Robert Smith Surtees.

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let the company see the point to make up to."

The party ascend the stairs one at a time, for the flight is narrow and
rather abrupt, and Benjamin, obeying his worthy master's injunctions,
threw open the front drawing-room door, and discovered Mrs. Jorrocks
sitting in state at a round table, with annuals and albums spread at
orthodox distances around. The possession of this room had long been a
bone of contention between Mr. Jorrocks and his spouse, but at length
they had accommodated matters by Mr. Jorrocks gaining undivided
possession of the back drawing-room (communicating by folding-doors),
with the run of the front one equally with Mrs. Jorrocks on non-company
days. A glance, however, showed which was the master's and which the
mistress's room. The front one was papered with weeping willows, bending
under the weight of ripe cherries on a white ground, and the chair
cushions were covered with pea-green cotton velvet with yellow worsted
bindings.

The round table was made of rosewood, and there was a "whatnot" on
the right of the fire-place of similar material, containing a
handsomely-bound collection of Sir Walter Scott's Works, in wood. The
carpet-pattern consisted of most dashing bouquets of many-coloured
flowers, in winding French horns on a very light drab ground, so light,
indeed, that Mr. Jorrocks was never allowed to tread upon it except in
pumps or slippers. The bell-pulls were made of foxes' brushes, and in
the frame of the looking-glass, above the white marble mantelpiece,
were stuck visiting-cards, notes of invitation, thanks for "obliging
inquiries," etc. The hearth-rug exhibited a bright yellow tiger, with
pink eyes, on a blue ground, with a flossy green border; and the fender
and fire-irons were of shining brass. On the wall, immediately opposite
the fire-place, was a portrait of Mrs. Jorrocks before she was married,
so unlike her present self that no one would have taken it for her. The
back drawing-room, which looked out upon the gravel walk and house-backs
beyond, was papered with broad scarlet and green stripes in honour of
the Surrey Hunt uniform, and was set out with a green-covered library
table in the centre, with a red morocco hunting-chair between it and the
window, and several good strong hair-bottomed mahogany chairs around the
walls. The table had a very literary air, being strewed with sporting
magazines, odd numbers of _Bell's Life_, pamphlets, and papers of
various descriptions, while on a sheet of foolscap on the portfolio were
ten lines of an elegy on a giblet pie which had been broken in coming
from the baker's, at which Mr. Jorrocks had been hammering for some
time. On the side opposite the fire-place, on a hanging range of
mahogany shelves, were ten volumes of _Bell's Life in London_, the _New
Sporting Magazine_, bound gilt and lettered, the _Memoirs of Harriette
Wilson, Boxiana_, Taplin's _Farriery_, Nimrod's _Life of Mytton_, and a
backgammon board that Mr. Jorrocks had bought by mistake for a history
of England.

