With his mother's honour he had little concern, for where was the use of defending the memory of a mother who had made shipwreck of her own reputation with soldiers and horse-copers?
There are several notable horse fairs still held near Evesham. Besides the one at Pershore, already mentioned, the most important fairs are held at Stow-on-the-Wold and Shipston-on-Stour, both very out-of-the-way places; and many stories of the wiles of horse-copers were related in connection therewith. I remember the following told as occurring at Stow-on-the-Wold.
In more than one group were horse-copers, and their kin the market-gardeners' thieves and country wagoners' pests, who not only lighten the loads on the way to the city market on the road, but plunder the drivers after they receive their salesmoney by cheating at cards.
It affected a kind of spurious respectability, which was all on the outside, for within it was as iniquitous a den as could well be conceived, and was usually filled with horse-copers and sporting characters, who made bets, and talked racing, and rode or drove fiery steeds, and who lived on, and swindled through, the noblest of all animals.
At this period, regiments were responsible for their own remounts, and the colonel had been authorised to buy sixty horses which he hoped to procure, bit by bit, in French Navarre, while he was takingaking the regiment to Toulouse, where we were to form the garrison. But, for my sins, we arrived at Bayonne on the day of the town fair, and the place was full of horse-copers.
Asked me whether I could play "shove ha'penny." Nov. 10. Lieut. True Born gave one of the regimental horses a riding- lesson. Came home grumpy and went to bed early. Nov. 13. Another riding-lesson. Over-heard him asking one of the maids whether there was such a thing as a water-bed in the house. Nov. 17. Complained bitterly of horse-copers.