Robert Smith Surtees.

Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities online

. (page 18 of 22)
Online LibraryRobert Smith SurteesJorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities → online text (page 18 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

on board, and Mr. Jorrocks, having wrapped himself up in his martial
cloak, laid down in the cabin and, like Ulysses in Ithaca, as Nimrod
would say, "arrived in London Asleep."


_(In a very "Familiar Letter" to Nimrod)_


You have favoured myself, and the sporting world at large, with a werry
rich high-flavoured account of the great Captain Barclay, and his
extonishing coach, the "Defiance"; and being werry grateful to you for
that and all other favours, past, present, and to come, I take up my
grey goose quill to make it "obedient to my will," as Mr. Pope, the
poet, says, in relating a werry gratifying ride I had on the celebrated
"Brighton Age," along with Sir Wincent Cotton, Bart., and a few other
swells. Being, as you knows, of rather an emigrating disposition, and
objecting to make a nick-stick of my life by marking down each Christmas
Day over roast-beef and plum pudding, cheek-by-jowl with Mrs. J - -
at home, I said unto my lad Binjimin - and there's not a bigger rogue
unhung - "Binjimin, be after looking out my Sunday clothes, and run down
to the Regent Circus, and book me the box-seat of the 'Age,' for
I'm blow'd if I'm not going to see the King at Brighton (or
'London-sur-Mary,' as James Green calls it), and tell the pig-eyed
book-keeper it's for Mr. Jorrocks, and you'll be sure to get it."

Accordingly, next day, I put in my appearance at the Circus, dressed in
my best blue Saxony coat, with metal buttons, yellow waistcoat, tights,
and best Hessians, with a fine new castor on my head, and a carnation
in my button-hole. Lots of chaps came dropping in to go, and every one
wanted the box-seat. "Can I have the box-seat?" said one. - "No, sir; Mr.
Jorrocks has it." "Is the box-seat engaged?" asked another. - "Yes, sir;
Mr. Jorrocks has taken it." "Book me the box," said a third with great
dignity. - "It's engaged already." "Who by?" - "Mr. Jorrocks"; and so they
went on to the tune of near a dozen. Presently a rattling of pole chains
was heard, and a cry was raised of "Here's Sir Wincent!" I looks out,
and saw a werry neat, dark, chocolate-coloured coach, with narrow
red-striped wheels, and a crest, either a heagle or a unicorn (I forgets
which), on the door, and just the proprietors' names below the winder,
and "The Age," in large gilt letters, below the gammon board, drawn
by four blood-like, switch-tailed nags, in beautiful highly polished
harness with brass furniture, without bearing reins - driven by a
swellish-looking young chap, in a long-backed, rough, claret-coloured
benjamin, with fancy-coloured tyes, and a bunch of flowers in his
button-hole - no coachman or man of fashion, as you knows, being complete
without the flower. There was nothing gammonacious about the turn-out;
all werry neat and 'andsome, but as plain as plain could be; and there
was not even a bit of Christmas at the 'orses' ears, which I observed
all the other coaches had. Well, down came Sir Wincent, off went his
hat, out came the way-bill, and off he ran into the office to see what
they had for him. "Here, coachman," says a linen-draper's "elegant
extract," waiting outside, "you've to deliver this (giving him a parcel)
in the Marine Parade the instant you get to Brighton. It's Miss - - 's
bustle, and she'll be waiting for it to put on to go out to dinner, so
you musn't lose a moment, and you may charge what you like for your
trouble." "Werry well," says Sir Wincent, laughing, "I'll take care of
her bustle. Now, book-keeper, be awake. Three insides here, and six
out. Pray, sir," touching his hat to me, "are you booked here? Oh! Mr.
Jorrocks, I see. I begs your pardon. Jump up, then; be lively! what
luggage have you?" "Two carpet-bags, with J. J., Great Coram Street,
upon them." "There, then we'll put them in the front boot, and you'll
have them under you. All right behind? Sit tight!" Hist! off we go by
St. Mertain's Church into the Strand, to the booking-office there.

