Robert Smith Surtees.

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contain himself, backed as he was by the plaudits of his friend Mr.
Jorrocks. Then came the deciding throw - every eye was fixed on Jemmy, he
shook the box, turned it down, and lo! there came seven.

"Mr. James Green is the fortunate winner of this magnificent prize!"
exclaimed the youth, holding up the box in mid-air, and thereupon all
the ladies crowded round Green, some to congratulate him, others to
compliment him on his looks, while one or two of the least knowing tried
to coax him out of his box. Jemmy, however, was too old a stager, and
pocketed the box and other compliments at the same time.

Another grind of the organ, and another song followed from the same
young lady, during which operation Green sent for the manager, and,
after a little beating about the bush, proposed singing a song or
two, if he would give him lottery-tickets gratis. He asked three
shilling-tickets for each song, and finally closed for five tickets
for two songs, on the understanding that he was to be announced as a
distinguished amateur, who had come forward by most particular desire.

Accordingly the manager - a roundabout, red-faced, consequential little
cockney - mounted the rostrum, and begged to announce to the company
that that "celebrated wocalist, Mr. James Green, so well known as a
distinguished amateur and conwivialist, both at Bagnigge Wells, and Vite
Conduit House, LONDON, had werry kindly consented, in order to promote
the hilarity of the evening, to favour the company with a song
immediately after the drawing of the next lottery," and after a few
high-flown compliments, which elicited a laugh from those who were up
to Jemmy's mode of doing business, he concluded by offering a
_papier-maché_ tea-caddy for public competition, in shilling lots as
before.

As soon as the drawing was over, they gave the organ a grind, and Jemmy
popped up with a hop, step, and a jump, with his woolly white hat under
his arm, and presented himself with a scrape and a bow to the company.
After a few preparatory "hems and haws," he pulled up his gills and
spoke as follows: "Ladies and gentlemen! hem" - another pull at his
gills - "ladies and gentlemen - my walued friend, Mr. Kitey Graves, has
announced that I will entertain the company with a song; though nothing,
I assure you - hem - could be farther from my idea - hem - when my excellent
friend asked me," - "Hookey Walker!" exclaimed someone who had heard
Jemmy declare the same thing half a dozen times - "and, indeed, ladies
and gentlemen - hem - nothing but the werry great regard I have for Mr.
Kitey Graves, who I have known and loved ever since he was the height of
sixpennorth of coppers" a loud laugh followed this allusion, seeing that
eighteenpenny-worth would almost measure out the speaker. On giving
another "hem," and again pulling up his gills, an old Kentish farmer, in
a brown coat and mahogany-coloured tops, holloaed out, "I say, sir! I'm
afear'd you'll be catching cold!" "I 'opes not," replied Jemmy in a
fluster, "is it raining? I've no umbrella, and my werry best coat on!"
"No! raining, no!" replied the farmer, "only you've pulled at your shirt
so long that I think you must be bare behind! Haw! haw! haw!" at which
all the males roared with laughter, and the females hid their faces in
their handkerchiefs, and tittered and giggled, and tried to be shocked.
"ORDER! ORDER!" cried Mr. Jorrocks, in a loud and sonorous voice, which
had the effect of quelling the riot and drawing all eyes upon himself.
"Ladies and gentlemen," said he, taking off his cap with great gravity,
and extending his right arm,

Immodest words admit of no defence,
For want of decency is want of sense;

a couplet so apropos, and so well delivered, as to have the immediate
effect of restoring order and making the farmer look foolish. Encouraged
by the voice of his great patron, Green once more essayed to finish his
speech, which he did by a fresh assurance of the surprise by which
he had been taken by the request of his friend, Kitey Graves, and an
exhortation for the company to make allowance for any deficiency of
"woice," inasmuch as how as labouring under "a wiolent 'orseness," for
which he had long been taking pectoral lozenges. He then gave his gills
another pull, felt if they were even, and struck up:

"Bid me discourse,"

in notes, compared to which the screaming of a peacock would be perfect
melody. Mr. Jorrocks having taken a conspicuous position, applauded
long, loudly, and warmly, at every pause - approbation the more deserved
and disinterested, inasmuch as the worthy gentleman suffers considerably
from music, and only knows two tunes, one of which, he says, "is _God
save the King_, and the other isn't."

Having seen his protégé fairly under way, Mr. Jorrocks gave him a hint
that he would return to the "White Hart," and have supper ready by the
time he was done; accordingly the Yorkshireman and he withdrew along an
avenue politely formed by the separation of the company, who applauded
as they passed.

