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with his first loss as the least, and the vagabond by whom he has been cheated is allowed to be at large, and to practise similar frauds upon unwitting customers whenever he can pick up a good screw—a species of animal prized beyond measure by all that genus of rascals who do not scruple to swear to the soundness of any animal they possess, be their diseases and defects more numerous than those contained in the whole range of Professor Coleman's Lectures.
In order to illustrate the unblushing effrontery with which your low dealer palms off an unsound horse, I will relate one instance among many of those in which I have laid bare the schemes of these rascals. Being in want of a horse, and having plenty of time on my hands, I one morning wrote down the addresses given in several advertisements describing horses gifted with every good quality that can well be imagined, and forthwith proceeded to hunt up the owners of these matchless steeds. In my peregrinations 1 lighted upon two horses in the Red Lion Yard, Holborn (a noted coper's stable), one of which was a remarkably fine brown horse that I thought would suit my purpose. Accordingly I had him out, and, thinking him a little lame in one foreleg, would have nothing to do with him. In vain did a groom in livery and a stable-boy in undress endeavor to persuade me to take the horse on trial for a week, and ride and drive him as I liked." I insisted on a reference, and was informed that “the horses belonged to a gentleman who lived in the first white house beyond Streatham Church, and that his only reason for selling them was that he had a dreadful complaint in the kidneys, and had just undergone a terrible operation, performed by Sir Astley Cooper, who declared he could not live many days.” Now it so happened that I was going that road, and, therefore, having learnt the gentleman's name, I took my departure, resolved to give him a call as I rode through Streatham. In the meantime I proceeded to the Portugal Stables, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where I found two uncommonly handsome horses “ warranted sound in every respect." told “they belonged to a Captain Somebody, at Acton-Bottom, and that he was ordered to join his regiment abroad immediately, and consequently would part with his horses for much less than their real value. This finale to the description led me to inspect them rather closely, notwithstanding they were the property of a gentleman. One, a bay horse, I found to be a roarer; and the other, one of the handsomest chesnut horses I ever saw, had so terrible a canker of one foot that I was certain he must be dead lame. However, to set the matter at rest, I desired the man to lead him out and run him up and down the street. Upon this I was given to understand that “ the parochial authorities had ordered that no led horses should be allowed to be shewn off in that parish!” This, of course, I knew to be a lie; but to dispute the matter being perfectly useless, I desired that the horse might be saddled and bridled, and ridden in the square. The excuse for not complying with this request was,
that the groom had taken back the saddles and bridles to Acton, and that they had not one in the stable.” While this explanation was in course of being made, the door opened, and “the Captain ” entered, accoutred in a black frock coat, from the collar of which depended an eye-glass, wearing a formidable pair of spurs, and having in his hand a cane of some pretensions. He at once confirmed
what his man had stater, and assured me both horses were perfectly sound and quiet. To this I replied, that “the bay horse was certainly a roarer, and I had every reason to believe that the chesnut must be lame."-"Why replied the Captain, stammering, “ the fact is he is a little of a roarer, but I assure you you won't hear him in harness.” Here was an admission of falsehood which was quite enough to satisfy any one of the character of the person he had to deal with ; and besides I well knew my military friend's face at every auction of horses at which I had happened to be present, to say nothing of that indescribable something which betrayed the would-be gentleman. As nothing could induce him to allow the chesnut horse to be taken out of the stable, I took my leave, and, on passing through Streatham the same day, made many and futile inquiries for the unfortunate gentleman who was so soon to take his departure for the other world under the auspices of Sir Astley. No one had ever heard of such a name in the village, and the blacksmith, whose forge was close to the church, had never shod any such person's horses. Being in town the following morning, and passing through Holborn, I had the brown horse out again, for his lameness was so trifling that I was almost undecided whether I should not buy, and endeavor to cure him. The groom of course swore “the horse had never been lame, and that his master being all but defunct, if I would give him a guinea for himself, I should have the horse a bargain.” He was perfectly astonished that I should not have been able to discover his master's residence, and was proceeding with a long detail of his complaints and sufferings, when the stable-boy, who was utterly ignorant of this portion of the plot, suddenly emerged from the stable and exclaimed, “ here comes master.”
