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Title: The Gaming Table:  Its Votaries and Victims
       Volume I (of II)

Author: Andrew Steinmetz

Release Date: November 29, 2009 [EBook #466]
Last Updated: February 6, 2013

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Mike Lough, and David Widger



In all Times and Countries, especially in England and in France.


By Andrew Steinmetz, Esq.,

Of The Middle Temple, Barrister-At-Law; First-Class Extra Certificate School Of Musketry, Hythe; Late Officer Instructor Musketry, The Queens Own Light Infantry Militia.

Author Of 'The History Of The Jesuits,' 'Japan And Her People,' 'The Romance Of Duelling,' &C., &C.

'The sharp, the blackleg, and the knowing one,
Livery or lace, the self-same circle, run;
The same the passion, end and means the same—
Dick and his Lordship differ but in name.'





To the readers of the present generation much of this book will, doubtless, seem incredible. Still it is a book of facts—a section of our social history, which is, I think, worth writing, and deserving of meditation.

Forty or fifty years ago—that is, within the memory of many a living man—gambling was 'the rage' in England, especially in the metropolis. Streets now meaningless and dull—such as Osendon Street, and streets and squares now inhabited by the most respectable in the land—for instance, St James's Square, THEN opened doors to countless votaries of the fickle and capricious goddess of Fortune; in the rooms of which many a nobleman, many a gentleman, many an officer of the Army and Navy, clergymen, tradesmen, clerks, and apprentices, were 'cleaned out'—ruined, and driven to self-murder, or to crimes that led to the gallows. 'I have myself,' says a writer of the time, 'seen hanging in chains a man whom a short time before I saw at a Hazard table!'

History, as it is commonly written, does not sufficiently take cognizance of the social pursuits and practices that sap the vitality of a nation; and yet these are the leading influences in its destiny—making it what it is and will be, at least through many generations, by example and the inexorable laws that preside over what is called 'hereditary transmission.'

Have not the gambling propensities of our forefathers influenced the present generation?....

No doubt gambling, in the sense treated of in this book, has ceased in England. If there be here and there a Roulette or Rouge et Noir table in operation, its existence is now known only to a few 'sworn-brethren;' if gambling at cards 'prevails' in certain quarters, it is 'kept quiet.' The vice is not barefaced. It slinks and skulks away into corners and holes, like a poisoned rat. Therefore, public morality has triumphed, or, to use the card-phrase, 'trumped' over this dreadful abuse; and the law has done its duty, or has reason to expect congratulation for its success, in 'putting down' gaming houses.

But we gamble still. The gambling on the Turf (now the most uncertain of all 'games of chance') was, lately, something that rang through and startled the entire nation. We gamble in the funds. We gamble in endless companies (limited)—all resulting from the same passion of our nature, which led to the gambling of former times with cards, with dice, at Piquet, Basset, Faro, Hazard, E O, Roulette, and Rouge et Noir. At a recent memorable trial, the Lord Chief Justice of England exclaimed—'There can be no doubt—any one who looks around him cannot fail to perceive—that a spirit of speculation and gambling has taken hold of the minds of large classes of the population. Men who were wont to be satisfied with moderate gain and safe investments seem now to be animated by a spirit of greed after gain, which makes them ready to embark their fortunes, however hardly gained, in the vain hope of realizing immense returns by premiums upon shares, and of making more than safe and reasonable gains. We see that continually.' In fact, we may not be a jot better morally than our forefathers. But that is no reason why we should not frown over the story of their horrid sins, and, 'having a good conscience,' think what sad dogs they were in their generation—knowing, as we do, that none of us at the present day lose FIFTY OR A HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS at play, at a sitting, in one single night—as was certainly no very uncommon 'event' in those palmy days of gaming; and that we could not—as was done in 1820—produce a list of FIVE HUNDRED names (in London alone) of noblemen, gentlemen, officers of the Army and Navy, and clergymen, who were veteran or indefatigable gamesters, besides 'clerks, grocers, horse-dealers, linen-drapers, silk-mercers, masons, builders, timber-merchants, booksellers, &c., &c., and men of the very lowest walks of life,' who frequented the numerous gaming houses throughout the metropolis—to their ruin and that of their families more or less (as deploringly lamented by Captain Gronow), and not a few of them, no doubt, finding themselves in that position in which they could exclaim, at OUR remonstrance, as feelingly as did King Richard—

          'Slave! I have set my life upon a CAST,
          And I will stand the HAZARD OF THE DIE!'

Nor is gaming as yet extinct among us. Every now and then a batch of youngsters is brought before the magistrates charged with vulgar 'tossing' in the streets; and every now and then we hear of some victim of genteel gambling, as recently—in the month of February, 1868—when 'a young member of the aristocracy lost L10,000 at Whist.'

Nay, at the commencement of the present year there appeared in a daily paper the following startling announcement to the editor:—

'Sir,—Allow me, through the columns of your paper, to call the attention of the parents and friends of the young officers in the Channel-fleet to the great extent gambling is carried on at Lisbon. Since the fleet has been there another gambling house has been opened, and is filled every evening with young officers, many of whom are under 18 years of age. On the 1st of January it is computed that upwards of L800 was lost by officers of the fleet in the gambling houses, and if the fleet is to stay there three months there will soon be a great number of the officers involved in debt. I will relate one incident that came under my personal notice. A young midshipman, who had lately joined the Channel fleet from the Bristol, drew a half-year's pay in December, besides his quarterly allowance, and I met him on shore the next evening without money enough to pay a boat to go off to his ship, having lost all at a gambling house.

Hoping that this may be of some use in stopping the gambling among the younger officers, I remain, yours respectfully, AN OFFICER.'(1)

(1) Standard, Jan. 12, 1870.

In conclusion, I have contemplated the passion of gaming in all its bearings, as will be evident from the range of subjects indicated by the table of contents and index. I have ransacked (and sacked) hundreds of volumes for entertaining, amusing, curious, or instructive matter.

Without deprecating criticism on my labours, perhaps I may state that these researches have probably terminated my career as an author. Immediately after the completion of this work I was afflicted with a degree of blindness rendering it impossible for me to read any print whatever, and compelling me to write only by dictation.








A very apt allegory has been imagined as the origin of Gaming. It is said that the Goddess of Fortune, once sporting near the shady pool of Olympus, was met by the gay and captivating God of War, who soon allured her to his arms. They were united; but the matrimony was not holy, and the result of the union was a misfeatured child named Gaming. From the moment of her birth this wayward thing could only be pleased by cards, dice, or counters.

She was not without fascinations, and many were her admirers. As she grew up she was courted by all the gay and extravagant of both sexes, for she was of neither sex, and yet combining the attractions of each. At length, however, being mostly beset by men of the sword, she formed an unnatural union with one of them, and gave birth to twins—one called DUELLING, and the other a grim and hideous monster named SUICIDE. These became their mother's darlings, nursed by her with constant care and tenderness, and her perpetual companions.

The Goddess Fortune ever had an eye on her promising daughter—Gaming; and endowed her with splendid residences, in the most conspicuous streets, near the palaces of kings. They were magnificently designed and elegantly furnished. Lamps, always burning at the portals, were a sign and a perpetual invitation unto all to enter; and, like the gates of the Inferno, they were ever open to daily and nightly visitants; but, unlike the latter, they permitted EXIT to all who entered—some exulting with golden spoil,—others with their hands in empty pockets,—some led by her half-witted son Duelling,—others escorted by her malignant monster Suicide, and his mate, the demon Despair.

'Religion, morals, virtue, all give way, And conscience dies, the prostitute of play. Eternity ne'er steals one thought between, Till suicide completes the fatal scene.'

Such is the ALLEGORY;(2) and it may serve well enough to represent the thing in accordance with the usages of civilized or modern life; but Gaming is a UNIVERSAL thing—the characteristic of the human biped all the world over.

(2) It appeared originally, I think, in the Harleian Miscellany. I have taken the liberty to re-touch it here and there, with the view to improvement.

The determination of events by 'lot' was a practice frequently resorted to by the Israelites; as, by lot it was determined which of the goats should be offered by Aaron; by lot the land of Canaan was divided; by lot Saul was marked out for the Hebrew kingdom; by lot Jonah was discovered to be the cause of the storm. It was considered an appeal to Heaven to determine the points, and was thought not to depend on blind chance, or that imaginary being called Fortune, who,

     '——With malicious joy,
     Promotes, degrades, delights in strife,
     And makes a LOTTERY of life.'

The Hindoo Code—a promulgation of very high antiquity—denounces gambling, which proves that there were desperate gamesters among the Hindoos in the earliest times. Men gamed, too, it would appear, after the example set them by the gods, who had gamesters among them. The priests of Egypt assured Herodotus that one of their kings visited alive the lower regions called infernal, and that he there joined a gaming party, at which he both lost and won.(3) Plutarch tells a pretty Egyptian story to the effect, that Mercury having fallen in love with Rhea, or the Earth, and wishing to do her a favour, gambled with the Moon, and won from her every seventieth part of the time she illumined the horizon—all which parts he united together, making up FIVE DAYS, and added them to the Earth's year, which had previously consisted of only 360 days.(4)

(3) Herod. 1. ii.

(4) Plutarch, De Isid. et Osirid.

But not only did the gods play among themselves on Olympus, but they gambled with mortals. According to Plutarch, the priest of the temple of Hercules amused himself with playing at dice with the god, the stake or conditions being that if he won he should obtain some signal favour, but if he lost he would procure a beautiful courtesan for Hercules.(5)

(5) In Vita Romuli.

By the numerous nations of the East dice, and that pugnacious little bird the cock, have been and are the chief instruments employed to produce a sensation—to agitate their minds and to ruin their fortunes. The Chinese have in all times, we suppose, had cards—hence the absurdity of the notion that they were 'invented' for the amusement of Charles VI. of France, in his 'lucid intervals,' as is constantly asserted in every collection of historic facts. The Chinese invented cards, as they invented almost everything else that administers to our social and domestic comfort.(6)

(6) Observations on Cards, by Mr Gough, in Archaeologia, vol. viii. 1787.

The Asiatic gambler is desperate. When all other property is played away, he scruples not to stake his wife, his child, on the cast of a die or on the courage of the martial bird before mentioned. Nay more, if still unsuccessful, the last venture he makes is that of his limbs—his personal liberty—his life—which he hazards on the caprice of chance, and agrees to be at the mercy, or to become the slave, of his fortunate antagonist.

The Malayan, however, does not always tamely submit to this last stroke of fortune. When reduced to a state of desperation by repeated ill-luck, he loosens a certain lock of hair on his head, which, when flowing down, is a sign of war and destruction. He swallows opium or some intoxicating liquor, till he works himself up into a fit of frenzy, and begins to bite and kill everything that comes in his way; whereupon, as the aforesaid lock of hair is seen flowing, it is lawful to fire at and destroy him as quickly as possible—he being considered no better than a mad dog. A very rational conclusion.

Of course the Chinese are most eager gamesters, or they would not have been capable of inventing those dear, precious killers of time—cards, the EVENING solace of so many a household in the most respectable and 'proper' walks of life. Indeed, they play night and day—until they have lost all they are worth, and then they usually go—and hang themselves.

If we turn our course northward, and penetrate the regions of ice perpetual, we find that the driven snow cannot effectually quench the flames of gambling. They glow amid the regions of the frozen pole. The Greenlanders gamble with a board, which has a finger-piece upon it, turning round on an axle; and the person to whom the finger points on the stopping of the board, which is whirled round, 'sweeps' all the 'stakes' that have been deposited.

If we descend thence into the Western hemisphere, we find that the passion for gambling forms a distinguishing feature in the character of all the rude natives of the American continent. Just as in the East, these savages will lose their aims (on which subsistence depends), their apparel, and at length their personal liberty, on games of chance. There is one thing, however, which must be recorded to their credit—and to our shame. When they have lost their 'all,' they do not follow the example of our refined gamesters. They neither murmur nor repine. Not a fretful word escapes them. They bear the frowns of fortune with a philosophic composure.(7)

(7) Carver, Travels.

If we cross the Atlantic and land on the African shore, we find that the 'everlasting Negro' is a gambler—using shells as dice—and following the practice of his 'betters' in every way. He stakes not only his 'fortune,' but also his children and liberty, which he cares very little about, everywhere, until we incite him to do so—as, of course, we ought to do, for every motive 'human and divine.'

There is no doubt, then, that this propensity is part and parcel of 'the unsophisticated savage.' Let us turn to the eminently civilized races of antiquity—the men whose example we have more or less followed in every possible matter, sociality, politics, religion—they were all gamblers, more or less. Take the grand prototypes of Britons, the Romans of old. That gamesters they were! And how gambling recruited the ranks of the desperadoes who gave them insurrectionary trouble! Catiline's 'army of scoundrels,' for instance. 'Every man dishonoured by dissipation,' says Sallust, 'who by his follies or losses at the gaming table had consumed the inheritance of his fathers, and all those who were sufferers by such misery, were the friends of this perverse man.' Horace, Juvenal, Persius, Cicero, and other writers, attest the fact of Roman gambling most eloquently, most indignantly.

The Romans had 'lotteries,' or games of chance, and some of their prizes were of great value, as a good estate and slaves, or rich vases; others of little value, as vases of common earth, but of this more in the sequel.

Among the Gothic kings who, in the fulness of time and accomplishments, 'succeeded' to that empire, we read of a Theodoric, 'a wise and valiant prince,' who was 'great lover of dice;' his solicitude in play was only for victory; and his companions knew how to seize the moment of his success, as consummate courtiers, to put forward their petitions and to make their requests. 'When I have a petition to prefer,' says one of them, 'I am easily beaten in the game that I may win my cause.'(8) What a clever contrivance! But scarcely equal to that of the GREAT (in politeness) Lord Chesterfield, who, to gain a vote for a parliamentary friend, actually submitted to be BLED! It appears that the voter was deemed very difficult, but Chesterfield found out that the man was a doctor, who was a perfect Sangrado, recommending bleeding for every ailment. He went to him, as in consultation, agreed with the man's arguments, and at once bared his arm for the operation. On the point of departure his lordship 'edged' in the question about the vote for his friend, which was, of course, gushingly promised and given.

(8) Sed ego aliquid obsecraturus facile vincor; et mihi tabula perit ut causa salvetur.—Sidonius Apollinaris, Epist.

Although there may not be much Gothic blood among us, it is quite certain that there is plenty of German mixture in our nation—taking the term in its very wide and comprehensive ethnology. Now, Tacitus describes the ancient stout and valiant Germans as 'making gaming with a die a very serious occupation of their sober hours.' Like the 'everlasting Negro,' they, too, made their last throw for personal liberty, the loser going into voluntary slavery, and the winner selling such slaves as soon as possible to strangers, in order not to have to blush for such a victory! If the 'nigger' could blush, he might certainly do so for the white man in such a conjuncture.

At Naples and other places in Italy, at least in former times, the boatmen used thus to stake their liberty for a certain number of years. According to Hyde,(9) the Indians stake their fingers and cut them off themselves to pay the debt of honour. Englishmen have cut off their ears, both as a 'security' for a gambling loan, and as a stake; others have staked their lives by hanging, in like manner! Instances will be given in the sequel.

(9) De Ludis Orient.

But leaving these savages and the semi-savages of the very olden time, let us turn to those nearer to our times, with just as much religious truth and principle among them as among ourselves.

The warmth with which 'dice-playing' is condemned in the writings of the Fathers, the venerable expounders of Christianity, as well as by 'edicts' and 'canons' of the Church, is unquestionably a sufficient proof of its general and excessive prevalence throughout the nations of Europe. When cards were introduced, in the fourteenth century, they only added fuel to the infernal flame of gambling; and it soon became as necessary to restrain their use as it had been that of dice. The two held a joint empire of ruin and desolation over their devoted victims. A king of France set the ruinous example—Henry IV., the roue, the libertine, the duellist, the gambler,—and yet (historically) the Bon Henri, the 'good king,' who wished to order things so that every Frenchman might have a pot-au-feu, or dish of flesh savoury, every Sunday for dinner. The money that Henry IV. lost at play would have covered great public expenses.

There can be no doubt that the spirit of gaming went on acquiring new strength and development throughout every subsequent reign in France; and we shall see that under the Empire the thing was a great national institution, and made to put a great deal of money as 'revenue' into the hands of Fouche.

But the Spaniards have always been, of all nations, the most addicted to gambling. A traveller says:—'I have wandered through all parts of Spain, and though in many places I have scarcely been able to procure a glass of wine, or a bit of bread, or any of the first conveniences of life, yet I never went through a village so mean and out of the way, in which I could not have purchased a pack of cards.' This was in the middle of the seventeenth century, but I have no doubt it is true at the present moment.

If we can believe Voltaire, the Spaniards were formerly very generous in their gaming. 'The grandees of Spain,' he says, 'had a generous ostentation; this was to divide the money won at play among all the bystanders, of whatever condition.

Montrefor relates that when the Duke of Lerma, the Spanish minister, entertained Gaston, brother of Louis XIII., with all his retinue in the Netherlands, he displayed a magnificence of an extraordinary kind. The prime minister, with whom Gaston spent several days, used to put two thousand louis d'ors on a large gaming-table after dinner. With this money Gaston's attendants and even the prince himself sat down to play. It is probable, however, that Voltaire extended a single instance or two into a general habit or custom. That writer always preferred to deal with the splendid and the marvellous rather than with plain matter of fact.

There can be little doubt that the Spaniards pursued gaming in the vulgar fashion, just as other people. At any rate the following anecdote gives us no very favourable idea of Spanish generosity to strangers in the matter of gambling in modern times; and the worst of it is the suitableness of its application to more capitals than one among the kingdoms of Europe. 'After the bull-feast I was invited to pass the evening at the hotel of a lady, who had a public card-assembly.... This vile method of subsisting on the folly of mankind is confined in Spain to the nobility. None but women of quality are permitted to hold banks, and there are many whose faro-banks bring them in a clear income of a thousand guineas a year. The lady to whom I was introduced is an old countess, who has lived nearly thirty years on the profits of the card-tables in her house. They are frequented every day, and though both natives and foreigners are duped of large sums by her, and her cabinet-junto, yet it is the greatest house of resort in all Madrid. She goes to court, visits people of the first fashion, and is received with as much respect and veneration as if she exercised the most sacred functions of a divine profession. Many widows of great men keep gaming-houses and live splendidly on the vices of mankind. If you be not disposed to play, be either a sharper or a dupe, you cannot be admitted a second time to their assemblies. I was no sooner presented to the lady than she offered me cards; and on my excusing myself, because I really could not play, she made a very wry face, turned from me, and said to another lady in my hearing, that she wondered how any foreigner could have the impertinence to come to her house for no other purpose than to make an apology for not playing. My Spanish conductor, unfortunately for himself, had not the same apology. He played and lost his money—two circumstances which constantly follow in these houses. While my friend was thus playing THE FOOL, I attentively watched the countenance and motions of the lady of the house. Her anxiety, address, and assiduity were equal to that of some skilful shopkeeper, who has a certain attraction to engage all to buy, and diligence to take care that none shall escape the net. I found out all her privy-counsellors, by her arrangement of her parties at the different tables; and whenever she showed an extraordinary eagerness to fix one particular person with a stranger, the game was always decided the same way, and her good friend was sure to win the money.

'In short, it is hardly possible to see good company at Madrid unless you resolve to leave a purse of gold at the card-assemblies of their nobility.'(10)

(10) 'Observations in a Tour through Spain.'

We are assured that this state of things is by no means 'obsolete' in Spain, even at the present time. At the time in question, however, the beginning of the present century, there was no European nation among which gaming did not constitute one of its polite and fashionable amusements—with the exception of the Turks, who, to the shame of Christians, strictly obeyed the precepts of Mahomet, and scrupulously avoided the 'gambling itch' of our nature.

In England gambling prevailed during the reign of Henry VIII.; indeed, it seems that the king was himself a gamester of the most unscrupulous sort; and there is ample evidence that the practice flourished during the reign of Elizabeth, James I., and subsequently, especially in the times of Charles II. Writing on the day when James II. was proclaimed king, Evelyn says, 'I can never forget the inexpressible luxury and profaneness, gaming and all dissoluteness, and as it were total forgetfulness of God (it being Sunday evening) which this day se'nnight I was witness of, the king sitting and toying with his concubines, Portsmouth, Cleaveland, and Mazarine, &c., a French boy singing love-songs, in that glorious gallery, whilst about twenty of the great courtiers and other dissolute persons were at Basset round a large table; a bank of at least L2000 in gold before them, upon which two gentlemen who were with me made reflections with astonishment. Six days after all was in the dust!'

The following curious observations on the gaming in vogue during the year 1668 are from the Harleian Miscellany:

'One propounded this question, "Whether men in ships at sea were to be accounted amongst the living or the dead—because there were but few inches betwixt them and drowning?" The same query may be made of gamesters, though their estates be never so considerable—whether they are to be esteemed rich or poor, since there are but a few casts at dice betwixt a person of fortune (in that circumstance) and a beggar.

'Betwixt twelve and one of the clock a good dinner is prepared by way of ordinary, and some gentlemen of civility and condition oftentimes eat there, and play a while for recreation after dinner, both moderately and most commonly without deserving reproof. Towards night, when ravenous beasts usually seek their prey, there come in shoals of hectors, trepanners, gilts, pads, biters, prigs, divers, lifters, kidnappers, vouchers, mill kens, piemen, decoys, shop-lifters, foilers, bulkers, droppers, gamblers, donnakers, crossbiters, &c., under the general appellation of "rooks;" and in this particular it serves as a nursery for Tyburn, for every year some of this gang march thither.

'Would you imagine it to be true—that a grave gentleman, well stricken in years, insomuch as he cannot see the pips of the dice, is so infatuated with this witchery as to play here with others' eyes,—of whom this quibble was raised, "Mr Such a one plays at dice by the ear." Another gentleman, stark blind, I have seen play at Hazard, and surely that must be by the ear too.

'Late at night, when the company grows thin, and your eyes dim with watching, false dice are often put upon the ignorant, or they are otherwise cozened, with topping or slurring, &;c.; and, if you be not vigilant, the box-keeper shall score you up double or treble boxes, and, though you have lost your money, dun you as severely for it as if it were the justest debt in the world.

'There are yet some genteeler and more subtle rooks, whom you shall not distinguish by their outward demeanour from persons of condition; and who will sit by a whole evening, and observe who wins; and then, if the winner be "bubbleable," they will insinuate themselves into his acquaintance, and civilly invite him to drink a glass of wine,—wheedle him into play, and win all his money, either by false dice, as high fulhams,(11) low fulhams, or by palming, topping, &c. Note by the way, that when they have you at the tavern and think you a sure "bubble," they will many times purposely lose some small sum to you the first time, to engage you more freely to BLEED (as they call it) at the second meeting, to which they will be sure to invite you.

(11) It appears that false dice were originally made at Fulham; hence so called, high and low fulhams; the high ones were the numbers 4, 5, 6.

'A gentleman whom ill-fortune had hurried into passion, took a box and dice to a side-table, and then fell to throwing by himself; at length he swears with an emphasis, "D—e, now I throw for nothin;, I can win a thousand pounds; but when I lay for money I lose my all."

'If the house find you free to box, and a constant caster, you shall be treated below with suppers at night, and caudle in the morning, and have the honour to be styled, "a lover of the house," whilst your money lasts, which certainly will not be long.

'Most gamesters begin at small games, and by degrees, if their money or estates hold out, they rise to great sums; some have played first all their money, then their rings, coach and horses, even their wearing clothes and perukes; and then, such a farm; and at last, perhaps a lordship.

'You may read in our histories, how Sir Miles Partridge played at dice with King Henry the Eighth, for Jesus Bells (so called), which were the greatest in England, and hung in a tower of St Paul's church, and won them; whereby he brought them to ring in his pocket; but the ropes afterwards catched about his neck; for, in Edward the Sixth's days, he was hanged for some criminal offences.(12)

(12) The clochier in Paul's Churchyard—a bell-house, four square, builded of stone, with four bells; these were called Jesus Bells. The same had a great spire of timber, covered with lead, with the image of St Paul on the top, but was pulled down by Sir Miles Partridge, Kt, in the reign of Henry VIII. The common speech then was that he did set L100 upon a cast at dice against it, and so won the said clochier and bells of the king. And then causing the bells to be broken as they hung, the rest was pulled down, and broken also. This man was afterwards executed on Tower Hill, for matters concerning the Duke of Somerset, in the year 1551, the 5th of Edward VI.—Stowe, B. iii. 148.

'Sir Arthur Smithhouse is yet fresh in memory. He had a fair estate, which in a few years he so lost at play, that he died in great want and penury. Since that Mr Ba—, who was a clerk in the Six-Clerks Office, and well cliented, fell to play, and won by extraordinary fortune two thousand pieces in ready gold; was not content with that, played on, lost all he had won, and almost all his own estate; sold his place in the office, and at last marched off to a foreign plantation, to begin a new world with the sweat of his brow; for that is commonly the destiny of a decayed gamester—either to go to some foreign plantation, or to be preferred to the dignity of a box-keeper.

'It is not denied but most gamesters have, at one time or other, a considerable run of winning, but such is the infatuation of play, I could never hear of a man that gave over a winner—I mean, to give over so as never to play again. I am sure it is rara avis, for if you once "break bulk," as they phrase it, you are in again for all. Sir Humphry Foster had lost the greatest part of his estate, and then playing, as it is said, FOR A DEAD HORSE, did, by happy fortune, recover it again; then gave over, and wisely too.'(13)

(13) Harleian Misc. ii. 108.

The sequel will show the increase of gambling in our country during the subsequent reigns, up to a recent period.

Thus, then, the passion of gaming is, and has ever been, universal. It is said that two Frenchmen could not exist even in a desert without QUARRELLING; and it is quite certain that no two human beings can be anywhere without ere long offering to 'bet' upon something. Indolence and want of employment—'vacuity,' as Dr Johnson would call it—is the cause of the passion. It arises from a want of habitual employment in some material and regular line of conduct. Your very innocent card-parties at home—merely to kill TIME (what a murder!) explains all the apparent mystery! Something must be substituted to call forth the natural activity of the mind; and this is in no way more effectually accomplished, in all indolent pursuits, than by those EMOTIONS AND AGITATIONS which gambling produces.

Such is the source of the thing in our NATURE; but then comes the furious hankering after wealth—the desire to have it without WORKING for it—which is the wish of so many of us; and THIS is the source of that hideous gambling which has produced the contemptible characters and criminal acts which are the burthen of this volume.

We love play because it satisfies our avarice,—that is to say, our desire of having more; it flatters our vanity by the idea of preference that fortune gives us, and of the attention that others pay to our success; it satisfies our curiosity, giving us a spectacle; in short, it gives us the different pleasures of surprise.

Certain it is that the passion for gambling easily gets deeply rooted, and that it cannot be easily eradicated. The most exquisite melody, if compared with the music of dice, is then but discord; and the finest prospect in nature only a miserable blank when put in competition with the attractions of the 'honours' at a rubber of Whist.

Wealth is the general centre of inclination. Whatever is the ultimate design, the immediate care is to be rich. No desire can be formed which riches do not assist to gratify. They may be considered as the elementary principles of pleasure, which may be combined with endless diversity. There are nearer ways to profit than up the steeps of labour. The prospect of gaining speedily what is ardently desired, has so far prevailed upon the passions of mankind, that the peace of life is destroyed by a general and incessant struggle for riches. It is observed of gold by an old epigrammatist, that to have is to be in fear; and to want it is to be in sorrow. There is no condition which is not disquieted either with the care of gaining or keeping money.

No nation has exceeded ours in the pursuit of gaming. In former times—and yet not more than 30 or 40 years ago—the passion for play was predominant among the highest classes.

Genius and abilities of the highest order became its votaries; and the very framers of the laws against gambling were the first to fall under the temptation of their breach! The spirit of gambling pervaded every inferior order of society. The gentleman was a slave to its indulgence; the merchant and the mechanic were the dupes of its imaginary prospects; it engrossed the citizen and occupied the rustic. Town and country became a prey to its despotism. There was scarcely an obscure village to be found wherein this bewitching basilisk did not exercise its powers of fascination and destruction.

Gaming in England became rather a science than an amusement of social intercourse. The 'doctrine of chances' was studied with an assiduity that would have done honour to better subjects; and calculations were made on arithmetical and geometrical principles, to determine the degrees of probability attendant on games of mixed skill and chance, or even on the fortuitous throws of dice. Of course, in spite of all calculations, there were miserable failures—frightful losses. The polite gamester, like the savage, did not scruple to hazard the dearest interests of his family, or to bring his wife and children to poverty, misery, and ruin. He could not give these over in liquidation of a gambling debt; indeed, nobody would, probably, have them at a gift; and yet there were instances in which the honour of a wife was the stake of the infernal game!.... Well might the Emperor Justinian exclaim,—'Can we call PLAY that which causes crime?'(14)

(14) Quis enim ludos appellet eos, ex quibus crimina oriuntur?—De Concept. Digest. II. lib. iv. Sec. 9.



The recent great contribution to the history of India, published by Mr Wheeler,(15) gives a complete insight into this interesting topic; and this passage of the ancient Sanskrit epic forms one of the most wonderful and thrilling scenes in that most acceptable publication.

(15) The History of India from the Earliest Ages. By J. Talboys Wheeler. Vol. I.—The Vedic Period and the Maha Bharata.

As Mr Wheeler observes, the specialties of Hindoo gambling are worthy of some attention. The passion for play, which has ever been the vice of warriors in times of peace, becomes a madness amidst the lassitude of a tropical climate; and more than one Hindoo legend has been preserved of Rajas playing together for days, until the wretched loser has been deprived of everything he possessed and reduced to the condition of an exile or a slave.

But gambling amongst the Hindoos does not appear to have been altogether dependent upon chance. The ancient Hindoo dice, known by the name of coupun, are almost precisely similar to the modern dice, being thrown out of a box; but the practice of loading is plainly alluded to, and some skill seems to have been occasionally exercised in the rattling of the dice-box. In the more modern game, known by the name of pasha, the dice are not cubic, but oblong; and they are thrown from the hand either direct upon the ground, or against a post or board, which will break the fall, and render the result more a matter of chance.

The great gambling match of the Hindoo epic was the result of a conspiracy to ruin Yudhishthira, a successful warrior, the representative of a mighty family—the Pandavas, who were incessantly pursued by the envy of the Kauravas, their rivals. The fortunes of the Pandavas were at the height of human prosperity; and at this point the universal conception of an avenging Nemesis that humbles the proud and casts down the mighty, finds full expression in the Hindoo epic. The grandeur of the Pandavas excited the jealousy of Duryodhana, and revived the old feud between the Kauravas and the former. Duryodhana plotted with his brother Duhsasana and his uncle Sakuni, how they might dispossess the Pandavas of their newly-acquired territory; and at length they determined to invite their kinsmen to a gambling match, and seek by underhand means to deprive Yudhishthira of his Raj, or kingdom.(16)

(16) The old Sanskrit words Raj, 'kingdom,' and Raja, 'king,' are evidently the origin of the Latin reg-num, reg-o, rex, regula, 'rule,' &c, reproduced in the words of that ancient language, and continued in the derivative vernaculars of modern names—re, rey, roy, roi, regal, royal, rule, &c. &c.

It appears from the poem that Yudhishthira was invited to a game at coupun; and the legend of the great gambling match, which took place at Hastinapur, is related as follows:

'And it came to pass that Duryodhana was very jealous of the Rajasuya or triumph that his cousin Yudhishthira had performed, and he desired in his heart to destroy the Pandavas, and gain possession of their Raj. Now Sakuni was the brother of Gandhari, who was the mother of the Kauravas; and he was very skilful in throwing dice, and in playing with dice that were loaded; insomuch that whenever he played he always won the game. So Duryodhana plotted with his uncle, that Yudhishthira should be invited to a match at gambling, and that Sakuni should challenge him to a game, and win all his wealth and lands.

'After this the wicked Duryodhana proposed to his father the Maharaja, that they should have a great gambling match at Hastinapur, and that Yudhishthira and his brethren should be invited to the festival. And the Maharaja was glad in his heart that his sons should be friendly with the sons of his deceased brother, Pandu; and he sent his younger brother, Vidura, to the city of Indra-prastha to invite the Pandavas to the game. And Vidura went his way to the city of the Pandavas, and was received by them with every sign of attention and respect. And Yudhishthira inquired whether his kinsfolk and friends at Hastinapur were all well in health, and Vidura replied, "They are all well." Then Vidura said to the Pandavas:—"Your uncle, the Maharaja, is about to give a great feast, and he has sent me to invite you and your mother, and your joint wife, to come to his city, and there will be a great match at dice-playing." When Yudhishthira heard these words he was troubled in mind, for he knew that gaming was a frequent cause of strife, and that he was in no way skilful in throwing the dice; and he likewise knew that Sakuni was dwelling at Hastinapur, and that he was a famous gambler. But Yudhishthira remembered that the invitation of the Maharaja was equal to the command of a father, and that no true Kshatriya could refuse a challenge either to war or play. So Yudhishthira accepted the invitation, and gave commandment that on the appointed day his brethren, and their mother, and their joint wife should accompany him to the city of Hastinapur.

'When the day arrived for the departure of the Pandavas they took their mother Kunti, and their joint wife Draupadi, and journeyed from Indra-prastha to the city of Hastinapur. And when they entered the city they first paid a visit of respect to the Maharaja, and they found him sitting amongst his Chieftains; and the ancient Bhishma, and the preceptor Drona, and Karna, who was the friend of Duryodhana, and many others, were sitting there also.

'And when the Pandavas had done reverence to the Maharaja, and respectfully saluted all present, they paid a visit to their aunt Gandhari, and did her reverence likewise.

'And after they had done this, their mother and joint wife entered the presence of Gandhari, and respectfully saluted her; and the wives of the Kauravas came in and were made known to Kunti and Draupadi. And the wives of the Kauravas were much surprised when they beheld the beauty and fine raiment of Draupadi; and they were very jealous of their kinswoman. And when all their visits had been paid, the Pandavas retired with their wife and mother to the quarters which had been prepared for them, and when it was evening they received the visits of all their friends who were dwelling at Hastinapur.

