"Tell Me A Man's A Fox-hunter, And I Loves Him At Once"
Context: Robert Smith Surtees, as editor of The New Sporting Magazine, quickly found his place in literature as the humorist and chronicler of the hunting field. In humorous sketches written regularly for the magazine, he developed the character of John Jorrocks, a cockney grocer of London, whose great ambition is to become a Master of Foxhounds. These sketches first appeared in book form in a volume entitled Jorrocks Jaunts and Jollities (1838); it was well received and others followed. A second collection, Handley Cross, was published in 1843; a further edition, greatly enlarged with additional characters and episodes, appeared in 1854. The little village of Handley Cross, located in the Vale of Sheepwash, has just experienced a burst of prosperity. Now a flourishing community, it must arrange its social affairs–among them the fox hunt–more formally. Jorrocks has become known far and wide because he has combined business with pleasure, making excursions to the countryside and taking orders for groceries while riding with the huntsmen. The Handley Cross Committee of Management, wishing to employ a Master of Foxhounds, forwards a letter of invitation to Jorrocks–and his dreams are realized. Upon his arrival he is asked to speak to the townspeople, and delivers a spirited address. In it he outlines his concept of what the ideal Master of Foxhounds should be, and assures his listeners that he intends to fit the outline. When he states that this post is a greater honor than could be achieved by a Member of Parliament, he is overcome with emotion and nearly breaks down. After a pause in which he manages to regain his self-control, he extols the joys of hunting–"the image of war without its guilt, and only five-and-twenty per cent. of its danger." Once again he is nearly overcome by enthusiasm:
". . . Oh, my frinds! if I could but go to the kennel now, get out the 'ounds, find my fox, have a good chivey, and kill him, for no day is good to me without blood, I'd–I'd–I'd–drink three pints of port after dinner 'stead of two! (loud cheers). That's the way to show Diana your gratitude for favours past, and secure a continuance of her custom in future (cheers). But that we will soon do, for if you've–' 'Osses sound, and dogs 'ealthy, / Earths well-stopped, and foxes plenty,' no longer shall a master be wantin' to lead you to glory (loud cheers). I'll not only show you how to do the trick in the field, but a scientific course o' lectors shall train the young idea in the art at 'ome. I've no doubt we shall all get on capitally–fox 'unters are famous fellows–tell me a man's a fox-hunter, and I loves him at once. We'll soon get 'quainted, and then you'll say that John Jorrocks is the man for your money. At present I've done–hoping werry soon to meet you all in the field–I now says adieu."Hereupon Mr. Jorrocks bowed, and kissing his hand, backed out of the balcony, leaving his auditory to talk him over at their leisure.