Mrs. Jorrocks, as we said before, was sitting in state at the far side
of the round table, on a worsted-worked ottoman exhibiting a cock
pheasant on a white ground, and was fanning herself with a red-and-white
paper fan, and turning over the leaves of an annual. How Mr. Jorrocks
happened to marry her, no one could ever divine, for she never was
pretty, had very little money, and not even a decent figure to recommend
her. It was generally supposed at the time, that his brother Joe and
he having had a deadly feud about a bottom piece of muffin, the lady's
friends had talked him into the match, in the hopes of his having a
family to leave his money to, instead of bequeathing it to Joe or his
children. Certain it is, they never were meant for each other; Mr.
Jorrocks, as our readers have seen, being all nature and impulse, while
Mrs. Jorrocks was all vanity and affectation. To describe her accurately
is more than we can pretend to, for she looked so different in different
dresses, that Mr. Jorrocks himself sometimes did not recognise her. Her
face was round, with a good strong brick-dust sort of complexion, a
turn-up nose, eyes that were grey in one light and green in another, and
a middling-sized mouth, with a double chin below. Mr. Jorrocks used
to say that she was "warranted" to him as twelve years younger than
himself, but many people supposed the difference of age between them was
not so great. Her stature was of the middle height, and she was of one
breadth from the shoulders to the heels. She was dressed in a flaming
scarlet satin gown, with swan's-down round the top, as also at the arms,
and two flounces of the same material round the bottom. Her turban was
of green velvet, with a gold fringe, terminating in a bunch over the
left side, while a bird-of-paradise inclined towards the right. Across
her forehead she wore a gold band, with a many-coloured glass butterfly
(a present from James Green), and her neck, arms, waist (at least
what ought to have been her waist) were hung round and studded with
mosaic-gold chains, brooches, rings, buttons, bracelets, etc., looking
for all the world like a portable pawnbroker's shop, or the lump of beef
that Sinbad the sailor threw into the Valley of Diamonds. In the right
of a gold band round her middle, was an immense gold watch, with a bunch
of mosaic seals appended to a massive chain of the same material; and a
large miniature of Mr. Jorrocks when he was a young man, with his hair
stiffly curled, occupied a place on her left side. On her right arm
dangled a green velvet bag with a gold cord, out of which one of
Mr. Jorrocks's silk handkerchiefs protruded, while a crumpled,
yellowish-white cambric one, with a lace fringe, lay at her side.

On an hour-glass stool, a little behind Mrs. Jorrocks, sat her niece
Belinda (Joe Jorrocks's eldest daughter), a nice laughing pretty girl of
sixteen, with languishing blue eyes, brown hair, a nose of the "turn-up"
order, beautiful mouth and teeth, a very fair complexion, and a
gracefully moulded figure. She had just left one of the finishing and
polishing seminaries in the neighbourhood of Bromley, where, for two
hundred a year and upwards, all the teasing accomplishments of life are
taught, and Mrs. Jorrocks, in her own mind, had already appropriated her
to James Green, while Mr. Jorrocks, on the other hand, had assigned her
to Stubbs. Belinda's dress was simplicity itself; her silken hair
hung in shining tresses down her smiling face, confined by a plain
tortoiseshell comb behind, and a narrow pink velvet band before. Round
her swan-like neck was a plain white cornelian necklace; and her
well-washed white muslin frock, confined by a pink sash, flowing behind
in a bow, met in simple folds across her swelling bosom. Black sandal
shoes confined her fairy feet, and with French cotton stockings,
completed her toilette. Belinda, though young, was a celebrated eastern
beauty, and there was not a butcher's boy in Whitechapel, from Michael
Scales downwards, but what eyed her with delight as she passed along
from Shoreditch on her daily walk.

The presentations having been effected, and the heat of the day, the
excellence of the house, the cleanliness of Great Coram Street - the
usual topics, in short, when people know nothing of each other - having
been discussed, our party scattered themselves about the room to await
the pleasing announcement of dinner. Mr. Jorrocks, of course, was in
attendance upon Nimrod, while Mr. Stubbs made love to Belinda behind
Mrs. Jorrocks.

Presently a loud long-protracted "rat-tat-tat-tat-tan,
rat-tat-tat-tat-tan," at the street door sounded through the house, and
Jorrocks, with a slap on his thigh, exclaimed, "By Jingo! there's Green.
No man knocks with such wigorous wiolence as he does. All Great Coram
Street and parts adjacent know when he comes. Julius Caesar himself
couldn't kick up a greater row." "What Green is it, Green of
Rollestone?" inquired Nimrod, thinking of his Leicestershire friend.
"No," said Mr. Jorrocks, "Green of Tooley Street. You'll have heard of
the Greens in the borough, 'emp, 'op, and 'ide (hemp, hop, and hide)
merchants - numerous family, numerous as the 'airs in my vig. This is
James Green, jun., whose father, old James Green, jun., _verd antique_,
as I calls him, is the son of James Green, sen., who is in the 'emp
line, and James is own cousin to young old James Green, sen., whose
father is in the 'ide line." The remainder of the pedigree was lost by
Benjamin throwing open the door and announcing Mr. Green; and Jemmy,
who had been exchanging his cloth boots for patent-leather pumps, came
bounding upstairs like a racket-ball. "My dear Mrs. Jorrocks," cried he,
swinging through the company to her, "I'm delighted to see you looking
so well. I declare you are fifty per cent younger than you were.
Belinda, my love, 'ow are you? Jorrocks, my friend, 'ow do ye do?"

