Robert Smith Surtees.

Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities online

. (page 7 of 22)
Online LibraryRobert Smith SurteesJorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities → online text (page 7 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

upset the Yorkshireman, as they bustled out with their loads. The
warehouse itself gave evident proof of great antiquity. It was not
one of your fine, light, lofty, mahogany-countered, banker-like
establishments of modern times, where the stock-in-trade often consists
of books and empty canisters, but a large, roomy, gloomy, dirty,
dingy sort of cellar above ground, full of hogsheads, casks, flasks,
sugar-loaves, jars, bags, bottles, and boxes.

The floor was half an inch thick, at least, with dirt, and was sprinkled
with rice, currants, and raisins, as though they had been scattered for
the purpose of growing. A small corner seemed to have been cut off, like
the fold of a Leicestershire grazing-ground, and made into an office in
the centre of which was a square or two of glass that commanded a view
of the whole warehouse. "Is Mr. Jorrocks in?" inquired the Yorkshireman
of a porter, who was busy digging currants with a wooden spade. "Yes,
sir, you'll find him in the counting-house," was the answer; but on
looking in, though his hat and gloves were there, no Jorrocks was
visible. At the farther end of the warehouse a man in his shirt-sleeves,
with a white apron round his waist and a brown paper cap on his head,
was seen under a very melancholy-looking skylight, holding his head over
something, as if his nose were bleeding. The Yorkshireman groped his way
up to him, and asking if Mr. Jorrocks was in, found he was addressing
the grocer himself. He had been leaning over a large trayful of little
white cups - with teapots to match - trying the strength, flavour, and
virtue of a large purchase of tea, and the beverage was all smoking
before him. "My vig," exclaimed he, holding out his hand, "who'd have
thought of seeing you in the city, this is something unkimmon! However,
you're werry welcome in St. Botolph Lane, and as this is your
first wisit, why, I'll make you a present of some tea - wot do you
drink? - black or green, or perhaps both - four pounds of one and two of
t'other. Here, Joe!" summoning his foreman, "put up four pounds of that
last lot of black that came in, and two pounds of superior green, and
this gentleman will tell you where to leave it. - And when do you think
of starting?" again addressing the Yorkshireman - "egad this is fine
weather for the country - have half a mind to have a jaunt myself - makes
one quite young - feel as if I'd laid full fifty years aside, and were
again a boy - when did you say you start?" "Why, I don't know exactly,"
replied the Yorkshireman, "the weather's so fine that I'm half tempted
to go round by Newmarket." "Newmarket!" exclaimed Jorrocks, throwing
his arm in the air, while his paper cap fell from his head with the
jerk - "by Newmarket! why, what in the name of all that's impure, have
you to do at Newmarket?"

"Why, nothing in particular; only, when there's neither hunting nor
shooting going on, what is a man to do with himself? - I'm sure you'd
despise me if I were to go fishing." "True," observed Mr. Jorrocks
somewhat subdued, and jingling the silver in his breeches-pocket.
"Fox-'unting is indeed the prince of sports. The image of war, without
its guilt, and only half its danger. I confess that I'm a martyr to
it - a perfect wictim - no one knows wot I suffer from my ardour. - If ever
I'm wisited with the last infirmity of noble minds, it will be caused by
my ingovernable passion for the chase. The sight of a saddle makes me
sweat. An 'ound makes me perfectly wild. A red coat throws me into a
scarlet fever. Never throughout life have I had a good night's rest
before an 'unting morning. But werry little racing does for me; Sadler's
Wells is well enough of a fine summer evening - especially when they
plump the clown over head in the New River cut, and the ponies don't
misbehave in the Circus, - but oh! Newmarket's a dreadful place, the
werry name's a sickener. I used to hear a vast about it from poor Will
Softly of Friday Street. It was the ruin of him - and wot a fine business
his father left him, both wholesale and retail, in the tripe and
cow-heel line - all went in two years, and he had nothing to show at the
end of that time for upwards of twenty thousand golden sovereigns, but a
hundredweight of children's lamb's-wool socks, and warrants for thirteen
hogsheads of damaged sherry in the docks. No, take my adwice, and have
nothing to say to them - stay where you are, or, if you're short of swag,
come to Great Coram Street, where you shall have a bed, wear-and-tear
for your teeth, and all that sort of thing found you, and, if Saturday's
a fine day, I'll treat you with a jaunt to Margate."

