I said that I should hope to hear, whenever she had an opportunity of writing.
'Please Heaven, there will be many such opportunities,' said Mr. Micawber. 'The ocean, in these times, is a perfect fleet of ships; and we can hardly fail to encounter many, in running over. It is merely crossing,' said Mr. Micawber, trifling with his eye-glass, 'merely crossing. The distance is quite imaginary.'
I think, now, how odd it was, but how wonderfully like Mr. Micawber, that, when he went from London to Canterbury, he should have talked as if he were going to the farthest limits of the earth; and, when he went from England to Australia, as if he were going for a little trip across the channel.
'On the voyage, I shall endeavour,' said Mr. Micawber, 'occasionally to spin them a yarn; and the melody of my son Wilkins will, I trust, be acceptable at the galley-fire. When Mrs. Micawber has her sea-legs on — an expression in which I hope there is no conventional impropriety — she will give them, I dare say, "Little Tafflin". Porpoises and dolphins, I believe, will be frequently observed athwart our Bows; and, either on the starboard or the larboard quarter, objects of interest will be continually descried. In short,' said Mr. Micawber, with the old genteel air, 'the probability is, all will be found so exciting, alow and aloft, that when the lookout, stationed in the main-top, cries Land-oh! we shall be very considerably astonished!'
With that he flourished off the contents of his little tin pot, as if he had made the voyage, and had passed a first-class examination before the highest naval authorities.
'What I chiefly hope, my dear Mr. Copperfield,' said Mrs. Micawber, 'is, that in some branches of our family we may live again in the old country. Do not frown, Micawber! I do not now refer to my own family, but to our children's children. However vigorous the sapling,' said Mrs. Micawber, shaking her head, 'I cannot forget the parent-tree; and when our race attains to eminence and fortune, I own I should wish that fortune to flow into the coffers of Britannia.'
'My dear,' said Mr. Micawber, 'Britannia must take her chance. I am bound to say that she has never done much for me, and that I have no particular wish upon the subject.'
'Micawber,' returned Mrs. Micawber, 'there, you are wrong. You are going out, Micawber, to this distant clime, to strengthen, not to weaken, the connexion between yourself and Albion.'
'The connexion in question, my love,' rejoined Mr. Micawber, 'has not laid me, I repeat, under that load of personal obligation, that I am at all sensitive as to the formation of another connexion.'
'Micawber,' returned Mrs. Micawber. 'There, I again say, you are wrong. You do not know your power, Micawber. It is that which will strengthen, even in this step you are about to take, the connexion between yourself and Albion.'
Mr. Micawber sat in his elbow-chair, with his eyebrows raised; half receiving and half repudiating Mrs. Micawber's views as they were stated, but very sensible of their foresight.
'My dear Mr. Copperfield,' said Mrs. Micawber, 'I wish Mr. Micawber to feel his position. It appears to me highly important that Mr. Micawber should, from the hour of his embarkation, feel his position. Your old knowledge of me, my dear Mr. Copperfield, will have told you that I have not the sanguine disposition of Mr. Micawber. My disposition is, if I may say so, eminently practical. I know that this is a long voyage. I know that it will involve many privations and inconveniences. I cannot shut my eyes to those facts. But I also know what Mr. Micawber is. I know the latent power of Mr. Micawber. And therefore I consider it vitally important that Mr. Micawber should feel his position.'
'My love,' he observed, 'perhaps you will allow me to remark that it is barely possible that I DO feel my position at the present moment.'
'I think not, Micawber,' she rejoined. 'Not fully. My dear Mr. Copperfield, Mr. Micawber's is not a common case. Mr. Micawber is going to a distant country expressly in order that he may be fully understood and appreciated for the first time. I wish Mr. Micawber to take his stand upon that vessel's prow, and firmly say, "This country I am come to conquer! Have you honours? Have you riches? Have you posts of profitable pecuniary emolument? Let them be brought forward. They are mine!"'
Mr. Micawber, glancing at us all, seemed to think there was a good deal in this idea.
'I wish Mr. Micawber, if I make myself understood,' said Mrs. Micawber, in her argumentative tone, 'to be the Caesar of his own fortunes. That, my dear Mr. Copperfield, appears to me to be his true position. From the first moment of this voyage, I wish Mr. Micawber to stand upon that vessel's prow and say, "Enough of delay: enough of disappointment: enough of limited means. That was in the old country. This is the new. Produce your reparation. Bring it forward!"'
Mr. Micawber folded his arms in a resolute manner, as if he were then stationed on the figure-head.