The streets were werry full, but Sir Wincent wormed his way among the
coal-wagons, wans, busses, coaches, bottom-over-tops, - in wulgar French,
"cow sur tate," as they calls the new patent busses - trucks, cabs, &c.,
in a marvellous workmanlike manner, which seemed the more masterly,
inasmuch as the leaders, having their heads at liberty, poked them about
in all directions, all a mode Francey, just as they do in Paris. At the
Marsh gate we were stopped. A black job was going through on one side,
and a haw-buck had drawn a great yellow one 'oss Gravesend cruelty wan
into the other, and was fumbling for his coin.

"Now, Young Omnibus!" cried Sir Wincent, "don't be standing there all
day." The man cut into his nag, but the brute was about beat. "There,
don't 'it him so 'ard (hard)," said Sir Wincent, "or you may hurt him!"

When we got near the Helephant and Castle, Timothy Odgkinson, of Brixton
Hill, a low, underselling grocer, got his measly errand cart, with his
name and address in great staring white letters, just in advance of the
leaders, and kept dodging across the road to get the sound ground,
for the whole line was werry "woolley" as you calls it. "Come, Mister
independent grocer! go faster if you can," cries Sir Wincent, "though I
think you have bought your horse where you buy your tea, for he's werry
sloe." A little bit farther on a chap was shoving away at a truck full
of market-baskets. "Now, Slavey," said he, "keep out of my way!" At the
Helephant and Castle, and, indeed, wherever he stopped, there were lots
of gapers assembled to see the Baronet coachman, but Sir Wincent never
minded them, but bustled about with his way-bill, and shoved in his
parcels, fish-baskets, and oyster-barrels like a good 'un. We pulled up
to grub at the Feathers at Merstham, and 'artily glad I was, for I was
far on to famish, having ridden whole twenty-five miles in a cold,
frosty air without morsel of wittles of any sort. When the Bart. pulled
up, he said, "Now, ladies and gentlemen - twenty minutes allowed here,
and let me adwise you to make the most of it." I took the 'int, and heat
away like a regular bagman, who can always dispatch his ducks and green
peas in ten minutes.

We started again, and about one hundred yards below the pike stood a lad
with a pair of leaders to clap on, for the road, as I said before, was
werry woolley. "Now, you see, Mr. Jorrocks," said Sir Wincent, "I do old
Pikey by having my 'osses on this side. The old screw drew me for four
shillings one day for my leaders, two each way, so, says I, 'My covey,
if you don't draw it a little milder, I'll send my 'osses from the
stable through my friend Sir William Jolliffe's fields to the other side
of your shop,' and as he wouldn't, you see here they are, and he gets

The best of company, they say, must part, and Baronets "form no
exception to the rule," as I once heard Dr. Birkbeck say. About a mile
below the halfway 'ouse another coach hove in sight, and each pulling
up, they proved to be as like each other as two beans, and beneath a
mackintosh, like a tent cover, I twigged my friend Brackenbury's jolly
phiz. "How are you, Jorrocks?" and "How are you, Brack?" flew across
like billiard-balls, while Sir Wincent, handing me the ribbons, said,
"Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you all a good morning and a pleasant
ride," and Brack having done the same by his coach and passengers,
the two heroes met on terry firmey, as we say in France, to exchange
way-bills and directions about parcels. "Now," said Sir Wincent, "you'll
find Miss - - 's bustle under the front seat - send it off to the Marine
Parade the instant you get in, for she wants it to make herself up
to-night for a party." "By Jove, that's lucky," said Brackenbury, "for
I'll be hanged if I haven't got old Lady - - 's false dinner-set of
ivories in my waistcoat pocket, which I should have forgot if you hadn't
mentioned t'other things, and then the old lady would have lost her
blow-out this Christmas. Here they are," handing out a small box, "and
mind you leave them yourself, for they tell me they are costly, being
all fixed in coral, with gold springs, and I don't know what - warranted
to eat of themselves, they say." "She has lost her modesty with her
teeth, it seems," said Sir Wincent. "Old women ought to be ashamed to be
seen out of their graves after their grinders are gone. I'll pound it
the old tabby carn't be under one hundred. But quick! who does that
d - - d parrot and the cock-a-too belong to that you've got stuck up
there? and look, there's a canary and all! I'll be d - - d if you don't
bring me a coach loaded like Wombwell's menagerie every day! Well, be
lively! 'Twill be all the same one hundred years hence. - All right? Sit
tight! Good night!"

