Jorrocks arrives as the new squire of Hillingdon Hall to the great excitement of the local gentry. They describe him as ‘a regular, steady old gentleman’, at first blush and for five hundred pages he disabuses them. You will see him at barn dances with a Marquis, who is dressed as a coquette fighting off the libido of his local farmhands; you will catch him pink-cheeked and effortful upon excitable old matrons; see him up to his great neck in political shenanigans with the Duke of Donkeyton and dispensing Old Testament justice to anyone who comes before him at the bench, “Take that bigger boy to Betsay.. I’ll thank er to flog him well.” Hillingdon Hall is a glimpse of early Victorian country life, through the lens of the ridiculous but with plenty of truth in the view.
Of course it is rough stuff. The result of the all-too-recognisable portrait of the Duke of Northumberland had Surtees and all his kith and kin struck off the invitation lists for good and all. Jorrocks and Pigg are a confirmed double act by now, comfortable in and out of each others many secrets and mischiefs, reliant – as far as hard men can be – on one another. The novel goes at the gentle but unstoppable pace of Jorrock’s prize bull on its way to St Boswell Fair – occasionally veering off course to serve a heifer, but ultimately achieving its end.
“I’ve been brought here,” continued Mr. Jorrocks, “by a great lot o’ farmers; they came and ‘unted me out at my ‘ouse at ‘ome, and would have me. That shows the hopinion they ‘ave of me. I never axed to be made Parliament man of. The farmers came and said that they were like to be beggared, and axed if I would stand quietly by and see ’em ? (Loud applause.) I said, the farmers and I rowed in the same boat that wot was bad for them would be bad for me, and wice wersa (cheers). The Captain talked as if the guano and nitrate o’ sober dodge was all the Duke’s; but I appeals to those around me, if guano, nitrate o’ sober, or any of them hartificial compounds ‘ave a more hardent a more enthusiastic supporter nor myself! ” “Upon the who-o-o-le, I should say not,” drawled Johnny Wopstraw. “MUCK’S YOUR MAN! “roared Pigg.” Nay, more,” continued Mr. Jorrocks, “I did wot the Duke never did I inwented a machine of a most wonderful capacity. A machine that I really dirsn’t set a goin’ for fear it should swamp field labour altogether. I mentions that to show that I’m a practical farmer and a friend to the poor. My friend the Markis,” continued Mr. Jorrocks, “has made you a werry beautiful hoily oration one wot called forth the applause both of pit and boxes,” Mr. Jorrocks looking towards the carriages and balcony in which the ladies were ranged.