"You are a regular old trump," said the Yorkshireman, after listening
attentively until Mr. Jorrocks had exhausted himself, "but, you see,
you've never been at Newmarket, and the people have been hoaxing you
about it. I can assure you from personal experience that the people
there are quite as honest as those you meet every day on 'Change,
besides which, there is nothing more invigorating to the human
frame - nothing more cheering to the spirits, than the sight and air of
Newmarket Heath on a fine fresh spring morning like the present. The
wind seems to go by you at a racing pace, and the blood canters up and
down the veins with the finest and freest action imaginable. A stranger
to the race-course would feel, and almost instinctively know, what turf
he was treading, and the purpose for which that turf was intended".

"There's a magic in the web of it."

"Oh, I knows you are a most persuasive cock," observed Mr. Jorrocks
interrupting the Yorkshireman, "and would conwince the devil himself
that black is white, but you'll never make me believe the Newmarket
folks are honest, and as to the fine hair (air) you talk of, there's
quite as good to get on Hampstead Heath, and if it doesn't make the
blood canter up and down your weins, you can always amuse yourself
by watching the donkeys cantering up and down with the sweet little
children - haw! haw! haw! - But tell me what is there at Newmarket that
should take a man there?" "What is there?" rejoined the Yorkshireman,
"why, there's everything that makes life desirable and constitutes
happiness, in this world, except hunting. First there is the beautiful,
neat, clean town, with groups of booted professors, ready for the
rapidest march of intellect; then there are the strings of clothed
horses - the finest in the world - passing indolently at intervals to
their exercise, - the flower of the English aristocracy residing in the
place. You leave the town and stroll to the wide open heath, where all
is brightness and space; the white rails stand forth against the dear
blue sky - the brushing gallop ever and anon startles the ear and eye;
crowds of stable urchins, full of silent importance, stud the heath; you
feel elated and long to bound over the well groomed turf and to try the
speed of the careering wind. All things at Newmarket train the mind to
racing. Life seems on the start, and dull indeed were he who could rein
in his feelings when such inspiring objects meet together to madden

"Bravo!" exclaimed Jorrocks, throwing his paper cap in the air as the
Yorkshireman concluded. - "Bravo! - werry good indeed! You speak like ten
Lord Mayors - never heard nothing better. Dash my vig, if I won't go. By
Jove, you've done it. Tell me one thing - is there a good place to feed

"Capital!" replied the Yorkshireman, "beef, mutton, cheese, ham, all
the delicacies of the season, as the sailor said"; and thereupon the
Yorkshireman and Jorrocks shook hands upon the bargain.

Sunday night arrived, and with it arrived, at the "Belle Sauvage,"
in Ludgate Hill, Mr. Jorrocks's boy "Binjimin," with Mr. Jorrocks's
carpet-bag; and shortly after Mr. Jorrocks, on his chestnut hunter, and
the Yorkshireman, in a hack cab, entered the yard. Having consigned his
horse to Binjimin; after giving him a very instructive lesson relative
to the manner in which he would chastise him if he heard of his trotting
or playing any tricks with the horse on his way home, Mr. Jorrocks
proceeded to pay the remainder of his fare in the coach office. The mail
was full inside and out, indeed the book-keeper assured him he could
have filled a dozen more, so anxious ware all London to see the
Riddlesworth run. "Inside," said he, "are you and your friend, and if it
wern't that the night air might give you cold, Mr. Jorrocks" (for all
the book-keepers in London know him), "I should have liked to have got
you outsides, and I tried to make an exchange with two black-legs, but
they would hear of nothing less than two guineas a head, which wouldn't
do, you know. Here comes another of your passengers - a great foreign
nobleman, they say - Baron something - though he looks as much like a
foreign pickpocket as anything else."

