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profits. No; if Nickem can get him himself, by nominally selling him to some coadjutor for sixty, he expects to make twenty; if for fifty, thirty; and of course, if he is to be had for forty, just that sum would go into Nickem's pocket short what he may be forced to give his friend if he employs one: if not, he pouches the whole. Now this is better than livery, or saving a bushel of oats worth three shillings; and men have been placed in such situations, by a regularly concerted plot, as to be willing to take such a reduction as forty in eighty, aye, and will again, and thank Nickem too for the trouble he has taken. "The horse has been unlucky certainly," says the owner, "and I lose a great deal of money by him; but neither you nor I can help that." Certainly the owner cannot; but I rather opine Nickem could have helped it, and by not doing so has helped himself pretty handsomely.
With such a horse, on his arrival the first thing to be done is to get him out of sight till Nickem has privately thoroughly overhauled him. This is very easily done by putting him in a box: two men are immediately set about him, clothes and bandages brought, lots of warm water, &c. The groom, on going home, represents all this, and Mr. Nickem's having ordered him into a capital box after his journey. The master is of course pleased with this. "It was very careful and attentive of Mr. Nickem!" Very!This is the beginning of "slaying the innocents." The horse being put up, groom gets half a crown to get his glass of brandy-and-water after his journey; so he is made comfortable, as well as his horse and as by this time the nagsman and he have become acquainted, he goes to make himself comfortable also; and while they are doing this, nagsman, who does not want to be told his business, sucks the groom's brains, and learns all he knows about the horse, and any others in his master's stables. There is then a considerable shaking of hands, groom takes his saddle on his back, goes off by coach, and the horse is left like a boy at school, the difference being, however, that the boy often learns very little, whereas the horse will learn a good deal: the master also (if not in the higher branches of education) will get a lesson so far as 'pounds, shillings, and pence go. The coast being now clear, the next morning, before any customers come in, Nickem has the horse out, sees his paces, examines him minutely as to soundness, and gets the nagsman on him; if a hunting-like horse, or represented as one, sees him over a fence or two, and the bar, and also in his gallop if he is stated to be a harness-horse, he sees him in that; if he is not so represented, but he considers as a harness-horse he would sell well, he has him carefully tried. Even his behaviour while the harness is being put on will shew to an experienced eye how far he is likely to go quiet: if he seems good-tempered, he is just put into a break; a hundred yards suffices: he therefore knows now what the master does not, namely, whether he is likely to make a harness-horse. This in some horses puts on or takes off twenty, perhaps thirty pounds in their value; and this is all done without any exposure to servants. True enough, they know quite well what game is going on, but their place is too good to lose by talking; and if they did, what could they say further than that "master had tried the horse in every way! y!" If even the owner caught the horse under this trial, a lie would be ready cut and dried for him : Ude could not turn out eno omelette aux fine herbes
half as quickly as Nickem could a dozen plats of well-dried, highlyspiced, and seasoned fibs: "'tis his vocation, Hal!" He "was seeing him in harness for a match for a gentleman who would buy him in a minute if he seemed likely to take to harness :" or, if he was being leaped, Nickem "intends to write off immediately to a customer now he can safely say the horse leaps well: he always wishes to sell Gentlemen's horses as soon as possible, so he likes to see what they can do: he can then take upon himself to recommend them." This the owner cannot deny is very fair, proper, and indeed conscientious in Nickem. Very!
Nickem having learned pretty nearly all he wants about the horse, he must now learn all he can about the Gentleman, and to see how far he is likely to go quietly or be obstreperous in the harness he intends to put on him. He plies him as to price. Probably Nickem's opinion is asked, and possibly his advice. This advice will of course be given as best suits his own interest. Before, however, he gives in this opinion or advice, he puts in a feeler something in this way :-"Why, Sir, the price to be taken of course remains with you, and depends a good deal upon whether you wish the horse sold as soon as possible, or whether you are disposed to hold out for price, as in that case we must wait till the right customer comes; and also whether you are determined not to sell under a certain price; or whether you have any objection to him, and are determined not to take him back: but in either case, you know, Sir, it is my interest to get the most I can, for the more you get the more I get; so it is the interest of both to get the most we can."- 66 Humph!"(Mem. I say that) :-the owner said, "Of
course, Mr. Nickem."
