Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities
I. THE SWELL AND THE SURREY II. THE YORKSHIREMAN AND THE SURREY III. SURREY SHOOTING: MR. JORROCKS IN TROUBLE IV. MR. JORROCKS AND THE SURREY STAGHOUNDS V. THE TURF: MR. JORROCKS AT NEWMARKET VI. A WEEK AT CHELTENHAM: THE CHELTENHAM DANDY VII. AQUATICS: MR. JORROCKS AT MARGATE VIII. THE ROAD: ENGLISH AND FRENCH IX. MR. JORROCKS IN PARIS X. SPORTING IN FRANCE XI. A RIDE TO BRIGHTON ON "THE AGE" XII. MR. JORROCKS'S DINNER PARTY XIII. THE DAY AFTER THE FEAST: AN EPISODE BY THE YORKSHIREMAN
I. THE SWELL AND THE SURREY
What true-bred city sportsman has not in his day put off the most urgent business—perhaps his marriage, or even the interment of his rib—that he might "brave the morn" with that renowned pack, the Surrey subscription foxhounds? Lives there, we would ask, a thoroughbred, prime, bang-up, slap-dash, break-neck, out-and-out artist, within three miles of the Monument, who has not occasionally "gone a good 'un" with this celebrated pack? And shall we, the bard of Eastcheap, born all deeds of daring to record, shall we, who so oft have witnessed—nay, shared—the hardy exploits of our fellow-cits, shall we sit still, and never cease the eternal twirl of our dexter around our sinister thumb, while other scribes hand down to future ages the paltry feats of beardless Meltonians, and try to shame old Father Thames himself with muddy Whissendine's foul stream? Away! thou vampire, Indolence, that suckest the marrow of imagination, and fattenest on the cream of idea ere yet it float on the milk of reflection. Hence! slug-begotten hag, thy power is gone—the murky veil thou'st drawn o'er memory's sweetest page is rent!
Harp of Eastcheap, awake!
Our thoughts hark back to the cover-side, and our heart o'erflows with recollections of the past, when life rode the pace through our veins, and the bark of the veriest mongrel, or the bray of the sorriest costermonger's sorriest "Jerusalem," were far more musical sounds than Paganini's pizzicatos or Catalani's clamorous caterwaulings.
And, thou, Goddess of the Silver Bow—chaste Diana—deign to become the leading star of our lucubrations; come perch upon our grey goose quill; shout in our ear the maddening Tally-ho! and ever and anon give a salutary "refresher" to our memory with thy heaven-wrought spurs—those spurs old Vulcan forged when in his maddest mood—whilst we relate such feats of town-born youths and city squires, as shall "harrow up the souls" of milk-sop Melton's choicest sons, and "fright their grass-galloping garrons from their propriety." But gently, Pegasus!—Here again, boys, and "let's to business," as they say on 'Change.
'Twere almost needless to inform our readers, that such portion of a county as is hunted by any one pack of hounds is technically denominated their country; and of all countries under the sun, that of the Surrey subscription foxhounds undoubtedly bears the bell. This superiority arises from the peculiar nature of the soil—wretched starvation stuff most profusely studded with huge sharp flints—the abundance of large woods, particularly on the Kent side, and the range of mountainous hills that run directly through the centre, which afford accommodation to the timid, and are unknown in most counties and unequalled in any.
One of the most striking features in the aspect of this chosen region of fox-hunting, is the quiet easy manner in which the sportsmen take the thing. On they go—now trotting gently over the flints—now softly ambling along the grassy ridge of some stupendous hill—now quietly following each other in long-drawn files, like geese, through some close and deep ravine, or interminable wood, which re-echoes to their never-ceasing holloas—every man shouting in proportion to the amount of his subscription, until day is made horrible with their yelling. There is no pushing, jostling, rushing, cramming, or riding over one another; no jealousy, discord, or daring; no ridiculous foolhardy feats; but each man cranes and rides, and rides and cranes in a style that would gladden the eye of a director of an insurance office.
The members of the Surrey are the people that combine business with pleasure, and even in the severest run can find time for sweet discourse, and talk about the price of stocks or stockings. "Yooi wind him there, good dog, yooi wind him."—"Cottons is fell."—"Hark to Cottager! Hark!"—"Take your bill at three months, or give you three and a half discount for cash." "Eu in there, eu in, Cheapside, good dog."—"Don't be in a hurry, sir, pray. He may be in the empty casks behind the cooper's. Yooi, try for him, good bitch. Yooi, push him out."—"You're not going down that bank, surely sir? Why, it's almost perpendicular! For God's sake, sir, take care—remember you are not insured. Ah! you had better get off—here, let me hold your nag, and when you're down you can catch mine;—that's your sort but mind he doesn't break the bridle. He won't run away, for he knows I've got some sliced carrots in my pocket to reward him if he does well.—Thank you, sir, and now for a leg up—there we are—that's your sort—I'll wait till you are up also, and we'll be off together."
It is this union of the elegant courtesies and business of life with the energetic sports of the field, that constitutes the charm of Surrey hunting; and who can wonder that smoke-dried cits, pent up all the week, should gladly fly from their shops to enjoy a day's sport on a Saturday? We must not, however, omit to express a hope that young men, who have their way to make in the world, may not be led astray by its allurements. It is all very well for old-established shopkeepers "to do a bit of pleasure" occasionally, but the apprentice or journeyman, who understands his duties and the tricks of his trade, will never be found capering in the hunting field. He will feel that his proper place is behind the counter; and while his master is away enjoying the pleasures of the chase, he can prig as much "pewter" from the till as will take both himself and his lass to Sadler's Wells theatre, or any other place she may choose to appoint.
But to return to the Surrey. The town of Croydon, nine miles from the standard in Cornhill, is the general rendezvous of the gallant sportsmen. It is the principal market town in the eastern division of the county of Surrey; and the chaw-bacons who carry the produce of their acres to it, instead of to the neighbouring village of London, retain much of their pristine barbarity. The town furnishes an interesting scene on a hunting morning, particularly on a Saturday. At an early hour, groups of grinning cits may be seen pouring in from the London side, some on the top of Cloud's coaches, some in taxed carts, but the greater number mounted on good serviceable-looking nags, of the invaluable species, calculated for sport or business, "warranted free from vice, and quiet both to ride and in harness"; some few there are, who, with that kindness and considerate attention which peculiarly mark this class of sportsmen, have tacked a buggy to their hunter, and given a seat to a friend, who leaning over the back of the gig, his jocund phiz turned towards his fidus Achates, leads his own horse behind, listening to the discourse of "his ancient," or regaling him "with sweet converse"; and thus they onward jog, until the sign of the "Greyhound," stretching quite across the main street, greets their expectant optics, and seems to forbid their passing the open portal below. In they wend then, and having seen their horses "sorted," and the collar marks (as much as may be) carefully effaced by the shrewd application of a due quantity of grease and lamp-black, speed in to "mine host" and order a sound repast of the good things of this world; the which to discuss, they presently apply themselves with a vigour that indicates as much a determination to recruit fatigue endured, as to lay in stock against the effects of future exertion. Meanwhile the bustle increases; sportsmen arrive by the score, fresh tables are laid out, covered with "no end" of vivers; and towards the hour of nine, may be heard to perfection, that pleasing assemblage of sounds issuing from the masticatory organs of a number of men steadfastly and studiously employed in the delightful occupation of preparing their mouthfuls for deglutition. "O noctes coenaeque Deum," said friend Flaccus. Oh, hunting breakfasts! say we. Where are now the jocund laugh, the repartee, the oft-repeated tale, the last debate? As our sporting contemporary, the Quarterly, said, when describing the noiseless pursuit of old reynard by the Quorn: "Reader, there is no crash now, and not much music." It is the tinker that makes a great noise over a little work, but, at the pace these men are eating, there is no time for babbling. So, gentle lector, there is now no leisure for bandying compliments, 'tis your small eater alone who chatters o'er his meals; your true-born sportsman is ever a silent and, consequently, an assiduous grubber. True it is that occasionally space is found between mouthfuls to vociferate "WAITER!" in a tone that requires not repetition; and most sonorously do the throats of the assembled eaters re-echo the sound; but this is all—no useless exuberance of speech—no, the knife or fork is directed towards what is wanted, nor needs there any more expressive intimation of the applicant's wants.
[Footnote 1: The date of this description, it must be remembered, is put many years back.]