'Now, on the morrow the gambling match was to be played; so when the morning had come, the Pandavas bathed and dressed, and left Draupadi in the lodging which had been prepared for her, and went their way to the palace. And the Pandavas again paid their respects to their uncle the Maharaja, and were then conducted to the pavilion where the play was to be; and Duryodhana went with them, together with all his brethren, and all the chieftains of the royal house. And when the assembly had all taken their seats, Sakuni said to Yudhishthira:—"The ground here has all been prepared, and the dice are all ready: Come now, I pray you, and play a game." But Yudhishthira was disinclined, and replied:—"I will not play excepting upon fair terms; but if you will pledge yourself to throw without artifice or deceit, I will accept your challenge." Sakuni said,—"If you are so fearful of losing, you had better not play at all." At these words Yudhishthira was wroth, and replied:—"I have no fear either in play or war; but let me know with whom I am to play, and who is to pay me if I win." So Duryodhana came forward and said:—"I am the man with whom you are to play, and I shall lay any stakes against your stakes; but my uncle Sakuni will throw the dice for me." Then Yudhishthira said,—"What manner of game is this, where one man throws and another lays the stakes?" Nevertheless he accepted the challenge, and he and Sakuni began to play.

'At this point in the narrative it may be desirable to pause, and endeavour to obtain a picture of the scene. The so-called pavilion was probably a temporary booth constructed of bamboos and interlaced with basket-work; and very likely it was decorated with flowers and leaves after the Hindoo fashion, and hung with fruits, such as cocoa-nuts, mangoes, plantains, and maize. The Chieftains present seem to have sat upon the ground, and watched the game. The stakes may have been pieces of gold or silver, or cattle, or lands; although, according to the legendary account which follows, they included articles of a far more extravagant and imaginative character. With these passing remarks, the tradition of the memorable game may be resumed as follows:—

'So Yudhishthira and Sakuni sat down to play, and whatever Yudhishthira laid as stakes, Duryodhana laid something of equal value; but Yudhishthira lost every game. He first lost a very beautiful pearl; next a thousand bags, each containing a thousand pieces of gold; next a piece of gold so pure that it was as soft as wax; next a chariot set with jewels and hung all round with golden bells; next a thousand war elephants with golden howdahs set with diamonds; next a lakh of slaves all dressed in good garments; next a lakh of beautiful slave girls, adorned from head to foot with golden ornaments; next all the remainder of his goods; next all his cattle; and then the whole of his Raj, excepting only the lands which had been granted to the Brahmans.(17)

(17)'A lakh is a hundred thousand, and a crore is a hundred lakhs, or ten millions. The Hindoo term might therefore have been converted into English numerals, only that it does not seem certain that the bards meant precisely a hundred thousand slaves, but only a very large number. The exceptional clause in favour of the Brahmans is very significant. When the little settlement at Indra-prastha had been swelled by the imagination of the later bards into an extensive Raj, the thought may have entered the minds of the Brahmanical compilers that in losing the Raj, the Brahmans might have lost those free lands, known as inams or jagheers, which are frequently granted by pious Rajas for the subsistence of Brahmans. Hence the insertion of the clause.'

'Now when Yudhishthira had lost his Raj, the Chieftains present in the pavilion were of opinion that he should cease to play, but he would not listen to their words, but persisted in the game. And he staked all the jewels belonging to his brothers, and he lost them; and he staked his two younger brothers, one after the other, and he lost them; and he then staked Arjuna, and Bhima, and finally himself; and he lost every game. Then Sakuni said to him:—"You have done a bad act, Yudhishthira, in gaming away yourself and becoming a slave. But now, stake your wife, Draupadi, and if you win the game you will again be free." And Yudhishthira answered and said:—"I will stake Draupadi!" And all assembled were greatly troubled and thought evil of Yudhishthira; and his uncle Vidura put his hand to his head and fainted away, whilst Bhishma and Drona turned deadly pale, and many of the company were very sorrowful; but Duryodhana and his brother Duhsasana, and some others of the Kauravas, were glad in their hearts, and plainly manifested their joy. Then Sakuni threw the dice, and won Draupadi for Duryodhana.

'Then all in that assembly were in great consternation, and the Chieftains gazed upon one another without speaking a word. And Duryodhana said to his uncle Vidura:—"Go now and bring Draupadi hither, and bid her sweep the rooms." But Vidura cried out against him with a loud voice, and said:—"What wickedness is this? Will you order a woman who is of noble birth, and the wife of your own kinsman, to become a household slave? How can you vex your brethren thus? But Draupadi has not become your slave; for Yudhishthira lost himself before he staked his wife, and having first become a slave, he could no longer have power to stake Draupadi." Vidura then turned to the assembly and said:—"Take no heed to the words of Duryodhana, for he has lost his senses this day." Duryodhana then said:—"A curse be upon this Vidura, who will do nothing that I desire him."

'After this Duryodhana called one of his servants, and desired him to go to the lodgings of the Pandavas, and bring Draupadi into the pavilion. And the man departed out, and went to the lodgings of the Pandavas, and entered the presence of Draupadi, and said to her:—"Raja Yudhishthira has played you away, and you have become the slave of Raja Duryodhana: So come now and do your duty like his other slave girls." And Draupadi was astonished at these words, and exceedingly wroth, and she replied:—"Whose slave was I that I could be gambled away? And who is such a senseless fool as to gamble away his own wife?" The servant said:—"Raja Yudhishthira has lost himself, and his four brothers, and you also, to Raja Duryodhana, and you cannot make any objection: Arise, therefore, and go to the house of the Raja!"

'Then Draupadi cried out:—"Go you now and inquire whether Raja Yudhishthira lost me first or himself first; for if he played away himself first, he could not stake me." So the man returned to the assembly, and put the question to Yudhishthira; but Yudhishthira hung down his head with shame, and answered not a word.

'Then Duryodhana was filled with wrath, and he cried out to his servant:—"What waste of words is this? Go you and bring Draupadi hither, that if she has aught to say, she may say it in the presence of us all." And the man essayed to go, but he beheld the wrathful countenance of Bhima and he was sore afraid, and he refused to go, and remained where he was. Then Duryodhana sent his brother Duhsasana; and Duhsasana went his way to the lodgings of Draupadi and said:—"Raja Yudhishthira has lost you in play to Raja Duryodhana, and he has sent for you: So arise now, and wait upon him according to his commands; and if you have anything to say, you can say it in the presence of the assembly." Draupadi replied:—"The death of the Kauravas is not far distant, since they can do such deeds as these." And she rose up in great trepidation and set out, but when she came near to the palace of the Maharaja, she turned aside from the pavilion where the Chieftains were assembled, and ran away with all speed towards the apartments of the women. And Duhsasana hastened after her, and seized her by her hair, which was very dark and long, and dragged her by main force into the pavilion before all the Chieftains.

'And she cried out:—"Take your hands from off me!" But Duhsasana heeded not her words, and said:—"You are now a slave girl, and slave girls cannot complain of being touched by the hands of men."

'When the Chieftains thus beheld Draupadi, they hung down their heads from shame; and Draupadi called upon the elders amongst them, such as Bhishma and Drona, to acquaint her whether or no Raja Yudhishthira had gamed away himself before he had staked her; but they likewise held down their heads and answered not a word.

'Then she cast her eye upon the Pandavas, and her glance was like the stabbing of a thousand daggers, but they moved not hand or foot to help her; for when Bhima would have stepped forward to deliver her from the hands of Duhsasana, Yudhishthira commanded him to forbear, and both he and the younger Pandavas were obliged to obey the command of their elder brother.

'And when Duhsasana saw that Draupadi looked towards the Pandavas, he took her by the hand, and drew her another way, saying:—"Why, O slave, are you turning your eyes about you?" And when Karna and Sakuni heard Duhsasana calling her a slave, they cried out:—"Well said! well said!"

'Then Draupadi wept very bitterly, and appealed to all the assembly, saying:—"All of you have wives and children of your own, and will you permit me to be treated thus? I ask you one question, and I pray you to answer it." Duhsasana then broke in and spoke foul language to her, and used her rudely, so that her veil came off in his hands. And Bhima could restrain his wrath no longer, and spoke vehemently to Yudhishthira; and Arjuna reproved him for his anger against his elder brother, but Bhima answered:—"I will thrust my hands into the fire before these wretches shall treat my wife in this manner before my eyes."

'Then Duryodhana said to Draupadi:—"Come now, I pray you, and sit upon my thigh!" And Bhima gnashed his teeth, and cried out with a loud voice:—"Hear my vow this day! If for this deed I do not break the thigh of Duryodhana, and drink the blood of Duhsasana, I am not the son of Kunti!"

'Meanwhile the Chieftain Vidura had left the assembly, and told the blind Maharaja Dhritarashtra all that had taken place that day; and the Maharaja ordered his servants to lead him into the pavilion where all the Chieftains were gathered together. And all present were silent when they saw the Maharaja, and the Maharaja said to Draupadi:—"O daughter, my sons have done evil to you this day: But go now, you and your husbands, to your own Raj, and remember not what has occurred, and let the memory of this day be blotted out for ever." So the Pandavas made haste with their wife Draupadi, and departed out of the city of Hastinapur.

'Then Duryodhana was exceedingly wroth, and he said to his father, "O Maharaja, is it not a saying that when your enemy hath fallen down, he should be annihilated without a war? And now that we had thrown the Pandavas to the earth, and had taken possession of all their wealth, you have restored them all their strength, and permitted them to depart with anger in their hearts; and now they will prepare to make war that they may revenge themselves upon us for all that has been done, and they will return within a short while and slay us all: Give us leave then, I pray you, to play another game with these Pandavas, and let the side which loses go into exile for twelve years; for thus and thus only can a war be prevented between ourselves and the Pandavas." And the Maharaja granted the request of his son, and messengers were sent to bring back the brethren; and the Pandavas obeyed the commands of their uncle, and returned to his presence; and it was agreed upon that Yudhishthira should play one game more with Sakuni, and that if Yudhishthira won the Kauravas were to go into exile, and that if Sakuni won, the Pandavas were to go into exile; and the exile was to be for twelve years, and one year more; and during that thirteenth year those who were in exile were to dwell in any city they pleased, but to keep themselves so concealed that the others should never discover them; and if the others did discover them before the thirteenth year was over, then those who were in exile were to continue so for another thirteen years. So they sat down again to play, and Sakuni had a set of cheating dice as before, and with them he won the game.

'When Duhsasana saw that Sakuni had won the game, he danced about for joy; and he cried out:—"Now is established the Raj of Duryodhana." But Bhima said, "Be not elated with joy, but remember my words: The day will come when I will drink your blood, or I am not the son of Kunti." And the Pandavas, seeing that they had lost, threw off their garments and put on deer-skins, and prepared to depart into the forest with their wife and mother, and their priest Dhaumya; but Vidura said to Yudhishthira:—"Your mother is old and unfitted to travel, so leave her under my care;" and the Pandavas did so. And the brethren went out from the assembly hanging down their heads with shame, and covering their faces with their garments; but Bhima threw out his long arms and looked at the Kauravas furiously, and Draupadi spread her long black hair over her face and wept bitterly. And Draupadi vowed a vow, saying:—

'"My hair shall remain dishevelled from this day, until Bhima shall have slain Duhsasana and drank his blood; and then he shall tie up my hair again whilst his hands are dripping with the blood of Duhsasana."'

Such was the great gambling match at Hastinapur in the heroic age of India. It appears there can be little doubt of the truth of the incident, although the verisimilitude would have been more complete without the perpetual winning of the cheat Sakuni—which would be calculated to arouse the suspicion of Yudhishthira, and which could scarcely be indulged in by a professional cheat, mindful of the suspicion it would excite.

Throughout the narrative, however, there is a truthfulness to human nature, and a truthfulness to that particular phase of human nature which is pre-eminently manifested by a high-minded race in its primitive stage of civilization.

To our modern minds the main interest of the story begins from the moment that Draupadi was lost; but it must be remembered that among that ancient people, where women were chiefly prized on sensual grounds, such stakes were evidently recognized.

The conduct of Draupadi herself on the occasion shows that she was by no means unfamiliar with the idea: she protested—not on the ground of sentiment or matrimonial obligation—but solely on what may be called a technical point of law, namely, 'Had Yudhishthira become a slave before he staked his wife upon the last game?' For, of course, having ceased to be a freeman, he had no right to stake her liberty.

The concluding scene of the drama forms an impressive figure in the mind of the Hindoo. The terrible figure of Draupadi, as she dishevels her long black hair, is the very impersonation of revenge; and a Hindoo audience never fails to shudder at her fearful vow—that the straggling tresses shall never again be tied up until the day when Bhima shall have fulfilled his vow, and shall then bind them up whilst his fingers are still dripping with the blood of Duhsasana.

The avenging battle subsequently ensued. Bhima struck down Duhsasana with a terrible blow of his mace, saying,—'This day I fulfil my vow against the man who insulted Draupadi!' Then setting his foot on the breast of Duhsasana, he drew his sword, and cut off the head of his enemy; and holding his two hands to catch the blood, he drank it off, crying out, 'Ho! ho! Never did I taste anything in this world so sweet as this blood.'

This staking of wives by gamblers is a curious subject. The practice may be said to have been universal, having furnished cases among civilized as well as barbarous nations. Of course the Negroes of Africa stake their wives and children; according to Schouten, a Chinese staked his wife and children, and lost them; Paschasius Justus states that a Venetian staked his wife; and not a hundred years ago certain debauchees at Paris played at dice for the possession of a celebrated courtesan. But this is an old thing. Hegesilochus, and other rulers of Rhodes, were accustomed to play at dice for the honour of the most distinguished ladies of that island—the agreement being that the party who lost had to bring to the arms of the winner the lady designated by lot to that indignity.(18)

(18) Athen. lib. XI. cap. xii.

There are traditions of such stakes having been laid and lost by husbands in England; and a remarkable case of the kind will be found related in Ainsworth's 'Old Saint Paul's,' as having occurred during the Plague of London, in the year 1665. There can be little doubt that it is founded on fact; and the conduct of the English wife, curiously enough, bears a striking resemblance to that of Draupadi in the Indian narrative.

A Captain Disbrowe of the king's body-guard lost a large sum of money to a notorious debauchee, a gambler and bully, named Sir Paul Parravicin. The latter had made an offensive allusion to the wife of Captain Disbrowe, after winning his money; and then, picking up the dice-box, and spreading a large heap of gold on the table, he said to the officer who anxiously watched his movements:—'I mentioned your wife, Captain Disbrowe, not with any intention of giving you offence, but to show you that, although you have lost your money, you have still a valuable stake left.'

'I do not understand you, Sir Paul,' returned Disbrowe, with a look of indignant surprise.

'To be plain, then,' replied Parravicin, 'I have won from you two hundred pounds—all you possess. You are a ruined man, and as such, will run any hazard to retrieve your losses. I give you a last chance. I will stake all my winnings—nay, double the amount—against your wife. You have a key of the house you inhabit, by which you admit yourself at all hours; so at least I am informed. If I win, that key shall be mine. I will take my chance of the rest. Do you understand me now?'

'I do,' replied the young man, with concentrated fury. 'I understand that you are a villain. You have robbed me of my money, and would rob me of my honour.'

'These are harsh words, sir,' replied the knight calmly; 'but let them pass. We will play first, and fight afterwards. But you refuse my challenge?'

'It is false!' replied Disbrowe, fiercely, 'I accept it.' And producing a key, he threw it on the table. 'My life is, in truth, set on the die,' he added, with a desperate look; 'for if I lose, I will not survive my shame.'

'You will not forget our terms,' observed Parravicin. 'I am to be your representative to-night. You can return home to-morrow.'

'Throw, sir,—throw,' cried the young man, fiercely.

'Pardon me,' replied the knight; 'the first cast is with you. A single main decides it.'

'Be it so,' returned Disbrowe, seizing the bow. And as he shook the dice with a frenzied air, the bystanders drew near the table to watch the result.

'Twelve!' cried Disbrowe, as he removed the box. 'My honour is saved! My fortune retrieved—Huzza!'

'Not so fast,' returned Parravicin, shaking the box in his turn. 'You were a little hasty,' he added, uncovering the dice. 'I am twelve too. We must throw again.'

'This is to decide,' cried the young officer, rattling the dice,—'Six!'

Parravicin smiled, took the box, and threw TEN.

'Perdition!' ejaculated Disbrowe, striking his brow with his clenched hand. 'What devil tempted me to my undoing?... My wife trusted to this profligate!... Horror! It must not be!'

'It is too late to retract,' replied Parravicin, taking up the key, and turning with a triumphant look to his friends.

Disbrowe noticed the smile, and, stung beyond endurance, drew his sword, and called to the knight to defend himself. In an instant passes were exchanged. But the conflict was brief. Fortune, as before, declared herself in favour of Parravicin. He disarmed his assailant, who rushed out of the room, uttering the wildest ejaculations of rage and despair.

* * * * * * The winner of the key proceeded at once to use. He gained admittance to the captain's house, and found his way to the chamber of his wife, who was then in bed. At first mistaken for her husband Parravicin heard words of tender reproach for his lateness; and then, declaring himself, he belied her husband, stating that he was false to her, and had surrendered her to him.

At this announcement Mrs Disbrowe uttered a loud scream, and fell back in the bed. Parravicin waited for a moment; but not hearing her move, brought the lamp to see what was the matter. She had fainted, and was lying across the pillow, with her night-dress partly open, so as to expose her neck and shoulders. The knight was at first ravished with her beauty; but his countenance suddenly fell, and an expression of horror and alarm took possession of it. He appeared rooted to the spot, and instead of attempting to render her any assistance, remained with his gaze fixed upon her neck. Rousing himself at length, he rushed out of the room, hurried down-stairs, and without pausing for a moment, threw open the street door. As he issued from it his throat was forcibly griped, and the point of a sword was placed at his breast.

It was the desperate husband, who was waiting to avenge his wife's honour.

'You are in my power, villain,' cried Disbrowe, 'and shall not escape my vengeance.'

'You are already avenged,' replied Parravicin, shaking off his assailant—'YOUR WIFE HAS THE PLAGUE.'

The profligate had been scared away by the sight of the 'plague spot' on the neck of the unfortunate lady.

The husband entered and found his way to his wife's chamber. Instantaneous explanations ensued. 'He told me you were false—that you loved another—and had abandoned me,' exclaimed the frantic wife.

'He lied!' shouted Disbrowe, in a voice of uncontrollable fury. 'It is true that, in a moment of frenzy, I was tempted to set you—yes, YOU, Margaret—against all I had lost at play, and was compelled to yield up the key of my house to the winner. But I have never been faithless to you—never.'

'Faithless or not,' replied his wife bitterly, 'it is plain you value me less than play, or you would not have acted thus.'

'Reproach me not, Margaret,' replied Disbrowe. 'I would give worlds to undo what I have done.'

'Who shall guard me against the recurrence of such conduct?' said Mrs Disbrowe, coldly. 'But you have not yet informed me how I was saved!'

Disbrowe averted his head.

'What mean you?' she cried, seizing his arm. 'What has happened? Do not keep me in suspense? Were you my preserver?'

'Your preserver was the plague,' rejoined Disbrowe, mournfully.

The unfortunate lady then, for the first time, perceived that she was attacked by the pestilence, and a long and dreadful pause ensued, broken only by exclamations of anguish from both.

'Disbrowe!' cried Margaret at length, raising herself in bed, 'you have deeply, irrecoverably injured me. But promise me one thing.'

'I swear to do whatever you may desire,' he replied.

'I know not, after what I have heard, whether you have courage for the deed,' she continued. 'But I would have you kill this man.'

'I will do it,' replied Disbrowe.

'Nothing but his blood can wipe out the wrong he has done me,' she rejoined. 'Challenge him to a duel—a mortal duel. If he survives, by my soul, I will give myself to him.'

'Margaret!' exclaimed Disbrowe.

'I swear it,' she rejoined,' and you know my passionate nature too well to doubt I will keep my word.'

'But you have the plague!'

'What does that matter? I may recover.'

'Not so,' muttered Disbrowe. 'If I fall, I will take care you do not recover.... I will fight him to-morrow,' he added aloud.

About noon on the following day Disbrowe proceeded to the Smyrna Coffee-house, where, as he expected, he found Parravicin and his companions. The knight instantly advanced towards him, and laying aside for the moment his reckless air, inquired, with a look of commiseration, after his wife.

'She is better,' replied Disbrowe, fiercely. 'I am come to settle accounts with you.'

'I thought they were settled long ago,' returned Parravicin, instantly resuming his wonted manner. 'But I am glad to find you consider the debt unpaid.'

Disbrowe lifted the cane he held in his hand, and struck the knight with it forcibly on the shoulder. 'Be that my answer,' he said.

'I will have your life first, and your wife afterwards,' replied Parravicin fiercely.

'You shall have her if you slay me, but not otherwise,' retorted Disbrowe. 'It must be a mortal duel.'

'It must,' replied Parravicin. 'I will not spare you this time. I shall instantly proceed to the west side of Hyde Park, beneath the trees. I shall expect you there. On my return I shall call on your wife.'

'I pray you do so, sir,' replied Disbrowe, disdainfully.

Both then quitted the Coffee-house, Parravicin attended by his companions, and Disbrowe accompanied by a military friend, whom he accidentally encountered. Each party taking a coach, they soon reached the ground, a retired spot completely screened from observation by trees. The preliminaries were soon arranged, for neither would admit of delay. The conflict then commenced with great fury on both sides; but Parravicin, in spite of his passion, observed far more caution than his antagonist; and taking advantage of an unguarded movement, occasioned by the other's impetuosity, passed his sword through his body. Disbrowe fell.

'You are again successful,' he groaned, 'but save my wife—save her!'

'What mean you?' cried Parravicin, leaning over him, as he wiped his sword.

But Disbrowe could make no answer. His utterance was choked by a sudden effusion of blood on the lungs, and he instantly expired.

Leaving the body in care of the second, Parravicin and his friends returned to the coach, his friends congratulating him on the issue of the conflict; but the knight looked grave, and pondered upon the words of the dying man. After a time, however, he recovered his spirits, and dined with his friends at the Smyrna; but they observed that he drank more deeply than usual. His excesses did not, however, prevent him from playing with his usual skill, and he won a large sum from one of his companions at Hazard.

Flushed with success, and heated with wine, he walked up to Disbrowe's residence about an hour after midnight. As he approached the house, he observed a strangely-shaped cart at the door, and, halting for a moment, saw a body, wrapped in a shroud, brought out. Could it be Mrs Disbrowe? Rushing forward to one of the assistants in black cloaks, he asked whom he was about to inter.

'It is a Mrs Disbrowe,' replied the coffin-maker. 'She died of grief, because her husband was killed this morning in a duel; but as she had the plague, it must be put down to that. We are not particular in such matters, and shall bury her and her husband together; and as there is no money left to pay for coffins, they must go to the grave without them.'

And as the body of his victim also was brought forth, Parravicin fell against the wall in a state of stupefaction. At this moment, Solomon Eagle, the weird plague-prophet, with his burning brazier on his head, suddenly turned the corner of the street, and, stationing himself before the dead-cart, cried in a voice of thunder—'Woe to the libertine! Woe to the homicide! for he shall perish in everlasting fire! Woe! woe!'

Such is this English legend, as related by Ainsworth, but which I have condensed into its main elements. I think it bids fair to equal in interest that of the Hindoo epic; and if it be not true in every particular, so much the better for the sake of human nature.


Concerning the ancient Egyptians we have no particular facts to detail in the matter of gambling; but it is sufficient to determine the existence of any special vice in a nation to find that there are severe laws prohibiting and punishing its practice. Now, this testimony not only exists, but the penalty is of the utmost severity, from which may be inferred both the horror conceived of the practice by the rulers of the Egyptians, and the strong propensity which required that severity to suppress or hold it in check. In Egypt, 'every man was easily admitted to the accusation of a gamester or dice-player; and if the person was convicted, he was sent to work in the quarries.'(19) Gambling was, therefore, prevalent in Egypt in the earliest times.

(19) Taylor, Ductor Dubitantium, B. iv. c. 1.

That gaming with dice was a usual and fashionable species of diversion at the Persian court in the times of the younger Cyrus (about 400 years before the Christian era), to go no higher, is evident from the anecdote related by some historians of those days concerning Queen Parysatis, the mother of Cyrus, who used all her art and skill in gambling to satiate her revenge, and to accomplish her bloodthirsty projects against the murderers of her favourite son. She played for the life or death of an unfortunate slave, who had only executed the commands of his master. The anecdote is as follows, as related by Plutarch, in the Life of Artaxerxes.

'There only remained for the final execution of Queen Parysatis's projects, and fully to satiate her vengeance, the punishment of the king's slave Mesabetes, who by his master's order had cut off the head and hand of the young Cyrus, who was beloved by Parysatis (their common mother) above Artaxerses, his elder brother and the reigning monarch. But as there was nothing to take hold of in his conduct, the queen laid this snare for him. She was a woman of good address, had abundance of wit, and EXCELLED AT PLAYING A CERTAIN GAME WITH DICE. She had been apparently reconciled to the king after the death of Cyrus, and was present at all his parties of pleasure and gambling. One day, seeing the king totally unemployed, she proposed playing with him for a thousand darics (about L500), to which he readily consented. She suffered him to win, and paid down the money. But, affecting regret and vexation, she pressed him to begin again, and to play with her—FOR A SLAVE. The king, who suspected nothing, complied, and the stipulation was that the winner was to choose the slave.

'The queen was now all attention to the game, and made use of her utmost skill and address, which as easily procured her victory, as her studied neglect before had caused her defeat. She won—and chose Mesabetes—the slayer of her son—who, being delivered into her hands, was put to the most cruel tortures and to death by her command.

'When the king would have interfered, she only replied with a smile of contempt—"Surely you must be a great loser, to be so much out of temper for giving up a decrepit old slave, when I, who lost a thousand good darics, and paid them down on the spot, do not say a word, and am satisfied."'

Thus early were dice made subservient to the purposes of cruelty and murder. The modern Persians, being Mohammedans, are restrained from the open practice of gambling. Yet evasions are contrived in favour of games in the tables, which, as they are only liable to chance on the 'throw of the dice,' but totally dependent on the 'skill' in 'the management of the game,' cannot (they argue) be meant to be prohibited by their prophet any more than chess, which is universally allowed to his followers; and, moreover, to evade the difficulty of being forbidden to play for money, they make an alms of their winnings, distributing them to the poor. This may be done by the more scrupulous; but no doubt there are numbers whose consciences do not prevent the disposal of their gambling profits nearer home. All excess of gaming, however, is absolutely prohibited in Persia; and any place wherein it is much exercised is called 'a habitation of corrupted carcases or carrion house.'(20)

(20) Hyde, De Ludis Oriental.

In ancient Greece gambling prevailed to a vast extent. Of this there can be no doubt whatever; and it is equally certain that it had an influence, together with other modes of dissipation and corruption, towards subjugating its civil liberties to the power of Macedon.

So shamelessly were the Athenians addicted to this vice, that they forgot all public spirit in their continued habits of gaming, and entered into convivial associations, or formed 'clubs,' for the purposes of dicing, at the very time when Philip of Macedon was making one grand 'throw' for their liberties at the Battle of Chaeronea.

This politic monarch well knew the power of depravity in enervating and enslaving the human mind; he therefore encouraged profusion, dissipation, and gambling, as being sure of meeting with little opposition from those who possessed such characters, in his projects of ambition—as Demosthenes declared in one of his orations.(21) Indeed, gambling had arrived at such a height in Greece, that Aristotle scruples not to rank gamblers 'with thieves and plunderers, who for the sake of gain do not scruple to despoil their best friends;'(22) and his pupil Alexander set a fine upon some of his courtiers because he did not perceive they made a sport or pastime of dice, but seemed to be employed as in a most serious business.(23)

(21) First Olynthia. See also Athenaeus, lib. vi. 260.

(22) Ethic. Ad Nicomachum, lib. iv.

(23) Plutarch, in Reg. et Imp. Apothegm

The Greeks gambled not only with dice, and at their equivalent for Cross and Pile, but also at cock-fighting, as will appear in the sequel.

From a remark made by the Athenian orator Callistratus, it is evident that desperate gambling was in vogue; he says that the games in which the losers go on doubling their stakes resemble ever-recurring wars, which terminate only with the extinction of the combatants.(24)

(24) Xenophon, Hist. Graec. lib. VI. c. iii.


In spite of the laws enacted against gaming, the court of the Emperor Augustus was greatly addicted to that vice, and gave it additional stimulus among the nation. Although, however, he was passionately fond of gambling, and made light of the imputation on his character,(25) it appears that in frequenting the gambling table he had other motives besides mere cupidity. Writing to his daughter he said, 'I send you a sum with which I should have gratified my companions, if they had wished to play at dice or odds and evens.' On another occasion he wrote to Tiberius:—'If I had exacted my winnings during the festival of Minerva; if I had not lavished my money on all sides; instead of losing twenty thousand sestercii (about L1000), I should have gained one hundred and fifty thousand (L7500). I prefer it thus, however; for my bounty should win me immense glory.'(26)

(25) Aleae rumorem nullo modo expavit. Suet. in Vita Augusti.

(26) Sed hoc malo: benignitas enim mea me ad coelestem gloriam efferet. Ubi supra.

This gambling propensity subjected Augustus to the lash of popular epigrams; among the rest, the following:

Postquam bis classe victus naves perdidit, Aliquando ut vincat, ludit assidud aleam.

'He lost at sea; was beaten twice, And tries to win at least with dice.'

But although a satirist by profession, the sleek courtier Horace spared the emperor's vice, contenting himself with only declaring that play was forbidden.(27) The two following verses of his, usually applied to the effects of gaming, really refer only to RAILLERY.

(27) Carm. lib. III. Od. xxiv.

Ludus enim genuit trepidum certamen et iram; Ira truces inimicitias et funebre bellum.(28)

(28) Epist. lib. I. xix.

He, however, has recorded the curious fact of an old Roman gambler, who was always attended by a slave, to pick up his dice for him and put them in the box.(29) Doubtless, Horace would have lashed the vice of gambling had it not been the 'habitual sin' of his courtly patrons.

(29) Lib. II. Sat. vii. v. 15.

It seems that Augustus not only gambled to excess, but that he gloried in the character of a gamester. Of himself he says, 'Between meals we played like old crones both yesterday and today.'(30)

(30) Inter coenam lusimus (gr gerontikws) et heri et hodie.

When he had no regular players near him, he would play with children at dice, at nuts, or bones. It has been suggested that this emperor gave in to the indulgence of gambling in order to stifle his remorse. If his object in encouraging this vice was to make people forget his proscriptions and to create a diversion in his favour, the artifice may be considered equal to any of the political ruses of this astute ruler, whose false virtues were for a long time vaunted only through ignorance, or in order to flatter his imitators.

The passion of gambling was transmitted, with the empire, to the family of the Caesars. At the gaming table Caligula stooped even to falsehood and perjury. It was whilst gambling that he conceived his most diabolical projects; when the game was against him he would quit the table abruptly, and then, monster as he was, satiated with rapine, would roam about his palace venting his displeasure.

One day, in such a humour, he caught a glimpse of two Roman knights; he had them arrested and confiscated their property. Then returning to the gaming table, he exultingly exclaimed that he had never made a better throw!(31) On another occasion, after having condemned to death several Gauls of great opulence, he immediately went back to his gambling companions and said:—'I pity you when I see you lose a few sestertii, whilst, with a stroke of the pen, I have just won six hundred millions.'(32)

(31) Exultans rediit, gloriansque se nunquam prosperiore alea usum. Suet. in Vita Calig.

(32) Thirty millions of pounds sterling. The sestertius was worth 1s. 3 3/4d.

The Emperor Claudius played like an imbecile, and Nero like a madman. The former would send for the persons whom he had executed the day before, to play with him; and the latter, lavishing the treasures of the public exchequer, would stake four hundred thousand sestertii (L20,000) on a single throw of the dice.

Claudius played at dice on his journeys, having the interior of his carriage so arranged as to prevent the motion from interfering with the game.

From that period the title of courtier and gambler became synonymous. Gaming was the means of securing preferment; it was by gambling that Vitellius opened to himself so grand a career; gaming made him indispensable to Claudius.(33)

(33) Claudio per aleae studium familiaris. Vita Vitelli.

Seneca, in his Play on the death of Claudius, represents him as in the lower regions condemned to pick up dice for ever, putting them into a box without a bottom!(34)

(34) Nam quotiens missurus erat resonante fritillo, Utraque subducto fugiebat tessera fundo. Lusus de Morte Claud. Caesar.

Caligula was reproached for having played at dice on the day of his sister's funeral; and Domitian was blamed for gaming from morning to night, and without excepting the festivals of the Roman calendar; but it seems ridiculous to note such improprieties in comparison with their habitual and atrocious crimes.

The terrible and inexorable satirist Juvenal was the contemporary of Domitian and ten other emperors; and the following is his description of the vice in the gaming days of Rome:

'When was the madness of games of chance more furious? Now-a-days, not content with carrying his purse to the gaming table, the gamester conveys his iron chest to the play-room. It is there that, as soon as the gaming instruments are distributed, you witness the most terrible contests. Is it not mere madness to lose one hundred thousand sestertii and refuse a garment to a slave perishing with cold?'(35)

(35) Sat. I. 87.

It seems that the Romans played for ready money, and had not invented that multitude of signs by the aid of which, without being retarded by the weight of gold and silver, modern gamblers can ruin themselves secretly and without display.

The rage for gambling spread over the Roman provinces, and among barbarous nations who had never been so much addicted to the vice as after they had the misfortune to mingle with the Romans.

The evil continued to increase, stimulated by imperial example. The day on which Didius Julianus was proclaimed Emperor, he walked over the dead and bloody body of Pertinax, and began to play at dice in the next room.(36)

(36) Dion Cass. Hist. Rom. l. lxxiii.