"Well, Mr. Jorrocks, it's long since we met," said Brackenbury, looking
me over - "never, I think, since I showed you way over the Weald of
Sussex from Torrington Wood, on the gallant wite with the Colonel's
'ounds! Ah, those were rare days, Mr. Jorrocks! we shall never see their
like again! But you're looking fresh. Time lays a light hand on your
bearing-reins! I hope it will be long ere you are booked by the
Gravesend Buss. You don't lush much, I fancy?" added he, putting a
lighted cigar in his mouth. "Yes, I does," said I - "a good deal; but
I tells you what, Brackenbury, I doesn't fumigate none - it's the
fumigation that does the mischief," and thereupon we commenced a
hargument on the comparitive mischief of smoking and drinking, which
ended without either being able to convince the other. "Well, at all
events, you gets beefey, Brackenbury," said I; "you must be a couple of
stone heavier than when we used to talliho the 'ounds together. I think
I could lead you over the Weald now, at all ewents if the fences were
out of the way," for I must confess that Brack was always a terrible
chap at the jumps, and could go where few would follow.

We did the journey within the six hours - werry good work, considering
the load and the state of the roads. No coach like the "Age" - in my
opinion. I was so werry much pleased with Brack's driving, that I
presented him with a four-in-hand whip.

I put up at Jonathan Boxall's, the Star and Garter, one of the
pleasantest and best-conducted houses in all Brighton. It is close to
the sea, and just by Mahomed, the sham-poor's shop. I likes Jonathan,
for he is a sportsman, and we spin a yarn together about 'unting, and
how he used to ride over the moon when he whipped in to St. John, in
Berkshire. But it's all talk with Jonathan now, for he's more like a
stranded grampus now than a fox-hunter. In course I brought down a pair
of kickseys and pipe-cases, intending to have a round with the old
muggers, but the snow put a stop to all that. I heard, however, that
both the Telscombe Tye and the Devil's Dike dogs had been running their
half-crown rounds after hares, some of which ended in "captures," others
in "escapes," as the newspapers terms them. I dined at the Albion on
Christmas Day, and most misfortunately, my appetite was ready before the
joints, so I had to make my dinner off Mary Ann cutlets, I think they
call them, that is to say, chops screwed up in large curl papers, and
such-like trifles. I saw some chaps drinking small glasses of stuff, so
I asked the waiter what it was, and, thinking he said "Elixir of Girls,"
I banged the table, and said, "Elixir of Girls! that's the stuff for my
money - give me a glass." The chap laughed, and said, "Not Girls, sir,
but Garus"; and thereupon he gave another great guffaw.

