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412 AMI JUSqu'A LA BOURSE.
at: he advises his being put up to auction, and says, “Very likely, sir, he may bring more at the hammer than I am offered privately.” Very likely he would if Nick would let him; but he won't, and that makes “all the difference.” But how can he prevent persons bidding if they are disposed to do so? He certainly could not; but he can make them not disposed to do it. The dealers and Nick's friends will not of course do it; persons who do not want the horse won't ; so it is only a few, at most three or four, or perhaps only one, that will. These are generally easily got over, for the horse is carefully watched in the stable; so any one looking at him is very soon “made all right” by those employed for the purpose. The man in charge of him sees what is going on quick enough, so he works in the good cause. If any one looks at the horse, he steps up, begs the gentleman “not to take any notice of what he tells him”—(he would be wise if he did not)—but adds, “the pipes won't do for you, sir;” or “the lamps are going;” or anything he pleases to say: so he gets a half-crown for his honesty, and is thought a capital fellow, the gentleman loses it and a good horse into the bargain, being, however, perfectly satisfied that Jem, or Tom, at Nickem's, will always give him a hint. Doubtless he will, if he is fool enough to take it: not but that it is good policy in any man who often buys horses at any particular place to give these fellows five or ten shillings if a purchase turns out well, for you then have ten chances in your favour against the man who does not: he is sure to get “a dig” if they can put him in the way of it; you will not, unless it is their better interest to assist you to one; but as, generally speaking, it would not be, your money will be well laid out.
FAS EST AB HOSTE DOCERI. 413
Nothing can seem more fair than Nickem's proposing to give a horse the chance of the auction to facilitate his sale; and so it would really be if he gave him a chance; but he will not; for the reason he recommends the supposed trial is merely to damp the owner's hopes by letting him see that (say) 25l. was all that was bid for a horse for which he expects 40l. If the horse belonged to Nick or his friends, he and they would take very good care this should not be the case: they would not put it in any one's power to see or say that only so much was offered for him; nor need this be done, if the agent wishes to do his duty to his employer, for he can try how much is bond fide bid, and if he finds a sum very short of the price asked is only offered, it is quite easy for him to run the horse up to something near the price asked. This really assists the sale, as people will think, if they hear 35l. bid by auction, that 40l. cannot be any great deal more than he is worth. For the auctioneer to do this, it may be said, is contrary to the true spirit of an auction. I know it is; so is people combining to get others' property at less than its fair value. But, if buyers will do what was never contemplated when auctions were first set going, the auctioneer is compelled to fight them at their own weapons; nor is it any blot upon his character that he fights the good fight for his employer. If he is forced, in some cases, to overstep the strict rules laid down for his guidance, in order to promote fair dealing, the fault is not in him, but in those who by their conduct compel him to do so. But I am now alluding to an honest, honourable man: no fear of Nickem incurring any censure for any one's interest but his own ; and though we must not, as a general maxim, say the end justifies the means, a man's motive in an act makes all the difference in the
414 NICK INETURNING TO HIS FAMILY.
culpability or justification of it. That in the long run “honesty is the best policy,” is an allowed truism: but then “best policy” does not always include making money. Many circumstances may combine to prevent a man doing this in an honourable way; but if he does not make, or if he loses, money, he may preserve his character, self-esteem, and the good wishes and good offices of his friends; and this is “best policy,” for which he ensures a certain good. Nickems think otherwise. The opinion on such subjects depends on the proper or vitiated state of men's minds. Many rogues do make money it is true, but not always; and, as it is said in the Rehearsal, “suppose the audience should not laugh,” where are you then, friend Nick! The only thing for you is to tuck your coat-tails over your arms, and walk yourself off to your namesake. You are too known a screw to be sold even at your own auction, though the Devil was the auctioneer.
I have now given many hints, many opinions, and some instances of what may be and what is done by some men in the horse world. I introduced these subjects, by pledging myself to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth. I have done so: I have, I dare say, mentioned many things that a large proportion of readers “dreamt not of.” What I have mentioned I know, but I have by no means mentioned all I know. I have mentioned many of the motives that influence the actions of a certain class of rogues, and some of the means by which they bring them about : but I might write for the next twelve months, and still leave many unnoticed. I never promised or contemplated making any one a match for a rogue : I might as well attempt to teach him to write like Sir Walter Scott. I must go to school again myself,
IreCOMMENDING MERIT. 415
and make much better use of my time than I have done, to succeed in either. I have read and have by heart also many of the beauties of the one: I have seen and have by heart also many of the rascalities of the other. I may point out to any man still less read than myself, the works of the one for his admiration: I may also point out to those who have seen less of the thing than I have done, what, by arousing their suspicions, may assist in saving them from being deceived and victimised by the other as they might have been by such means as I have particularised. This is all I have attempted. If we teach a man as many of the indications of an approaching storm as may induce him to get under shelter in time, it is enough for him, unless he wishes to become an astronomer or natural philosopher: so, if he is told enough of the practices of such fellows as Nickem to shelter himself, in this case it is enough also; for I presume no man would wish to study rascality. If he does, I am quite as incapable as I should be unwilling to be his tutor: in this “the patient must minister to himself.” Should he, however, wish to prosecute his studies quite professionally, I shall be happy to point out to him several adepts who can give him that high finish in roguery, only to be learned under the best masters. Should I have the high honour of meeting any individual wishing thus to finish his education, if the meeting should take place in Oxford Street, or at the Corner (on sale days), the probability is I may be able to point out one who has been enthusiastic in his pursuit of knowledge in the art of Nickemising, and completed his education on the Continent: permit me to recommend him as a master. Nay, the lad who accompanies him in his gig is quite competent to bring
416 No MoRE, THANK YOU.
on a young pupil: the master will finish him; so he will a customer, if he has much to do with him. I can point out many capable masters, but I love to notice particularly transcendent merit! What information I have got in such matters as I have alluded to has not, I can assure my readers, been gained free of expense: it is a medicine I have been forced to swallow : some of the pills were, I allow, very nicely silvered, others gilt; but unfortunately, it was my silver and gold that I swallowed. The phials were very neatly tied down with crimson paper, and the labels beautifully written: this did not make the contents the less nauseous. I soon became intractable, and would swallow no more: and now, though not a M. D., former dosing has rendered me so aware of kind intentions, that the horse pharmacopolist who could persuade me his bolus was a preserved cherry, or his dark-coloured draught Chateau Margaux, must know something of his business. If, from what I have written, I may so far have aroused the suspicions of my reader as to prevent his being improperly dosed, my time has not been illemployed. If I have induced him to avoid the charlatan, and apply only to the honourable and able practitioner, I have done some good: and should he be so unfortunate as to unwittingly apply to the for. mer, if I have shown him enough of the appearance of his drugs as to induce him to refuse a deleterious draught, it is well also; but far better is it if I can persuade him not to trust to such knowledge, and in all circumstances to apply only to such men as will render any knowledge of the iniquitous practices of rogues uncalled for; and men of honour and integrity are to be found in all professions, and even in trade.