At the end of the fourth century, the following state of things at Rome is described by Gibbon, quoting from Ammianus Marcellinus:

'Another method of introduction into the houses and society of the "great," is derived from the profession of gaming; or, as it is more politely styled, of play. The confederates are united by a strict and indissoluble bond of friendship, or rather of conspiracy; a superior degree of skill in the "tessarian" art, is a sure road to wealth and reputation. A master of that sublime science who, in a supper or assembly, is placed below a magistrate, displays in his countenance the surprise and indignation which Cato might be supposed to feel when he was refused the praetorship by the votes of a capricious people.'(37)

(37) Amm. Marcellin. lib. XIV. c. vi.

Finally, at the epoch when Constantine abandoned Rome never to return, every inhabitant of that city, down to the populace, was addicted to gambling.


CHARLES VI. and CHARLES VII.—The early French annals record the deeds of haughty and idle lords, whose chief occupations were tormenting their vassals, drinking, fighting, and gaming; for most of them were desperate gamblers, setting at defiance all the laws enacted against the practice, and outraging all the decencies of society. The brother of Saint Louis played at dice in spite of the repeated prohibitions of that virtuous prince. Even the great Duguesclin gamed away all his property in prison.(38) The Duc de Touraine, brother of Charles VI., 'set to work eagerly to win the king's money,' says Froissart; and transported with joy one day at having won five thousand livres, his first cry was—Monseigneur, faites-moi payer, 'Please to pay, Sire.'

(38) Hist. de Dugueselin, par Menard.

Gaming went on in the camp, and even in the presence of the enemy. Generals, after having ruined their own fortunes, compromised the safety of the country. Among the rest, Philibert de Chalon, Prince d'Orange, who was in command at the siege of Florence, under the Emperor Charles the Fifth, gambled away the money which had been confided to him for the pay of the soldiers, and was compelled, after a struggle of eleven months, to capitulate with those whom he might have forced to surrender.(39)

(39) Paul. Jov. Hist. lib. xxix.

In the reign of Charles VI. we read of an Hotel de Nesle which was famous for terrible gaming catastrophes. More than one of its frequenters lost their lives there, and some their honour, dearer than life. This hotel was not accessible to everybody, like more modern gaming salons, called Gesvres and Soissons; its gate was open only to the nobility, or the most opulent gentlemen of the day.

There exists an old poem which describes the doings at this celebrated Hotel de Nesle.(40) The author, after describing the convulsions of the players and recording their blasphemies, says:—

(40) The title of this curious old poem is as follows:—'C'est le dit du Gieu des Dez fait par Eustace, et la maniere et contenance des Joueurs qui etoient a Neele, ou etoient Messeigneurs de Berry, de Bourgogne, et plusieurs autres.'

Que maints Gentils-hommes tres haulx Y ont perdu armes et chevaux, Argent, honour, et Seignourie, Dont c'etoit horrible folie.

'How many very eminent gentlemen have there lost their arms and horses, their money and lordship—a horrible folly.'

In another part of the poem he says:—

Li jeune enfant deviennent Rufien, Joueurs de Dez, gourmands et plains d'yvresse, Hautains de cuer, et ne leur chant en rien D'onneur, &c.

'There young men become ruffians, dice-players, gluttons, and drunkards, haughty of heart, and bereft of honour.'

Still it seems that gaming had not then confounded all conditions, as at a later period. It is evident, from the history and memoirs of the times, that the people were more given to games of skill and exercise than games of chance. Before the introduction of the arquebus and gunpowder, they applied themselves to the practice of archery, and in all times they played at quoits, ninepins, bowls, and other similar games of skill.(41)

(41) Sauval, Antiquites de Paris, ii.

The invention of cards brought about some change in the mode of amusement. The various games of this kind, however, cost more time than money; but still the thing attracted the attention of the magistrates and the clergy. An Augustinian friar, in the reign of Charles VII., effected a wonderful reformation in the matter by his preaching. At his voice the people lit fires in several quarters of the city, and eagerly flung into them their cards and billiard-balls.(42)

(42) Pasquier, Recherche des Recherches.

With the exception of a few transient follies, nothing like a rage for gambling can be detected at that period among the lower ranks and the middle classes. The vice, however, continued to prevail without abatement in the palaces of kings and the mansions of the great.

It is impossible not to remark, in the history of nations, that delicacy and good faith decline in proportion to the spread of gambling. However select may be the society of gamesters, it is seldom that it is exempt from all baseness. We have seen a proof of the practice of cheating among the Hindoos. It existed also among the Romans, as proved by the 'cogged' or loaded dice dug up at Herculaneum. The fact is that cheating is a natural, if not a necessary, incident of gambling. It may be inferred from a passage in the old French poet before quoted, that cheats, during the reign of Charles VI., were punished with 'bonnetting,'(43) but no instance of the kind is on record; on the contrary, it is certain that many of the French kings patronized and applauded well-known cheats at the gaming table.

(43) Se votre ami qui bien vous sert En jouant vous changeoit les Dez, Auroit-il pas Chapeau de vert.

LOUIS XI.—Brantome says that Louis XI., who seems not to have had a special secretary, being one day desirous of getting something written, perceived an ecclesiastic who had an inkstand hanging at his side; and the latter having opened it at the king's request, a set of dice fell out. 'What kind of SUGAR-PLUMS are these?' asked his Majesty. 'Sire,' replied the priest, 'they are a remedy for the Plague.' 'Well said,' exclaimed the king, 'you are a fine Paillard (a word he often used); 'YOU ARE THE MAN FOR ME,' and took him into his service; for this king was fond of bon-mots and sharp wits, and did not even object to thieves, provided they were original and provocative of humour, as the following very funny anecdote will show. 'A certain French baron who had lost everything at play, even to his clothes, happening to be in the king's chamber, quietly laid hands on a small clock, ornamented with massive gold, and concealed it in his sleeve. Very soon after, whilst he was among the troop of lords and gentlemen, the clock began to strike the hour. We can well imagine the consternation of the baron at this contretemps. Of course he blushed red-hot, and tightened his arm to try and stifle the implacable sound of detection manifest—the flagrans delictum—still the clock went on striking the long hour, so that at each stroke the bystanders looked at each other from head to foot in utter bewilderment.

'The king, who, as it chanced, had detected the theft, burst out laughing, not only at the astonishment of the gentlemen present, who were at a loss to account for the sound, but also at the originality of the stunning event. At length Monsieur le Baron, by his own blushes half-convicted of larceny, fell on his knees before the king, humbly saying:—"Sire, the pricks of gaming are so powerful that they have driven me to commit a dishonest action, for which I beg your mercy." And as he was going on in this strain, the king cut short his words, exclaiming:—"The PASTIME which you have contrived for us so far surpasses the injury you have done me that the clock is yours: I give it you with all my heart."'(44)

(44) Duverdier, Diverses Lecons.

HENRY III.—In the latter part of the sixteenth century Paris was inundated with brigands of every description. A band of Italian gamesters, having been informed by their correspondents that Henry III. had established card-rooms and dice-rooms in the Louvre, got admission at court, and won thirty thousand crowns from the king.(45)

(45) Journal de Henri III.

If all the kings of France had imitated the disinterestedness of Henry III., the vice of gaming would not have made such progress as became everywhere evident.

Brantome gives a very high idea of this king's generosity, whilst he lashes his contemporaries. Henry III. played at tennis and was very fond of the game—not, however, through cupidity or avarice, for he distributed all his winnings among his companions. When he lost he paid the wager, nay, he even paid the losses of all engaged in the game. The bets were not higher than two, three, or four hundred crowns—never, as subsequently, four thousand, six thousand, or twelve thousand—when, however, payment was not as readily made, but rather frequently compounded for.(46)

(46) Henry III. was also passionately fond of the childish toy Bilboquet, or 'Cup and Ball,' which he used to play even whilst walking in the street. Journal de Henri III., i.

There was, indeed, at that time a French captain named La Roue, who played high stakes, up to six thousand crowns, which was then deemed exorbitant. This intrepid gamester proposed a bet of twenty thousand crowns against one of Andrew Doria's war-galleys.

Doria took the bet, but he immediately declared it off, in apprehension of the ridiculous position in which he would be placed if he lost, saying,—'I don't wish that this young adventurer, who has nothing worth naming to lose, should win my galley to go and triumph in France over my fortune and my honour.'

Soon, however, high stakes became in vogue, and to such an extent that the natural son of the Duc de Bellegarde was enabled to pay, out of his winnings, the large sum of fifty thousand crowns to get himself legitimated. Curiously enough, it is said that the greater part of this sum had been won in England.(47)

(47) Amelot de la Houss. Mem. Hist. iii.

HENRY IV.—Henry IV. early evinced his passion for gaming. When very young and stinted in fortune, he contrived the means of satisfying this growing propensity. When in want of money he used to send a promissory note, written and signed by himself, to his friends, requesting them to return the note or cash it—an expedient which could not but succeed, as every man was only too glad to have the prince's note of hand.(48)

(48) Mem. de Nevers. ii.

There can be no doubt that the example of Henry IV. was, in the matter of gaming, as in other vices, most pernicious. 'Henry IV.,' says Perefixe, 'was not a skilful player, but greedy of gain, timid in high stakes, and ill-tempered when he lost.' He adds rather naively, 'This great king was not without spots any more than the sun.'(49)

(49) Hist. de Henri le Grand.

Under him gambling became the rage. Many distinguished families were utterly ruined by it. The Duc de Biron lost in a single year more than five hundred thousand crowns (about L250,000). 'My son Constant,' says D'Aubigne, 'lost twenty times more than he was worth; so that, finding himself without resources, he abjured his religion.'

It was at the court of Henry IV. that was invented the method of speedy ruin by means of written vouchers for loss and gain—which simplified the thing in all subsequent times. It was then also that certain Italian masters of the gaming art displayed their talents, their suppleness, and dexterity. One of them, named Pimentello, having, in the presence of the Duc de Sully, appealed to the honour which he enjoyed in having often played with Henry IV., the duke exclaimed,—'By heavens! So you are the Italian blood-sucker who is every day winning the king's money! You have fallen into the wrong box, for I neither like nor wish to have anything to do with such fellows.' Pimentello got warm. 'Go about your business,' said Sully, giving him a shove; 'your infernal gibberish will not alter my resolve. Go!'(50)

(50) Mem. de Sully.

The French nation, for a long time agitated by civil war, settled down at last in peace and abundance—the fruits of which prosperity are often poisoned. They were so by the gambling propensity of the people at large, now first manifested. The warrior, the lawyer, the artisan, in a word, almost all professions and trades, were carried away by the fury of gaming. Magistrates sold for a price the permission to gamble—in the face of the enacted laws against the practice.

We can scarcely form an idea of the extent of the gaming at this period. Bassompierre declares, in his Memoirs, that he won more than five hundred thousand livres (L25,000) in the course of a year. 'I won them,' he says, 'although I was led away by a thousand follies of youth; and my friend Pimentello won more than two hundred thousand crowns (L100,000). Evidently this Pimentello might well be called a blood-sucker by Sully.(51) He is even said to have got all the dice-sellers in Paris to substitute loaded dice instead of fair ones, in order to aid his operations.

(51) In the original, however, the word is piffre, (vulgo) 'greedy-guts.'

Nothing more forcibly shows the danger of consorting with such bad characters than the calumny circulated respecting the connection between Henry IV. and this infamous Italian:—it was said that Henry was well aware of Pimentello's manoeuvres, and that he encouraged them with the view of impoverishing his courtiers, hoping thereby to render them more submissive! Nero himself would have blushed at such a connivance. Doubtless the calumny was as false as it was stupid.

The winnings of the courtier Bassompierre were enormous. He won at the Duc d'Epernon's sufficient to pay his debts, to dress magnificently, to purchase all sorts of extravagant finery, a sword ornamented with diamonds—'and after all these expenses,' he says, 'I had still five or six thousand crowns (two to three thousand pounds) left, TO KILL TIME WITH, pour tuer le temps.'

On another occasion, and at a more advanced age, he won one hundred thousand crowns (L50,000) at a single sitting, from M. De Guise, Joinville, and the Marechal d'Ancre.

In reading his Memoirs we are apt to get indignant at the fellow's successes; but at last we are tempted to laugh at his misery. He died so poor that he did not leave enough to pay the twentieth part of his debts! Such, doubtless, is the end of most gamblers.

But to return to Henry IV., the great gambling exemplar of the nation. The account given of him at the gaming table is most afflicting, when we remember his royal greatness, his sublime qualities. His only object was to WIN, and those who played with him were thus always placed in a dreadful dilemma—either to lose their money or offend the king by beating him! The Duke of Savoy once played with him, and in order to suit his humour, dissimulated his game—thus sacrificing or giving up forty thousand pistoles (about L28,000).

When the king lost he was most exacting for his 'revanche,' or revenge, as it is termed at play. After winning considerably from the king, on one occasion, Bassompierre, under the pretext of his official engagements, furtively decamped: the king immediately sent after him; he was stopped, brought back, and allowed to depart only after giving the 'revanche' to his Majesty. This 'good Henri,' who was incapable of the least dissimulation either in good or in evil, often betrayed a degree of cupidity which made his minister, Sully, ashamed of him;—in order to pay his gaming debts, the king one day deducted seventy-two thousand livres from the proceeds of a confiscation on which he had no claim whatever.

On another occasion he was wonderfully struck with some gold-pieces which Bassompierre brought to Fontainebleau, called Portugalloises. He could not rest without having them. Play was necessary to win them, but the king was also anxious to be in time for a hunt. In order to conciliate the two passions, he ordered a gaming party at the Palace, left a representative of his game during his absence, and returned sooner than usual, to try and win the so much coveted Portugalloises.

Even love—if that name can be applied to the grovelling passion of Henry IV., intensely violent as it was—could not, with its sensuous enticements, drag the king from the gaming table or stifle his despicable covetousness. On one occasion, whilst at play, it was whispered to him that a certain princess whom he loved was likely to fall into other arms:—'Take care of my money,' said he to Bassompierre, 'and keep up the game whilst I am absent on particular business.'

During this reign gamesters were in high favour, as may well be imagined. One of them received an honour never conceded even to princes and dukes. 'The latter,' says Amelot de la Houssaie, 'did not enter the court-yard of the royal mansions in a carriage before the year 1607, and they are indebted for the privilege to the first Duc d'Epernon, the favourite of the late king, Henry III., who being wont to go every day to play with the queen, Marie de Medicis, took it into his head to have his carriage driven into the court-yard of the Louvre, and had himself carried bodily by his footmen into the very chamber of the queen—under the pretext of being dreadfully tormented with the gout, so as not to be able to stand on his legs.'(52)

(52) Mem. Hist. iii.

It is said, however, that Henry IV. was finally cured of gambling. Credat Judaeus! But the anecdote is as follows. The king lost an immense sum at play, and requested Sully to let him have the money to pay it. The latter demurred, so that the king had to send to him several times. At last, however, Sully took him the money, and spread it out before him on the table, exclaiming—'There's the sum.' Henry fixed his eyes on the vast amount. It is said to have been enough to purchase Amiens from the Spaniards, who then held it. The king thereupon exclaimed:—'I am corrected. I will never again lose my money at gaming.'

During this reign Paris swarmed with gamesters. Then for the first time were established Academies de Jeu, 'Gaming Academies,' for thus were termed the gaming houses to which all classes of society beneath the nobility and gentility, down to the lowest, rushed in crowds and incessantly. Not a day passed without the ruin of somebody. The son of a merchant, who possessed twenty thousand crowns, lost sixty thousand. It seemed, says a contemporary, that a thousand pistoles at that time were valued less than a sou in the time of Francis I.

The result of this state of things was incalculable social affliction. Usury and law-suits completed the ruin of gamblers.

The profits of the keepers of gaming houses must have been enormous, to judge from the rents they paid. A house in the Faubourg Saint-Germain was secured at the rental of about L70 for a fortnight, for the purpose of gambling during the time of the fair. Small rooms and even closets were hired at the rate of many pistoles or half-sovereigns per hour; to get paid, however, generally entailed a fight or a law-suit.

All this took place in the very teeth of the most stringent laws enacted against gaming and gamesters. The fact was, that among the magistrates some closed their eyes, and others held out their hands to receive the bribe of their connivance.

LOUIS XIII.—At the commencement of the reign of Louis XIII. the laws against gaming were revived, and severer penalties were enacted. Forty-seven gaming houses at Paris, which had been licensed, and from which several magistrates drew a perquisite of a pistole or half a sovereign a day, were shut up and suppressed.

These stringent measures checked the gambling of the 'people,' but not that of 'the great,' who went on merrily as before.

Of course they 'kept the thing quiet'—gambled in secret—but more desperately than ever. The Marechal d'Ancre commonly staked twenty thousand pistoles (L10,000).

Louis XIII. was not a gambler, and so, during this reign, the court did not set so bad an example. The king was averse to all games of chance. He only liked chess, but perhaps rather too much, to judge from the fact that, in order to enable him to play chess on his journeys, a chessboard was fitted in his carriage, the pieces being furnished with pins at the bottom so as not to be deranged or knocked down by the motion. The reader will remember that, as already stated, a similar gaming accommodation was provided for the Roman Emperor Claudius.

The cup and ball of Henry III. and the chessboard of Louis XIII. are merely ridiculous. We must excuse well-intentioned monarchs when they only indulge themselves with frivolous and childish trifles. It is something to be thankful for if we have not to apply to them the adage—Quic-quid delirant reges plectuntur Achivi—'When kings go mad their people get their blows.'

LOUIS XIV.—The reign of Louis XIV. was a great development in every point of view, gaming included.

The revolutions effected in the government and in public morals by Cardinal Richelieu, who played a game still more serious than those we are considering, had very considerably checked the latter; but these resumed their vigour, with interest, under another Cardinal, profoundly imbued with the Italian spirit—the celebrated Mazarin. This minister, independently of his particular taste that way, knew how to ally gaming with his political designs. By means of gaming he contrived to protract the minority of the king under whom he governed the nation.

'Mazarin,' says St Pierre, 'introduced gaming at the court of Louis XIV. in the year 1648. He induced the king and the queen regent to play; and preference was given to games of chance. The year 1648 was the era of card-playing at court. Cardinal Mazarin played deep and with finesse, and easily drew in the king and queen to countenance this new entertainment, so that every one who had any expectation at court learned to play at cards. Soon after the humour changed, and games of chance came into vogue—to the ruin of many considerable families: this was likewise very destructive to health, for besides the various violent passions it excited, whole nights were spent at this execrable amusement. The worst of all was that card-playing, which the court had taken from the army, soon spread from the court into the city, and from the city pervaded the country towns.

'Before this there was something done for improving conversation; every one was ambitious of qualifying himself for it by reading ancient and modern books; memory and reflection were much more exercised. But on the introduction of gaming men likewise left of tennis, billiards, and other games of skill, and consequently became weaker and more sickly, more ignorant, less polished, and more dissipated.

'The women, who till then had commanded respect, accustomed men to treat them familiarly, by spending the whole night with them at play. They were often under the necessity of borrowing either to play, or to pay their losings; and how very ductile and complying they were to those of whom they had to borrow was well known.'

From that time gamesters swarmed all over France; they multiplied rapidly in every profession, even among the magistracy. The Cardinal de Retz tells us, in his Memoirs, that in 1650 the oldest magistrate in the parliament of Bordeaus, and one who passed for the wisest, was not ashamed to stake all his property one night at play, and that too, he adds, without risking his reputation—so general was the fury of gambling. It became very soon mixed up with the most momentous circumstances of life and affairs of the gravest importance. The States-general, or parliamentary assemblies, consisted altogether of gamblers. 'It is a game,' says Madame de Sevigne, 'it is an entertainment, a liberty-hall day and night, attracting all the world. I never before beheld the States-general of Bretagne. The States-general are decidedly a very fine thing.'

The same delightful correspondent relates that one of her amusements when she went to the court was to admire Dangeau at the card-table; and the following is the account of a gaming party at which she was present:—

'29th July, 1676.

'I went on Saturday with Villars to Versailles. I need not tell you of the queen's toilette, the mass, the dinner—you know it all; but at three o'clock the king rose from table, and he, the queen, Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle, all the princes and princesses, Madame de Montespan, all her suite, all the courtiers, all the ladies, in short, what we call the court of France, were assembled in that beautiful apartment which you know. It is divinely furnished, everything is magnificent; one does not know what it is to be too hot; we walk about here and there, and are not incommoded anywhere:—at last a table of reversi(53) gives a form to the crowd, and a place to every one. THE KING IS NEXT TO MADAME DE MONTESPAN, who deals; the Duke of Orleans, the queen, and Madame de Soubise; Dangeau and Co.; Langee and Co.; a thousand louis are poured out on the cloth—there are no other counters. I saw Dangeau play!—what fools we all are compared to him—he minds nothing but his business, and wins when every one else loses: he neglects nothing, takes advantage of everything, is never absent; in a word, his skill defies fortune, and accordingly 200,000 francs in ten days, 100,000 crowns in a fortnight, all go to his receipt book.

(53) A kind of game long since out of fashion, and now almost forgotten; it seems to have been a compound of Loo and Commerce—the Quinola or Pam was the knave of hearts.

'He was so good as to say I was a partner in his play, by which I got a very convenient and agreeable place. I saluted the king in the way you taught me, which he returned as if I had been young and handsome—I received a thousand compliments—you know what it is to have a word from everybody! This agreeable confusion without confusion lasts from three o'clock till six. If a courtier arrives, the king retires for a moment to read his letters, and returns immediately. There is always some music going on, which has a very good effect; the king listens to the music and chats to the ladies about him. At last, at six o'clock, they stop playing—they have no trouble in settling their reckonings—there are no counters—the lowest pools are five, six, seven hundred louis, the great ones a thousand, or twelve hundred; they put in five each at first, that makes one hundred, and the dealer puts in ten more—then they give four louis each to whoever has Quinola—some pass, others play, but when you play without winning the pool, you must put in sixteen to teach you how to play rashly: they talk all together, and for ever, and of everything. "How many hearts?" "Two!" "I have three!" "I have one!" "I have four!" "He has only three!" and Dangeau, delighted with all this prattle, turns up the trump, makes his calculations, sees whom he has against him, in short—in short, I was glad to see such an excess of skill. He it is who really knows "le dessous des cartes."

'At ten o'clock they get into their carriages: THE KING, MADAME DE MONTESPAN, the Duke of Orleans, and Madame de Thianges, and the good Hendicourt on the dickey, that is as if one were in the upper gallery. You know how these calashes are made.

'The queen was in another with the princesses; and then everybody else, grouped as they liked. Then they go on the water in gondolas, with music; they return at ten; the play is ready, it is over; twelve strikes, supper is brought in, and so passes Saturday.'

This lively picture of such frightful gambling, of the adulterous triumph of Madame de Montespan, and of the humiliating part to which the queen was condemned, will induce our readers to concur with Madame de Sevigne, who, amused as she had been by the scene she has described, calls it nevertheless, with her usual pure taste and good judgment, l'iniqua corte, 'the iniquitous court.'

Indeed, Madame de Sevigne had ample reason to denounce this source of her domestic misery. Writing to her son and daughter, she says:—'You lose all you play for. You have paid five or six thousand francs for your amusement, and to be abused by fortune.'

If she had at first been fascinated by the spectacle which she so glowingly describes, the interest of her children soon opened her eyes to the yawning gulf at the brink of the flowery surface.

Sometimes she explains herself plainly:—'You believe that everybody plays as honestly as yourself? Call to mind what took place lately at the Hotel de la Vieuville. Do you remember that ROBBERY?'

The favour of that court, so much coveted, seemed to her to be purchased at too high a price if it was to be gained by ruinous complaisances. She trembled every time her son left her to go to Versailles. She says:—'He tells me he is going to play with his young master;(54) I shudder at the thought. Four hundred pistoles are very easily lost: ce n'est rien pour Admete et c'est beaucoup pour lui.(55) If Dangeau is in the game he will win all the pools: he is an eagle. Then will come to pass, my daughter, all that God may vouchsafe—il en arivera, ma fille, tout ce qu'il plaira a Dieu.'

(54) The Dauphin.

(55) 'It is nothing for Admetus, but 'tis much for him.'

And again, 'The game of Hoca is prohibited at Paris UNDER THE PENALTY OF DEATH, and yet it is played at court. Five thousand pistoles before dinner is nothing. That game is a regular cut-throat.'

Hoca was prodigiously unfavourable to the players; the latter had only twenty-eight chances against thirty. In the seventeenth century this game caused such disorder at Rome that the Pope prohibited it and expelled the bankers.

The Italians whom Mazarin brought into France obtained from the king permission to set up Hoca tables in Paris. The parliament launched two edicts against them, and threatened to punish them severely. The king's edicts were equally severe. Every of offender was to be fined 1000 livres, and the person in whose house Faro, Basset, or any such game was suffered, incurred the penalty of 6000 livres for each offence. The persons who played were to be imprisoned. Gaming was forbidden the French cavalry under the penalty of death, and every commanding officer who should presume to set up a Hazard table was to be cashiered, and all concerned to be rigorously imprisoned. These penalties might show great horror of gaming, but they were too severe to be steadily inflicted, and therefore failed to repress the crime against which they were directed. The severer the law the less the likelihood of its application, and consequently its power of repression.

Madame de Sevigne had beheld the gamesters only in the presence of their master the king, or in the circles which were regulated with inviolable propriety; but what would she have said if she could have seen the gamblers at the secret suppers and in the country-houses of the Superintendent Fouquet, where twenty 'qualified' players, such as the Marshals de Richelieu, de Clairembaut, &c., assembled together, with a dash of bad company, to play for lands, houses, jewels, even for point-lace and neckties? There she would have seen something more than gold staked, since the players debased themselves so low as to circumvent certain opulent dupes, who were the first invited. To leave one hundred pistoles, ostensibly for 'the cards,' but really as the perquisite of the master of the lordly house; to recoup him when he lost; and, when they had to deal with some unimportant but wealthy individual, to undo him completely, compelling him to sign his ruin on the gaming table—such was the conduct which rendered a man recherche, and secured the title of a fine player!

It was precisely thus that the famous (or infamous) Gourville, successively valet-de-chambre to the Duc de la Rochefoucault, hanged in effigy at Paris, king's envoy in Germany, and afterwards proposed to replace Colbert—it was thus precisely, I say, that Gourville secured favour, 'consideration,' fortune; for he declares, in his Memoirs, that his gains in a few years amounted to more than a million. And fortune seems to have cherished and blessed him throughout his detestable career. After having made his fortune, he retired to write the scandalous Memoirs from which I have been quoting, and died out of debt!(56)

(56) Mem. de Gourville, i.

France became too narrow a theatre for the chevaliers d'industrie and all who were a prey to the fury of gambling. The Count de Grammont, a very suspicious player, turned his talents to account in England, Italy, and Spain.

This same Count de Grammont figured well at court on one occasion when Louis XIV. seemed inclined to cheat or otherwise play unfairly. Playing at backgammon, and having a doubtful throw, a dispute arose, and the surrounding courtiers remained silent. The Count de Grammont happening to come in, the king desired him to decide it. He instantly answered—'Sire, your Majesty is in the wrong.' 'How,' said the king, 'can you decide before you know the question?' 'Because,' replied the count, 'had there been any doubt, all these gentlemen would have given it in favour of your Majesty.' The plain inference is that this (at the time) great world's idol and Voltaire's god, was 'up to a little cheating.' It was, however, as much to the king's credit that he submitted to the decision, as it was to that of the courtier who gave him such a lesson.

The magnanimity of Louis XIV. was still more strikingly shown on another gambling occasion. Very high play was going on at the cardinal's, and the Chevalier de Rohan lost a vast sum to the king. The agreement was to pay only in louis d'ors; and the chevalier, after counting out seven or eight hundred, proposed to continue the payment in Spanish pistoles. 'You promised me louis d'ors, and not pistoles,' said the king. 'Since your Majesty refuses them,' replied the chevalier, 'I don't want them either;' and thereupon he flung them out of the window. The king got angry, and complained to Mazarin, who replied:—'The Chevalier de Rohan has played the king, and you the Chevalier de Rohan.' The king acquiesced.(57)

(57) Mem. et Reflex., &e., par M. L. M. L. F. (the Marquis de la Fare).

As before stated, the court of the Roman Emperor Augustus, in spite of the many laws enacted against gambling, diffused the frenzy through Rome; in like manner the court of Louis XIV., almost in the same circumstances, infected Paris and the entire kingdom with the vice.

There is this difference between the French monarch and the Roman emperor, that the latter did not teach his successors to play against the people, whereas Louis, after having denounced gaming, and become almost disgusted with it, finished with established lotteries. High play was always the etiquette at court, but the sittings became less frequent and were abridged. 'The king,' says Madame de Sevigne, 'has not given over playing, but the sittings are not so long.'

LOUIS XV.—At the death of Louis XIV. three-fourths of the nation thought of nothing but gambling. Gambling, indeed, became itself an object of speculation, in consequence of the establishment and development of lotteries—the first having been designed to celebrate the restoration of peace and the marriage of Louis XIV.

The nation seemed all mad with the excitement of play. During the minority of Louis XV. a foreign gamester, the celebrated Scotchman, John Law, having become Controller-General of France, undertook to restore the finances of the nation by making every man a player or gamester. He propounded a SYSTEM; he established a bank, which nearly upset the state; and seduced even those who had escaped the epidemic of games of chance. He was finally expelled like a foul fog; but they ought to have hanged him as a deliberate corrupter. And yet this is the man of whom Voltaire wrote as follows: 'We are far from evincing the gratitude which is due to John Law.(58) Voltaire's praise was always as suspicious as his blame. Just let us consider the tendency of John Law's 'system.' However general may be the fury of gambling, EVERYBODY does not gamble; certain professions impose a certain restraint, and their members would blush to resort to games the turpitude of which would subject them to unanimous condemnation. But only change the NAMES of these games—only change their FORM, and let the bait be presented under the sanction of the legislature: then, although the THING be not less vicious, nor less repugnant to true principle, then we witness the gambling ardour of savages, such as we have described it, manifesting itself with more risk, and communicated to the entire nation—the ministers of the altar, the magistracy, the members of every profession, fathers, mothers of families, without distinction of rank, means, or duties.... Let this short generalization be well pondered, and the conclusion must be reached that this Scotch adventurer, John Law, was guilty of the crime of treason against humanity.

(57) Nous sommes loin de la reconnoissance qui est due a Jean Law. Mel. de Litt., d'Hist., &c. ii.

John Law, whom the French called Jean Lass, opened a gulf into which half the nation eagerly poured its money. Fortunes were made in a few days—in a few HOURS. Many were enriched by merely lending their signatures. A sudden and horrible revolution amazed the entire people—like the bursting of a bomb-shell or an incendiary explosion. Six hundred thousand of the best families, who had taken PAPER on the faith of the government, lost, together with their fortunes, their offices and appointments, and were almost annihilated. Some of the stock-jobbers escaped; others were compelled to disgorge their gains—although they stoutly and, it must be admitted, consistently appealed to the sanction of the court.

Oddly enough, whilst the government made all France play at this John Law game—the most seductive and voracious that ever existed—some thirty or forty persons were imprisoned for having broken the laws enacted against games of chance!

It may be somewhat consolatory to know that the author of so much calamity did not long enjoy his share of the infernal success—the partition of a people's ruin. After extorting so many millions, this famous gambler was reduced to the necessity of selling his last diamond in order to raise money to gamble on.

This great catastrophe, the commotion of which was felt even in Holland and in England, was the last sigh of true honour among the French. Probity received a blow. Public morality was abashed. More gaming houses than ever were opened, and then it was that they received the name of Enfers, or 'Hells,' by which they were designated in England. 'The greater number of those who go to the watering-places,' writes a contemporary, 'under the pretext of health, only go after gamesters. In the States-general it is less the interest of the people than the attraction of terrible gambling, that brings together a portion of the nobility. The nature of the play may be inferred from the name of the place at which it takes place in one of the provinces—namely, Enfer. This salon, so appropriately called, was in the Hotel of the king's commissioners in Bretagne. I have been told that a gentleman, to the great disgust of the noblemen present, and even of the bankers, actually offered to stake his sword.

'This name of Enfers has been given to several gaming houses, some them situated in the interior of Paris, others in the environs.

'People no longer blush, as did Caligula, at gambling on their return from the funeral of their relatives or friends. A gamester, returning from the burial of his brother, where he had exhibited the signs of profound grief, played and won a considerable sum of money. "How do you feel now?" he was asked. "A little better," he replied, "this consoles me."

'All is excitement whilst I write. Without mentioning the base deeds that have been committed, I have counted four suicides and a great crime.

'Besides the licensed gaming houses, new ones are furtively established in the privileged mansions of the ambassadors and representatives of foreign courts. Certain chevaliers d'industrie recently proposed to a gentleman of quality, who had just been appointed plenipotentiary, to hire an hotel for him, and to pay the expenses, on condition that he would give up to them an apartment and permit them to have valets wearing his livery! This base proposal was rejected with contempt, because the Baron de —— is one of the most honourable and enlightened men of the age.

'The most difficult bargains are often amicably settled by a game. I have seen persons gaming whilst taking a walk and whilst travelling in their carriages. People game at the doors of the theatres; of course they gamble for the price of the ticket. In every possible manner, and in every situation, the true gamester strives to turn every instant to profit.

'If I relate what I have seen in the matter of play during sleep, it will be difficult to understand me. A gamester, exhausted by fatigue, could not give up playing because he was a loser; so he requested his adversary to play for him with his left hand, whilst he dozed off and slept! Strange to say, the left hand of his adversary incessantly won, whilst he snored to the sound of the dice!

'I have just read in a newspaper,(59) that two Englishmen, who left their country to fight a duel in a foreign land, nevertheless played at the highest stakes on the voyage; and having arrived on the field, one of them laid a wager that he would kill his adversary. It is stated that the spectators of the affair looked upon it as a gaming transaction.

(59) Journal de Politique, Dec. 15, 1776.

'In speaking of this affair I was told of a German, who, being compelled to fight a duel on account of a quarrel at the gaming table, allowed his adversary to fire at him. He was missed.

He said to his opponent, "I never miss. I bet you a hundred ducats that I break your right or left arm, just as you please." The bet was taken, and he won.

'I have found cards and dice in many places where people were in want of bread. I have seen the merchant and the artisan staking gold by handfuls. A small farmer has just gamed away his harvest, valued at 3000 francs.'(60)

(60) Dusaulx, De la Passion du Jeu, 1779.