It is a capital coffee-room, full of winders, and finely-polished
tables, waiters in silk stockings, and they give spermaceti cheese, and
burn Parmesan candles. The chaps in it, however, were werry unsociable,
and there wasn't a man there that I would borrow half a crown to get
drunk with. Stickey is the landlord, but he does not stick it in so deep
as might be expected from the looks of the house, and the cheese and
candles considered. It was a most tempestersome night, and, having eaten
and drank to completion, I determined to go and see if my aunt, in
Cavendish Street, was alive; and after having been nearly blown out to
France several times, I succeeded in making my point and running to
ground. The storm grew worser and worser, and when I came to open the
door to go away, I found it blocked with snow, and the drifts whirling
about in all directions. My aunt, who is a werry feeling woman, insisted
on my staying all night, which only made the matter worse, for when I
came to look out in the morning I found the drift as high as the
first floor winder, and the street completely buried in snow. Having
breakfasted, and seeing no hopes of emancipation, I hangs out a flag of
distress - a red wipe - which, after flapping about for some time, drew
three or four sailors and a fly-man or two. I explained from the winder
how dreadfully I was situated, prayed of them to release me, but the
wretches did nothing but laugh, and ax wot I would give to be out. At
last one of them, who acted as spokesman, proposed that I should put
an armchair out of the winder, and pay them five shillings each for
carrying me home on their shoulders. It seemed a vast of money, but the
storm continuing, the crowd increasing, and I not wishing to kick up
a row at my aunt's, after offering four and sixpence, agreed to their
terms, and throwing out a chair, plumped up to the middle in a drift.
Three cheers followed the feat, which drew all the neighbours to the
winders, when about half a dozen fellows, some drunk, some sober, and
some half-and-half, pulled me into the chair, hoisted me on to their
shoulders, and proceeded into St. James's Street, bellowing out, "Here's
the new member for Brighton! Here's the boy wot sleeps in Cavendish
Street! Huzzah, the old 'un for ever! There's an elegant man for a
small tea-party! Who wants a fat chap to send to their friends this
Christmas?" The noise they made was quite tremendious, and the snow in
many places being up to their middles, we made werry slow progress, but
still they would keep me in the chair, and before we got to the end of
the street the crowd had increased to some hundreds. Here they began
snow-balling, and my hat and wig soon went flying, and then there was a
fresh holloa. "Here's Mr. Wigney, the member for Brighton," they cried
out; "I say, old boy, are you for the ballot? You must call on the King
this morning; he wants to give you a Christmas-box." Just then one of
the front bearers tumbled, and down we all rolled into a drift, just
opposite Daly's backey shop. There were about twenty of us in together,
but being pretty near the top, I was soon on my legs, and seeing
an opening, I bolted right forward - sent three or four fellows
flying - dashed down the passage behind Saxby's wine vaults, across the
Steyne, floundering into the drifts, followed by the mob, shouting and
pelting me all the way. This double made some of the beggars over-shoot
the mark, and run past the statute of George the Fourth, but, seeing
their mistake, or hearing the other portion of the pack running in the
contrary direction, they speedily joined heads and tails, and gave me a
devil of a burst up the narrow lane by the Wite 'Orse 'Otel. Fortunately
Jonathan Boxall's door was open, and Jonathan himself in the passage
bar, washing some decanters. "Look sharp, Jonathan!" said I, dashing
past him as wite as a miller, "look sharp! come out of that, and
be after clapping your great carcase against the door to keep the
Philistines out, or they'll be the death of us both." Quick as thought
the door was closed and bolted before ever the leaders had got up, but,
finding this the case, the mob halted and proceeded to make a deuce of a
kick-up before the house, bellowing and shouting like mad fellows, and
threatening to pull it down if I did not show. Jonathan got narvous,
and begged and intreated me to address them. I recommended him to do it
himself, but he said he was quite unaccustomed to public speaking, and
he would stand two glasses of "cold without" if I would. "Hot with,"
said I, "and I'll do it." "Done," said he, and he knocked the snow off
my coat, pulled my wig straight, and made me look decent, and took me
to a bow-winder'd room on the first floor, threw up; the sash, and
exhibited me to the company outside. I bowed and kissed my hand like a
candidate. They cheered and shouted, and then called for silence whilst;
I addressed them. "Gentlemen," said I, "Who are you?" "Why, we be the
men wot carried your honour's glory from Cavendish Street, and wants to
be paid for it."; "Gentlemen," said I, "I'm no orator, but I'm a honest
man; I pays everybody twenty shillings in the pound. and no mistake
(cheers). If you had done your part of the bargain, I would have done
mine, but 'ow can you expect to be paid after spilling me? This is a
most inclement day, and, whatever you may say to the contrary, I'm not
Mr. Clement Wigney." - "No, nor Mr. Faithful neither," bellowed one
of the bearers. - said I, "you'll get the complaints of the season,
chilblains and influhensa, if you stand dribbling there in the snow. Let
me advise you to mizzle, for, if you don't, I'm blowed if I don't divide
a whole jug of cold water equally amongst you. Go home to your wives and
children, and don't be after annoying an honest, independent, amiable
publican, like Jonathan Boxall. That's all I've got to say, and if I was
to talk till I'm black in the face, I couldn't say nothing more to
the purpose; so, I wishes you all 'A Merry Christmas and an 'Appy New

