The General, being greatly heated by his own composition, was in a fit state to receive any inflammable influence; but he had no sooner possessed himself of the contents of these documents, than a change came over his face, involving such a huge amount of choler and passion, that the noisy concourse were silent in a moment, in very wonder at the sight of him.
'My friends!' cried the General, rising; 'my friends and fellow citizens, we have been mistaken in this man.'
'In what man?' was the cry.
'In this,' panted the General, holding up the letter he had read aloud a few minutes before. 'I find that he has been, and is, the advocate--consistent in it always too--of Nigger emancipation!'
If anything beneath the sky be real, those Sons of Freedom would have pistolled, stabbed--in some way slain--that man by coward hands and murderous violence, if he had stood among them at that time. The most confiding of their own countrymen would not have wagered then--no, nor would they ever peril--one dunghill straw, upon the life of any man in such a strait. They tore the letter, cast the fragments in the air, trod down the pieces as they fell; and yelled, and groaned, and hissed, till they could cry no longer.
'I shall move,' said the General, when he could make himself heard, 'that the Watertoast Association of United Sympathisers be immediately dissolved!'
Down with it! Away with it! Don't hear of it! Burn its records! Pull the room down! Blot it out of human memory!
'But, my fellow-countrymen!' said the General, 'the contributions. We have funds. What is to be done with the funds?'
It was hastily resolved that a piece of plate should be presented to a certain constitutional Judge, who had laid down from the Bench the noble principle that it was lawful for any white mob to murder any black man; and that another piece of plate, of similar value should be presented to a certain Patriot, who had declared from his high place in the Legislature, that he and his friends would hang without trial, any Abolitionist who might pay them a visit. For the surplus, it was agreed that it should be devoted to aiding the enforcement of those free and equal laws, which render it incalculably more criminal and dangerous to teach a negro to read and write than to roast him alive in a public city. These points adjusted, the meeting broke up in great disorder, and there was an end of the Watertoast Sympathy.
As Martin ascended to his bedroom, his eye was attracted by the Republican banner, which had been hoisted from the house-top in honour of the occasion, and was fluttering before a window which he passed.
'Tut!' said Martin. 'You're a gay flag in the distance. But let a man be near enough to get the light upon the other side and see through you; and you are but sorry fustian!'
FROM WHICH IT WILL BE SEEN THAT MARTIN BECAME A LION OF HIS OWN ACCOUNT. TOGETHER WITH THE REASON WHY
As soon as it was generally known in the National Hotel, that the young Englishman, Mr Chuzzlewit, had purchased a 'lo-cation' in the Valley of Eden, and intended to betake himself to that earthly Paradise by the next steamboat, he became a popular character. Why this should be, or how it had come to pass, Martin no more knew than Mrs Gamp, of Kingsgate Street, High Holborn, did; but that he was for the time being the lion, by popular election, of the Watertoast community, and that his society was in rather inconvenient request there could be no kind of doubt.
The first notification he received of this change in his position, was the following epistle, written in a thin running hand--with here and there a fat letter or two, to make the general effect more striking--on a sheet of paper, ruled with blue lines.
'Dear Sir--'When I had the privillidge of being your fellow-traveller in the cars, the day before yesterday, you offered some remarks upon the subject of the tower of London, which (in common with my fellow-citizens generally) I could wish to hear repeated to a public audience.