Gaming houses in Paris were first licensed in 1775, by the lieutenant of police, Sartines, who, to diminish the odium of such establishments, decreed that the profit resulting from them should be applied to the foundation of hospitals. Their number soon amounted to twelve; and women were allowed to resort to them two days in the week. Besides the licensed establishments, several illegal ones were tolerated, and especially styled enfers, or 'hells.'

Gaming having been found prolific in misfortunes and crimes, was prohibited in 1778; but it was still practised at the court and in the hotels of ambassadors, where police-officers could not enter. By degrees the public establishments resumed their wonted activity, and extended their pernicious effects. The numerous suicides and bankruptcies which they occasioned attracted the attention of the Parlement, who drew up regulations for their observance, and threatened those who violated them with the pillory and whipping. The licensed houses, as well as those recognized, however, still continued their former practices, and breaches of the regulations were merely visited with trivial punishment.

At length, the passion for play prevailing in the societies established in the Palais Royal, under the title of clubs or salons, a police ordinance was issued in 1785, prohibiting them from gaming. In 1786, fresh disorder having arisen in the unlicensed establishments, additional prohibiting measures were enforced. During the Revolution the gaming-houses were frequently prosecuted, and licenses withheld; but notwithstanding the rigour of the laws and the vigilance of the police, they still contrived to exist.

LOUIS XVI. TILL THE PRESENT TIME.—In the general corruption of morals, which rose to its height during the reign of Louis XVI., gambling kept pace with, if it did not outstrip, every other licentiousness of that dismal epoch.(61) Indeed, the universal excitement of the nation naturally tended to develope every desperate passion of our nature; and that the revolutionary troubles and agitation of the empire helped to increase the gambling propensity of the French, is evident from the magnitude of the results on record.

(61) It will be seen in the sequel that gambling was vastly increased in England by the French 'emigres' who sought refuge among us, bringing with them all their vices, unchastened by misfortune.

Fouche, the minister of police, derived an income of L128,000 a year for licensing or 'privileging' gaming houses, to which cards of address were regularly furnished.

Besides what the 'farmers' of the gaming houses paid to Fouche, they were compelled to hire and pay 120,000 persons, employed in those houses as croupiers or attendants at the gaming table, from half-a-crown to half-a-guinea a day; and all these 120,000 persons were SPIES OF FOUCHE! A very clever idea no doubt it was, thus to draw a revenue from the proceeds of a vice, and use the institution for the purposes of government; but, perhaps, as Rousseau remarks, 'it is a great error in domestic as well as civil economy to wish to combat one vice by another, or to form between them a sort of equilibrium, as if that which saps the foundations of order can ever serve to establish it.'(62) A minister of the Emperor Theodosius II., in the year 431, the virtuous Florentius, in order to teach his master that it was wrong to make the vices contribute to the State, because such a procedure authorizes them, gave to the public treasury one of his lands the revenue of which equalled the product of the annual tax levied on prostitution.(63)

(62) Nouv. Heloise, t. iv.

(63) Novel. Theodos. 18.

After the restoration of the Bourbons, it became quite evident that play in the Empire had been quite as Napoleonic in its vigour and dimensions as any other 'idea' of the epoch.

The following detail of the public gaming tables of Paris was published in a number of the Bibliotheque Historique, 1818, under the title of 'Budget of Public Games.'


  These 20 Tables are divided into nine houses, four of which are
  situated in the Palais Royal.
  To serve the seven tables of Trente-et-un, there are:—francs
  28 Dealers,    at 550 fr. a month, making . . . . 15,400
  28 Croupiers,  at 380. . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10,640
  42 Assistants, at 200. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,400


  80 Dealers,    at 275 fr. a month . . . . . . . . 22,000
  60 Assistants, at 150. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,000

  12 Dealers,    at 300 fr. a month. . . . . . . . . 3,600
  12 Inspectors, at 120 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,440
  10 Aids,      at 100. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,000
  6 Chefs de Partie at the principal houses, at
  700 fr. a month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,200

  3 Chefs de Partie for the Roulettes, at
  500 fr. a month. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,500
  20 Secret Inspectors, at 200 fr. a month. . . . . .4,000
  1 Inspector-General, at . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,000
  130 Waiters, at 75 fr. a month. . . . . . . . . . .9,750
  Cards a month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,500
  Beer and refreshments, a month. . . . . . . . . . .3,000
  Lights. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,500
  Refreshment for the grand saloon, including two
  dinners every week, per month . . . . . . . . . 12,000
  Total expense of each month . . . .113,930
  Multiplied by twelve, is. . . . . . . . . . . .1,367,160
  Rent of 10 Houses, per annum. . . . . . . . . . .130,000
  Expense of Offices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50,000
  Total per annum. . . . . . . . . 1,547,160
  If the `privilege' or license is . . . . . . . 6,000,000
  If a bonus of a million is given for six years, the
  sixth part, or one year, will be . . . . . . . 166,666

  Total expenditure . . . . . . . .7,713,826
  The profits are estimated at, per month,. . . . .800,000
  Which yield, per annum, . . . . . . . . . . . .9,600,000
  Deducting the expenditure . . . . . . . . . . .7,713,826
  The annual profits are. . . . . . . . . . . fr.1,886,174
  Thus giving the annual profit at L7860 sterling.

  We omit the profits resulting from the watering-places,
  amounting to fr. 200,000.

One of the new conditions imposed on the Paris gaming houses is the exclusion of females.

Thus, at Paris, the Palais Royal, Frascati, and numerous other places, presented gaming houses, whither millions of wretches crowded in search of fortune, but, for the most part, to find only ruin or even death by suicide or duelling, so often resulting from quarrels at the gaming table.

This state of things was, however, altered in the year 1836, at the proposition of M. B. Delessert, and all the gaming houses were ordered to be closed from the 1st of January, 1838, so that the present gambling in France is on the same footing as gambling in England,—utterly prohibited, but carried on in secret.


It seems that the rise of modern gaming in England may be dated from the year 1777 or 1778.

Before this time gaming appears never to have assumed an alarming aspect. The methodical system of partnership, enabling men to embark large capital in gambling establishments, was unknown; though from that period this system became the special characteristic of the pursuit among all classes of the community.

The development of the evil was a subject of great concern to thoughtful men, and one of these, in the year 1784, put forth a pamphlet, which seems to give 'the very age and body of the time, his form and pressure.'(64)

(64) The pamphlet (in the Library of the British Museum) is entitled:—'Hints for a Reform, particularly of the Gaming Clubs. By a Member of Parliament. 1784.'

'About thirty years ago,' says this writer, 'there was but one club in the metropolis. It was regulated and respectable. There were few of the members who betted high. Such stakes at present would be reckoned very low indeed. There were then assemblies once a week in most of the great houses. An agreeable society met at seven o'clock; they played for crowns or half-crowns; and reached their own houses about eleven.

'There was but one lady who gamed deeply, and she was viewed in the light of a phenomenon. Were she now to be asked her real opinion of those friends who were her former PLAY-fellows, there can be no doubt but that they rank very low in her esteem.

'In the present era of vice and dissipation, how many females attend the card-tables! What is the consequence? The effects are too clearly to be traced to the frequent DIVORCES which have lately disgraced our country, and they are too visible in the shameful conduct of many ladies of fashion, since gambling became their chief amusement.

'There is now no society. The routs begin at midnight. They are painful and troublesome to the lady who receives company, and they are absolutely a nuisance to those who are honoured with a card of invitation. It is in vain to attempt conversation. The social pleasures are entirely banished, and those who have any relish for them, or who are fond of early hours, are necessarily excluded. Such are the companies of modern times, and modern people of fashion. Those who are not invited fly to the Gaming Clubs

"To kill their idle hours and cure ennui!"

'To give an account of the present encumbered situation of many families, whose property was once large and ample, would fill a volume. Whence spring the difficulties which every succeeding day increases? From the GAMBLING CLUBS. Why are they continually hunted by their creditors? The reply is—the GAMBLING CLUBS. Why are they obliged continually to rack their invention in order to save appearances? The answer still is—the GAMBLING CLUBS!

'The father frequently ruins his children; and sons, and even grandsons, long before the succession opens to them, are involved so deeply that during their future lives their circumstances are rendered narrow; and they have rank or family honours, without being able to support them.

'How many infamous villains have amassed immense estates, by taking advantage of unfortunate young men, who have been first seduced and then ruined by the Gambling Clubs!

'It is well known that the old members of those gambling societies exert every nerve to enlist young men of fortune; and if we take a view of the principal estates on this island, we shall find many infamous CHRISTIAN brokers who are now living luxuriously and in splendour on the wrecks of such unhappy victims.

'At present, when a boy has learned a little from his father's example, he is sent to school, to be INITIATED. In the course of a few years he acquires a profound knowledge of the science of gambling, and before he leaves the University he is perfectly fitted for a member of the GAMING CLUBS, into which he is elected before he takes his seat in either House of Parliament. There is no necessity for his being of age, as the sooner he is ballotted for, the more advantageous his admission will prove to the OLD members.

'Scarcely is the hopeful youth enrolled among these HONOURABLE associates, than he is introduced to Jews, to annuity-brokers, and to the long train of money-lenders. They take care to answer his pecuniary calls, and the greater part of the night and morning is consumed at the CLUB. To his creditors and tradesmen, instead of paying his bills, he offers a BOND or ANNUITY. He rises just time enough to ride to Kensington Gardens; returns to dress; dines late; and then attends the party of gamblers, as he had done the night before, unless he allows himself to be detained for a few moments by the newspaper, or some political publication.

'Such do we find the present fashionable style of life, from "his Grace" to the "Ensign" in the Guards. Will this mode of education rear up heroes, to lead forth our armies, or to conduct our fleets to victory? Review the conduct of your generals abroad, and of your statesmen at home, during the late unfortunate war, and these questions are answered.(65)

(65) Of course this is an allusion to the American War of Independence and the political events at home, from 1774 to 1784.

'At present, tradesmen must themselves be gamblers before they give credit to a member of these clubs; but if a reform succeeds they will be placed in a state of security. At present they must make REGULAR families pay an enormous price for their goods, to enable them to run the risk of never receiving a single shilling from their gambling customers.'

Such is the picture of the times in question, drawn by a contemporary; and it may be said that private reckless and unscrupulous political machinations were the springs and fountains of all the calamities that subsequently overflowed, as it were, the 'opening of the seals' of doom upon the nation.

Notwithstanding the purity of morals enjoined by the court of George III., the early part of his reign presents a picture of dissolute manners as well as of furious party spirit. The most fashionable of our ladies of rank were immersed in play, or devoted to politics: the same spirit carried them into both. The Sabbath was disregarded, spent often in cards, or desecrated by the meetings of partisans of both factions; moral duties were neglected and decorum outraged. The fact was, that a minor court had become the centre of all the bad passions and reprehensible pursuits in vogue. Carlton House, in Pall Mall, which even the oldest of us can barely remember, with its elegant open screen, the pillars in front, its low exterior, its many small rooms, its decorations in vulgar taste, and, to crown the whole, its associations of a corrupting revelry,—Carlton House was, in the days of good King George, almost as great a scandal to the country as Whitehall in the time of improper King Charles II.(66) The influence which the example of a young prince, of manners eminently popular, produced upon the young nobility of the realm was most disastrous in every way and ruinous to public morality.

(66) Wharton, 'The Queens of Society.' Mem. of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

After that period, the vast license given to those abominable engines of fraud, the E.O. tables,(67) and the great length of time which elapsed before they met with any check from the police, afforded a number of dissolute and abandoned characters an opportunity of acquiring property. This they afterwards increased in the low gaming houses, and by following up the same system at Newmarket and the other fashionable places of resort, and finally by means of the lottery, that mode of insensate gambling; till at length they acquired a sum of money nothing short of ONE MILLION STERLING.

(67) So called from the letters E and O, the turning up of which decided the bet. They were otherwise called Roulette and Roly Poly, from the balls used in them. They seem to have been introduced in England about the year 1739. The first was set up at Tunbridge and proved extremely profitable to the proprietors.

This enormous wealth was then used as an efficient capital in carrying on various illegal establishments, particularly gaming houses, the expenses of a first-rate house being L7000 per annum, which were again employed as the means of increasing these ill-gotten riches.

The system was progressive but steady in its development. Several of these conspicuous members of the world of fashion, rolling in their gaudy carriages and associating with men of high rank and influence, might be found on the registers of the Old Bailey, or had been formerly occupied in turning, with their own hands, E.O. tables in the public streets.

The following Queries, which are extracted from the Morning Post of July the 5th, 1797, throw considerable light upon this curious subject, and show how seriously the matter was regarded when so public a denunciation was deemed necessary and ventured upon:—

'Is Mr Ogden (now the Newmarket oracle) the same person who, five-and-twenty years since, was an annual pedestrian to Ascot, covered with dust, amusing himself with "PRICKING in the belt," "HUSTLING in the hat," &c., among the lowest class of rustics, at the inferior booths of the fair?

'Is D-k-y B—n who now has his snug farm, the same person who, some years since, DROVE A POST CHAISE for T—y, of Bagshot, could neither read nor write, and was introduced to THE FAMILY only by his pre-eminence at cribbage?

'Is Mr Twycross (with his phaeton) the same person who some years since became a bankrupt in Tavistock Street, immediately commenced the Man of Fashion at Bath, kept running horses, &c., secundum artem?

'Is Mr Phillips (who has now his town and country house, in the most fashionable style) the same who was originally a linen-draper and bankrupt at Salisbury, and who made his first family entre in the metropolis, by his superiority at Billiards (with Captain Wallace, Orrell, &c.) at Cropley's, in Bow Street?

'Was poor carbuncled P—e (so many years the favourite decoy duck of THE FAMILY) the very barber of Oxford, who, in the midst of the operation upon a gentleman's face, laid down his razor, swearing that he would never shave another man so long as he lived, and immediately became the hero of the card table, the bones, the box, and the Cockpit?'

Capital was not the only qualification for admission into the Confederacy of Gambling. Some of the members were taken into partnership on account of their dexterity in 'securing' dice or 'dealing' cards. One is said to have been actually a sharer in every 'Hell' at the West-End of the Town, because he was feared as much as he was detested by the firms, who had reason to know that he would 'peach' if not kept quiet. Informers against the illegal and iniquitous associations were arrested and imprisoned upon writs, obtained by perjury—to deter others from similar attacks; witnesses were suborned; officers of justice bribed; ruffians and bludgeon-men employed, where gratuities failed; personal violence and even assassination threatened to all who dared to expose the crying evil—among others, to Stockdale, the well-known publisher of the day, in Piccadilly.

Then came upon the nation the muddy flood of French emigrants, poured forth by the Great Revolution—a set of men, speaking generally, whose vices contaminated the very atmosphere.

Before the advent of these worthies the number of gambling houses in the metropolis, exclusive of those so long established by subscription, was not more than half-a-dozen; but by the year 1820 they had increased to nearly fifty. Besides Faro and Hazard, the foreign games of Macao, Roulette, Rouge et Noir, &c., were introduced, and there was a graduated accommodation for all ranks, from the Peer of the Realm to the Highwayman, the Burglar, and the Pick et.

At one of the watering-places, in 1803, a baronet lost L20,000 at play, and a bond for L7000. This will scarcely surprise us when we consider that at the time above five hundred notorious characters supported themselves in the metropolis by this species of robbery, and in the summer spread themselves through the watering-places for their professional operations. Some of them kept bankers, and were possessed of considerable property in the funds and in land, and went their circuits as regularly as the judges. Most excellent judges they were, too, of the condition of a 'pigeon.'

In a great commercial city where, from the extent of its trade, manufacture, and revenue, there must be an immense circulation of property, the danger is not to be conceived of the allurements which were thus held out to young men in business having the command of money, as well as the clerks of merchants, bankers, and others. In fact, too many of this class proved, at the bar of justice, the consequence of their resort to these complicated scenes of vice, idleness, extravagance, misfortune, and crime. Among innumerable instances are the following:—In 1796, a shopman to a grocer in the city was seduced into a gaming party, where he first lost all his own money, and ultimately what his master had intrusted him with. He hanged himself in his bed-room a few hours afterwards.

In the same year, Lord Kenyon in summing up a case of the kind said:—'It was extremely to be lamented that the vice of gambling had descended to the very lowest orders of the people. It was prevalent among the highest ranks of society, who had set the example to their inferiors, and who, it seemed, were too great for the law. I wish they could be punished. If any prosecutions are fairly brought before me, and the parties are justly convicted, whatever may be their rank or station in the country—though they should be the first ladies in the land—they shall certainly exhibit themselves in the pillory.'

In 1820, James Lloyd, one of the harpies who practised on the credulity of the lower orders by keeping a Little Go, or illegal lottery, was brought up for the twentieth time, to answer for that offence. This man was a methodist preacher, and assembled his neighbours together at his dwelling on a Saturday to preach the gospel to them, and the remainder of the week he was to be found, with an equally numerous party, instructing them in the ruinous vice of gambling. The charge was clearly proved, and the prisoner was sentenced to three months' imprisonment with hard labour.

In the same year numbers of young persons robbed their masters to play at a certain establishment called Morley's Gambling House, in the City, and were ruined there. Some were brought to justice at the Old Bailey; others, in the madness caused by their losses, destroyed themselves; and some escaped to other countries, by their own activity, or through the influence of their friends.

A traveller of the coachmakers, Messrs Houlditch of Long Acre, embezzled or applied to his own use considerable sums of money belonging to them. It appeared in evidence that the prisoner was sent by his employers to the Continent to take orders for carriages; he was allowed a handsome salary, and was furnished with carriages for sale. The money he received for them he was to send to his employers, after deducting his expenses; but instead of so doing, he gambled nearly the whole of it away. The following letter to his master was put in by way of explanation of his career:—'Sir,—The errors into which I have fallen have made me so hate myself that I have adopted the horrible resolution of destroying myself. I am sensible of the crime I commit against God, my family, and society, but have not courage to live dishonoured. The generous confidence you placed in me I have basely violated; I have robbed you, and though not to enrich myself, the consciousness of it destroys me. Bankruptcy, poverty, beggary, and want I could bear—conscious integrity would support me: but the ill-fated acquaintance I formed led me to those earthly hells—gambling houses; and then commenced my villainies and deceptions to you. My losses were not large at first; and the stories that were told me of gain made me hope they would soon be recovered. At this period I received the order to go to Vienna, and on settling at the hotel I found my debts treble what I had expected. I was in consequence compelled to leave the two carriages as a guarantee for part of the debt, which I had not in my power to discharge. I had hoped such success at Vienna as would enable me to state all to you; but disappointment blasted every hope, and despair, on my return to Paris, began to generate the fatal resolution which, at the moment you read this, will have matured itself to consummation. I feel that my reputation is blasted; no way left of re-imbursing the money wasted, your confidence in me totally destroyed, and nothing left to me but to see my wife and children, and die. Affection for them holds me in existence a little longer. The gaming table again presented itself to my imagination as the only possible means of extricating myself. Count Montoni's 3000 francs, which I received before you came to Paris, furnished me with the means—my death speaks the result! After robbery so base as mine, I fear it will be of no use for me to solicit your kindness for my wretched wife and forlorn family. Oh, Sir, if you have pity on them and treat them kindly, and do not leave them to perish in a foreign land, the consciousness of the act will cheer you in your last moments, and God will reward you and yours for it tenfold. Their sensibilities will not cause them to need human aid. Thus I shall be threefold the murderer. I thank you for the kindness you have rendered me; and I assure your brother that he has, in this dreadful moment, my ardent wishes for his welfare here and hereafter. I have so contrived it that you will see a person at the Prince's tomorrow, who will interpret for you. In mentioning my fate to him, you will not much serve your own interest by blackening my character and memory. I subjoin the reward of my villainies and the correct balance of the account. Count Edmond's regular bills I have not received; his valet will give you them; the others are in a pocket-book, which will be found on my corpse somewhere in the wood of Boulogne.

'Signed, W. KINSBY.'

It appears, however, that the gentleman changed his mind and did not commit suicide, but surrendered at the Insolvent Debtor's Court to be dealt with according to law, which was a much wiser resolution.

To the games of Faro, Hazard, Macao, Doodle-do, and Rouge et Noir, more even than to horse-racing, many tradesmen, once possessing good fortunes and great business, owed their destruction. Thousands upon thousands have been ruined in the vicinity of St James's. It was not confined to youths of fortune only, but the decent and respectable tradesman, as well as the dashing clerk of the merchant and banker, was ingulfed in its vortes.

The proprietors of gaming houses were also concerned in fraudulent insurances, and employed a number of clerks while the lotteries were drawing, who conducted the business without risk, in counting-houses, where no insurances were taken, but to which books were carried, as well as from the different offices in every part of the town, as from the Morocco-men, who went from door to door taking insurances and enticing the poor and middling ranks to adventure.

It was gambling, and not the burdens of the long war, nor the revulsion from war to peace, that made so many bankruptcies in the few years succeeding the Battle of Waterloo. It was the plunderers at gaming tables that filled the gazettes and made the gaols overflow with so many victims.

A foreigner has advanced an opinion as to the source of the gambling propensity of Englishmen. 'The English,' says M. Dunne,(68) 'the most speculative nation on earth, calculate even upon future contingences. Nowhere else is the adventurous rage for stock-jobbing carried on to so great an extent. The fury of gambling, so common in England, is undoubtedly a daughter of this speculative genius. The Greeks of Great Britain are, however, much inferior to those of France in cunning and industry. A certain Frenchman who assumed in London the title and manners of a baron, has been known to surpass all the most dexterous rogues of the three kingdoms in the art of robbing. His aide-de-camp was a kind of German captain, or rather chevalier d'industrie, a person who had acted the double character of a French spy and an English officer at the same time. Their tactics being at length discovered, the baron was obliged to quit the country; and he is said to have afterwards entered the monastery of La Trappe,' where doubtless, in the severe and gloomy religious practices of that terrible penitentiary, he atoned for his past enormities.

(68) 'Refexions sur l'Homme.'

'Till near the commencement of the present century the favourite game was Faro, and as it was a decided advantage to hold the Bank, masters and mistresses, less scrupulous than Wilberforce, frequently volunteered to fleece and amuse the company. But scandal having made busy with the names of some of them, it became usual to hire a professed gamester at five or ten guineas a night, to set up a table for the evening, just as any operatic professional might now-a-days be hired for a concert, or a band-master for a ball.

'Faro gradually dropped out of fashion; Macao took its place; Hazard was never wanting; and Whist began to be played for stakes which would have satisfied Fox himself, who, though it was calculated that he might have netted four or five thousand a year by games of skill, complained that they afforded no excitement.

'Wattier's Club, in Piccadilly, was the resort of the Macao players. It was kept by an old maitre d'hotel of George IV., a character in his way, who took a just pride in the cookery and wines of his establishment.

'All the brilliant stars of fashion (and fashion was power then) frequented Wattier's, with Beau Brummell for their sun. 'Poor Brummell, dead, in misery and idiotcy, at Caen! and I remember him in all his glory, cutting his jokes after the opera, at White's, in a black velvet great-coat, and a cocked hat on his well-powdered head.

'Nearly the same turn of reflection is suggested as we run over the names of his associates. Almost all of them were ruined—three out of four irretrievably. Indeed, it was the forced expatriation of its supporters that caused the club to be broken up.

'During the same period (from 1810 to 1815 or thereabouts) there was a great deal of high play at White's and Brookes', particularly at Whist. At Brookes' figured some remarkable characters—as Tippoo Smith, by common consent the best Whist-player of his day; and an old gentleman nicknamed Neptune, from his having once flung himself into the sea in a fit of despair at being, as he thought, ruined. He was fished out in time, found he was not ruined, and played on during the remainder of his life.

'The most distinguished player at White's was the nobleman who was presented at the Salons in Paris as Le Wellington des Joueurs (Lord Rivers); and he richly merited the name, if skill, temper, and the most daring courage are titles to it. The greatest genius, however, is not infallible. He once lost three thousand four hundred pounds at Whist by not remembering that the seven of hearts was in! He played at Hazard for the highest stakes that any one could be got to play for with him, and at one time was supposed to have won nearly a hundred thousand pounds; but IT ALL WENT, along with a great deal more, at Crockford's.

'There was also a great deal of play at Graham's, the Union, the Cocoa Tree, and other clubs of the second order in point of fashion. Here large sums were hazarded with equal rashness, and remarkable characters started up. Among the most conspicuous was the late Colonel Aubrey, who literally passed his life at play. He did nothing else, morning, noon, and night; and it was computed that he had paid more than sixty thousand pounds for card-money. He was a very fine player at all games, and a shrewd, clever man. He had been twice to India and made two fortunes. It was said that he lost the first on his way home, transferred himself from one ship to another without landing, went back, and made the second. His life was a continual alternation between poverty and wealth; and he used to say, the greatest pleasure in life is winning at cards—the next greatest, losing!

'For several years deep play went on at all these clubs, fluctuating both as to amount and locality, till by degrees it began to flag. It had got to a low ebb when Mr Crockford came to London and established the celebrated club which bore his name.

'Some good was certainly produced by the system. In the first place, private gambling (between gentleman and gentleman), with its degrading incidents, is at an end. In the second place, this very circumstance brings the worst part of the practice within the reach of the law. Public gambling, which only existed by and through what were popularly termed hells, might be easily suppressed. There were, in 1844, more than twenty of these establishments in Pall Mall, Piccadilly, and St James's, called into existence by Crockford's success.'(69)

(69) Private MS. (Edinburgh Review, vol. LXXX).

Whilst such was the state of things among the aristocracy and those who were able to consort with them, it seems that the lower orders were pursuing 'private gambling,' in their 'ungenteel' fashion, to a very sad extent. In 1834 a writer in the 'Quarterly' speaks as follows:—

'Doncaster, Epsom, Ascot, and Warwick, and most of our numerous race-grounds and race-towns, are scenes of destructive and universal gambling among the lower orders, which our absurdly lax police never attempt to suppress; and yet, without the slightest approach to an improperly harsh interference with the pleasures of the people, the Roulette and E.O. tables, which plunder the peasantry at these places for the benefit of travelling sharpers (certainly equally respectable with some bipeds of prey who drive coroneted cabs near St James's), might be put down by any watchful magistrate.'(70)

(70) Quarterly Review, vol. LII.

I fear that something similar may be suggested at the present day, as to the same notorious localities.

Mr Sala, writing some years ago on gambling in England, said:—

'The passion for gambling is, I believe, innate; but there is, happily, a very small percentage of the population who are born with a propensity for high play. We are speculative and eagerly commercial; but it is rare to discover among us that inveterate love for gambling, as gambling, which you may find among the Italians, the South American Spaniards, the Russians, and the Poles. Moro, Baccara, Tchuka—these are games at which continental peasants will wager and lose their little fields, their standing crops, their harvest in embryo, their very wives even. The Americans surpass us in the ardour of their propitiation of the gambling goddess, and on board the Mississippi steamboats, an enchanting game, called Poker, is played with a delirium of excitement, whose intensity can only be imagined by realizing that famous bout at "catch him who can," which took place at the horticultural fete immortalized by Mr Samuel Foote, comedian, at which was present the great Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, the festivities continuing till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of the company's boots.

'When I was a boy, not so very long—say twenty years—since, the West-end of London swarmed with illicit gambling houses, known by a name I will not offend your ears by repeating.

On every race-course there was a public gambling booth and an abundance of thimble-riggers' stalls. These, I am happy to state, exist no longer; and the fools who are always ready to be plucked, can only, in gambling, fall victims to the commonest and coarsest of swindlers; skittle sharps, beer-house rogues and sharpers, and knaves who travel to entrap the unwary in railway carriages with loaded dice, marked cards, and little squares of green baize for tables, and against whom the authorities of the railway companies very properly warn their passengers. A notorious gambling house in St James's Street—Crockford's,—where it may be said, without exaggeration, that millions of pounds sterling have been diced away by the fools of fashion, is now one of the most sumptuous and best conducted dining establishments in London—the "Wellington." The semipatrician Hades that were to be found in the purlieus of St James's, such as the "Cocoa Tree," the "Berkeley," and the "stick-shop," at the corner of Albemarle Street—a whole Pandemonium of rosewood and plate-glass dens—never recovered from a razzia made on them simultaneously one night by the police, who were organized on a plan of military tactics, and under the command of Inspector Beresford; and at a concerted signal assailed the portals of the infamous places with sledge-hammers. At the time to which I refer, in Paris, the Palais Royal, and the environs of the Boulevards des Italiens, abounded with magnificent gambling rooms similar to those still in existence in Hombourg, which were regularly licensed by the police, and farmed under the municipality of the Ville de Paris; a handsome per-centage of the iniquitous profits being paid towards the charitable institutions of the French metropolis. There are very many notabilities of the French Imperial Court, who were then fermiers des jeux, or gambling house contractors; and only a year or two since Doctor Louis Veron, ex-dealer in quack medicines, ex-manager of the Grand Opera, and ex-proprietor of the "Constitutionnel" newspaper, offered an enormous royalty to Government for the privilege of establishing a gambling house in Paris. But the Emperor Napoleon—all ex-member of Crockford's as he is—sensibly declined the tempting bait. A similarly "generous" offer was made last year to the Belgian Government by a joint-stock company who wanted to establish public gaming tables at the watering-places of Ostend, and who offered to establish an hospital from their profits; but King Leopold, the astute proprietor of Claremont, was as prudent as his Imperial cousin of France, and refused to soil his hands with cogged dice.

The lease of the Paris authorized gaming houses expired in 1836-7; and the municipality, albeit loath to lose the fat annual revenue, was induced by governmental pressure not to renew it; and it is asserted that from that moment the number of annual suicides in Paris very sensibly decreased. "It is not generally known," as the penny-a-liners say, "that the Rev. Caleb Colton, a clergyman of the Church of England, and the author of "Lacon," a book replete with aphoristic wisdom, blew his brains out in the forest of St Germains, after ruinous losses at Frascati's, at the corner of the Rue Richelieu and the Boulevards, one of the most noted of the Maisons des Jeux, and which was afterwards turned into a restaurant, and is now a shawl-shop.(71) Just before the revolution of 1848, nearly all the watering-places in the Prusso-Rhenane provinces, and in Bavaria, and Hesse, Nassau, and Baden, contained Kursaals, where gambling was openly carried on. These existed at Aix-la-Chapelle, Baden-Baden, Wiesbaden, Ems, Kissengen, and at Spa, close to the Prussian frontier, in Belgium. It is due to the fierce democrats who revolted against the monarchs of the defunct Holy Alliance, to say that they utterly swept away the gambling-tables in Rhenish-Prussia, and in the Grand Duchy of Baden. Herr Hecker, of the red republican tendencies, and the astounding wide-awake hat, particularly distinguished himself in the latter place by his iconoclastic animosity to Roulette and Rouge et Noir. When dynastic "order" was restored the Rhine gaming tables were re-established. The Prussian Government, much to its honour, has since shut up the gambling houses at that resort for decayed nobility and ruined livers, Aix-la-Chapelle. A motion was made in the Federal Diet, sitting at Frankfort, to constrain the smaller governments, in the interest of the Germanic good name generally, to close their tripots, and in some measure the Federal authorities succeeded. The only existing continental gaming houses authorized by government are now the two Badens, Spa (of which the lease is nearly expired, and will not be renewed), Monaco (capital of the ridiculous little Italian principality, of which the suzerain is a scion of the house of "Grimaldi"), Malmoe, in Sweden, too remote to do much harm, and HOMBOURG. This last still flourishes greatly, and I am afraid is likely to flourish, though happily in isolation; for, as I have before remarked, the "concession" or privilege of the place has been guaranteed for a long period of years to come by the expectant dynasty of Hesse-Darmstadt. "C'est fait," "It is all settled," said the host of the Hotel de France to me, rubbing his hands exultingly when I mentioned the matter. But, Quis custodiet custodes? Hesse-Darmstadt has guaranteed the "administration of Hesse-Hombourg, but who is to guarantee Hesse-Darmstadt? A battalion of French infantry would, it seems to me, make short work of H. D., lease guarantees, Federal contingent, and all. I must mention, in conclusion, that within a very few years we had, if we have not still, a licensed gaming house in our exquisitely moral British dominions. This was in that remarkably "tight little island" at the mouth of the Elbe, Heligoland, which we so queerly possess—Puffendorf, Grotius, and Vattel, or any other writers on the Jus gentium, would be puzzled to tell why, or by what right. I was at Hamburg in the autumn of 1856, crossed over to Heligoland one day on a pleasure trip, and lost some money there, at a miniature Roulette table, much frequented by joyous Israelites from the mainland, and English "soldier officers" in mufti. I did not lose much of my temper, however, for the odd, quaint little place pleased me. Not so another Roman citizen, or English travelling gent., who losing, perhaps, seven-and-sixpence, wrote a furious letter to the "Times," complaining of such horrors existing under the British flag, desecration of the English name, and so forth. Next week the lieutenant-governor, by "order," put an end to Roulette at Heligoland; but play on a diminutive scale has since, I have been given to understand, recommenced there without molestation.

(71) Mr Sala is here in error. Colton was a prosperous gambler throughout, and committed suicide to avoid a surgical operation. A notice of the Rev. C. Colton will be found in the sequel.