"Vich be de voiture?" inquired a tall, gaunt-looking foreigner, with
immense moustache, a high conical hat with a bright buckle, long, loose,
blueish-blackish frock-coat, very short white waistcoat, baggy brownish
striped trousers, and long-footed Wellington boots, with a sort of
Chinese turn up at the toe. "Vich be de Newmarket Voiture?" said he,
repeating the query, as he entered the office and deposited a silk
umbrella, a camlet cloak, and a Swiss knapsack on the counter. The
porter, without any attempt at an answer, took his goods and walked off
to the mail, followed closely by the Baron, and after depositing the
cloak inside, so that the Baron might ride with his "face to the
horses," as the saying is, he turned the knapsack into the hind boot,
and swung himself into the office till it was time to ask for something
for his exertions. Meanwhile the Baron made a tour of the yard, taking
a lesson in English from the lettering on the various coaches, when,
on the hind boot of one, he deciphered the word Cheapside. - "Ah,
Cheapside!" said he, pulling out his dictionary and turning to the
letter C. "Chaste, chat, chaw, - cheap, dat be it. Cheap, - to be had at
a low price - small value. Ah! I hev (have) it," said he, stamping and
knitting his brows, "sacré-e-e-e-e nom de Dieu," and the first word
being drawn out to its usual longitude, three strides brought him and
the conclusion of the oath into the office together. He then opened out
upon the book-keeper, in a tremendous volley of French, English and
Hanoverian oaths, for he was a cross between the first and last named
countries, the purport of which was "dat he had paid de best price,
and he be dem if he vod ride on de Cheapside of de coach." In vain
the clerks and book-keepers tried to convince him he was wrong in his
interpretation. With the full conviction of a foreigner that he was
about to be cheated, he had his cloak shifted to the opposite side of
the coach, and the knapsack placed on the roof. The fourth inside having
cast up, the outside passengers mounted, the insides took their places,
three-pences and sixpences were pulled out for the porters, the guard
twanged his horn, the coachman turned out his elbow, flourished his
whip, caught the point, cried "All right! sit tight!" and trotted out of
the yard.

Jorrocks and the Yorkshireman sat opposite each other, the Baron and old
Sam Spring, the betting man, did likewise. Who doesn't know old Sam,
with his curious tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles, his old drab hat
turned up with green, careless neckcloth, flowing robe, and comical cut?
He knew Jorrocks - though - tell it not in Coram Street, he didn't know
his name; but concluded from the disparity of age between him and his
companion, that Jorrocks was either a shark or a shark's jackal, and
the Yorkshireman a victim. With due professional delicacy, he contented
himself with scrutinising the latter through his specs. The Baron's
choler having subsided, he was the first to break the ice of silence.
"Foine noight," was the observation, which was thrown out promiscuously
to see who would take it up. Now Sam Spring, though he came late, had
learned from the porter that there was a Baron in the coach, and being a
great admirer of the nobility, for whose use he has a code of signals
of his own, consisting of one finger to his hat for a Baron Lord as he
calls them, two for a Viscount, three for an Earl, four for a Marquis,
and the whole hand for a Duke, he immediately responded with "Yes, my
lord," with a fore-finger to his hat. There is something sweet in the
word "Lord" which finds its way home to the heart of an Englishman.
No sooner did Sam pronounce it, than the Baron became transformed in
Jorrocks's eyes into a very superior sort of person, and forthwith he
commences ingratiating himself by offering him a share of a large paper
of sandwiches, which the Baron accepted with the greatest condescension,
eating what he could and stuffing the remainder into his hat. His
lordship was a better hand at eating than speaking, and the united
efforts of the party could not extract from him the precise purport of
his journey. Sam threw out two or three feasible offers in the way of
bets, but they fell still-born to the bottom of the coach, and Jorrocks
talked to him about hunting and had the conversation all to himself,
the Baron merely replying with a bow and a stare, sometimes diversified
with, or "I tank you - vare good." The conversation by degrees resolved
itself into a snore, in which they were all indulging, when the raw
morning air rushed in among them, as a porter with a lanthorn opened the
door and announced their arrival at Newmarket. Forthwith they turned
into the street, and the outside passengers having descended, they all
commenced straddling, yawning, and stretching their limbs while the
guard and porters sorted their luggage. The Yorkshireman having an eye
to a bed, speedily had Mr. Jorrocks's luggage and his own on the back
of a porter on its way to the "Rutland Arms," while that worthy citizen
followed in a sort of sleepy astonishment at the smallness of the place,
inquiring if they were sure they had not stopped at some village by
mistake. Two beds had been ordered for two gentlemen who could not get
two seats by the mail, which fell to the lot of those who did, and into
these our heroes trundled, having arranged to be called by the early
exercising hour.

Whether it was from want of his usual night-cap of brandy and water, or
the fatigues of travelling, or what else, remains unknown, but no sooner
was Mr. Jorrocks left alone with his candle, than all at once he was
seized with a sudden fit of trepidation, on thinking that he should have
been inveigled to such a place as Newmarket, and the tremor increasing
as he pulled four five-pound bank-notes out of his watch-pocket, besides
a vast of silver and his great gold watch, he was resolved, should an
attempt be made upon his property, to defend it with his life, and
having squeezed the notes into the toe of his boots, and hid the silver
in the wash-hand stand, he very deliberately put his watch and the poker
under the pillow, and set the heavy chest of drawers with two stout
chairs and a table against the door, after all which exertions he got
into bed and very soon fell sound asleep.

