« ElőzőTovább »
hounds, and innumerable packs of harriers. When Mr. Jorrocks, whose exploits we are now approaching, wanted to astonish his friend the Yorkshireman with the brilliancy of Surrey doings, and mounted him for a day with them 'ounds,' they overtook near Croydon a gentleman reading a long list decorated with a staghunt at the top, choosing which pack he should go to, just as one reads the play-bills during a Temperance Corner' dinner, to see which theatre is best worth patronising.
We cannot allude to those days without giving a word to the late Parson Harvey of Pimlico,' as he was generally called. Many of our readers will remember a tall, eccentric, horsebreaker-looking individual, dressed in an old black coat, with drab breeches and gaiters, lounging up and down the Park on a thorough-bred and frequently hooded horse: that was the Rev. Mr. Harvey, an enthusiastic lover of the animal, and the owner of many valuable horses. He was an amiable, inoffensive man, and an oracle in horse-flesh, particularly where racing matters were concerned. His last appearance in public was on Newmarket Heath, whither he was drawn in a bed-carriage, his feeble head propped up with pillows, to see the produce of some favourite win his race. But let it not be supposed that Mr. Harvey had no regard for religious duties: far from it. Though without preferment, and long before the Tracts were heard of, he was a daily attendant at Church: morning-service at Westminster Abbey invariably included him among its congregation. His style of doing this, however, had something of peculiarity about it. Disdaining to walk, and being, moreover, an economist, he hit upon an expedient for providing shelter for his horse without the expense of a livery-stable. His long equestrian exercises wearing out much iron, he always rode that horse to the Abbey which most wanted shoeing, and so got standing room at a neighbouring smithy; but as a set of shoes a-day would more than supply his stud, the worthy parson had only one shoe put on at a time, so that each horse got four turns!
Mr. Daniel (in his Rural Sports') relates a singular instance of London keenness and management, which may be placed in contrast with the extravagance of modern establishments:
'Mr. Osbaldeston, clerk to an attorney [a connexion, no doubt, of the modern "squire"] supported himself, with half-a-dozen children, as many couple of hounds, and two hunters, upon sixty pounds per annum. This also was effected in London, without running in debt, and with always a good coat on his back. To explain this seeming impossibility, it should be observed that, after the expiration of officehours, Mr. Osbaldeston acted as an accountant for the butchers in Clare-market, who paid him in offul. The choicest morsels of this he selected for himself and family, and with the rest he fed his hounds,
which were kept in the garret. His horses were lodged in his cellar, and fed on grains from a neighbouring brewhouse, and on damaged corn, with which he was supplied by a cornchandler, whose books he kept in order. Once or twice a week in the season he hunted; and by giving a hare now and then to the farmers over whose ground he sported, he secured their good will and permission; and several gentlemen (struck with the extraordinary economical mode of his hunting arrangements, which were generally known) winked at his going over their manors. Mr. Osbaldeston was the younger son of a gentleman of good family but small fortune in the north of England; and, having imprudently married one of his father's servants, was turned out of doors, with no other fortune than a southern hound big with pup, and whose offspring from that time became a source of amusement to him.'
We have already alluded to one change that railroads have effected in the sporting department of London life; but that was a trifle. All England has been contracted, as it were, within the span of our metropolis. Sportsmen who rose by candlelight, and with difficulty accomplished a Croydon or Barnet meet by eleven, can now start, horse and all, by the early train, and take the cream of Leicestershire for their day! The Yorkshire hills resound to the guns that formerly alarmed only Hampstead and Highgate; and the lazy Lea is deserted for the rushing Tweed or sparkling Teviot. No wonder, therefore, that we should now find our old friend Mr. Jorrocks on a new and comparatively distant field of action.
Many hasty critics accused the author of Jorrocks's Jaunts and Jollities' (1838) of plagiarizing Pickwick and Co., regardless of the preface, which stated that the chapters were reprinted from the New Sporting Magazine, wherein they had appeared between the years 1831 and 1834,' long before Mr. Dickens emerged into public notice. We will venture to say that the sire of Jorrocks would no more think of such a thing as filching another man's style than would the more prolific Boz.' How far the popularity of The Jaunts' may have induced certain publishers to wish for a Cockney sportsman of their own is another matter: but the dialect of Jorrocks was and is his own; and we must equally disclaim, on the part of our independent friend, as respects character, all clanship or sympathy with the soft Mr. Pickwick. Jorrocks is a sportsman to the backbone. Pickwick's real merits are many and great; but thorough ignorance of all appertaining to sporting was his prime qualification for the chairmanship of the club-a true cockney according to Skinner's definition, Vir urbanus, rerum rusticarum prorsus ignarus ;' nor need Hickes's addition be omitted, Gulæ et ventri deditus.'
