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The Horse-Cheat lays open the cheating Tricks of those that sell or let out Horses to hire; and shews how those Cheats themselves are sometimes cheated.


Good God! What a grave Countenance our Phaedrus has put on, gaping ever and anon into the Air. I'll attack him. Phaedrus, what News to Day?

Ph. Why do you ask me that Question, Aulus?

Aul. Because, of a Phaedrus, you seem to have become a Cato, there is so much Sourness in your Countenance.

Ph. That's no Wonder, my Friend, I am just come from Confession.

Aul. Nay, then my Wonder's over; but tell me upon your honest Word, did you confess all?

Ph. All that I could remember, but one.

Aul. And why did you reserve that one?

Ph. Because I can't be out of Love with it.

Aul. It must needs be some pleasant Sin.

Ph. I can't tell whether it is a Sin or no; but if you are at Leisure, you shall hear what it is.

Aul. I would be glad to hear it, with all my Heart.

Ph. You know what cheating Tricks are play'd by our Jockeys, who sell and let out Horses.

Aul. Yes, I know more of them than I wish I did, having been cheated by them more than once.

Ph. I had Occasion lately to go a pretty long Journey, and I was in great Haste; I went to one that you would have said was none of the worst of 'em, and there was some small Matter of Friendship between us. I told him I had an urgent Business to do, and had Occasion for a strong able Gelding; desiring, that if he would ever be my Friend in any Thing, he would be so now. He promised me, that he would use me as kindly as if I were his own dear Brother.

Aul. It may be he would have cheated his Brother.

Ph. He leads me into the Stable, and bids me chuse which I would out of them all. At last I pitch'd upon one that I lik'd better than the rest. He commends my Judgment, protesting that a great many Persons had had a Mind to that Horse; but he resolved to keep him rather for a singular Friend, than sell him to a Stranger. I agreed with him as to the Price, paid him down his Money, got upon the Horse's Back. Upon the first setting out, my Steed falls a prancing; you would have said he was a Horse of Mettle; he was plump, and in good Case: But, by that Time I had rid him an Hour and a half, I perceiv'd he was downright tir'd, nor could I by spurring him, get him any further. I had heard that such Jades had been kept for Cheats, that you would take by their Looks to be very good Horses; but were worth nothing for Service. I says to myself presently, I am caught. But when I come Home again, I will shew him Trick for Trick.

Aul. But what did you do in this Case, being a Horseman without a Horse?

Ph. I did what I was oblig'd to do. I turn'd into the next Village, and there I set my Horse up privately, with an Acquaintance, and hired another, and prosecuted my Journey; and when I came back, I return'd my hired Horse, and finding my own in very good Case, and thoroughly rested, I mounted his Back, and rid back to the Horse-Courser, desiring him to set him up for a few Days, till I called for him again. He ask'd me how well he carry'd me; I swore by all that was good, that I never bestrid a better Nag in my Life, that he flew rather than walk'd, nor ever tir'd the least in the World in all so long a Journey, nor was a Hair the leaner for it. I having made him believe that these Things were true, he thought with himself, he had been mistaken in this Horse; and therefore, before I went away, he ask'd me if I would sell the Horse. I refus'd at first; because if I should have Occasion to go such another Journey, I should not easily get the Fellow of him; but however, I valued nothing so much, but I would sell it, if I could have a good Price for it, altho' any Body had a Mind to buy myself.

Aul. This was fighting a Man with his own Weapons.

Ph. In short, he would not let me go away, before I had set a Price upon him. I rated him at a great Deal more than he cost me. Being gone, I got an Acquaintance to act for me, and gave him Instructions how to behave himself: He goes to the House, and calls for the Horse-Courser, telling him, that he had Occasion for a very good, and a very hardy Nag. The Horse-Courser shews him a great many Horses, still commending the worst most of all; but says not a Word of that Horse he had sold me, verily believing he was such as I had represented him. My Friend presently ask'd whether that was not to be sold; for I had given him a Description of the Horse, and the Place where he stood. The Horse-Courser at first made no Answer, but commended the rest very highly. The Gentleman lik'd the other Horses pretty well; but always treated about that very Horse: At last thinks the Horse-Courser with himself, I have certainly been out in my Judgment as to this Horse, if this Stranger could presently pick this Horse out of so many. He insisting upon it, He may be sold, says he; but it may be, you'll be frighted at the Price. The Price, says he, is a Case of no great Importance, if the Goodness of the Thing be answerable: Tell me the Price. He told him something more than I had set him at to him, getting the Overplus to himself. At last the Price was agreed on, and a good large Earnest was given, a Ducat of Gold to bind the Bargain. The Purchaser gives the Hostler a Groat, orders him to give his Horse some Corn, and he would come by and by, and fetch him. As soon as ever I heard the Bargain was made so firmly, that it could not be undone again, I go immediately, booted and spurr'd to the Horse-Courser, and being out of Breath, calls for my Horse. He comes and asks what I wanted: Says I, get my Horse ready presently, for I must be gone this Moment, upon an extraordinary Affair: But, says he, you bid me keep the Horse a few Days: That's true, said I, but this Business has happened unexpectedly, and it is the King's Business, and it will admit of no Delay. Says he, take your Choice, which you will of all my Horses; you cannot have your own. I ask'd him, why so? Because, says he, he is sold. Then I pretended to be in a great Passion; God forbid, says I; as this Journey has happen'd, I would not sell him, if any Man would offer me four Times his Price. I fell to wrangling, and cry out, I am ruin'd: At Length he grew a little warm too: What Occasion is there for all this Contention: You set a Price upon your Horse, and I have sold him; if I pay you your Money, you have nothing more to do to me; we have Laws in this City, and you can't compel me to produce the Horse. When I had clamoured a good While, that he would either produce the Horse, or the Man that bought him: He at last pays me down the Money in a Passion. I had bought him for fifteen Guineas, I set him to him at twenty six, and he had valued him at thirty two, and so computed with himself he had better make that Profit of him, than restore the Horse. I go away, as if I was vex'd in my Mind, and scarcely pacified, tho' the Money was paid me: He desires me not to take it amiss, he would make me Amends some other Way: So I bit the Biter: He has a Horse not worth a Groat; he expected that he that had given him the Earnest, should come and pay him the Money; but no Body came, nor ever will come.

Aul. But in the mean Time, did he never expostulate the Matter with you?

Ph. With what Face or Colour could he do that? I have met him over and over since, and he complain'd of the Unfairness of the Buyer: But I often reason'd the Matter with him, and told him, he deserv'd to be so serv'd, who by his hasty Sale of him, had depriv'd me of my Horse. This was a Fraud so well plac'd, in my Opinion, that I could not find in my Heart to confess it as a Fault.

Aul. If I had done such a Thing, I should have been so far from confessing it as a Fault, that I should have requir'd a Statue for it.

Ph. I can't tell whether you speak as you think or no; but you set me agog however, to be paying more of these Fellows in their own Coin.

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