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MELTING DOWN. 277
may try it, and should it succeed, I shall have done as much in my way by the suggestion to save time as Brunel or Stephenson by steam. For here we buy a horse long in his coat perhaps, certainly fat as a bullock: but the time of getting into condition will only be according to the meltinian not Meltonian plan, as follows: viz., to melting twelve hours, clipping ditto; so in twenty-four hours we have a horse in hunting condition. What a bungler I must be I never got a fat horse from a dealer's stable into condition under half as many weeks. I do not mean to say Mr. A. has been quite so quick in his operations; but I will answer for him he has brought his horse to a most comfortable state of inward debility, and, in point of outward appearance, no bad representative of a Malaycock stripped of his feather. Des belles plumes font des beaua oiseaua so we are told, and a great many plumes give the appearance of a plump oiseau: so a great deal of fat on a horse often stands good in some people's eyes for very little muscle. Take away that fat, we then find we have got the long Malay-looking gawk of a beast I have similarised: but, worse than this, getting fat off by work when the frame is not hard enough to bear it reduces muscle also. So, deficient as the horse ever was we will suppose in that particular, he has been made ten times worse than he would have been by injudicious treatment. There he stands, wasted; what little flesh he has on him soft as hasty-pudding; spiritless from constitutional weakness, and with, in stable language, his belly up to his back-bone: for though a horse blown out with mashes and warm water, and his ribs well covered with fat, may look in good proportion, it may be found, when stripped of this fat, that his ribs run
278 DIANA OF OUR DAYS.
backwards something like the strings of a harp, and may probably be about as long as those that make the high notes on that instrument—a diminution that Bochsa will probably approve for a harp, but which I do not consider quite so desirable in a horse. Let us now see what B. has been at with his purchase. I will be bound to say A. did more with his in the way of wasting in a fortnight than B. did in a month, though he had probably given him three q. s. doses of physic in the time. Here he comes, lightened too of all unnecessary avoirdupois, but cutting rather a different figure, —in high spirits from vigour of constitution— his eye like those of the gazelle—I had almost said of the fair Theobald herself; his muscles, now relieved from any superfluous appendage, beautifully developed; showing a form that in the horse indicates what that of Mr. Jackson, so well known in the pugilistic world, did in his palmy days in a man—strength, courage, and activity. Yes, as a boy, I well remember Jackson the beau ideal of a fine man, though not then a young one — of course never a fine gentleman, but a fine fellow, and no small share of the gentleman in him either. Mais revenoms à nos moutons. Here is one horse, in trade language, certainly fifty per cent. of less value than when bought; the other, to say the least, thirty per cent. better; and why? A fine eye with fine judgment saw what the one horse would become; whereas the want of both prevented the other purchaser seeing what the other horse would degenerate into : added to which is to be the treatment afterwards. The different position of these two Gentlemen after purchase will show why men who know nothing of what they are about universally abuse horse-dealers,
while the man who does know what he is doing does not, but estimates them by a proper scale: he knows, as tradesmen, they will impose where they can. I should deserve to be imposed upon if I went to a linen-draper to buy window-curtains instead of sending my wife, when, God knows, though I have heard the names, I do not know book-muslin from lawn. The only excuse I could have for entering the shop would be a pair of bright eyes behind the counter; and then I should get a double refined dig as to price, and well worth the money too: she would sport from the extra five shillings, a new ribbon on Sunday: whether a better or worse, it would be a different heart to mine that would grudge it to her. Now if a horse-dealer gets you into his stable, and you get the worst of it (which you certainly will if not a judge), he gives it you, as if he considered you a gentleman, to a gentlemanlike amount. But the master dealer in jaconets and lenos, or whatever he calls them, entices you in by a Brobdignagian two, and two or three Lilliputian figures afterwards, something in this way, 2s. 4.—the latter in pencil; and on going into his shop, tells you, on your throwing down six shillings for three yards of quite new or just out, “Oh Sir, 2s. 2%d.; but it is not what I recommend gentlemen like you (you will find Tom's soap here also). I have a beautiful article (a nice article he is) at 3s.6d. :” so, blushing for being taken in, and laughed at by half a dozen little wicked devils with ringlets shaking at you, you pay 10s. 6d. for what is worth the price you expected to pay, viz. six shillings. Confound the fellow ! Though I allowed myself to be done by the little Briseis with the radiant eyes, I do
not bargain for the same in return for looking at his
280 MAKING ALL SAFE.
greenish, greyish, half-squinting, wholly suspicious looking ogles! Besides, there is a meanness in the thing, a kind of low petty-larceny sort of cheating that disgusts one. Not but that I give him all credit for being willing to impose on me to any amount if he could ; but what I hate the fellow for is, cheating for so small a consideration | That man's soul would never be “above buttons.” To sum up the whole, I allow horse-dealers to be roguish enough : they know that in a general way I think them so; but my bootmaker, tailor, butcher, and baker know I think them so too, and never did trust to their honour; and lest they should bring the joke against me, I bring it against myself. Since the partial abolishment of confinement for debt took place, they won't trust to mine: they are quite right: I began the game by never trusting to them, and, what is more, please God I never will. One thing I have found from their not trusting me—that at the end of the week two-thirds of everything do for the same family that used to be booked to my account when my bills were paid quarterly, or, I must allow oftener, half-yearly. Very odd this; for of course these honourables furnished all that was put down in the bills. But if, as some people say, all tradesmen are more honest than horse-dealers, then what out-and-out superfine double-refined XXX rascals all horse-dealers must be As, however, I know this is not the case, why in that case the true case is this: if you purchase with judgment, you will do, buy of whom you may : if you do not, buy of whom you may or what you may, in that case your case will be in the wrong box. We will now bid adieu to A. and B. and their horses, whom I have only introduced to show why men know
THE SAME TUNE IN A MINOR KEY. 281
ing nothing about horses abuse horse-dealers more than they do any other tradesmen. The fact is, such men, knowing less of horses than of other articles they purchase, lose more by them, and consequently always attribute their losses to their having been taken in by the dealer in them: but the truth is, they are only not as much taken in by other dealers, because they are better judges of the articles they deal in : if they were not, they would be equally taken in by them. We must recollect that Messrs. A. and B. are supposed to have gone to a respectable man, who in no way deceived either (no great thanks to him, it may be said, as regards B.): but no matter; the other was not taken in : the two horses perhaps cost originally the same price in a fair, the difference between them only being, one, like Pindar's razors, was “made to sell,” the other to use. If you choose to buy a glassimitation stick as a curiosity, well and good: but if you mean to walk or ride with it, you must not be angry with the shopman for selling it you. B. would probably buy a good ground-ash for his purpose, and inwardly smile at your choice: possibly he did so when A. bought the horse. We will now mention a second class of dealer. By these I do not mean men of more or less honesty than those who fly at higher game: the same principle acts on both. By second class, I mean men who deal in horses ranging from 30l. to 60l. a-piece. Such men are found in numbers in the more eastern parts of London and the City. These men we may occasionally even now see dressed, as a horse-dealer ought to be, in his single-breasted coat and top-boots, with his whip in his hand; not like his customers, in satin cravats and waistcoats, which give him the appearance of a dealer