Now this said feeler, with the acute sensibility of touch that Nickem has, brings out more than enough to shew him the present determination of the owner. I say present, because a few days and a few tricks very often alter these sort of determinations amazingly. Of course various means are employed to bring this about, varying according to circumstances. In this case, we will suppose a medium kind of determination in the seller. Nickem has persuaded him he ought to take less than he asked; and it is left that the seller is willing to make a considerable reduction rather than send the horse back. But this reduction does not amount to perhaps more than one-fourth of what Nickem wants, so a beginning must be made to bring this about. will instance one way of beginning. The owner and Nickem see the horse out together. In this case he is not shewn so as to make his master more in love with him than he was; in short, he never saw the horse go worse. Nickem looks in so peculiar and attentive a way at the horse's going, that the seller is induced to ask his motive. Before he gives an answer (so delicately tenacious is he of saying an unpleasant thing, and so feelingly alive is he to the interest of his employer), that he says to his man, go down again, Jem; give him his head; go five mile an hour; that'll do; stand." He now looks at one foot, then turns to the owner: "I beg pardon for not answering before, Sir; has this horse ever been a little tender on this foot?"— "No, never, Mr. Niokem; there cannot be a sounder horse !"--“ Oh, I'm sure of that, Sir, from what you say; but I can't fancy he goes
quite level now." This is feeler the second, and gets a hint how the seller will take anything of this kind: but it does more than this; it just leaves Nickem in a situation to be able hereafter with a good grace to confess his mistake, or to prove the correctness of his eye and judgment in fact, to make the horse a sound or unsound one as he pleases. Not wishing at present to alarm the owner sufficiently to cause him to fear his horse is not in a state for sale, he now sayssee that shoe presses a little hard on the heel; I have no doubt but that is all. I will get his feet nicely put to rights: they will look all the better for sale, and I have no doubt the horse will be all right immediately. I will see it done myself.”—(Mem. no doubt of that!)" Put a poultice on that horse's off-foot, and I will get his shoes altered first thing in the morning: go in..... No occasion, Sir, to make everybody as wise as ourselves: we'll set him to rights, never fear!" Some people might think that if a shoe really pinched, the sooner it was off the better, and would have it off immediately. I should, and so would Nickem if this was the case; but then the owner might be inclined to see his horse's foot pared out himself. This would not be so convenient; though even then the thing might be managed right, and would be, unless the owner was pretty conversant with the anatomy of feet.
So Nickem has really done a good deal of business in an hour. He has got ten pounds taken off the price of the horse as a beginning; he has found out that the owner does not wish to get him back if he can at all help it; added to which, he is requested to let him know what offer is made. This, if Nickem does not go to sleep, is ten pounds more off. He has raised something like a doubt of his perfect soundness; has got the opportunity of ascertaining this for his own private satisfaction; has the means of keeping him sound or making him an unsound one; and has put the owner a good deal more out of humor with the horse than he was when he left his stable. Now this is doing business: some particular and illiberal people may also call it DOING customers. This is in fact the grand dish that calls forth all Nickem's talent the spiced and seasoned fibs are merely little side-dishes, adjuncts, and sauces, required to make the whole look well, and are as necessary to form his great chef-d'œuvre as the claret is to stewed carp. A really well-done customer is a glorious dish, always to be found at Nickem's table; and, what is better, instead of costing money, puts money in his pocket. French cooks serve up glorious dishes; but I apprehend on rather a more expensive plan.
Nickem having thus put matters en train, it will now be advisable to wait a bit, and let the customer cool a little. Nothing cools colts or customers more than "standing on the bit," provided we do not keep them long enough at it to ruffle their tempers: and finding no offer made, or at least not one near the mark, is also as great a cooler to a seller as the patent powders are to ice-creams, claret, or champagne : the two refrigerators make them all just fit to be used; in fact, to be taken in. After a few days, a letter is sent to the customer, post-mark (we will say) Brighton, something to this effect:
"Sir-From the very strong recommendation you gave of the bay horse I saw at your Repository on Wednesday, I am induced to make
you an offer for him. If the owner is disposed to take fifty pounds, you may give it for me. This, considering he is not a horse of any known character, I think is his full value. I am, Sir," &c.-Signed (of course) anybody.
This additional feeler, considering it only cost a shilling to a guard to put it in the Post-office, is not an expensive one, and is sent, accompanied by a note from Nickem, giving it as his opinion "that it is not quite what he should recommend being taken, as by holding the horse over he is satisfied he should get a better price."
