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HE GETS HIS PRICE FOR “A Powy.” 227
dred for him last year; he was only a baby then; I like him better now at the odd fifty; there, go in.” . . . . . . “Come on: why that horse is lame. I said yesterday I was sure he did not go level, but the Gentleman said he never was lame in his life: I dare say he thought so: he must go back; let him be put in a loose box, and I will write about him.” . . . . “Ah! here comes one I was sure I should not like. I hated the devil the minute I saw him; but I was fool enough to be tempted by price: I thought him cheap: sarves me right: there take him away; I've seen enough of him; we'll ship him as soon as he gets home to somebody at some price.”. . . . . . “Here's a horse I gave plenty of money for; but he is a nice nag: I wanted him for a match for Lady : she is a good customer, and I mean to let her have him just for his expenses; go in, Jack, and bring out the pony.” . . . . . . “There now, if I know what a nice pony is, there's one; I gave eighty for him; he'll roll over — (roll over means just double his cost price): I mean him for Lord ; he won't ride one over fourteen hands, and rides eighteen stone: he's cheap to him at a hundred and sixty: if such men won't pay, and they want to ride, let them go by the road waggon.” This is a tolerably general sample of the kind of observations likely to be made on horses bought in a fair; and allowing it to be so, the Reader will see, that if a dealer sometimes buys too dear, how little chance would a person unaccustomed to fairs have in attempting to purchase there? It cannot be a matter of surprise that the dealer, however good a judge he may be, should perhaps buy one out of six that may not pay him: it is only surprising that he should get so many that do. Let a private individual try to do
228 A THING IS WORTH WHAT IT WILL FETCH.
this, and he will find his average, in lieu of one out of six that may not pay well, will be more likely to be six out of seven that he will lose by. Among the horses I supposed the dealer as having bought was one for which he states he gave one hundred and fifty, and he is certain of selling him at three hundred. We will allow that one hundred and fifty is a strong price for a dealer to give for a harness-horse, which, so far as he knows, has only soundness, good looks, and action to recommend him, and that a hundred and fifty added is a strong profit: granted that it is so; but it by no means follows, if he does sell him at three hundred, that he sells him at a hundred and fifty more than he is worth, or indeed even at one sovereign more: the value of a thing is what it will sell for. He does in this case unquestionably sell him at a hundred and fifty, say two hundred, more than his general marketable price among the generality of purchasers; but this is not the light in which such a horse is to be looked at. He was not purchased at first for the generality of purchasers, but for a particular market — and that market composed of a select number of men of fortune, amateurs in horses, who, to gratify their vanity, taste, or caprice, or perhaps all together, are content to give these sort of prices. The man of wealth and fashion will have his gratifications (no matter in what): he expects and is willing to pay for them. If his cook is really a superior artiste, he gives him a hundred or a hundred and fifty pounds a-year — pretty strong wages no doubt: still, if other men of the same rank would be willing to give this cook (artiste, I beg his pardon) the same, that is the man's value among those who can afford to employ him — I again beg his pardon; I should say, avail themselves of his
A HORSE-DEALER NO BROKER. 229.
talents. It is just so with the horse: so long as he is kept and used by the same class, so long he is worth the three hundred, and if he changed hands among this class would bring the same price. Though the dealer had a particular customer in his mind's eye when he bought this horse, and sold him to this identical customer, he perhaps knew of several others who would have purchased him at a similar price. In this case, then, he in reality sold the animal for no more than his value to the purchaser, though paying a high profit to the dealer. This brings upon the carpet another page in the catalogue of crimes placed to the account of the dealer; which is, the difference between buying of and selling to him. On this subject much more might be said than I intend troubling the Reader with. I must, however, remark, as a primary clause in my defence of him in this particular, that it is not a part of his trade to repurchase horses, or to buy them at all after they have been in and about London. We will suppose, by way of one particular case, that the purchaser of the horse I have been lately alluding to, without having any fault to find with the animal, who, on the contrary, we will suppose, has turned out to be all he anticipated or wished, still for some reason wishes to dispose of him. The first thing he probably does is to go to the dealer from whom he purchased him, and, perhaps naturally enough, expects he will be disposed to buy him. Now I must first apprise my Reader, that a dealer would at any moment just as soon see that Gentleman who is represented as wearing those pleasing appendages of horns and hoofs enter his yard as a horse he has sold, when he returns there for the purpose
230 SUCH IS THE FAVOUR OF PRINCES.
of being sold to him, particularly a horse of the value of the one described. He knows he cannot in repurchasing do justice to himself, and at the same time give satisfaction to his customer; consequently, to avoid, if possible, giving any offence or losing his money, he begins (and perhaps with truth) by declaring “that his stables are quite full; that he has really more horses on his hands than he knows what to do with ; that the season for harness-horses is nearly gone by ; that he is selling off his own horses of this sort to make room for hunters, which are the only horses he intends buying till the spring; that in the spring he would be happy to buy a dozen such as the one offered; but that now he should have to keep the horse and lay out of his money for at least seven months before he could think of even offering him for sale.” Now all this is more or less true, though the whole is set down as mere excuses on the part of the dealer; and they are most unquestionably brought forward to avoid entering on the proposed treaty; and it finally ends in his giving what is really the best and most honest advice under existing circumstances, namely, that the horse should be turned out for the winter; in which case he would again come out a splendid horse for the purpose for which he was at first purchased. This advice is, however, almost certain not to be attended to. The real fact is, his owner, as a man of fashion and fortune, was determined to have one of the finest horses in London for his cab: he bought him; his friends had all seen and admired him; the novelty of the thing was over: and a new toy is wanted, for as toys such horses must be estimated. The owner was determined to have a whistle for his amusement; he bought a highly ornamented
“FOLLY AS IT FLIES.” 231
one at the season when whistles were in demand; paid a proportionate price for it; has blown it till whistles are no longer in demand; and, forgetting it is but a whistle, is greatly surprised to find he is likely to pay rather dear for his music. Mais revenons à nos moutons. We left the owner strenuously urging the dealer to purchase, and the latter as assiduously endeavouring to get out of the affair. Let us suppose that the owner loses if he sells the horse—on whom should the fault rest ? Certainly not on the dealer. If a Nobleman or Gentleman is content to buy such a horse for his use as is driven by a hundred other Noblemen and Gentlemen, from a hundred to a hundred and fifty would have been probably the marimum price. Such a horse, making allowance for the time of year in which he might be offered for sale, would always command something close upon the same price: but if any person is determined to possess any rarity, no matter of what sort, and afterwards wishes to dispossess himself of it, he must either find a purchaser among those who are on the look-out for rarities, or make up his mind to pay dearly for his temporary possession of it. The dealer naturally declines buying what he knows he must lose money by; and no blame can be attached to him for so doing. The owner forgets, in wishing to sell his horse, that he partly does so because people of fashion are leaving London, and that he is doing so himself: he forgets, that instead of giving without a murmur three hundred for this same horse, he would not purchase him at the time he wants to sell him at even half the original price; he ought to consider that others would feel the same thing; and that the dealer, aware that