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A DIRTY TRICK..
It seems very natural a man should wish to learn all he can of a horse he wishes to buy; and this induces many persons who do not intend any unfairness to ask to whom he belongs - not by-the-by that I consider the owner as a certain source of correct information on the subject; in many cases quite the reverse : still, to get to the owner seems to many persons the great desideratum, forgetting, that if the salesman's interest in selling a horse is three pounds, probably in point of convenience or money the owner's is three times as much : consequently, he has three times as much interest in deceiving the buyer; and if a purchaser expects an owner to tell him the faults or any faults of his horse, he expects a great deal more than I should.
This, however, does not explain how a salesman is likely to suffer by being, as the purchaser would wish, candid; but the following case does. A. finds out by some means that a horse standing at a Repository belongs to B. A. has been asked, say fifty pounds; away he posts to B. tells him he has been looking at his horse, and is disposed to buy him ; that he has offered thirty-five, which has been refused. Now if the salesman had sold the horse at forty, B. would have received thirty-eight, so A. and B. lay their heads together, and conclude the bargain by B. taking thirtyseven. This is only one pound less than he would have got had the horse been sold by the salesman at forty : so the liberal pair concoct this little arrangement between them. B. sends for his horse home; of course says nothing of his being sold ; merely pays for keep, and thus, although he was sold through the connection of the salesman, and from being seen and shown at his establishment, he is thus done out of his
DOING EVEN THE DOERS.
commission. I hope, nay I do not doubt, there are many who would think that few such underhand fellows as A. and B. are to be met with : this is, however, very wide of the fact: for the truth is, not only are A. and B. to be met with, but we may go on to L., and find personality to answer to each letter. This, being about the middle of the alphabet, brings it to what I say, that by letting buyers and sellers meet, the salesman would lose half his commission : so the man is obliged to give ambiguous and evasive answers to prevent himself suffering from the meanness and avarice of those from whom one might expect at least fairness of conduct: but so in truth it is.
Another trick is sometimes played a salesman. Some fellow, half dealer and half gentleman, brings three or four horses to a Repository for sale: he takes care to ask such a price for his horses that it is next to impossible for the salesman to sell them at it. If he does happen to do so, well and good: in that case he would get his commission ; indeed, he could not be kept out of it: but at anything like a fair price he will not; for it is managed in this way. The owner, or his man, are one or the other constantly by the side of the horses; consequently not one can be shown without those worthies knowing all about it. The horse is liked, but the price asked by the salesman precludes his being sold by him. But the owner gets at the gentleman, who of course does not trouble himself about the salesman's commission, and thus buys the horse of the owner, who agrees to bring him to the purchaser's stable ; he gets paid for him; and here again the salesman is done. If the owner thinks there is a probability of his being found out at this, all he does is to take his other horses somewhere else ;
SCANNING A NEW FACE.
so even Nickem is done sometimes. It may be said no one pities him, nor do I, for he does other people often enough; but it accounts for why a salesman, whether a rogue or a respectable man, evades letting people into the knowledge of to whom horses belong; and this is all I intended to do.
We will now return to the supposed case of a horse being sent to Nickem to sell. The reader must bear in mind that we are now sending him to a man who, from the moment any horse comes into his clutches, sets out with the determination to get all that can fairly or unfairly be got out of him for his own benefit; and to do Nickem justice, he is no petty. larceny rogue; he will not descend to rob your horse, though he will ascend pretty high in the scale of ingenuity to rob you. Now there is no great ingenuity in robbing in a common vulgar way; but to rob so as to avoid suspicion, and even to induce your victim to return and be robbed again, requires no little tact, and this is Nickem's forte.
If (which is the general mode) a horse is sent to a repository by a servant, with a note stating his particulars and price, the first thing Nickem does is to cast an eye on him, to judge a little what degree of trouble he is worth ; that is, not whether he is to be treated better or worse, but what quantum of chicanery it seems probable it will be worth while to employ against him, or rather his master. If a cominon twenty or twenty-five pound brute, that is about worth the money asked and no more, he is merely put up in the stable, takes his chance of sale (and he really gets a chance), for Nickem would say of him, in reference to his not coming in for his share of roguery, about the same as the man affectionately
BOXING THE NEW COMER.
said to his wife, who fondly remarked the difference of his conduct to that of his neighbour, who thrashed his rib about three times a week, “ I'm d-d if I thinks you worth it.”
We will, however, suppose the horse brought to be a clever nag, and eighty is asked for him: Nickem thinks this a price he can get for him ; he by no means, however, intends to do so; that is, while the horse belongs to the present owner, and here is a case where a horse will be purposely kept unsold, though not for the advantage of his livery profits. No; if Nickem can get him himself, by nominally selling him to some coadjutor for sixty, he expects to make twenty; if for fifty, thirty; and of course, if he is to be had for forty, just that sum would go into Nickem's pocket short what he may be forced to give his friend if he employs one: if not, he pouches the whole. Now this is better than livery, or saving a bushel of oats worth three shillings; and men have been placed in such situations, by a regularly concerted plot, as to be willing to take such a reduction as forty in eighty, ay, and will again, and thank Nickem too for the trouble he has taken. “ The horse has been unlucky certainly,” says the owner, " and I lose a great deal of money by him; but neither you nor I can help that.” Certainly the owner cannot; but I rather opine Nickem could have helped it, and by not doing so has helped himself pretty handsomely.
With such a horse, on his arrival the first thing to be done is to get him out of sight till Nickem has privately thoroughly overhauled him. This is very easily done by putting him in a box : two men are immediately set about him, clothes and bandages brought, lots of warm water, &c. The groom, on 356 . DOING THINGS COMFORTABLY. going home, represents all this, and Mr. Nickem's having ordered him into a “capital box after his journey.” The master is of course pleased with this. “It was very careful and attentive of Mr. Nickem!” Very! - This is the beginning of “slaying the innocents." The horse being put up, groom gets half-a-crown to get his glass of brandy-and-water after his journey; so he is made comfortable, as well as his horse: and as by this time the nagsman and he have become acquainted, he goes to make himself comfortable also; and while they are doing this, nagsman, (who does not want to be told his business,) sucks the groom's brains, and learns all he knows about the horse, and any others in his master's stables. There is then a considerable shaking of hands, groom takes his saddle on his back, goes off by coach, and the horse is left like a boy at school, the difference being, however, that the boy often learns very little, whereas the horse will learn a good deal: the master also (if not in the higher branches of education) will get a lesson so far as pounds, shillings, and pence go. The coast being now clear, the next morning, before any customer comes in, Nickem has the horse out, sees his paces, examines him minutely as to soundness, and gets the nagsman on him; if a hunting-like horse, or represented as one, sees him over a fence or two, and the bar, and also in his gallop: if he is stated to be a harness-horse, he sees him in that: if he is not so represented, but he considers as a harnesshorse he would sell well, he has him carefully tried. Even his behaviour while the harness is being put on will show to an experienced eye how far he is likely to go quiet: if he seems good-tempered, he is just put into a break; a hundred yards suffices: Nickem now