Last Updated on July 2, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 468
Context: Robert Surtees, scion of an old family in Durham, took up sporting journalism after a brief and unsuccessful career as a solicitor in London. He soon became editor of The New Sporting Magazine, and found his proper niche in literature as chronicler and humorist of the hunting field. A number of humorous sketches were written for the magazine, in which Surtees developed a character named John Jorrocks. Jorrocks, a London grocer, dreams of becoming a Master of Foxhounds. These sketches appeared in a book entitled Jorrocks's Jaunts and Jollities (1838), which was well received; Dickens had used the same arrangement of material in Pickwick Papers (1836–1837), and John Gibson Lockhart suggested that Surtees attempt a novel. By this time the latter had succeeded to his family estate and could devote his time to such activity. A number of novels and other works appeared, all dealing with fox hunting and country life. These are rollicking, exuberant books, best appreciated by a genuine lover of the sport. Jorrocks reappears in several of them. Handley Cross recounts his adventures as a Master of Hounds; in Hillingdon Hall he becomes a country squire. The Duke of Donkeyton has made him a justice of the peace, and Jorrocks' appearances on the bench are remarkable, to say the least. The book contains many amusing episodes; that in Chapter 33 is a good example. Mrs. Flather is determined to capture the Marquis of Bray for her daughter, who would rather capture him unaided. Mrs. Flather decides to visit Donkeyton Castle and speak to the marquis, but has no carriage; Jorrocks would drive her over, but will monopolize the marquis if he does so. If she can borrow a horse from Jorrocks she can borrow the carriage elsewhere. She writes him a note, asking for the loan of a horse so that her man can go to the druggist for a prescription. Jorrocks favors her with the following characteristic reply:
"HILLINGDON HALL TO WIT.
"DEAR MRS. F.,–Three things I never lends–my 'oss, my wife, and my name. Howsomever, to-morrow being our beakday, when us Jestices of our Sovereign Lady the Queen assemble to hear all manner of treasons, sorceries, burnins, witchcrafts, felonies, puzzonins, trespasses, and naughty be'aviour generally, if you'll send me the prescription, I'll be 'appy to bring the physic 'ome in my pocket. Meanwhile I sends you a couple of Seidlitz, and if you want anythings else, Mrs. J. will be 'appy to lend you a few 'Cockle's Antibilious'–werry extensively patronised. A leash o' Dukes, five brace o' Markisses, sixteen Earls, one-and-twenty Wiscounts, Barons, Lords, Bishops, and Baronets without end.–Yours to serve,
"J. P., and one of the quorum.
"P.S.–Dissolve the powder in the blue paper first, then add the white–stir 'em up, and drink while fizzin'."
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