"Thank ye, James," said Jorrocks, shaking hands with him most cordially,
"I'm werry well, indeed, and delighted to see you. Now let me present
you to Nimrod."

"Ay, Nimrod!" said Green, in his usual flippant style, with a nod of his
head, "'ow are ye, Nimrod? I've heard of you, I think - Nimrod Brothers
and Co., bottle merchants, Crutched Friars, ain't it?"

"No," said Jorrocks, in an undertone with a frown - Happerley Nimrod, the
great sporting hauthor."

"True," replied Green, not at all disconcerted, "I've heard of
him - Nimrod - the mighty 'unter before the lord. Glad to see ye, Nimrod.
Stubbs, 'ow are ye?" nodding to the Yorkshireman, as he jerked himself
on to a chair on the other side of Belinda.

As usual, Green was as gay as a peacock. His curly flaxen wig projected
over his forehead like the roof of a Swiss cottage, and his pointed
gills were supported by a stiff black mohair stock, with a broad front
and black frill confined with jet studs down the centre. His coat was
light green, with archery buttons, made very wide at the hips, with
which he sported a white waistcoat, bright yellow ochre leather
trousers, pink silk stockings, and patent-leather pumps. In his hand he
carried a white silk handkerchief, which smelt most powerfully of musk;
and a pair of dirty wristbands drew the eye to sundry dashing rings upon
his fingers.

Jonathan Crane, a little long-nosed old city wine-merchant, a member of
the Surrey Hunt, being announced and presented, Mrs. Jorrocks declared
herself faint from the heat of the room, and begged to be excused for a
few minutes. Nimrod, all politeness, was about to offer her his arm, but
Mr. Jorrocks pulled him back, whispering, "Let her go, let her go." "The
fact is," said he in an undertone after she was out of hearing, "it's a
way Mrs. J - - has when she wants to see that dinner's all right.
You see she's a terrible high-bred woman, being a cross between a
gentleman-usher and a lady's-maid, and doesn't like to be supposed to
look after these things, so when she goes, she always pretend to faint.
You'll see her back presently," and, just as he spoke, in she came with
a half-pint smelling-bottle at her nose. Benjamin followed immediately
after, and throwing open the door proclaimed, in a half-fledged voice,
that "dinner was sarved," upon which the party all started on their
legs.

"Now, Mr. Happerley Nimrod," cried Jorrocks, "you'll trot Mrs. J - -
down - according to the book of etiquette, you know, giving her the
wall side.[25] Sorry, gentlemen, I havn't ladies apiece for you, but my
sally-manger, as we say in France, is rayther small, besides which I
never like to dine more than eight. Stubbs, my boy, Green and you must
toss up for Belinda - here's a halfpenny, and let be 'Newmarket'[26] if
you please. Wot say you? a voman! Stubbs wins!" cried Mr. Jorrocks, as
the halfpenny fell head downwards. "Now, Spiers, couple up with Crane,
and James and I will whip in to you. But stop, gentlemen!" cried
Mr. Jorrocks, as he reached the top of the stairs, "let me make one
request - that you von't eat the windmill you'll see on the centre of the
table. Mrs. Jorrocks has hired it for the evening, of Mr. Farrell, the
confectioner, in Lamb's Conduit Street, and it's engaged to two or three
evening parties after it leaves this." "Lauk, John! how wulgar you are.
What matter can it make to your friends where the windmill comes from!"
exclaimed Mrs. Jorrocks in an audible voice from below, Nimrod, with
admirable skill, having piloted her down the straights and turns of the
staircase. Having squeezed herself between the backs of the chairs and
the wall, Mrs. Jorrocks at length reached the head of the table, and
with a bump of her body and wave of her hand motioned Nimrod to take the
seat on her right. Green then pushed past Belinda and Stubbs, and
took the place on Mrs. Jorrocks's left, so Stubbs, with a dexterous
manoeuvre, placed himself in the centre of the table, with Belinda
between himself and her uncle. Crane and Spiers then filled the vacant
places on Nimrod's side, Mr. Spiers facing Mr. Stubbs.

