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Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities Part 5

The usual inn grace--"For what we are going to receive, the host expects to be paid",--having been said with great feeling and earnestness, they all set to at the victuals, and little conversation passed until the removal of the cloth, when Mr. Badchild, calling upon his vice, observed that as in all probability there were gentlemen of different political and other opinions present, perhaps the best way would be to give a comprehensive toast, and so get over any debatable ground,--he therefore proposed to drink in a bumper "The king, the queen, and all the royal family, the ministry, particularly the Master of the Horse, the Army, the Navy, the Church, the State, and after the excellent dinner they had eaten, he would include the name of the landlord of the White Hart"

(great applause). Song from Jerry Hawthorn--"The King of the Cannibal Islands".--The chairman then called upon the company to fill their glasses to a toast upon which there could be no difference of opinion.

"It was a sport which they all enjoyed, one that was delightful to the old and to the young, to the peer and to the peasant, and open to all.

Whatever might be the merits of other amusements, he had never yet met any man with the hardihood to deny that racing was at once the noblest and the most legitimate" (loud cheers, and thumps on the table, that set all the glasses dancing), "not only was it the noblest and most legitimate, but it was the most profitable; and where was the man of high and honourable principle who did not feel when breathing the pure atmosphere of that Heath, a lofty self-satisfaction at the thought, that though he might have left those who were near and dear to him in a less genial atmosphere, still he was not selfishly enjoying himself, without a thought for their welfare; for racing, while it brought health and vigour to the father, also brought what was dearer to the mind of a parent--the means of promoting the happiness and prosperity of his family--(immense cheers). With these few observations he should simply propose 'The Turf,' and may we long be above it"--(applause and, on the motion of Mr. Spring, three cheers for Mrs. Badchild and all the little Badchildren were called for and given). When the noise had subsided. Mr.

Jorrocks very deliberately got up, amid whispers and inquiries as to who he was. "Gentlemen," said he, with an indignant stare, and a thump on the table, "Gentlemen, I say, in much of what has fallen from our worthy chairman, I go-in-sides, save in what he says about racing--I insists that 'unting is the sport of sports" (immense laughter, and cries of "wot an old fool!") "Gentlemen may laugh, but I say it's a fact, and though I doesn't wish to create no displeasancy whatsomever, yet I should despise myself most confoundedly--should consider myself unworthy of the great and distinguished 'unt to which I have the honour to belong, if I sat quietly down without sticking up for the chase (laughter).--I say, it's one of the balances of the constitution (laughter).--I say, it's the sport of kings! the image of war without its guilt (hisses and immense laughter). He would fearlessly propose a bumper toast--he would give them 'fox-hunting.'" There was some demur about drinking it, but on the interposition of Sam Spring, who assured the company that Jorrocks was one of the right sort, and with an addition proposed by Jerry Hawthorn, which made the toast more comprehensible, they swallowed it, and the chairman followed it up with "The Sod",--which was drunk with great applause. Mr. Cox of Blue Hammerton returned thanks. "He considered cock-fighting the finest of all fine amusements. Nothing could equal the rush between two prime grey-hackles--that was his colour. The chairman had said a vast for racing, and to cut the matter short, he might observe that cock-fighting combined all the advantages of making money, with the additional benefit of not being interfered with by the weather. He begged to return his best thanks for himself and brother sods, and only regretted he had not been taught speaking in his youth, or he would certainly have convinced them all, that 'cocking' was the sport." "Coursing" was the next toast--for which Arthur Pavis, the jockey, returned thanks. "He was very fond of the 'long dogs,' and thought, after racing, coursing was the true thing. He was no orator, and so he drank off his wine to the health of the company." "Steeplechasing" followed, for which Mr. Coalman of St. Albans returned thanks, assuring the company that it answered his purpose remarkably well. Then the Vice gave the "Chair," and the Chair gave the "Vice"; and by way of a finale, Mr. Badchild proposed the game of "Chicken-hazard," observing in a whisper to Mr. Jorrocks, that perhaps he would like to subscribe to a joint-stock purse for the purpose of going to hell. To which Mr. Jorrocks, with great gravity, replied; "Sir, I'm d----d if I do."

