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THE WEAK GO TO THE WALL."
such is the case, wisely declines burthening himself with an unsaleable commodity. In fact, the dealer should have been the last person instead of the first to have been applied to. An animal of this description once purchased should be sold only to and among a certain circle, till time and use have rendered him no longer a novelty, and bring him to the price of ordinary purchasers, among whom he would probably be sold, re-sold, and sold again without much loss, if any, to his different masters.
I have dwelt thus long on this supposed case to account for the great fluctuation often arising in the price of the same animal in a few months, which does not arise from any diminution in his intrinsic value, but depends on the situation in which he is placed from being offered to different classes of persons, and to account for the fact that Gentlemen do, as they represent, often purchase so dear, and are compelled to sell (comparatively) so cheap. But this is not confined to horses only: it will be found to bear equally on any other description of merchandise. The tradesman must have his profit. If you want to dispose of any purchased article, the least you can expect to lose is the tradesman's profit on it, and the quantum of loss to be sustained depends on the judgment employed in the purchase, and the description of article purchased.
A friend of mine, a very good judge of horses in a general way, went to see a horse for a wager carry a dealer's boy over a monstrous high wall. I accompanied him, was much astonished at the leap, and quite as much that so heavy-headed ill-made a beast should be capable of the feat. My friend was so
infatuated by the performance, that nothing I could say prevented his buying the brute at a hundred and fifty guineas; and if he intended to keep him to do nothing but jump a brick-wall for the entertainment of his friends, he was worth the money; but for any other earthly purpose, he was not worth twenty pounds, as nothing else could he do with satisfaction to any one who rode him. I met my friend a few weeks afterwards riding the beast, and expressed my surprise at his so doing; but he made a very sensible reply, which silenced me at once: “My dear fellow, I am not a very rich man: I have found him quite as bad as you told me I should, but I cannot afford to lose a hundred guineas, which I must do at the least if I determine at once to sell him: so I ride the wretch till I can find as great a fool as myself to buy him.” Fortunately he hunted about till he did find the fool he wanted, and got off with no farther loss than the keep of the animal for a few months.
Having mentioned the folly of my friend, and the risk he ran of losing a considerable sum by pleasing his fancy, it is but fair I should mention an instance of my own, who, being some years his senior, ought to have known better. I went to see a stud of horses for sale at Tattersall's : I perceived that one horse among the stud seemed to attract very great attention, and this I thought was easily accounted for from his being one of the finest horses I think I ever
But I found another cause for this general attraction, when I heard he was not only beyond any competition the widest jumper in the stud, but known to be the widest brook or drain-jumper in Lincolnshire, where he had been hunted. He was put up with the rest, and I bought him at a hundred
guineas. He was no sooner knocked down to me than I felt I had done wrong. Several others of the same stud were sold at far higher prices, not one of which could any way be compared to him as to looks, size, or breeding: in short, I felt certain he was too cheap to be good. A couple of guineas to the headgroom produced no explanation but that he was a very good horse, the fastest in the stud, and the biggest jumper in Lincolnshire.
I hunted him; found him fast enough to go at his ease up to any hounds with any scent; nothing too big for him to take in his stride, and a mistake seemed impossible, so it was at any thing he chose to try: but he seemed to think it quite beneath his dignity to jump at any ordinary fence; and I should say, during three times I rode him with hounds, he was on his nose with me twenty times. He had another pleasing propensity: if there were twenty little water-drains in the field, I would back him to put his foot into every one of them. I was lucky enough, however, to find a farmer who piqued himself on being the boldest rider in the country where I was hunting, and had on more than one occasion pounded the whole Field. It struck me the widest jumper in all Lincolnshire and my dauntless friend the farmer would be well matched: it ended in my allowing him to try "Lincoln” at a brook that had been considered in the hunt as impassable without a boat or taking a cold bath. The price was agreed upon if the horse did it: he took it and to spare. I drew 501., taking in exchange decidedly one of the cleverest hunters I ever had, and eventually sold him at a hundred and fifty when fourteen years old.
From these two little anecdotes it will be seen how
SILVER LIKE GOLD MAY BE BOUGHT TOO DEAR. 235
much the prices of horses depend on circumstances. Had my friend not had patience to wait for the right customer, he would probably have lost a hundred by the wall jumper: had I attempted to sell my Lincolnshire bargain in his own country, fifty would have been his estimated price, though very fast, very good, singularly handsome, and in some respects no doubt an animal of astonishing powers.
I have said that the amount of loss to be expected by a purchaser on selling the article purchased depends in a great measure on the article itself. The facility or difficulty of disposing of most articles chiefly depends upon the utility and general demand for the article in question. If it be one in general demand, it is usually to be got rid of at little more loss than the tradesman's profit, provided it has not been used so as to prevent it being again sold as new: if, on the contrary, it is an article of taste or vertu, it has probably been bought at a fancy price; and should there be a necessity of selling this, excepting among the cognoscenti, the loss on the purchase must be necessarily great: no matter whether a bronze horse or a live one, the principle applies the same. As for example:
Two Ladies go to the same silversmith's--say Storr and Mortimer – as a house of undoubted respectability.
Mrs. A. orders dinner-forks, spoons, and ladles, and dessert to correspond in proper proportions, silver bread-basket, and a waiter or two, the amount of which adds up to 2001. : Mrs. B. orders an epergne of beautiful workmanship, which comes to the same sum. The forks and spoons of course elicit no remarks from Mrs. A.'s friends, being articles of daily use and regarded as common necessaries; while,
THE GIVE-AND-TAKE PLATE.
on the contrary, Mrs. B.'s epergne is pronounced quite new, recherché, and in accordance with her
general good taste and judgment — (Remember, Reader, the three-hundred-guinea cab-horse was admired just as much). Now we will suppose the two ladies, after a time, wish to exchange their different purchases for other articles of a newer or a different pattern: mark the results. Mrs. A.'s articles cost her about 78. 6d. per ounce, and in round numbers we will say they weighed 550 ounces: in exchanging them she would probably lose 2s. an ounce, about in money 551. Mrs. B.'s beautiful epergne, which perhaps weighed 100 ounces, is not an object of common demand like spoons and forks; therefore, had it weighed the same, would not be worth as much: but it was in no way sold by weight, and all its beautiful and elaborate workmanship tells for nothing; so this article loses, first at least 121. on its weight of 100 ounces, and the actual value of it as old silver is about 251. Assuredly this is really worse than horse-dealing, and the loss arises from precisely the same cause.
3001. was too much to give to please the fancy for the moment in the cab-horse, and 2001. too much for the epergne. Neither the dealer nor Storr and Mortimer were to blame.
The dealer often sells horses within a few days after he has purchased; but, on the other hand, he keeps some many weeks, and even months, before he finds a customer for them, notwithstanding he has used all his ingenuity, industry, and patience to dispose of them: yet the private individual is quite surprised and dissatisfied, if, when tired of his purchase, he cannot in a few days get him off his hands without considerable loss. The dealer had patience to wait many