[Footnote 25: "In your passage from one room to another, offer the lady
the wall in going downstairs," etc, - _Spirit of Etiquette._]

[Footnote 26: "We have repeatedly decided that Newmarket is _one_
toss." - _Bell's Life._]

The dining-room was the breadth of the passage narrower than the front
drawing-room, and, as Mr. Jorrocks truly said, was rayther small - but
the table being excessively broad, made the room appear less than it
was. It was lighted up with spermaceti candles in silver holders, one at
each corner of the table, and there was a lamp in the wall between the
red-curtained windows, immediately below a brass nail, on which Mr.
Jorrocks's great hunting-whip and a bunch of boot garters were hung. Two
more candles in the hands of bronze Dianas on the marble mantelpiece,
lighted up a coloured copy of Barraud's picture of John Warde on Blue
Ruin; while Mr. Ralph Lambton, on his horse Undertaker, with his hounds
and men, occupied a frame on the opposite wall. The old-fashioned
cellaret sideboard, against the wall at the end, supported a large
bright-burning brass lamp, with raised foxes round the rim, whose
effulgent rays shed a brilliant halo over eight black hats and two white
ones, whereof the four middle ones were decorated with evergreens and
foxes' brushes. The dinner table was crowded, not covered. There was
scarcely a square inch of cloth to be seen on any part. In the centre
stood a magnificent finely spun barley-sugar windmill, two feet and a
half high, with a spacious sugar foundation, with a cart and horses and
two or three millers at the door, and a she-miller working a ball-dress
flounce at a lower window.

The whole dinner, first, second, third, fourth course - everything,
in fact, except dessert - was on the table, as we sometimes see it at
ordinaries and public dinners. Before both Mr. and Mrs. Jorrocks were
two great tureens of mock-turtle soup, each capable of holding a gallon,
and both full up to the brim. Then there were two sorts of fish; turbot
and lobster sauce, and a great salmon. A round of boiled beef and an
immense piece of roast occupied the rear of these, ready to march on the
disappearance of the fish and soup - and behind the walls, formed by the
beef of old England, came two dishes of grouse, each dish holding three
brace. The side dishes consisted of a calf's head hashed, a leg of
mutton, chickens, ducks, and mountains of vegetables; and round the
windmill were plum-puddings, tarts, jellies, pies, and puffs.

Behind Mrs. Jorrocks's chair stood "Batsay" with a fine brass-headed
comb in her hair, and stiff ringlets down her ruddy cheeks. She was
dressed in a green silk gown, with a coral necklace, and one of Mr.
Jorrocks's lavender and white coloured silk pocket-handkerchiefs made
into an apron. "Binjimin" stood with the door in his hand, as the saying
is, with a towel twisted round his thumb, as though he had cut it.

"Now, gentlemen," said Mr. Jorrocks, casting his eye up the table, as
soon as they had all got squeezed and wedged round it, and the dishes
were uncovered, "you see your dinner, eat whatever you like except the
windmill - hope you'll be able to satisfy nature with what's on - would
have had more but Mrs. J - - is so werry fine, she won't stand two
joints of the same sort on the table."

_Mrs. J._ Lauk, John, how can you be so wulgar! Who ever saw two rounds
of beef, as you wanted to have? Besides, I'm sure the gentlemen will
excuse any little defishency, considering the short notice we have had,
and that this is not an elaborate dinner.

_Mr. Spiers._ I'm sure, ma'm, there's no de_fish_ency at all. Indeed,
I think there's as much fish as would serve double the number - and I'm
sure you look as if you had your soup "on sale or return," as we say in
the magazine line.

