“me sylva, cavusque
Tutus ab insidiis tenui solabitur ervo.”
On overhearing which, Mr. Jorrocks hurries back to his brother subscribers, and informs them, very gravely, that the stranger is no less a personage than “Prince Matuchevitz, the Russian ambassador and minister plenipotentiary extraordinary,” whereupon the whole field join in wishing him safe back in Russia—or anywhere else—and wonder at his incredible assurance in supposing that he could cope with the Surrey hunt.
It is an axiom among fox-hunters that the hounds they individually hunt with are the best—compared with them all others are “slow.”
Of this species of pardonable egotism, Mr. Jorrocks—who in addition to the conspicuous place he holds in the Surrey Hunt, as shown in the preceding chapter, we should introduce to our readers as a substantial grocer in St. Botolph’s Lane, with an elegant residence in Great Coram Street, Russell Square—has his full, if not rather more than his fair share. Vanity, however, is never satisfied without display, and Mr. Jorrocks longed for a customer before whom he could exhibit the prowess of his pack.
[Footnote 5: Subscribers, speaking to strangers, always talk of the hounds as their own.]
Chance threw in his way a young Yorkshireman, who frequently appearing in subsequent pages, we may introduce as a loosish sort of hand, up to anything in the way of a lark, but rather deficient in cash—a character so common in London, as to render further description needless.
Now it is well known that a Yorkshireman, like a dragoon, is nothing without his horse, and if he does understand anything better than racing—it is hunting. Our readers will therefore readily conceive that a Yorkshireman is more likely to be astonished at the possibility of fox-hunting from London, than captivated by the country, or style of turn-out; and in truth, looking at it calmly and dispassionately, in our easy-chair drawn to a window which overlooks the cream of the grazing grounds in the Vale of White Horse, it does strike us with astonishment, that such a thing as a fox should be found within a day’s ride of the suburbs. The very idea seems preposterous, for one cannot but associate the charms of a “find” with the horrors of “going to ground” in an omnibus, or the fox being headed by a great Dr. Eady placard, or some such monstrosity. Mr. Mayne, to be sure, has brought racing home to every man’s door, but fox-hunting is not quite so tractable a sport. But to our story.
[Footnote 6: The promoter of the Hippodrome, near Bayswater—a speculation that soon came to grief.]