'We gamble in England at the Stock Exchange, we gamble on horse-races all the year round; but there is something more than the mere eventuality of a chance that prompts us to the enjeu; there is mixed up with our eagerness for the stakes the most varied elements of business and pleasure; cash-books, ledgers, divident-warrants, indignation meetings of Venezuelan bond-holders, coupons, cases of champagne, satin-skinned horses with plaited manes, grand stands, pretty faces, bright flags, lobster salads, cold lamb, fortune-telling gipsies, barouches-and-four, and "our Aunt Sally." High play is still rife in some aristocratic clubs; there are prosperous gentlemen who wear clean linen every day, and whose names are still in the Army List, who make their five or six hundred a year by Whist-playing, and have nothing else to live upon; in East-end coffee-shops, sallow-faced Jew boys, itinerant Sclavonic jewellers, and brawny German sugar-bakers, with sticky hands, may be found glozing and wrangling over their beloved cards and dominoes, and screaming with excitement at the loss of a few pence. There are yet some occult nooks and corners, nestling in unsavoury localities, on passing which the policeman, even in broad daylight, cannot refrain from turning his head a little backwards—as though some bedevilments must necessarily be taking place directly he has passed—where, in musty back parlours, by furtive lamplight, with doors barred, bolted, and sheeted with iron, some wretched, cheating gambling goes on at unholy hours. Chicken-hazard is scotched, not killed; but a poor, weazened, etiolated biped is that once game-bird now. And there is Doncaster, every year—Doncaster, with its subscription-rooms under authority, winked at by a pious corporation, patronized by nobles and gentlemen supporters of the turf, and who are good enough, sometimes, to make laws for us plebeians in the Houses of Lords and Commons. There is Doncaster, with policemen to keep order, and admit none but "respectable" people—subscribers, who fear Heaven and honour the Queen. Are you aware, my Lord Chief-Justice, are you aware, Mr Attorney, Mr Solicitor-General, have you the slightest notion, ye Inspectors of Police, that in the teeth of the law, and under its very eyes, a shameless gaming-house exists in moral Yorkshire, throughout every Doncaster St Leger race-week? Of course you haven't; never dreamed of such a thing—never could, never would. Hie you, then, and prosecute this wretched gang of betting-touts, congregating at the corner of Bride Lane, Fleet Street; quick, lodge informations against this publican who has suffered card-playing to take place, raffles, or St Leger sweeps to be held in his house. "You have seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar, and the creature run from the cur. There thou might'st behold the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office." You have—very well. Take crazy King Lear's words as a text for a sermon against legislative inconsistencies, and come back with me to Hombourg Kursaal.'


The subject of English gambling may be illustrated by a series of events which happened at Brighton in 1817, when an inquiry respecting the gaming carried on at the libraries led to many important disclosures.

It appears that a warrant was granted on the oath of a Mr William Clarke, against William Wright and James Ford, charged with feloniously stealing L100. But the prosecutor did not appear in court to prove the charge. It was quite evident, therefore, that the law had been abused in the transaction, and the magistrate, Sergeant Runnington, directed warrants to be issued for the immediate appearance of the prosecutor and Timothy O'Mara, as an evidence; but they absconded, and the learned Sergeant discharged the prisoners.

The matter then took a different turn. The same William Wright, before charged with 'stealing' the L100, was now examined as a witness to give evidence upon an examination against Charles Walker, of the Marine Library, for keeping an unlawful Gaming House.

This witness stated that he was engaged, about five weeks before, to act as punter or player (that is, in this case, a sham player or decoy) to a table called Noir, rouge, tout le deux (evidently a name invented to evade the statute, if possible), by William Clarke, the prosecutor, before-mentioned; that the table was first carried to the back room of Donaldson's Library, where it continued for three or four days, when Donaldson discharged it from his premises.

He said he soon got into the confidence of Clarke, who put him up to the secrets of playing. The firm consisted of O'Mara, Pollett, Morley, and Clarke. There was not much playing at Donaldson's. Afterwards the table was removed into Broad Street, but the landlady quickly sent it away. It was then carried to a room over Walker's Library, where a rent was paid of twelve guineas per week, showing plainly the profits of the speculation.

Several gentlemen used to frequent the table, among whom was one who lost L125.

Clarke asked the witness if he thought the person who lost his money was rich? And being answered in the affirmative, it was proposed that he, William Wright, should invite the gentleman to dinner, to let him have what wine he liked, and to spare no expense to get him drunk.

The gentleman was induced to play again, and endeavour to recover his money. As he had nothing but large bills, to a considerable amount, he was prevailed on to go to London, in company with the witness, who was to take care and bring him back. One of the firm, Pollett, wrote a letter of recommendation to a Mr Young, to get the bills discounted at his broker's. They returned to Brighton, and the witness apprized the firm of his arrival. They wanted him to come that evening, but the witness TOLD THE GENTLEMAN OF HIS SUSPICIONS—that during their absence a FALSE TABLE had been substituted.

The witness, however, returned to his employers that evening, when the firm advanced him L100, and Ford, another punter of the sort, L100, to back with the gentleman as a blind—so that when the signal was given to put upon black or red, they were to put their stakes—by which means the gentleman would follow; and they calculated upon fleecing him of five or six thousand pounds in the course of an hour. According to his own account, the witness told the gentleman of this trick; and the following morning the latter went with him, to know if this nefarious dealing has been truly represented.

On entering the library they met Walker, who wished them better success, but trembled visibly. At the door leading into the room porters were stationed; and, as soon as they entered, Walker ordered it to be bolted, for the sake of privacy; but as soon as the gentleman ascended the dark staircase, he became alarmed at the appearance of men in the room, and returned to the porter, and, by a timely excuse, was allowed to pass.

At this table Clarke generally dealt, and O'Mara played. It was for not restoring the L100 to the firm that the charge of felony was laid against the witness—after the escape of the gentleman; but an offer of L100 was made to him, after his imprisonment, if he would not give his evidence of the above facts and transactions.

The evidence of the other witness, Ford, confirmed all the material facts of the former, and the gentleman himself, the intended victim, substantiated the evidence of Wright—as to putting him in possession of their nefarious designs.

When the gentleman found that he had been cheated of the L125, he went to Walker to demand back his money. Walker, in the utmost confusion, went into the room, and returned with a proposal to allow L100. This he declined to take, and immediately laid the information before Mr Sergeant Runnington.

The learned Sergeant forcibly recapitulated the evidence, and declared that in the whole course of his professional duties he had never heard such a disclosure of profligacy and villainy, combined with every species of wickedness. In a strain of pointed animadversion he declared it to be an imperative duty,—however much his private feelings might be wounded in seeing a reputable tradesman of the town convicted of such nefarious pursuits,—to order warrants to be issued against all parties concerned as rogues and vagrants.

At the next hearing of the case the court was crowded to excess; and the mass of evidence deposed before the magistrates threw such a light on the system of gambling, that they summarily put a stop to the Cobourg and Loo tables at the various public establishments.

At the first examination, the 'gentleman' before mentioned, a Mr Mackenzie, said he had played Rouge et Noir at Walker's, and had lost L125. He saw O'Mara there, but he appeared as a player, not a banker; the only reason for considering him as one of the proprietors of the table, arose from the information of the witnesses Wright and Ford.

On this evidence, Mr Sergeant Runnington called on O'Mara and Walker for their defence, observing that, according to the statements before him, there appeared sufficient ground for considering O'Mara as a rogue and vagabond; and for subjecting Mr Walker to penalties for keeping a house or room wherein he permitted unlawful games to be played. O'Mara affirmed that the whole testimony of Wright and Ford with respect to him was false; that he had been nine years a resident housekeeper in Brighton, and was known by, and had rendered essential services to, many respectable individuals who lived in the town, and to many noble persons who were occasional visitors. He seemed deeply penetrated by the intimation that he could be whipped, or otherwise treated as a vagabond; and said, that if time were allowed him to collect evidence, and obtain legal assistance, he could disprove the charge, or at least invalidate the evidence of the two accusers.

In consequence of these representations, the case was adjourned to another day, when, so much was the expectation excited by the rumour of the affair, that at the opening of the court the hall was crowded almost to suffocation, and all the avenues were completely beset.

O'Mara appeared, with his counsel, the celebrated Mr Adolphus—the Ballantyne of his day—of Old Bailey renown and forensic prowess.

Mr Sergeant Runnington very obligingly stated to Mr Adolphus the previous proceeding, directed the depositions to be laid before him, and allowed him time to peruse them. Mr Adolphus having gone through the document, requested that the witnesses might be brought into court, that he might cross-question them separately; which being ordered, Wright was first put forward—the man who had received the L100, enlightened the Mr Mackenzie, and who was charged with feloniously stealing the above amount.

After the usual questions, very immaterial in the present case, but answered, the witness went on to say that, O'Mara called at his lodgings and said, if he (Wright) could not persuade Mr Mackenzie to come from London, he was not to leave him, but write to him (O'Mara), and he would go to town, and win all his money. He had, on a former occasion, told the witness, that he could win all Mackenzie's money at child's play—that he could toss up and win ninety times out of one hundred; he had told both him and Ford, that if they met with any gentleman who did not like the game of Rouge et Noir, and would bring them to his house, he was always provided with cards, dice, and backgammon tables, to win their money from them.

The learned counsel then cross-questioned the witness as to various matters, in the usual way, but tending, of course, to damage him by the answers which the questions necessitated—a horrible, but, perhaps, necessary ordeal perpetuated in our law-procedure. In these answers there was something like prevarication; so that the magistrate, Mr Sergeant Runnington, asked the witness at the close of the examination, whether he had any previous acquaintance with the gentlemen who had engaged him at half-a-crown a game, and then so candily communicated to him all their schemes? He said, none whatever. 'But,' said the Sergeant, 'you were in the daily habit of playing at this public table for the purpose of deceiving the persons who might come there?' The witness answered—'I was.'

The witness Ford fared no better in the cross-examination, and Mr Sergeant Runnington, at its close, asked him the same question that he had addressed to Wright, respecting his playing at the table, and received the same answer.

Mr Mackenzie did not appear, and there was no further evidence. Mr Adolphus said that if he were called upon to make any defence for his client upon a charge so supported, he was ready to do it; but, as he must make many observations, not only on the facts, but on the LAW, he was anxious if possible to avoid doing so, as he did not wish to say too much about the law respecting gaming before so large and mixed an audience.(72)

(72) See Chapter XI. for the views of Mr Adolphus here alluded to.

Two witnesses were called, who gave evidence which was damaging to the character of Ford, stating that he told them he was in a conspiracy against O'Mara and some other moneyed men, from whom they should get three or four hundred pounds, and if witness would conceal from O'Mara his (Ford's) real name, he should have his share of the money, and might go with him and Wright to Brussels.

After hearing these witnesses, Mr Sergeant Runnington, without calling on Mr Adolphus for any further defence of his client, pronounced the judgment of the Bench.

He reviewed the transaction from its commencement, and stated the impression, to the disadvantage of O'Mara, which the tale originally told by the two witnesses was calculated to make. But, on hearing the cross-examination of those witnesses, and seeing no evidence against the defendant but from sources so impure and corrupt—recollecting the severe penalties of the Vagrant Acts, and sitting there not merely as a judge, but also exercising the functions of a jury, he could not bring himself to convict on such evidence. The witnesses, impure as they were, were NOT SUPPORTED BY MR MACKENZIE IN ANY PARTICULAR, except the fact of his losing money, at a time when O'Mara did not appear as a proprietor of the table, but as a player like himself. O'Mara must therefore be discharged; but the two witnesses would not be so fortunate. From their own mouths it appeared that they had been using subtle craft to deceive and impose upon his Majesty's subjects, by playing or betting at unlawful games, and had no legal or visible means of gaining a livelihood; the court, therefore, adjudged them to be rogues and vagabonds, and committed them, in execution, to the gaol at Lewes, there to remain till the next Quarter Sessions, and then to be further dealt with according to law. A short private conference followed between the magistrates and Mr Adolphus, the result of which was that Mr Walker was not proceeded against, but entered into a recognizance not to permit any kind of gaming to be carried on in his house.



Baden-Baden in the season is full of the most exciting contrasts—gay restaurants and brilliant saloons, gaming-tables, promenades, and theatres crammed with beauty and rank, in the midst of lovely natural scenery, and under the shade of the pine-clad heights of the Hercynian or Black Forest—the scene of so many weird tales of old Germany—as for instance of the charming Undine of De la Mothe Fouque.

But among the seducing attractions of Baden-Baden, and of all German bathing-places, the Rouge-et-noir and Roulette-table hold a melancholy pre-eminence,—being at once a shameful source of revenue to the prince,—a rallying point for the gay, the beautiful, the professional blackleg, the incognito duke or king,—and a vortex in which the student, the merchant, and the subaltern officer are, in the course of the season, often hopelessly and irrevocably ingulfed. Remembering the gaming excitement of the primitive Germans, we can scarcely be surprised to find that the descendants of these northern races poison the pure stream of pleasure by the introduction of this hateful occupation. It is, however, rather remarkable that all foreign visitors, whether Dutch, Flemish, Swede, Italian, or even English, of whatever age or disposition or sex, 'catch the frenzy' during the (falsely so-called) Kurzeit, that is, Cure-season, at Baden, Ems, and Ais.

Princes and their subjects, fathers and sons, and even, horrible to say, mothers and daughters, are hanging, side by side, for half the night over the green table; and, with trembling hands and anxious eyes, watching their chance-cards, or thrusting francs and Napoleons with their rakes to the red or the black cloth.

No spot in the whole world draws together a more distinguished society than may be met at Baden; its attractions are felt and acknowledged by every country in Europe. Many of the elite of each nation may yearly be found there during the months of summer, and, as a natural consequence, many of the worst and vilest follow them, in the hope of pillage.

Says Mrs Trollope:—'I doubt if anything less than the evidence of the senses can enable any one fully to credit and comprehend the spectacle that a gaming-table offers. I saw women distinguished by rank, elegant in person, modest, and even reserved in manner, sitting at the Rouge-et-noir table with their rateaux, or rakes, and marking-cards in their hands;—the former to push forth their bets, and draw in their winnings, the latter to prick down the events of the game. I saw such at different hours through the whole of Sunday. To name these is impossible; but I grieve to say that two English women were among them.'

The Conversationshaus, where the gambling takes place, is let out by the Government of Baden to a company of speculators, who pay, for the exclusive privilege of keeping the tables, L11,000 annually, and agree to spend in addition 250,000 florins (L25,000) on the walks and buildings, making altogether about L36,000. Some idea may be formed from this of the vast sums of money which must be yearly lost by the dupes who frequent it. The whole is under the direction of M. Benazet, who formerly farmed the gambling houses of Paris.

      'On trouve ici le jeu, les livres, la musique,
     Les cigarres, l'amour, les orangers,
     Le monde tantot gai, tantot melancholique,
     Les glaces, la danse, et les cochers;
      De la biere, de bons diners,
     A cote d'arbre une boutique,
     Et la vue de hauts rochers.
         Ma foi!'

   'We find here gambling, books, and music,
   Cigars, love-making, orange-trees;
   People or gay or melancholic,
   Ices, dancing, and coachmen, if you please;
   Beer, and good dinners; besides these,
   Shops where they sell not on tic;
   And towering rocks one ever sees.'

'How shall I describe,' says Mr Whitelocke, 'to my readers in language sufficiently graphic, one of the resorts the most celebrated in Europe; a place, if not competing with Crockford's in gorgeous magnificence and display, at least surpassing it in renown, and known over a wider sphere? The metropolitan pump-room of Europe, conducted on the principle of gratuitous admittance to all bearing the semblance of gentility and conducting themselves with propriety, opens its Janus doors to all the world with the most laudable hospitality and with a perfect indifference to exclusiveness, requiring only the hat to be taken off upon entering, and rejecting only short jackets, cigar, pipe, and meerschaum. A room of this description, a temple dedicated to fashion, fortune, and flirtation, requires a pen more current, a voice more eloquent, than mine to trace, condense, vivify, and depict. Taking everything, therefore, for granted, let us suppose a vast saloon of regular proportions, rather longer than broad, at either end garnished by a balcony; beneath, doors to the right and left, and opposite to the main entrance, conduct to other apartments, dedicated to different purposes. On entering the eye is at once dazzled by the blaze of lights from chandeliers of magnificent dimensions, of lamps, lustres, and sconces. The ceiling and borders set off into compartments, showered over with arabesques, the gilded pillars, the moving mass of promenaders, the endless labyrinth of human beings assembled from every region in Europe, the costly dresses, repeated by a host of mirrors, all this combined, which the eye conveys to the brain at a single glance, utterly fails in description. As with the eye, so it is with the ear; at every step a new language falls upon it, and every tongue with different intonation, for the high and the low, the prince, peer, vassal, and tradesman, the proud beauty, the decrepit crone, some fresh budding into the world, some standing near the grave, the gentle and the stern, the sombre and the gay, in short, every possible antithesis that the eye, ear, heart can perceive, hear, or respond to, or that the mind itself can imagine, is here to be met with in two minutes. And yet all this is no Babel; for all, though concentrated, is admirably void of confusion; and evil or strong passions, if they do exist, are religiously suppressed—a necessary consequence, indeed, where there can be no sympathy, and where contempt and ridicule would be the sole reciprocity. In case, however, any such display should take place, a gendarme keeps constant watch at the door, appointed by government, it is true, but resembling our Bow-street officers in more respects than one.

'Now that we have taken a survey of the brilliant and moving throng, let us approach the stationary crowd to the left hand, and see what it is that so fascinates and rivets their attention. They are looking upon a long table covered with green cloth, in the centre of which is a large polished wooden basin with a moveable rim, and around it are small compartments, numbered to a certain extent, namely 38, alternately red and black in irregular order, numbered from one to 36, a nought or zero in a red, and a double zero upon the black, making up the 38, and each capable of holding a marble. The moveable rim is set in motion by the hand, and as it revolves horizontally from east to west round its axis, the marble is caused by a jerk of the finger and thumb to fly off in a contrary movement. The public therefore conclude that no calculation can foretell where the marble will fall, and I believe they are right, inasmuch as the bank plays a certain and sure game, however deep, runs no risk of loss, and consequently has no necessity for superfluously cheating or deluding the public. It also plays double, that is, on both sides of the wheel of fortune at once.

'When the whirling of both rim and marble cease, the latter falls, either simultaneously or after some coy uncertainty, into one of the compartments, and the number and colour, &c., are immediately proclaimed, the stakes deposited are dexterously raked up by the croupier, or increased by payment from the bank, according as the colour wins or loses. Now, the two sides or tables are merely duplicates of one another, and each of them is divided something like a chess-board into three columns of squares, which amount to 36; the numbers advance arithmetically from right to left, and consequently there are 12 lines down, so as to complete the rectangle; as one, therefore, stands at the head, four stands immediately under it, and so on. At the bottom lie three squares, with the French marks 12 p—12 m—12 d, that is, first, middle, third dozen. The three large meadows on either side are for red and black, pair and odd, miss and pass—which last signify the division of the numbers into the first and second half, from 1 to 18, and from 19 to 36, inclusive. If a number be staked upon and wins, the stake is increased to six times its amount, and so on, always less as the stake is placed in different positions, which may be effected in the following ways—by placing the piece of gold or silver on the line (a cheval, as it is called), partly on one and partly on its neighbour, two numbers are represented, and should one win, the piece is augmented to eighteen times the sum; three numbers are signified upon the stroke at the end or beginning of the numbers that go across; six, by placing the coin on the border of a perpendicular and a horizontal line between two strokes; four, where the lines cross within; twelve numbers are signified in a two-fold manner, either upon the column where the figures follow in the order of one, four, seven, and so on, or on the side-fields mentioned above; these receive the stake trebled; and those who stake solely upon the colour, the two halves, or equal and odd, have their stake doubled when they win. Now, the two zeros, that is, the simple and compound, stand apart and may be separately staked upon; should either turn up, the stake is increased in a far larger proportion.

'To render the game equal, without counting in the zeros and other trifles, the winner ought to receive the square of 36, instead of 36.

'It is a melancholy amusement to any rational being not infatuated by the blind rage of gold, to witness the incredible excitement so repeatedly made to take the bank by storm, sometimes by surprise, anon by stealth, and not rarely by digging a mine, laying intrenchments and opening a fire of field-pieces, heavy ordnance, and flying artillery; but the fortress, proud and conscious of its superior strength, built on a rock of adamant, laughs at the fiery attacks of its foes, nay, itself invites the storm.

'For those classes of mankind who possess a little more prudence, the game called Trente-et-un, and Quarante, or Rouge et Noir are substituted.

'The lord of the temple or establishment pays, I believe, to government a yearly sum of 35,000 florins (about L3000) for permission to keep up the establishment. He has gone to immense expense in decorating the building; he pays a crowd of croupiers at different salaries, and officers of his own, who superintend and direct matters; he lights up the building, and he presides over the festivities of the town—in short, he is the patron of it all. With all this liberality he himself derives an enormous revenue, an income as sure and determined as that of my Lord Mayor himself.'(73)

(73) City of the Fountains, or Baden-Baden. By R. H. Whitelocke. Carlsruhe, 1840.

The Baden season begins in May; the official opening takes place towards the close of the spring quarter, and then the fashionable world begins to arrive at the rendezvous.

It cannot be denied that everything is right well regulated, and apart from the terrible dangers of gambling, the place does very great credit to the authorities who thrive on the nefarious traffic. Perfect order and decency of deportment, with all the necessary civilities of life, are rigorously insisted on, and summary expulsion is the consequence of any intolerable conduct. If it so happens that any person becomes obnoxious in any way, whatever may be his or her rank, the first intimation will be—'Sir, you are not in your place here;' or, 'Madame, the air of Baden does not suit you.' If these words are disregarded, there follows a summary order—'You must leave Baden this very day, and cross the frontiers of the Grand Duchy within twenty-four hours.'

Mr Sala, in his novel 'Make your Game,'(74) has given a spirited description of the gambling scenes at Baden.

(74) Originally published in the 'Welcome Guest.'

Whilst I write there is exhibited at the Egyptian Hall, London, Dore's magnificent picture of the Tapis Vert, or Life in Baden-Baden, of which the following is an accurate description:—

'The Tapis Vert is a moral, and at the same time an exceedingly clever, satire. It is illustrative of the life, manners, and predilections and pursuits of a class of society left hereafter to enjoy the manifold attractions of fashionable watering-places, without the scourge that for so many years held its immoral and degrading sway in their sumptuous halls.

'In one of these splendid salons the fashionable crowd is eagerly pressing round an oblong table covered with green cloth (le tapis vert), upon which piles of gold and bank-notes tell the tale of "noir perd et la couleur gagne," and vice versa. The principal group, upon which Dore has thrown one of his powerful effects of light, is lifelike, and several of the actors are at once recognized. Both croupiers are well-known characters. There is much life and movement in the silent scene, in which thousands of pounds change hands in a few seconds. To the left of the croupier (dealer), who turns up the winning card, sits a finely-dressed woman, who cares for little else but gold. There is a remarkable expression of eagerness and curiosity upon the countenance of the lady who comes next, and who endeavours, with the assistance of her eye-glass, to find out the state of affairs. The gentleman next to her is an inveterate blase. The countenance of the old man reckoning up needs no description. Near by stands a lady with a red feather in her hat, and whose lace shawl alone is worth several hundred pounds—for Dore made it. The two female figures to the left are splendidly painted. The one who causes the other croupier to turn round seems somewhat extravagantly dressed; but these costumes have been frequently worn within the last two years both at Baden and Hombourg. The old lady at the end of the table, to the left, is a well-known habituee at both places. The bustling and shuffling eagerness of the figures in the background is exceedingly well rendered.

'As a whole, the Tapis Vert is a very fine illustration of real life, as met with in most of the leading German watering-places.'(75)

(75) 'Illustrated Times.'

'At the present moment,' says another authority, writing more than a year ago, 'there are three very bold female gamblers at Baden. One is the Russian Princess ——, who plays several hours every day at Rouge et Noir, and sometimes makes what in our money would be many hundreds, and at others goes empty away. She wins calmly enough, but when luck is against her looks anxious. The second is the wife of an Italian ex-minister, who is well known both as an authoress and politician. She patronizes Roulette, and at every turn of the wheel her money passes on the board. She is a good gambler—smirking when she wins, and smirking when she loses. She dresses as splendidly as any of the dames of Paris. The other night she excited a flutter among the ladies assembled in the salons of the "Conversation" by appearing in a robe flaming red with an exaggerated train which dragged its slow length along the floor. But the greatest of the feminine players is the Leonie Leblanc. When she is at the Rouge et Noir table a larger crowd than usual is collected to witness her operation. The stake she generally risks is 6000 francs (L240), which is the maximum allowed. Her chance is changing: a few days back she won L4000 in one sitting; some days later she lost about L2000, and was then reduced to the, for her, indignity of playing for paltry sums—L20 or thereabouts.'

Among the more recent chronicles, the Figaro gives the following account of the close of the campaign of a gaming hero, M. Edgar de la Charme, who, for a number of days together, never left the gaming-room without carrying off the sum of 24,000 francs.

'The day before yesterday, M. de la Charme, reflecting that there must be an end even to the greatest run of luck, locked his portmanteau, paid his bill, and took the road to the railway station, accompanied by some of his friends. On reaching the wicket he found it closed; there were still three-quarters of an hour to pass before the departure of the train. "I will go and play my parting game," he exclaimed, and, turning to the coachman, bade him drive to the Kursaal. His friends surrounded him, and held him back; he should not go, he would lose all his winnings. But he was resolute, and soon reached the Casino, where his travelling dress caused a stir of satisfaction among the croupiers. He sat down at the Trente-et-quarante, broke the bank in 20 minutes, got into his cab again, and seeing the inspector of the tables walking to and fro under the arcades, he said to him, in a tone of exquisite politeness, "I could not think of going away without leaving you my P.P.C."'


'The gambling houses of Spa are in the Redoute, where Rouge et Noir and Roulette are carried on nearly from morning to night.

The profits of these establishments exceed L40,000 a year. In former times they belonged to the Bishop of Liege, who was a partner in the concern, and derived a considerable revenue from his share of the ill-gotten gains of the manager of the establishment, and no gambling tables could be set up without his permission.'(76)

(76) Murray's Handbook for Travellers on the Continent.

'The gambling in Spa is in a lower style than elsewhere. The croupiers seem to be always on the look-out for cheating. You never see here a pile of gold or bank notes on the table, as at Hombourg or Wiesbaden, with the player saying, "Cinquante louis aux billet," "Cent-vingt louis a la masse," and the winnings scrupulously paid, or the losings raked carefully away from the heap. They do not allow that at Spa; there is an order against it on the wall. They could not trust the people that play, I suppose, and it is doubtful if the people could trust the croupiers. The ball spins more slowly at Roulette—the cards are dealt more gingerly at Trente-et-quarante here than elsewhere. Nothing must be done quickly, lest somebody on one side or other should try to do somebody else. Altogether Spa is not a pleasant place to play in, and as, moreover, the odds are as great against you as at Ems, it is better to stick to the promenade de sept heures and the ball-room, and leave the two tables alone. Outside it is cheery and full of life. The Queen of the Belgians is here, the Duke of Aumale, and other nice people. The breeze from the hills is always delicious; the Promenade Meyerbeer as refreshing on a hot day as a draught of iced water. But the denizens, male and female, of the salons de jeu are often obnoxious, and one wishes that the old Baden law could be enforced against some of the gentler sex.

'By way of warning to any of your readers who propose to visit the tables this summer, will you let me tell a little anecdote, from personal experience, of one of these places—which one I had perhaps better not say. I took a place at the Roulette table, and had not staked more than once or twice, when two handsomely dressed ladies placed themselves one on either side of me, and commenced playing with the smallest coins allowed, wedging me in rather unpleasantly close between them. At my third or fourth stake I won on both the colour and a number, and my neighbour on the right quietly swept up my coins from the colour the instant they were paid. I remonstrated, and she very politely argued the point, ending by restoring my money. But during our discussion my far larger stake, paid in the mean while, on the winning number, had disappeared into the pocket of my neighbour on the left, who was not so polite, and was very indignant at my suggestion that the stake was mine. An appeal to the croupier only produced a shrug of the shoulders and regret that he had not seen who staked the money, an offer to stop the play, and a suggestion that I should find it very difficult to prove it was my stake. The "plant" between the two women was evident. The whole thing was a systematically-planned robbery, and very possibly the croupier was a confederate. I detected the two women in communication, and I told them that I should change my place to the other side of the table where I would trouble them not to come. They took the hint very mildly, and could afford to do so, for they had got my money. The affair was very neatly managed, and would succeed in nearly every case, especially if the croupier is, as is most probable, always on the side of the ladies.'


'In 1842 Hombourg was an obscure village, consisting of the castle of the Landgraf, and of a few hundred houses which in the course of ages had clustered around it. Few would have known of its existence except from the fact of its being the capital of the smallest of European countries. Its inhabitants lived poor and contented—the world forgetting, by the world forgot. It boasted only of one inn—the "Aigle"—which in summer was frequented by a few German families, who came to live cheaply and to drink the waters of a neighbouring mineral spring. That same year two French brothers of the name of Blanc arrived at Frankfort. They were men of a speculative turn, and a recent and somewhat daring speculation in France, connected with the old semaphore telegraph, had rendered it necessary for them to withdraw for a time from their native land. Their stock-in-trade consisted in a Roulette wheel, a few thousand francs, and an old and skilful croupier of Frascati, who knew a great deal about the properties of cards. The authorities of the town of Frankfort, being dull traders, declined to allow them to initiate their townsmen into the mysteries of cards and Roulette, so hearing that there were some strangers living at Hombourg, they put themselves into an old diligence, and the same evening disembarked at the "Aigle." The next day the elder brother called upon the prime minister, an ancient gentleman, who, with a couple of clerks, for some L60 a year governed the Landgrafate of Hombourg to his own and the general satisfaction. After a private interview with this statesman the elder Blanc returned poorer in money, but with a permission in his pocket to put up his Roulette wheel in one of the rooms of the inn. In a few months the money of the innocent water-drinkers passed from their pockets into those of the brothers Blanc. The ancient man of Frascati turned the wheel, and no matter on what number the water-drinkers risked their money, that number did not turn up. At the close of the summer season a second visit was made to the prime minister, and the Blancs returned to Frankfort with an exclusive concession to establish games of hazard within the wide spreading dominions of the Landgraf. For this they had agreed to build a kursaal, to lay out a public garden, and to pay into the national exchequer 40,000 florins (a florin is worth one shilling and eight-pence) per annum. Having obtained this concession, the next step was to found a company. Frankfort abounds in Hebrew speculators, who are not particular how they make money, and as the speculation appeared a good one, the money was soon forthcoming. It was decided that the nominal capital was to be 400,000 florins, divided into shares of 100 florins each. Half the shares were subscribed for by the Hebrew financialists, and the other half was credited to the Blancs as the price of their concession. During the winter a small kursaal was built and a small garden planted; the mineral well was deepened, and flaming advertisements appeared in all the German newspapers announcing to the world that the famous waters of Hombourg were able to cure every disease to which flesh is heir, and that to enable visitors to while away their evenings agreeably a salon had been opened, in which they would have an opportunity to win fabulous sums by risking their money either at the game of Trente et Quarante or at Roulette. From these small beginnings arose the "company" whose career has been so notorious. It has enjoyed uninterrupted good fortune. During the twenty-six years that have elapsed since its foundation, a vast palace dedicated to gambling has been built, the village has become a town, well paved, and lighted with gas; the neighbouring hills are covered with villas; about eighty acres have been laid out in pleasure-grounds; roads have been made in all directions through the surrounding woods; the visitors are numbered by tens of thousands; there are above twenty hotels and many hundred excellent lodging-houses.'(77)

(77) Correspondent of Daily News.

'Let those who are disposed to risk their money inquire what is the character of the managers, and be on their guard. The expenses of such an enormous and splendid establishment amount to L10,000, and the shares have for some years paid a handsome dividend—the whole of which must be paid out of the pockets of travellers and visitors.'(78)

(78) Murray, ubi supra.

Mr Sala in his interesting work, already quoted, furnishes the completest account of Hombourg, its Kursaal, and gambling, which I have condensed as follows:—

'In Hombourg the Kursaal is everything, and the town nothing. The extortionate hotel-keepers, the "snub-nosed rogues of counter and till," who overcharge you in the shops, make their egregious profits from the Kursaal. The major part of the Landgrave's revenue is derived from the Kursaal; he draws L5000 a year from it. He and his house are sold to the Kursaal; and the Board of Directors of the Kursaal are the real sovereigns and land-graves of Hesse Hombourg. They have metamorphosed a miserable mid-German townlet into a city of palaces. Their stuccoed and frescoed palace is five hundred times handsomer than the mouldy old Schloss, built by William with the silver leg. They have planted the gardens; they have imported the orange-trees; they have laid out the park, and enclosed the hunting-grounds; they board, lodge, wash, and tax the inhabitants; and I may say, without the slightest attempt at punning, that the citizens are all Kursed.

'In the Kursaal is the ball or concert-room, at either end of which is a gallery, supported by pillars of composition marble. The floors are inlaid, and immense mirrors in sumptuous frames hang on the walls. Vice can see her own image all over the establishment. The ceiling is superbly decorated with bas-reliefs in carton-pierre, like those in Mr Barry's new Covent Garden Theatre; and fresco paintings, executed by Viotti, of Milan, and Conti, of Munich; whilst the whole is lighted up by enormous and gorgeous chandeliers. The apartment to the right is called the Salle Japanese, and is used as a dining-room for a monster table d'hote, held twice a day, and served by the famous Chevet of Paris.

'There is a huge Cafe Olympique, for smoking and imbibing purposes, private cabinets for parties, the monster saloon, and two smaller ones, where FROM ELEVEN IN THE FORENOON TO ELEVEN AT NIGHT, SUNDAYS NOT EXCEPTED, ALL THE YEAR ROUND, and year after year—(the "administration" have yet a "jouissance" of eighty-five years to run out, guaranteed by the incoming dynasty of Hesse Darmstadt), knaves and fools, from almost every corner of the world, gamble at the ingenious and amusing games of Roulette, and Rouge et Noir, otherwise Trente et Quarante.

'There is one table covered with green baize, tightly stretched as on a billiard-field. In the midst of the table there is a circular pit, coved inwards, but not bottomless, and containing the Roulette wheel, a revolving disc, turning with an accurate momentum on a brass pillar, and divided at its outer edge into thirty-seven narrow and shallow pigeon-hole compartments, coloured alternately red and black, and numbered—not consecutively—up to thirty-six. The last is a blank, and stands for Zero, number Nothing. Round the upper edge, too, run a series of little brass hoops, or bridges, to cause the ball to hop and skip, and not at once into the nearest compartment. This is the regimen of Roulette. The banker sits before the wheel,—a croupier, or payer-out of winnings to and raker in of losses from the players, on either side. Crying in a voice calmly sonorous, "Faites le Jeu, Messieurs,"—"Make your game, gentlemen!" the banker gives the wheel a dexterous twirl, and ere it has made one revolution, casts into its Maelstrom of black and red an ivory ball. The interval between this and the ball finding a home is one of breathless anxiety. Stakes are eagerly laid; but at a certain period of the revolution the banker calls out—"Le Jeu est fait. Rien ne va plus,"—and after that intimation it is useless to lay down money. Then the banker, in the same calm and impassable voice, declares the result. It may run thus:—"Vingt-neuf, Noir, Impair, et Passe," "Twenty-nine, Black, Odd, and Pass the Rubicon" (No. 18); or, "Huit, Rouge, Pair, et Manque," "Eight, Red, Even, and NOT Pass the Rubicon."

