|JOHN TILBURY & HIS SYSTEM FOR HIRING OUT HUNTERS
Efficient, organised, reliable, and caring of his horses
"... my reasons for recommending wandering sportsmen to adopt the example of the German Noblemen [see below] ... who were hunting at Brighton last season, by hiring instead of buying their hunters.
Mr. Tilbury's mode of doing business will be best described by the following letter, which was an answer to one from a friend of mine, desiring to know his terms for the hire of a hunter, when the hirer kept the horse and paid all expenses; and also his charge for two hunters and a groom, Mr. Tilbury paying the whole of the expenses.
I received your letter requesting to know the price of hiring hunters by the month.
To the price of a hunter per month twelve guineas, the Gentleman who hires the horse paying keep and all expenses.
I will send you two good hunters with a clean obliging servant, and every requisite for the horse, and pay all expenses, for forty guineas for the two horses per month, with the servant's expenses included.
If you should take any horses I shall be most happy to give you the choice of a number of good ones, that you may select two you like. Your further orders will be carefully attended to by, Sir,
To — — Esq.
Your obedient servant, JOHN TILBURY.
This letter, I think, will frighten the country Gentlemen, who have no idea of the expense of livery stables, and such like places, and who frequently return home from their day's hunting with the identical twopence-halfpenny in their breeches pocket that they had taken out to meet the day's disbursements; having (like soldiers with their swords on) taken advantage of their red coats, and deviated from the high road—not, of course, with any view of avoiding the toll, but merely to ascertain the state of the country, and see if it was in good riding condition.
I confess that at the first brush of the thing the money seems, like Hodge's razors, 'quite a heap;' but to arrive at a true opinion, and to ascertain the real advantages of this plan, we must consider the case of a sportsman travelling with his own horses and servant.
As Mrs. Somebody said in her cookery book, when giving a receipt for dressing a hare, 'first catch your hare;' so the Gentleman must first buy or get his horse somehow or other; and I have never yet found any to give away.
Supposing, then, that he purchases his hunters (say a couple, to make our case agree with Mr. Tilbury's letter) at a fair reasonable price—such a one in fact as he will have no difficulty in getting again at the end of the season if he wishes to dispose of them: we will suppose also that they both stand sound, and meet with no accidents during the season; and that the two will carry him on an average with fox-hounds and harriers five days a fortnight: still he is at a very great expense in their keep.
The cheapest livery-stable I ever had my hunters in cost me twenty-four shillings and sixpence a-week for each horse, for hay, corn, and beans (though in general the latter are charged extra): then comes a yard and a half of etceteras, such as mashes, carrots, gruel, nitre, oil, stopping, &c. amounting at least to 3s. a-week more each horse: and every now and then hops in a long farrier and veterinary sureon's bill for shoies, cordial and alterative balls, bleeding, physicking, and humbugging: also a saddler for wear and tear of horse gear; to say nothing of Messrs. Wilkinson and Kidd's annual one for the appointments themselves:—so, what with these, the expenses of sending horses on to covert, gruel after hunting, ostler for giving them 'a rub and a promise,' and one thing and another, I do not think a man can calculate upon each hunter costing him less than 2 l. a-week.
This, then, will bespeak atbout 16 l. and upwards of his ready money (and in strange livery-stables it must be ready too); but as yet we have got no one to look after them.
A friend of mine used to say that a good dressing 'was worth a feed of corn;' and though grooms, like most other articles, are to be had at all prices, (at the Horse Bazaar they tell me the grooms are ticketed with their terms, and instead of asking Jack or Tom what wages he expects, you must catch him and look at his ticket,) sooner than have a bad one a man had better merely keep 'a tiger, or light-man-boy,' to ride his horses from one place to another, and trust entirely to the ostler and his won diligence for taking care of his horses; for with a regular groom a man might commit his horse entirely to his care; but no one worthy of being called a sportsman would think of trusting them to the care of boys and 'oat-stealers.'
For my own part, being passionately fond of horses, I would much rather have a country lad about fifteen or sixteen years old, than an obstinate self-sufficient old mule of a groom, who, if he has not it all his won way, gets as sulky as a bear with a sore head, and who is never easy when you are in the stable. Besides, another advantage of keeping a lad is, that you may lick him, as Mathews termed it when describing his trip to that land of liberty and freedom, America ... it ... had better be confined to the country, for the Magistrates in town have a singular aversion to blows.