At length the hour of ten approaches; bills are paid, pocket-pistols filled, sandwiches stowed away, horses accoutred, and our bevy straddle forth into the town, to the infinite gratification of troops of dirty-nosed urchins, who, for the last hour, have been peeping in at the windows, impatiently watching for the exeunt of our worthies.—They mount, and away—trot, trot—bump, bump—trot, trot—bump, bump—over Addington Heath, through the village, and up the hill to Hayes Common, which having gained, spurs are applied, and any slight degree of pursiness that the good steeds may have acquired by standing at livery in Cripplegate, or elsewhere, is speedily pumped out of them by a smart brush over the turf, to the "Fox," at Keston, where a numerous assemblage of true sportsmen patiently await the usual hour for throwing off. At length time being called, say twenty minutes to eleven, and Mr. Jorrocks, Nodding Homer, and the principal subscribers having cast up, the hounds approach the cover. "Yooi in there!" shouts Tom Hills, who has long hunted this crack pack; and crack! crack! crack! go the whips of some scores of sportsmen. "Yelp, yelp, yelp," howl the hounds; and in about a quarter of an hour Tom has not above four or five couple at his heels. This number being a trifle, Tom runs his prad at a gap in the fence by the wood-side; the old nag goes well at it, but stops short at the critical moment, and, instead of taking the ditch, bolts and wheels round. Tom, however, who is "large in the boiling pieces," as they say at Whitechapel, is prevented by his weight from being shaken out of his saddle; and, being resolved to take no denial, he lays the crop of his hunting-whip about the head of his beast, and runs him at the same spot a second time, with an obligato accompaniment of his spur-rowels, backed by a "curm along then!" issued in such a tone as plainly informs his quadruped he is in no joking humour. These incentives succeed in landing Tom and his nag in the wished-for spot, when, immediately, the wood begins to resound with shouts of "Yoicks True-bo-y, yoicks True-bo-y, yoicks push him up, yoicks wind him!" and the whole pack begin to work like good 'uns. Occasionally may be heard the howl of some unfortunate hound that has been caught in a fox trap, or taken in a hare snare; and not unfrequently the discordant growls of some three or four more, vociferously quarrelling over the venerable remains of some defunct rabbit. "Oh, you rogues!" cries Mr. Jorrocks, a cit rapturously fond of the sport. After the lapse of half an hour the noise in the wood for a time increases audibly. 'Tis Tom chastising the gourmands. Another quarter of an hour, and a hound that has finished his coney bone slips out of the wood, and takes a roll upon the greensward, opining, no doubt, that such pastime is preferable to scratching his hide among brambles in the covers. "Hounds have no right to opine," opines the head whipper-in; so clapping spurs into his prad, he begins to pursue the delinquent round the common, with "Markis, Markis! what are you at, Markis? get into cover, Markis!" But "it's no go"; Marquis creeps through a hedge, and "grins horribly a ghastly smile" at his ruthless tormentor, who wends back, well pleased at having had an excuse for taking "a bit gallop"! Half an hour more slips away, and some of the least hasty of our cits begin to wax impatient, in spite of the oft-repeated admonition, "don't be in a hurry!" At length a yokel pops out of the cover, and as soon as he has recovered breath, informs the field that he has been "a-hollorin' to 'em for half an hour," and that the fox had "gone away for Tatsfield, 'most as soon as ever the 'oounds went into 'ood."
All is now hurry-scurry—girths are tightened—reins gathered up—half-munched sandwiches thrust into the mouth—pocket-pistols applied to—coats comfortably buttoned up to the throat; and, these preparations made, away goes the whole field, "coolly and fairly," along the road to Leaves Green and Crown Ash Hill—from which latter spot, the operations of the pack in the bottom may be comfortably and securely viewed—leaving the whips to flog as many hounds out of cover as they can, and Tom to entice as many more as are willing to follow the "twang, twang, twang" of his horn.
And now, a sufficient number of hounds having been seduced from the wood, forth sallies "Tummas," and making straight for the spot where our yokel's "mate" stands leaning on his plough-stilts, obtains from him the exact latitude and longitude of the spot where reynard broke through the hedge. To this identical place is the pack forthwith led; and, no sooner have they reached it, than the wagging of their sterns clearly shows how genuine is their breed. Old Strumpet, at length, first looking up in Tom's face for applause, ventures to send forth a long-drawn howl, which, coupled with Tom's screech, setting the rest agog, away they all go, like beans; and the wind, fortunately setting towards Westerham, bears the melodious sound to the delighted ears of our "roadsters," who, forthwith catching the infection, respond with deafening shouts and joyous yells, set to every key, and disdaining the laws of harmony. Thus, what with Tom's horn, the holloaing of the whips, and the shouts of the riders, a very pretty notion may be formed of what Virgil calls:
"Clamorque virum, clangorque tubarum."
A terrible noise is the result!
At the end of nine minutes or so, the hounds come to fault in the bottom, below the blacksmith's, at Crown Ash Hill, and the fox has a capital chance; in fact, they have changed for the blacksmith's tom cat, which rushed out before them, and finding their mistake, return at their leisure. This gives the most daring of the field, on the eminence, an opportunity of descending to view the sport more closely; and being assembled in the bottom, each congratulates his neighbour on the excellent condition and stanchness of the hounds, and the admirable view that has been afforded them of their peculiar style of hunting. At this interesting period, a "regular swell" from Melton Mowbray, unknown to everyone except his tailor, to whom he owes a long tick, makes his appearance and affords abundance of merriment for our sportsmen. He is just turned out of the hands of his valet, and presents the very beau-ideal of his caste—"quite the lady," in fact. His hat is stuck on one side, displaying a profusion of well-waxed ringlets; a corresponding infinity of whisker, terminating at the chin, there joins an enormous pair of moustaches, which give him the appearance of having caught the fox himself and stuck its brush below his nose. His neck is very stiff; and the exact Jackson-like fit of his coat, which almost nips him in two at the waist, and his superlatively well-cleaned leather Andersons, together with the perfume and the general puppyism of his appearance, proclaim that he is a "swell" of the very first water, and one that a Surrey sportsman would like to buy at his own price and sell at the other's. In addition to this, his boots, which his "fellow" has just denuded from a pair of wash-leather covers, are of the finest, brightest, blackest patent leather imaginable; the left one being the identical boot by which Warren's monkey shaved himself, while the right is the one at which the game-cock pecked, mistaking its own shadow for an opponent, the mark of its bill being still visible above the instep; and the tops—whose pampered appetites have been fed on champagne—are of the most delicate cream-colour, the whole devoid of mud or speck. The animal he bestrides is no less calculated than himself to excite the risible faculties of the field, being a sort of mouse colour, with dun mane and tail, got by Nicolo, out of a flibbertigibbet mare, and he stands seventeen hands and an inch. His head is small and blood-like, his girth a mere trifle, and his legs, very long and spidery, of course without any hair at the pasterns to protect them from the flints; his whole appearance bespeaking him fitter to run for half-mile hunters' stakes at Croxton Park or Leicester, than contend for foxes' brushes in such a splendid country as the Surrey. There he stands, with his tail stuck tight between his legs, shivering and shaking for all the world as if troubled with a fit of ague. And well he may, poor beast, for—oh, men of Surrey, London, Kent, and Middlesex, hearken to my word—on closer inspection he proves to have been shaved!!!
[Footnote 2: Anderson, of South Audley Street, is, or was, a famous breeches-maker.]
[Footnote 3: Shaving was in great vogue at Melton some seasons back. It was succeeded by clipping, and clipping by singeing.]
After a considerable time spent in casting to the right, the left, and the rear, "True-bouy" chances to take a fling in advance, and hitting upon the scent, proclaims it with his wonted energy, which drawing all his brethren to the spot, they pick it slowly over some brick-fields and flint-beds, to an old lady's flower-garden, through which they carry it with a surprising head into the fields beyond, when they begin to fall into line, and the sportsmen doing the same—"one at a time and it will last the longer"—"Tummas" tootles his horn, the hunt is up, and away they all rattle at "Parliament pace," as the hackney-coachmen say.
Our swell, who flatters himself he can "ride a few," according to the fashion of his country, takes up a line of his own, abreast of the leading hounds, notwithstanding the oft vociferated cry of "Hold hard, sir!" "Pray, hold hard, sir!" "For God's sake, hold hard, sir!" "G—d d—n you, hold hard, sir!" "Where the h—ll are you going to, sir?" and other familiar inquiries and benedictions, with which a stranger is sometimes greeted, who ventures to take a look at a strange pack of hounds.
In the meantime the fox, who has often had a game at romps with his pursuers, being resolved this time to give them a tickler, bears straight away for Westerham, to the infinite satisfaction of the "hill folks," who thus have an excellent opportunity of seeing the run without putting their horses to the trouble of "rejoicing in their strength, or pawing in the valley." But who is so fortunate as to be near the scene of action in this second scurry, almost as fast as the first? Our fancy supplies us, and there not being many, we will just initialise them all, and let he whom the cap fits put it on.
If we look to the left, nearly abreast of the three couple of hounds that are leading by some half mile or so, we shall see "Swell"—like a monkey on a giraffe—striding away in the true Leicestershire style; the animal contracting its stride after every exertion in pulling its long legs out of the deep and clayey soil, until the Bromley barber, who has been quilting his mule along at a fearful rate, and in high dudgeon at anyone presuming to exercise his profession upon a dumb brute, overtakes him, and in the endeavour to pass, lays it into his mule in a style that would insure him rotatory occupation at Brixton for his spindles, should any member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals witness his proceedings; while his friend and neighbour old B——, the tinker, plies his little mare with the Brummagems, to be ready to ride over "Swell" the instant the barber gets him down. On the right of the leading hounds are three crack members of the Surrey, Messrs. B—e, S—bs, and B—l, all lads who can go; while a long way in the rear of the body of the pack are some dozen, who, while they sat on the hills, thought they could also, but who now find out their mistake. Down Windy Lane, a glimpse of a few red coats may be caught passing the gaps and weak parts of the fence, among whom we distinctly recognise the worthy master of the pack, followed by Jorrocks, with his long coat-laps floating in the breeze, who thinking that "catching-time" must be near at hand, and being dearly fond of blood, has descended from his high station to witness the close of the scene. "Vot a pace! and vot a country!" cries the grocer, standing high in his stirrups, and bending over the neck of his chestnut as though he were meditating a plunge over his head; "how they stick to him! vot a pack! by Jove they are at fault again. Yooi, Pilgrim! Yooi, Warbler, ma load! (lad). Tom, try down the hedge-row." "Hold your jaw, Mr. J——," cries Tom, "you are always throwing that red rag of yours. I wish you would keep your potato-trap shut. See! you've made every hound throw up, and it's ten to one that ne'er a one among 'em will stoop again." "Yonder he goes," cries a cock of the old school, who used to hunt with Colonel Jolliffe's hounds, and still sports the long blue surtout lined with orange, yellow-ochre unmentionables, and mahogany-coloured knee-caps, with mother-of-pearl buttons. "Yonder he goes among the ship (sheep), for a thousand! see how the skulking waggabone makes them scamper." At this particular moment a shrill scream is heard at the far end of a long shaw, and every man pushes on to the best of his endeavour. "Holloo o-o-u, h'loo o-o-u, h'loo—o-o-u, gone away! gone away! forward! forrard! hark back! hark forrard! hark forrard! hark back!" resounds from every mouth. "He's making for the 'oods beyond Addington, and we shall have a rare teaser up these hills," cries Jorrocks, throwing his arms round his horse's neck as he reaches the foot of them.—"D—n your hills," cries "Swell," as he suddenly finds himself sitting on the hindquarters of his horse, his saddle having slipped back for want of a breastplate,—"I wish the hills had been piled on your back, and the flints thrust down your confounded throat, before I came into such a cursed provincial." "Haw, haw, haw!" roars a Croydon butcher. "What don't 'e like it, sir, eh? too sharp to be pleasant, eh?—Your nag should have put on his boots before he showed among us."