VI. A WEEK AT CHELTENHAM: THE CHELTENHAM DANDY

Mr. Jorrocks had been very poorly indeed of indigestion, as he calls it, produced by tucking in too much roast beef and plum pudding at Christmas, and prolonging the period of his festivities a little beyond the season allowed by Moore's _Almanack_, and having in vain applied the usual remedies prescribed on such occasions, he at length consented to try the Cheltenham waters, though altogether opposed to the element, he not having "astonished his stomach," as he says, for the last fifteen years with a glass of water.

Having established himself and the Yorkshireman in a small private lodging in High Street, consisting of two bedrooms and a sitting-room, he commenced his visits to the royal spa, and after a few good drenches, picked up so rapidly, that to whatever inn they went to dine, the landlords and waiters were astounded at the consumption of prog, and in a very short time he was known from the "Royal Hotel" down to Hurlston's Commercial Inn, as the great London Cormorant. At first, however, he was extremely depressed in spirits, and did nothing the whole day after his arrival, but talk about the arrangement of his temporal affairs; and the first symptom he gave of returning health was one day at dinner at the "Plough," by astonishing two or three scarlet-coated swells, who as usual were disporting themselves in the coffee-room, by bellowing to the waiter for some Talli-ho "sarce" to his fish. Before this he had never once spoken of his favourite diversion, and the sportsmen cantered by the window to cover in the morning, and back in the afternoon, without eliciting a single observation from him. The morning after this change for the better, he addressed his companion at breakfast as follows: "Blow me tight, Mr. York, if I arn't regularly renowated. I'm as fresh as an old hat after a shower of rain. I really thinks I shall get over this terrible illness, for I dreamt of 'unting last night, and, if you've a mind, we'll go and see my Lord Segrave's reynard dog, and then start from this 'ere corrupt place, for, you see, it's nothing but a town, and what's the use of sticking oneself in a little pokey lodging like this 'ere, where there really is not room to swing a cat, and paying the deuce knows how much tin, too, when one has a splendid house in Great Coram Street going on all the time, with a rigler establishment of servants and all that sort of thing. Now, you knows, I doesn't grudge a wisit to Margate, though that's a town too, but then, you see, one has the sea to look at, whereas here, it's nothing but a long street with shops, not so good as those in Red Lion Street, with a few small streets branching off from it, and as to the prommenard, as they calls it, aside the spa, with its trees and garden stuff, why, I'm sure, to my mind, the Clarence Gardens up by the Regent's Park, are quite as fine. It's true the doctor says I must remain another fortnight to perfect the cure, but then them 'ere M.D.'s, or whatever you calls them, are such rum jockeys, and I always thinks they say one word for the patient and two for themselves. Now, my chap said, I must only take half a bottle o' black strap a day at the werry most, whereas I have never had less than a whole one--his half first, as I say, and my own after--and because I tells him I take a pint, he flatters himself his treatment is capital, and that he is a wonderful M.D.; but as a man can't be better than well, I think we'll just see what there's to be seen in the neighbourhood, and then cut our sticks, and, as I said before, I should like werry much to see my Lord Segrave's hounds, in order that I may judge whether there is anything in the wide world to be compared to the Surrey, for if I remember right, Mr. Nimrod described them as werry, werry fine, indeed."