But I'm fatiguing you, Mr. Nimrod, with all this, which is only
hinteresting to the parties concerned, so will pass on to other topics.
I saw the King riding in his coach with his Sunday coat on. He looked
werry well, but his nose was rather blueish at the end, a sure sign that
he is but a mortal, and feels the cold just like any other man. The
Queen did not show, but I saw some of her maids of honour, who made me
think of the Richmond cheesecakes. There were a host of pretty ladies,
and the cold gave a little colour to their noses, too, which, I think,
improved their appearance wastly, for I've always remarked that your
ladies of quality are rather pasty, and do not generally show their high
blood in their cheeks and noses. I'm werry fond of looking at pretty
girls, whether maids of 'onour or maids of all work.

The storm stopped all wisiting, and even the Countess of Winterton's
ball was obliged to be put off. Howsomever, that did not interfere at
all with Jonathan Boxall and me, except that it, perhaps, made us take
a bottom of brandy more than usual, particularly after Jonathan had run
over again one of his best runs.

Now, dear Nimrod, adieu. Whenever you comes over to England, I shall be
werry 'appy to see you in Great Coram Street, where dinner is on the
table punctually at five on week days, and four on Sundays; and with
best regards to Mrs. Nimrod, and all the little Nimrods,

I remain, for Self and Co., yours to serve,



The general postman had given the final flourish to his bell, and the
muffin-girl had just begun to tinkle hers, when a capacious yellow
hackney-coach, with a faded scarlet hammer-cloth, was seen jolting down
Great Coram Street, and pulling up at Mr. Jorrocks's door.

Before Jarvey had time to apply his hand to the area bell, after giving
the usual three knocks and a half to the brass lion's head on the door,
it was opened by the boy Benjamin in a new drab coat, with a blue
collar, and white sugar-loaf buttons, drab waistcoat, and black
velveteen breeches, with well-darned white cotton stockings.

The knock drew Mr. Jorrocks from his dining-room, where he had been
acting the part of butler, for which purpose he had put off his coat and
appeared in his shirtsleeves, dressed in nankeen shorts, white gauze
silk stockings, white neckcloth, and white waistcoat, with a frill as
large as a hand-saw. Handing the bottle and corkscrew to Betsey, he
shuffled himself into a smart new blue saxony coat with velvet collar
and metal buttons, and advanced into the passage to greet the arrivers.

"Oh! gentlemen, gentlemen," exclaimed he, "I'm so 'appy to see you - so
werry 'appy you carn't think," holding out both hands to the foremost,
who happened to be Nimrod; "this is werry kind of you, for I declare
it's six to a minute. 'Ow are you, Mr. Nimrod? Most proud to see you at
my humble crib. Well, Stubbs, my boy, 'ow do you do? Never knew you late
in my life," giving him a hearty slap on the back. "Mr. Spiers, I'm
werry 'appy to see you. You are just what a sporting publisher ought to
be - punctuality itself. Now, gentlemen, dispose of your tiles, and come
upstairs to Mrs. J - - , and let's get you introduced." "I fear we are
late, Mr. Jorrocks," observed Nimrod, advancing past the staircase end
to hang up his hat on a line of pegs against the wall.