In these volumes the character of the sporting grocer is brought 2 E 2
out in still more perfect developement than in the production of 1838; but they embrace a view of the history of Handley Cross, both as a watering-place and a rival to Melton Mowbray, previous to his advent in the locality of his new adventures. We are willing to quote freely from this preliminary part, as many of our readers may know and care little about hunts, but few or none of them can have avoided some acquaintance with spas; and we wish to show them that our author, though a crack sportsman, is quite awake upon a variety of subjects besides. For example, we believe the following account of the medical worthies who first made the Handley waters famous will be allowed to equal in accuracy and far surpass in spirit any parallel record that could be cited from the pages of Dr. Granville ;
'One Roger Swizzle, a roistering, red-faced, roundabout apothecary, who had somewhat impaired his constitution by his jolly performances while walking the hospitals in London, had settled at Appledove, a small market-town in the vale, where he enjoyed a considerable want of practice in common with two or three other fortunate brethren. Hearing of a mineral spring at Handley Cross, which, according to usual country tradition, was capable of "curing everything," he tried it on himself, and either the water or the exercise in walking to and fro had a very beneficial effect on his digestive powers. He analysed its contents, and, finding the ingredients he expected, he set himself to work to turn it to his own advantage. Having secured a lease of the spring, he took the late Stephen Dumpling's house on the green, where, at one or other of its four front windows, a numerous tribe of little Swizzles might be seen flattening their noses against the panes. Roger possessed every requisite for a great experimental practitioner-assurance, a wife and large family, and scarcely anything to keep them on.
Being a shrewd sort of fellow, he knew there was nothing like striking out a new light for attracting notice, and the more that light was in accordance with the wishes of the world, the more likely was it to turn to his own advantage. Half the complaints of the upper classes he knew arose from over-eating and indolence, so he thought, if he could originate a doctrine that with the use of Handley Cross waters people might eat and drink what they pleased, his fortune would be as good as made. Aided by the local press, he succeeded in drawing a certain attention to the water, the benefit of which soon began to be felt by the villagers of the place; and the landlord of the Fox and Grapes had his stable constantly filled with gigs and horses of the visitors. Presently lodgings were sought after, and carpeting began to cover the before sanded staircases of the cottages. These were soon found insufficient; and an enterprising bricklayer got up a building society for the erection of a row of four-roomed cottages, called the Grand Esplanade. Others quickly followed, the last undertaking always eclipsing its predecessor. "Ah, I see how it is," he would say, as a gouty alderman slowly disclosed the symptoms. "Soon set you on your legs again. Was far worse myself. All stomach sir-all stomach-three-fourths of our
complaints arise from stomach;" stroking his corpulent protuberancy with one hand, and twisting his patient's button with the other. "Clean you well out, and then strengthen the system. Dine with me at five, and we will talk it all over."
To the great and dignified he was more ceremonious. "You see, Sir Harry," he would say, "it's all done by eating! More people dig their graves with their teeth than we imagine. Not that I would deny you the good things of this world, but I would recommend a few at a time, and no mixing. No side dishes. No liqueurs-only two or three wines. Whatever your stomach fancies, give it! Begin now, to-morrow, with the waters. A pint before breakfast-half an hour after, tea, fried ham and eggs, brown bread, and a walk. Luncheon—another pint-a roast pigeon and fried potatoes, then a ride. Dinner at six, not later, mind; gravy soup, glass of sherry, nice fresh turbot and lobster-sauce -wouldn't recommend salmon-another glass of sherry-then a good cut out of the middle of a well-browned saddle of mutton-wash it over with a few glasses of iced champagne-and if you like a little light pastry to wind up with, well and good. A pint of old port and a deviled biscuit can hurt no man. Mind, no salads, or cucumbers, or celery, at dinner, or fruit after. Turtle-soup is very wholesome, so is venison. Don't let the punch be too acid though. Drink the waters, live on a regimen, and you'll be well in no time."