"He's making straight for Fuller's farm," exclaims a thirsty veteran on reaching the top, "and I'll pull up and have a nip of ale, please God." "Hang your ale," cries a certain sporting cheesemonger, "you had better come out with a barrel of it tacked to your horse's tail."—"Or 'unt on a steam-engine," adds his friend the omnibus proprietor, "and then you can brew as you go." "We shall have the Croydon Canal," cries Mr. H——n, of Tottenham, who knows every flint in the country, "and how will you like that, my hearties?" "Curse the Croydon Canal," bawls the little Bromley barber, "my mule can swim like a soap-bladder, and my toggery can't spoil, thank God!"
The prophecy turns up. Having skirted Fuller's farm, the villain finds no place to hide; and in two minutes, or less, the canal appears in view. It is full of craft, and the locks are open, but there is a bridge about half a mile to the right. "If my horse can do nothing else he can jump this," cries "Swell," as he gathers him together, and prepares for the effort. He hardens his heart and goes at it full tilt, and the leggy animal lands him three yards on the other side. "Curse this fellow," cries Jorrocks, grinning with rage as he sees "Swell" skimming through the air like a swallow on a summer's eve, "he'll have a laugh at the Surrey, for ever and ever, Amen. Oh, dear! oh, dear! I wish I durst leap it. What shall I do? Here bargee," cries he to a bargeman, "lend us a help over and I'll give you ninepence." The bargeman takes him at his word, and getting the vessel close to the water's edge, Jorrocks has nothing to do but ride in, and, the opposite bank being accommodating, he lands without difficulty. Ramming his spurs into his nag, he now starts after "Swell," who is sailing away with a few couple of hounds that took the canal; the body of the pack and all the rest of the field—except the Bromley barber, who is now floundering in the water—having gone round to the bridge.
The country is open, the line being across commons and along roads, so that Jorrocks, who is not afraid of "the pace" so long as there is no leaping, has a pretty good chance with "Swell." The scene now shifts. On turning out of a lane, along which they have just rattled, a fence of this description appears: The bottom part is made of flints, and the upper part of mud, with gorse stuck along the top, and there is a gutter on each side. Jorrocks, seeing that a leap is likely, hangs astern, and "Swell," thinking to shake off his only opponent, and to have a rare laugh at the Surrey when he gets back to Melton, puts his nag at it most manfully, who, though somewhat blown, manages to get his long carcass over, but, unfortunately alighting on a bed of flints on the far side, cuts a back sinew, and "Swell" measures his length on the headland. Jorrocks then pulls up.
The tragedy of George Barnwell ends with a death, and we are happy in being able to gratify our readers with a similar entertainment. Already have the best-mounted men in the field attained the summit of one of the Mont Blancs of the country, when on looking down the other side of the "mountain's brow," they, to their infinite astonishment, espy at some distance our "Swell" dismounted and playing at "pull devil, pull baker" with the hounds, whose discordant bickerings rend the skies. "Whoo-hoop!" cries one; "whoo-hoop!" responds another; "whoo-hoop!" screams a third; and the contagion spreading, and each man dismounting, they descend the hill with due caution, whoo-hooping, hallooing, and congratulating each other on the splendour of the run, interspersed with divers surmises as to what mighty magic had aided the hounds in getting on such good terms with the warmint, and exclamations at the good fortune of the stranger, in being able (by nicking, and the fox changing his line) to get in at the finish.
[Footnote 4: A stranger never rides straight if he beats the members of the hunt.]
And now some dozens of sportsmen quietly ambling up to the scene of action, view with delight (alone equalled by their wonder at so unusual and unexpected an event) the quarrels of the hounds, as they dispute with each other the possession of their victim's remains, when suddenly a gentleman, clad in a bright green silk-velvet shooting-coat, with white leathers, and Hessian boots with large tassels, carrying his Joe Manton on his shoulder, issues from an adjoining coppice, and commences a loud complaint of the "unhandsome conduct of the gentlemen's 'ounds in devouring the 'are (hare) which he had taken so much pains to shoot." Scarcely are these words out of his mouth than the whole hunt, from Jorrocks downwards, let drive such a rich torrent of abuse at our unfortunate chasseur, that he is fain to betake himself to his heels, leaving them undisputed masters of the field.
The visages of our sportsmen become dismally lengthened on finding that their fox has been "gathered unto his fathers" by means of hot lead and that villainous saltpetre "digged out of the bowels of the harmless earth"; some few, indeed, there are who are bold enough to declare that the pack has actually made a meal of a hare, and that their fox is snugly earthed in the neighbouring cover. However, as there are no "reliquias Danaum," to prove or disprove this assertion, Tom Hills, having an eye to the cap-money, ventures to give it as his opinion, that pug has fairly yielded to his invincible pursuers, without having "dropped to shot." This appearing to give very general satisfaction, the first whip makes no scruple of swearing that he saw the hounds pull him down fairly; and Peckham, drawing his mouth up on one side, with his usual intellectual grin, takes a similar affidavit. The Bromley barber too, anxious to have it to say that he has for once been in at the death of a fox, vows by his beard that he saw the "varmint" lathered in style; and these protestations being received with clamorous applause, and everyone being pleased to have so unusual an event to record to his admiring spouse, agrees that a fox has not only been killed, but killed in a most sportsmanlike, workmanlike, businesslike manner; and long and loud are the congratulations, great is the increased importance of each man's physiognomy, and thereupon they all lug out their half-crowns for Tom Hills.
In the meantime our "Swell" lays hold of his nag—who is sorely damaged with the flints, and whose wind has been pretty well pumped out of him by the hills—and proceeds to lead him back to Croydon, inwardly promising himself for the future most studiously to avoid the renowned county of Surrey, its woods, its barbers, its mountains, and its flints, and to leave more daring spirits to overcome the difficulties it presents; most religiously resolving, at the same time, to return as speedily as possible to his dear Leicestershire, there to amble o'er the turf, and fancy himself an "angel on horseback." The story of the country mouse, who must needs see the town, occurs forcibly to his recollection, and he exclaims aloud:
"me sylva, cavusque Tutus ab insidiis tenui solabitur ervo."
On overhearing which, Mr. Jorrocks hurries back to his brother subscribers, and informs them, very gravely, that the stranger is no less a personage than "Prince Matuchevitz, the Russian ambassador and minister plenipotentiary extraordinary," whereupon the whole field join in wishing him safe back in Russia—or anywhere else—and wonder at his incredible assurance in supposing that he could cope with THE SURREY HUNT.
II. THE YORKSHIREMAN AND THE SURREY
It is an axiom among fox-hunters that the hounds they individually hunt with are the best—compared with them all others are "slow."
Of this species of pardonable egotism, Mr. Jorrocks—who in addition to the conspicuous place he holds in the Surrey Hunt, as shown in the preceding chapter, we should introduce to our readers as a substantial grocer in St. Botolph's Lane, with an elegant residence in Great Coram Street, Russell Square—has his full, if not rather more than his fair share. Vanity, however, is never satisfied without display, and Mr. Jorrocks longed for a customer before whom he could exhibit the prowess of his pack.
[Footnote 5: Subscribers, speaking to strangers, always talk of the hounds as their own.]
Chance threw in his way a young Yorkshireman, who frequently appearing in subsequent pages, we may introduce as a loosish sort of hand, up to anything in the way of a lark, but rather deficient in cash—a character so common in London, as to render further description needless.
Now it is well known that a Yorkshireman, like a dragoon, is nothing without his horse, and if he does understand anything better than racing—it is hunting. Our readers will therefore readily conceive that a Yorkshireman is more likely to be astonished at the possibility of fox-hunting from London, than captivated by the country, or style of turn-out; and in truth, looking at it calmly and dispassionately, in our easy-chair drawn to a window which overlooks the cream of the grazing grounds in the Vale of White Horse, it does strike us with astonishment, that such a thing as a fox should be found within a day's ride of the suburbs. The very idea seems preposterous, for one cannot but associate the charms of a "find" with the horrors of "going to ground" in an omnibus, or the fox being headed by a great Dr. Eady placard, or some such monstrosity. Mr. Mayne, to be sure, has brought racing home to every man's door, but fox-hunting is not quite so tractable a sport. But to our story.
[Footnote 6: The promoter of the Hippodrome, near Bayswater—a speculation that soon came to grief.]
It was on a nasty, cold, foggy, dark, drizzling morning in the month of February, that the Yorkshireman, having been offered a "mount" by Mr. Jorrocks, found himself shivering under the Piazza in Covent Garden about seven o'clock, surrounded by cabs, cabbages, carrots, ducks, dollys, and drabs of all sorts, waiting for his horse and the appearance of the friend who had seduced him into the extraordinary predicament of attiring himself in top-boots and breeches in London. After pacing up and down some minutes, the sound of a horse's hoofs were heard turning down from Long Acre, and reaching the lamp-post at the corner of James Street, his astonished eyes were struck with the sight of a man in a capacious, long, full-tailed, red frock coat reaching nearly to his spurs, with mother-of-pearl buttons, with sporting devices—which afterwards proved to be foxes, done in black—brown shag breeches, that would have been spurned by the late worthy master of the Hurworth, and boots, that looked for all the world as if they were made to tear up the very land and soil, tied round the knees with pieces of white tape, the flowing ends of which dangled over the mahogany-coloured tops. Mr. Jorrocks—whose dark collar, green to his coat, and tout ensemble, might have caused him to be mistaken for a mounted general postman—was on a most becoming steed—a great raking, raw-boned chestnut, with a twisted snaffle in his mouth, decorated with a faded yellow silk front, a nose-band, and an ivory ring under his jaws, for the double purpose of keeping the reins together and Jorrocks's teeth in his head—the nag having flattened the noses and otherwise damaged the countenances of his two previous owners, who had not the knack of preventing him tossing his head in their faces. The saddle—large and capacious—made on the principle of the impossibility of putting a round of beef upon a pudding plate—was "spick and span new," as was an enormous hunting-whip, whose iron-headed hammer he clenched in a way that would make the blood curdle in one's veins, to see such an instrument in the hands of a misguided man.