_Mr. J._ Haw! haw! haw! werry good, Mr. Spiers. I owe you one. Not bad
soup though - had it from Birch's. Let me send you some; and pray lay
into it, or I shall think you don't like it. Mr. Happerley, let me send
you some - and, gentlemen, let me observe, once for all, that there's
every species of malt liquor under the side table. Prime stout, from the
Marquess Cornwallis, hard by. Also ale, table, and what my friend Crane
there calls lamen_table_ - he says, because it's so werry small - but, in
truth, because I don't buy it of him. There's all sorts of drench, in
fact, except water - thing I never touch - rots one's shoes, don't know
what it would do with one's stomach if it was to get there. Mr. Crane,
you're eating nothing. I'm quite shocked to see you; you don't surely
live upon hair? Do help yourself, or you'll faint from werry famine.
Belinda, my love, does the Yorkshireman take care of you? Who's for some
salmon? - bought at Luckey's, and there's both Tallyho and Tantivy sarce
to eat with it. Somehow or other I always fancies I rides harder after
eating these sarces with fish. Mr. Happerley Nimrod, you are the
greatest man at table, consequently I axes you to drink wine first,
according to the book of etiquette - help yourself, sir. Some of Crane's
particklar, hot and strong, real stuff, none of your wan de bones (vin
de beaume) or rot-gut French stuff - hope you like it - if you don't, pray
speak your mind freely, now that we have Crane among us. Binjimin, get
me some of that duck before Mr. Spiers, a leg and a wing, if you please,
sir, and a bit of the breast.

_Mr. Spiers._ Certainly, sir, certainly. Do you prefer a right or left
wing, sir?

_Mr. Jorrocks._ Oh, either. I suppose it's all the same.

_Mr. Spiers._ Why no, sir, it's not exactly all the same; for it happens
there is only one remaining, therefore it must be the _left_ one.

_Mr. J._ (chuckling). Haw! haw! haw! Mr. S - - , werry good that - werry
good indeed. I owes you two.

"I'll trouble you for a little, Mr. Spiers, if you please," says Crane,
handing his plate round the windmill.

"I'm sorry, sir, it is all gone," replies Mr. Spiers, who had just
filled Mr. Jorrocks's plate; "there's nothing left but the neck,"
holding it up on the fork.

"Well, send it," rejoins Mr. Crane; "neck or nothing, you know, Mr.
Jorrocks, as we say with the Surrey."

"Haw! haw! haw!" grunts Mr. Jorrocks, who is busy sucking a bone; "haw!
hawl haw! werry good, Crane, werry good - owes you one. Now, gentlemen,"
added he, casting his eye up the table as he spoke, "let me adwise
ye, before you attack the grouse, to take the hedge (edge) off your
appetites, or else there won't be enough, and, you know, it does not do
to eat the farmer after the gentlemen. Let's see, now - three and three
are six, six brace among eight - oh dear, that's nothing like enough. I
wish, Mrs. J - - , you had followed my adwice, and roasted them all. And
now, Binjimin, you're going to break the windmill with your clumsiness,
you little dirty rascal! Why von't you let Batsay arrange the table?
Thank you, Mr. Crane, for your assistance - your politeness, sir, exceeds
your beauty." [A barrel organ strikes up before the window, and Jorrocks
throws down his knife and fork in an agony.] "Oh dear, oh dear, there's
that cursed horgan again. It's a regular annihilator. Binjimin, run and
kick the fellow's werry soul out of him. There's no man suffers so much
from music as I do. I wish I had a pocketful of sudden deaths, that I
might throw one at every thief of a musicianer that comes up the street.
I declare the scoundrel has set all my teeth on edge. Mr. Nimrod, pray
take another glass of wine after your roast beef. - Well, with Mrs. J - -
if you choose, but I'll join you - always says that you are the werry
cleverest man of the day - read all your writings - anny-tommy (anatomy)
of gaming, and all. Am a hauthor myself, you know - once set to, to write
a werry long and elaborate harticle on scent, but after cudgelling my
brains, and turning the thing over and over again in my mind, all that I
could brew on the subject was, that scent was a werry rum thing; nothing
rummer than scent, except a woman."