Why,” said I, “ I thought you told me he could not leave his bed.”“ He is obliged to come up now and then and see Sir Astley, Sir.” I turned round, and, coming up the yard with amazing vigor for a man with a mortal complaint of the kidneys, and altogether with a truly wonderful air of nonchalance for an unfortunate wretch who had only a few days to live, did I behold Tue ACTON-Bottom CAPTAIN! The fellow could not repress a grin, which, to do his character credit, in nowise betrayed the slightest symptom of awkwardness in being detected in a second falsehood, and immediately launched forth in praise of the horse I was looking at, as though he cared not a rush for . the exposé of his want of veracity the day before, and considered that such representations were all to be considered as made “in the
It is almost needless to add that I had no farther business with him, but walked out of the yard before he had well got through the exordium of his panegyric on the brown horse.
Were I to detail the numerous deceptions that are daily practised in this way, and the barefaced lies that are hourly told by dealers of no credit and their under-strappers, I should impose upon myself a task as endless as Penelope's web; therefore ex uno disce omnes ;” and whenever you hear a long tale about a horse from a suspicious agent, and cannot procure a reference to a gentleman, or a sufficient trial, you may safely take it for granted that all you have been told is a tissue of lies, and that if you buy a horse from the description given you by a dealer's
man, you will be wofully disappointed in your expectations of having made a good bargain.
In spite, however, of all I have said on this subject, it is ten to one that a novice, after having carefully booked all my admonitions, will, on the very first occasion of coming in contact with a cunning dealer, allow himself to be talked out of his better judgment, and persuaded to buy a horse that he is almost certain will not suit him. Such is the force of a horse-dealer's eloquence, such is the easy flow and vividness of his descriptions, and such the beauty and captivating aptness of his similes, that, great as is the fame of Cicero and Demosthenes, were they alive at this day, and to do the utmost their fancy could suggest in praise of a horse, the flowers of their oratory would seem withered and faded when compared to the bright colors in which the lowest of our English copers and horse-chaunters pourtray their imaginings. What fast-flowing fancies of delight must inevitably sieze upon the mind of the tyro in horse-dealing-predetermined to be cautious, and have his eyes
wide open to the slightest defect—when he hears a horse extolled as
gay as a peacock-fine as a star-full of pluck as a game-cock-that can gallop as fast as you can clap your hands—and jump like a buck," &c., it is by no means difficult to conceive. He sees himself in imagination mounted upon a horse of this description—he outstrips every horse with the Royal Stag-hounds—he tops fences and clears brooks that no other hunter will face—he wiltully passes over some faults that he cannot help noticing-he pays his cash—and finds that he has luckily half his money's worth, and has bought...... experience !
A friend of mine was once done in the following way. He repaired, with more cash than wisdom, to the stables of a horse-dealer, and, having selected a nag that he thought would suit his purpose, demanded the price. The dealer, perceiving his customer to be a little green, immediately asked about fifteen pounds more than he meant to take, and, finding that the price was not objected to, began no doubt to think himself an egregious ass for not having demanded
more. He, therefore, requested my friend to look round his stables, and to try some other horses; and, while thus employed, despatched a message to a confederate, who quickly arrived as a stranger, and unhesitatingly bought the horse first brought out at all the money that was asked for him, declaring he had never picked up such a bargain. In this assertion he was strenuously backed by the dealer, who regretted that my friend had not decided at once upon taking so cheap a horse himself, and added in a whisper, “Offer him five pounds for his bargain, Sir, I know something about him ; he'll sell.”. Upon this hint he spake," and to some purpose too, for he of course got the horse, and learned a lesson in dealing into the bargain-his purchase turning out, when minus the ginger and threats of the coper's yard, a very sorry beast indeed!
In no place is confederacy more resorted to than at horse-auctions. There, if you chance to look at a dealer's horse, you will probably be entertained by the discourse of two fellows, directed at but not to you, respecting the wonderful qualities of the animal your attention is drawn to. If worth ten pounds, you will probably hear something of the following nature :—“ S'help me God, Bill, sound as a rock, an' only comin' six this grass. There I knowd him ven Tom Smith druv him
in a four-v'll shay all the vay down to St. Alban's in an hour and twenty minutes, an' then rid him with the fox-hounds all day, and he com'd home in the evenin' as gay as a lark! I dare say he von't fetch much more nor a score, an' I means to have him if he goes anything like that price. Ven he's in condition I think he's the 'andsomest 'oss as you can see; an' sich a-goer! You need not cough him, Sir ; Lor' bless you, his vind's as clear as a vistle. He can go longer nor you'd like to ride him without stoppin'!”