Most of the inmates of the house were up with the lark to the early
exercises, and the Yorkshireman was as early as any of them. Having
found Mr. Jorrocks's door, he commenced a loud battery against it
without awaking the grocer; he then tried to open it, but only succeeded
in getting it an inch or two from the post, and after several holloas of
"Jorrocks, my man! Mr. Jorrocks! Jorrocks, old boy! holloa, Jorrocks!"
he succeeded in extracting the word "Wot?" from the worthy gentleman as
he rolled over in his bed. "Jorrocks!" repeated the Yorkshireman, "it's
time to be up." "Wot?" again was the answer. "Time to get up. The
morning's breaking." "Let it break," replied he, adding in a mutter, as
he turned over again, "it owes me nothing."

Entreaties being useless, and a large party being on the point of
setting off, the Yorkshireman joined them, and spent a couple of hours
on the dew-bespangled heath, during which time they not only criticised
the figure and action of every horse that was out, but got up tremendous
appetites for breakfast. In the meantime Mr. Jorrocks had risen, and
having attired himself with his usual care, in a smart blue coat with
metal buttons, buff waistcoat, blue stocking-netted tights, and Hessian
boots, he turned into the main street of Newmarket, where he was lost in
astonishment at the insignificance of the place. But wiser men than
Mr. Jorrocks have been similarly disappointed, for it enters into
the philosophy of few to conceive the fame and grandeur of Newmarket
compressed into the limits of the petty, outlandish, Icelandish place
that bears the name. "Dash my vig," said Mr. Jorrocks, as he brought
himself to bear upon Rogers's shop-window, "this is the werry
meanest town I ever did see. Pray, sir," addressing himself to a
groomish-looking man in a brown cut-away coat, drab shorts and
continuations, who had just emerged from the shop with a race list in
his hand, "Pray, sir, be this your principal street?" The man eyed him
with a mixed look of incredulity and contempt. At length, putting his
thumbs into the arm-holes of his waistcoat, he replied, "I bet a crown
you know as well as I do." "Done," said Mr. Jorrocks holding out his
hand. "No - I won't do that," replied the man, "but I'll tell you what
I'll do with you, - I'll lay you two to one, in fives or fifties if you
like, that you knew before you axed, and that Thunderbolt don't win the
Riddlesworth." "Really," said Mr. Jorrocks, "I'm not a betting man."
"Then, wot the 'ell business have you at Newmarket?" was all the answer
he got. Disgusted with such inhospitable impertinence, Mr. Jorrocks
turned on his heel and walked away. Before the "White Hart" Inn was a
smartish pony phaeton, in charge of a stunted stable lad. "I say, young
chap," inquired Jorrocks, "whose is that?" "How did you know that I
was a young chap?" inquired the abortion turning round. "Guessed it,"
replied Jorrocks, chuckling at his own wit. "Then guess whose it is."

"Pray, are your clocks here by London time?" he asked of a respectable
elderly-looking man whom he saw turn out of the entry leading to the
Kingston rooms, and take the usual survey first up the town and then
down it, and afterwards compose his hands in his breeches-pockets, there
to stand to see the "world." [17] "Come now, old 'un - none o' your tricks
here - you've got a match on against time, I suppose," was all the answer
he could get after the man (old R - n the ex-flagellator) had surveyed
him from head to foot.

[Footnote 17: Newmarket or London - it's all the same - "The world" is but
composed of one's own acquaintance.]

We need hardly say after all these rebuffs that when Mr. Jorrocks met
the Yorkshireman, he was not in the best possible humour; indeed, to say
nothing of the extreme sharpness and suspicion of the people, we know of
no place where a man, not fond of racing, is so completely out of his
element as at Newmarket, for with the exception of a little "elbow
shaking" in the evening, there is literally and truly nothing else
to do. It is "Heath," "Ditch in," "Abingdon mile," "T.Y.C. Stakes,"
"Sweepstakes," "Handicaps," "Bet," "Lay," "Take," "Odds," "Evens,"
morning, noon and night.

