Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities Part 8

Rule Britannia,--Britannia rule the waves.

Britons, never, never, never, shall be slaves!

Blithely and merrily, like all coach passengers after feeding, our party rolled steadily along, with occasional gibes at those they met or passed, such as telling waggoners their linch-pins were out; carters'

mates, there were nice pocket-knives lying on the road; making urchins follow the coach for miles by holding up shillings and mock parcels; or simple equestrians dismount in a jiffy on telling them their horses'

shoes were not all on "before." [19] Towards the decline of the day, Dover heights appeared in view, with the stately castle guarding the Channel, which seen through the clear atmosphere of an autumnal evening, with the French coast conspicuous in the distance, had more the appearance of a wide river than a branch of the sea.

[Footnote 19: This is more of a hunting-field joke than a road one. "Have I all my shoes on?" "They are not all on before."]

The coachman mended his pace a little, as he bowled along the gentle descents or rounded the base of some lofty hill, and pulling up at Lydden took a glass of soda-water and brandy, while four strapping greys, with highly-polished, richly-plated harness, and hollyhocks at their heads, were put to, to trot the last few miles into Dover.

Paying-time being near, the guard began to do the amiable--hoped Mrs.

Sprat had ridden comfortable; and the coachman turned to the gentleman whose sovereign was left behind to assure him he would bring his change the next day, and was much comforted by the assurance that he was on his way to Italy for the winter. As the coach approached Charlton Gate, the guard flourished his bugle and again struck up _Rule Britannia_, which lasted the whole breadth of the market-place, and length of Snargate Street, drawing from Mr. Muddle's shop the few loiterers who yet remained, and causing Mr. Le Plastrier, the patriotic moth-impaler, to suspend the examination of the bowels of a watch, as they rattled past his window.

At the door of the "Ship Hotel" the canary-coloured coach of Mr. Wright, the landlord, with four piebald horses, was in waiting for him to take his evening drive, and Mrs. Wright's pony phaeton, with a neat tiger in a blue frock-coat and leathers, was also stationed behind to convey her a few miles on the London road. Of course the equipages of such important personages could not be expected to move for a common stage-coach, consequently it pulled up a few yards from the door. It is melancholy to think that so much spirit should have gone unrewarded, or in other words, that Mr. Wright should have gone wrong in his affairs.--Mrs. Ramsbottom said she never understood the meaning of the term, "The Crown, and Bill of Rights (Wright's)," until she went to Rochester. Many people, we doubt not, retain a lively recollection of the "bill of Wright's of Dover." But to our travellers.

"Now, sir! this be Dover, that be the Ship, I be the coachman, and we goes no further," observed the amphibious-looking coachman, in a pea-jacket and top-boots, to Mr. Jorrocks, who still kept his seat on the box, as if he expected, that because they booked people "through to Paris," at the coach office in London, that the vehicle crossed the Channel and conveyed them on the other side. At this intimation, Mr.

Jorrocks clambered down, and was speedily surrounded by touts and captains of vessels soliciting his custom. "_Bonjour,_ me Lor'," said a gaunt French sailor in ear-rings, and a blue-and-white jersey shirt, taking off a red nightcap with mock politeness, "you shall be cross."

"What's that about?" inquires Mr. Jorrocks--"cross! what does the chap mean?" "Ten shillin', just, me Lor'," replied the man. "Cross for ten shillings," muttered Mr. Jorrocks, "vot does the Mouncheer mean? Hope he hasn't picked my pocket." "I--you--vill," said the sailor slowly, using his fingers to enforce his meaning, "take to France," pointing south, "for ten shillin' in my _bateau_, me Lor," continued the sailor, with a grin of satisfaction as he saw Mr. Jorrocks began to comprehend him. "Ah! I twig--you'll take me across the water." said our citizen chuckling at the idea of understanding French and being called a Lord--"for ten shillings--half-sovereign in fact." "Don't go with him, sir," interrupted a Dutch-built English tar; "he's got nothing but a lousy lugger that will be all to-morrow in getting over, if it ever gets at all; and the _Royal George_, superb steamer, sails with a King's Messenger and dispatches for all the foreign courts at half-past ten, and must be across by twelve, whether it can or not." "Please take a card for the _Brocklebank_--quickest steamer out of Dover--wind's made expressly to suit her, and she can beat the _Royal George_ like winking.

Passengers never sick in the most uproarious weather," cried another tout, running the corner of his card into Mr. Jorrocks's eye to engage his attention. Then came the captain of the French mail-packet, who was dressed much like a new policeman, with an embroidered collar to his coat, and a broad red band round a forage cap which he raised with great politeness, as he entreated Mr. Jorrocks's patronage of his high-pressure engine, "vich had beat a balloon, and vod take him for half less than noting." A crowd collected, in the centre of which stood Mr. Jorrocks perfectly unmoved, with his wig awry and his carpet-bag under his arm. "Gentlemen," said he, extending his right hand, "you seem to me to be desperately civil--your purliteness appears to know no bounds--but, to be candid with you, I beg to say that whoever will carry me across the herring pond cheapest shall have my custom, so now begin and bid downwards." "Nine shillings," said an Englishman directly--"eight" replied a Frenchman--"seven and sixpence"--"seven shillings"--"six and sixpence"--"six shillings"--"five and sixpence"; at last it came down to five shillings, at which there were two bidders, the French captain and the tout of the _Royal George_,--and Mr.