Having formed this resolution, Jorrocks stamped on the floor (for the bell was broken) for the little boy who did the odd jobs of the house, to bring up his Hessian boots, into which having thrust his great calves, and replaced the old brown great-coat which he uses for a dressing-gown by a superfine Saxony blue, with metal buttons and pockets outside, he pulled his wig straight, stuck his white hat with the green flaps knowingly on his head, and sallied forth for execution as stout a man as ever. Knowing that the kennel is near the Winchcourt road, they proceeded in that direction, but after walking about a mile, came upon a groom on a chestnut horse, who, returning from the chase, was wetting his whistle at the appropriate sign of the "Fox and Hounds," and who informed them that they had passed the turning for the kennel, but that the hounds were out, and then in a wood which he pointed out on the hillside about two miles off, into which they had just brought their fox. Looking in that direction, they presently saw the summit of one of the highest of the range of hills that encircle the town of Cheltenham, covered with horsemen and pedestrians, who kept moving backwards and forwards on the "mountain's brow," looking in the distance more like a flock of sheep than anything else. Jorrocks, being all right again and up to anything, proposed a start to the wood, and though he thought they should hardly reach it before the hounds either killed their fox or he broke away again, they agreed to take the chance, and away they went, "best leg first" as the saying is. The cover (Queen Wood by name, and, as Jorrocks found out from somebody, the property of Lord Ellenborough) being much larger than it at first appeared and the fox but a bad one, they were in lots of time, and having toiled to the top of the wood, Jorrocks swaggered in among the horsemen with all the importance of an alderman. For full an hour after they got there the hounds kept running in cover, the fox being repeatedly viewed and the pack continually pressing him. Once or twice he came out, but after skirting the cover's edge a few yards turned in again. Indeed, there were two foxes on foot, one being a three-legged one, and it was extraordinary how he went and stood before hounds, going apparently very cautiously and stopping every now and then to listen. At last a thundering old grey-backed fellow went away before the whole field, making for the steep declivities that lead into the downs, and though the brow of the hill was covered with foot-people who holloa'd and shouted enough to turn a lion, he would make his point, and only altering his course so as to avoid running right among the mob, he gained the summit of the hill and disappeared.

This hill, being uncommonly steep, was a breather for hounds that had been running so long as they had, in a thick cover too, and neither they nor the horses went at it with any great dash. The fox was not a fellow to be caught very easily, and nothing but a good start could have given them any chance, but the hounds never got well settled to the scent, and after a fruitless cast his lordship gave it up, and Jorrocks and Co.

trudged back to Cheltenham, J---- highly delighted at so favourable an opportunity of seeing the hounds. Indeed, so pleased was he with the turn-out and the whole thing, that finding from Skinner, one of the whippers-in, that they met on the following morning at Purge Down-turnpike, in their best country, forgetting all about his indigestion and the royal spa, he went to Newman and Longridge, the horse dealers and livery stable keepers and engaged a couple of nags "to look at the hounds upon," as he impressed upon their minds, which he ordered to be ready at nine o'clock.

This day he proposed to give the landlord of the "George Inn," in the High Street, the benefit of his rapacious appetite, and about five o'clock (his latest London hour) they sat down to dinner. The "George"

is neither exactly a swell house like the "Royal Hotel" or the "Plough,"

nor yet a commercial one, but something betwixt and between. The coffee-room is very small, consequently all the frequenters are drawn together, and if a conversation is started a man must be deuced unsociable that does not join in the cry.

As three or four were sitting round the fire chatting over their tipple, and Jorrocks was telling some of his best bouncers, the door opened and a waiter bowed a fresh animal into the cage, who, after eyeing the party, took off his hat and forthwith proceeded to pull off divers neckcloths, cloaks, great-coats, muffitees, until he reduced himself to about half the size he was on entering. He was a little square-built old man, with white hair and plenty of it, a long stupid red face with little pig eyes, a very long awkward body, and very short legs. He was dressed in a blue coat, buff waistcoat, a sort of baggy grey or thunder-and-lightning trousers, over which he had buttoned a pair of long black gaiters. Having "peeled," he rubbed his hands and blew upon them, as much as to say, "Now, gentlemen, won't you let me have a smell of the fire?" and, accordingly, by a sort of military revolution, they made a place for him right in the centre.

"Coldish night I reckon, sir," said Jorrocks, looking him over.

"Very cold indeed, very cold indeed," answered he, rubbing his elbows against his ribs, and stamping with his feet. "I've just got off the top of the Liverpool coach, and, I can assure you, it's very cold riding outside a coach all day long--however, I always say that it's better than being inside, though, indeed, it's very little that I trouble coaches at all in the course of the year--generally travel in my own carriage, only my family have it with them in Bristol now, where I'm going to join them; but I'm well used to the elements, hunting, shooting, and fishing, as I do constantly."

This later announcement made Jorrocks rouse up, and finding himself in the company of a sportsman and one, too, who travelled in his own carriage, he assumed a different tone and commenced on a fresh tack--"and pray, may I make bold to inquire what country you hunts in, sir?" said he.