"Pray," cried Mrs. Jorrocks, her eyes starting as she spoke, "don't let
us have any of your low-lifed stable conversation here - you think to
show off before the ladies," added she, "and flatter yourself you talk
about what we don't understand. Now, I'll be bound to say, with all your
fine sporting hinformation, you carn't tell me whether a mule brays or
neighs!"

"Vether a mule brays or neighs?" repeated Mr. Jorrocks, considering.
"I'll lay I can!"

"Which, then?" inquired Mrs. Jorrocks.

"Vy, I should say it brayed."

"Mule bray!" cried Mrs. Jorrocks, clapping her hands with delight,
"there's a cockney blockhead for you! It brays, does it?"

_Mr. Jorrocks. _I meant to say, neighed.

"Ho! ho! ho!" grinned Mrs. J - - , "neighs, does it? You are a nice man
for a fox-'unter - a mule neighs - thought I'd catch you some of these
odd days with your wain conceit."

"Vy, what does it do then?" inquired Mr. Jorrocks, his choler rising as
he spoke. "I hopes, at all ewents, he don't make the 'orrible noise you
do."

"Why, it screams, you great hass!" rejoined his loving spouse.

A single, but very resolute knock at the street door, sounding quite
through the house, stopped all further ebullition, and Benjamin,
slipping out, held a short conversation with someone in the street, and
returned.

"What's happened now, Binjimin?" inquired Mr. Jorrocks, with anxiety
on his countenance, as the boy re-entered the room; "the 'osses arn't
amiss, I 'ope?"

"Please, sir, Mr. Farrell's young man has come for the windmill - he says
you've had it two hours," replied Benjamin.

"The deuce be with Mr. Farrell's young man! he does not suppose we can
part with the mill before the cloth's drawn - tell him to mizzle, or I'll
mill him. 'Now's the day and now's the hour'; who's for some grouse?
Gentlemen, make your game, in fact. But first of all let's have a round
robin. Pass the wine, gentlemen. What wine do you take, Stubbs."

"Why, champagne is good enough for me."

_Mr. Jorrocks,_ I dare say; but if you wait till you get any here, you
will have a long time to stop. Shampain, indeed! had enough of that
nonsense abroad - declare you young chaps drink shampain like hale.
There's red and wite port, and sherry, in fact, and them as carn't
drink, they must go without.

X. was expensive and soon became poor,
Y. was the wise man and kept want from the door.

"Now for the grouse!" added he, as the two beefs disappeared, and they
took their stations at the top and bottom of the table. "Fine birds, to
be sure! Hope you havn't burked your appetites, gentlemen, so as not to
be able to do justice to them - smell high - werry good - gamey, in fact.
Binjimin. take an 'ot plate to Mr. Nimrod - sarve us all round with
them."

The grouse being excellent, and cooked to a turn, little execution was
done upon the pastry, and the jellies had all melted long before it
came to their turn to be eat. At length everyone, Mr. Jorrocks and all,
appeared satisfied, and the noise of knives and forks was succeeded by
the din of tongues and the ringing of glasses, as the eaters refreshed
themselves with wine or malt liquors. Cheese and biscuit being handed
about on plates, according to the _Spirit of Etiquette_. Binjimin and
Batsay at length cleared the table, lifted off the windmill, and removed
the cloth. Mr. Jorrocks then delivered himself of a most emphatic grace.

The wine and dessert being placed on the table, the ceremony of
drinking healths all round was performed. "Your good health, Mrs.
J - - . - Belinda, my loove, your good health - wish you a good
'usband. - Nimrod, your good health. - James Green, your good health. - Old
_verd antique's_ good health. - Your uncle's good health. - All the Green


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Online LibraryRobert Smith SurteesJorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities → online text (page 19 of 22)