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382

“SAFE BIND SAFE FIND.”
course under the control of Nick, who would not
commit himself by the chance of a letter of his own
writing being brought against him. The clerk values
his berth too much to talk, though perhaps an honest
man himself, whose conscience often rebels against
what he is made to do. Besides, though it might be
proved he wrote a note, it might not be easy to
prove he was directed to do so: and as the weakest
generally go to the wall, Nick would be too strong
for him ; so the result of any babbling on his part
would only end in his being at once turned out, and
stigmatised (from want of proof of the reverse) as
an ungrateful scoundrel : so he is, in racing phrase,
“ made safe.”

As for Meddler, Nick's first object in patronising
him is to get him in his debt: he therefore is a tool,
a mere slave in Nick's hands : if he dared speak, he
would be laid by the heels, as Pat says, “ in less than
no time;" and probably he would be subject to an
action for defamation; in which case his general cha-
racter not being likely to be any strong advocate in
his favour, he is quite aware he could have no chance :
so he is “made safe” also.

Never therefore let a seller or buyer be misled by letters shown him: they are as much to be depended upon as are the same things sometimes manufactured by some dealers. If we have to do with a respectable man, we want no such attempted corroboratory evidence: if we meet a rogue, a letter shown by him is just as much proof of truth as his word or his oath, and these would be no proof at all. In speaking thus plainly, I do not feel any qualification necessary, as I only allude to some dealers and some repositorykeepers, and quite as much to some tradesmen of any

IMMORTALISING AN AUTHOR.

383

sort, but particularly, however, to some of the 28. 11d. sort I before alluded to.

I have only in one or two instances ever particularised (in what I have written) any individual or establishment, unless where I felt I could indulge in the pleasure of doing so in terms of commendation. When I have done otherwise, the persons mentioned or alluded to deserved much more than I said of them. I had a hint given me some time since, that a definition of the characters of the different leading horse-dealers in London and the country would be acceptable to the public — I think it right to say this hint did not in any way directly or indirectly emanate from the worthy publisher of the SPORTING MAGAZINE

- but it would be an ungracious task, and one I should be very reluctant to undertake. Whether I may ever mention the names of some that I consider worthy the confidence of the public would be another affair. If I was a vain or ostentatious man, I might be tempted to do this, as those gentlemen might in return immortalise my name by jointly purchasing a second-hand mile-stone to be erected to the memory of Harry HIE'OVER; that is, if they could find a spot of ground sufficiently waste to get permission to put it up.

I have mentioned my dislike to particularise persons and places unless in a perfectly commendatory way. But I wish my readers to be satisfied that all (and of course ten times as much as) I have stated may be done in repositories I know has been done ; but I by no means wish to indicate where. The supposed cases I have stated I have seen take place.

So long since as the year 1825, I was ordered to a certain part of Her Majesty's dominions where there was and now is one of the largest repositories known. I was

384

A GOOD FELLOW, TAKE HIM ALTOGETHER.

stationed there eleven years, and having plenty of time on my hands, I was every day, and sometimes oftener, in this establishment. It was a lounge. I have, moreover, bought there and sold there; and being always interested in those pursuits, and keeping my eyes and ears open, and particularly my mouth shut, I soon got au fait of all that was going on. This eleven years' investigation was a pretty good apprenticeship; and a close inspection of what is done in other similar establishments since has made me a match for many people: but with all due and proper humility, I allow I might very possibly still be done by Nickem, though, like many others in unequal contests, we would have a tussle for it.

To show there is a fair chance of myself as well as many others getting an occasional“ stick,” I will mention how one occurred, and how I got out of it. The owner of the repository I now allude to was one of those few men of such imperturbable good humour that nothing could ruffle it, let him do what he would — and certainly some very funny things he did do occasionally. However victimised a man might be by him, the moment you came face to face with him his own honest-looking and good-tempered one disarmed all attempts to be angry with him; and a thorough good-natured and good-hearted fellow he was in the main ; but he could not help doing you : it was with him a positive monomania: he could not be happy unless he did. People knew he would, yet for the life of them they could neither keep .away from him, prevent his doing it, nor be angry with him when he did. The way he kept his customers together was this. He did you to-day: you grumbled at the purchase: there was no hesitation or

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tomers togethen he did. 19 doing it.", neither kes

TURN AND TURN ABOUT.

385

excuse made on his part, but he said at once, “ Send him back, I'll get you out of him:" and so he would. He would give you “a dig” to-day, and give some one else a double-distilled one to-morrow to get you out of it. The last he contrived to give to somebody he did not care about, or to some greenhorn who he could talk into believing he had done him a favour. I had had so many deals with him that I thought he would not attempt or wish to do me: but the “ ruling passion” once (and I must say only once) was too strong for him.

I went to see a gentleman's stud sold. I saw a very fine brown horse that struck my fancy. I went up to our friend of the sunny smile, and asked about the horse. He was all and everything I could wish. “ Is he sound ?” said I, “and what may I bid for him?”— “ He is sound,” said Sunny, “ and buy him at anything under fifty.” He was knocked down to me at forty-eight. I followed my purchase into the stable, liked him much, and he was apparently as sound a horse as I ever saw or handled. After the sale, I went to the stable to get him saddled to ride him home. I now saw he had a favourite leg or foot that he was nursing under the manger. I guessed the truth at once, and saw that he was lame in walking out of the stable. It is true he was sold without warranty, but I bought him on Sunny's word, and I determined he should make it good. Not choosing to expose my purchase or myself before some hundred people, I gave him on mounting a kick with both heels, and cantered him out of the yard. The next morning I found him, of course, as lame as a tree. I got on him, and cantered him into as I had out of the yard, dismounted, turned him loose, and told Sunny,“ there

C C

as I

386

AN ECLIPSE. was his recommendation; I would not pay for him, would not lose by him, and, what was more, would neither pay for keep till he was sold nor commission on his sale.” Sunny only laughed; accommodated an officer with him who was going abroad, and positively offered me a profit on the price I was to have given for him, which, of course, I refused to take. He never played me a trick afterwards. I could not be angry with the devil, even had I lost by the transaction: but I did as I have recommended others to do by Nick — I brought him on his haunches at once, and always kept the kicking-strap on: but he never attempted even a lift afterwards with me.

There is another department in similar establishments that is productive in various ways of a much greater source of profit where a large business is done than people may imagine. In such a one as that I have alluded to, the legitimate profits of these were not less than from six to seven hundred a-year; and where five shillings is charged for putting in harness, and breaks are out, perhaps, ten times a-day, the profits may be easily conceived. I mean, by what I designate legitimate profits, the fairly trying and breaking horses to harness : what the illegitimate profits may be it is impossible to calculate, as they depend on circumstances. By illegitimate profits, I mean trying horses in harness without the knowledge of the owner; the contriving to make a horse go quietly at one time that is a devil incarnate at others; and, vice versa, making a horse disposed to draw quietly appear and in fact be the very reverse — all of which little funny tricks are to be managed, and are managed, as may suit different occasions. In short, there is no branch of the business of a repository in which in some places a little chiselling is not made use of.

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