It told brilliantly; for the bystanders were delighted, and one of them said to Martin, 'that he guessed he had now seen something of the eloquential aspect of our country, and was chawed up pritty small.'
Mr Pogram waited until his hearers were calm again, before he said to Mark:
'You do not seem to coincide, sir?'
'Why,' said Mark, 'I didn't like him much; and that's the truth, sir. I thought he was a bully; and I didn't admire his carryin' them murderous little persuaders, and being so ready to use 'em.'
'It's singler!' said Pogram, lifting his umbrella high enough to look all round from under it. 'It's strange! You observe the settled opposition to our Institutions which pervades the British mind!'
'What an extraordinary people you are!' cried Martin. 'Are Mr Chollop and the class he represents, an Institution here? Are pistols with revolving barrels, sword-sticks, bowie-knives, and such things, Institutions on which you pride yourselves? Are bloody duels, brutal combats, savage assaults, shooting down and stabbing in the streets, your Institutions! Why, I shall hear next that Dishonour and Fraud are among the Institutions of the great republic!'
The moment the words passed his lips, the Honourable Elijah Pogram looked round again.
'This morbid hatred of our Institutions,' he observed, 'is quite a study for the psychological observer. He's alludin' to Repudiation now!'
'Oh! you may make anything an Institution if you like,' said Martin, laughing, 'and I confess you had me there, for you certainly have made that one. But the greater part of these things are one Institution with us, and we call it by the generic name of Old Bailey!'
The bell being rung for dinner at this moment, everybody ran away into the cabin, whither the Honourable Elijah Pogram fled with such precipitation that he forgot his umbrella was up, and fixed it so tightly in the cabin door that it could neither be let down nor got out. For a minute or so this accident created a perfect rebellion among the hungry passengers behind, who, seeing the dishes, and hearing the knives and forks at work, well knew what would happen unless they got there instantly, and were nearly mad; while several virtuous citizens at the table were in deadly peril of choking themselves in their unnatural efforts to get rid of all the meat before these others came.
They carried the umbrella by storm, however, and rushed in at the breach. The Honourable Elijah Pogram and Martin found themselves, after a severe struggle, side by side, as they might have come together in the pit of a London theatre; and for four whole minutes afterwards, Pogram was snapping up great blocks of everything he could get hold of, like a raven. When he had taken this unusually protracted dinner, he began to talk to Martin; and begged him not to have the least delicacy in speaking with perfect freedom to him, for he was a calm philosopher. Which Martin was extremely glad to hear; for he had begun to speculate on Elijah being a disciple of that other school of republican philosophy, whose noble sentiments are carved with knives upon a pupil's body, and written, not with pen and ink, but tar and feathers.
'What do you think of my countrymen who are present, sir?' inquired Elijah Pogram.
'Oh! very pleasant,' said Martin.
They were a very pleasant party. No man had spoken a word; every one had been intent, as usual, on his own private gorging; and the greater part of the company were decidedly dirty feeders.
The Honourable Elijah Pogram looked at Martin as if he thought 'You don't mean that, I know!' and he was soon confirmed in this opinion.
Sitting opposite to them was a gentleman in a high state of tobacco, who wore quite a little beard, composed of the overflowing of that weed, as they had dried about his mouth and chin; so common an ornament that it would scarcely have attracted Martin's observation, but that this good citizen, burning to assert his equality against all comers, sucked his knife for some moments, and made a cut with it at the butter, just as Martin was in the act of taking some. There was a juiciness about the deed that might have sickened a scavenger.