"Not a bit of it," replied Mr. Jorrocks - "not a bit of it - quite the
contrary - you are the first, in fact!"

"Indeed!" replied Nimrod, eyeing a table full of hats by where he
stood - "why here are as many hats as would set up a shop. I really
thought I'd got into Beaver (Belvoir) Castle by mistake!"

"Haw! haw! haw! werry good, Mr. Happerley, werry good indeed - I owes you

"I thought it was a castor-oil mill," rejoined Mr. Spiers.

"Haw! haw! haw! werry good, Mr. Spiers, werry good indeed - owes you one
also - but I see what you're driving at. You think these hats have a
coconut apiece belonging to them upstairs. No such thing I assure you;
no such thing. The fact is, they are what I've won at warious times of
the members of our hunt, and as I've got you great sporting coves dining
with me, I'm a-going to set them out on my sideboard, just as racing
gents exhibit their gold and silver cups, you know. Binjimin! I say,
Binjimin! you blackguard," holloaing down the kitchen stairs, "why don't
you set out the castors as I told you? and see you brush them well!"
"Coming, sir, coming, sir!" replied Benjamin, from below, who at that
moment was busily engaged, taking advantage of Betsey's absence, in
scooping marmalade out of a pot with his thumb. "There's a good lot of
them," said Mr. Jorrocks, resuming the conversation, "four, six, eight,
ten, twelve, thirteen - all trophies of sporting prowess. Real good hats.
None o' your nasty gossamers, or dog-hair ones. There's a tile!" said
he, balancing a nice new white one with green rims on the tip of his
finger. "I won that in a most miraculous manner. A most wonderful
way, in fact. I was driving to Croydon one morning in my four-wheeled
one-'oss chay, and just as I got to Lilleywhite, the blacksmith's,
below Brixton Hill, they had thrown up a drain - a 'gulph' I may call
it - across the road for the purpose of repairing the gas-pipe - I was
rayther late as it was, for our 'ounds are werry punctual, and there was
nothing for me but either to go a mile and a half about, or drive slap
over the gulph. Well, I looked at it, and the more I looked at it the
less I liked it; but just as I was thinking I had seen enough of it, and
was going to turn away, up tools Timothy Truman in his buggy, and he,
too, began to crane and look into the abyss - and a terrible place it
was, I assure you - quite frightful, and he liked it no better than
myself. Seeing this, I takes courage, and said, 'Why, Tim, your 'oss
will do it!' 'Thank'e, Mr. J - - ,' said he, 'I'll follow you.' 'Then,'
said I, 'if you'll change wehicles' - for, mind ye, I had no notion of
damaging my own - 'I'll bet you a hat I gets over.' 'Done,' said he, and
out he got; so I takes his 'oss by the head, looses the bearing-rein,
and leading him quietly up to the place and letting him have a look at
it, gave him a whack over the back, and over he went, gig and all, as
clever as could be!"

_Stubbs_. Well done, Mr. J - - , you are really a most wonderful man! You
have the most extraordinary adventures of any man breathing - but what
did you do with your own machine?

_Jorrocks_. Oh! you see, I just turned round to Binjimin, who was with
me, and said, You may go home, and, getting into Timothy's buggy, I had
my ride for nothing, and the hat into the bargain. A nice hat it is
too - regular beaver - a guinea's worth at least. All true what I've told
you, isn't it, Binjimin?

"Quite!" replied Benjamin, putting his thumb to his nose, and spreading
his fingers like a fan as he slunk behind his master.

"But come, gentlemen," resumed Mr. Jorrocks, "let's be after going
upstairs. - Binjimin, announce the gentlemen as your missis taught you.
Open the door with your left hand, and stretch the right towards her, to

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 22

Online LibraryRobert Smith SurteesJorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities → online text (page 18 of 22)