When Elijah Pogram (to whom this was an every-day incident) saw that Martin put the plate away, and took no butter, he was quite delighted, and said,
'Well! The morbid hatred of you British to the Institutions of our country is as-TONishing!'
'Upon my life!' cried Martin, in his turn. 'This is the most wonderful community that ever existed. A man deliberately makes a hog of himself, and THAT'S an Institution!'
'We have no time to ac-quire forms, sir,' said Elijah Pogram.
'Acquire!' cried Martin. 'But it's not a question of acquiring anything. It's a question of losing the natural politeness of a savage, and that instinctive good breeding which admonishes one man not to offend and disgust another. Don't you think that man over the way, for instance, naturally knows better, but considers it a very fine and independent thing to be a brute in small matters?'
'He is a na-tive of our country, and is nat'rally bright and spry, of course,' said Mr Pogram.
'Now, observe what this comes to, Mr Pogram,' pursued Martin. 'The mass of your countrymen begin by stubbornly neglecting little social observances, which have nothing to do with gentility, custom, usage, government, or country, but are acts of common, decent, natural, human politeness. You abet them in this, by resenting all attacks upon their social offences as if they were a beautiful national feature. From disregarding small obligations they come in regular course to disregard great ones; and so refuse to pay their debts. What they may do, or what they may refuse to do next, I don't know; but any man may see if he will, that it will be something following in natural succession, and a part of one great growth, which is rotten at the root.'
The mind of Mr Pogram was too philosophical to see this; so they went on deck again, where, resuming his former post, he chewed until he was in a lethargic state, amounting to insensibility.
After a weary voyage of several days, they came again to that same wharf where Mark had been so nearly left behind, on the night of starting for Eden. Captain Kedgick, the landlord, was standing there, and was greatly surprised to see them coming from the boat.
'Why, what the 'tarnal!' cried the Captain. 'Well! I do admire at this, I do!'
'We can stay at your house until to-morrow, Captain, I suppose?' said Martin.
'I reckon you can stay there for a twelvemonth if you like,' retorted Kedgick coolly. 'But our people won't best like your coming back.'
'Won't like it, Captain Kedgick!' said Martin.
'They did ex-pect you was a-going to settle,' Kedgick answered, as he shook his head. 'They've been took in, you can't deny!'
'What do you mean?' cried Martin.
'You didn't ought to have received 'em,' said the Captain. 'No you didn't!'
'My good friend,' returned Martin, 'did I want to receive them? Was it any act of mine? Didn't you tell me they would rile up, and that I should be flayed like a wild cat--and threaten all kinds of vengeance, if I didn't receive them?'
'I don't know about that,' returned the Captain. 'But when our people's frills is out, they're starched up pretty stiff, I tell you!'
With that, he fell into the rear to walk with Mark, while Martin and Elijah Pogram went on to the National.
'We've come back alive, you see!' said Mark.
'It ain't the thing I did expect,' the Captain grumbled. 'A man ain't got no right to be a public man, unless he meets the public views. Our fashionable people wouldn't have attended his le-vee, if they had know'd it.'
Nothing mollified the Captain, who persisted in taking it very ill that they had not both died in Eden. The boarders at the National felt strongly on the subject too; but it happened by good fortune that they had not much time to think about this grievance, for it was suddenly determined to pounce upon the Honourable Elijah Pogram, and give HIM a le-vee forthwith.
As the general evening meal of the house was over before the arrival of the boat, Martin, Mark, and Pogram were taking tea and fixings at the public table by themselves, when the deputation entered to announce this honour; consisting of six gentlemen boarders and a very shrill boy.