"Oh! I live in Cheshire--Mainwaring's country, but Melton's the place I chiefly hunt at,--know all the fellows there; rare set of dogs, to be sure,--only country worth hunting in, to my mind."

_Jorrocks_. Rigler swells, though, the chaps, arn't they? Recollect one swell of a fellow coming with his upper lip all over fur into our country, thinking to astonish our weak minds, but I reckon we told him out.

_Stranger_. What! you hunt, do you?

_Jorrocks_. A few--you've perhaps heard tell of the Surrey 'unt?

_Stranger_. Cocktail affair, isn't it?

_Jorrocks_. No such thing, I assure you. Cocktail indeed! I likes that.

_Stranger_. Well, but it's not what we calls a fast-coach.

_Jorrocks_. I doesn't know wot you calls a fast-coach, but if you've a mind to make a match, I'll bet you a hat, ay, or half a dozen hats, that I'll find a fellow to take the conceit out o' any your Meltonians.

_Stranger_. Oh! I don't doubt but you have some good men among you; I'm sure I didn't mean anything offensive, by asking if it was a cocktail affair, but we Meltonians certainly have a trick, I must confess, of running every other country down; come, sir, I'll drink the Surrey hunt with all my heart, said he, swigging off the remains of a glass of brandy-and-water which the waiter had brought him shortly after entering.

_Jorrocks_. Thank you, sir, kindly. Waiter, bring me a bottom o' brandy, cold, without--and don't stint for quantity, if you please. Doesn't you think these inns werry expensive places, sir? I doesn't mean this in particular, but inns in general.

_Stranger_. Oh! I don't know, sir. We must expect to pay. "Live and let live," is my motto. I always pay my inn bills without looking them over.

Just cast my eyes at the bottom to see the amount, then call for pen and ink, add so much for waiter, so much for chambermaid, so much for boots, and if I'm travelling in my own carriage so much for the ostler for greasing. That's the way I do business, sir.

_Jorrocks_. Well, sir, a werry pleasant plan too, especially for the innkeeper--and all werry right for a gentleman of fortune like you. My motto, however, is "Waste not, want not," and my wife's father's motto was "Wilful waste brings woeful want," and I likes to have my money's worth.--Now, said he, pulling out a handful of bills, at some places that I go to they charges me six shillings a day for my dinner, and when I was ill and couldn't digest nothing but the lightest and plainest of breakfasts, when a fork breakfast in fact would have made a stiff 'un of me, and my muffin mill was almost stopped, they charged me two shillings for one cake, and sixpence for two eggs.--Now I'm in the tea trade myself, you must know, and I contend that as things go, or at least as things went before the Barbarian eye, as they call Napier, kicked up a row with the Hong merchants, it's altogether a shameful imposition, and I wonder people put up with it.

_Stranger_. Oh, sir, I don't know. I think that it is the charge all over the country. Besides, it doesn't do to look too closely at these things, and you must allow something for keeping up the coffee-room, you know--fire, candles, and so on.

_Jorrocks_. But blow me tight, you surely don't want a candle to breakfast by? However, I contends that innkeepers are great fools for making these sort of charges, for it makes people get out of their houses as quick as ever they can, whereas they might be inclined to stay if they could get things moderate.--For my part I likes a coffee-room, but having been used to commercial houses when I travelled, I knows what the charges ought to be. Now, this room is snug enough though small, and won't require no great keeping up.

_Stranger_. No--but this room is smaller than the generality of them, you know. They frequently have two fires in them, besides no end of oil burning.--I know the expense of these things, for I have a very large house in the country, and rely upon it, innkeepers have not such immense profits as many people imagines--but, as I said before, "live and let live."

_Jorrocks_. So says I, "live and let live"--but wot I complains of is, that some innkeepers charge so much that they won't let people live.

No man is fonder of eating than myself, but I don't like to pay by the mouthful, or yet to drink tea at so much a thimbleful. By the way, Sar, if you are not previously engaged, I should be werry happy to supply you with red Mocho or best Twankay at a very reasonable figure indeed for cash?

_Stranger._ Thank you, sir, thank you. Those are things I never interfere with--leave all these things to my people. My housekeeper sends me in her book every quarter day, with an account of what she pays. I just look at the amount--add so much for wages, and write a cheque--"live and let live!" say I. However, added he, pulling out his watch, and ringing the bell for the chambermaid, "I hate to get up very early, so I think it is time to go to bed, and I wish you a very good night, gentlemen all."