An imperial quart and a half of Mr. Creed's stoutest draft port, with
the orthodox proportion of lemon, cloves, sugar, and cinnamon, had
almost boiled itself to perfection under the skilful superintendence of
Mr. Jorrocks, on the coffee-room fire, and a table had been handsomely
decorated with shrimps, lobsters, broiled bones, fried ham, poached
eggs, when just as the clock had finished striking eleven, the
coffee-room door opened with a rush, and in tripped Jemmy Green with his
hands crammed full of packages, and his trousers' pockets sticking out
like a Dutch burgomaster's. "Vell, I've done 'em brown to-night, I
think," said he, depositing his hat and half a dozen packages on the
sideboard, and running his fingers through his curls to make them stand
up. "I've won nine lotteries, and left one undrawn when I came away,
because it did not seem likely to fill. Let me see," said he, emptying
his pockets, - "there is the beautiful rosewood box that I won, ven you
was there; the next was a set of crimping-irons, vich I von also; the
third was a jockey-vip, which I did not want and only stood one ticket
for and lost; the fourth was this elegant box, with a view of Margate on
the lid; then came these six sherry labels with silver rims; a snuff-box
with an inwisible mouse; a coral rattle with silver bells; a silk
yard measure in a walnut-shell; a couple of West India beetles; a
humming-bird in a glass case, which I lost; and then these dozen bodkins
with silver eyes - so that altogether I have made a pretty good night's
work of it. Kitey Graves wasn't in great force, so after I had sung _Bid
me Discourse_, and _I'd be a Butterfly_, I cut my stick and went to the
hopposition shop, where they used me much more genteelly; giving me
three tickets for a song, and introducing me in more flattering terms to
the company - don't like being considered one of the nasty 'reglars,' and
they should make a point of explaining that one isn't. Besides, what
business had Kitey to say anything about Bagnigge Vells? a hass! - Now,
perhaps, you'll favour me with some supper."

"Certainly," replied Mr. Jorrocks, patting Jemmy approvingly on the
head - "you deserve some. It's only no song, no supper, and you've
been singing like a nightingale;" thereupon they set to with vigorous
determination.

A bright Sunday dawned, and the beach at an early hour was crowded with
men in dressing-gowns of every shape, hue, and material, with buff
slippers - the "regulation Margate shoeing," both for men and women. As
the hour of eleven approached, and the church bells began to ring, the
town seemed to awaken suddenly from a trance, and bonnets the most
superb, and dresses the most extravagant, poured forth from lodgings
the most miserable. Having shaved and dressed himself with more than
ordinary care and attention, Mr. Jorrocks walked his friends off to
church, assuring them that no one need hope to prosper throughout the
week who did not attend it on the Sunday, and he marked his own devotion
throughout the service by drowning the clerk's voice with his responses.
After this spiritual ablution Mr. Jorrocks bethought himself of having a
bodily one in the sea; and the day being excessively hot, and the tide
about the proper mark, he pocketed a couple of towels out of his bedroom
and went away to bathe, leaving Green and the Yorkshireman to amuse
themselves at the "White Hart."