[Footnote 7: The late Mr. Wilkinson, commonly called "Matty Wilkinson," master of the Hurworth foxhounds, was a rigid adherent of the "d——n-all-dandy" school of sportsmen.]
"Punctuality is the politeness of princes," said Mr. Jorrocks, raising a broad-brimmed, lowish-crowned hat, as high as a green hunting-cord which tackled it to his yellow waistcoat by a fox's tooth would allow, as he came upon the Yorkshireman at the corner. "My soul's on fire and eager for the chase! By heavens, I declare I've dreamt of nothing else all night, and the worst of it is, that in a par-ox-ism of delight, when I thought I saw the darlings running into the warmint, I brought Mrs. J—— such a dig in the side as knocked her out of bed, and she swears she'll go to Jenner, and the court for the protection of injured ribs! But come—jump up—where's your nag? Binjimin, you blackguard, where are you? The fog is blinding me, I declare! Binjimin, I say! Binjimin! you willain, where are you?"
"Here, sir! coming!" responded a voice from the bottom of one of the long mugs at a street breakfast stall, which the fog almost concealed from their view, and presently an urchin in a drab coat and blue collar came towing a wretched, ewe-necked, hungry-looking, roan rosinante along from where he had been regaling himself with a mug of undeniable bohea, sweetened with a composition of brown sugar and sand.
"Now be after getting up," said Jorrocks, "for time and the Surrey 'ounds wait for no man. That's not a werry elegant tit, but still it'll carry you to Croydon well enough, where I'll put you on a most undeniable bit of 'orse-flesh—a reg'lar clipper. That's a hack—what they calls three-and-sixpence a side, but I only pays half a crown. Now, Binjimin, cut away home, and tell Batsay to have dinner ready at half-past five to a minute, and to be most particular in doing the lamb to a turn."
The Yorkshireman having adjusted himself in the old flat-flapped hack saddle, and got his stirrups let out from "Binjimin's" length to his own, gathered up the stiff, weather-beaten reins, gave the animal a touch with his spurs, and fell into the rear of Mr. Jorrocks. The morning appeared to be getting worse. Instead of the grey day-dawn of the country, when the thin transparent mist gradually rises from the hills, revealing an unclouded landscape, a dense, thick, yellow fog came rolling in masses along the streets, obscuring the gas lights, and rendering every step one of peril. It could be both eat and felt, and the damp struck through their clothes in the most summary manner. "This is bad," said Mr. Jorrocks, coughing as he turned the corner by Drury Lane, making for Catherine Street, and upset an early breakfast and periwinkle stall, by catching one corner of the fragile fabric with his toe, having ridden too near to the pavement. "Where are you for now? and bad luck to ye, ye boiled lobster!" roared a stout Irish wench, emerging from a neighbouring gin-palace on seeing the dainty viands rolling in the street. "Cut away!" cried Jorrocks to his friend, running his horse between one of George Stapleton's dust-carts and a hackney-coach, "or the Philistines will be upon us." The fog and crowd concealed them, but "Holloa! mind where you're going, you great haw-buck!" from a buy-a-hearth-stone boy, whose stock-in-trade Jorrocks nearly demolished, as he crossed the corner of Catherine Street before him, again roused his vigilance. "The deuce be in the fog," said he, "I declare I can't see across the Strand. It's as dark as a wolf's mouth.—Now where are you going to with that meazly-looking cab of yours?—you've nearly run your shafts into my 'oss's ribs!" cried he to a cabman who nearly upset him. The Strand was kept alive by a few slip-shod housemaids, on their marrow-bones, washing the doorsteps, or ogling the neighbouring pot-boy on his morning errand for the pewters. Now and then a crazy jarvey passed slowly by, while a hurrying mail, with a drowsy driver and sleeping guard, rattled by to deliver their cargo at the post office. Here and there appeared one of those beings, who like the owl hide themselves by day, and are visible only in the dusk. Many of them appeared to belong to the other world. Poor, puny, ragged, sickly-looking creatures, that seemed as though they had been suckled and reared with gin. "How different," thought the Yorkshireman to himself, "to the fine, stout, active labourer one meets at an early hour on a hunting morning in the country!" His reverie was interrupted on arriving opposite the Morning Chronicle office, by the most discordant yells that ever issued from human beings, and on examining the quarter from whence they proceeded, a group of fifty or a hundred boys, or rather little old men, were seen with newspapers in their hands and under their arms, in all the activity of speculation and exchange. "A clean Post for Tuesday's Times!" bellowed one. "I want the Hurl! (Herald) for the Satirist!" shouted another. "Bell's Life for the Bull! The Spectator for the Sunday Times!"
The approach of our sportsmen was the signal for a change of the chorus, and immediately Jorrocks was assailed with "A hunter! a hunter! crikey, a hunter! My eyes! there's a gamecock for you! Vot a beauty! Vere do you turn out to-day? Vere's the stag? Don't tumble off, old boy! 'Ave you got ever a rope in your pocket? Take Bell's _Life in London_, vot contains all the sporting news of the country! Vot a vip the gemman's got! Vot a precious basternadering he could give us—my eyes, vot a swell!—vot a shocking bad hat!_—vot shocking bad breeches!"
[Footnote 8: "Vot a shocking bad hat!"—a slang cockney phrase of 1831.]
The fog, which became denser at every step, by the time they reached St. Clement's Danes rendered their further progress almost impossible.—"Oh, dear! oh, dear! how unlucky," exclaimed Jorrocks, "I would have given twenty pounds of best Twankay for a fine day—and see what a thing we've got! Hold my 'oss," said he to the Yorkshireman, "while I run into the 'Angel,' and borrow an argand burner, or we shall be endorsed to a dead certainty." Off he got, and ran to the inn. Presently he emerged from the yard—followed by horse-keepers, coach-washers, porters, cads, waiters and others, amid loud cries of "Flare up, flare up, old cock! talliho fox-hunter!"—with a bright mail-coach footboard lamp, strapped to his middle, which, lighting up the whole of his broad back now cased in scarlet, gave him the appearance of a gigantic red-and-gold insurance office badge, or an elderly cherub without wings.
[Footnote 9: City—for having a pole run into one's rear.]
The hackney-coach-and cab-men, along whose lines they passed, could not make him out at all. Some thought he was a mail-coach guard riding post with the bags; but as the light was pretty strong he trotted on regardless of observation. The fog, however, abated none of its denseness even on the "Surrey side," and before they reached the "Elephant and Castle," Jorrocks had run against two trucks, three watercress women, one pies-all-ot!-all-ot! man, dispersed a whole covey of Welsh milkmaids, and rode slap over one end of a buy 'at (hat) box! bonnet-box! man's pole, damaging a dozen paste-boards, and finally upsetting Balham Hill Joe's Barcelona "come crack 'em and try 'em" stall at the door of the inn, for all whose benedictions, the Yorkshireman, as this great fox-hunting knight-errant's "Esquire," came in.
Here the Yorkshireman would fain have persuaded Mr. Jorrocks to desist from his quixotic undertaking, but he turned a deaf ear to his entreaties. "We are getting fast into the country, and I hold it to be utterly impossible for this fog to extend beyond Kennington Common—'twill ewaporate, you'll see, as we approach the open. Indeed, if I mistake not, I begin to sniff the morning air already, and hark! there's a lark a-carrolling before us!" "Now, spooney! where are you for?" bellowed a carter, breaking off in the middle of his whistle, as Jorrocks rode slap against his leader, the concussion at once dispelling the pleasing pastoral delusion, and nearly knocking Jorrocks off his horse.
As they approached Brixton Hill, a large red ball of lurid light appeared in the firmament, and just at the moment up rode another member of the Surrey Hunt in uniform, whom Jorrocks hailed as Mr. Crane. "By Jove, 'ow beautiful the moon is," said the latter, after the usual salutations. "Moon!" said Mr. Jorrocks, "that's not never no moon—I reckon it's Mrs. Graham's balloon." "Come, that's a good 'un," said Crane, "perhaps you'll lay me an 'at about it". "Done!" said Mr. Jorrocks, "a guinea one—and we'll ax my friend here.—Now, what's that?" "Why, judging from its position and the hour, I should say it is the sun!" was the reply.
We have omitted to mention that this memorable day was a Saturday, one on which civic sportsmen exhibit. We may also premise, that the particular hunt we are about to describe, took place when there were very many packs of hounds within reach of the metropolis, all of which boasted their respective admiring subscribers. As our party proceeded they overtook a gentleman perusing a long bill of the meets for the next week, of at least half a dozen packs, the top of the list being decorated with a cut of a stag-hunt, and the bottom containing a notification that hunters were "carefully attended to by Charles Morton, at the 'Derby Arms,' Croydon," a snug rural auberge near the barrack. On the hunting bill-of-fare, were Mr. Jolliffe's foxhounds, Mr. Meager's harriers, the Derby staghounds, the Sanderstead harriers, the Union foxhounds, the Surrey foxhounds, rabbit beagles on Epsom Downs, and dwarf foxhounds on Woolwich Common. What a list to bewilder a stranger! The Yorkshireman left it all to Mr. Jorrocks.
