A short one. Showing, among other matters, how Mr. Pickwick undertook to drive, and Mr. Winkle to ride; and how they both did it
BRIGHT and pleasant was the sky, balmy the air, and beautiful the appearance of every object around, as Mr. Pickwick leant over the balustrades of Rochester Bridge, contemplating nature, and waiting for breakfast. The scene was indeed one which might well have charmed a far less reflective mind, than that to which it was presented.
On the left of the spectator lay the ruined wall, broken in many places, and in some, overhanging the narrow beach below in rude and heavy masses. Huge knots of sea-weed hung upon the jagged and pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and the green ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its own might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting and revelry. On either side, the banks of the Medway, covered with cornfields and pastures, with here and there a windmill, or a distant church, stretched away as far as the eye could see, presenting a rich and varied landscape, rendered more beautiful by the changing shadows which passed swiftly across it, as the thin and half-formed clouds skimmed away in the light of the morning sun. The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on; and the oars of the fishermen dipped into the water with a clear and liquid sound, as the heavy but picturesque boats glided slowly down the stream.
Mr. Pickwick was roused from the agreeable reverie into which he had been led by the objects before him, by a deep sigh, and a touch on his shoulder. He turned round: and the dismal man was at his side.
"Contemplating the scene?" inquired the dismal man.
"I was," said Mr. Pickwick.
"And congratulating yourself on being up so soon?" Mr. Pickwick nodded assent.
"Ah! people need to rise early, to see the sun in all his splendour, for his brightness seldom lasts the day through. The morning of day and the morning of life are but too much alike."
"You speak truly, sir," said Mr. Pickwick.
"How common the saying," continued the dismal man, "`The morning's too fine to last.' How well might it be applied to our every-day existence. God! what would I forfeit to have the days of my childhood restored, or to be able to forget them for ever!"
"You have seen much trouble, sir," said Mr. Pickwick, compassionately.
"I have," said the dismal man, hurriedly; "I have. More than those who see me now would believe possible." He paused for an instant, and then said, abruptly--
"Did it ever strike you, on such a morning as this, that drowning would be happiness and peace?"
"God bless me, no!" replied Mr. Pickwick, edging a little from the balustrade, as the possibility of the dismal man's tipping him over, by way of experiment, occurred to him rather forcibly.
"I have thought so, often," said the dismal man, without noticing the action. "The calm, cool water seems to me to murmur an invitation to repose and rest. A bound, a splash, a brief struggle; there is an eddy for an instant, it gradually subsides into a gentle ripple; the waters have closed above your head, and the world has closed upon your miseries and misfortunes for ever." The sunken eye of the dismal man flashed brightly as he spoke, but the momentary excitement quickly subsided; and he turned calmly away, as he said--
"There--enough of that. I wish to see you on another subject. You invited me to read that paper, the night before last, and listened attentively while I did so."
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