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A MODEL HORSE-DEALER. 257
dealer was in the end perhaps, all things considered, the best mode by which a man of fortune could supply himself with horses, and the cheapest—I should rather have said the least dear. This I only mean when put in competition with (in the generality of cases) breeding, or personally attending fairs, and supposing him not to be a judge of horses; but I apprise him that what he calls “taken in” he will be, go where he will; that is, he will on an average lose by every horse he buys. I remember I have mentioned the Elmores and Andersons as dealers. I beg, however, it may be understood that I merely did so as men whose names are well known, and as among the leading men in their trade; by no means meaning to infer that there are not many entitled to quite as much confidence, and who are in every sense of the word quite as respectable men: in fact, neither with Messrs. Elmore nor Anderson have I ever had one single transaction in my life, either in buying or selling. With the late Mr. George Elmore I have, and can only say, that the man who possesses the straight-forward honourable way of doing business, the courteous and I may say gentlemanlike manners and address of him, is a rara avis of a horse-dealer. I have no doubt his conduct is hereditary; but, if not, I could not give kinder advice than recommending others to imitate their predecessor. To show the estimation in which I hold the words or assurances of dealers in any thing (consequently of horse-dealers), I never suffer myself to be guided by one word they say. I do not tell them to hold their tongues; first, because it would be rude and offensive to do so; and, secondly, because they have a right to talk; but with me they talk to the winds. All traders will say what they think most likely to recommend VOL. I. S
258 “why MULTIPLY worDs, IF A couple will Do?”
their goods, truth or not truth: my questions to a dealer about his horse are very few, and for this reason: if answering truly would deteriorate the horse in my estimation, I should possibly not be told the truth; consequently I am probably only asking for a falsehood; and if the truth would be a recommendation, and I should therefore be told it, I should then be quite uncertain whether to believe it or not. If a man is not a judge of a horse, he has no business going personally to dealers in horses: if he is not a judge of a picture, he has no business to go to a picture-dealer: he may purchase of both; but, in the name of common sense, let him send or take some one to buy for him who is a judge of what is wanted: and he must keep his eyes open; he will want both of them in buying from the most honest trader. If I want a horse for myself or friends, and go to a dealer's yard, I first state what sort of a horse I want, and like, and for what purpose I want him. This looks like business—looks as if I knew what I do want (Mem. many people do not), and shows I do not wish to take or give unnecessary trouble. It certainly by no means insures my being shown what will suit me; but it insures my being shown what comes the nearest to it of such as the dealer has. If I do not like his appearance or action, three minutes settle that: I civilly thank him for the sight of his horse, and give no further trouble. If I do like him, I merely ask, “Do you warraNT him sound and free from vice?” If he does, I ask his price: if a reasonable one, I try him: if more is asked than I choose to give, I never ride or drive a horse till I get him to or very nearly to the price I make up my mind to give. I never try a horse till I have determined to buy him.
I HEAR YOU, SIR. 259
Never suffer myself to be talked into putting up with what I see and know to be an objection, nor ever make one without good reason. No respectable dealer is ever angry at your objecting to what he knows to be ob. jectionable: on the contrary, he respects your judgment, however much he may regret his not having found a flat. If the dealer says he cannot warrant the horse because he has a corn, or a thrush, or some such trivial matter, let no man who is not conversant with such matters touch him: he would probably get a decided screw. Personally, I should not reject such a horse if I liked him in other respects, as I well know, and every horseman knows, hundreds of horses could not be passed as sound by a veterinary surgeon that are just as good or nearly so to any one (but a respectable dealer) as if they were. Under these circumstances I take the ipse divit of no man. I might be told he “had a slight jack,” was “a little rough in both hocks,” but “it was natural;” had a “splint,” but “it was only on the bone, and did not touch the sinew;” or many other things of this sort. I listen to all this: but I do not allow my attention to be fived on a grievance that is perhaps in point of fact no grievance at all. The “slight jack,” or the “little roughness on both hocks,” would certainly induce me to see that there was not one or a couple of whacking spavins: if I found there was, of course that would end the business; but if I found that in this particular there was not much the matter, or possibly nothing at all the matter, all the dealer could say to persuade me that this was the grievance would have no more effect on me than, if I saw there was a failing, all he could say would have to persuade me there
260 A DIG.
was not. I might perhaps rather surprise a dealer who had pointed out to me a splint as a cause of unsoundness in a horse by not minutely examining the diseased part, but by immediately very minutely examining his eyes, watching his flanks, or catching hold of his head, and with my stick in terrorem or reality, ascertaining whether, instead of his being in one respect an imperfect horse, he is not in another a very perfect bull—a term not known to every one; for, though they probably know the old adage, that though a mare is a horse, a horse is not a mare, they have yet to learn that, though a bull is not a horse, a horse is very frequently a bull.
I do not mean to say any respectable dealer would be guilty of such tricks; his character would be too much at stake: but if, for instance, a man not a judge went to a dealer in horses, or any thing else, and it was known he was going abroad, or where his good or bad word could have no effect, if in making a purchase he did not get, in horse-dealers' phrase, A DIG, I am a bad prophet.
Nothing can be more absurd, nor is there anything more annoying to a dealer, than for a man who is not a judge of horses himself to take a man with him to look at a horse or horses who fancies himself one without being so. Such a man does not know enough to see the merits of a horse, but is sure (as he thinks to show his judgment) to find fault. With such a companion, a man may look at a hundred horses without buying one: this soi-disant judge thinks, by finding fault, he shows how wide-awake he is: the result in nine cases out of ten is, he rejects horses that would suit his friend's purpose, and buys some wretch at last.
BUYING AND SELLING ARE TWO THINGS. 261
Now, on the contrary, if the purchaser is a man that a dealer knows it is his interest to use well, he in no shape objects to his bringing a sensible, liberal, and thorough good judge with him: he will know that the merits of his horses will be properly appreciated, their imperfections estimated by a propor scale; and if they are adapted to the purpose they are wanted for, they will be recommended to be purchased. It must, however, be understood, that in taking such a judge with you, what, and all as a purchaser you have a right to expect, is this: you will most probably get a sound horse, and one that is likely to answer your purpose. Price is another thing; and should you not find this horse what you want, you must not expect your friend to be able to get you a hundred for him, though he recommended you to give that sum: he only did so from knowing the horse was as well worth a hundred as any one you could get from a dealer's stable. But, as I have before said, if you buy of a dealer, and then want to sell, lose you must, and lose you will, go to what dealer you may, unless you are yourself a dealer; not because the dealer is unprincipled as a man, but because he is a dealer and you are 770t.
I may be asked if it is impossible for a man to buy of a dealer without losing money by his purchase ? Certainly not. If a man has judgment enough, as I have before expressed it, to buy the raw matériel of a dealer, and then by his fine riding or driving and stable management to manufacture this raw matériel into a superior article, then he will not lose, and may probably make money; but if a man merely buys an article or a horse, and wants to sell that article or horse again, if no better than when he bought the