This house, as we have already stated, faces the harbour, and is a
corner one, running a considerable way up the next street, with a side
door communicating, as well as the front one, with the coffee-room.
This room differs from the generality of coffee-rooms, inasmuch as the
windows range the whole length of the room, and being very low they
afford every facility for the children and passers-by to inspect the
interior. Whether this is done to show the Turkey carpet, the pea-green
cornices, the bright mahogany slips of tables, the gay trellised
geranium-papered room, or the aristocratic visitors who frequent it, is
immaterial - the description is as accurate as if George Robins had drawn
it himself. In this room then, as the Yorkshireman and Green were lying
dozing on three chairs apiece, each having fallen asleep to avoid the
trouble of talking to the other, they were suddenly roused by loud yells
and hootings at the side door, and the bursting into the coffee-room of
what at first brush they thought must be a bull. The Yorkshireman jumped
up, rubbed his eyes, and lo! before him stood Mr. Jorrocks, puffing like
a stranded grampus, with a bunch of sea-weed under his arm and the
dress in which he had started, with the exception of the dark blue
stocking-net pantaloons, the place of which were supplied by a flowing
white linen kilt, commonly called a shirt, in the four corners of which
were knotted a few small pebbles - producing, with the Hessian boots and
one thing and another, the most laughable figure imaginable. The blood
of the Jorrockses was up, however, and throwing his hands in the air, he
thus delivered himself. "Oh gentlemen! gentlemen! - here's a lamentable
occurrence - a terrible disaster - oh dear! oh dear! - I never thought I
should come to this. You know, James Green," appealing to Jemmy, "that
I never was the man to raise a blush on the cheek of modesty; I have
always said that 'want of decency is want of sense,' and see how I
am rewarded! Oh dear! oh dear! that I should ever have trusted my
pantaloons out of my sight." While all this, which was the work of a
moment, was going forward, the mob, which had been shut out at the side
door on Jorrocks's entry, had got round to the coffee-room window,
and were all wedging their faces in to have a sight of him. It was
principally composed of children, who kept up the most discordant yells,
mingled with shouts of "there's old cutty shirt!" - "who's got your
breeches, old cock?" - "make a scramble!" - "turn him out for another
hunt!" - "turn him again!" - until, fearing for the respectability of his
house, the landlord persuaded Mr. Jorrocks to retire into the bar to
state his grievances. It then appeared that having travelled along the
coast, as far as the first preventive stationhouse on the Ramsgate side
of Margate, the grocer had thought it a convenient place for performing
his intended ablutions, and, accordingly, proceeded to do what all
people of either sex agree upon in such cases - namely to divest himself
of his garments; but before he completed the ceremony, observing some
females on the cliffs above, and not being (as he said) a man "to raise
a blush on the cheek of modesty," he advanced to the water's edge in his
aforesaid unmentionables, and forgetting that it was not yet high tide,
he left them there, when they were speedily covered, and the pockets
being full of silver and copper, of course they were "swamped." After
dabbling about in the water and amusing himself with picking up sea-weed
for about ten minutes, Mr. Jorrocks was horrified, on returning to the
spot where he thought he had left his stocking-net pantaloons, to find
that they had disappeared; and after a long fruitless search, the
unfortunate gentleman was compelled to abandon the pursuit, and render
himself an object of chase to all the little boys and girls who chose to
follow him into Margate on his return without them.

Jorrocks, as might be expected, was very bad about his loss, and could
not get over it - it stuck in his gizzard, he said - and there it seemed
likely to remain. In vain Mr. Creed offered him a pair of trousers - he
never had worn a pair. In vain he asked for the loan of a pair of white
cords and top-boots, or even drab shorts and continuations. Mr. Creed
was no sportsman, and did not keep any. The bellman could not cry the
lost unmentionables because it was Sunday, and even if they should be
found on the ebbing of the tide, they would take no end of time to dry.
Mr. Jorrocks declared his pleasure at an end, and forthwith began making
inquiries as to the best mode of getting home. The coaches were all
gone, steamboats there were none, save for every place but London, and
posting, he said, was "cruelly expensive." In the midst of his dilemma,
"Boots," who is always the most intelligent man about an inn, popped in
his curly head, and informed Mr. Jorrocks that the Unity hoy, a most
commodious vessel, neat, trim, and water-tight, manned by his own
maternal uncle, was going to cut away to London at three o'clock, and
would land him before he could say "Jack Robinson." Mr. Jorrocks jumped
at the offer, and forthwith attiring himself in a pair of Mr. Creed's
loose inexpressibles, over which he drew his Hessian boots, he tucked
the hamper containing the knuckle of veal and other etceteras under one
arm, and the bunch of sea-weed he had been busy collecting, instead of
watching his clothes, under the other, and, followed by his friends,
made direct for the vessel.

Everybody knows, or ought to know, what a hoy is - it is a large
sailing-boat, sometimes with one deck, sometimes with none; and the
Unity, trading in bulky goods, was of the latter description, though
there was a sort of dog-hole at the stern, which the master dignified
by the name of a "state cabin," into which he purposed putting Mr.
Jorrocks, if the weather should turn cold before they arrived. The wind,
however, he said, was so favourable, and his cargo - "timber and fruit,"
as he described it, that is to say, broomsticks and potatoes - so light,
that he warranted landing him at Blackwall at least by ten o'clock,
where he could either sleep, or get a short stage or an omnibus on to
Leadenhall Street. The vessel looked anything but tempting, neither was
the captain's appearance prepossessing, still Mr. Jorrocks, all things
considered, thought he would chance it; and depositing his hamper and
sea-weed, and giving special instructions about having his pantaloons
cried in the morning - recounting that besides the silver, and
eighteen-pence in copper, there was a steel pencil-case with "J.J."
on the seal at the top, an anonymous letter, and two keys - he took an
affectionate leave of his friends, and stepped on board, the vessel was
shoved off and stood out to sea.