Jorrocks, like a true born Briton, promised his patronage to the latter, at which the Frenchmen shrugged up their shoulders, and burst out a-laughing, one calling him, "my Lor' Ros-bif," and the other "Monsieur God-dem," as they walked off in search of other victims.

None but the natives of Dover can tell what the weather is, unless the wind comes directly off the sea, and it was not until Mr. Jorrocks proceeded to embark after breakfast the next morning, that he ascertained there was a heavy swell on, so quiet had the heights kept the gambols of Boreas. Three steamers were simmering into action on the London-hotel side of the harbour, in one of which--the _Royal George_--two britzkas and a barouche were lashed ready for sea, while the custom-house porters were trundling barrows full of luggage under the personal superintendence of a little shock-headed French commissionnaire of Mr. Wright's in a gold-laced cap, and the other gentry of the same profession from the different inns. As the _Royal George_ lay nearly level with the quay, Mr. Jorrocks stepped on board without troubling himself to risk his shins among the steps of a ladder that was considerately thrust into the place of embarkation; and as soon as he set foot upon deck, of course he was besieged by the usual myriad of land sharks. First came Monsieur the Commissionnaire with his book, out of which he enumerated two portmanteaus and two carpet-bags, for each of which he made a specific charge leaving his own gratuity optional with his employer; then came Mr. Boots to ask for something for showing them the way; after him the porter of the inn for carrying their cloaks and great-coats, all of which Mr. Jorrocks submitted to, most philosophically, but when the interpreter of the deaf and dumb ladder man demanded something for the use of the ladder, his indignation got the better of him and he exclaimed loud enough to be heard by all on deck, "Surely you wouldn't charge a man for what he has not enjoyed!"

A voyage is to many people like taking an emetic--they look at the medicine and wish it well over, and look at the sea and wish themselves well over. Everything looked bright and gay at Dover--the cliffs seemed whiter than ever--the sailors had on clean trousers, and the few people that appeared in the streets were dressed in their Sunday best. The cart-horses were seen feeding leisurely on the hills, and there was a placid calmness about everything on shore, which the travellers would fain have had extended to the sea. They came slowly and solemnly upon deck, muffled up in cloaks and coats, some with their passage money in their hands, and took their places apparently with the full expectation of being sick.

The French packet-boat first gave symptoms of animation, in the shape of a few vigorous puffs from the boiler, which were responded to by the _Royal George_, whose rope was slipped without the usual tinkle of the bell, and she shot out to sea, closely followed by the Frenchman, who was succeeded by the other English boat. Three or four tremendous long protracted dives, each followed by a majestic rise on the bosom of the waves, denoted the crossing of the bar; and just as the creaking of the cordage, the flapping of the sails, and the nervous quivering of the paddles, as they lost their hold of the water, were in full vigour, the mate crossed the deck with a large white basin in his hand, the sight of which turned the stomachs of half the passengers. Who shall describe the misery that ensued? The groans and moans of the sufferers, increasing every minute, as the vessel heaved and dived, and rolled and creaked, while hand-basins multiplied as half-sick passengers caught the green countenance and fixed eye of some prostrate sufferer and were overcome themselves.

Mr. Jorrocks, what with his Margate trips, and a most substantial breakfast of beef-steaks and porter, tea, eggs, muffins, prawns, and fried ham, held out as long as anybody--indeed, at one time the odds were that he would not be sick at all; and he kept walking up and down deck like a true British tar. In one of his turns he was observed to make a full stop.--Immediately before the boiler his eye caught a cadaverous-looking countenance that rose between the top of a blue camlet cloak, and the bottom of a green travelling-cap, with a large patent-leather peak; he was certain that he knew it, and, somehow or other, he thought, not favourably. The passenger was in that happy mood just debating whether he should hold out against sickness any longer, or resign himself unreservedly to its horrors, when Mr. Jorrocks's eye encountered his, and the meeting did not appear to contribute to his happiness. Mr. Jorrocks paused and looked at him steadily for some seconds, during which time his thoughts made a rapid cast over his memory. "Sergeant Bumptious, by gum!" exclaimed he, giving his thigh a hearty slap, as the deeply indented pock-marks on the learned gentleman's face betrayed his identity. "Sergeant," said he, going up to him, "I'm werry 'appy to see ye--may be in the course of your practice at Croydon you've heard that there are more times than one to catch a thief." "Who are you?" inquired the sergeant with a growl, just at which moment the boat gave a roll, and he wound up the inquiry by a donation to the fishes. "Who am I?" replied Mr. Jorrocks, as soon as he was done, "I'll soon tell ye that--I'm Mr. JORROCKS! Jorrocks wersus Cheatum, in fact--now that you have got your bullying toggery off, I'll be 'appy to fight ye either by land or sea." "Oh-h-h-h!" groaned the sergeant at the mention of the latter word, and thereupon he put his head over the boat and paid his second subscription. Mr. Jorrocks stood eyeing him, and when the sergeant recovered, he observed with apparent mildness and compassion, "Now, my dear sergeant, to show ye that I can return good for evil, allow me to fatch you a nice 'ot mutton chop!" "Oh-h-h-h-h!"

groaned the sergeant, as though he would die. "Or perhaps you'd prefer a cut of boiled beef with yellow fat, and a dab of cabbage?" an alternative which was too powerful for the worthy citizen himself--for, like Sterne with his captive, he had drawn a picture that his own imagination could not sustain--and, in attempting to reach the side of the boat, he cascaded over the sergeant, and they rolled over each other, senseless and helpless upon deck.

