David Copperfield – Day 197 of 331

“My dear Copperfield,” said Mr. Micawber, “yourself and Mr. Traddles find us on the brink of migration, and will excuse any little discomforts incidental to that position.”

Glancing round as I made a suitable reply, I observed that the family effects were already packed, and that the amount of luggage was by no means overwhelming. I congratulated Mrs. Micawber on the approaching change.

“My dear Mr. Copperfield,” said Mrs. Micawber, “of your friendly interest in all our affairs, I am well assured. My family may consider it banishment, if they please; but I am a wife and mother, and I never will desert Mr. Micawber.”

Traddles, appealed to by Mrs. Micawber’s eye, feelingly acquiesced.

“That,” said Mrs. Micawber, “that, at least, is my view, my dear Mr. Copperfield and Mr. Traddles, of the obligation which I took upon myself when I repeated the irrevocable words, ‘I, Emma, take thee, Wilkins.’ I read the service over with a flat-candle on the previous night, and the conclusion I derived from it was, that I never could desert Mr. Micawber. And,” said Mrs. Micawber, “though it is possible I may be mistaken in my view of the ceremony, I never will!”

“My dear,” said Mr. Micawber, a little impatiently, “I am not conscious that you are expected to do anything of the sort.”

“I am aware, my dear Mr. Copperfield,” pursued Mrs. Micawber, “that I am now about to cast my lot among strangers; and I am also aware that the various members of my family, to whom Mr. Micawber has written in the most gentlemanly terms, announcing that fact, have not taken the least notice of Mr. Micawber’s communication. Indeed I may be superstitious,” said Mrs. Micawber, “but it appears to me that Mr. Micawber is destined never to receive any answers whatever to the great majority of the communications he writes. I may augur, from the silence of my family, that they object to the resolution I have taken; but I should not allow myself to be swerved from the path of duty, Mr. Copperfield, even by my papa and mama, were they still living.”

I expressed my opinion that this was going in the right direction. “It may be a sacrifice,” said Mrs. Micawber, “to immure one’s-self in a Cathedral town; but surely, Mr. Copperfield, if it is a sacrifice in me, it is much more a sacrifice in a man of Mr. Micawber’s abilities.”

“Oh! You are going to a Cathedral town?” said I.

Mr. Micawber, who had been helping us all, out of the wash-hand-stand jug, replied:

“To Canterbury. In fact, my dear Copperfield, I have entered into arrangements, by virtue of which I stand pledged and contracted to our friend Heep, to assist and serve him in the capacity of—and to be—his confidential clerk.”

I stared at Mr. Micawber, who greatly enjoyed my surprise.

“I am bound to state to you,” he said, with an official air, “that the business habits, and the prudent suggestions, of Mrs. Micawber, have in a great measure conduced to this result. The gauntlet, to which Mrs. Micawber referred upon a former occasion, being thrown down in the form of an advertisement, was taken up by my friend Heep, and led to a mutual recognition. Of my friend Heep,” said Mr. Micawber, “who is a man of remarkable shrewdness, I desire to speak with all possible respect. My friend Heep has not fixed the positive remuneration at too high a figure, but he has made a great deal, in the way of extrication from the pressure of pecuniary difficulties, contingent on the value of my services; and on the value of those services I pin my faith. Such address and intelligence as I chance to possess,” said Mr. Micawber, boastfully disparaging himself, with the old genteel air, “will be devoted to my friend Heep’s service. I have already some acquaintance with the law—as a defendant on civil process—and I shall immediately apply myself to the Commentaries of one of the most eminent and remarkable of our English jurists. I believe it is unnecessary to add that I allude to Mr. justice Blackstone.”

These observations, and indeed the greater part of the observations made that evening, were interrupted by Mrs. Micawber’s discovering that Master Micawber was sitting on his boots, or holding his head on with both arms as if he felt it loose, or accidentally kicking Traddles under the table, or shuffling his feet over one another, or producing them at distances from himself apparently outrageous to nature, or lying sideways with his hair among the wine-glasses, or developing his restlessness of limb in some other form incompatible with the general interests of society; and by Master Micawber’s receiving those discoveries in a resentful spirit. I sat all the while, amazed by Mr. Micawber’s disclosure, and wondering what it meant; until Mrs. Micawber resumed the thread of the discourse, and claimed my attention.

“What I particularly request Mr. Micawber to be careful of, is,” said Mrs. Micawber, “that he does not, my dear Mr. Copperfield, in applying himself to this subordinate branch of the law, place it out of his power to rise, ultimately, to the top of the tree. I am convinced that Mr. Micawber, giving his mind to a profession so adapted to his fertile resources, and his flow of language, must distinguish himself. Now, for example, Mr. Traddles,” said Mrs. Micawber, assuming a profound air, “a judge, or even say a Chancellor. Does an individual place himself beyond the pale of those preferments by entering on such an office as Mr. Micawber has accepted?”

“My dear,” observed Mr. Micawber—but glancing inquisitively at Traddles, too; “we have time enough before us, for the consideration of those questions.”

“Micawber,” she returned, “no! Your mistake in life is, that you do not look forward far enough. You are bound, in justice to your family, if not to yourself, to take in at a comprehensive glance the extremest point in the horizon to which your abilities may lead you.”

Mr. Micawber coughed, and drank his punch with an air of exceeding satisfaction—still glancing at Traddles, as if he desired to have his opinion.

“Why, the plain state of the case, Mrs. Micawber,” said Traddles, mildly breaking the truth to her. “I mean the real prosaic fact, you know—“

“Just so,” said Mrs. Micawber, “my dear Mr. Traddles, I wish to be as prosaic and literal as possible on a subject of so much importance.”

“—Is,” said Traddles, “that this branch of the law, even if Mr. Micawber were a regular solicitor—“

“Exactly so,” returned Mrs. Micawber. (“Wilkins, you are squinting, and will not be able to get your eyes back.”)

“—Has nothing,” pursued Traddles, “to do with that. Only a barrister is eligible for such preferments; and Mr. Micawber could not be a barrister, without being entered at an inn of court as a student, for five years.”

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)