Monday morning drew the cockneys from their roosts betimes, to take
their farewell splash and dive in the sea. As the day advanced, the
bustle and confusion on the shore and in the town increased, and
everyone seemed on the move. The ladies paid their last visits to the
bazaars and shell shops, and children extracted the last ounce of
exertion from the exhausted leg-weary donkeys. Meanwhile the lords of
the creation strutted about, some in dressing-gowns, others, "full
puff," with bags and boxes under their arms - while sturdy porters were
wheeling barrows full of luggage to the jetty. The bell-man went round
dressed in a blue and red cloak, with a gold hatband. Ring-a-ding,
ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, dong, went the bell, and the gaping cockneys
congregated around. He commenced - "To be sould in the market-place a
quantity of fresh ling." Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, dong: "The _Royal
Adelaide_, fast and splendid steam-packet, Capt. Whittingham, will leave
the pier this morning at nine o'clock precisely, and land the passengers
at London Bridge Steam-packet Wharf - fore cabin fares and children four
shillings - saloon five shillings." Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, dong: "The
superb and splendid steam-packet, the _Magnet_, will leave the pier this
morning at nine o'clock precisely, and land the passengers at the St.
Catherine Docks - fore-cabin fares and children four shillings - saloon
five shillings." Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, dong: "Lost at the back of
James Street - a lady's black silk - black lace wale - whoever has found
the same, and will bring it to the cryer, shall receive one shilling
reward." Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, dong: "Lost, last night, between the
jetty and the York Hotel, a little boy, as answers to the name of Spot,
whoever has found the same, and will bring him to the cryer, shall
receive a reward of half-a-crown." Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, dong:
"Lost, stolen, or strayed, or otherwise conveyed, a brown-and-white King
Charles's setter as answers to the name of Jacob Jones. Whoever has
found the same, or will give such information as shall lead to the
detection and conversion of the offender or offenders shall be
handsomely rewarded." Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding, dong: "Lost below the
prewentive sarvice station by a gentleman of great respectability - a
pair of blue knit pantaloons, containing eighteen penny-worth of
copper - a steel pencil-case - a werry anonymous letter, and two keys.
Whoever will bring the same to the cryer shall receive a reward. - _God
save the King!"_

Then, as the hour of nine approached, what a concourse appeared! There
were fat and lean, and short and tall, and middling, going away, and fat
and lean, and short and tall, and middling, waiting to see them off;
Green, as usual, making himself conspicuous, and canvassing everyone he
could lay hold of for the _Magnet_ steamer. At the end of the jetty, on
each side, lay the _Royal Adelaide_ and the _Magnet_, with as fierce a
contest for patronage as ever was witnessed. Both decks were crowded
with anxious faces - for the Monday's steamboat race is as great an event
as a Derby, and a cockney would as lieve lay on an outside horse as
patronise a boat that was likely to let another pass her. Nay, so
high is the enthusiasm carried, that books are regularly made on the
occasion, and there is as much clamour for bets as in the ring at
Epsom or Newmarket. "Tomkins, I'll lay you a dinner - for three - _Royal
Adelaide_ against the _Magnet_," bawled Jenkins from the former boat.
"Done," cries Tomkins. "The _Magnet_ for a bottle of port," bawled out
another. "A whitebait dinner for two, the _Magnet_ reaches Greenwich
first." "What should you know about the _Magnet_?" inquires the mate
of the _Royal Adelaide_. "Vy, I think I should know something about
nauticals too, for Lord St. Wincent was my godfather." "I'll bet five
shillings on the _Royal Adelaide."_ "I'll take you," says another. "I'll
bet a bottom of brandy on the _Magnet_," roars out the mate. "Two goes
of Hollands', the _Magnet's_ off Herne Bay before the _Royal Adelaide."_
"I'll lay a pair of crimping-irons against five shillings, the _Magnet_
beats the _Royal Adelaide_," bellowed out Green, who having come on
board, had mounted the paddle-box. "I say, Green, I'll lay you an even
five if you like." "Well, five pounds," cries Green. "No, shillings,"
says his friend. "Never bet in shillings," replies Green, pulling up his
shirt collar. "I'll bet fifty pounds," he adds,-getting valiant. "I'll
bet a hundred ponds - a thousand pounds - a million pounds - half the
National Debt, if you like."