[Footnote 10: Where the carrion is, there will be the crow, and on the demise of the "Surrey staggers," Charley brushed off to the west, to valet the gentlemen's hunters that attend the Royal Stag Hunt.—Vide Sir F. Grant's picture of the meet of the Royal Staghounds.]
"You're for Jolliffe, I suppose," said the gentleman with the bill, to another with a blue coat and buff lining. "He's at Chipstead Church—only six miles from Croydon, a sure find and good country." "What are you for, Mr. Jorrocks?" inquired another in green, with black velvet breeches, Hessian boots, and a red waistcoat, who just rode up. "My own, to be sure," said Jorrocks, taking hold of the green collar of his coat, as much as to say, "How can you ask such a question?" "Oh, no," said the gentleman in green, "Come to the stag—much better sport—sure of a gallop—open country—get it over soon—back in town before the post goes out." Before Mr. Jorrocks had time to make a reply to this last interrogatory, they were overtaken by another horseman, who came hopping along at a sort of a butcher's shuffle, on a worn-out, three-legged, four-cornered hack, with one eye, a rat-tail, and a head as large as a fiddle-case.—"Who's for the blue mottles?" said he, casting a glance at their respective coats, and at length fixing it on the Yorkshireman. "Why, Dickens, you're not going thistle-whipping with that nice 'orse of yours," said the gentleman in the velvets; "come and see the stag turned out—sure of a gallop—no hedges—soft country—plenty of publics—far better sport, man, than pottering about looking for your foxes and hares, and wasting your time; take my advice, and come with me." "But," says Dickens, "my 'orse won't stand it; I had him in the shay till eleven last night, and he came forty-three mile with our traveller the day before, else he's a 'good 'un to go,' as you know. Do you remember the owdacious leap he took over the tinker's tent, at Epping 'Unt, last Easter? How he astonished the natives within!" "Yes; but then, you know, you fell head-foremost through the canvas, and no wonder your ugly mug frightened them," replied he of the velvets. "Ay; but that was in consequence of my riding by balance instead of gripping with my legs," replied Dickens; "you see, I had taken seven lessons in riding at the school in Bidborough Street, Burton Crescent, and they always told me to balance myself equally on the saddle, and harden my heart, and ride at whatever came in the way; and the tinker's tent coming first, why, naturally enough, I went at it. But I have had some practice since then, and, of course, can stick on better. I have 'unted regularly ever since, and can 'do the trick' now." "What, summer and winter?" said Jorrocks. "No," replied he, "but I have 'unted regularly every fifth Saturday since the 'unting began."
After numerous discourses similar to the foregoing, they arrived at the end of the first stage on the road to the hunt, namely, the small town of Croydon, the rendezvous of London sportsmen. The whole place was alive with red coats, green coats, blue coats, black coats, brown coats, in short, coats of all the colours of the rainbow. Horsemen were mounting, horsemen were dismounting, one-horse "shays" and two-horse chaises were discharging their burdens, grooms were buckling on their masters' spurs, and others were pulling off their overalls. Eschewing the "Greyhound," they turn short to the right, and make for the "Derby Arms" hunting stables.
Charley Morton, a fine old boy of his age, was buckling on his armour for the fight, for his soul, too, was "on fire, and eager for the chase." He was for the "venison"; and having mounted his "deer-stalker," was speedily joined by divers perfect "swells," in beautiful leathers, beautiful coats, beautiful tops, beautiful everything, except horses, and off they rode to cut in for the first course—a stag-hunt on a Saturday being usually divided into three.
The ride down had somewhat sharpened Jorrocks's appetite; and feeling, as he said, quite ready for his dinner, he repaired to Mr. Morton's house—a kind of sporting snuggery, everything in apple-pie order, and very good—where he baited himself on sausages and salt herrings, a basin of new milk, with some "sticking powder" as he called it, alias rum, infused into it; and having deposited a half-quartern loaf in one pocket, as a sort of balance against a huge bunch of keys which rattled in the other, he pulled out his watch, and finding they had a quarter of an hour to spare, proposed to chaperon the Yorkshireman on a tour of the hunting stables. Jorrocks summoned the ostler, and with great dignity led the way. "Humph," said he, evidently disappointed at seeing half the stalls empty, "no great show this morning—pity—gentleman come from a distance—should like to have shown him some good nags.—What sort of a devil's this?" "Oh, sir, he's a good 'un, and nothing but a good 'un!—Leap! Lord love ye, he'll leap anything. A railway cut, a windmill with the sails going, a navigable river with ships—anything in short. This is the 'orse wot took the line of houses down at Beddington the day they had the tremendious run from Reigate Hill." "And wot's the grey in the far stall?" "Oh, that's Mr. Pepper's old nag—Pepper-Caster as we call him, since he threw the old gemman, the morning they met at the 'Leg-of-Mutton' at Ashtead. But he's good for nothing. Bless ye! his tail shakes for all the world like a pepper-box afore he's gone half a mile. Those be yours in the far stalls, and since they were turned round I've won a bob of a gemman who I bet I'd show him two 'osses with their heads vere their tails should be. I always says," added he with a leer, "that you rides the best 'osses of any gemman vot comes to our governor's." This flattered Jorrocks, and sidling up, he slipped a shilling into his hand, saying, "Well—bring them out, and let's see how they look this morning." The stall reins are slipped, and out they step with their hoods on their quarters. One was a large, fat, full-sized chestnut, with a white ratch down the full extent of his face, a long square tail, bushy mane, with untrimmed heels. The other was a brown, about fifteen two, coarse-headed, with a rat-tail, and collar-marked. The tackle was the same as they came down with. "You'll do the trick on that, I reckon," said Jorrocks, throwing his leg over the chestnut, and looking askew at the Yorkshireman as he mounted. "Tatt., and old Tatt., and Tatt. sen. before him, all agree that they never knew a bad 'oss with a rat-tail."
[Footnote 11: A favourite joke among grooms when a horse is turned round in his stall.]
"But, let me tell you, you must be werry lively, if you mean to live with our 'ounds. They go like the wind. But come! touch him with the spur, and let's do a trot." The Yorkshireman obeyed, and getting into the main street, onwards they jogged, right through Croydon, and struck into a line of villas of all sorts, shapes, and sizes, which extend for several miles along the road, exhibiting all sorts of architecture, Gothic, Corinthian, Doric, Ionic, Dutch, and Chinese. These gradually diminished in number, and at length they found themselves on an open heath, within a few miles of the meet of the "Surrey foxhounds". "Now", says Mr. Jorrocks, clawing up his smalls, "you will see the werry finest pack of hounds in all England; I don't care where the next best are; and you will see as good a turn-out as ever you saw in your life, and as nice a country to ride over as ever you were in".
They reach the meet—a wayside public-house on a common, before which the hounds with their attendants and some fifty or sixty horsemen, many of them in scarlet, were assembled. Jorrocks was received with the greatest cordiality, amid whoops and holloas, and cries of "now Twankay!—now Sugar!—now Figs!" Waving his hand in token of recognition, he passed on and made straight for Tom Hill, with a face full of importance, and nearly rode over a hound in his hurry. "Now, Tom," said he, with the greatest energy, "do, my good fellow, strain every nerve to show sport to-day.—A gentleman has come all the way from the north-east side of the town of Boroughbridge, in the county of York, to see our excellent 'ounds, and I would fain have him galvanised.—Do show us a run, and let it end with blood, so that he may have something to tell the natives when he gets back to his own parts. That's him, see, sitting under the yew-tree, in a bottle-green coat with basket buttons, just striking a light on the pommel of his saddle to indulge in a fumigation.—Keep your eye on him all day, and if you can lead him over an awkward place, and get him a purl, so much the better.—If he'll risk his neck I'll risk my 'oss's."
The Yorkshireman, having lighted his cigar and tightened his girths, rode leisurely among the horsemen, many of whom were in eager council, and a gentle breeze wafted divers scraps of conversation to his ear.
What is that hound got by? No. How is that horse bred? No. What sport had you on Wednesday? No. Is it a likely find to-day? No, no, no; it was not where the hounds, but what the Consols, left off at; what the four per cents, and not the four horses, were up to; what the condition of the money, not the horse, market. "Anything doing in Danish bonds, sir?" said one. "You must do it by lease and release, and levy a fine," replied another. Scott v. Brown, crim. con. to be heard on or before Wednesday next.—Barley thirty-two to forty-two.—Fine upland meadow and rye grass hay, seventy to eighty.—The last pocket of hops I sold brought seven pounds fifteen shillings. Sussex bags six pounds ten shillings.—There were only twenty-eight and a quarter ships at market, "and coals are coals." "Glad to hear it, sir, for half the last you sent me were slates."—"Best qualities of beef four shillings and eightpence a stone—mutton three shillings and eightpence, to four shillings and sixpence.—He was exceedingly ill when I paid my last visit—I gave him nearly a stone of Epsom-salts, and bled him twice.—This horse would suit you to a T, sir, but my skip-jack is coming out on one at two o'clock that can carry a house.—See what a bosom this one's got.—Well, Gunter, old boy, have you iced your horse to-day?—Have you heard that Brown and Co. are in the Gazette? No, which Brown—not John Brown? No, William Brown. What, Brown of Goodman's Fields? No, Brown of—— Street—Browne with an e; you know the man I mean.—Oh, Lord, ay, the man wot used to be called Nosey Browne." A general move ensued, and they left "the meet."
