'As secretary to the Young Men's Watertoast Association of this town, I am requested to inform you that the Society will be proud to hear you deliver a lecture upon the Tower of London, at their Hall to-morrow evening, at seven o'clock; and as a large issue of quarter-dollar tickets may be expected, your answer and consent by bearer will be considered obliging.
'LA FAYETTE KETTLE.
'The Honourable M. Chuzzlewit.
'P.S.--The Society would not be particular in limiting you to the Tower of London. Permit me to suggest that any remarks upon the Elements of Geology, or (if more convenient) upon the Writings of your talented and witty countryman, the honourable Mr Miller, would be well received.'
Very much aghast at this invitation, Martin wrote back, civilly declining it; and had scarcely done so, when he received another letter.
'No. 47, Bunker Hill Street,
'Sir--I was raised in those interminable solitudes where our mighty Mississippi (or Father of Waters) rolls his turbid flood.
'I am young, and ardent. For there is a poetry in wildness, and every alligator basking in the slime is in himself an Epic, self- contained. I aspirate for fame. It is my yearning and my thirst.
'Are you, sir, aware of any member of Congress in England, who would undertake to pay my expenses to that country, and for six months after my arrival?
'There is something within me which gives me the assurance that this enlightened patronage would not be thrown away. In literature or art; the bar, the pulpit, or the stage; in one or other, if not all, I feel that I am certain to succeed.
'If too much engaged to write to any such yourself, please let me have a list of three or four of those most likely to respond, and I will address them through the Post Office. May I also ask you to favour me with any critical observations that have ever presented themselves to your reflective faculties, on "Cain, a Mystery," by the Right Honourable Lord Byron?
'I am, Sir,
'Yours (forgive me if I add, soaringly),
'P.S.--Address your answer to America Junior, Messrs. Hancock & Floby, Dry Goods Store, as above.'
Both of which letters, together with Martin's reply to each, were, according to a laudable custom, much tending to the promotion of gentlemanly feeling and social confidence, published in the next number of the Watertoast Gazette.
He had scarcely got through this correspondence when Captain Kedgick, the landlord, kindly came upstairs to see how he was getting on. The Captain sat down upon the bed before he spoke; and finding it rather hard, moved to the pillow.
'Well, sir!' said the Captain, putting his hat a little more on one side, for it was rather tight in the crown: 'You're quite a public man I calc'late.'
'So it seems,' retorted Martin, who was very tired.
'Our citizens, sir,' pursued the Captain, 'intend to pay their respects to you. You will have to hold a sort of le-vee, sir, while you're here.'
'Powers above!' cried Martin, 'I couldn't do that, my good fellow!'
'I reckon you MUST then,' said the Captain.
'Must is not a pleasant word, Captain,' urged Martin.
'Well! I didn't fix the mother language, and I can't unfix it,' said the Captain coolly; 'else I'd make it pleasant. You must re-ceive. That's all.'
'But why should I receive people who care as much for me as I care for them?' asked Martin.
'Well! because I have had a muniment put up in the bar,' returned the Captain.
'A what?' cried Martin.
'A muniment,' rejoined the Captain.
Martin looked despairingly at Mark, who informed him that the Captain meant a written notice that Mr Chuzzlewit would receive the Watertoasters that day, at and after two o'clock which was in effect then hanging in the bar, as Mark, from ocular inspection of the same, could testify.
'You wouldn't be unpop'lar, I know,' said the Captain, paring his nails. 'Our citizens an't long of riling up, I tell you; and our Gazette could flay you like a wild cat.'
Martin was going to be very wroth, but he thought better of it, and said:
'In Heaven's name let them come, then.'
'Oh, THEY'll come,' returned the Captain.