"Mew, mew," screamed the seagulls;--"creak, creak," went the cordage;--"flop, flop," went the sails; round went the white basins, and the steward with the mop; and few passengers would have cared to have gone overboard, when, at the end of three hours' misery, the captain proclaimed that they were running into still water off Boulogne. This intimation was followed by the collection of the passage money by the mate, and the jingling of a tin box by the steward, under the noses of the party, for perquisites for the crew. Jorrocks and the sergeant lay together like babes in the wood until they were roused by this operation, when, with a parting growl at his companion, Mr. Jorrocks got up; and though he had an idea in his own mind that a man had better live abroad all his life than encounter such misery as he had undergone, for the purpose of returning to England, he recollected his intended work upon France, and began to make his observations upon the town of Boulogne, towards which the vessel was rapidly steaming. "Not half so fine as Margate," said he; "the houses seem all afraid of the sea, and turn their ends to it instead of fronting it, except yon great white place, which I suppose is the baths"; and, taking his hunting telescope out of his pocket, he stuck out his legs and prepared to make an observation. "How the people are swarming down to see us!" he exclaimed.

"I see such a load of petticoats--glad Mrs. J---- ain't with us; may have some fun here, I guess. Dear me, wot lovely women! wot ankles! beat the English, hollow--would give something to be a single man!" While he made these remarks, the boat ran up the harbour in good style, to the evident gratification of the multitude who lined the pier from end to end, and followed her in her passage. "Ease her! stop her!" at last cried the captain, as she got opposite a low wooden guard-house, midway down the port. A few strokes of the paddles sent her up to the quay, some ropes were run from each end of the guard-house down to the boat, within which space no one was admitted except about a dozen soldiers or custom-house officers--in green coats, white trousers, black sugar-loaf "caps," and having swords by their sides--and some thick-legged fisherwomen, with long gold ear-rings, to lower the ladder for disembarkation. The idlers, that is to say, all the inhabitants of Boulogne, range themselves outside the ropes on foot, horseback, in carriages, or anyhow, to take the chance of seeing someone they know, to laugh at the melancholy looks of those who have been sick, and to criticise the company, who are turned into the guarded space like a flock of sheep before them.

Mr. Jorrocks, having scaled the ladder, gave himself a hearty and congratulatory shake on again finding himself on terra firma, and sticking his hat jauntily on one side, as though he didn't know what sea-sickness was, proceeded to run his eye along the spectators on one side of the ropes; when presently he was heard to exclaim, "My vig, there's Thompson! He owes us a hundred pounds, and has been doing these three years." And thereupon he bolted up to a fine looking young fellow--with mustachios, in a hussar foraging cap stuck on one side of his head, dressed in a black velvet shooting-jacket, and with half a jeweller's shop about him in the way of chains, brooches, rings and buttons--who had brought a good-looking bay horse to bear with his chest against the cords. "Thompson," said Mr. Jorrocks, in a firm tone of voice, "how are you?" "How do ye do, Mister Jorrocks," drawled out the latter, taking a cigar from his mouth, and puffing a cloud of smoke over the grocer's head. "Well, I'm werry well, but I should like to have a few moments' conversation with you." "Would ye?" said Thompson, blowing another cloud. "Yes, I would; you remember that 'ere little bill you got Simpkins to discount for you one day when I was absent; we have had it by us a long time now, and it is about time you were taking it up." "You think so, do you, Mister Jorrocks; can't you renew it? I'll give you a draft on Aldgate pump for the amount." "Come, none of your funning with me, I've had enough of your nonsense: give me my pewter, or I'll have that horse from under you; for though it has got the hair rubbed off its near knee, it will do werry well to carry me with the Surrey occasionally." "You old fool," said Thompson, "you forget where you are; if I could pay you your little bill, do you suppose I would be here? You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip, can ye? But I'll tell you what, my covey, if I can't give you satisfaction in money, you shall give me the satisfaction of a gentleman, if you don't take care what you are about, you old tinker. By Jove, I'll order pistols and coffee for two to-morrow morning at Napoleon's column, and let the daylight through your carcass if you utter another syllable about the bill. Why, now, you stare as Balaam did at his ass, when he found it capable of holding an argument with him!"

And true enough, Jorrocks was dumbfounded at this sort of reply from a creditor, it not being at all in accordance with the _Lex mercatoria_, or law of merchants, and quite unknown on 'Change. Before, however, he had time to recover his surprise, all the passengers having entered the roped area, one of the green-coated gentry gave him a polite twist by the coat-tail, and with a wave of the hand and bend of his body, beckoned him to proceed with the crowd into the guard-house. After passing an outer room, they entered the bureau by a door in the middle of a wooden partition, where two men were sitting with pens ready to enter the names of the arrivers in ledgers.