We beg pardon for not having drawn a more elaborate sketch of Mr. Swizzle, before. In height he was exactly five feet eight, and forty years of age. He had a long, fat, red face, with little twinkling black eyes, set high in his forehead, surmounted by fullish eyebrows and short bristly iron-grey hair, brushed up like a hedgehog's back. His nose was snub, and he rejoiced in an ample double chin, rendered more conspicuous by the tightness of an ill-tied white neckcloth, and the absence of all whisker or hair from his face. A country-made snuff-coloured coat, black waistcoat, and short greenish-drab trousers, with high-lows, were the adjuncts of his short ungainly figure. A peculiarly goodnatured smile hovered round the dimples of his fat cheeks, which set a patient at ease on the instant. This, with his unaffected, cheery, free and easy manner, and the comfortable nature of his prescriptions, gained him nnumerable patients. Tha to some he did good there is no doubt. The mere early rising and exercise he insisted upon would renovate a constitution impaired by too close application to business and bad air; while the gourmands, among whom his principal practice lay, would be benefited by abstinence and regular hours. The water, no doubt, had its merits, but, as usual, was greatly aided by early rising, pure air, the absence of cares, regular habits, and the other advantages which mineral waters invariably claim as their own. One thing the Doctor never wanted-a reason why it did not cure. If a patient went back on his hands, he soon hit off an excuse-" You surely didn't dine off goose on Michaelmas-day?" or "Hadn't you some filberts for dessert?" &c.—all which information he got from the servants or shopkeepers of the place. When a patient died on his hands, he would say, "He was as good as dead when he came."-vol. i. p. 23.
It is an old adage, that wherever there is room for one great doctor there must be an opening for a second. Accordingly, the hearty John Bull of the faculty is soon elbowed by an interesting foreigner:
Determined to be Swizzle's opposite in every particular, he was studiously attentive to his dress. Not that he indulged in gay colours, but his black suit fitted without a wrinkle, and his thin dress boots shone with patent polish; turned-back cambric wristbands displayed the snowy whiteness of his hand, and set off a massive antique ring or two. He had four small frills to his shirt, and an auburn-hair chain crossed his broad roll-collared waistcoat, and passed a most diminutive Geneva watch into his pocket. He was a widower. Mystery being his object, he avoided the public gaze. Unlike Roger Swizzle, who either trudged from patient to patient, or whisked about in a gig, Dr. Sebastian Mello drove. to and fro in a claret-coloured fly, drawn by dun ponies. Through the plate-glass windows a glimpse of his reclining figure might be caught, lolling luxuriously in the depths of its swelling cushions, or musing complacently with his chin on a massive gold-headed cane. With the men he was shy and mysterious; but he could talk and flatter the women into a belief that they were almost as clever as himself.
Portraits appeared at the windows, bespeaking the characters of each-Swizzle sat with a patient at a round table, indulging in a bee'swinged bottle of port, while Mello reclined in a curiously carved chair, one be-ringed hand supporting his flowing-locked head, and the other holding a book. Swizzle's was painted by the artist who did the attractive window-blind at the late cigar-shop in the Piccadilly Circus, while Sebastian was indebted to Grant for the gentlemanly ease that artist invariably infuses into his admirable portraits.'-vol. i. p. 31.
Of course, as soon as the visitors began to muster strong at the new spa, a Master of the Ceremonies must be elected: but we regret that we cannot class the lucky candidate for this high office, Captain Miserrimus Doleful, with either the rough and jolly Esculapius of Handley Cross, or his abstemious and dandified rival. The M. C. is a mere caricature; and we resent especially the extravagant blunder the author has made in representing him as the chosen pet of Mrs. Barnington-a splendid Leeds lady, no longer in her first bloom indeed, but in the full magnificence of her matronly development. The husband of this Queen of Handley, a rich Cheshire squire, is as sick of his wife as she is of him-but though, under such circumstances, some extraneous flirtation might have seemed within the limits of the probable, that such a lady should have chosen to console herself with a poor, battered, ghastly Militia Captain is a monstrous incredibility. At the same time, if we can overlook this glaring blunder, the scenes between the wife, the husband, and the swain are very cleverly sustained-so much so, that we fully expect to see them