'Now, on either side of the wheel, and extending to the extremity of the table, run, in duplicate, the schedule of mises or stakes. The green baize first offers just thirty-six square compartments, marked out by yellow threads woven in the fabric itself, and bearing thirty-six consecutive numbers. If you place a florin (one and eight-pence)—and no lower stake is permitted—or ten florins, or a Napoleon, or an English five-pound note, or any sum of money not exceeding the maximum, whose multiple is the highest stake which the bank, if it loses, can be made to pay, in the midst of compartment 29, and if the banker, in that calm voice of his, has declared that 29 has become the resting place of the ball, the croupier will push towards you with his rake exactly thirty-three times the amount of your stake, whatever it might have been. You must bear in mind, however, that the bank's loss on a single stake is limited to eight thousand francs. Moreover, if you have placed another sum of money in the compartment inscribed, in legible yellow colours, "Impair," or Odd, you will receive the equivalent to your stake—twenty-nine being an odd number. If you have placed a coin on Passe, you will also receive this additional equivalent to your stake, twenty-nine being "Past the Rubicon," or middle of the table of numbers—18. Again, if you have ventured your money in a compartment bearing for device a lozenge in outline, which represents black, and twenty-nine being a black number, you will again pocket a double stake, that is, one in addition to your original venture. More, and more still,—if you have risked money on the columns—that is, betted on the number turning up corresponding with some number in one of the columns of the tabular schedule, and have selected the right column—you have your own stake and two others;—if you have betted on either of these three eventualities, douze premier, douze milieu, or douze dernier, otherwise "first dozen," "middle dozen," or "last dozen," as one to twelve, thirteen to twenty-four, twenty-five to thirty-six, all inclusive, and have chanced to select douze dernier, the division in which No. 29 occurs, you also obtain a treble stake, namely, your own and two more which the bank pays you, your florin or your five-pound note—benign fact!—metamorphosed into three. But, woe to the wight who should have ventured on the number "eight," on the red colour (compartment with a crimson lozenge), on "even," and on "not past the Rubicon;" for twenty-nine does not comply with any one of these conditions. He loses, and his money is coolly swept away from him by the croupier's rake. With reference to the last chances I enumerated in the last paragraph, I should mention that the number EIGHT would lie in the second column—there being three columns,—and in the first dozen numbers.

'There are more chances, or rather subdivisions of chances, to entice the player to back the "numbers;" for these the stations of the ball are as capricious as womankind; and it is, of course, extremely rare that a player will fix upon the particular number that happens to turn up. But he may place a piece of money a cheval, or astride, on the line which divides two numbers, in which case (either of the numbers turning up) he receives sixteen times his stake. He may place it on the cross lines that divide four numbers, and, if either of the four wins, he will receive eight times the amount of his stake. A word as to Zero. Zero is designated by the compartment close to the wheel's diameter, and zero, or blank, will turn up, on an average, about once in seventy times. If you have placed money in zero, and the ball seeks that haven, you will receive thirty-three times your stake.'

The twin or elder brother of Roulette, played at Hombourg, Rouge et Noir, or Trente et Quarante, is thus described by Mr Sala:—

'There is the ordinary green-cloth covered table, with its brilliant down-coming lights. In the centre sits the banker, gold and silver in piles and rouleaux, and bank-notes before him. On either hand, the croupier, as before, now wielding the rakes and plying them to bring in the money, now balancing them, now shouldering them, as soldiers do their muskets, half-pay officers their canes, and dandies their silk umbrellas. The banker's cards are, as throughout all the Rhenish gaming-places, of French design; the same that were invented, or, at least, first used in Europe, for crazy Charles the Simple. These cards are placed on an inclined plane of marble, called a talon.

'The dealer first takes six packs of cards, shuffles them, and distributes them in various parcels to the various punters or players round the table, to shuffle and mix. He then finally shuffles them, and takes and places the end cards into various parts of the three hundred and twelve cards, until he meets with a court card, which he must place upright at the end. This done, he presents the pack to one of the players to cut, who places the pictured card where the dealer separates the pack, and that part of the pack beyond the pictured card he places at the end nearest him, leaving the pictured card at the bottom of the pack.

'The dealer then takes a certain number of cards, about as many as would form a pack, and, looking at the first card, to know its colour, puts it on the table with its face downwards. He then takes two cards, one red and the other black, and sets them back to back. These cards are turned, and displayed conspicuously, as often as the colour varies, for the information of the company.

'The gamblers having staked their money on either of the colours, the dealer asks, "Votre jeu est-il fait?" "Is your game made?" or, "Votre jeu est-il piet?" "Is your game ready?" or, "Le jeu est pret, Messieurs," "The game is ready, gentlemen." He then deals the first card with its face upwards, saying "Noir;" and continues dealing until the cards turned exceed thirty points or pips in number, which number he must mention, as "Trente-et-un," or "Trente-six," as the case may be.

'As the aces reckon but for one, no card after thirty can make up forty; the dealer, therefore, does not declare the tens after thirty-one, or upwards, but merely the units, as one, two, three; if the number of points dealt for Noir are thirty-five he says "Cinq."

'Another parcel is then dealt for rouge, or red, and with equal deliberation and solemnity; and if the players stake beyond the colour that comes to thirty-one or nearest to it, he wins, which happy eventuality is announced by the dealer crying—"Rouge gagne," "Red wins," or "Rouge perd," "Red loses." These two parcels, one for each colour, make a coup. The same number of parcels being dealt for each colour, the dealer says, "Apres," "After." This is a "doublet," called in the amiable French tongue, "un refait," by which neither party wins, unless both colours come to thirty-one, which the dealer announces by saying, "Un refait Trente-et-un," and he wins half the stakes posted on both colours. He, however, does not take the money, but removes it to the middle line, and the players may change the venue of their stakes if they please. This is called the first "prison," or la premiere prison, and, if they win their next event, they draw the entire stake. In case of another "refait," the money is removed into the third line, which is called the second prison. So you see that there are wheels within wheels, and Lord Chancellor King's dictum, that walls can be built higher, but there should be no prison within a prison, is sometimes reversed.

When this happens the dealer wins all.

'The cards are sometimes cut for which colour shall be dealt first; but, in general, the first parcel is for black, and the second for red. The odds against a "refait" turning up are usually reckoned as 63 to 1. The bankers, however, acknowledge that they expect it twice in three deals, and there are generally from twenty-nine to thirty-two coups in each deal. The odds in favour of winning several times are about the same as in the game of Pharaon, and are as delusive. 'He who goes to Hombourg and expects to see any melodramatic manifestation of rage, disappointment, and despair in the losing players, reckons without his host. Winners or losers seldom speak above a whisper; and the only sound that is heard above the suppressed buzz of conversation, the muffled jingle of the money on the green cloth, the "sweep" of the croupiers' rakes, and the ticking of the very ornate French clocks on the mantel-pieces, is the impassibly metallic voice of the banker, as he proclaims his "Rouge perd," or "Couleur gagne." People are too genteel at Hombourg-von-der-Hohe to scream, to yell, to fall into fainting fits, or go into convulsions, because they have lost four or five thousand francs or so in a single coup.

'I have heard of one gentleman, indeed, who, after a ruinous loss, put a pistol to his head, and discharging it, spattered his brains over the Roulette wheel. It was said that the banker, looking up calmly, called out—'Triple Zero,' 'Treble Nothing,'—a case as yet unheard of in the tactics of Roulette, but signifying annihilation,—and that, a cloth being thrown over the ensanguined wheel, the bank of that particular table was declared to be closed for the day. Very probably the whole story is but a newspaper canard, devised by the proprietors of some rival gaming establishment, who would have been delighted to see the fashionable Hombourg under a cloud.

'When people want to commit suicide at Hombourg, they do it genteelly; early in the morning, or late at night, in the solitude of their own apartments at the hotels. It would be reckoned a gross breach of good manners to scandalize the refined and liberal administration of the Kursaal by undisguised felo-de-se. The devil on two croupes at Hombourg is the very genteelest of demons imaginable. He ties his tail up with cherry-coloured ribbon, and conceals his cloven foot in a patent-leather boot. All this gentility and varnish, and elegant veneering of the sulphurous pit, takes away from him, if it does not wholly extinguish, the honour and loathing for a common gaming-house, with which the mind of a wellured English youth has been sedulously imbued by his parents and guardians. He has very probably witnessed the performance of the "Gamester" at the theatre, and been a spectator of the remorseful agonies of Mr Beverly, the virtuous sorrows of Mrs B., and the dark villanies of Messieurs Dawson and Bates.

'The first visit of the British youth to the Kursaal is usually paid with fear and trembling. He is with difficulty persuaded to enter the accursed place. When introduced to the saloons—delusively called de conversation, he begins by staring fixedly at the chandeliers, the ormolu clocks, and the rich draperies, and resolutely averts his eyes from the serried ranks of punters or players, and the Pactolus, whose sands are circulating on the green cloth on the table. Then he thinks there is no very great harm in looking on, and so peeps over the shoulder of a moustached gamester, who perhaps whispers to him in the interval between two coups, that if a man will only play carefully, and be content with moderate gains, he may win sufficient—taking the good days and the evil days in a lump—to keep him in a decent kind of affluence all the year round. Indeed, I once knew a croupier—we used to call him Napoleon, from the way he took snuff from his waistcoat pocket, who was in the way of expressing a grave conviction that it was possible to make a capital living at Roulette, so long as you stuck to the colours, and avoided the Scylla of the numbers and the Charybdis of the Zero. By degrees, then, the shyness of the neophyte wears off. Perhaps in the course of his descent of Avernus, a revulsion of feeling takes place, and, horror-struck and ashamed, he rushes out of the Kursaal, determined to enter its portals no more. Then he temporizes; remembers that there is a capital reading-room, provided with all the newspapers and periodicals of civilized Europe, attached to the Kursaalian premises. There can be no harm, he thinks, in glancing over "Galignani" or the "Charivari," although under the same roof as the abhorred Trente et Quarante; but, alas! he finds Galignani engaged by an acrid old lady of morose countenance, who has lost all her money by lunch-time, and is determined to "take it out in reading," and the Charivari slightly clenched in one hand by the deaf old gentleman with the dingy ribbon of the Legion of Honour, and the curly brown wig pushed up over one ear, who always goes to sleep on the soft and luxurious velvet couches of the Kursaal reading-room, from eleven till three, every day, Sundays not excepted. The disappointed student of home or foreign news wanders back to one of the apartments where play is going, on. In fact, he does not know what to do with himself until table-d'hote time. You know what the moral bard, Dr Watts says:—

"Satan finds some mischief still, For idle hands to do."

The unfledged gamester watches the play more narrowly. A stout lady in a maroon velvet mantle, and a man with a bald head, a black patch on his occiput, and gold spectacles, obligingly makes way for him. He finds himself pressed against the very edge of the table. Perhaps a chair—one of those delightfully comfortable Kursaal chairs—is vacant. He is tired with doing nothing, and sinks into the emolliently-cushioned fauteuil. He fancies that he has caught the eye of the banker, or one of the gentlemen of the croupe, and that they are meekly inviting him to try his luck. "Well, there can't be much harm in risking a florin," he murmurs. He stakes his silver-piece on a number or a colour. He wins, we will say, twice or thrice. Perhaps he quadruples his stake, nay, perchance, hits on the lucky number. It turns up, and he receives thirty-five times the amount of his mise. Thenceforth it is all over with that ingenuous British youth. The Demon of Play has him for his own, and he may go on playing and playing until he has lost every florin of his own, or as many of those belonging to other people as he can beg or borrow. Far more fortunate for him would it be in the long run, if he met in the outset with a good swinging loss. The burnt child DOES dread the fire as a rule; but there is this capricious, almost preternatural, feature of the physiology of gaming, that the young and inexperienced generally win in the first instance. They are drawn on and on, and in and in. They begin to lose, and continue to lose, and by the time they have cut their wise teeth they have neither sou nor silver to make their dearly-bought wisdom available.

'At least one-half of the company may be assumed to be arrant rascals—rascals male and rascals female—chevaliers d'industrie, the offscourings of all the shut-up gambling-houses in Europe, demireps and lorettes, single and married women innumerable.'

In the course of the three visits he has paid to Hombourg, Mr Sala has observed that 'nine-tenths of the English visitors to the Kursaal, play;' and he does not hesitate to say that the moths who flutter round the garish lamps at the Kursaal Van der Hohe, and its kindred Hades, almost invariably singe their wings; and that the chaseer at Roulette and Rouge, generally turn out edged tools, with which those incautious enough to play with them are apt to cut their fingers, sometimes very dangerously.

The season of 1869 in Hombourg is thus depicted in a high class newspaper.

'Never within the memory of the oldest inhabitant (who in this instance must undoubtedly be that veteran player Countess Kisselef) has the town witnessed such an influx of tourists of every class and description. Hotels and lodging-houses are filled to overflowing. Every day imprudent travellers who have neglected the precaution of securing rooms before their arrival return disconsolately to Frankfort to await the vacation of some apartment which a condescending landlord has promised them after much negotiation for the week after next. The morning promenade is a wonderful sight; such a host of bilious faces, such an endless variety of eccentric costumes, such a Babel of tongues, among which the shrill twang of our fair American cousins is peculiarly prominent, could be found in no other place in the civilized world. A moralist would assuredly find here abundant food for reflection on the wonderful powers of self-deception possessed by mankind. We all get up at most inconvenient hours, swallow a certain quantity of a most nauseous fluid, and then, having sacrificed so much to appearances, soothe our consciences with the unfounded belief that a love of early rising and salt water was our real reason for coming here, and that the gambling tables had nothing whatever to do with it. Perhaps, in some few instances, this view may be the correct one; some few invalids, say one in a hundred, may have sought Hombourg solely in the interest of an impaired digestion, but I fear that such cases are few and far between; and, as a friend afflicted with a mania for misquotation remarked to me the other day, even "those who come to drink remain to play."

'Certainly the demon of Rouge et Noir has never held more undisputed sway in Hombourg than in the present season; never have the tables groaned under such a load of notes and rouleaux. It would seem as if the gamblers, having only two or more years left in which to complete their ruin, were hurrying on with redoubled speed to that desirable consummation, and where a stake of 12,000 francs is allowed on a single coup the pace can be made very rapid indeed. High play is so common that unless you are lucky enough to win or rich enough to lose a hundred thousand francs at least, you need not hope to excite either envy or commiseration. One persevering Muscovite, who has been punting steadily for six weeks, has actually succeeded in getting rid of a million of florins. As yet there have been no suicides to record, owing probably to the precautionary measures adopted by a paternal Administration. As soon as a gambler is known to be utterly cleared out he at once receives a visit from one of M. Blanc's officials, who offers him a small sum on condition he will leave the town forthwith; which viaticum, however, for fear of accidents, is only handed to him when fairly seated in the train that bears him away, to blow out his brains, should he feel so inclined, elsewhere. One of the most unpleasant facts connected with the gambling is the ardour displayed by many ladies in this very unfeminine pursuit: last night out of twenty-five persons seated at the Roulette table I counted no fewer than fifteen ladies, including an American lady with her two daughters!

'The King of Prussia has arrived, and, with due deference to the official editors who have described in glowing paragraphs the popular demonstrations in his honour, I am bound to assert that he was received with very modified tokens of delight. There was not even a repetition of the triumphal arch of last year; those funereal black and white flags, whose sole aspect is enough to repress any exuberance of rejoicing, were certainly flapping against the hotel windows and the official flagstaffs, but little else testified to the joy of the Hombourgers at beholding their Sovereign. They manage these things better in France. Any French prefet would give the German authorities a few useful hints concerning the cheap and speedy manufacture of loyal enthusiasm. The foreigners, however, seem determined to atone amply for any lack of proper feeling on the part of the townspeople. They crowd round his Majesty as soon as he appears in the rooms or gardens, and mob the poor old gentleman with a vigour which taxes all the energies of his aides-de-camp to save their Royal master from death by suffocation. Need I add that our old friend the irrepressible "'Arry" is ever foremost in these gentlemanlike demonstrations?

'Of course the town swarms with well-known English faces; indeed, the Peers and M.P.s here at present would form a very respectable party in the two Houses. We are especially well off for dukes; the Fremdenliste notifies the presence of no fewer than five of those exalted personages. A far less respectable class of London society is also, I am sorry to say, strongly represented: I allude to those gentlemen of the light-fingered persuasion whom the outer world rudely designate as pickpockets. This morning two gorgeously arrayed members of the fraternity were marched down to the station by the police, each being decorated with a pair of bright steel handcuffs; seventeen of them were arrested last week in Frankfort at one fell swoop, and at the tables the row of lookers-on who always surround the players consists in about equal proportions of these gentry and their natural enemies—the detectives. Their booty since the beginning of the season must be reckoned by thousands. Mustapha Fazyl Pasha had his pocket picked of a purse containing L600, and a Russian lady was lately robbed of a splendid diamond brooch valued at 75,000 francs.(79)

(79) Pall Mall Gazette, Aug. 1869.

But the days of the Kursaal are numbered, and the glories or infamies of Hombourg are doomed.

'The fiat has gone forth. In five years(80) from this time the "game will be made" no longer—the great gambling establishment of Hombourg will be a thing of the past. The town will be obliged to contend on equal terms with other watering-places for its share of the wool on the backs of summer excursionists.

(80) In 1872.

'As most of the townspeople are shareholders in this thriving concern, and as all of them gain either directly or indirectly by the play, it was amusing to watch the anxiety of these worthies during the war between Austria and Prussia. Patriotism they had none; they cared neither for Austrian nor Prussian, for a great Germany nor for a small Germany. The "company" was their god and their country. All that concerned them was to know whether the play was likely to be suppressed. When they were annexed to Prussia, at first they could not believe that Count Bismarck, whatever he might do with kings, would venture to interfere with the "bank." It was to them a divine institution—something far superior to dynasties and kingdoms....

'For a year the Hombourgers were allowed to suppose that their "peculiar institution" was indeed superior to fate, to public opinion, and to Prussia; but at the commencement of the present year they were rudely awakened from their dreams of security. The sword that had been hanging over them fell. The directors of the company were ordered to appear before the governor of the town, and they were told that they and all belonging to them were to cease to exist in 1872, and that the following arrangement was to be made respecting the plunder gained until that date. The shareholders were to receive 10 per cent. on their money; 5000 shares were to be paid off at par each year, and if this did not absorb all the profits, the surplus was to go towards a fund for keeping up the gardens after the play had ceased. By this means, as there are now 36,000 shares, 25,000 will be paid off at par, and the remaining 11,000 will be represented by the buildings and the land belonging to the company, which it will be at liberty to sell to the highest bidder. Since this decree has been promulgated the Hombourgers are in despair. The croupiers and the clerks, the Jews who lend money at high interest, the Christians who let lodgings, all the rogues and swindlers who one way or another make a living out of the play, fill the air with their complaints.

'Although no doubt individuals will suffer by the suppression of public play here, it is by no means certain that the town itself will not be a gainer by it. Holiday seekers must go somewhere. The air of Hombourg is excellent; the waters are invigorating; the town is well situated and easy of access by rail; living is comparatively cheap—a room may be had for about 18s. a week, an excellent dinner for 2s.; breakfast costs less than a shilling. Hombourg is now a fixed fact, and if the townspeople take heart and grapple with the new state of things—if they buy up the Kursaal, and throw open its salons to visitors; if they keep up the opera, the cricket club, and the shooting; if they have good music, and balls and concerts for those who like them, there is no reason why they should not attract as many visitors to their town as they do now.'(81)

(81) Correspondent of Daily News.


The gaming at Aix-la-Chapelle is equally desperate and destructive. 'A Russian officer of my acquaintance,' says a writer in the Annual Register for 1818, 'was subject, like many of his countrymen whom I have known, to the infatuation of play to a most ridiculous excess. His distrust of himself under the assailments which he anticipated at a place like Aix-la-Chapelle, had induced him to take the prudent precaution of paying in advance at his hotel for his board and lodging, and at the bathing-house for his baths, for the time he intended to stay. The remaining contents of his purse he thought fairly his own; and he went of course to the table all the gayer for the license he had taken of his conscience. On fortune showing him a few favours, he came to me in high spirits, with a purse full of Napoleons, and a resolute determination to keep them by venturing no more; but a gamester can no more be stationary than the tide of a river, and on the evening he was put out of suspense by having not a Napoleon left, and nothing to console but congratulation on his foresight, and the excellent supper which was the fruit of it.'

Towards the end of the last century Aix-la-Chapelle was a great rendezvous of gamblers. The chief banker there paid a thousand louis per annum for his license. A little Italian adventurer once went to the place with only a few louis in his pocket, and played crown stakes at Hazard. Fortune smiled on him; he increased his stakes progressively; in twenty-four hours won about L4000. On the following day he stripped the bank entirely, pocketing nearly L10,000. He continued to play for some days, till he was at last reduced to a single louis! He now obtained from a friend the loan of L30, and once more resumed his station at the gaming table, which he once more quitted with L10,000 in his pocket, and resolved to leave it for ever. The arguments of one of the bankers, however, who followed him to his inn, soon prevailed over his resolution, and on his return to the gaming table he was stripped of his last farthing. He went to his lodgings, sold his clothes, and by that means again appeared at his old haunt, for the half-crown stakes, by which he honourably repaid his loan of L30. His end was unknown to the relater of the anecdote, but 'ten to one,' it was ruin.

At the same place, in the year 1793, the heir-apparent of an Irish Marquis lost at various times nearly L20,000 at a billiard table, partly owing to his antagonist being an excellent calculator, as well as a superior player.

A French emigrant at Aix-la-Chapelle, who carried a basket of tarts, liqueurs, &c., for regaling the gamesters, put down twenty-five louis at Rouge et Noir. He lost. He then put down fifteen, and lost again; at the third turn he staked ten; but while the cards were being shuffled, seeming to recollect himself, he felt all his pockets, and at length found two large French crowns, and a small one, which he also ventured. The deal was determined at the ninth card; and the poor wretch, who had lost his all, dashed down his basket, started from his seat, overturning two chairs as he forced the circle, tore off his hair, and with horrid blasphemies, burst the folding doors, and rushing out like a madman, was seen no more.

Another emigrant arrived here penniless, but meeting a friend, obtained the loan of a few crowns, nearly his all. With these he went to the rooms, put down his stake, and won. He then successively doubled his stakes till he closed the evening with a hundred louis in his pocket. He went to his friend, and with mutual congratulations they resolved to venture no more, and calculated how long their gains would support them from absolute want, and thus seemed to strengthen their wise resolution.

The next night, however, the lucky gambler returned to the room—but only to be a spectator, as he firmly said. Alas! his resolution failed him, and he quitted the tables indebted to a charitable bystander for a livre or two, to pay for his petty refreshments.

It is said that the annual profit to the bankers was 120,000 florins, or L14,000.

'The very name of Aix-la-Chapelle,' says a traveller, 'makes one think (at least, makes me think) of cards and dice,—sharks and pigeons. It has a "professional odour" upon it, which is certainly not that of sanctity. I entered the Redoute with my head full of sham barons, German Catalinas, and the thousand-and-one popular tales of renowned knights of the green cloth,—their seducing confederates, and infatuated dupes.

'The rooms are well distributed; the saloons handsome. A sparkling of ladies, apparently (and really, as I understood) of the best water, the elite, in short, of Aix-la-Chapelle, were lounging on sofas placed round the principal saloon, or fluttering about amidst a crowd of men, who filled up the centre of the room, or thronged round the tables that were ranged on one side of it.

'The players continued their occupation in death-like silence, undisturbed by the buzz or the gaze of the lookers-on; not a sound was heard but the rattle of the heaped-up money, as it was passed from one side of the table to the other; nor was the smallest anxiety or emotion visible on any countenance.

'The scene was unpleasing, though to me curious from its novelty.

Ladies are admitted to play, but there were none occupied this morning. I was glad of it; indeed, though English travellers are accused of carrying about with them a portable code of morality, which dissolves or stiffens like a soap-cake as circumstances may affect its consistency, yet I sincerely believe that there are few amongst us who would not feel shocked at seeing one of the gentler sex in so unwomanly a position.'(82)

(82) Reminiscences of the Rhine, &c. Anon.


The gambling here in 1868 has been described in a very vivid manner.

'Since the enforcement of the Prussian Sunday observance regulations, Monday has become the great day of the week for the banks of the German gambling establishments. Anxious to make up for lost time, the regular contributors to the company's dividends flock early on Monday forenoon to the play-rooms in order to secure good places at the tables, which, by the appointed hour for commencing operations (eleven o'clock), are closely hedged round by persons of both sexes, eagerly waiting for the first deal of the cards or the initial twist of the brass wheel, that they may try another fall with Fortune. Before each seated player are arranged precious little piles of gold and silver, a card printed in black and red, and a long pin, wherewith to prick out a system of infallible gain. The croupiers take their seats and unpack the strong box; rouleaux—long metal sausages composed of double and single florins,—wooden bowls brimming over with gold Frederics and Napoleons, bank notes of all sizes and colours, are arranged upon the black leather compartment, ruled over by the company's officers; half-a-dozen packs of new cards are stripped of their paper cases, and swiftly shuffled together; and when all these preliminaries, watched with breathless anxiety by the surrounding speculators, have been gravely and carefully executed, the chief croupier looks round him—a signal for the prompt investment of capital on all parts of the table—chucks out a handful of cards from the mass packed together convenient to his hand—ejaculates the formula, "Faites le jeu!" and, after half a minute's pause, during which he delicately moistens the ball of his dealing thumb, exclaims "Le jeu est fait, rien ne va plus," and proceeds to interpret the decrees of fate according to the approved fashion of Trente et Quarante. A similar scene is taking place at the Roulette table—a goodly crop of florins, with here and there a speck of gold shining amongst the silver harvest, is being sown over the field of the cloth of green, soon to be reaped by the croupier's sickle, and the pith ball is being dropped into the revolving basin that is partitioned off into so many tiny black and red niches. For the next twelve hours the processes in question are carried on swiftly and steadily, without variation or loss of time; relays of croupiers are laid on, who unobtrusively slip into the places of their fellows when the hours arrive for relieving guard; the game is never stopped for more than a couple of minutes at a time, viz., when the cards run out and have to be re-shuffled. This brief interruption is commonly considered to portend a break in the particular vein which the game may have happened to assume during the deal—say a run upon black or red, an alternation of coups (in threes or fours) upon either colour, two reds and a black, or vice versa, all equally frequent eccentricities of the cards; and the heavier players often change their seats, or leave the table altogether for an hour or so at such a conjuncture. Curiously enough, excepting at the very commencement of the day's play, the habitues of the Trente et Quarante tables appear to entertain a strong antipathy to the first deal or two after the cards have been "re-made." I have been told by one or two masters of the craft that they have a fancy to see how matters are likely to go before they strike in, as if it were possible to deduce the future of the game from its past! That it is possible appears to be an article of faith with the old stagers, and, indeed, every now and then odd coincidences occur which tend to confirm them in their creed. I witnessed an occurrence which was either attributable (as I believe) to sheer chance, or (as its hero earnestly assured me) to instinct. A fair and frail Magyar was punting on numbers with immense pluck and uniform ill fortune. Behind her stood a Viennese gentleman of my acquaintance, who enjoys a certain renown amongst his friends for the faculty of prophecy, which, however, he seldom exercises for his own benefit. Observing that she hesitated about staking her double florin, he advised her to set it on the number 3. Round went the wheel, and in twenty seconds the ball tumbled into compartment 3 sure enough. At the next turn she asked his advice, and was told to try number 24. No sooner said than done, and 24 came up in due course, whereby Mdlle L. C. won 140 odd gulden in two coups, the amount risked by her being exactly four florins. Like a wise girl, she walked off with her booty, and played no more that day at Roulette. A few minutes later I saw an Englishman go through the performance of losing four thousand francs by experimentalizing on single numbers. Twenty times running did he set ten louis-d'ors on a number (varying the number at each stake), and not one of his selection proved successful. At the "Thirty and Forty" I saw an eminent diplomatist win sixty thousand francs with scarcely an intermission of failure; he played all over the table, pushing his rouleaux backwards and forwards, from black to red, without any appearance of system that I could detect, and the cards seemed to follow his inspiration. It was a great battle; as usual, three or four smaller fish followed in his wake, till they lost courage and set against him, much to their discomfiture and the advantage of the bank; but from first to last—that is, till the cards ran out, and he left the table—he was steadily victorious. In the evening he went in again for another heavy bout, at which I chanced to be present; but fortune had forsaken him; and he not only lost his morning's winnings, but eight thousand francs to boot. I do not remember to have ever seen the tables so crowded—outside it was thundering, lightening, and raining as if the world were coming to an end, and the whole floating population of Wiesbaden was driven into the Kursaal by the weather. A roaring time of it had the bank; when play was over, about which time the rain ceased, hundreds of hot and thirsty gamblers streamed out of the reeking rooms to the glazed-in terrace, and the next hour, always the pleasantest of the twenty-four here and in Hombourg—at Ems people go straight from the tables to bed,—was devoted to animated chat and unlimited sherry-cobbler; all the "events" of the day were passed in review, experiences exchanged, and confessions made. Nobody had won; I could not hear of a single great success—the bank had had it all its own way, and most of the "lions," worsted in the fray, had evidently made up their minds to "drown it in the bowl." The Russian detachment—a very strong one this year—was especially hard hit; Spain and Italy were both unusually low-spirited; and there was an extra solemnity about the British Isles that told its own sad tale. Englishmen, when they have lost more than they can afford, generally take it out of themselves in surly, brooding self-reproach. Frenchmen give vent to their disgust and annoyance by abusing the game and its myrmidons. You may hear them, loud and savage, on the terrace, "Ah! le salle jeu! comment peut-on se laisser eplucher par des brigands de la sorte! Tripot, infame, va! je te donne ma malediction!" Italians, again, endeavour to conceal their discomfiture under a flow of feverish gaiety. Germans utter one or two "Gotts donnerwetterhimmelsapperment!" light up their cigars, drink a dozen or so "hocks," and subside into their usual state of ponderous cheerfulness. Russians betray no emotion whatever over their calamities, save, perhaps, that they smoke those famous little 'Laferme' cigarettes a trifle faster and more nervously than at other times; but they are excellent winners and magnificent losers, only to be surpassed in either respect by their old enemy the Turk, who is facile princeps in the art of hiding his feelings from the outer world.

'The great mass of visitors at Wiesbaden this season, as at Hombourg, belong to the middle and lower middle classes, leavened by a very few celebrities and persons of genuine distinction. There are a dozen or two eminent men here, not to be seen in the play-rooms, who are taking the waters—Lord Clarendon, Baron Rothschild, Prince Souvarof, and a few more—but the general run of guests is by no means remarkable for birth, wealth, or respectability; and we are shockingly off for ladies. As a set-off against this deficiency, it would seem that all the aged, broken-down courtesans of Paris, Vienna, and Berlin have agreed to make Wiesbaden their autumn rendezvous. Arrayed in all the colours of the rainbow, painted up to the roots of their dyed hair, shamelessly decolletees, prodigal of "free" talk and unseemly gesture, these ghastly creatures, hideous caricatures of youth and beauty, flaunt about the play-rooms and gardens, levying black-mail upon those who are imprudent enough to engage them in "chaff" or badinage, and desperately endeavouring to hook themselves on to the wealthier and younger members of the male community. They poison the air round them with sickly perfumes; they assume titles, and speak of one another as "cette chere comtesse;" their walk is something between a prance and a wriggle; they prowl about the terrace whilst the music is playing, seeking whom they may devour, or rather whom they may inveigle into paying for their devouring: and, bon Dieu! how they do gorge themselves with food and drink when some silly lad or aged roue allows himself to be bullied or wheedled into paying their scot! Their name is legion; and they constitute the very worst feature of a place which, naturally a Paradise, is turned into a seventh hell by the uncontrolled rioting of human passions. They have no friends—no "protectors;" they are dependent upon accident for a meal or a piece of gold to throw away at the tables; they are plague-spots upon the face of society; they are, as a rule, crassly ignorant and horribly cynical; and yet there are many men here who are proud of their acquaintance, always ready to entertain them in the most expensive manner, and who speak of them as if they were the only desirable companions in the world!

'Amongst our notabilities of the eccentric sort, not the least singular in her behaviour is the Countess C——o, an aged patrician of immense fortune, who is as constant to Wiesbaden as old Madame de K——f is to Hombourg on the Heights. Like the last-named lady, she is daily wheeled to her place in the Black and Red temple, and plays away for eight or nine hours with wonderful spirit and perseverance. She has with her a suite of eight domestics; and when she wins (which is not often), on returning to her hotel at night, she presents each member of her retinue with—twopence! "not," as she naively avows, "from a feeling of generosity, but to propitiate Fortune." When she loses, none of them, save the man who wheels her home, get anything but hard words from her; and he, happy fellow, receives a donation of six kreutzers. She does not curse the croupiers loudly for her bad luck, like her contemporary, the once lovely Russian Ambassadress; but, being very far advanced in years, and of a tender disposition, sheds tears over her misfortunes, resting her chin on the edge of the table. An edifying sight is this venerable dame, bearing an exalted title, as she mopes and mouths over her varying luck, missing her stake twice out of three times, when she fain would push it with her rake into some particular section of the table! She is very intimate with one or two antediluvian diplomatists and warriors, who are here striving to bolster themselves up for another year with the waters, and may be heard crowing out lamentations over her fatal passion for play, interspersed with bits of moss-grown scandal, disinterred from the social ruins of an age long past: Radetzky, Wratislaw (le beau sabreur), the two Schwarzenbergs (he of Leipsic, and the former Prime Minister), Paul Eszterhazy, Wrangel, and Blucher were friends of her youth; judging from her appearance, one would not be surprised to hear that she had received a "poulet" from Baron Trenck, or played whist with Maria Theresa. She has outlived all human friendships or affections, and exists only for the chink of the gold as it jingles on the gaming table. I cannot help fancying that her last words will be "Rien ne va plus!" She is a great and convincing moral, if one but interpret her rightly.'(83)

(83) Daily Telegraph, Aug. 15, 1868.

