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Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities

Robert Surtees




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

'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,[1] 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
coenæque Deûm," 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 virûm, 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,[2]
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!!![3]

[Footnote 2: Anderson, of South Audley Street, is, or was, a famous

[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

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

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