"Votre nom et designation?" said one of them to Mr. Jorrocks--who, with a bad start, had managed to squeeze in first--to which Mr. Jorrocks shook his head. "Sare, what's your name, sare?" inquired the same personage. "JORROCKS," was the answer, delivered with great emphasis, and thereupon the secretary wrote "Shorrock." "--Monsieur Shorrock,"

said he, looking up, "votre profession, Monsieur? Vot you are, sare?" "A grocer," replied Mr. Jorrocks, which caused a titter from those behind who meant to sink the shop. "Marchand-Epicier," wrote the bureau-keeper.

"Quel age avez-vous, Monsieur? How old you are, sare?" "Two pound twelve," replied Mr. Jorrocks, surprised at his inquisitiveness. "No, sare, not vot monnay you have, sare, hot old you are, sare." "Well, two pound twelve, fifty-two in fact." Mr. Jorrocks was then passed out, to take his chance among the touts and commissionaires of the various hotels, who are enough to pull passengers to pieces in their solicitations for custom. In Boulogne, however, no man with money is ever short of friends; and Thompson having given the hint to two or three acquaintances as he rode up street, there were no end of broken-down sportsmen, levanters, and gentlemen who live on the interest of what they owe other people, waiting to receive Mr. Jorrocks. The greetings on their parts were most cordial and enthusiastic, and even some who were in his books did not hesitate to hail him; the majority of the party, however, was composed of those with whom he had at various tunes and places enjoyed the sports of the field, but whom he had never missed until they met at Boulogne.

Their inquiries were business-like and familiar:--"are ye, Jorrocks?"

cried one, holding out both hands. "How are ye, my lad of wax? Do you still play billiards?--Give you nine, and play you for a Nap." "Come to my house this evening, old boy, and take a hand at whist for old acquaintance sake," urged the friend on his left; "got some rare cogniac, and a box of beautiful Havannahs." "No, Jorrocks,--dine with me," said a third, "and play chicken-hazard." "Don't," said a fourth, confidentially, "he'll fleece ye like fun". "Let me put your name down to our Pigeon Club; only a guinea entrance and a guinea subscription--nothing to a rich man like you." "Have you any coin to lend on unexceptionable personal security, with a power of killing and selling your man if he don't pay?" inquired another. "Are they going to abolish the law of arrest? 'twould be very convenient if they did."

"Will you discount me a bill at three months?" "Is B---- out of the Bench yet?" "Who do they call Nodding Homer in your hunt?" "Oh, gentlemen, gentlemen!" cried Mr. Jorrocks, "go it gently, go it gently!

Consider the day is 'ot, I'm almost out of breath, and faint for want of food. I've come all the way from Angle-tear, as we say in France, and lost my breakfast on the wogaye. Where is there an inn where I can recruit my famished frame? What's this?" looking up at a sign, "'Done a boar in a manger,' what does this mean?--where's my French dictionary?

I've heard that boar is very good to eat." "Yes, but this boar is to drink," said a friend on the right; "but you must not put up at a house of that sort; come to the Hotel d'Orleans, where all the best fellows and men of consequence go, a celebrated house in the days of the Boulogne Hunt. Ah, that was the time, Mr. Jorrocks! we lived like fighting-cocks then; you should have been among us, such a rollicking set of dogs! could hunt all day, race maggots and drink claret all night, and take an occasional by-day with the hounds on a Sunday. Can't do that with the Surrey, I guess. There's the Hotel d'Orleans," pointing to it as they turned the corner of the street; "splendid house it is.

I've no interest in taking you there, don't suppose so; but the sun of its greatness is fast setting--there's no such shaking of elbows as there used to be--the IOU system knocked that up. Still, you'll be very comfortable; a bit of carpet by your bedside, curtains to your windows, a pie-dish to wash in, a clean towel every third day, and as many friends to dine with you as ever you like--no want of company in Boulogne, I assure you. Here, Mr. W----," addressing the innkeeper who appeared at the door, "this is the very celebrated Mr. Jorrocks, of whom we have all heard so much,--take him and use him as you would your own son; and, hark ye (aside), don't forget I brought him."

"Garsoon," said Jorrocks, after having composed himself a little during which time he was also composing a French speech from his dictionary and Madame de Genlis's[20] _Manuel du Voyageur_, "A che hora [ora] si pranza?" looking at the waiter, who seemed astonished. "Oh, stop!" said he, looking again, "that's Italian--I've got hold of the wrong column.

A quelle heure dine--hang me if I know how to call this chap--dine [spelling it], t'on?" "What were you wishing to say, sir?" inquired the waiter, interrupting his display of the language. "Wot, do you speak English?" asked Jorrocks in amazement. "I hope so, sir," replied the man, "for I'm an Englishman." "Then, why the devil did you not say so, you great lout, instead of putting me into a sweat this 'ot day by speaking French to you?" "Beg pardon, sir, thought you were a Frenchman." "Did you, indeed?" said Jorrocks, delighted; "then, by Jove, I do speak French! Somehow or other I thought I could, as I came over.