The doom of the German gaming houses seems to be settled. They will all be closed in 1872, as appears by the following announcement:—

'The Prussian government, not having been able to obtain from the lessees of the gaming tables at Wiesbaden, Ems, and Hombourg their consent to their cancelling of their contracts, has resolved to terminate their privileges by a legislative measure. It has presented a bill to the Chamber of Deputies at Berlin, fixing the year 1872 as the limit to the existence of these establishments, and even authorizing the government to suppress them at an earlier period by a royal ordinance. No indemnity is to be allowed to the persons holding concessions.'—Feb. 23, 1868.

A London newspaper defends this measure in a very successful manner.

'Prussia has declared her purpose to eradicate from the territories subject to her increased sway, and from others recognizing her influence, the disgrace of the Rouge et Noir and the Roulette table as public institutions. Her reasoning is to the effect that they bring scandal upon Germany; that they associate with the names of its favourite watering-places the appellation of "hells;" that they attract swindlers and adventurers of every degree; and that they have for many a year past been held up to the opprobrium of Europe. For why should this practice be a lawful practice of Germany and of no other country in Europe? Why not in France, in Spain, in Italy, in the Northern States, in Great Britain itself? Let us not give to this last proposition more importance than it is worth. The German watering-places are places of leisure, of trifling, of ennui. That is why, originally, they were selected as encampments by the tribes which fatten upon hazards. But there was another reason: they brought in welcome revenues to needy princes. Even now, in view of the contemplated expurgation, Monaco is named, with Geneva, as successor to the perishing glories of Hombourg, Wiesbaden, and the great Baden itself. That is to say, the gamblers, or, rather, the professionals who live upon the gambling propensities of others, having received from Prussia and her friends notice to quit, are in search of new lodgings.

'The question is, they being determined, and the accommodation being not less certainly ready for them than the sea is for the tribute of a river, will the reform designed be a really progressive step in the civilization of Europe? Prussia says—decidedly so; because it will demolish an infamous privilege. She affirms that an institution which might have been excusable under a landgrave, with a few thousand acres of territory, is inconsistent with the dignity and, to quote continental phraseology, the mission of a first-class state. Here again the reasoning is incontrovertible. Of one other thing, moreover, we may feel perfectly sure, that Prussia having determined to suppress these centres and sources of corruption, they will gradually disappear from Europe. Concede to them a temporary breathing-time at Monaco; the time left for even a nominally independent existence to Monaco is short: imagine that they find a fresh outlet at Geneva; Prussia will have represented the public opinion of the age, against which not even the Republicanism of Switzerland can long make a successful stand. Upon the whole, history can never blame Prussia for such a use either of her conquests or her influence. Say what you will, gambling is an indulgence blushed over in England; abroad, practised as a little luxury in dissipation, it may be pardoned as venial; habitually, however, it is a leprosy. And as it is by habitual gamblers that these haunts are made to flourish, this alone should reconcile the world of tourists to a deprivation which for them must be slight; while to the class they imitate, without equalling, it will be the prohibition of an abominable habit.'(84)

(84) Extracts from a 'leader' in the Standard of Sept. 4, 1869.


It is not surprising that a people so intensely speculative, excitable, and eager as the Americans, should be desperately addicted to gambling. Indeed, the spirit of gambling has incessantly pervaded all their operations, political, commercial, and social.(85) It is but one of the manifestations of that thorough license arrogated to itself by the nation, finding its true expression in the American maxim recorded by Mr Hepworth Dixon, so coarsely worded, but so significant,—'Every man has a right to do what he DAMNED pleases.'(86)

(85) In the American correspondence of the Morning Advertiser, Feb. 6, 1868, the writer says:—'It was only yesterday (Jan. 24) that an eminent American merchant of this city (New York) said, in referring to the state of affairs—"we are socially, politically, and commercially demoralized."'

(86) 'Spiritual Wives.'—A work the extraordinary disclosures of which tend to show that a similar spirit, destined, perhaps, to bring about the greatest social changes, is gaining ground elsewhere than in America.

Although laws similar to those of England are enacted in America against gambling, it may be said to exist everywhere, but, of course, to the greatest extent in the vicinity of the fashionable quarters of the large cities. In New York there is scarcely a street without its gambling house—'private,' of course, but well known to those who indulge in the vice. The ordinary public game is Faro.

High and low, rich and poor, are perfectly suited in their requirements; whilst at some places the stakes are unlimited, at others they must not exceed one dollar, and a player may wager as low as five cents, or twopence-halfpenny. These are for the accommodation of the very poorest workmen, discharged soldiers, broken-down gamblers, and street-boys.

'I think,' says a recent writer,(87) 'of all the street-boys in the world, those of New York are the most precocious. I have seen a shoe-black, about three feet high, walk up to the table or 'Bank,' as it is generally called, and stake his money (five cents) with the air of a young spendthrift to whom "money is no object."'

(87) 'St James's Magazine,' Sept., 1867.

The chief gambling houses of New York were established by men who are American celebrities, and among these the most prominent have been Pat Hern and John Morrissey.


Some years ago this celebrated Irishman kept up a splendid establishment in Broadway, near Hauston Street. At that time his house was the centre of attraction towards which 'all the world' gravitated, and did the thing right grandly—combining the Apicius with the Beau Nash or Brummell. He was profusely lavish with his wines and exuberant in his suppers; and it was generally said that the game in action there, Faro, was played in all fairness. Pat Hern was a man of jovial disposition and genial wit, and would have adorned a better position. During the trout-fishing season he used to visit a well-known place called Islip in Long Island, much frequented by gentlemen devoted to angling and fond of good living.

At Islip the equally renowned Oby Snedecker kept the tavern which was the resort of Pat Hern and his companions. It had attached to it a stream and lake to which the gentlemen who had the privilege of the house were admitted. Mrs Obadiah Snedecker, the buxom wife of 'mine host,' was famous for the exquisite way in which she cooked veal cutlets. There were two niggers in the establishment, named Steve and Dick, who accompanied the gentlemen in their angling excursions, amusing them with their stolidity and the enormous quantity of gin they could imbibe without being more than normally fuddled.

After fishing, the gentlemen used to take to gambling at the usual French games; but here Pat Hern appeared not in the character of gambler, but as a private gentleman. He was always well received by the visitors, and caused them many a hearty laugh with his overflowing humour. He died about nine years ago, I think tolerably well off.


John Morrissey was originally a prize-fighter,—having fought with Heenan and also with Yankee Sullivan, and lived by teaching the young Americans the noble art of self-defence. He afterwards set up a 'Bar,' or public-house, and over this he established a small Faro bank, which he enlarged and improved by degrees until it became well known, and was very much frequented by the gamblers of New York. He is now, I believe, a member of Congress for that city, and immensely wealthy. Not content with his successful gambling operations in New York, he has opened a splendid establishment at the fashionable summer resort of Saratoga, consisting of an immense hotel, ballrooms, and gambling-rooms, and is said to have a profit of two millions of dollars (about L400,000) during the season.(88) He is mentioned as one of those who pay the most income tax.

(88) Ubi supra.

Morrissey's gambling house is in Union Square, and is said to be magnificently furnished and distinguished by the most princely hospitality. At all hours of the day or night tables are laid out with every description of refreshment, to which all who visit the place are welcome.

This is a remarkable feature in the American system. At all 'Bars,' or public-houses, you find provided, free of charge, supplies of cheese, biscuits, &c., and sometimes even some savoury soup—which are often resorted to by those unfortunates who are 'clean broke' or 'used up,' with little else to assuage the pangs of hunger but the everlasting quid of tobacco, furiously 'chawed.' Another generous feature of the American system is that the bar-man does not measure out to you, after our stingy fashion, what drink you may require, but hands you the tumbler and bottle to help yourself, unless in the case of made drinks, such as 'mint-juleps,' &c. However, you must drink your liquor at a gulp, after the Yankee fashion; for if you take a sip and turn your back to the counter, your glass will disappear—as it is not customary to have glasses standing about. Morrissey's wines are very good, and always supplied in abundance.

Almost every game of chance is played at this establishment, and the stakes are very high and unlimited. The visitors are the wealthy and wild young men of New York, and occasionally a Southern-looking man who, perhaps, has saved some of his property, being still the same professional gambler; for it may be affirmed that all the Southern planters were addicted to gambling.

'The same flocks of well-dressed and fashionable-looking men of all ages pass in and out all through the day and night; tens of thousands of dollars are lost and won; the "click" of the markers never ceases; all speak in a low tone; everything has a serious, quiet appearance. The dealers seem to know every one, and nod familiarly to all who approach their tables. John Morrissey is occasionally to be seen, walking through the rooms, apparently a disinterested spectator. He is a short, thick-set man, of about 40 years, dark complexion, and wears a long beard, dresses in a slovenly manner, and walks with a swagger. Now and then he approaches the table; makes a few bets, and is then lost in the crowd.'(89)

(89) Ubi supra.


The same writer furnishes other very interesting facts.

'After the opera-house and theatres are closed, Morrissey's gambling house becomes very full; in fact, the best time to see it to advantage is about two or three o'clock in the morning.

'A little below the New York Hotel, and on the opposite side of Broadway, there is a gambling house, not quite so "respectable" as the one I have been describing; here the stakes are not below a dollar, and not more than twenty-five; there are no refreshments gratis, and the rooms are not so well furnished. The men to be seen gaming in this house differ but very little in appearance from those in Union Square, but there seems to be less discipline amongst them, and more noise and confusion. It is a rare thing to see an intoxicated man in a gambling house; the door-keepers are very particular as to whom they admit, and any disturbance which might call for the interference of the police would be ruinous to their business. The police are undoubtedly aware of everything going on in these houses, and do not interfere as long as everything goes on quietly.

'Now and then a clerk spends his employer's money, and if it is discovered where he lost it then a RAID is made by the police in force, the tables and all the gaming paraphernalia are carried off, and the proprietors heavily fined.

'I witnessed a case of this: a young man in the employment of a commission merchant appropriated a large sum of his employer's money, and lost it at Faro. He was arrested, and confessed what he had done with it. The police at once proceeded to the house where the Faro bank was kept, and the scene, when it was known that the police were below, beggars description. The tables were upset, and notes and markers were flying about in all directions. Men, sprawling and scrambling on the floor, fought with one another for whatever they could seize; then the police entered and cleared the house, having arrested the owners of the bank. This was in one of the lowest gaming houses, where "skin" games (cheating games) are practised.

'In the gambling house in Broadway, near the New York Hotel, I have often noticed a young man, apparently of some 18 or 20 years of age, fashionably dressed, and of prepossessing appearance. On some days he would play very high, and seemed to have most remarkable luck; but he always played with the air of an old gamester, seeming careless as to whether he won or lost. One night he lost so heavily that he attracted the notice of all the players; every stake of his was swept away; and he still played on until his last dollar was lost; then he quietly walked out, whistling a popular Yankee air. He was there next day MINUS his great-coat and watch and chain—he lost again, went out and returned in his shirt sleeves, having pawned his coat, studs, and everything he could with decency divest himself of. He lost everything; and when I next saw him he was selling newspapers in front of the post-office!

'The mania for gambling is a most singular one. I have known a man to win a thousand dollars in a few hours, and yet he would not spend a dollar to get a dinner, but when he felt hungry he went to a baker's shop and bought a loaf of bread, and that same night lost all his money at Roulette.

'There is another house on the corner of Centre and Grand Streets, open during night and day. The stakes here are the same as in the one in Broadway, and the people who play are very much the same—in fact, the same faces are constantly to be met with in all the gambling houses, from the highest to the lowest. When a gambler has but small capital, he will go to a small house, where small stakes are admissible. I saw a man win 50 or 60 dollars at this place, and then hand in his checks (markers) to be cashed. The dealer handed him the money, and said—"Now you go off, straight away to Union Square, and pay away all you have won from here to John Morrissey. This is the way with all of them; they never come here until they are dead broke, and have only a dirty dollar or so to risk." There was some truth in what he said, but notwithstanding he managed to keep the bank going on. There is a great temptation to a man who has won a sum of money at a small gambling house to go to a higher one, as he may then, at a single stake, win as much as he could possibly win if he had a run of luck in a dozen stakes at the smaller bank.

'In No. 102, in the Bowery, there is one of the lowest of the gaming houses I have seen in the Empire city. The proprietor is an Irishman; he employs three men as dealers, and they relieve one another every four hours during the day and night. The stakes here are of the lowest, and the people to be seen here of the roughest to be found in the city. The game is Faro, as elsewhere.

'In this place I met an old friend with whom I had served in the army of Northern Virginia, under General Lee, in his Virginia campaign of 1865. He told me he had been in New York since the end of the war, and lived a very uncertain sort of life. Whatever money he could earn he spent at the gaming table. Sometimes he had a run of luck, and whilst it lasted he dressed well, and stopped at the most expensive hotels. One night he would sleep at the Astor House; and perhaps the next night he would not be able to pay for his bed, and would stay all night in the parks. Strange to say, hundreds live in this way, which is vulgarly called "scratching" in New York. I afterwards saw my friend driving an omnibus; and when I could speak to him, I found that he was still attending the banks with every cent he earned!

'It is amusing to watch the proprietor of this place at the Bowery; he has a joke for every one he sees. "Hallo, old sport!" he cries, "come and try your luck—you look lucky this evening; and if you make a good run you may sport a gold watch and chain, and a velvet vest, like myself." Then to another, "Young clear-the-way, you look down at the mouth to-night! Come along and have a turn—and never mind your supper tonight." In this way the days and nights are passed in those gambling houses.'

There is also in New York an association for the prevention of gambling. The society employs detectives to visit the gambling saloons, and procure evidence for the suppression of the establishments.

It is the business of these agents also to ascertain the names and occupations of those who frequent the gambling rooms, and a list of the persons thus detected is sent periodically to the subscribers to the society, that they may know who are the persons wasting their money, or perhaps the money of their employers, in gambling. Many large houses of business subscribe.

In the month of August the society's agents detected among the gamblers 68 clerks of mercantile houses, and in the previous six months reported 623 cases. It is stated that there are in New York and Brooklyn 1017 policy and lottery offices, and 163 Faro banks, and that their net annual gains are not less than 36,000,000 dollars.


At American gambling houses 'it is very easy,' says the same writer, 'to distinguish the professional from the ordinary gambler. The latter has a nervous expression about the mouth, and an intense gaze upon the cards, and altogether a very serious nervous appearance; while the professional plays in a very quiet manner, and seems to care but little how the game goes; and his desire to appear as if the game was new to him is almost certain to expose him to those who know the manoeuvre.

'Previous to the struggle for independence in the South, there were many hundreds of gamblers scattered through the Southern towns, and the Mississippi steam-boats used to abound with them. In the South, a gambler was regarded as outside the pale of society, and classed with the slave-trader, who was looked upon with loathing by the very same men who traded with him; such was the inconsistency of public opinion.

'The American gambler differs from his European brethren in many respects. He is very frequently, in education, appearance, and manner, a gentleman, and if his private history were known, it would be found that he was of good birth, and was at one time possessed of considerable fortune; but having lost all at the gambling table, he gradually came down to the level of those who proved his ruin, and having no profession nor means of livelihood left to him, he adopted their mode of life.

'On one occasion I met a brother of a Southern General (very famous in the late war and still a wealthy man) who, at one time, was one of the richest planters in the State of Louisiana, and is now acting as an agent for a set of gamblers to their gaming houses. After losing everything he had, he became a croupier to a gambling house in New Orleans, and afterwards plied his trade on the Mississippi for some years; then he went into Mexico, and finally to New York, where he opened a house on his own account.

'During the war he speculated in "greenbacks," and lost all his ill-gotten gains, and had to descend to his present position.'(90)

(90) Ubi supra.


Draw Poker, or Bluff, is a favourite game with the Americans. It is played by any number of persons, from four to seven; four, five, or six players are preferred; seven are only engaged where a party of friends consists of that number, and all require to be equally amused.

The deal is usually determined by fixing on a card, and dealing round, face upwards, until such card appears. The dealer then places in the pool an Ante, or certain agreed-upon sum, and proceeds to deal to each person five cards. The player next to the dealer, before looking at his cards, has the option of staking a certain sum. This is called the 'blind,' and makes him the elder hand, or last player; and when his turn comes round he can, by giving up his first stake, withdraw from the game, or, if he pleases, by making good any sum staked by a previous player, raise the stakes to any sum he pleases, provided, of course, that no limit has been fixed before sitting down. The privilege of raising or doubling on the blind may be exercised by any one round the table, provided he has not looked at his cards. If no intervening player has met the original blind, that is, staked double the sum, this must be done by all who wish to play, and, of course, must be made good by the last player. Each person then looks at his cards, and decides on his plan of action. It should be understood that every one, except the blind, may look at his cards in his turn before deciding if he will meet the blind. Before speaking of the manner of drawing it will be better to give the relative value of the hands, which will much simplify the matter, and make it more easily understood. Thus: four aces are the best cards that can be held; four kings next, and so on, down to four twos; four cards of the same value beating anything except four of a higher denomination.

The next best hand is called a full, and is made up thus:—three aces and a pair of sixes; three nines and pair of twos; in fact, any three cards of the same value and a pair constitute a full hand, and can only be beaten by a full hand of a higher denomination or fours. The next hand that takes precedence is a flush, or five cards of one colour; after this comes threes, vis., three cards all of the same value, say, three aces, kings, queens, and so on, downwards (the two remaining, being odd ones, are of no value). The next is a sequence, as five following cards, for instance, nine, eight, seven, six, five; it is not necessary they should all be of one colour, as this, of course, would constitute a flush. Next come two pairs, say, two knaves and two fives; and, last of all, is a single pair of cards. Having explained the value of the hands, let us show how you endeavour to get them. The bets having been made, and the blind made good or abandoned, or given up, the dealer proceeds to ask each player in his turn how many cards he wants; and here begins the first study of the game—TO KNOW WHAT TO THROW AWAY in order to get in others to make the hand better if possible. Your hand may, of course, be so utterly bad as to make it necessary to throw away the whole five and draw five new ones; this is not very likely, as few players will put a stake in the pool unless, on looking first at his cards, he has seen something, say a pair, to start with. We will suppose he has this, and, of course, he throws away three cards, and draws three in place of them. To describe the proper way to fill up a hand is impossible; we can but give an instance here and there to show the varying interest which attaches to the game;—thus, you may have threes in the original hand dealt; some players will throw away the two odd cards and draw two more, to try and make the hand fours, or, at least, a full; while a player knowing that his is not a very good hand, will endeavour to DECEIVE the rest by standing out, that is, not taking any fresh cards; of course all round the table make remarks as to what he can possibly have.

It is usually taken to be a sequence, as this requires no drawing, if originally dealt. The same remark applies to a flush; two pairs or four to a flush, of course, require one card to make them into good hands, a player being only entitled to draw once; and the hands being made good, the real and exciting part of the game begins. Each one endeavours to keep his real position a secret from his neighbours. Some put on a look of calm indifference, and try to seem self-possessed; some will grin and talk all sorts of nonsense; some will utter sly bits of badinage; while others will study intently their cards, or gaze at the ceiling—all which is done merely to distract attention, or to conceal the feelings, as the chance of success or failure be for or against; and then begins the betting or gambling part of the game. The player next the blind is the first to declare his bet; in which, of course, he is entirely governed by circumstances. Some, being the first to bet, and having a very good card indeed, will 'bet small,' in hopes that some one else will see it, and 'go better,' that is, bet more, so that when it comes round to his turn again he may see all previous bets, and bet as much higher as he thinks proper; for it must be borne in mind that a player's first bet does not preclude him from coming in again if his first bet has been raised upon by any player round the table in his turn; but if once the original bet goes round and comes to the blind, or last player, without any one going better, the game is closed, and it becomes a show of hands, to see who takes the pool and all the bets. This does not often happen, as there is usually some one round the table to raise it; but my informant has seen it occur, and has been highly amused at watching the countenance of the expectant small better at having to show a fine hand for a mere trifle. Some players will, in order to conceal their method of play, occasionally throw their cards among the waste ones and abandon their stakes; this is not often done; but it sometimes happens where the stakes have been small, or the player has been trying a bluff, and has found some one whom he could not bluff off. The foregoing is a concise account of the game, as played in America, where it is of universal interest, and exercises great fascination. It is often played by parties of friends who meet regularly for the purpose, and instances can be found where fortunes have been lost in a night.

The game of Pokers differs from the one just described, in so far that the players receive only the original five cards dealt without drawing fresh ones, and must either play or refuse on them. In this game, as there are more cards, as many as ten persons can play.


Lansquenet is much played by the Americans, and is one of the most exciting games in vogue.

The dealer or banker stakes a certain sum, and this must be met by the nearest to the dealer first, and so on. When the stake is met, the dealer turns up two cards, one to the right,—the latter for himself, the former for the table or the players. He then keeps on turning up the cards until either of the cards is matched, which constitutes the winning,—as, for instance, suppose the five of diamonds is his card, then should the five of any other suit turn up, he wins. If he loses, then the next player on the left becomes banker and proceeds in the same way.

(91) This name is derived from the German 'landsknecht' ('valet of the fief'), applied to a mercenary soldier.

When the dealer's card turns up, he may take the stake and pass the bank; or he may allow the stake to remain, whereat of course it becomes doubled if met. He can continue thus as long as the cards turn up in his favour—having the option at any moment of giving up the bank and retiring for that time. If he does that, the player to whom he passes the bank has the option of continuing it at the same amount at which it was left. The pool may be made up by contributions of all the players in certain proportions. The terms used respecting the standing of the stake are, 'I'll see' (a moi le tout) and Je tiens. When jumelle (twins), or the turning up of similar cards on both sides, occurs, then the dealer takes half the stake.

Sometimes there is a run of several consecutive winnings; but on one occasion, on board one of the Cunard steamers, a banker at the game turned up in his own favour I think no less than eighteen times. The original stake was only six-pence; but had each stake been met as won, the final doubling would have amounted to the immense sum of L3,236 16s.! This will appear by the following scheme:—

L s. d. L s. d. 1st turn up 0 0 6 10th turn up 12 16 0 2nd,, 0 1 0 11th,, 25 12 0 3rd,, 0 2 0 12th,, 51 4 0 4th,, 0 4 0 13th,, 102 8 0 5th,, 0 8 0 14th,, 204 16 0 6th,, 0 16 0 15th,, 409 12 0 7th,, 1 12 0 16th,, 819 4 0 8th,, 3 4 0 17th,, 1,618 8 0 9th,, 6 8 0 18th,, 3,236 16 0

In fair play, as this is represented to have been, such a long sequence of matches must be considered very remarkable, although six or seven is not unfrequent.

Unfortunately, however, there is a very easy means by which card sharpers manage the thing to perfection. They prepare beforehand a series of a dozen cards arranged as follows:—

1st Queen 6th Nine 2nd Queen 7th Nine 3rd Ten 8th Ace 4th Seven 9th Eight 5th Ten 10th Ace

Series thus arranged are placed in side pockets outside the waistcoat, just under the left breast. When the sharper becomes banker he leans negligently over the table, and in this position his fingers are as close as possible to the prepared cards, termed portees. At the proper moment he seizes the cards and places them on the pack. The trick is rendered very easy by the fact that the card-sharper has his coat buttoned at the top, so that the lower part of it lies open and permits the introduction of the hand, which is completely masked.

Some sharpers are skilful enough to take up some of the matches already dealt, which they place in their costieres, or side-pockets above described, in readiness for their next operation; others keep them skilfully hidden in their hand, to lay them, at the convenient moment, upon the pack of cards. By this means, the pack is not augmented.(92)

(92) Robert Houdin, 'Les Tricheries des Grecs devoilees.'

In France the stakes commence at 5 francs; and it may be easily imagined how soon vast sums of money may change hands if the players are determined and reckless.


This is also a game much played in the States. I suppose it is a Yankee invention, named by one of their learned professors, from the Greek (gr euceis) (eucheir), meaning 'well in the hand' or 'strong'—a very appropriate designation of the game, which is as follows:—

In this game all the cards are excluded up to the sixes,—seven being the lowest in the Euchre pack. Five cards are dealt out, after the usual shuffling and cutting, with a turn-up, or trump. The dealer has the privilege of discarding one of his cards and taking up the trump—not showing, however, the one he discards. The Knave is the best card in the game—a peculiar Yankee 'notion.' The Knave of trumps is called the Right Bower, and the other Knave of the same colour is the Left Bower. Hence it appears that the nautical propensity of this great people is therein represented—'bower' being in fact a sheet anchor. If both are held, it is evident that the point of the deal is decided—since it results from taking three tricks out of the five; for, of course, the trump card appropriated by the dealer will, most probably, secure a trick, and the two Knaves must necessarily make two. The game may be five or seven points, as agreed upon. Euchre is rapid and decisive, and, therefore, eminently American.


Some of the games played by the Americans are peculiar to themselves. For instance, vast sums of money change hands over Fly Loo, or the attraction existing between lumps of sugar and adventurous flies! This game is not without its excitement. The gamblers sit round a table, each with a lump of sugar before him, and the player upon whose lump a fly first perches carries off the pool—which is sometimes enormous.

They tell an anecdote of a 'cute Yankee, who won invariably and immensely at the game. There seemed to be a sort of magical or mesmeric attraction for the flies to his lump. At length it was ascertained that he touched the lump with his finger, after having smeared it with something that naturally and irresistibly attracts flies whenever they can get at it. I am told that this game is also played in England; if so, the parties must insist upon fresh lumps of sugar, and prevent all touching.

The reader will probably ask—what next will gamblers think of betting on? But I can tell of a still more curious source of gambling infatuation. In the Oxford Magazine,(93) is the following statement:—

(93) Vol. V.

'A few days ago, as some sprigs of nobility were dining together at a tavern, they took the following conceit into their heads after dinner. One of them observing a maggot come from a filbert, which seemed to be uncommonly large, attempted to get it from his companion, who, not choosing to let it go, was immediately offered five guineas for it, which was accepted. He then proposed to run it against any other two maggots that could be produced at table. Matches were accordingly made, and these poor reptiles were the means of L500 being won and lost in a few minutes!'


Suicides, duels, and murders have frequently resulted from gambling here as elsewhere. Many of the duels in dark rooms originate in disputes at the gaming table. The combatants rush from play to an upper or adjoining room, and settle their difference with revolver-shots, often fatal to both.

One of these was a serio-comic affair which is perhaps worth relating. Two players had a gambling dispute, and resolved to settle it in a dark room with pistols. The door was locked and one of them fired, but missed. On this the other exclaimed—'Now, you rascal, I'll finish you at my leisure.' He then began to search for his opponent. Three or four times he walked stealthily round the room—but all in vain—he could not find his man; he listened; he could not hear him breathe. What had become of him? 'Oh!' at length he exclaimed—'Now I've got you, you —— sneak—here goes!' 'Hold! Hold!' cried a voice from the chimney, 'Don't fire! I'll pay you anything.—Do take away that —— pistol.' In effect his adversary held the muzzle of his pistol close to the seat of honour as the fellow stood stuffed up the chimney!

'You'll pay, will you?' said the former; 'Very well—800 dollars—is 't a bargain?'

'Yes, yes!' gasped the voice in the chimney.

'Very well,' rejoined the tormentor, 'but just wait a bit; I must have a voucher. I'll just cut off the bottom of your breeches by way of voucher.' So saying he pulled out his knife and suited the action to the words.

'Now get down,' he said, 'and out with the money;' which was paid, when the above-named voucher was returned to the chimney-groper.

The town of Vicksburg, on the Mississippi, was formerly notorious as the rendezvous of all sorts of desperadoes. It was a city of men; you saw no women, except at night; and never any children. Vicksburg was a sink of iniquity; and there gambling raged with unrestricted fury. It was always after touching at Vicksburg that the Mississippi boats became the well-known scene of gambling—some of the Vicksburghers invariably getting on board to ply their profession.

On one occasion, one of these came on board, and soon induced some of the passengers to proceed to the upper promenade-deck for gambling. Soon the stakes increased and a heap of gold was on the table, when a dispute arose, in the midst of which one of the players placed his hand on the stake. Thereupon the Vicksburg gambler drew his knife and plunged it into the hand of the former, with a terrible imprecation.

Throughout the Southern States, as before observed, gambling prevailed to a very great extent, and its results were often deplorable.

A planter went to a gambling house, accompanied by one of his negroes, whom he left at the door to wait his return. Whilst the master was gambling the slave did the same with another whom he found at the door. Meanwhile a Mexican came up and stood by looking at the game of the negroes. By-and-by one of them accused the other of cheating, which was denied, when the Mexican interposed and told the negro that he saw him cheat. The latter told the Mexican that he lied—whereupon the Mexican stabbed him to the heart, killing him on the spot.

Soon the negro's master came out, and on being informed of the affair, turned to the Mexican, saying—'Now, sir, we must settle the matter between us—my negro's quarrel is mine.' 'Agreed,' said the Mexican; they entered the house, proceeded to a dark room, fired at each other, and both were killed.

About six and twenty years ago there lived in New York a well-to-do merchant, of the name of Osborne, who had an only son, who was a partner in the concern. The young man fell in love with the daughter of a Southern planter, then on a visit at New York, to whom he engaged himself to be married, with the perfect consent of all parties concerned.

On the return of the planter and his daughter, young Osborne accompanied them to Mobile. On the very night of their arrival, the planter proposed to his intended son-in-law to visit the gaming table. They went; Osborne was unlucky; and after some hours' play lost an immense amount to the father of his sweetheart. He gave bills, drawn on his house, in payment of the debt of honour.

On the following morning the planter referred to the subject, hinting that Osborne must be ruined.

'Indeed, I am!' said the young man; 'but the possession of your daughter will console me for the calamity, which, I doubt not, I shall be able to make up for by industry and exertion.'

'The possession of MY daughter?' exclaimed the planter; 'do you think I would marry my daughter to a beggar? No, no, sir, the affair is ended between you—and I insist upon its being utterly broken off.' Such was the action of the heartless gambler, rendered callous to all sentiments of real honour by his debasing pursuit.

Young Osborne was equal to the occasion. Summoning all his powers to manfully bear this additional shock of fate, he calmly replied:—

'So be it, sir, as you wish it. Depend upon it, however, that my bills will be duly honoured'—and so saying he bowed and departed, without even wishing to take leave of his betrothed.

On returning to New York Osborne immediately disclosed the transaction to his father, who, in spite of the utter ruin which impended, and the brutality of the cause of the ruin, resolved to meet the bills when due, and maintain the honour of his son—whatever might be the consequences to himself.

The bills were paid; the concern was broken up; old Mr Osborne soon died broken-hearted; and young Osborne went as clerk to some house of business in Wall Street.

A year or so passed away, and one day a lady presented herself at the old house of Osborne—now no longer theirs—inquiring for young Osborne. She was directed to his new place of business; being no other than his betrothed, who loved him as passionately as ever, and to whom her father had accounted for the non-fulfilment of the engagement in a very unsatisfactory manner. Of course Osborne could not fail to be delighted at this proof of her devotedness; the meeting was most affectionate on both sides; and, with the view of coming to a decision respecting their future proceedings, they adjourned to an hotel in the vicinity. Here, whilst seated at a table and in earnest conversation, the young lady's father rushed in, and instantly shot down Osborne, who expired at his feet. With a frantic shriek the poor girl fell on the body of her betrothed, and finding a poniard or a knife concealed in his breast, she seized it, instantly plunged it into her heart, and was soon a corpse beside her lover.


The passions of the two sexes are similar in the main; the distinctions between them result less from nature than from education. Often we meet with women, especially the literary sort, who seem veritable men, if not so, as the lawyers say, 'to all intents and purposes;' and often we meet with men, especially town-dandies, who can only be compared to very ordinary women.

Almost all the ancients had the bad taste to speak ill of women; among the rest even that delightful old Father 'of the golden mouth,' St Chrysostom.(94) So that, evidently, Dr Johnson's fierce dictum cannot apply universally—'Only scoundrels speak ill of women.'

(94) Hom. II.

Seneca took the part of women, exclaiming:—'By no means believe that their souls are inferior to ours, or that they are less endowed with the virtues. As for honour, it is equally great and energetic among them.'

A foreign lady was surprised at beholding the equality established between the men and women at Sparta; whereupon the wife of Leonidas, the King of Sparta, said to her:—'Do you not know that it is we who bring forth the men? It is not the fathers, but the mothers, that effectually form the heart.'

Napoleon seems to have formed what may be called a professional estimate of women. When the demonstrative Madame de Stael asked him—evidently expecting him to pay her a compliment—'Whom do you think the greatest woman dead or alive?' Napoleon replied, 'Her, Madame, WHO HAS BORNE MOST SONS.' Nettled by this sarcastic reply, she returned to the charge, observing, 'It is said you are not friendly to the sex.' Napoleon was her match again; 'Madame,' he exclaimed, 'I am passionately fond of my wife;' and off he walked. Assuredly it would not mend matters in this world (or the next) if all men were Napoleons and all women de Staels.

If we consider the question in other points of view, have there been, proportionally, fewer celebrated women than illustrious men? fewer great queens than truly great kings? Compare, on all sides, the means and the circumstances; count the reigns, and decide.

The fact is that this question has been argued only by tyrannical or very silly men, who found it difficult to get rid of the absurd prejudices which retain the finest half of human nature in slavery, and condemn it to obscurity under the pretext that it is essentially corrupted. Towards the end of the 15th century a certain demented writer attempted to prove that women do not even deserve the title of reasonable creatures, which in the original sounds oddly enough, namely, probare nititur mulieres non homines esse. Another, a very learned Jesuit, endeavoured to demonstrate that women have no souls! Some say that women surpass us in wickedness; others, that they are both worse and better than men.

