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PENNY WISE AND POUND FOOLISH. 347 ality of whom I give full credit for being quite disposed to pillage both master and customer if they can do so with impunity - if they could carry the corn home in lieu of giving it to the horses, there is little doubt but they would do so ; but the horses are seen feeding by other eyes, as well as those of the man directly in charge of them; so he must give them their feed: and supposing he did crib a portion from each, oats are a bulky article in proportion to their value, and could not be conveyed away in any quantity. A few to feed a rabbit or hen or two is the most that could be got off: and supposing this done, the quantity taken from six or seven horses could never affect them. The customer has another guarantee against his horse not getting his feeding. These helpers always look to getting some little reward if a horse is sold or taken away, provided he looks as if he had had justice done him; and this they are quite sure they will not get if he looks the reverse: so, depend on it, they would be more likely to rob their master of his corn than your horse. There is one way in which he may come off second best; but if he does, it is your fault; so I give you a hint that may be useful
If you are known as one who gives a shilling, or not anything, where half-a-crown would be advantageously given to a helper, so sure as your horse is a horse half his oats will be cribbed from him and given to that of some one who pays properly. Pay properly, and you need be under no fear of any want of attention to your horse. Under all circumstances, pay servants, not lavishly, but liberally: it is not only justice, but economy in the long run. I have never been in the habit of keeping horses at livery unless for a day or two, or if sent for sale ; but whether in
A PUBLIC CONVENIENCE.
these cases or at inns (where I was known) I always found my horses made as comfortable as in their own stables, whatever other people's might be. Even a shilling extra will do this, and it is a very cheap mode of preventing coughs, colds, and cracked heels.
Now for the other apprehension, of a horse being kept unsold for the sake of his livery. This is a thing rarely done; but when he is so kept, it is for a much more rascally purpose than the paltry consideration supposed. No, no; if you are intended to be robbed, depend on it it will be done to a much larger tune than a few oats, or the five or six shillings per week profit on the livery.
We will suppose a person has been unfortunate enough to send a horse to a Repository for private sale where the master (who we will call Mr. Nickem) is as great a rogue as you could desire: of course, the result would depend a great deal on who sent him there, and how far he knew and was known to understand how to guard against any tricks that might be wished to be played him. We will, however, suppose in this case the horse to be sent by some one knowing about as much of Nickem's practices as the generality of persons do of those of many of the Repositories for the private sale of horses. In large provincial towns there is also often a weekly sale by auction: now this is really a very great convenience, as it affords the seller the choice of being done privately or publicly, and effectually by either mode.
But before I proceed further with Mr. Nickem and his Repository, I must make a little digression, in · order to answer two more observations I have heard made as complaints against the owners of Repositories; for let every man have justice at all events. THE DANGER OF GIVING AN OPINION. 349 The one is, that you can never get them to tell you what they think your horse is worth or likely to bring : the other, that they will not tell to whom the horses or any particular horse belongs that may be standing with them for sale. This, I grant, looks like a want of candid, fair, and straightforward conduct; in fact, looks like a little hocus-pocus, that causes suspicion with the inquirer. It is quite true that the observation is a correct one; and equally so, that, till it is explained, it has a very suspicious look. Doubtless this concealment is frequently made for nefarious purposes, but not always : in fact, except in particular cases it is necessary, and that necessity arises more from the fault of the customer than the salesman.
We will suppose a gentleman takes a horse to show any owner of a Repository: we will suppose the owner values him (as a middling price) at sixty: he asks Mr. — what he thinks the horse is worth: we will just see the predicament Mr. — would put himself in if he gave his opinion. If he stated that he considered the horse worth more than the owner did, the latter would be afterwards disappointed, and consider himself ill-used if on further inspection it was found the horse would not bring that sum ; indeed, he would most probably consider some chicanery had been used towards him: and if, on the contrary, the salesman valued him at less than the owner (and which in most cases he might very fairly do), he would be set down either as a bad judge or a rogue; and very probably the owner would at once ride away, hoping to find a more promising market. Now, though a good judge will go very near the mark as to the value of a young sound fresh horse in a fair, it is not generally this description of horse that is sent to a Repository: on
on fisappoint owner
350 CANDOUR SOMETIMES INJUDICIOUS. the contrary, they are mostly horses that have been used, and their value depends chiefly on their merits: consequently a horse of this sort may, when he comes to be ridden or driven, be worth ten or twenty pounds more or less than he looks when merely a cursory glance is taken of him. If a horse looking worth we will say forty pounds is found on mounting him to go away (in stable phrase) with his knee up, can trot at the rate of fifteen or sixteen miles an hour, and goes over the stones as safe and firm as on the high road, such a hack is worth a hundred to many people, and would bring it: whereas, if, on the contrary, he went shoving his feet along as if he was trying whether the stones were slippery or not, twenty pounds and a cart is his value and place: in fact, there are many who, like me, would not accept him as a gift. This is not to be ascertained by a horse being merely rode up to a stable door ; though a keen eye will form an opinion even by this, and probably will be to a great extent correct. But we are not to suppose that any man will take the trouble to try your horse merely for the pleasure of giving you his opinion of him, and which would very likely be that he is a brute. It might be very candid to tell you so, but it would not be business, and, tell it as civilly as such a thing could be told, the only consequence and thanks that would arise would be, the horse would not be left for sale; and a man cannot afford to pay two or three hundred a-year for premises merely to show you how candid he is. In nineteen cases out of twenty, therefore, a man is quite justified in declining to value a horse brought to him for sale. The owner ought to know his value: if he does not, when he comes to be shown to the public, that will very shortly enlighten him in
SOME FOLKS MAY BE TOO WELL KNOWN. 351 this particular; for though this man or that may not be a judge of such matters, the public is, and a very good one.
Now we will see why it would be injudicious to state to whom horses for sale belong. Owners very frequently do not wish this to be done, for various reasons; but if they did, and the salesman was to tell this, the consequence would be, what I dare say the generality of persons never dreamt of — he would be lucky if he got his commission on half the horses he sold. It may be said that gentlemen will not be guilty of ungentlemanlike acts. To this doctrine on a broad scale I fully subscribe; but I must also say there are a great many who will. Besides this, all the horses sent to a Repository are not sent by gentlemen, nor are they all gentlemen who treat for them: consequently, unless a salesman knows his customer very well, in justice to himself he must take care that he does not give the opportunity for such things taking place with him. I will answer for it that Osborn would tell me (and doubtless many others of his customers if we chose to ask him) to whom any horse belonged, unless desired not to do so: nay further, if I wished to purchase a horse in his stables, and more was asked for him than I thought he was worth, he would tell me, (for he has done it)—“I am not authorised to take less than I ask you ; but he belongs to Mr. So-and-so: if you like to go to him, you may, and if he chooses to take less I can have no objection." But before he would do this, he would know his customer, and feel quite certain no mean advantage would be taken. Depend on it he would not do this by a stranger; and, what is more, would take still greater precaution in doing it to many he does know.