This holding over, though it has cooled the customer, now, like the bit, from having been kept some time on, begins to make him restless and fidgetty; so, after reading anybody's letter, he first d-s the horse, then his ill-luck, and (almost) the Repository; but most particularly and especially the dealer from whom he bought him. Nickem did, in fact, tell him he had given too much! He resolves to send his groom for the horse: then comes the after-thought of the trouble, inconvenience, and expense of this, added to the doubt of his being able to sell him at home. Then, in favor of taking the offer, comes the homely adage of making the best of a bad bargain. This is not always to be done; for he has got hold of Nickem, and Nickem of him. Now, Nickem is a bad bargain; but it does not seem likely he will make the best of him. Again, if the horse is sold from home, no one knows for what he was sold. This is really a consideration, and a great one; for though being conscious of our having done a foolish thing is bad enough, it is still worse that our neighbours should be conscious of it also. So down he sits, takes his pen, d-s that (though on another occasion he would have merely changed it), and then tells Mr. Nickem "that though fifty pounds is a miserable price for such a horse, as he has been so unlucky to him, he had better take it at once to put an end to further trouble." God help the man in his innocency! for there is a little further trouble in store for him yet. By-the-by, who keeps the key of this store? I do not know; certainly no one with any Parliamentary interest, for, by Jove, serving out troubles to the world is no sinecure.
It may now be reasonably supposed that Nickem, having got the horse to fifty, would be disposed, nay content, to have him: not he; have him he will, but why give fifty even if forty will do! "Ridiculous!" some people may say: "is it to be supposed a man is to be further gulled, and that thinking fifty pounds a miserable price, he will take ten pounds less?" Yes, he will, and probably solicit Nickem to take him at that; and we shall soon see one of the ways by which he will be made to do so.
Reader, did you ever hear of "manufacturing a corn?" bably not; but I have, and I dare say should have had the thing tried with me if I had not always perfectly well known whether any horse of mine had corns or not, and never left it to anyone to determine the fact for me. But, as Nickem now finds it judicious to manufacture one, the Reader will learn all about it. Nickem has perfectly satisfied himself long since that this horse was sound, and had he been offered at any time fifteen or twenty pounds more than he was authorised to
take for him, he would have done so and pocketed the balance:-- -(how this may be done without detection I shall by-and-by explain; sufficient for the present transaction is the evil thereof:)-but not having been offered this, and resolving to have him, forty is the price determined on so now we will manufacture the corn.
The smith is sent for. Nickem does not compromise himself to him, as you will see. "Take off that shoe: I am afraid this horse has a corn." Off comes the shoe, and the searcher is applied. "Take down both heels pretty well, so as not to disfigure the foot too much : there, now try this heel; I am sure it is very deep-seated. Go on: ah! I was sure of it. There, put on his shoe.' The smith perfectly well knows what all this is about; but he shoes for the place, and knows it is as much his business not to make remarks as it is to make horseshoes and corns when either are wanted.
The owner has been written to, to say his horse is sold at fifty, Nickem regretting he could not do better. The owner thanks God he is gone at all events, though the price was bad. Now this philosophy and thankfulness is very proper and grateful; but he is not gone; for the next day the seller receives-"Sir, I regret to say your horse has been returned to my stables, not having answered the warranty of soundness given when sold. I send you Mr. the Veterinary Surgeon's opinion. I am, Sir," &c.
"I certify I have this day examined a bay gelding brought to me by Mr. Nickem's foreman, and find he has a corn on his off-forefoot, and is consequently unsound. "TIMOTHY TURNEMBACK, V.S."
I fear the Gentleman's feelings of thankfulness will be somewhat diminished by this, whatever his philosophy may be. He determines personally to see into the thing-that is, as far as he can, which will not be very far after all.
We will leave the Gentleman preparing for his journey, and consider a little the ins and outs of these corn cases, for they are of very frequent occurrence. Now a corn is really the neatest, the least cruel, the most certain, and least to be disputed mode of making an unsound horse I know of. Veterinarians may give you a long account of the nature, cause, and effects of corns; but in examining a horse, there is no need for this: there it is, and that is enough. There is a red mark; a corn is a red mark: and whether that has been produced by pressure, bruise, or by having cut so near the sensible part of the foot as to shew the same thing, it returns the horse, and that is all Nickem wanted. It may be asked whether a clever Vet may not be able to tell a manufactured corn from one made by the ordinary causes? This is not my business to answer or interfere with. I have only shewn what I meant that corns are made, and horses are returned in consequence of them.
The Gentleman has now arrived, and expressed his astonishment and chagrin very vehemently, and very naturally: Nickem expressed his chagrin very artificially: he has not expressed his astonishment, because this is the time to remind the Gentleman of a little observation made by Nickem at the commencement of the business, and kept in