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282 “HE WAS PERFUMED LIKE A MILLINER.”
in such articles; for if he fancies they give him that of a gentleman, he most wofully deceives himself. It draws on him the ridicule of those who merely abstain from expressing their disgust at the imperfect and impertinent attempt at imitation, from the feeling that the noticing his dress would be a matter of supererogation, the immeasurable distance between them being such as to render it of no importance. The dealer, however, who has sense enough by a proper appearance, a straightforward but respectful manner, to show he is willing to pay a proper respect to his superiors, will always command that respect from them that is due to every man whose conduct deserves it, be his situation what it may. Mat Milton was not, God knows, ever very courteous in his manners; but gentlemen do not want politeness in a horse-dealer, they only ask civility. An attempt at politeness from a tradesman is impertinence: he might as well take a lady's hand to help her to her carriage. I can mention a glorious bit of impertinence that took place a few weeks since on the part of one of our 1844 dealers. A gentleman went into his yard: the mille fleurs-scented hermaphrodite gentleman-dealer was arranging his welloiled curls at the moment, (quite mauvais ton of his customer not to wait till he had completed the interesting occupation,) though he had gone through this ceremony every hour. Instead of showing his stables and horses, this puppy turned on his heels, and addressing his foreman, said, “Mr. ,” (mind the Mister 1)— “this gentleman wants to look at a horse!” To make any remarks on his conduct to such a man would be quite useless: he would turn a deaf ear to all remonstrance. I in no shape mean to say that a horse
A BEAU. 283
dealer would be more respected from his manners being coarse or vulgar, or that his dress should be that of a cow-dealer; quite the reverse: his address may be that of a gentleman, and his dress also, without any offence to any one: but let that dress be appropriate to his pursuits, and if he is fortunate enough to have something of the address of the gentleman, he will not make it more so by attempting the puppydandy gentleman, a character by the by now nearly exploded among men of family and fashion: it is, therefore, perhaps not so inappropriate as I at first stated it to be in certain horse-dealers in contradistinction. I know no man whose dress and address were always more in character with his pursuits in life than Mr. John Shackell, of Oxford Street; always in good taste: and let any man point him out to a stranger as a country gentleman, neither his appearance nor manners would induce you to doubt his being so ; and Beau Shackell was always a bit of a Count too, was a very good-looking, not to say handsome man, and knew it: but I never saw him sport satin (among his horses at least). I have known men take a copy of his dress as a riding one, but I never knew an instance of his forgetting himself so far as to copy that of any one of his customers, and then wear it in his yard. Let us return to our dealer in proper dress, if such a one is now to be found, or at all events to a man who is not a would-be gentleman. The customers of such men lie a good deal I should say among young City men, who sport their hack or buggy with the knowledge and consent of the Governor, and frequently their hunter without. Our dealer, knowing these are safe men, lets them have the latter, and pay
284 BETTING THE LONG ODDS.
for him at their own convenience. This induces the young Nimrod to swear by bell, book, and candle, that Bray (as we will call our dealer) is the best and honestest fellow in the world: so Bray supplies the Governor also with what horses he wants. I mentioned the name of Bray by chance, as I might have done any other: but as it is always pleasant to say a good word where one can, I had many years back some dealings with a Bray (I mean Aaron Bray) for buggy horses, and no man could have behaved better as to them, nor with greater civility than he always did, and now does whenever I see him. From what little I know of him, I wish he had made a fortune. I suspect it to be rather difficult to say which dealer has; for we must not trust to appearances. The way in which many people always lose money by buying horses from dealers, whether high or low ones, is of course that they give more than the value of the horses they buy of them. Provided they lose, it may be said it matters little from what cause it arises; but as I always like to look into causes, whether effects are beneficial to me or the reverse, perhaps others may do the same; but, where the effect may be the same, it in no way follows the cause is the same also. In buying a first-rate horse from a firstrate dealer, you give too much, for this reason, he gave too much for him at first for any purpose; but to sell, he charges you perhaps half as much more; so when he is sold to you, in dealer's slang, “he won't want selling again.” If you must not lose by him the deuce is in it. Be he as good as represented (and perhaps he is), you gave too much, unless indeed he turns up trumps; but the odds are much greater against horses doing so than cards.
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Now in buying horses of second-rate dealers, you also give too much : but this (of course I speak in a general way) much more frequently arises from the horse not turning out what you expect. A really fine horse, with fine action and in fine condition, cannot be much improved by all that can be done to him; but a rather plain horse with moderate action can be wonderfully altered in his natural appearance when shown; so you run much more risk of being disappointed in such horses after you have got them than in superior ones.
The first-rate dealer's horses, in his language, “want no selling;" they will “sell themselves:” the second-rate dealer's will not, so he must sell them. The first-rate dealer has only to talk you into price, for as to the horse, as he might probably tell you, “you can't mistake him;” now the other has to talk you into price and horse too. Here I am only speaking of young untried horses, and how far the appearance of the two may afterwards correspond with your ideas of them when shown to you. Allow that on being brought home you have given ten pounds too much for a forty-five pound horse: as he is just as likely to be sound as the other, and equally likely to turn out good for the purpose he is wanted, you still have 35l. for your 45l. Should he turn out but badly, he must be bad indeed if he will not bring 25l. ; so there is but 201. lost, though you were disappointed in his looks and goodness: whereas should the other look as well as he did, and also disappoint you, the loss will in no shape merely be in proportion. If it would, it would merely be that each buyer lost according to his means and capital: but it would not, and for this reason: the dealer in lower-priced horses
286 WE ARE ALL THE SLAVES OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
is more careful in buying; first, because he cannot afford to speculate so largely on looks as the other, knowing his customers will not: so he gives no more than he knows his horse is worth, and therefore can afford to sell to you at something like his value: the other charges you twice what he is worth even if he turns out well. Thus, though, as I have said, the inferior horse may disappoint you the most as to looks on a second inspection, and you see you have paid somewhat too much, the other will disappoint you three times as much in point of his price. Good or bad, in either case you will most probably lose; but your risk in buying an untried horse of the first class of a fashionable dealer is truly awful, even if he does not deceive you so far as the horse goes. These ridiculous prices have been chiefly brought on by dealers (who have capital) supplying horses on credit: their customers don't care what they give, and, comparatively speaking, the dealer therefore don't care what he gives to supply them. Go into one of their stables, they will not open their mouths under 150l. Men willing to pay, and not judges, so constantly hear of these prices, that they really fancy nothing is to be got under; so they give it also: if they will, the dealer is a fool if he does not make them do so. Let me tell gentlemen also, that in the stables of second-rate respectable dealers they will very frequently find the identical horse they had been asked 150l. for, standing for sale at 70l., about as much as ever should have been asked for him : not that he is a shilling worse than he was three months since; but he has got into a stable where every customer is not an 150-pounder; nor does its master give quite such unlimited credit: neither does he (like the first-rate