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262 A SMART DEALER.
article or horse, lose he must, even supposing he was not imposed upon in his purchase. Men who are really workmen as riders or drivers buy of dealers, because they know that by giving (we will say) their 100l. for a horse, they can make him worth twice that sum. Such men, if wanting a hunter, need not go to Tom Smart to buy one; and for this reason: he buys made-hunters, gives an unlimited price for them: these men can make their own hunters, so are bad customers to Tom: but a man who is not a bond fide workman cannot do better than go to him; he will give him a horse made to his hands: the only consequence will be, he has given 150l., and will charge them on an average perhaps 50l. for his judgment in buying; and this 50l. a man has a right to pay if he wishes to be well carried, and has not judgment of his own. Pay Tom a good price, I will answer for it he gives you a good hunter, though he is a dealer, and was not always what he is now: no man knows a hunter better than Smart; and no man (mind me, as a dealer) will deal more liberally with you if he finds you are disposed to deal liberally with him. I never bought a horse of him in my life, nor ever shall: I cannot afford it. I have sold horses to him, and a good buyer he is. So much for Tom Smart, the prince of dealers in hunters. I might be asked by any one willing to pay a good price, whether, if he went to a dealer and said he wanted a very fine pair of carriage horses, and was willing to give a price equal to their merits, he should not get such I have no hesitation in saying, that if he went to a respectable man he would get a pair of fine sound horses. I might then be asked, if he went and said he wanted as fine a pair of horses as any
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man in London had, and would give as good a price for them, whether he would get them 7 I would at once answer him (if he was not a judge), certainly not. The reply might naturally be, that his money was worth as much as any other man's: certainly it would be, but his judgment would not; consequently, though the dealer would show him and sell him a fine pair of horses, he would not give him as fine a pair of horses as any man in London had (supposing the dealer to possess such): and why? because the dealer would know he had shown him a pair quite good enough to answer the purpose he wanted them for: a pair of more merit would not be properly appreciated by such a customer, and in fact would be thrown away upon him: but above all, as a tradesman, the dealer would never give a superior article where an inferior one is to be got rid of. I think I hear a tradesman, or dealer, or merchant, whichever they please to call themselves, in other articles, say, “This may be all very well in a horsedealer, but we should not consider it honourable in our business.” I hear you, Gentlemen. I have not said it is honourable in the horse-dealer. You say, you should not do so in your business: though not a very polite man, I am too polite to contradict you; but, be your business what it may, if I want any article in which you do deal, and am not a judge of it myself, you will, in accordance with the liberal sentiments you profess, excuse me if I bring some one with me who is, before I buy of you, though I know that “Brutus is an honourable man.” I may now be asked, how the dealer should know that his customer is not a judge of horses? To this I make answer, that most men who are, and are men
264 BIRDS OF A FEATHER.
who will give long prices, are perfectly well known to all first-rate dealers: consequently, if a stranger enters the yard, they know he is not one of them at all events. But it may be said he may still be a good judge: if he is, the dealer will, in nine cases out of ten, detect him at once. There is a kind of freemasonry among horsemen, as among gentlemen, that enables both to find a kindred spirit in a very short time. Let fifty passengers embark in one of our steamers for only a twenty-four hours' voyage, before one quarter of that time has elapsed it will be found that those who are gentlemen have found each other out, and naturally congregate and enter into conversation with each other. Having done this, if there are three or four sporting men on board, my life on it they also single out themselves. Whatever may be a man's favourite pursuit, some observation is sure shortly to detect it. Thus, let two men enter a dealer's yard, the one a horseman, the other not, two or three observations made by each, perhaps the very first made, will show which is which. From this the dealer takes his cue, and acts accordingly. Nor indeed is any verbal observation necessary. Let the two only walk round the stables: the man who is a judge will stop opposite and look at only such horses as are of a good sort for some purpose; the other will either indiscriminately look at all, good or bad, or very probably be taken by the appearance of such nags as the other never gave a second look at. Now, though, while this is going on, people may not keep an eye on the dealer, he is keeping his on them, and a watchful one too. This is part of his business. If he is a man au fait de son métier, it will be observed, that, however much a dealer may subsequently talk, he seldom
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says much on a stranger first going into his stable. He probably touches his hat, civilly opens his doors (if shut), and follows him, watching, as I have said, every cast of the eye and act of his customer: in short, he feels his man before he ventures to make an observation himself: for if, for instance, he was to point out some flashy nondescript spider-legged wretch to a judge, he would turn round and give him a look, as much as to say, “You are either a rogue or take me for a fool;” neither of which conclusions it is the dealer's interest his customer should draw. On the other hand, if he were to particularise a really good sort of horse, without such an imposing appearance in the stable as his showy neighbour, the nonjudge would draw the same conclusion as the other. So, in either case, the dealer would get into a scrape; and for this reason he wisely holds his tongue till he finds in what way he should employ it to advantage. If from the taciturnity or equivocal conduct of his customers the dealer should still have any doubts on his mind about them, let the two go into a horse's stall to look at him: the thing is settled; the mere manner of doing this decides it. The one, after looking scientifically at his horse, speaks to him, and then walks decisively at once up to his head, and keeps that wary look at his heels and eye as he approaches him which experience has taught him is a necessary precaution. The very “wo-ho, horse,” or “wo-ho, my man,” as he goes up to him, shows the dealer his customer knows what he is about. He now knows what to do, and what kind of language to hold. But let the other attempt the same thing, he could no more do it in the same way than he could fly: he would (at least such men generally, I may say inva
266 PREPARING FOR A SHAVE.
riably, do) make his selection out of three ways of proceeding: he would be afraid to enter the stall at all, but stand squinting round the post, forgetting a horse was in the next very likely to resent his propinquity to him; or if he did venture into the stall, he would do so in that hesitating manner that would show the horse he was afraid of him, and induce him to take some very rough liberties if so inclined; or he would (from not knowing his danger) go so suddenly into the stall as to take the horse by surprise, who would in return probably very much surprise the gentleman by his heels or mouth, for his looking to see if the rack-chain was loose or on the head collar would be out of the question. In either of these last cases, I will answer for it he places himself just in that situation in the stall that, should a horse strike or bite, he is sure to nail my gentleman against the standing, or eject him by a very summary process: serves him right: he was as much out of his place in a dealer's stable as the dealer would be in the Marchioness of Londonderry's drawing-room. But supposing so funeste a catastrophe not to have occurred, the dealer is by this time satisfied beyond doubt how to treat this customer, who, of course, considers himself quite equal to purchase for himself, or he would not have gone there. He therefore begins something in this strain: “I see, Sir, you are no bad judge; you have not picked out a very bad 'un. I saw you looked at all the best horses I have.” Nothing but oil runs so smoothly down the back as a little welltimed flattery.—“I say, Jem,” says one of the helpers to another, “master's giving him the soap pretty well, I thank ye.” The soap, however, as Tom elegantly