"Vere be you going to turn out pray, sir, may I inquire?" said a gentleman in green to the huntsman, as he turned into a field. "Turn out," said he, "why, ye don't suppose we be come calf-hunting, do ye? We throws off some two stones'-throw from here, if so be you mean what cover we are going to draw." "No," said green-coat, "I mean where do you turn out the stag?"—"D—n the stag, we know nothing about such matters," replied the huntsman. "Ware wheat! ware wheat! ware wheat!" was now the general cry, as a gentleman in nankeen pantaloons and Hessian boots with long brass spurs, commenced a navigation across a sprouting crop. "Ware wheat, ware wheat!" replied he, considering it part of the ceremony of hunting, and continued his forward course. "Come to my side," said Mr.——, to the whipper-in, "and meet that gentleman as he arrives at yonder gate; and keep by him while I scold you."—"Now, sir, most particularly d—n you, for riding slap-dash over the young wheat, you most confounded insensible ignorant tinker, isn't the headland wide enough both for you and your horse, even if your spurs were as long again as they are?" Shouts of "Yooi over, over, over hounds—try for him—yoicks—wind him! good dogs—yoicks! stir him up—have at him there!"—here interrupted the jawbation, and the whip rode off shaking his sides with laughter. "Your horse has got a stone in each forefoot, and a thorn in his near hock," observed a dentist to a wholesale haberdasher from Ludgate Hill, "allow me to extract them for you—no pain, I assure—over before you know it." "Come away, hounds! come away!" was heard, and presently the huntsman, with some of the pack at his horse's heels, issued from the wood playing Rule, Britannia! on a key-bugle, while the cracks of heavy-thonged whips warned the stragglers and loiterers to follow. "Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast," observed Jorrocks, as he tucked the laps of his frock over his thighs, "and I hope we shall find before long, else that quarter of house-lamb will be utterly ruined. Oh, dear, they are going below hill I do believe! why we shall never get home to-day, and I told Mrs. Jorrocks half-past five to a minute, and I invited old Fleecy, who is a most punctual man."
Jorrocks was right in his surmise. They arrived on the summit of a range of steep hills commanding an extensive view over the neighbouring country—almost, he said, as far as the sea-coast. The huntsman and hounds went down, but many of the field held a council of war on the top. "Well! who's going down?" said one. "I shall wait for the next turn," said Jorrocks, "for my horse does not like collar work." "I shall go this time," said another, "and the rest next." "And so will I," said a third, "for mayhap there will be no second turn." "Ay," added a fourth, "and he may go the other way, and then where-shall we all be?" "Poh!" said Jorrocks, "did you ever know a Surrey fox not take to the hills?—If he does not, I'll eat him without mint sauce," again harping on the quarter of lamb. Facilis descensus Averni—two-thirds of the field went down, leaving Jorrocks, two horse-dealers in scarlet, three chicken-butchers, half a dozen swells in leathers, a whip, and the Yorkshireman on the summit. "Why don't you go with the hounds?" inquired the latter of the whip. "Oh, I wait here, sir," said he, "to meet Tom Hills as he comes up, and to give him a fresh horse." "And who is Tom Hills?" inquired the Yorkshireman. "Oh, he's our huntsman," replied he; "you know Tom, don't you?" "Why, I can't say I do, exactly," said he; "but tell me, is he called Hills because he rides up and down these hills, or is that his real name?" "Hought! you know as well as I do," said he, quite indignantly, "that Tom Hills is his name."
The hounds, with the majority of the field, having effected the descent of the hills, were now trotting on in the valley below, sufficiently near, however, to allow our hill party full view of their proceedings. After drawing a couple of osier-beds blank, they assumed a line parallel to the hills, and moved on to a wood of about ten acres, the west end of which terminated in a natural gorse. "They'll find there to a certainty," said Mr. Jorrocks, pulling a telescope out of his breeches' pocket, and adjusting the sight. "Never saw it blank but once, and that was the werry day the commercial panic of twenty-five commenced.—I remember making an entry in my ledger when I got home to that effect. Humph!" continued he, looking through the glass, "they are through the wood, though, without a challenge.—Now, my booys, push him out of the gorse! Let's see vot you're made of.—There goes the first 'ound in.—It's Galloper, I believe.—I can almost see the bag of shot round his neck.—Now they all follow.—One—two—three—four—five—all together, my beauties! Oh, vot a sight! Peckham's cap's in the air, and it's a find, by heavens!" Mr. Jorrocks is right.—The southerly wind wafts up the fading notes of the "Huntsman's Chorus" in Der Frieschutz and confirms the fact.—Jorrocks is in ecstasies.—"Now," said he, clawing up his breeches (for he dispenses with the article of braces when out hunting), "that's what I calls fine. Oh, beautiful! beautiful!—Now, follow me if you please, and if yon gentleman in drab does not shoot the fox, he will be on the hills before long." Away they scampered along the top of the ridge, with a complete view of the operations below. At length Jorrocks stopped, and pulling the telescope out, began making an observation. "There he is, at last," cried he, "just crossed the corner of yon green field—now he creeps through the hedge by the fir-tree, and is in the fallow one. Yet, stay—that's no fox—it's a hare: and yet Tom Hills makes straight for the spot—and did you hear that loud tally-ho? Oh! gentlemen, gentlemen, we shall be laughed to scorn—what can they be doing—see, they take up the scent, and the whole pack have joined in chorus. Great heavens, it's no more a fox than I am!—No more brush than a badger! Oh, dear! oh, dear! that I should live to see my old friends, the Surrey fox'ounds, 'unt hare, and that too in the presence of a stranger." The animal made direct for the hills—whatever it was, the hounds were on good terms with it, and got away in good form. The sight was splendid—all the field got well off, nor between the cover and the hills was there sufficient space for tailing. A little elderly gentleman, in a pepper-and-salt coat, led the way gallantly—then came the scarlets—then the darks—and then the fustian-clad countrymen. Jorrocks was in a shocking state, and rolled along the hill-tops, almost frantic. The field reached the bottom, and the foremost commenced the steep ascent.
"Oh, Tom Hills!—Tom Hills!—'what are you at? what are you after?'" demanded Jorrocks, as he landed on the top. "Here's a gentleman come all the way from the north-east side of the town of Boroughbridge, in the county of York, to see our excellent 'ounds, and here you are running a hare. Oh, Tom Hills! Tom Hills! ride forward, ride forward, and whip them off, ere we eternally disgrace ourselves." "Oh," says Tom, laughing, "he's a fox! but he's so tarnation frightened of our hounds, that his brush dropped off through very fear, as soon as ever he heard us go into the wood; if you go back, you'll find it somewhere, Mr. Jorrocks; haw, haw, haw! No fox indeed!" said he.—"Forrard, hounds, forrard!" And away he went—caught the old whipper-in, dismounted him in a twinkling, and was on a fresh horse with his hounds in full cry. The line of flight was still along the hill-tops, and all eagerly pressed on, making a goodly rattle over the beds of flints. A check ensued. "The guard on yonder nasty Brighton coach has frightened him with his horn," said Tom; "now we must make a cast up to yonder garden, and see if he's taken shelter among the geraniums in the green-house. As little damage as possible, gentlemen, if you please, in riding through the nursery grounds. Now, hold hard, sir—pray do—there's no occasion for you to break the kale pots; he can't be under them. Ah, yonder he goes, the tailless beggar; did you see him as he stole past the corner out of the early-cabbage bed? Now bring on the hounds, and let us press him towards London."
"See the conquering hero comes", sounded through the avenue of elms as Tom dashed forward with the merry, merry pack. "I shall stay on the hills", said one, "and be ready for him as he comes back; I took a good deal of the shine out of my horse in coming up this time". "I think I will do the same", said two or three more. "Let's be doing", said Jorrocks, ramming his spurs into his nag to seduce him into a gallop, who after sending his heels in the air a few times in token of his disapprobation of such treatment, at last put himself into a round-rolling sort of canter, which Jorrocks kept up by dint of spurring and dropping his great bastinaderer of a whip every now and then across his shoulders. Away they go pounding together!
The line lies over flint fallows occasionally diversified with a turnip-field or market-garden, and every now and then a "willa" appears, from which emerge footmen in jackets, and in yellow, red and green plush breeches, with no end of admiring housemaids, governesses, and nurses with children in their arms.
Great was the emulation when any of these were approached, and the rasping sportsmen rushed eagerly to the "fore." At last they approach "Miss Birchwell's finishing and polishing seminary for young ladies," whose great flaring blue-and-gold sign, reflecting the noonday rays of the sun, had frightened the fox and caused him to alter his line and take away to the west. A momentary check ensued, but all the amateur huntsmen being blown, Tom, who is well up with his hounds, makes a quick cast round the house, and hits off the scent like a workman. A private road and a line of gates through fields now greet the eyes of our M'Adamisers. A young gentleman on a hired hunter very nattily attired, here singles himself out and takes place next to Tom, throwing the pebbles and dirt back in the eyes of the field. Tom crams away, throwing the gates open as he goes, and our young gentleman very coolly passes through, without a touch, letting them bang-to behind him. The Yorkshireman, who had been gradually creeping up, until he has got the third place, having opened two or three, and seeing another likely to close for want of a push, cries out to our friend as he approaches, "Put out your hand, sir!" The gentleman obediently extends his limb like the arm of a telegraph, and rides over half the next field with his hand in the air! The gate, of course, falls to.
A stopper appears—a gate locked and spiked, with a downward hinge to prevent its being lifted. To the right is a rail, and a ha-ha beyond it—to the left a quick fence. Tom glances at both, but turns short, and backing his horse, rides at the rail. The Yorkshireman follows, but Jorrocks, who espies a weak place in the fence a few yards from the gate, turns short, and jumping off, prepares to lead over. It is an old gap, and the farmer has placed a sheep hurdle on the far side. Just as Jorrocks has pulled that out, his horse, who is a bit of a rusher, and has got his "monkey" completely up, pushes forward while his master is yet stooping—and hitting him in the rear, knocks him clean through the fence, head foremost into a squire-trap beyond!—"Non redolet sed olet!" exclaims the Yorkshireman, who dismounts in a twinkling, lending his friend a hand out of the unsavoury cesspool.—"That's what comes of hunting in a new saddle, you see," added he, holding his nose. Jorrocks scrambles upon "terra firma" and exhibits such a spectacle as provokes the shouts of the field. He has lost his wig, his hat hangs to his back, and one side of his person and face is completely japanned with black odoriferous mixture. "My vig!" exclaims he, spitting and spluttering, "but that's the nastiest hole I ever was in—Fleet Ditch is lavender-water compared to it! Hooi yonder!" hailing a lad, "Catch my 'oss, boouy!" Tom Hills has him; and Jorrocks, pocketing his wig, remounts, rams his spurs into the nag, and again tackles with the pack, which had come to a momentary check on the Eden Bridge road. The fox has been headed by a party of gipsies, and, changing his point, bends southward and again reaches the hills, along which some score of horsemen have planted themselves in the likeliest places to head him. Reynard, however, is too deep for them, and has stolen down unperceived. Poor Jorrocks, what with the violent exertion of riding, his fall, and the souvenir of the cesspool that he still bears about him, pulls up fairly exhausted. "Oh, dear," says he, scraping the thick of the filth off his coat with his whip, "I'm reglarly blown, I earn't go down with the 'ounds this turn; but, my good fellow," turning to the Yorkshireman, who was helping to purify him, "don't let me stop you, go down by all means, but mind, bear in mind the quarter of house-lamb—at half-past five to a minute."
