"More People Are Flattered Into Virtue Than Bullied Out Of Vice"

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Context: Robert Surtees came of an ancient family and started his adult life as a solicitor in London. He was unsuccessful in this occupation and turned his talents to journalism, where he found his proper medium in sporting events. In 1831 he became editor of The New Sporting Magazine. He wrote a number of humorous sketches for its columns, in which he developed the character named John Jorrocks. Jorrocks, a London grocer, wishes more than anything else to become a Master of Foxhounds. Surtees published a collection of these sketches in 1838 under the title Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities. An influential writer of the day, John Gibson Lockhart, was impressed and suggested that Surtees write a novel. Dickens used the book as a basis for the arrangement of his own Pickwick Papers. By this time Surtees had inherited his ancestral estate, and was free to write. He produced a number of sporting novels and other books. These are all jovial, rollicking, and irrepressible; at one time they were considered rather vulgar. They are at times incomprehensible to one who is not an enthusiastic fox hunter. The Analysis of the Hunting Field is a humorous series of sketches in which a great deal of information on the subject is presented; it is based on a review of the 1845–1846 sporting season. Surtees opens the first chapter with a Meeting of Foxhounds, so that he can describe the various people who take part in one. He portrays the Master of Hounds at length and describes some of the ordeals this stalwart individual must endure, not the least of which is the dinner party. Since hunting is an expensive sport, it is often financed by people such as Mr. Cottonwool, who employ the Master for prestige purposes. Mr. Cottonwool is obviously in need of education; Surtees tells us how his education is acquired:

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. . . the best hounds in the world, with the "best fellow under the sun" at the head of them, are useless without foxes, and fox or no fox is in the caprice of such creatures as Cottonwool. Some Cottonwools are apt to "keep the word of promise to the ear and break it to the hope," giving their keepers orders perhaps not to shoot foxes, but at the same time not to let a vixen lie up on the estate. There are many ways of preserving foxes–at all events of salving a not troublesomely fastidious conscience. If our "best fellow under the sun" suspects anything like foul play, he will lead old Wool unto the ice, get him to talk big about hunting, the pleasures of the morning, the delights of a find, the certainty of sport, the abundance of foxes–our Master slyly exclaiming to old Pigskin or anyone furthest off, so that every one must hear, "Ah, Mr. Pigskin, I wish all people were like our worthy host Mr. Cottonwool! There would be no lack of foxes–no fear of sport then." He may then observe, almost to "Wool" himself, "I'm sure all here will bear me out in saying that I always hold our excellent friend Mr. Cottonwool up as a perfect specimen of what an English gentleman ought to be." Now, that is good, wholsome, unadulterated flattery–all Wool's own too, and the odds are that thinking he has not committed himself, he will retract the qualifying order about the vixens, and show himself at the next cattle show as a perfect specimen of what an English gentleman ought to be. More people are flattered into virtue than bullied out of vice.

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