Mr. Jorrocks made bitter complaints during the breakfast, and some
invidious comparisons between racing men and fox-hunters, which,
however, became softer towards the close, as he got deeper in the
delicacy of a fine Cambridge brawn. Nature being at length appeased, he
again thought of turning out, to have a look, as he said, at the shows
on the course, but the appearance of his friend the Baron opposite the
window, put it out of his head, and he sallied forth to join him. The
Baron was evidently incog.: for he had on the same short dirty-white
waistcoat, Chinese boots, and conical hat, that he travelled down in,
and being a stranger in the land, of course he was uncommonly glad to
pick up Jorrocks, so after he had hugged him a little, called him a "bon
garçon," and a few other endearing terms, he run his great long arm
through his, and walked him down street, the whole peregrinations of
Newmarket being comprised in the words "up street" and "down." He then
communicated in most unrepresentable language, that he was on his way
to buy "an 'oss," and Jorrocks informing him that he was a perfect
connoisseur in the article, the Baron again assured him of his
distinguished consideration. They were met by Joe Rogers the trainer
with a ring-key in his hand, who led the way to the stable, and having
unlocked a box in which was a fine slapping four-year old, according to
etiquette he put his hat in a corner, took a switch in one hand, laid
hold of the horse's head with the other, while the lad in attendance
stripped off its clothes. The Baron then turned up his wrists, and
making a curious noise in his throat, proceeded to pass his hand down
each leg, and along its back, after which he gave it a thump in the
belly and squeezed its throat, when, being as wise as he was at
starting, he stuck his thumb in his side, and took a mental survey of
the whole. - "Ah," said he at length - "foin 'oss, - foin 'oss; vot ears he
has?" "Oh," said Rogers, "they show breeding." "Non, non, I say vot ears
he has?" "Well, but he carries them well," was the answer. "Non, non,"
stamping, "I say vot ears (years) he has?" "Oh, hang it, I twig - four
years old." Then the Baron took another long look at him. At length he
resumed, "I vill my wet." "What's that?" inquired Rogers of Jorrocks.
"His wet - why, a drink to be sure," and thereupon Rogers went to the
pump and brought a glass of pure water, which the Baron refused with
becoming indignation. "Non, non," said he stamping, "I vill my wet."
Rogers looked at Jorrocks, and Jorrocks looked at Rogers, but neither
Rogers nor Jorrocks understood him. "I vill my wet," repeated the Baron
with vehemence. "He must want some brandy in it," observed Mr. Jorrocks,
judging of the Baron by himself, and thereupon the lad was sent for
three-penn'orth. When it arrived, the Baron dashed it out of his hand
with a prolonged sacré-e-e-e - ! adding "I vill von wet-tin-nin-na-ary
surgeon." The boy was dispatched for one, and on his arrival the
veterinary surgeon went through the process that the Baron had
attempted, and not being a man of many words, he just gave the Baron a
nod at the end. "How moch?" inquked the Baron of Rogers. "Five hundred,"
was the answer. "Vot, five hundred livre?" "Oh d - - n it, you may take
or leave him, just as you like, but you won't get him for less." The
"vet" explained that the Baron wished to know whether it was five
hundred francs (French ten-pences), or five hundred guineas English
money, and being informed that it was the latter, he gave his conical
hat a thrust on his brow, and bolted out of the box.

But race hour approaches, and people begin to assemble in groups before
the "rooms," while tax-carts, pony-gigs, post-chaises, the usual
aristocratical accompaniments of Newmarket, come dribbling at intervals
into the town. Here is old Sam Spring in a spring-cart, driven by a
ploughboy in fustian, there the Earl of - - on a ten-pound pony, with
the girths elegantly parted to prevent the saddle slipping over its
head, while Miss - - , his jockey's daughter, dashes by him in a phaeton
with a powdered footman, and the postilion in scarlet and leathers, with
a badge on his arm. Old Crockey puts on his greatcoat, Jem Bland draws
the yellow phaeton and greys to the gateway of the "White Hart," to take
up his friend Crutch Robinson; Zac, Jack and another, have just driven
on in a fly. In short, it's a brilliant meeting! Besides four coronetted
carriages with post-horses, there are three phaetons-and-pair; a
thing that would have been a phaeton if they'd have let it; General
Grosvenor's dog-carriage, that is to say, his carriage with a dog upon
it; Lady Chesterfield and the Hon. Mrs. Anson in a pony phaeton with an
out-rider (Miss - - will have one next meeting instead of the
powdered footman); Tattersall in his double carriage driving without
bearing-reins; Old Theobald in leather breeches and a buggy; five Bury
butchers in a tax-cart; Young Dutch Sam on a pony; "Short-odds Richards"
on a long-backed crocodile-looking rosinante; and no end of pedestrians.

But where is Mr. Jorrocks all this time? Why eating brawn in the
"Rutland Arms" with his friend the Baron, perfectly unconscious that
all these passers-by were not the daily visables of the place. "Dash
my vig," said he, as he bolted another half of the round, "I see no
symptoms of a stir. Come, my lord, do me the honour to take another

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryRobert Smith SurteesJorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities → online text (page 7 of 22)