a man having a right to speak, and at the same time having authority to command them to obey:—he was up about fifteen minutes. [his ideas of Mr. Jay discovers him to be a perfect master of imagery, tropes, figures! &c .] "WE understand that the paragraph to-day was one of the favorite Anti-federal points! but if their other objections are not more formidable than the ones they have raised, WE shall carry the government unquestionably! because I am satisfied that all sides to-day were abundantly convinced of the wisdom of the paragraph debated. The Governor nor any other GENTLEMAN have not yet spoken. [to conclude, WE and US and I are sure beyond any manner of argumentation, or qualification, or debation, or varificafion, or horrible violation—that the GOVERNOR is a GENTLEMAN, and that WE shall carry the government.] Thus, sir, are the fathers of the country exposed to nonsensical animadversions. I am your constant reader, SNEER. June 28 [29].

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