At length the horse goes to the hammer. Some friends, who are put up to the scheme, get about him and keep you at a respectful distance, while an animated bidding goes on, until, thinking the horse must be cheap to attract the admiration of so many good judges, you are perhaps induced to nod your head to the auctioneer when the bidding has reached eighteen guineas. You find you have just bid the very oney he must be exactly worth; for, strange to
ay, no one of all the numerous host so anxious to possess him offers a penny above you. What is still more pleasant, you are urged on by some low vagabond at your elbow to buy the horse, who, when you have purchased him, hopes you will “ remember him for his recommendation:” or, which is still more probable, he asks permission to bid for you, assuring you that his brother dealers will not bid against him, and that you will thus get the horse cheap. This kind friend eventually asks a guinea for buying him, and thus your ten-pound horse costs you about twice as much as he is worth. It
may be imagined that such tricks are only played off at those auctions where very low-priced horses are sold ; but the truth is, that, although there is more scope there for the exercise of the low dealer's cunning, particularly if a gentleman attempt to buy horses at them, there is no auction that is not regularly frequented by these guineahunters, as they are called, and where a good-looking screw is not sent for sale almost as frequently as elsewhere.
Does a dealer buy, or appear to buy (for they are frequently the only bidders for their own property), a horse at auction, and you offer him a certain sum above what he has given, he will tell you that “
he has paid away so much in the ring ;" by which expression is meant, all the dealers who would have bid against him had he not bought them off. Thus a horse is knocked down for twenty pounds, and you offer the purchaser two or three and twenty pounds for him: the answer is, that “ four pounds have been given away among other dealers, and that you cannot have him for less than five-and-twenty guineas.” As for the truth of this assertion, you may believe just as much of it as you please; the real value of the horse is the only thing to be considered.
It would be as tedious as impossible to detail all the manoeuvres and tricks of the lower class of horse-dealers, and, therefore, it may be as well to sum up the list of their offences against common honesty, by saying, that a very great proportion of them do not hesitate to put in practice any species of rascality, no matter of what description, in order to take in the unwary, and pluck a feather from the wing of that goose, the public, relying chiefly upon their own unblushing effrontery to preserve them from the magisterial fang, and upon their poverty to defend them from the chance of being sued at law.
At the same time that I make this declaration, I would remark that to every rule there are exceptions, and I should be sorry to imagine that every horse-dealer who is not rich enough to purchase first-rate horses must ipso facto be a rogue; but still the force of example, and the contaminating association with unscrupulous knaves, must go far to take off the sharp edge of honesty; and I would, therefore, instil into you the rule, that it is best in purchasing a horse of a dealer, whom know nothing of, to “ close your ears carefully with cotton, and to open your eyes to their fullest extent.”
THE INSTINCTIVE FACULTIES OF THE HORSE-THE USE OF THE WHIP
AND SPUR-AND THE QUALIFICATION OF GENTLEMEN JOCKEYS.
A DISSERTATION on the subject of riding races is one that has rarely been offered to the world, which may be accounted for in various ways. In the first place, jockeys are not, generally speaking, a class of men very susceptible of the cacoethes scribendi : in the next, they are not usually desirous of communicating the mysteries of their profession; and having once discovered a particular system, which proves successful, it is natural they should endeavor to keep it as much as possible to themselves, rather than teach others to copy their method.
It is certainly a beautiful science, one in which very few men are found to excel, and may truly be considered the ne plus ultra of horsemanship. There are many who can ride who may be considered to have attained a certain rank, but there are few, very few, who can be extolled as having gained pre-eminence. Like painters, many of whom can delineate the style, figure, and countenances of living subjects, or who can represent the scenery which they behold; but ages have only produced a very limited number who could give the mastertouch, represent Nature in her true character, and imitate those beauties which man is at best only allowed to copy: so it is with the jockey : there is a delicate touch required " at the finish,” which frequently either wins or loses the race: in other words, there is a time when too much exertion required from the horse totally defeats him, and there is a time when his energies being called forth make the race his own. These events may casually be produced by moderate riders, but with them they are more the effect of chance than judgment.
One great object to be acquired in the difficult science of race-riding is a knowledge of the power and capability of the animal, so as to call forth his efforts at a proper time; in fact, to apply his powers of speed or stoutness according to his qualifications, and also to the relative qualifications of his competitors, judging from his action, condition, and consequent ability. Superiority on such occasions must result from experience, practice, and observation.
That there are very few men who excel in the art of riding a race is not to be wondered at, when it is considered how
attributes are essential. In the first place, a man's stature must be small, and at the
VOL. XIX. SECOND SERIES.No. 113,