Chapter 88

A Radical - Simple-looking man - Church of England - The President - Aristocracy - Gin and water - Mending the roads - Persecuting Church - Simon de Montfort - Broken bells - Get up - Not for the Pope - Quay of New York - Mumpers’ Dingle - No wish to fight - First draught - A poor pipe - Half-a-crown broke.

THE individual whom I supposed to be a Radical, after a short pause, again uplifted his voice; he was rather a strong-built fellow of about thirty, with an ill-favoured countenance, a white hat on his head, a snuff-coloured coat on his back, and when he was not speaking, a pipe in his mouth. ‘Who would live in such a country as England?’ he shouted.

‘There is no country like America,’ said his nearest neighbour, a man also in a white hat, and of a very ill-favoured countenance - ‘there is no country like America,’ said he, withdrawing a pipe from his mouth; ‘I think I shall - ‘ and here he took a draught from a jug, the contents of which he appeared to have in common with the other, - ‘go to America one of these days myself.’

‘Poor old England is not such a bad country, after all,’ said a third, a simple-looking man in a labouring dress, who sat smoking a pipe without anything before him. ‘If there was but a little more work to be got, I should have nothing to say against her; I hope, however - ‘

‘You hope! who cares what you hope?’ interrupted the first, in a savage tone; ‘you are one of those sneaking hounds who are satisfied with dogs’ wages - a bit of bread and a kick. Work, indeed! who, with the spirit of a man, would work for a country where there is neither liberty of speech nor of action? a land full of beggarly aristocracy, hungry borough-mongers, insolent parsons, and "their . . . wives and daughters," as William Cobbett says, in his "Register."’

‘Ah, the Church of England has been a source of incalculable mischief to these realms,’ said another.

The person who uttered these words sat rather aloof from the rest; he was dressed in a long black surtout. I could not see much of his face, partly owing to his keeping it very much directed to the ground, and partly owing to a large slouched hat which he wore; I observed, however, that his hair was of a reddish tinge. On the table near him was a glass and spoon.

‘You are quite right,’ said the first, alluding to what this last had said, ‘the Church of England has done incalculable mischief here. I value no religion three halfpence, for I believe in none; but the one that I hate most is the Church of England; so when I get to New York, after I have shown the fine fellows on the quay a spice of me, by . . . the King, I’ll toss up my hat again, and . . . the Church of England too.’

‘And suppose the people of New York should clap you in the stocks?’ said I.

These words drew upon me the attention of the whole four. The Radical and his companion stared at me ferociously; the man in black gave me a peculiar glance from under his slouched hat; the simple- looking man in the labouring dress laughed.

‘What are you laughing at, you fool?’ said the Radical, turning and looking at the other, who appeared to be afraid of him; ‘hold your noise; and a pretty fellow, you,’ said he, looking at me, ‘to come here, and speak against the great American nation.’

‘I speak against the great American nation!’ said I; ‘I rather paid them a compliment.’

‘By supposing they would put me in the stocks. Well, I call it abusing them, to suppose they would do any such thing - stocks, indeed! - there are no stocks in all the land. Put me in the stocks! why, the President will come down to the quay, and ask me to dinner, as soon as he hears what I have said about the King and Church.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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