Most men, however, have 'men-grooms;' and I have had the misfortune to have a few of them, and d—d lazy dogs they all were. I have generally paid from twenty-five to thirty shillings a-week for the 'gentlemen' when stationary, and, I think, seven shillings a-day when travelling, which of course they all swore was too little. I suppose, on an average, a groom costs 6 l. a month.
Well, then, this 6 l. and the 16 l. for the horses' keep will make up 22 l. a month according to Cocker.
These expenses are calculated on a supposition that the horses are remaining in one particular place the whole month; but the worst part of the story is, when they are travelling about from one Hunt to another, a 'hat full' of money will hardly satisfy the exorbitant demands of the innkeepers.
Here is a specimen for you—a bill which my groom presented me with one day last season, when travelling a horse from Brighton to London, from the
1 Horses Hay ......... 1 6
|printed by W. Allingham, Brighton.
Nine shillings and three-pence for one night!!! and a shilling to the oat-stealer for doing what my 'man-groom' was paid for doing! &mdashTempus fuggit— money flies indeed, as the Duke's coachman said.
God knows I am not a stingy man, though I have every reason for being so; but it is always the case in the world, that those who have least money
And as there are a great many fox-hunters similarly situated to myself, I intend in the course of my peregrinations to shew up every strait-backed, slip-shod, bloated fellow, with red eyes and unshaven face, called a publican, and generally worthy of the name of sinner, who shall presume to impose upon NIM SOUTH: so prenez garde, my jolly bonifaces!
To resume.—This one bill will shew how utterly impossible it is for a Gentleman to calculate his expenses when travelling, and is one of the greatest inducements for adopting Mr. Tilbury's plan. Innkeepers know as well as possible when the 'Gentleman' pays, and charge accordingly; while Mr. Tilbury's groom goes into the yard, and says that his master will only allow so much per night for each horse; and if he will not take them in on those terms he must go elsewhere: while the hirer enters the hotel with the satisfaction of knowing that 'come what will what may,' he will only have to fork out his 42 l. at the end of every twenty-eight days.
We will, however, take another view of the subject.
There are few sportsmen (especially young ones to whom this mode is particularly recommended) but do lose very considerably in converting their horse-flesh into money: still fewer, either young or old, who do not happen some accident to their horses, which may deprive them of their services for a part, or perhaps the whole of a season: and we have heard of such things as men killing their horses, or, more properly speaking (for sportsmen are never cruel), of horses dying in consequence of over-exertion and want of condition.
Now Tilbury's horses are always in good condition, and for the best possible reason — that they have plenty of work and exercise, are taken great care of; and if any thing happens them, they are immediately sent off to the farm at Pinner to recover. With respect to the other disagreeables —laming or killing— as they affect sport or the pocket, the hirer has nothing to do in the former case but return the horse and get another, and in the latter to get another without returning the horse.
A friend of mine wanted to ride a particlar horse one day, and spoke to Mr. Tilbury about it.—
'You cannot have him, Sir, I am sorry to say,'
said Mr. T.
inquired my friend;
'is he engaged?'—
'Why no, not exactly,'
said Mr. Tilbury;
'but Mr. — happened to kill him last Tuesday hunting with the — hounds!'
Another advantage is, that the horses being all for sale at a 'certain price,' if the hirer is particularly smitten with his mount, he may make it 'all his own' by coming down with the pewter; and I think a something may fairly be set down to the score of experience gained by thus trafficking in horse-flesh, without incurring the purchaser's risk: for, notwithstanding some people purchase their experience at a cheaper rate than others, I never heard of a 'witch' in horse-flesh who got his knowledge entirely for nothing; and though we have heard of 'heaven-born huntsmen,' the gods have not yet showered down any 'heaven-born horse-dealers.'
In justice to Mr. Tilbury I must add that he fulfils his contracts most faithfully and creditably. Many of his horses are of great value. The horses of the Old Berkeley fox-hounds which the Oldacres used to ride (and since them the late men) were all excellent, and some of them brought good prices at Tattersall's when they came to be sold, though there was not demand for horses on the day they were put up.
Like the Parson, I must beg 'my beloved brethren' will do what I 'preach,' and not what I 'practice.'
I have recommended this system, and pointed out its advantages; but I confess it presents one disadvantage of such insurmountable difficulty, that a man would almost be justified 'in robbing the mail' to avoid the necessity of adopting it.
