'To the Envy of the world, sir, and the leaders of Human Civilization. Let me ask you sir,' he added, bringing the ferule of his stick heavily upon the deck with the air of a man who must not be equivocated with, 'how do you like my Country?'
'I am hardly prepared to answer that question yet,' said Martin 'seeing that I have not been ashore.'
'Well, I should expect you were not prepared, sir,' said the gentleman, 'to behold such signs of National Prosperity as those?'
He pointed to the vessels lying at the wharves; and then gave a vague flourish with his stick, as if he would include the air and water, generally, in this remark.
'Really,' said Martin, 'I don't know. Yes. I think I was.'
The gentleman glanced at him with a knowing look, and said he liked his policy. It was natural, he said, and it pleased him as a philosopher to observe the prejudices of human nature.
'You have brought, I see, sir,' he said, turning round towards Martin, and resting his chin on the top of his stick, 'the usual amount of misery and poverty and ignorance and crime, to be located in the bosom of the great Republic. Well, sir! let 'em come on in shiploads from the old country. When vessels are about to founder, the rats are said to leave 'em. There is considerable of truth, I find, in that remark.'
'The old ship will keep afloat a year or two longer yet, perhaps,' said Martin with a smile, partly occasioned by what the gentleman said, and partly by his manner of saying it, which was odd enough for he emphasised all the small words and syllables in his discourse, and left the others to take care of themselves; as if he thought the larger parts of speech could be trusted alone, but the little ones required to be constantly looked after.
'Hope is said by the poet, sir,' observed the gentleman, 'to be the nurse of young Desire.'
Martin signified that he had heard of the cardinal virtue in question serving occasionally in that domestic capacity.
'She will not rear her infant in the present instance, sir, you'll find,' observed the gentleman.
'Time will show,' said Martin.
The gentleman nodded his head gravely; and said, 'What is your name, sir?'
Martin told him.
'How old are you, sir?'
Martin told him.
'What is your profession, sir?'
Martin told him that also.
'What is your destination, sir?' inquired the gentleman.
'Really,' said Martin laughing, 'I can't satisfy you in that particular, for I don't know it myself.'
'Yes?' said the gentleman.
'No,' said Martin.
The gentleman adjusted his cane under his left arm, and took a more deliberate and complete survey of Martin than he had yet had leisure to make. When he had completed his inspection, he put out his right hand, shook Martin's hand, and said:
'My name is Colonel Diver, sir. I am the Editor of the New York Rowdy Journal.'
Martin received the communication with that degree of respect which an announcement so distinguished appeared to demand.
'The New York Rowdy Journal, sir,' resumed the colonel, 'is, as I expect you know, the organ of our aristocracy in this city.'
'Oh! there IS an aristocracy here, then?' said Martin. 'Of what is it composed?'
'Of intelligence, sir,' replied the colonel; 'of intelligence and virtue. And of their necessary consequence in this republic-- dollars, sir.'
Martin was very glad to hear this, feeling well assured that if intelligence and virtue led, as a matter of course, to the acquisition of dollars, he would speedily become a great capitalist. He was about to express the gratification such news afforded him, when he was interrupted by the captain of the ship, who came up at the moment to shake hands with the colonel; and who, seeing a well-dressed stranger on the deck (for Martin had thrown aside his cloak), shook hands with him also. This was an unspeakable relief to Martin, who, in spite of the acknowledged supremacy of Intelligence and virtue in that happy country, would have been deeply mortified to appear before Colonel Diver in the poor character of a steerage passenger.