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“THE VARLET'S A TALL MAN FORE HEAVEN.” 237 weeks before he could get his price, notwithstanding his extensive connection and knowledge of his trade: the least then the Gentleman can do is to use the same patience, take the same time, and adopt the same means in endeavouring to find a purchaser. This, however, he will not do, nor could he if he would: he must therefore make a severe sacrifice, unless he is fortunate enough to find the same kind of person my friend was for many months in search of when wishing to sell the horse of brick-wall notoriety. After all, however, is said, and the sacrifice made, there is no great cause of complaint, provided he has been gratified by the temporary possession of what he only bought for temporary gratification. He might with as much reason complain, after eating a pine that cost him 14s. It is true a pear would have slaked his thirst just as well, but he did not think so: at the time, the pine he fancied, and the pine he would have; the pear was too common for his aristocratic mouth, though he might, like My Lord Huntingtower, have eaten a dozen of the latter for half the price of the former. There is a great satisfaction in serving such customers, and it is really cruel in them to damp that satisfaction by even hinting at the price they have paid.
I have often lamented when a boy that the knife I had bought never, after three days, looked the same as it appeared in the cutler's shop: people will generally find this hold equally with a horse bought out of a dealer's hands: he there looks as he probably will never look again while in their possession; at least, this is the case with the generality of horses. They there see a horse brought to the highest state of perfection in point of appearance that human ingenuity
BYE PLAY can effect, or to which he is capable of being brought: the stable he stands in is so constructed as to set him off to the best advantage; even his quarter-cloth is put on to show his shape with the most effect; his head-collar is made so as to give a light and pleasing appearance to his head; not a hair in his tail or mane is permitted to lie the wrong way; his very shoes are shaped to give his foot the very best form; when brought out, he is not permitted to stand for a moment in a disadvantageous position. If he is a fine horse, in order to show how little is required to show him off, you may hear the dealer say to his man, “Let him stand where he likes, Jem; it don't matter how he stands,” laying a strong emphasis on the he; but depend upon it the dealer knows perfectly well when he says this that he is standing on one of the most advantageous spots in the yard; and not taking him to the general show-place has its effect on the purchaser's mind : it does not look dealer-like, and has an air of carelessness about it, as much as to say, you may buy him or not as you like. We will suppose the customer wishes to ride the horse himself on trial: a private servant would probably call for a saddle, and put it on the horse's back as he stands: the dealer's man knows his business better; he knows that horses never look to advantage during the operation of being saddled, but on the contrary set up their backs, swell against the girths, and put themselves in unseemly positions. To avoid all this, the horse is taken into the stable, and there saddled, care of course being taken that the saddle is put on so as to set his shoulder off to the best advantage. While the ceremony of combing and water-brushing his mane and tail is gone through, he has had time to set down
his back, and comes out looking like himself and “ all right.” We will now suppose he has been ridden, brought back, and approved of: he is then not allowed to stand one minute, but is taken at once into the stable — for this reason, he has been seen and ridden, and has given satisfaction, and he may therefore be considered sold. No advantage could be gained by his being further inspected; therefore, while all is well, and the customer favourably impressed with his merits, he is taken away, lest by any possibility he may do something to offend, or look to less advantage than he has hitherto done. Now the private individual knows nothing about the necessity of attending to all these minutiæ: it never struck him they were attended to, because it was all done as a matter of course and habit, consequently there was nothing particular in the conduct of the dealer or his man. No orders were given; but it was done: and by this kind of apparently simple routine many a customer is done also — I should on second thought rather say induced to buy, for in all this really nothing in any way unfair has been practised. The dealer has, like any other tradesman, set his goods off to the best advantage, and his man only done his part to the same purpose. The man who keeps a muslin and lace shop parades his goods, and his Hyperion-curled assistant shows his lace over his hand. I allow this to be all fair, and the dealer in horses and the dealer in lace are equally honest. The two subordinates are also equally honest, though not equally respectable, for I never can hold that man in respect that does what is not the province of a man to do. The dealer's man does what no woman could do; the other does what only a woman ought to do.
240. "'TIS STRANGE, 'TIS PASSING STRANGE.”
But to return to the horse that has been shown, seen, ridden, approved of, and purchased. A few days after these events, the owner wishes to show his purchase to a friend, and recollecting the imposing appearance of the nag in the dealer's yard, he naturally expects he will look the same now, and strike his friend with the same admiration the owner felt on seeing him. Greatly, however, to his surprise and dismay, he perceives him to cut quite a different figure, barely looking the same animal. He cannot understand this: he sees that it is so, but why it is so he can in no way account for. Had he read the few Hints I have given, merely as relating to a very few of the attentions paid to appearances when shown by one who knows something of his business, he would not be quite so much in the dark: still, supposing him to make some use of those Hints, he cannot nor ever will show the horse, or any horse, like the dealer. How should he ? he was not bred to the trade.
Reverting to the objection dealers have to purchase a horse they have sold, the Reader must bear in mind my having before represented the passion most people have for horses quite fresh. Now this perfectly fresh look goes off in a horse much sooner than most persons suppose; and though, provided he has been only moderately worked for six months, he is intrinsically a far better animal for use, and sometimes improved to the eye of a judge from having lost some of his superfluous fat, this will not alter the case: he does not look so new (for new is not an inappropriate term to be applied to a dealer's horse). This newness does, and I suppose will continue to put a stamp of value on whatever is sought to be purchased by the generality of mankind. To have the first of a thing seems
241 the great desideratum, whether in a horse or any thing else. The dealer is aware of this infatuation on the part of his customers: he knows the horse is a better and more useful animal than when he sold him, but he knows his customers would not like him as well: he finds them horses; he is not bound to find them sense; and till he or something else does, the new horse will be preferred.
This predilection for very young horses would almost lead to the belief that people imagine that in every five-year-old unused horse they have a right to expect a given quantum of work, as in every bottle of wine they have a given number of glasses full: now if there was any analogy between the certain quantum of work in the horse and the quantum of wine in a bottle, there can be no doubt but the predilection would be judicious. The bottle from which two glasses have been taken is not worth as much by one sixth as the fresh bottle that contains twelve: so if we could be certain that in every five-year-old horse there were twelve years of work, the horse that had been used two years would, like the bottle, be just one sixth diminished in value. But this is not the case: the same calculation in no way holds good between the two objects: but between a horse and a watch something like a simile may be brought to bear, as we naturally expect both to go; and so they both do more or less; some go very well, some moderately so, some very badly, while some, figuratively speaking, cannot go at all. The action of both depends beyond doubt in a general way on the scientific manner in which the working parts of each have been put together; and the duration of time that each will continue to go depends on the goodness of the ma