Jorrocks gets up, advances half-way to the door, makes him one of his most obsequious bows, and wishes him a werry good night. Having heard him tramp upstairs and safely deposited in his bedroom, they pulled their chairs together again, and making a smaller circle round the fire, proceeded to canvass their departed friend. Jorrocks began--"I say, wot a regular swell the chap is--a Meltonian, too.--I wonders who the deuce he is. Wish Mr. Nimrod was among us, he could tell us all about him, I dare say. I'm blowed if I didn't take him for a commercial gentleman at first, until he spoke about his carriages. I likes to see gentlemen of fortune making themselves sociable by coming into the coffee-room, instead of sticking themselves up in private sitting-rooms, as if nobody was good enough for them. You know Melton, Mr. York; did you ever see the gentleman out?"

"I can't say that I ever did," said his friend, "but people look so different in their red coats to what they do in mufti, that there's no such thing as recognising them unless you had a previous acquaintance with them. The fields in Leicestershire are sometimes so large that it requires a residence to get anything like a general knowledge of the hunt, and, you know, Northamptonshire's the country for my money, after Surrey, of course."

"I don't think he is a gentleman," observed a thin sallow-complexioned young man, who, sitting on one side of the fire, had watched the stranger very narrowly without joining in the conversation. "He gives me more the idea of a gentleman's servant, acting the part of master, than anything else."

_Jorrocks._ Oh! he is a gentleman, I'm sure--besides, a servant wouldn't travel in a carriage you know, and he talked about greasing the wheels and all that sort of thing, which showed he was familiar with the thing.

"That's very true," replied the youth--"but a servant may travel in the rumble and pay for greasing the wheels all the same, or perhaps have to grease them himself."

"Well, I should say he's a foolish purse-proud sort of fellow," observed another, "who has come into money unexpectedly, and who likes to be the cock of his party, and show off a little."

_Jorrocks._ I'll be bound to say you're all wrong--you are not fox-hunters, you see, or you would know that that is a way the sportsmen have--we always make ourselves at home and agreeable--have a word for everybody in fact, and no reserve; besides, you see, there was nothing gammonacious, as I calls it, about his toggery, no round-cut coats with sporting buttons, or coaches and four, or foxes for pins in his shirt.

"I don't care for that," replied the sallow youth, "dress him as you will, court suit, bag wig, and sword, you'll make nothing better of him--he's a SNOB."

Jorrocks, getting up, runs to the table on which the hats were standing, saying, "I wonder if he's left his castor behind him? I've always found a man's hat will tell a good deal. This is yours, Mr. York, with the loop to it, and here's mine--I always writes Golgotha in mine, which being interpreted, you know, means the place of a skull. These are yours, I presume, gentlemen?" said he, taking up two others. "Confound him, he's taken his tile with him--however, I'm quite positive he's a gentleman--lay you a hat apiece all round he is, if you like!"

"But how are we to prove it?" inquired the youth.

_Jorrocks._ Call in the waiter.

_Youth._ He may know nothing about him, and a waiter's gentleman is always the man who pays him most.

_Jorrocks._ Trust the waiter for knowing something about him, and if he doesn't, why, it's only to send a purlite message upstairs, saying that two gentlemen in the coffee-room have bet a trifle that he is some nobleman--Lord Maryborough, for instance,--he's a little chap--but we must make haste, or the gentleman will be asleep.

"Well, then, I'll take your bet of a hat," replied the youth, "that he is not what I call a gentleman."

_Jorrocks._ I don't know what you calls a gentleman. I'll lay you a hat, a guinea one, either white or black, whichever you like, but none o'

your dog hairs or gossamers, mind--that he's a man of dibs, and doesn't follow no trade or calling, and if that isn't a gentleman, I don't know wot is. What say you, Mr. York?

"Suppose we put it thus--You bet this gentleman a hat that he's a Meltonian, which will comprise all the rest."

_Jorrocks._ Werry well put. Do you take me, sir? A guinea hat against a guinea hat.

Chapter end

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