[Footnote 12: There is a superstition among sportsmen that they are sure to get a fall the first day they appear in anything new.]
Many of the cits now gladly avail themselves of the excuse of assisting Mr. Jorrocks to clean himself for pulling up, but as soon as ever those that are going below hill are out of sight and they have given him two or three wipes, they advise him to let it "dry on," and immediately commence a different sort of amusement—each man dives into his pocket and produces the eatables.
Part of Jorrocks's half-quartern loaf was bartered with the captain of an East Indiaman for a slice of buffalo-beef. The dentist exchanged some veal sandwiches with a Jew for ham ones; a lawyer from the Borough offered two slices of toast for a hard-boiled egg; in fact there was a petty market "ouvert" held. "Now, Tomkins, where's the bottle?" demanded Jenkins. "Vy, I thought you would bring it out to-day," replied he; "I brought it last time, you know." "Take a little of mine, sir," said a gentleman, presenting a leather-covered flask—"real Thomson and Fearon, I assure you." "I wish someone would fetch an ocean of porter from the nearest public," said another. "Take a cigar, sir?" "No; I feel werry much obliged, but they always make me womit." "Is there any gentleman here going to Halifax, who would like to make a third in a new yellow barouche, with lavender-coloured wheels, and pink lining?" inquired Mr.——, the coach-maker. "Look at the hounds, gentlemen sportsmen, my noble sportsmen!" bellowed out an Epsom Dorling's correct—cardseller—and turning their eyes in the direction in which he was looking, our sportsmen saw them again making for the hills. Pepper-and-salt first, and oh, what a goodly tail was there!—three quarters of a mile in length, at the least. Now up they come—the "corps de reserve" again join, and again a party halt upon the hills. Again Tom Hills exchanges horses; and again the hounds go on in full cry. "I must be off," said a gentleman in balloon-like leathers to another tiger; "we have just time to get back to town, and ride round by the park before it is dark—much better than seeing the end of this brute. Let us go"; and away they went to canter through Hyde Park in their red coats. "I must go and all," said another gentleman; "my dinner will be ready at five, and it is now three." Jorrocks was game; and forgetting the quarter of house-lamb, again tackled with the pack. A smaller sweep sufficed this time, and the hills were once more descended, Jorrocks the first to lead the way. He well knew the fox was sinking, and was determined to be in at the death. Short running ensued—a check—the fox had lain down, and they had overrun the scent. Now they were on him, and Tom Hills's who-whoop confirmed the whole.
"Ah! Tom Hills, Tom Hills!" exclaimed Jorrocks, as the former took up the fox, "'ow splendid, 'ow truly brilliant—by Jove, you deserve to be Lord Hill—oh, had he but a brush that we might present it to this gentleman from the north-east side of the town of Boroughbridge, in the county of York, to show the gallant doings of the men of Surrey!" "Ay," said Tom, "but Squire——'s keeper has been before us for it."
"Now," said a gentleman in a cap, to another in a hat, "if you will ride up the hill and collect the money there, I will do so below—half-a-crown, if you please, sir—half-a-crown, if you please, sir.—Have I got your half-a-crown, sir?"—"Here's three shillings if you will give me sixpence." "Certainly, sir—certainly." "We have no time to spare," said Jorrocks, looking at his watch. "Good afternoon, gentlemen, good afternoon," muttering as he went, "a quarter of house-lamb at half-past five—Mrs. Jorrocks werry punctual—old Fleecy werry particular." They cut across country to Croydon, and as they approached the town, innumerable sportsmen came flocking in from all quarters. "What sport have you had?" inquired Jorrocks of a gentleman in scarlet; "have you been with Jolliffe?" "No, with the staghounds; three beautiful runs; took him once in a millpond, once in a barn, and once in a brickfield—altogether the finest day's sport I ever saw in my life." "What have you done, Mr. J——?" "Oh, we have had a most gallant thing; a brilliant run indeed—three hours and twenty minutes without a check—over the finest country imaginable." "And who got the brush?" inquired the stag-man. "Oh, it was a gallant run," said Jorrocks, "by far the finest I ever remember." "But did you kill?" demanded his friend. "Kill! to be sure we did. When don't the Surrey kill, I should like to know?" "And who got his brush, did you say?" "I can't tell," said he—"didn't hear the gentleman's name." "What sport has Mr. Meager had to-day?" inquired he of a gentleman in trousers, who issued from a side lane into the high road. "I have been with the Sanderstead, sir—a very capital day's sport—run five hares and killed three. We should have killed four—only—we didn't." "I don't think Mr. Meager has done anything to-day." "Yes, he has," said a gentleman, who just joined with a hare buckled on in front of his saddle, and his white cords all stained with blood; "we killed this chap after an hour and forty-five minutes' gallop; and accounted for another by losing her after running upwards of-three-quarters of an hour." "Well, then, we have all had sport," said Jorrocks, as he spurred his horse into a trot, and made for Morton's stables—"and if the quarter of house-lamb is but right, then indeed am I a happy man."
III. SURREY SHOOTING: MR. JORROCKS IN TROUBLE
Our readers are now becoming pretty familiar with our principal hero, Mr. Jorrocks, and we hope he improves on acquaintance. Our fox-hunting friends, we are sure, will allow him to be an enthusiastic member of the brotherhood, and though we do not profess to put him in competition with Musters, Osbaldeston, or any of those sort of men, we yet mean to say that had his lot been cast in the country instead of behind a counter, his keenness would have rendered him as conspicuous—if not as scientific—as the best of them.
For a cockney sportsman, however, he is a very excellent fellow—frank, hearty, open, generous, and hospitable, and with the exception of riding up Fleet Street one Saturday afternoon, with a cock-pheasant's tail sticking out of his red coat pocket, no one ever saw him do a cock tail action in his life.
The circumstances attending that exhibition are rather curious.—He had gone out as usual on a Saturday to have a day with the Surrey, but on mounting his hunter at Croydon, he felt the nag rather queer under him, and thinking he might have been pricked in the shoeing, he pulled up at the smith's at Addington to have his feet examined. This lost him five minutes, and unfortunately when he got to the meet, he found that a "travelling fox" had been tallied at the precise moment of throwing off, with which the hounds had gone away in their usual brilliant style, to the tune of "Blue bonnets are over the border." As may be supposed, he was in a deuce of a rage; and his first impulse prompted him to withdraw his subscription and be done with the hunt altogether, and he trotted forward "on the line," in the hopes of catching them up to tell them so. In this he was foiled, for after riding some distance, he overtook a string of Smithfield horses journeying "foreign for Evans," whose imprints he had been taking for the hoof-marks of the hunters. About noon he found himself dull, melancholy, and disconsolate, before the sign of the "Pig and Whistle," on the Westerham road, where, after wetting his own whistle with a pint of half-and-half, he again journeyed onward, ruminating on the uncertainty and mutability of all earthly affairs, the comparative merits of stag-, fox-, and hare-hunting, and the necessity of getting rid of the day somehow or other in the country.
[Footnote 13: He might well be called a "travelling fox," for it was said he had just travelled down from Herring's, in the New Road, by the Bromley stage.]
Suddenly his reverie was interrupted by the discharge of a gun in the field adjoining the hedge along which he was passing, and the boisterous whirring of a great cock-pheasant over his head, which caused his horse to start and stop short, and to nearly pitch Jorrocks over his head. The bird was missed, but the sportsman's dog dashed after it, with all the eagerness of expectation, regardless of the cracks of the whip—the "comes to heel," and "downs to charge" of the master. Jorrocks pulled out his hunting telescope, and having marked the bird down with the precision of a billiard-table keeper, rode to the gate to acquaint the shooter with the fact, when to his infinite amazement he discovered his friend, Nosey Browne (late of "The Surrey"), who, since his affairs had taken the unfortunate turn mentioned in the last paper, had given up hunting and determined to confine himself to shooting only. Nosey, however, was no great performer, as may be inferred, when we state that he had been in pursuit of the above-mentioned cock-pheasant ever since daybreak, and after firing thirteen shots at him had not yet touched a feather.
His dog was of the right sort—for Nosey at least—and hope deferred had not made his heart sick; on the contrary, he dashed after his bird for the thirteenth time with all the eagerness he displayed on the first. "Let me have a crack at him," said Jorrocks to Nosey, after their mutual salutations were over. "I know where he is, and I think I can floor him." Browne handed the gun to Jorrocks, who, giving up his hunter in exchange, strode off, and having marked his bird accurately, he kicked him up out of a bit of furze, and knocked him down as "dead as a door-nail." By that pheasant's tail hangs the present one.