Bring me a thundering beef-steak, and a pint of stout, directly!" The Hotel d'Orleans being a regular roast-beef and plum-pudding sort of house, Mr. Jorrocks speedily had an immense stripe of tough beef and boiled potatoes placed before him, in the well-windowed _salle a manger_, and the day being fine he regaled himself at a table at an open window, whereby he saw the smart passers-by, and let them view him in return.

[Footnote 20: For the benefit of our "tarry-at-home" readers, we should premise that Madame de Genlis's work is arranged for the convenience of travellers who do not speak any language but their own; and it consists of dialogues on different necessary subjects, with French and Italian translations opposite the English.]

Sunday is a gay day in France, and Boulogne equals the best town in smartness. The shops are better set out, the women are better dressed, and there is a holiday brightness and air of pleasure on every countenance. Then instead of seeing a sulky husband trudging behind a pouting wife with a child in her arms, an infallible sign of a Sunday evening in England, they trip away to the rural _fete champetre_, where with dancing, lemonade, and love, they pass away the night in temperate if not innocent hilarity. "Happy people! that once a week, at least, lay down their cares, and dance and sing, and sport away the weights of grievance, which bow down the spirit of other nations to the earth."

The voyage, though short, commenced a new era in Mr. Jorrocks's life, and he entirely forget all about Sunday and Dover dullness the moment he set foot on sprightly France, and he no more recollected it was Sunday, than if such a day had ceased to exist in the calendar. Having bolted his steak, he gave his Hessians their usual flop with his handkerchief, combed his whiskers, pulled his wig straight, and sallied forth, dictionary in hand, to translate the signs, admire the clever little children talking French, quiz the horses, and laugh at everything he didn't understand; to spend his first afternoon, in short, as nine-tenths of the English who go "abroad" are in the habit of doing.

Early the next morning. Mr. Jorrocks and the Yorkshireman, accompanied by the commissionnaire of the Hotel d'Orleans, repaired to the upper town, for the purpose of obtaining passports, and as they ascended the steep street called La grand Rue, which connects the two towns, they held a consultation as to what the former should be described. A "Marchand-Epicier" would obtain Mr. Jorrocks no respect, but, then, he objected to the word "Rentier." "What is the French for fox-'unter?"

said he, after a thoughtful pause, turning to his dictionary. There was no such word. "Sportsman, then? Ay, Chasseur! how would that read? John Jorrocks, Esq., Chasseur,--not bad, I think," said he. "That will do,"

replied the Yorkshireman, "but you must sink the Esquire now, and tack 'Monsieur' before your name, and a very pretty euphonious sound 'Monsieur Jorrocks' will have; and when you hear some of the little Parisian grisettes lisp it out as you turn the garters over on their counters, while they turn their dark flashing eyes over upon you, it will be enough to rejuvenate your old frame. But suppose we add to 'Chasseur'--'Member of the Surrey Hunt?'" "By all means," replied Mr. Jorrocks, delighted at the idea, and ascending the stairs of the Consulate three steps at a time.

The Consul, Mons. De Horter, was in attendance sitting in state, with a gendarme at the door and his secretary at his elbow. "_Bonjour,_ Monsieur," said he, bowing, as Mr. Jorrocks passed through the lofty folding door; to which our traveller replied, "The top of the morning to you, sir," thinking something of that sort would be right. The Consul, having scanned him through his green spectacles, drew a large sheet of thin printed paper from his portfolio, with the arms of France placed under a great petticoat at the top, and proceeded to fill up a request from his most Christian Majesty to all the authorities, both civil and military, of France, and also of all the allied "pays," "de laisser librement passer" Monsieur John Jorrocks, Chasseur and member of the Hont de Surrey, and plusieurs other Honts; and also, Monsieur Stubbs, native of Angleterre, going from Boulogne to Paris, and to give them aid and protection, "en cas de besoin," all of which Mr. Jorrocks --like many travellers before him--construed into a most flattering compliment and mark of respect, from his most Christian Majesty to himself.

Under the word "signalement" in the margin, the Consul also drew the following sketch of our hero, in order, as Mr. Jorrocks supposed, that the King of the Mouncheers might know him when he saw him:

"Age de 52 ans Taille d'un metre 62 centimetres Perruque brun Front large Yeux gris-sanguin Nez moyen Barbe grisatre Vizage ronde Teint rouge."

He then handed it over to Mr. Jorrocks for his signature, who, observing the words "Signature du Porteur" at the bottom, passed it on to the porter of the inn, until put right by the Consul, who, on receiving his fee, bowed him out with great politeness.

Great as had been the grocer's astonishment at the horses and carts that he had seen stirring about the streets, his amazement knew no bounds when the first Paris diligence came rolling into town with six horses, spreading over the streets as they swung about in all directions--covered with bells, sheep-skins, worsted balls, and foxes'

brushes, driven by one solitary postilion on the off wheeler. "My vig,"

cried he, "here's Wombwell's wild-beast show! What the deuce are they doing in France? I've not heard of them since last Bartlemy-fair, when I took my brother Joe's children to see them feed. But stop--this is full of men! My eyes, so it is! It's what young Dutch Sam would call a male coach, because there are no females about it. Well, I declare, I am almost sorry I did not bring Mrs. J----. Wot would they think to see such a concern in Cheapside? Why, it holds half a township--a perfect willage on wheels. My eyes, wot a curiosity! Well, I never thought to live to see such a sight as this!--wish it was going our way that I might have a ride in it. Hope ours will be as big." Shortly after theirs did arrive, and Mr. Jorrocks was like a perfect child with delight. It was not a male coach, however, for in the different compartments were five or six ladies. "Oh, wot elegant creatures," cried he, eyeing them; "I could ride to Jerusalem with them without being tired; wot a thing it is to be a bachelor!"

