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“GIVE A DOG A BAD NAME,” ETC. 197
irritate the temper of a young horse in order to ascertain what under such circumstances he would do. There can be no doubt, that of the numerous accidents we often see and daily hear of, as occurring to gigs, phaetons, and other vehicles, three out of four arise from want of judgment in the driver. He is not aware of what is likely to produce accident; consequently takes no steps to prevent it. He has probably no conception that a strap buckled too tight or left too loose will render a horse uneasy in his harness, irritate his temper, set him plunging, and finally kicking and running away. This horse might have been a week since bought of a dealer, might have been driven in a double and single harness, have always gone perfectly quiet, and always would have done so if common judgment had been used. This is all we have a right to expect from a high-spirited horse. He does not promise us to carry a phaeton or gig down a hill on the top of his tail, or to be flayed alive by his harness from our carelessness. If any person wishes one that would permit this, I recommend the gentleman a rocking-horse. Now in any case of this kind, without making any investigation as to its cause, the effect having occurred, the first person censured is the dealer. No arguments on earth will persuade the purchaser that it arose from any other cause than the dealer having sold him a vicious horse; and he will probably feel further convinced that he well knew he was so. In short, whatever failing a horse may exhibit after being purchased, whether as to soundness, temper, constitution, or anything else, deservedly or not, the dealer is sure to be set down as a rogue. If, even feeling he is not called upon to do so, he offers every reparation in his power, or makes it,
198 PER FAS ET NEFAS.
he will be no better off: on the contrary, it will be only set down to his disadvantage, as evincing a consciousness that he was to blame. If he refuses to do this, the case is carried into a court of law; and whenever any horse case does get there, so universally biassed and prejudiced are the feelings of the court in favour of the purchaser, and against the dealer, that though no jury would willingly be guilty of a decision of gross injustice, when the assertions of one party are implicitly believed, and those of the other totally the reverse, it is easy to judge in whose favour the case will end. Another stumbling-block in the way of the dealer arises from a cause little suspected by his customers. This arises from their servants. If the dealer does not submit to be pillaged by them, it matters little how good may be the horse he sells: he will be made to turn out badly by some means or other. Let it be understood that I am now speaking of servants, as of other classes of men en masse: there are many faithful, honest, and attached individuals among these; and that there are not more is quite as much the fault of the master as of the man; for so long as masters will say, “I know my fellow is as great a rascal as ever lived, but he turns my cab out so well I cannot part with him;” so long does he encourage this man in being so, and others to follow his example: and so long as a master or mistress will keep servants who they know are daily robbing them, and nightly associating in public-houses with the lowest of the low, probably thieves and pickpockets, and retain them in their service merely because they are clever in their several capacities, so long will they have rascals for their servants; and such the generality of London servants are, or by example shortly become.
A FIX. 199
It is no uncommon thing for a gentleman to desire his coachman to look out for a pair of horses for his carriage. Should he be peremptorily ordered to go to some specified dealer, the thing is easy enough: he bargains to get 5l. 10l. or 15l. for himself: the dealer must add this to the price he would otherwise be enabled to take for his horses, and there is no further harm done than the purchaser paying in fact for his own servant the additional price put on to satisfy his cupidity. Now should the purchaser offer to buy the horses at a price about as much less as the sum the dealer knows he must give to the servant, what is he to do? He has the choice of three alternatives—to pay the servant out of his own pocket, lose the sale of his Horses, or sell them knowing they will be abused, and consequently bring him into discredit with his customer. They will be made, in short, a lasting source of annoyance to the master, be a theme of constant abuse of the coachman from the first day, who will take care they lose condition, go badly, and have always something the matter with one or both whenever they are wanted; and finally the master in his own defence will be obliged to sell them: he loses really a good pair of horses and the dealer a good customer.
Should the master or mistress leave it to their coachman to get horses from any person he pleases, then the case will be this, or something very like it. He will go to different places and different dealers, not to find where or of whom he can purchase the horses on the best terms, or such as are best suited to the purpose of his employer, but to find where and of whom he is likely to make the most for himself in the shape of bribe. If he sees a pair of really good sound horses, and finds he is only to expect a couple
200 DOING A LITTLE BUSINESS.
of sovereigns; he rejects then at once and for ever. If he then sees a pair by no means intrinsically so good, and finds he is to get ten, he considers of them, and leaves the deal open till he sees if he cannot do better (for himself). Now, if he finds a pair of very fine-looking horses in the hands of some low dealers, both of which he knows to be screws, and he is to get fifteen sovereigns if they are purchased, in such a case the master or mistress trusting to his judgment, they are purchased. Now, here will follow very different treatment to what befel the unfortunate horses where the dealer did not “come down handsomely.” These horses will be kept in the finest possible condition: no notice is taken of any unsoundness in them; should one go half blind in a month, and the other lame, if not very visibly so, nothing is said about the matter; and while no complaints are made on the part of the coachman, probably no inquiries are made on that of the master or mistress: the horses look well, do their work probably as well as sound horses, and the owner continues to be drawn by a blind one and a lame one, till coachee begins to think—the horses having done their work for twelve months—it is time to begin thinking of making a little more money for himself. Then the half-blind one has taken a bad cold ever since that wet night when they waited so long at Lady So-and-so's rout, and it has fallen into his eyes: and the other suddenly falls lame while in the carriage. Coachee pulls up, gets down, and looks at him; “supposes it a little strain; he did observe him slide a bit turning the corner; dares say it will go off.” – N. B. It never does though; nor does the other recover his sight. The few days' rest that was to have set all to rights has
NICE LADS. 201
not done so, but it has given coachee time to get another pair ready “cut and dried.” The lady cannot longer do without her carriage: what is to be done? “It is a great pity! they were a nice pair of horses! no horses could have gone better till this happened . " The lady agrees that they did so, and believes it; but what is to be done? She wants the carriage, and can no longer do without it. Now, though coachee had quite made up his mind that the horses should go without the carriage, it is impossible for the lady to make the carriage go without the horses; so it ends in his being desired to sell them. This he promises to do to the best advantage—to himself he means. And here he sees a fine field for speculation open to him—in the pair to be sold, and in the pair to be bought. The first thing he does is to get a pack of low dealers to see these horses: we will say, taking them as they are, they are worth 70l. as a pair of job horses: in short, they are worth as much as when they were bought. His next object is to find, among this set, who will give him most; if he can persuade his lady to take 40l., he selects the best customer; and to show his own perfect honesty, gets his lady to see the purchaser, and hear what he says about the horses. He (the purchaser) is made quite au fait as to what he is to say, and the kind of observations to make. It would not do to speak in lowering terms of the horses so far as regards their class and quality. If he did, where would be his friend coachee's judgment in buying them 2 No; he goes upon another tack. “They have been as fine a pair of horses as he would wish to see: he would rather give 150l. for such a pair sound, than 40l. for them as they are. He knows a nobleman who would give 50l. for the