Now Nosey Browne and Jorrocks were old friends, and Nosey's affairs having gone crooked, why of course, like most men in a similar situation, he was all the better for it; and while his creditors were taking twopence-halfpenny in the pound, he was taking his diversion on his wife's property, which a sagacious old father-in-law had secured to the family in the event of such a contingency as a failure happening; so knowing Jorrock's propensity for sports, and being desirous of chatting over all his gallant doings with "The Surrey," shortly after the above-mentioned day he dispatched a "twopenny," offering him a day's shooting on his property in Surrey, adding, that he hoped he would dine with him after. Jorrocks being invited himself, with a freedom peculiar to fox-hunters, invited his friend the Yorkshireman, and visiting his armoury, selected him a regular shot-scatterer of a gun, capable of carrying ten yards on every side.
At the appointed hour on the appointed morning, the Yorkshireman appeared in Great Coram Street, where he found Mr. Jorrocks in the parlour in the act of settling himself into a new spruce green cut-away gambroon butler's pantry-jacket, with pockets equal to holding a powder-flask each, his lower man being attired in tight drab stocking-net pantaloons, and Hessian boots with large tassels—a striking contrast to the fustian pocket-and-all-pocket jackets marked with game-bag strap, and shot-belt, and the weather-beaten many-coloured breeches and gaiters, and hob-nail shoes, that compose the equipment of a shooter in Yorkshire. Mr. Jorrocks not keeping any "sporting dogs," as the tax-papers call them, had borrowed a fat house-dog—a cross between a setter and a Dalmatian—of his friend Mr. Evergreen the greengrocer, which he had seen make a most undeniable point one morning in the Copenhagen Fields at a flock of pigeons in a beetroot garden. This valuable animal was now attached by a trash-cord through a ring in his brass collar to a leg of the sideboard, while a clean licked dish at his side, showed that Jorrocks had been trying to attach him to himself, by feeding him before starting.
"We'll take a coach to the Castle", said Jorrocks, "and then get a go-cart or a cast somehow or other to Streatham, for we shall have walking enough when we get there. Browne is an excellent fellow, and will make us range every acre of his estate over half a dozen times before we give in". A coach was speedily summoned, into which Jorrocks, the dog Pompey, the Yorkshireman, and the guns were speedily placed, and away they drove to the "Elephant and Castle."
There were short stages about for every possible place except Streatham. Greenwich, Deptford, Blackheath, Eltham, Bromley, Footscray, Beckenham, Lewisham—all places but the right. However, there were abundance of "go-carts," a species of vehicle that ply in the outskirts of the metropolis, and which, like the watering-place "fly," take their name from the contrary—in fact, a sort of lucus a non lucendo. They are carts on springs, drawn by one horse (with curtains to protect the company from the weather), the drivers of which, partly by cheating, and partly by picking pockets, eke out a comfortable existence, and are the most lawless set of rascals under the sun. Their arrival at the "Elephant and Castle" was a signal for a general muster of the fraternity, who, seeing the guns, were convinced that their journey was only what they call "a few miles down the road," and they were speedily surrounded by twenty or thirty of them, all with "excellent 'osses, vot vould take their honours fourteen miles an hour." All men of business are aware of the advantages of competition, and no one more so than Jorrocks, who stood listening to their offers with the utmost sang-froid, until he closed with one to take them to Streatham Church for two shillings, and deliver them within the half-hour, which was a signal for all the rest to set-to and abuse them, their coachman, and his horse, which they swore had been carrying "stiff-uns"  all night, and "could not go not none at all". Nor were they far wrong; for the horse, after scrambling a hundred yards or two, gradually relaxed into something between a walk and a trot, while the driver kept soliciting every passer-by to "ride," much to our sportsmen's chagrin, who conceived they were to have the "go" all to themselves. Remonstrance was vain, and he crammed in a master chimney-sweep, Major Ballenger the licensed dealer in tea, coffee, tobacco, and snuff, of Streatham (a customer of Jorrocks), and a wet-nurse; and took up an Italian organ-grinder to ride beside himself on the front, before they had accomplished Brixton Hill. Jorrocks swore most lustily that he would fine him, and at every fresh assurance, the driver offered a passer-by a seat; but having enlisted Major Ballenger into their cause, they at length made a stand, which, unfortunately for them, was more than the horse could do, for just as he was showing off, as he thought, with a bit of a trot, down they all soused in the mud. Great was the scramble; guns, barrel-organ, Pompey, Jorrocks, driver, master chimney-sweep, Major Ballenger, were all down together, while the wet-nurse, who sat at the end nearest the door, was chucked clean over the hedge into a dry ditch. This was a signal to quit the vessel, and having extricated themselves the best way they could, they all set off on foot, and left the driver to right himself at his leisure.
[Footnote 14: Doing a bit of resurrection work.]
Ballenger looked rather queer when he heard they were going to Nosey Browne's, for it so happened that Nosey had managed to walk into his books for groceries and kitchen-stuff to the tune of fourteen pounds, a large sum to a man in a small way of business; and to be entertaining friends so soon after his composition, seemed curious to Ballenger's uninitiated suburban mind.
Crossing Streatham Common, a short turn to the left by some yew-trees leads, by a near cut across the fields, to Browne's house; a fiery-red brick castellated cottage, standing on the slope of a gentle eminence, and combining almost every absurdity a cockney imagination can be capable of. Nosey, who was his own "Nash," set out with the intention of making it a castle and nothing but a castle, and accordingly the windows were made in the loophole fashion, and the door occupied a third of the whole frontage. The inconveniences of the arrangements were soon felt, for while the light was almost excluded from the rooms, "rude Boreas" had the complete run of the castle whenever the door was opened. To remedy this, Nosey increased the one and curtailed the other, and the Gothic oak-painted windows and door flew from their positions to make way for modern plate-glass in rich pea-green casements, and a door of similar hue. The battlements, however, remained, and two wooden guns guarded a brace of chimney-pots and commanded the wings of the castle, one whereof was formed into a green-, the other into a gig-house.
The peals of a bright brass-handled bell at a garden-gate, surmounted by a holly-bush with the top cut into the shape of a fox, announced their arrival to the inhabitants of "Rosalinda Castle," and on entering they discovered young Nosey in the act of bobbing for goldfish, in a pond about the size of a soup-basin; while Nosey senior, a fat, stupid-looking fellow, with a large corporation and a bottle nose, attired in a single-breasted green cloth coat, buff waistcoat, with drab shorts and continuations, was reposing, sub tegmine fagi, in a sort of tea-garden arbour, overlooking a dung-heap, waiting their arrival to commence an attack upon the sparrows which were regaling thereon. At one end of the garden was a sort of temple, composed of oyster-shells, containing a couple of carrier-pigeons, with which Nosey had intended making his fortune, by the early information to be acquired by them: but "there is many a slip," as Jorrocks would say.
Greetings being over, and Jorrocks having paid a visit to the larder, and made up a stock of provisions equal to a journey through the Wilderness, they adjourned to the yard to get the other dog, and the man to carry the game—or rather, the prog, for the former was but problematical. He was a character, a sort of chap of all work, one, in short, "who has no objection to make himself generally useful"; but if his genius had any decided bent, it was, perhaps, an inclination towards sporting.
Having to act the part of groom and gamekeeper during the morning, and butler and footman in the afternoon, he was attired in a sort of composition dress, savouring of the different characters performed. He had on an old white hat, a groom's fustian stable-coat cut down into a shooting-jacket, with a whistle at the button-hole, red plush smalls, and top-boots.
There is nothing a cockney delights in more than aping a country gentleman, and Browne fancied himself no bad hand at it; indeed, since his London occupation was gone, he looked upon himself as a country gentleman in fact. "Vell, Joe," said he, striddling and sticking his thumbs into the arm-holes of his waistcoat, to this invaluable man of all work, "we must show the gemmem some sport to-day; vich do you think the best line to start upon—shall we go to the ten hacre field, or the plantation, or Thompson's stubble, or Timms's turnips, or my meadow, or vere?" "Vy, I doesn't know," said Joe; "there's that old hen-pheasant as we calls Drab Bess, vot has haunted the plantin' these two seasons, and none of us ever could 'it (hit), and I hears that Jack, and Tom, and Bob, are still left out of Thompson's covey; but, my eyes! they're 'special vild!" "Vot, only three left? where is old Tom, and the old ramping hen?" inquired Browne. "Oh, Mr. Smith, and a party of them 'ere Bankside chaps, com'd down last Saturday's gone a week, and rattled nine-and-twenty shots at the covey, and got the two old 'uns; at least it's supposed they were both killed, though the seven on 'em only bagged one bird; but I heard they got a goose or two as they vent home. They had a shot at old Tom, the hare, too, but he is still alive; at least I pricked him yesterday morn across the path into the turnip-field. Suppose we goes at him first?"
The estate, like the game, was rather deficient in quantity, but Browne was a wise man and made the most of what he had, and when he used to talk about his "manor" on 'Change, people thought he had at least a thousand acres—the extent a cockney generally advertises for, when he wants to take a shooting-place. The following is a sketch of what he had: The east, as far as the eye could reach, was bounded by Norwood, a name dear to cockneys, and the scene of many a furtive kiss; the hereditaments and premises belonging to Isaac Cheatum, Esq. ran parallel with it on the west, containing sixty-three acres, "be the same more or less," separated from which, by a small brook or runner of water, came the estate of Mr. Timms, consisting of sixty acres, three roods, and twenty-four perches, commonly called or known by the name of Fordham; next to it were two allotments in right of common, for all manner of cattle, except cows, upon Streatham Common, from whence up to Rosalinda Castle, on the west, lay the estate of Mr. Browne, consisting of fifty acres and two perches. Now it so happened that Browne had formerly the permission to sport all the way up to Norwood, a distance of a mile and a half, and consequently he might have been said to have the right of shooting in Norwood itself, for the keepers only direct their attention to the preservation of the timber and the morals of the visitors; but since his composition with his creditors, Mr. Cheatum, who had "gone to the wall" himself in former years, was so scandalised at Browne doing the same, that no sooner did his name appear in the Gazette, than Cheatum withdrew his permission, thereby cutting him off from Norwood and stopping him in pursuit of his game.