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Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour   By: (1805-1864)

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Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour.

R.S. Surtees

[Illustration: Mr. Sponge completely scatters his Lordship ]

Transcriber's Note: Minor typos corrected and footnotes moved to end of text.











The author gladly avails himself of the convenience of a Preface for stating, that it will be seen at the close of the work why he makes such a characterless character as Mr. Sponge the hero of his tale.

He will be glad if it serves to put the rising generation on their guard against specious, promiscuous acquaintance, and trains them on to the noble sport of hunting, to the exclusion of its mercenary, illegitimate off shoots.

November 1852




It was a murky October day that the hero of our tale, Mr. Sponge, or Soapey Sponge, as his good natured friends call him, was seen mizzling along Oxford Street, wending his way to the West. Not that there was anything unusual in Sponge being seen in Oxford Street, for when in town his daily perambulations consist of a circuit, commencing from the Bantam Hotel in Bond Street into Piccadilly, through Leicester Square, and so on to Aldridge's, in St. Martin's Lane, thence by Moore's sporting print shop, and on through some of those ambiguous and tortuous streets that, appearing to lead all ways at once and none in particular, land the explorer, sooner or later, on the south side of Oxford Street.

Oxford Street acts to the north part of London what the Strand does to the south: it is sure to bring one up, sooner or later. A man can hardly get over either of them without knowing it. Well, Soapey having got into Oxford Street, would make his way at a squarey, in kneed, duck toed, sort of pace, regulated by the bonnets, the vehicles, and the equestrians he met to criticize; for of women, vehicles, and horses, he had voted himself a consummate judge. Indeed, he had fully established in his own mind that Kiddey Downey and he were the only men in London who really knew anything about, horses, and fully impressed with that conviction, he would halt, and stand, and stare, in a way that with any other man would have been considered impertinent. Perhaps it was impertinent in Soapey we don't mean to say it wasn't but he had done it so long, and was of so sporting a gait and cut, that he felt himself somewhat privileged. Moreover, the majority of horsemen are so satisfied with the animals they bestride, that they cock up their jibs and ride along with a 'find any fault with either me or my horse, if you can' sort of air.

Thus Mr. Sponge proceeded leisurely along, now nodding to this man, now jerking his elbow to that, now smiling on a phaeton, now sneering at a 'bus. If he did not look in at Shackell's or Bartley's, or any of the dealers on the line, he was always to be found about half past five at Cumberland Gate, from whence he would strike leisurely down the Park, and after coming to a long check at Rotten Row rails, from whence he would pass all the cavalry in the Park in review, he would wend his way back to the Bantam, much in the style he had come. This was his summer proceeding.

Mr. Sponge had pursued this enterprising life for some 'seasons' ten at least and supposing him to have begun at twenty or one and twenty, he would be about thirty at the time we have the pleasure of introducing him to our readers a period of life at which men begin to suspect they were not quite so wise at twenty as they thought. Not that Mr. Sponge had any particular indiscretions to reflect upon, for he was tolerably sharp, but he felt that he might have made better use of his time, which may be shortly described as having been spent in hunting all the winter, and in talking about it all the summer. With this popular sport he combined the diversion of fortune hunting, though we are concerned to say that his success, up to the period of our introduction, had not been commensurate with his deserts... Continue reading book >>

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