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“DICKY Gossop, DICKY GOSSOP IS THE MAN.” 407
dozen horses in his establishment, and certainly never bought as many by auction in London in any other: but I think my estimation of Mr. R. Tattersall is pretty near the mark, when I say I should as soon suspect him of making a guinea by any means that could be construed into bordering on what was dishonourable, as I could conceive him neglecting to make it where it was to be got in a perfectly honourable way. I think I could scarcely prove my perfect conviction of his integrity more strongly. Mr. Dixon's Repository I have been in perhaps a dozen times, never but once on business; it is quite out of my beat when in London. I once attended the sale of a friend's horse there, received every civility and attention, and the horse was sold in a satisfactory way. Here ends my knowledge of Dixon's. Mr. Robinson's I never was in in my life. Aldridge's “wot was,” I once bought a horse at, and on that occasion, and also once at the King Street Bazaar, I have great pleasure in mentioning the urbanity of manners of Mr. Haughton: here ends my knowledge of London horse auctions. Doubtless there are Nickems enough in London, though not at the places I have mentioned. But whether in London or the country, let us return to friend Nickem, and see how he would manage with a horse placed in his hands to be sold, if not by private sale, by auction. I think I see him chuckling at this double chance afforded him. Now where there are a couple of hundred horses put up every week by auction, a man can go perfectly straightforward, and must make money; but where his average is perhaps twenty, those twenty must be twisted and turned so
as to stand in the place of two hundred, or how is
408 - CONVERSATIONES.
Nickem to live 2 If he was an honest or honourable man, the twenty would starve him but Nick won’t starve; to prevent which he does nick them; and I fear there are not many who would prefer losing their money and time as men of integrity to making money as he does. Nickem, by way of a little every-day dinner, prefers a dish of crimped skate, some calf's head, a teal, and some fritters, to pickled pork and greens: so do I ; I hate pork. Whether in Nickem's situation I should prefer eating the abomination, as an honest man, to dining as Nick does, my friends must judge: but at all events Nick does not relish the porcine dish, and in fact won't eat it; so his customers must find him something better. To get this, he must side with dealers, for they would be too strong for him. He goes in this case upon a liberal principle—viz. “live and let live”—just as a single man's servant in lodgings allows the landlady to crib his master's hyson (and indeed every thing else), while she in return never hints that Tom, or Wilson, or Morbleu, as the name may be, charges master nine shillings a pound for what he buys at seven. Thus they take their tea very comfortably together: this is social and liberal. I hope I have the germ in me of these feelings; but I have a dogged kind of feeling that I must say makes me wish to be so when and to what extent I please; or in short, as I mentioned of Liston, to “mix for myself.” I am quite willing to let others do so; but then I must not be expected to pay for the mélange, as in the following case. I sent my groom and a helper with my horses to a town, wishing to get a fortnight's hunting with some hounds I wanted to see. On bringing in his week's
bill there was about the usual fair charges for ale and an occasional glass of grog; but one evening there were three glasses of brandy-punch at 1s. 6d. per glass, and share of three bottles of mulled spiced port at 6s. per bottle. I thought this a leetle too strong— not the punch or wine, the gentlemen who partook of it could only judge of that—but I thought the assurance of the thing very strong indeed. The expression of my disapprobation was very strong also. It was certainly very humbly represented to me, that he “had spent the evening with Lord So-and-So's servants, and two or three Baronets' and first-rate men's servants, and he thought I should not like him to be shabbier than they.” I added, “it was a bad ea ample to my other man, who was much younger.” I was told, however, with every appearance of most indignant feelings, that “Tom was a very good stableman, certainly,” but as to the “example,” he “hoped I did not think he had so far forgot himself as to introduce Tom to his company'.” I burst into a hearty laugh at this: the laugh made me allow the charge, but I informed my gentleman he must drop these growing aristocratic notions, and in future, if he mixed for himself such expensive ingredients, he must also pay for himself. Nickem likes mulled spiced port; so do his friends the dealers: they also like their customers to pay for it, and in most cases they make them do so; and to do this they must work into each other's hands. They of course never oppose Nickem whenever he wishes to buy, and he affords them every facility when they wish to do so. Should they both wish for the same horse, it is managed very easily. Whichever it is decided shall be the purchaser takes the lot, the other “stands in.” Now standing-in (begging the gentle.
410 TOUCH NOT THE TRIBUTE MONEY.
men's pardon for the comparison) means the same thing as one thief stealing the property, the other sharing the profits of the booty. But this is not often done, as Mr. Nickem is rather jealous of being known as a purchaser; and still more jealous of putting himself in the power of his friend, whose honour he knows, when put in competition with his interest, is about on a par with his own. There is, however, one little advantage Nick has over the dealer, and of course over any one else purchasing and selling in his Repository. This I mention as a profound secret; indeed I do not say it ever is done; I merely insinuate that there is a bare possibility of its being distantly contemplated; for in fact it would be a breach of honour on Nick's part towards Government; and we must not suppose any thing so truly monstrous as making a shilling at Government's expense. None of our great men do it, ever have done it, or ever will in future. There are, I know, people who say great men have done such things; nay, are daily doing so now : but those who promulgate such reports are only malignant, hypocritical wretches, deserving stripes, banishment, and every misery that flesh is heir to. I do not accuse even Nick of such peculation, but there is no harm in saying what might be done. In some repositories the purchaser pays the auction-duty of one shilling in the pound; in others, the seller pays it. This, it will be seen, would make no difference in the advantage Nick might contemplate. If the dealer buys a horse at 40l., and has to pay the duty, he stands him in 421. ; if he buys one where the seller pays it, this is considered by the seller, and he prices his horse accordingly: so the dealer virtually pays the 21, just the same, as the owner would have
THE LION'S SHARE. 411
taken 38l., where he had no duty to pay. Now if Nick buys, he stops the 21, from the seller on paying him: if the purchaser pays, he draws it from him; so either way Nick gets 21. in his hand. Some people (like the malignant ones I have mentioned) might say they wonder if the 21. ever leaves it. I say of course it does; it goes to Government, unless in the hurry of business he might on such an occasion forget to pay it over. Should he do so, there is 21. as clear as 2l. can be. Now, in selling again, suppose Nick should sell a horse for a dealer at 45l., for which the dealer had given 40l. the same day: the dealer would, in one case, have to pay out of it 40s. duty, 45s. commission to Nick for selling him, and say 2s. to Nick's men, making 4!. 7s. : so he would only get 13s. profit after all. If the dealer bought where the owner pays the duty, he would make 21.7s. by his purchase, but, in the latter case, he would have given 21 more out of the horse's value than where the buyer pays. So the 5l. additional is not always to be got; if he takes 3l. advance on the price, he still makes but the 13s. or thereabouts. Now, if Nick buys, he has 21. in hand, which he may forget to hand over; he stops of course 21, more for selling the horse To HIMSELF. If he is fortunate enough to sell him at 45l., this really looks like 91. made—at least many people will think so; but I say it is only 7!., for such is my confidence in Nick, that I say he will not forget the 21. duty : I would bet my life he would not FoRGET it, not hel” Let us suppose Nickem not to be able to bring down the price of a customer's horse to what he wants him
* Since writing the first edition of this work the auction duty has ceased : Nickems therefore now substitute other sources of profit in lieu of the one above alluded to.