A person loses all that interest in looking after hired horses that he has in attending to his own. If the poor animal has carried him well through the day, he does not sit down to dinner with half the satisfaction he would if the horse were his; and when he goes out between dinner and his wine to see him done up, and made comfortable for the night, he very likely will content himself by feeling that he is all clean, instead of staying to see the candles extinguished and the stable-door locked.
When billeted for hunting in a country town or village, I always spend an hour in the stable every evening, and sometimes have followed the same rule in large towns, and have been half ruined in purchasing rose-water to get the smell of the stable out of my garments, from fear of the mistress of the house ringing the bell, and desiring her 'John' to look if there is not a dog in the room; and, after the 'powdered puppy' has searched every hole and corner, that he should at length wind me.
This is the only objection I have to Mr. Tilbury's system; but as some people do not take the same interest in horses that I do, this will be no obstacle in their way: and at the finish of the season, or length of time for which the horses were engaged, the hirer will rid himself of a useless and expensive establishment at a day's notice, without finding that he has exceeded his intended expenses one farthing.
Several foreigners took up their quarters at Brighton last season, French, Germans, Danes, Saxons, &c. Nearly all came for the purpose of hunting, though some followed their game in the drawing-room in preference to the field.
As field-sportsmen the Germans took the lead most decidedly. At the commencement of the season there were three from that country — viz. NIMROD's friend Count Hans, Count Pazwaites, and Count Patiawney; but the flower of the flock was the Saxon Baron Gablentz. Count Hans and the other two left in December with the intention of going into Leicestershire. I saw them out a few times, and they were all hard riders. Some, if not all, were mounted by Tilbury ...
The Baron had his own horses, for one of which he gave 170 l., notwithstanding which he was decidedly the worst mounted of the party; but being a light weight, he generally kept in the foremost rank, unless (which he was somewhat apt to do) he took up a line for himself.
Not knowing what fear was, he neither cared what sort of a horse he got on to, nor what sort of a place he rode him at: in consequence of which, and a naturally loose military seat, he seldom went out without saluting the earth a few times; and one day he had so many falls, he said he could not count them.
I think he was the boldest rider I ever saw in my life. Of course, from the novelty both of the country and the sport, he could not be expected to do it with much judgment, and sometimes attempted impossibilities. One day he rode at the Ouse about two miles above Lewes, observing, if his horse could not jump quite over, he would get part way, and might swim the rest. As it was, he got into the middle of it, where (as he said himself) his horse and he lived for a quarter of an hour.
I never either saw or heard of a foreigner who entered more fully into the spirit of the English nation, or took such delight in hunting, as the Baron. Of English Gentlemen he had a very high opinion, and used to say
By my word, an English Gentleman is the first Gentleman in the vorld.
It was not, however, to every one who claimed it that the Baron accorded this title, having as nice a discrimination in these matters as though he had been residing in this country all his life.
Not being able to speak a word of English on his arrival (a few months previous to the time of which I am writing), it was quite astonishing with what rapidity he learned, and confidence he spoke it, generally expressing himself in more comprehensive terms than an Englishman, and his stories and descriptions used to be rich beyond measure.
Coming to covert one morning on a lame hack, some one said to him,
Why, Baron, your horse is lame. —
No, my good friend, him not lame,
but he beaucoup fatigue in one leg.
Another morning he appeared in a prodigiously smart red and gold waistcoat (fresh from Paris), in which he had been figuring at a ball the night before; and a friend observing that it was too good to hunt in, he answered—
So said my valet ven he dressed me; but I told him, by my honour, there is nothing too good for foxing in.
—On the same day (I think it was), Captain Stanhope, the brother of Lady Southampton, was expected out; but not making his appearance, some one asked the Baron (as they were very intimate) where he was?—
O, by my vord,
poor Stanhope, I think he shall not come to-day. He got von criminal boot-maker, who make his boot so stout that he could no put his leg about; and ven I call at Albion this morning I find him dancing about his chamber with one boot on, and demming Charles in the veritable nautical fashion, till at last he could not bear his foot any more, and got a razor and shaved it off.
The Baron passed the whole winter at Brighton, keeping house with a couple of valets de chambre, &c. (one to help the other to do nothing), and, being a most agreeable gentlemanlike young man, was in very great request, and was always the life of the society he happened to be in.