The Conducteur--with the usual frogged, tagged, embroidered jacket, and fur-bound cap--having hoisted their luggage on high, the passengers who had turned out of their respective compartments to stretch their legs after their cramping from Calais, proceeded to resume their places.

There were only two seats vacant in the interior, or, as Mr. Jorrocks called it, the "middle house," consequently the Yorkshireman and he crossed legs. The other four passengers had corner-seats, things much coveted by French travellers. On Mr. Stubbs's right sat an immense Englishman, enveloped in a dark blue camlet cloak, fastened with bronze lionhead clasps, a red neckcloth, and a shabby, napless, broad-brimmed, brown hat. His face was large, round, and red, without an atom of expression, and his little pig eyes twinkled over a sort of a mark that denoted where his nose should have been; in short, his head was more like a barber's wig block than anything else, and his outline would have formed a model of the dome of St. Paul's. On the Yorkshireman's left was a chattering young red-trousered dragoon, in a frock-coat and flat foraging cap with a flying tassel. Mr. Jorrocks was more fortunate than his friend, and rubbed sides with two women; one was English, either an upper nursery-maid or an under governess, but who might be safely trusted to travel by herself. She was dressed in a black beaver bonnet lined with scarlet silk, a nankeen pelisse with a blue ribbon, and pea-green boots, and she carried a sort of small fish-basket on her knee, with a "plain Christian's prayer book" on the top. The other was French, approaching to middle age, with a nice smart plump figure, good hazel-coloured eyes, a beautiful foot and ankle, and very well dressed.

Indeed, her dress very materially reduced the appearance of her age, and she was what the milliners would call remarkably well "got up." Her bonnet was a pink satin, with a white blonde ruche surmounted by a rich blonde veil, with a white rose placed elegantly on one side, and her glossy auburn hair pressed down the sides of a milk-white forehead, in the Madonna style.--Her pelisse was of "violet-des-bois" figured silk, worn with a black velvet pelerine and a handsomely embroidered collar.

Her boots were of a colour to match the pelisse; and a massive gold chain round her neck, and a solitary pearl ring on a middle finger, were all the jewellery she displayed. Mr. Jorrocks caught a glimpse of her foot and ankle as she mounted the steps to resume her place in the diligence, and pushing the Yorkshireman aside, he bundled in directly after her, and took up the place we have described.

The vehicle was soon in motion, and its ponderous roll enchanted the heart of the grocer. Independently of the novelty, he was in a humour to be pleased, and everything with him was _couleur de rose_. Not so the Yorkshireman's right-hand neighbour, who lounged in the corner, muffled up in his cloak, muttering and cursing at every jolt of the diligence, as it bumped across the gutters and jolted along the streets of Boulogne. At length having got off the pavement, after crushing along at a trot through the soft road that immediately succeeds, they reached the little hill near Mr. Gooseman's farm, and the horses gradually relaxed into a walk, when he burst forth with a tremendous oath, swearing that he had "travelled three hundred thousand miles, and never saw horses walk up such a bit of a bank before." He looked round the diligence in the expectation of someone joining him, but no one deigned a reply, so, with a growl and a jerk of his shoulders, he again threw himself into his corner. The dragoon and the French lady then began narrating the histories of their lives, as the French people always do, and Mr.

Jorrocks and the Yorkshireman sat looking at each other. At length Mr.

Jorrocks, pulling his dictionary and _Madame de Genlis_ out of his pocket, observed, "I quite forgot to ask the guard at what time we dine--most important consideration, for I hold it unfair to takes one's stomach by surprise, and a man should have due notice, that he may tune his appetite accordingly. I have always thought, that there's as much dexterity required to bring an appetite to table in the full bloom of perfection, as there is in training an 'oss to run on a particular day.--Let me see," added he, turning over the pages of _de Genlis_--"it will be under the head of eating and drinking, I suppose.--Here it is--(opens and reads)--'I have a good appetite--I am hungry--I am werry hungry--I am almost starved'--that won't do--'I have eaten enough'--that won't do either--'To breakfast'--no.--But here it is, by Jingo--'Dialogue before dinner'--capital book for us travellers, this Mrs. de Genlis--(reads) 'Pray, take dinner with us to-day, I shall give you plain fare.'--That means rough and enough, I suppose," observed Mr.

