Morning spent upstairs, then to the Capitol. Mr. Stevenson of Virginia delivering his sentiments against the passage of the bill on roads and canals. He argued in his usual furious, rantipole,1
manner much to my entertainment. He made an attack upon Mr. Clay, charging him with inconsistencies in his conduct, comparing his two speeches, one on the question concerning the United States Bank, delivered some years ago in the Senate, and the late one. He was very vehement, used the old Virginia argument of the unconstitutional point of it. On the whole there was some blinding sophistry and two or three ridiculous stories—to cast reflection on Mr. Clay.2
But I observed that it was received without the least difficulty, and that although once or twice he coloured a little it was not like his last foam.
Mr. Storrs followed him, on the opposite side, his argument was a very good one, although at present I do not recollect the course of it at this distance of time. It is quite difficult to do so, unless the person is so distinguished that I not only heard him with attention but read his speech afterwards. All these sketches are taken from memory. The manner of this gentleman is rather good than otherwise although there is something harsh in his voice. He argued “establish” meant to create and in this way, that in the context it was that Congress have power to establish post offices and post Roads. What does establish post offices mean? It means to make offices or create them where they were not before. If so the argument is clear, for the same word applies to both.3
He finished the sitting of the House today.
Returning home, I was obliged to dress in haste to be prepared for the company to dine to day. They consisted of Mr. Mills of Massachusetts, Senator. Messrs. Carter of South Carolina, Eddy of Rhode Island, Foot of Connecticut, Henry of Kentucky, Houston of Tennessee, Mallary of Vermont, Morgan of New York, Plumer of New Hampshire, Tucker of Virginia and Williams of North Carolina.4
dinner was a very lively and agreable one. Mr. Williams was next to me; he is a violent enemy of the house and consequently I felt on my guard to him. Mr. Foot was opposite and Tucker next. It was remarkable what a number of the opposing parties there were making up this dinner. It is supposed that the three above mentioned are all enemies and that but four decided friends were at table.
There was a great deal of life in the conversation at our end of the table, particularly when the subject of roads and canals came up, all the members there being in direct opposition to the passage of the bill. Mr. Tucker would not argue upon the subject as he informed us that he reserved his reasons for the House. Mr. Williams called it absolute destruction to the constitution. In fact by talking and laughing they became so severe that the only two supporters of the bill sprung from table immediately after the ladies retired under pretence of an engagement, but really if one could judge from the colour of Houston’s face, it was from rage. They all then went upstairs, and after some lively conversation, went away. Blunt was here in the evening after they had gone and staid till eleven o’clock.