Precisely as the jetty clock finishes striking nine, the ropes are
slipped, and the rival steamers stand out to sea with beautiful
precision, amid the crying, the kissing of hands, the raising of hats,
the waving of handkerchiefs, from those who are left for the week, while
the passengers are cheered by adverse tunes from the respective bands on
board. The _Magnet_, having the outside, gets the breeze first hand, but
the _Royal Adelaide_ keeps well alongside, and both firemen being deeply
interested in the event, they boil up a tremendous gallop, without
either being able to claim the slightest advantage for upwards of an
hour and a half, when the _Royal Adelaide_ manages to shoot ahead for
a few minutes, amid the cheers and exclamations of her crew. The
_Magnet's_ fireman, however, is on the alert, and a few extra pokes of
the fire presently bring the boats together again, in which state they
continue, nose and nose, until the stiller water of the side of the
Thames favours the _Magnet_, and she shoots ahead amid the cheers and
vociferations of her party, and is not neared again during the voyage.

This excitement over, the respective crews sink into a sort of
melancholy sedateness, and Green in vain endeavours to kick up a
quadrille. The men were exhausted and the women dispirited, and
altogether they were a very different set of beings to what they were
on the Saturday. Dull faces and dirty-white ducks were the order of the
day.

The only incident of the voyage was, that on approaching the mouth
of the Medway, the _Royal Adelaide_ was hailed by a vessel, and the
Yorkshireman, on looking overboard, was shocked to behold Mr. Jorrocks
sitting in the stern of his hoy in the identical position he had taken
up the previous day, with his bunch of sea-weed under his elbow, and the
remains of the knuckle of veal, ham, and chicken, spread on the hamper
before him. "Stop her?" cried the Yorkshireman, and then hailing Mr.
Jorrocks he holloaed out, "In the name of the prophet, Figs, what are
you doing there?" "Oh, gentlemen! gentlemen!" exclaimed Mr. Jorrocks,
brightening up as he recognised the boat, "take compassion on a most
misfortunate indiwidual - here have I been in this 'orrid 'oy, ever since
three o'clock yesterday afternoon and here I seem likely to end my
days - for blow me tight if I couldn't swim as fast as it goes." "Look
sharp, then," cried the mate of the steamer, "and chuck us up your
luggage." Up went the sea-weed, the hamper, and Mr. Jorrocks; and before
the hoyman awoke out of a nap, into which he had composed himself on
resigning the rudder to his lad, our worthy citizen was steaming away a
mile before his vessel, bilking him of his fare.

Who does not recognise in this last disaster, the truth of the old
adage?

"Most haste, least speed."



VIII. THE ROAD: ENGLISH AND FRENCH.

"Jorrocks's France, in three wolumes, would sound werry well," observed
our worthy citizen, one afternoon, to his confidential companion the
Yorkshireman, as they sat in the veranda in Coram Street, eating red
currants and sipping cold whiskey punch; "and I thinks I could make
something of it. They tells me that at the 'west end' the booksellers
will give forty pounds for anything that will run into three wolumes,
and one might soon pick up as much matter as would stretch into that
quantity."

The above observation was introduced in a long conversation between Mr.
Jorrocks and his friend, relative to an indignity that had been offered
him by the rejection by the editor of a sporting periodical of a long
treatise on eels, which, independently of the singularity of diction,
had become so attenuated in the handling, as to have every appearance of
filling three whole numbers of the work; and Mr. Jorrocks had determined
to avenge the insult by turning author on his own account. The
Yorkshireman, ever ready for amusement, cordially supported Mr. Jorrocks
in his views, and a bargain was soon struck between them, the main
stipulations of which were, that Mr. Jorrocks should find cash, and the
Yorkshireman should procure information.

Accordingly, on the Saturday after, the nine o'clock Dover heavy drew up
at the "Bricklayers' Arms," with Mr. Jorrocks on the box seat, and the
Yorkshireman imbedded among the usual heterogeneous assembly - soldiers,
sailors, Frenchmen, fishermen, ladies' maids, and footmen - that compose
the cargo of these coaches. Here they were assailed with the usual
persecution from the tribe of Israel, in the shape of a hundred
merchants, proclaiming the virtues of their wares; one with black-lead
pencils, twelve a shilling, with an invitation to "cut 'em and try 'em";
another with a good pocket-knife, "twelve blades and saw, sir"; a third,
with a tame squirrel and a piping bullfinch, that could whistle _God
save the King_ and the _White Cockade_ - to be given for an old coat.


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Online LibraryRobert Smith SurteesJorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities → online text (page 11 of 22)