Jorrocks to the Yorkshireman.--"'What time do we dine to-day? French: A quelle heure dinons-nous aujourd'hui?--Italian: A che hora (ora) si prancey (pranza) oggi?'" "Ah, Monsieur, vous parlez Francais a merveille," said the French lady, smiling with the greatest good nature upon him. "A marble!" said Mr. Jorrocks, "wot does that mean?"

preparing to look it out in the dictionary. "Ah, Monsieur, I shall you explain--you speak French like a natif." "Indeed!" said Mr. Jorrocks, with a bow, "I feel werry proud of your praise; and your English is quite delightful.--By Jove," said he to the Yorkshireman, with a most self-satisfied grin, "you were right in what you told me about the gals calling me Monsieur.--I declare she's driven right home to my 'art--transfixed me at once, in fact."

Everyone who has done a little "voyaging," as they call it in France, knows that a few miles to the south of Samer rises a very steep hill, across which the route lies, and that diligence travellers are generally invited to walk up it. A path which strikes off near the foot of the hill, across the open, cuts off the angle, and--diligences being anything but what the name would imply,--the passengers, by availing themselves of the short cut, have ample time for striking up confabs, and inquiring into the comforts of the occupiers of the various compartments. Our friends of the "interior" were all busy jabbering and talking--some with their tongues, others with their hands and tongues--with the exception of the monster in the cloak, who sat like a sack in the corner, until the horses, having reached the well-known breathing place, made a dead halt, and the conducteur proceeded to invite the party to descend and "promenade" up the hill. "What's happened now?" cried the monster, jumping up as the door opened; "surely, they don't expect us to walk up this mountain! I've travelled three hundred thousand miles, and was never asked to do such a thing in all my life before. I won't do it; I paid for riding, and ride I will.

You are all a set of infamous cheats," said he to the conducteur in good plain English; but the conducteur, not understanding the language, shut the door as soon as all the rest were out, and let him roll on by himself. Jorrocks stuck to his woman, who had a negro boy in the rotonde, dressed in baggy slate-coloured trousers, with a green waistcoat and a blue coat, with a coronet on the button, who came to hand her out, and was addressed by the heroic name of "Agamemnon."

Jorrocks got a glimpse of the button, but, not understanding foreign coronets, thought it was a crest; nevertheless, he thought he might as well inquire who his friend was, so, slinking back as they reached the foot of the hill he got hold of the nigger, and asked what they called his missis. Massa did not understand, and Mr. Jorrocks, sorely puzzled how to explain, again had recourse to the _Manuel du Voyageur_; but Madame de Genlis had not anticipated such an occurrence, and there was no dialogue adapted to his situation. There was a conversation with a lacquey, however, commencing with--"Are you disposed to enter into my service?" and, in the hopes of hitting upon something that would convey his wishes, he "hark'd forward," and passing by--"Are you married?"

arrived at--"What is your wife's occupation?" "Que fait votre femme?"

said he, suiting the action to the word, and pointing to Madame.

Agamemnon showed his ivories, as he laughed at the idea of Jorrocks calling his mistress his wife, and by signs and words conveyed to him some idea of the importance of the personage to whom he alluded. This he did most completely, for before the diligence came up, Jorrocks pulled the Yorkshireman aside, and asked if he was aware that they were travelling with a real live Countess; "Madame la Countess Benwolio, the nigger informs me," said he; "a werry grande femme, though what that means I don't know." "Oh, Countesses are common enough here," replied the Yorkshireman. "I dare say she's a stay-maker. I remember a paint-maker who had a German Baron for a colour-grinder once." "Oh,"

said Jorrocks, "you are jealous--you always try to run down my friends; but that won't do, I'm wide awake to your tricks"; so saying, he shuffled off, and getting hold of the Countess, helped Agamemnon to hoist her into the diligence. He was most insinuating for the next two hours, and jabbered about love and fox-hunting, admiring the fine, flat, open country, and the absence of hedges and flints; but as neither youth nor age can subsist on love alone, his confounded appetite began to trouble him, and got quite the better of him before they reached Abbeville. Every mile seemed a league, and he had his head out of the window at least twenty times before they came in sight of the town. At length the diligence got its slow length dragged not only to Abbeville, but to the sign of the "Fidele Berger"--or "Fiddle Burgur," as Mr.

