To begin: there's Aries, or the Ram--lecherous dog, he begets us; then, Taurus, or the Bull--he bumps us the first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins--that is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer the Crab, and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a roaring Lion, lies in the path--he gives a few fierce bites and surly dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the Virgin! that's our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or the Scales--happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in the rear; we are curing the wound, when whang come the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is amusing himself.
But his surly guest said scarcely a word.
But before Cynthia could finish, the Dawkins brothers and their wives clamored into the kitchen, each looking as surly as ever.
By the time Dean strolled by a few moments later, red-faced Fitzgerald was getting an ear full from a half dozen tourists and an elderly local, known for his unwavering opinions and surly disposition.
Hence comes the modern use of the word for a low-born or vulgar person, particularly one with an unpleasant, surly or miserly character.