Jorrocks pronounced it--where they were to dine. The door being opened, out he jumped, and with his _Manuel du Voyageur_ in one hand, and the Countess Benvolio in the other, he pushed his way through the crowd of "pauvres miserables" congregated under the gateway, who exhibited every species of disease and infirmity that poor human nature is liable or heir to, and entered the hotel. The "Sally manger," as he called it, was a long brick-floored room on the basement, with a white stove at one end, and the walls plentifully decorated with a panoramic view of the Grand Nation wallopping the Spaniards at the siege of Saragossa. The diligence being a leetle behind time as usual, the soup was on the table when they entered. The passengers quickly ranged themselves round, and, with his mouth watering as the female garcon lifted the cover from the tureen, Mr. Jorrocks sat in the expectation of seeing the rich contents ladled into the plates. His countenance fell fifty per cent as the first spoonful passed before his eyes.--"My vig, why it's water!" exclaimed he--"water, I do declare, with worms[21] in it--I can't eat such stuff as that--it's not man's meat--oh dear, oh dear, I fear I've made a terrible mistake in coming to France! Never saw such stuff as this at Bleaden's or Birch's, or anywhere in the city." "I've travelled three hundred thousand miles," said the fat man, sending his plate from him in disgust, "and never tasted such a mess as this before." "I'll show them up in _The Times_," cried Mr. Jorrocks; "and, look, what stuff is here--beef boiled to rags!--well, I never, no never, saw anything like this before. Oh, I wish I was in Great Coram Street again!--I'm sure I can't live here--I wonder if I could get a return chaise--waiter--garsoon--cuss! Oh dear! I see _Madame de Genlis_ is of no use in a pinch--and yet what a dialogue here is! Oh heavens! grant your poor Jorrocks but one request, and that is the contents of a single sentence. 'I want a roasted or boiled leg of mutton, beef, hung beef, a quarter of mutton, mutton chops, veal cutlets, stuffed tongue, dried tongue, hog's pudding, white sausage, meat sausage, chicken with rice, a nice fat roast fowl, roast chicken with cressy, roast or boiled pigeon, a fricassee of chicken, sweet-bread, goose, lamb, calf's cheek, calf's head, fresh pork, salt pork, cold meat, hash.'--But where's the use of titivating one's appetite with reading of such luxteries? Oh, what a wife Madame de Genlis would have made for me! Oh dear, oh dear, I shall die of hunger, I see --I shall die of absolute famine--my stomach thinks my throat's cut already!" In the height of his distress in came two turkeys and a couple of fowls, and his countenance shone forth like an April sun after a shower. "Come, this is better," said he; "I'll trouble you, sir, for a leg and a wing, and a bit of the breast, for I'm really famished--oh hang! the fellow's a Frenchman, and I shall lose half the day in looking it out in my dictionary. Oh dear, oh dear, where's the dinner dialogue!--well, here's something to that purpose. 'I will send you a bit of this fowl.' 'A little bit of the fowl cannot hurt you.'--No, nor a great bit either.--'Which do you like best, leg or wing?' 'Qu'aimez-vous le mieux, la cuisse ou l'aile?'" Here the Countess Benvolio, who had been playing a good knife and fork herself, pricked up her ears, and guessing at Jorrocks's wants, interceded with her countryman and got him a plateful of fowl. It was soon disposed of, however, and half a dish of hashed hare or cat, that was placed within reach of him shortly after, was quickly transferred into his plate. A French dinner is admirably calculated for leading the appetite on by easy stages to the grand consummation of satiety. It begins meagrely, as we have shown, and proceeds gradually through the various gradations of lights, savories, solids, and substantiate. Presently there was a large dish of stewed eels put on. "What's that?" asked Jorrocks of the man.--"Poisson," was the reply. "Poison! why, you infidel, have you no conscience?" "Fishe," said the Countess. "Oh, ay, I smell--eels--just like what we have at the Eel-pie-house at Twickenham--your ladyship, I am thirsty--'ge soif,' in fact." "Ah, bon!" said the Countess, laughing, and giving him a tumbler of claret. "I've travelled three hundred thousand miles," said the fat man, "and never saw claret drunk in that way before." "It's not werry good, I think," said Mr. Jorrocks, smacking his lips; "if it was not claret I would sooner drink port." Some wild ducks and fricandeau de veau which followed, were cut up and handed round, Jorrocks helping himself plentifully to both, as also to pommes de terre a la maitre d'hotel, and bread at discretion. "Faith, but this is not a bad dinner, after all's said and done, when one gets fairly into it." "Fear it will be very expensive," observed the fat man. Just when Jorrocks began to think he had satisfied nature, in came a roast leg of mutton, a beef-steak, "a la G--d-dam", [22] and a dish of larks and snipes.

[Footnote 21: Macaroni soup.]

[Footnote 22: When the giraffe mania prevailed in Paris, and gloves, handkerchiefs, gowns, reticules, etc. were "a la Giraffe," an Englishman asked a waiter if they had any beef-steaks "a la Giraffe." "No, monsieur, but we have them a la G--d-dem," was the answer.]

"Must have another tumbler of wine before I can grapple with these chaps," said he, eyeing them, and looking into Madame de Genlis's book: "'Garsoon, donnez-moi un verre de vin,'" holding up the book and pointing to the sentence. He again set to and "went a good one" at both mutton and snipes, but on pulling up he appeared somewhat exhausted. He had not got through it all yet, however. Just as he was taking breath, a _garcon_ entered with some custards and an enormous omelette soufflee, whose puffy brown sides bagged over the tin dish that contained it.

"There's a tart!" cried Mr. Jorrocks; "Oh, my eyes, what a swell!--Well, I suppose I must have a shy at it.--'In for a penny in for a pound!' as we say at the Lord Mayor's feed. Know I shall be sick, but, however, here goes," sending his plate across the table to the _garcon_, who was going to help it. The first dive of the spoon undeceived him as he heard it sound at the bottom of the dish. "Oh lauk, what a go! All puff, by Jove!--a regular humbug--a balloon pudding, in short! I won't eat such stuff--give it to Mouncheer there," rejecting the offer of a piece. "I like the solids;--will trouble you for some of that cheese, sir, and don't let it taste of the knive. But what do they mean by setting the dessert on before the cloth is removed? And here comes tea and coffee--may as well have some, I suppose it will be all the same price.

Chapter end

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