That morbid wretch, Alexander Pope, said, 'Every woman is at heart a rake;' and a recent writer in the Times puts more venom in the dictum by saying, 'Every woman is (or likes) at heart a rake.' Both these opinions may be set down as mere claptrap, witty, but vile.

But a truce to such insults against those who beautify the earth; THEIR vices cannot excuse ours. It is we who have depraved them by associating them with excesses which are repugnant to their delicacy. The contagion, however, has not affected all of them. Among our 'plebeians,' and even among nobility, many women remind us of the modesty and courage of those ancient republican matrons, who, so to speak, founded, the manners and morals of their country; and among all classes of the community there are thousands who inspire their husbands with generous impulses in the battle of life, either by cheering words of comfort, or by that mute eloquence of duties well fulfilled, which nothing can resist if we are worthy of the name of men. How many a gambler has been reformed by the tender appeals of a good and devoted wife. 'Venerable women!' one of them exclaims, 'in whatever rank Heaven has placed you, receive my homage.' The gentleness of your souls smooths down the roughness of ours and checks its violence. Without your virtues what would we be? Without YOU, my dear wife, what would have become of me? You beheld the beginning and the end of the gaming fury in me, which I now detest; and it is not to me, but to you alone, that the victory must be ascribed.'(95)

(95) Dusaulx, De la Passion du Jeu.

A very pretty anecdote is told of such a wife and a gaming husband.

In order to simplify the signs of loss and gain, so as not to be overburdened with the weight of gold and silver, the French players used to carry the representation of their fortunes in small boxes, more or less elegant. A lady (who else could have thought of such a device?), trembling for the fate of her husband, made him a present of one of these dread boxes. This little master-piece of conjugal and maternal affection represented a wife in the attitude of supplication, and weeping children, seeming to say to their father—THINK OF US!....

It is, therefore, only with the view of avenging good and honourable women, that I now proceed to speak of those who have disgraced their sex.

I have already described a remarkable gamestress—the Persian Queen Parysatis.(96)

(96) Chapter III.

There were no gamestresses among the Greeks; and the Roman women were always too much occupied with their domestic affairs to find time for play. What will our modern ladies think, when I state that the Emperor Augustus scarcely wore a garment which had not been woven by his wife, his sister, or grand-daughters.(97)

(97) Veste non temere alia quam domestica usus est, ab uxore et filia nepotibusque confecta. Suet. in Vita Augusti.

Although deeply corrupted under Nero and the sovereigns that resembled him, the Roman women never gambled among themselves except during the celebration of the festival of the Bona Dea. This ceremonial, so often profaned with licentiousness, was not attended by desperate gambling. The most depraved women abstained from it, even when that mania was at its height, not only around the Capitol, but even in the remainder of the Empire.

Contemporary authors, who have not spared the Roman ladies, never reproached them with this vice, which, in modern times, has been desperately practised by women who in licentiousness vied with Messalina.

In France, women who wished to gamble were, at first, obliged to keep the thing secret; for if it became known they lost caste. In the reign of Louis XIV., and still more in that of Louis XV., they became bolder, and the wives of the great engaged in the deepest play in their mansions; but still a gamestress was always denounced with horror. 'Such women,' says La Bruyiere, 'make us chaste; they have nothing of the sex but its garments.'

By the end of the 18th century, gamestresses became so numerous that they excited no surprise, especially among the higher classes; and the majority of them were notorious for unfair play or downright cheating. A stranger once betted on the game of a lady at a gaming-table, who claimed a stake although on a losing card. Out of consideration for the distinguished trickstress, the banker wished to pay the stranger as well; but the latter with a blush, exclaimed—'Possibly madame won, but as for myself, I am quite sure that I lost.'

But if women cheated at play, they also frequently lost; and were often reduced to beggary, or to what is far viler, to sacrifice, not only their own honour, but that of their daughters.

Gaming sometimes led to other crimes. The Countess of Schwiechelt, a young and beautiful lady from Hanover, was much given to gambling, and lost 50,000 livres at Paris. In order to repair this great loss, she planned and executed the robbery of a fine coronet of emeralds, the property of Madame Demidoff. She had made herself acquainted with the place where it was kept, and at a ball given by its owner the Hanoverian lady contrived to purloin it. Her youth and rank in life induced many persons to solicit her pardon; but Buonaparte left her to the punishment to which she was condemned. This occurred in 1804.

In England, too, the practice of gambling was fraught with the worst consequences to the finest feelings and best qualities of the sex. The chief danger is very plainly hinted at in the comedy of The Provoked Husband.

Lord Townley.—'Tis not your ill hours that always distract me, but, as often, the ill company that occasions those hours.

Lady Townley.—Sure I don't understand you now, my lord. What ill company do I keep?

Lord Townley.—Why, at best, women that lose their money, and men that win it; or, perhaps, men that are voluntary bubbles at one game, in hopes a lady will give them fair play at another.

'The facts,' says Mr Massey,(98) 'confirm the theory. Walpole's Letters and Mr Jesse's volumes on George Selwyn and his Contemporaries, teem with allusions to proved or understood cases of matrimonial infidelity; and the manner in which notorious irregularities were brazened out, shows that the offenders did not always encounter the universal reprobation of society.

(98) History of England, ii.

'Whist was not much in vogue until a later period, and was far too abstruse and slow to suit the depraved taste which required unadulterated stimulants.'

The ordinary stakes at these mixed assemblies would, at the present day, be considered high, even at the clubs where a rubber is still allowed.

'The consequences of such gaming were often still more lamentable than those which usually attended such practices. It would happen that a lady lost more than she could venture to confess to her husband or father. Her creditor was probably a fine gentleman, or she became indebted to some rich admirer for the means of discharging her liabilities. In either event, the result may be guessed. In the one case, the debt of honour was liquidated on the old principle of the law-merchant, according to which there was but one alternative to payment in purse. In the other, there was likewise but one mode in which the acknowledgment of obligation by a fine woman would be acceptable to a man of the world.'

'The pernicious consequences of gambling to the nation at large,' says another writer, 'would have been intolerable enough had they been confined to the stronger sex; but, unfortunately, the women of the day were equally carried away by this criminal infatuation. The disgusting influence of this sordid vice was so disastrous to female minds, that they lost their fairest distinction and privileges, together with the blushing honours of modesty. Their high gaming was necessarily accompanied with great losses. If all their resources, regular and irregular, honest and fraudulent, were dissipated, still, GAME-DEBTS MUST BE PAID! The cunning winner was no stranger to the necessities of the case. He hinted at commutations—which were not to be refused.

"So tender these,—if debts crowd fast upon her, She'll pawn her VIRTUE to preserve her HONOUR!"

Thus, the last invaluable jewel of female possession was unavoidably resigned. That was indeed the forest of all evils, but an evil to which every deep gamestress was inevitably exposed.'

Hogarth strikingly illustrated this phase of womanhood in England, in his small picture painted for the Earl of Charlemont, and entitled 'Picquet, or Virtue in Danger.' It shows a young lady, who, during a tete-a-tete, had just lost all her money to a handsome officer of her own age. He is represented in the act of returning her a handful of bank-bills, with the hope of exchanging them for another acquisition and more delicate plunder. On the chimney-piece are a watch-case and a figure of Time, over it this motto—Nunc, 'Now!' Hogarth has caught his heroine during this moment of hesitation—this struggle with herself—and has expressed her feelings with uncommon success.

But, indeed, the thing was perfectly understood. In the Guardian (No. 120) we read:—'All play-debts must be paid in specie or by equivalent. The "man" that plays beyond his income pawns his estate; the "woman" must find out something else to mortgage when her pin-money is gone. The husband has his lands to dispose of; the wife her person. Now when the female body is once dipped, if the creditor be very importunate, I leave my reader to consider the consequences.'....

A lady was married when very young to a noble lord, the honour and ornament of his country, who hoped to preserve her from the contagion of the times by his own example, and, to say the truth, she had every good quality that could recommend her to the bosom of a man of discernment and worth. But, alas! how frail and short are the joys of mortals! One unfortunate hour ruined his darling visionary scheme of happiness: she was introduced to an infamous woman, was drawn into play, liked it, and, as the unavoidable consequence, she was ruined,—having lost more in one night than would have maintained a hundred useful families for a twelvemonth; and, dismal to tell, she felt compelled to sacrifice her virtue to the wretch who had won her money, in order to recover the loss! From this moment she might well exclaim—

'Farewell the tranquil mind! farewell content!'

The affectionate wife, the agreeable companion, the indulgent mistress, were now no more. In vain she flattered herself that the injury she had done her husband would for ever remain one of those secrets which can only be disclosed at the last day. Vengeance pursued her steps, she was lost; the villain to whom she had sacrificed herself boasted of the favours he had received. The fatal report was conveyed to her injured husband. He refused to believe what he thought impossible, but honour obliged him to call the boaster to the field. The wretch received the challenge with much more contentment than concern; as he had resolution enough to murder any man whom he had injured, so he was certain, if he had the good fortune to conquer his antagonist, he should be looked upon as the head of all modern bucks and bloods—esteemed by the men as a brave fellow, and admired by the ladies as a fine gentleman and an agreeable rake. The meeting took place—the profligate gambler not content with declaring, actually exulted in his guilt. But his triumph was of short date—a bullet through the head settled his account with this world.

The husband, after a long conflict in his bosom, between justice and mercy, tenderness and rage, resolved—on what is very seldom practised by an English husband—to pardon his wife, conceal her crime, and preserve her, if possible, from utter destruction. But the gates of mercy were opened in vain—the offender refused to receive forgiveness because she had offended. The lust of gambling had absorbed all her other desires. She gave herself up entirely to the infamous pursuit and its concomitants, whilst her husband sank by a quick decay, and died the victim of grief and anguish.(99)

(99) Doings in London.

Of other English gamestresses, however, nothing but the ordinary success or inconveniences of gambling are recorded. In the year 1776, a lady at the West End lost one night, at a sitting, 3000 guineas at Loo.(100) Again, a lady having won a rubber of 20 guineas from a city merchant, the latter pulled out his pocket-book, and tendered L21 in bank notes. The fair gamestress, with a disdainful toss of the head, observed—'In the great houses which I frequent, sir, we always use gold.' 'That may be, madam,' said the gentleman, 'but, in the LITTLE houses which I frequent, we always use paper.'

(100) Annual Register.

Goldsmith mentions an old lady in the country who, having been given over by her physician, played with the curate of the parish to pass the time away. Having won all his money, she next proposed playing for the funeral charges to which she would be liable. Unfortunately, the lady expired just as she had taken up the game!

A lady who was desperately fond of play was confessing herself. The priest represented, among other arguments against gaming, the great loss of time it occasioned. 'Ah!' said the lady, 'that is what vexes me—so much time lost in shuffling the cards!'

The celebrated Mrs Crewe seems to have been fond of gaming. Charles James Fox ranked among her admirers. A gentleman lost a considerable sum to this lady at play; and being obliged to leave town suddenly, he gave Fox the money to pay her, begging him to apologize to the lady for his not having paid the debt of honour in person. Fox unfortunately lost every shilling of it before morning. Mrs Crewe often met the supposed debtor afterwards, and, surprised that he never noticed the circumstance, at length delicately hinted the matter to him. 'Bless me,' said he, 'I paid the money to Mr Fox three months ago!' 'Oh, you did, sir?' said Mrs Crewe good-naturedly, 'then probably he paid me and I forgot it.'

This famous Mrs Crewe was the wife of Mr Crewe, who was created, in 1806, Lord Crewe. She was as remarkable for her accomplishments and her worth as for her beauty; nevertheless she permitted the admiration of the profligate Fox, who was in the rank of her admirers, and she was a gamestress, as were most of the grand ladies in those days. The lines Fox wrote on her were not exaggerated. They began thus:—

'Where the loveliest expression to features is join'd, By Nature's most delicate pencil design'd; Where blushes unhidden, and smiles without art, Speak the softness and feeling that dwell in the heart, Where in manners enchanting no blemish we trace, But the soul keeps the promise we had from the face; Sure philosophy, reason, and coldness must prove Defences unequal to shield us from love.'

'Nearly eight years after the famous election at Westminster, when she personally canvassed for Fox, Mrs Crewe was still in perfection, with a son one-and-twenty, who looked like her brother. The form of her face was exquisitely lovely, her complexion radiant. "I know not," Miss Burney writes, "any female in her first youth who could bear the comparison. She uglifies every one near her."

'This charming partisan of Fox had been active in his cause; and her originality of character, her good-humour, her recklessness of consequences, made her a capital canvasser.'(101)

(101) Wharton, The Queens of Society.


In 1776 the barrow-women of London used generally to carry dice with them, and children were induced to throw for fruit and nuts.

However, the pernicious consequences of the practice beginning to be felt, the Lord Mayor issued an order to apprehend all such offenders, which speedily put an end to such street-gambling. At the present day a sort of roulette is used for the same purpose by the itinerant caterers to the sweetmeat and fruit-loving little ones.


Mrs Trollope has described two specimens of the modern gamestresses at the German watering-places, one of whom seems to have specially attracted her notice:—

'There was one of this set,' she says, 'whom I watched, day after day, during the whole period of our stay, with more interest than, I believe, was reasonable; for had I studied any other as attentively I might have found less to lament.

'She was young—certainly not more than twenty-five—and, though not regularly nor brilliantly handsome, most singularly winning both in person and demeanour. Her dress was elegant, but peculiarly plain and simple,—a close white silk bonnet and gauze veil; a quiet-coloured silk gown, with less of flourish and frill, by half, than any other person; a delicate little hand which, when ungloved, displayed some handsome rings; a jewelled watch, of peculiar splendour; and a countenance expressive of anxious thoughtfulness—must be remembered by many who were at Baden in August, 1833. They must remember, too, that, enter the rooms when they would, morning, noon, or night, still they found her nearly at the same place at the Rouge et Noir table.

'Her husband, who had as unquestionably the air of a gentleman as she had of a lady, though not always close to her, was never very distant. He did not play himself, and I fancied, as he hovered near her, that his countenance expressed anxiety. But he returned her sweet smile, with which she always met his eye, with an answering smile; and I saw not the slightest indication that he wished to withdraw her from the table.

'There was an expression in the upper part of her face that my blundering science would have construed into something very foreign to the propensity she showed; but there she sat, hour after hour, day after day, not even allowing the blessed sabbath, that gives rest to all, to bring it to her;—there she sat, constantly throwing down handfuls of five-franc pieces, and sometimes drawing them back again, till her young face grew rigid from weariness, and all the lustre of her eye faded into a glare of vexed inanity. Alas! alas! is that fair woman a mother? God forbid!

'Another figure at the gaming table, which daily drew our attention, was a pale, anxious old woman, who seemed no longer to have strength to conceal her eager agitation under the air of callous indifference, which all practised players endeavour to assume. She trembled, till her shaking hand could hardly grasp the instrument with which she pushed or withdrew her pieces; the dew of agony stood upon her wrinkled brow; yet, hour after hour, and day after day, she too sat in the enchanted chair. I never saw age and station in a position so utterly beyond the pale of respect. I was assured she was a person of rank; and my informant added, but I trust she was mistaken, that she was an ENGLISH woman.'(102)

(102) Belgium and Western Germany, in 1833.


There is no doubt that during the last half of the last century many titled ladies not only gambled, but kept gaming houses. There is even evidence that one of them actually appealed to the House of Lords for protection against the intrusion of the peace officers into her establishment in Covent Garden, on the plea of her Peerage! All this is proved by a curious record found in the Journals of the House of Lords, by the editor of the Athenaeum. It is as follows:—

'Die Lunae, 29 Aprilis, 1745.—Gaming. A Bill for preventing the excessive and deceitful use of it having been brought from the Commons, and proceeded on so far as to be agreed to in a Committee of the whole House with amendments,—information was given to the House that Mr Burdus, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for the city and liberty of Westminster, Sir Thomas de Veil, and Mr Lane, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for the county of Middlesex, were at the door; they were called in, and at the Bar severally gave an account that claims of privilege of Peerage were made and insisted on by the Ladies Mordington and Casselis, in order to intimidate the peace officers from doing their duty in suppressing the public gaming houses kept by the said ladies. And the said Burdus thereupon delivered in an instrument in writing under the hand of the said Lady Mordington, containing the claim she made of privilege for her officers and servants employed by her in her said gaming house. And then they were directed to withdraw. And the said instrument was read as follows:—"I, Dame Mary, Baroness of Mordington, do hold a house in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, for and as an Assembly, where all persons of credit are at liberty to frequent and play at such diversions as are used at other Assemblys. And I have hired Joseph Dewberry, William Horsely, Ham Cropper, and George Sanders as my servants or managers (under me) thereof. I have given them orders to direct the management of the other inferior servants (namely): John Bright, Richard Davis, John Hill, John Vandenvoren, as box-keepers,—Gilbert Richardson, housekeeper, John Chaplain, regulator, William Stanley and Henry Huggins, servants that wait on the company at the said Assembly, William Penny and Joseph Penny as porters thereof. And all the above-mentioned persons I claim as my domestick servants, and demand all those privileges that belong to me as a peeress of Great Britain appertaining to my said Assembly. M. MORDINGTON. Dated 8th Jan., 1744."

'Resolved and declared that no person is entitled to privilege of Peerage against any prosecution or proceeding for keeping any public or common gaming house, or any house, room, or place for playing at any game or games prohibited by any law now in force.'

That such practice continued in vogue is evident from the police proceedings subsequently taken against


This notorious gamestress of St James's Square, at the close of the last century, actually slept with a blunderbuss and a pair of pistols at her side, to protect her Faro bank.

On the 11th of March, 1797, her Ladyship, together with Lady E. Lutterell and a Mrs Sturt, were convicted at the Marlborough Street Police-court, in the penalty of L50, for playing at the game of Faro; and Henry Martindale was convicted in the sum of L200, for keeping the Faro table at Lady Buckinghamshire's. The witnesses had been servants of her Ladyship, recently discharged on account of a late extraordinary loss of 500 guineas from her Ladyship's house, belonging to the Faro bank.(103)

(103) The case is reported in the Times of March 13th, 1797. One cannot help being struck with the appearance of the Times newspaper at that period—70 years ago. It was printed on one small sheet, about equal to a single page of the present issue, and contained four pages, two of which were advertisements, while the others gave only a short summary of news—no leader at all.

In the same year, the croupier at the Countess of Buckinghamshire's one night announced the unaccountable disappearance of the cash-box of the Faro bank. All eyes were turned towards her Ladyship. Mrs Concannon said she once lost a gold snuff-box from the table, while she went to speak to Lord C—. Another lady said she lost her purse there last winter. And a story was told that a certain lady had taken, BY MISTAKE, a cloak which did not belong to her, at a rout given by the Countess of ——. Unfortunately a discovery of the cloak was made, and when the servant knocked at the door to demand it, some very valuable lace which it was trimmed with had been taken off. Some surmised that the lady who stole the cloak might also have stolen the Faro bank cash-box.

Soon after, the same Martindale, who had kept the Faro bank at Lady Buckinghamshire's, became a bankrupt, and his debts amounted to L328,000, besides 'debts of honour,' which were struck off to the amount of L150,000. His failure is said to have been owing to misplaced confidence in a subordinate, who robbed him of thousands. The first suspicion was occasioned by his purchasing an estate of L500 a year; but other purchases followed to a considerable extent; and it was soon discovered that the Faro bank had been robbed sometimes of 2000 guineas a week! On the 14th of April, 1798, other arrears, to a large amount, were submitted to, and rejected by, the Commissioners in Bankruptcy, who declared a first dividend of one shilling and five-pence in the pound.(104)

(104) Seymour Harcourt, Gaming Calendar.

This chapter cannot be better concluded than with quoting the Epilogue of 'The Oxonian in Town,' 1767, humorously painting some of the mischiefs of gambling, and expressly addressed to the ladies:—

'Lo! next, to my prophetic eye there starts A beauteous gamestress in the Queen of Hearts. The cards are dealt, the fatal pool is lost, And all her golden hopes for ever cross'd. Yet still this card-devoted fair I view—Whate'er her luck, to "honour" ever true. So tender there,—if debts crowd fast upon her, She'll pawn her "virtue" to preserve her "honour." Thrice happy were my art, could I foretell, Cards would be soon abjured by every belle! Yet, I pronounce, who cherish still the vice, And the pale vigils keep of cards and dice—'Twill in their charms sad havoc make, ye fair! Which "rouge" in vain shall labour to repair. Beauties will grow mere hags, toasts wither'd jades, Frightful and ugly as—the QUEEN OF SPADES.'


Perhaps the stern moralist who may have turned over these pages has frowned at the facts of the preceding chapter. If so, I know not what he will do at those which I am about to record.

If it may be said that gamesters must be madmen, or rogues, how has it come to pass that men of genius, talent, and virtue withal, have been gamesters?

Men of genius, 'gifted men,' as they are called, are much to be pitied. One of them has said—'Oh! if my pillow could reveal my sufferings last night!' His was true grief—for it had no witness.(105) The endowments of this nature of ours are so strangely mixed—the events of our lives are so unexpectedly ruled, that one might almost prefer to have been fashioned after those imaginary beings who act so CONSISTENTLY in the nursery tales and other figments. Most men seem to have a double soul; and in your men of genius—your celebrities—the battle between the two seems like the tremendous conflict so grandly (and horribly) described by Milton. Who loved his country more than Cato? Who cared more for his country's honour? And yet Cato was not only unable to resist the soft impeachments of alcohol—

Narratur et prisci Catonis Saepe mero caluisse virtus—

but he was also a dice-player, a gambler.(106)

(105) Ille dolet vere qui sine teste dolet. Martial, lib. I.

(106) Plutarch, Cato.

Julius Caesar did not drink; but what a profligate he was! And I have no doubt that he was a gambler: it is certain that he got rid of millions nobody knew how.

I believe, however, that the following is an undeniable fact. You may find suspicious gamesters in every rank of life, but among men of genius you will generally, if not always, find only victims resigned to the caprices of fortune. The professions which imply the greatest enthusiasm naturally furnish the greater number of gamesters. Thus, perhaps, we may name ten poet-gamesters to one savant or philosopher who deserved the title or infamy.

Coquillart, a poet of the 15th century, famous for his satirical verses against women, died of grief after having ruined himself by gaming. The great painter Guido—and a painter is certainly a poet—was another example. By nature gentle and honourable, he might have been the most fortunate of men if the demon of gambling had not poisoned his existence, the end of which was truly wretched.

Rotrou, the acknowledged master of Corneille, hurried his poetical effusions in order to raise money for gambling. This man of genius was but a spoilt child in the matter of play. He once received two or three hundred louis, and mistrusting himself, went and hid them under some vine-branches, in order not to gamble all away at once. Vain precaution! On the following night his bag was empty.

The poet Voiture was the delight of his contemporaries, conspicuous as he was for the most exquisite polish and inexhaustible wit; but he was also one of the most desperate gamesters of his time. Like Rotrou, he mistrusted his folly, and sometimes refrained. 'I have discovered,' he once wrote to a friend, 'as well as Aristotle, that there is no beatitude in play; and in fact I have given over gambling; it is now seven months since I played—which is very important news, and which I forgot to tell you.' He would have died rich had he always refrained. His relapses were terrible; one night he lost fifteen hundred pistoles (about L750).

The list of foreign poets ruined by gambling might be extended; whilst, on the other hand, it is impossible, I believe, to quote a single instance of the kind among the poets of England,—perhaps because very few of them had anything to lose. The reader will probably remember Dr Johnson's exclamation on hearing of the large debt left unpaid by poor Goldsmith at his death—'Was ever poet so trusted before!'...

The great philosophers Montaigne and Descartes, seduced at an early age by the allurements of gambling, managed at length to overcome the evil, presenting examples of reformation—which proves that this mania is not absolutely incurable. Descartes became a gamester in his seventeenth year; but it is said that the combinations of cards, or the doctrine of probabilities, interested him more than his winnings.(107)

(107) Hist. des Philos. Modernes: Descartes.

The celebrated Cardan, one of the most universal and most eccentric geniuses of his age, declares in his autobiography, that the rage for gambling long entailed upon him the loss of reputation and fortune, and that it retarded his progress in the sciences. 'Nothing,' says he, 'could justify me, unless it was that my love of gaming was less than my horror of privation.' A very bad excuse, indeed; but Cardan reformed and ceased to be a gambler.

Three of the greatest geniuses of England—Lords Halifax, Anglesey, and Shaftesbury—were gamblers; and Locke tells a very funny story about one of their gambling bouts. This philosopher, who neglected nothing, however eccentric, that had any relation to the working of the human understanding, happened to be present while my Lords Halifax, Anglesey, and Shaftesbury were playing, and had the patience to write down, word for word, all their discordant utterances during the phases of the game; the result being a dialogue of speakers who only used exclamations—all talking in chorus, but more to themselves than to each other. Lord Anglesey observing Locke's occupation, asked him what he was writing. 'My Lord,' replied Locke, 'I am anxious not to lose anything you utter.' This irony made them all blush, and put an end to the game.

M. Sallo, Counsellor to the Parliament of Paris, died, says Vigneul de Marville, of a disease to which the children of the Muses are rarely subject, and for which we find no remedy in Hippocrates and Galen;—he died of a lingering disease after having lost 100,000 crowns at the gaming table—all he possessed.

By way of diversion to his cankering grief, he started the well-known Journal des Savans, but lived to write only 13 sheets of it, for he was wounded to the death.(108)

(108) Melanges, d'Hist. et de Litt. i.

The physician Paschasius Justus was a deplorable instance of an incorrigible gambler. This otherwise most excellent and learned man having passed three-fourths of his life in a continual struggle with vice, at length resolved to cure himself of the disease by occupying his mind with a work which might be useful to his contemporaries and posterity.(109) He began his book, but still he gamed; he finished it, but the evil was still in him. 'I have lost everything but God!' he exclaimed. He prayed for delivery from his soul's disease;(110) but his prayer was not heard; he died like any gambler—more wretched than reformed.

(109) 'De Alea, sive de curanda in pecuniam cupiditate,' pub. in 1560.

(110) Illum animi morbum, ut Deus tolleret, serio et frequenter optavit.

M. Dusaulx, author of a work on Gaming, exclaims therein—'I have gambled like you, Paschasius, perhaps with greater fury. Like you I write against gaming. Can I say that I am stronger than you, in more critical circumstances?'(111)

(111) La Passion du Jeu.

What, then, is that mania which can be overcome neither by the love of glory nor the study of wisdom!

The literary men of Greece and Rome rarely played any games but those of skill, such as tennis, backgammon, and chess; and even in these it was considered 'indecent' to appear too skilful. Cicero stigmatizes two of his contemporaries for taking too great a delight in such games, on account of their skill in playing them.(112)

(112) Ast alii, quia praeclare faciunt, vehementius quam causa postulat delectantur, ut Titius pila, Brulla talis. De Orat. lib. iii.

Quinctilian advised his pupils to avoid all sterile amusements, which, he said, were only the resource of the ignorant.

In after-times men of merit, such as John Huss and Cardinal Cajetan, bewailed both the time lost in the most innocent games, and the disastrous passions which are thereby excited. Montaigne calls chess a stupid and childish game. 'I hate and shun it,' he says, 'because it occupies one too seriously; I am ashamed of giving it the attention which would be sufficient for some useful purpose.' King James I., the British Solomon, forbade chess to his son, in the famous book of royal instruction which he wrote for him.

As to the plea of 'filling up time,' Addison has made some very pertinent observations:—'Whether any kind of gaming has ever thus much to say for itself, I shall not determine; but I think it is very wonderful to see persons of the best sense passing away a dozen hours together in shuffling and dividing a pack of cards, with no other conversation but what is made up of a few game-phrases, and no other ideas but those of black or red spots ranged together in different figures. Would not a man laugh to hear any one of his species complaining that life is short?'

Men of intellect may rest assured that whether they win or lose at play, it will always be at the cost of their genius; the soul cannot support two passions together. The passion of play, although fatigued, is never satiated, and therefore it always leaves behind protracted agitation. The famous Roman lawyer Scaevola suffered from playing at backgammon; his head was always affected by it, especially when he lost the game, in fact, it seemed to craze him. One day he returned expressly from the country merely to try and convince his opponent in a game which he had lost, that if he had played otherwise he would have won! It seems that on his journey home he mentally went through the game again, detected his mistake, and could not rest until he went back and got his adversary to admit the fact—for the sake of his amour propre.(113)

(113) Quinctil., Instit. Orat. lib. XI. cap. ii.

'It is rare,' says Rousseau, 'that thinkers take much delight in play, which suspends the habit of thinking or diverts it upon sterile combinations; and so one of the benefits—perhaps the only benefit conferred by the taste for the sciences, is that it somewhat deadens that sordid passion of play.'

Unfortunately such was not the result among the literary and scientific men, in France or England, during the last quarter of the last century. Many of them bitterly lamented that they ever played, and yet played on,—going through all the grades and degradations appointed for his votaries by the inexorable demon of gambling.


Nature had by no means formed Nash for beau. His person was clumsy, large, and awkward; his features were harsh, strong, and peculiarly irregular; yet even with these disadvantages he made love, became an universal admirer of the sex, and was in his turn universally admired. The fact is, he was possessed of, at least, some requisites of a 'lover.' He had assiduity, flattery, fine clothes—and as much wit as the ladies he addressed. Accordingly he used to say—'Wit, flattery, and fine clothes are enough to debauch a nunnery!' This is certainly a fouler calumny of women than Pope's

    'Every woman is at heart a rake.'

Beau Nash was a barrister, and had been a remarkable, a distinguished one in his day—although not at the bar. He had the honour to organize and direct the last grand 'revel and pageant' before a king, in the Hall of the Middle Temple, of which he was a member.

It had long been customary for the Inns of Court to entertain our monarchs upon their accession to the crown with a revel and pageant, and the last was exhibited in honour of King William, when Nash was chosen to conduct the whole with proper decorum. He was then a very young man, but succeeded so well in giving satisfaction, that the king offered to give him the honour of knighthood, which, however, Nash declined, saying:—'Please your Majesty, if you intend to make me a knight, I wish it may be one of your poor knights of Windsor; and then I shall have a fortune at least able to support my title.'

In the Middle Temple he managed to rise 'to the very summit of second-rate luxury,' and seems to have succeeded in becoming a fashionable recherche, being always one of those who were called good company—a professed dandy among the elegants.

No wonder, then, that we subsequently find him Master of the Ceremonies at Bath, then the theatre of summer amusements for all people of fashion. It was here that he took to gambling, and was at first classed among the needy adventurers who went to that place; there was, however, the great difference between him and them, that his heart was not corrupt; and though by profession a gamester, he was generous, humane, and honourable.

When he gave in his accounts to the Masters of the Temple, among other items he charged was one—'For making one man happy, L10.' Being questioned about the meaning of so strange an item, he frankly declared that, happening to overhear a poor man declare to his wife and large family of children that L10 would make him happy, he could not avoid trying the experiment. He added, that, if they did not choose to acquiesce in his charge, he was ready to refund the money. The Masters, struck with such an uncommon instance of good nature, publicly thanked him for his benevolence, and desired that the sum might be doubled as a proof of their satisfaction.

'His laws were so strictly enforced that he was styled "King of Bath:" no rank would protect the offender, nor dignity of station condone a breach of the laws. Nash desired the Duchess of Queensberry, who appeared at a dress ball in an apron of point-lace, said to be worth 500 guineas, to take it off, which she did, at the same time desiring his acceptance of it; and when the Princess Amelia requested to have one dance more after 11 o'clock, Nash replied that the laws of Bath, like those of Lycurgus, were unalterable. Gaming ran high at Bath, and frequently led to disputes and resort to the sword, then generally worn by well-dressed men. Swords were, therefore, prohibited by Nash in the public rooms; still they were worn in the streets, when Nash, in consequence of a duel fought by torchlight, by two notorious gamesters, made the law absolute, "That no swords should, on any account, be worn in Bath."'(114)

(114) The Book of Days, Feb. 3.

About the year 1739 the gamblers, in order to evade the laws against gaming, set up E O tables; and as these proved very profitable to the proprietors at Tunbridge, Nash determined to introduce them at Bath, having been assured by the lawyers that no law existed against them. He therefore set up an E O table, and the speculation flourished for a short time; but the legislature interfered in 1745, and inflicted severe penalties on the keepers of such tables. This was the ruin of Nash's gambling speculation; and for the remaining sixteen years of his life he depended solely on the precarious products of the gaming table. He died at Bath, in 1761, in greatly reduced circumstances, being represented as 'poor, old, and peevish, yet still incapable of turning from his former manner of life.'

'He was buried in the Abbey Church with great ceremony: a solemn hymn was sung by the charity-school children, three clergymen preceded the coffin, the pall was supported by aldermen, and the Masters of the Assembly-Rooms followed as chief mourners; while the streets were filled and the housetops covered with spectators, anxious to witness the respect paid to the venerable founder of the prosperity of the city of Bath.'(115)

(115) The Book of Days, Feb. 3.

The following are the chief anecdotes told of Beau Nash.

A giddy youth, who had resigned his fellowship at Oxford, brought his fortune to Bath, and, without the smallest skill, won a considerable sum; and following it up, in the next October added four thousand pounds to his former capital. Nash one night invited him to supper, and offered to give him fifty guineas to forfeit twenty every time he lost two hundred at one sitting. The young man refused, and was at last undone.

The Duke of B—— loved play to distraction. One night, chagrined at a heavy loss, he pressed Nash to tie him up from deep play in future. The beau accordingly gave his Grace one hundred guineas on condition to receive ten thousand whenever he lost that amount at one sitting. The duke soon lost eight thousand at Hazard, and was going to throw for three thousand more, when Nash caught the dice-box, and entreated the peer to reflect on the penalty if he lost. The duke desisted for that time; but ere long, losing considerably at Newmarket, he willingly paid the penalty.

When the Earl of T—— was a youth he was passionately fond of play. Nash undertook to cure him. Conscious of his superior skill, he engaged the earl in single play. His lordship lost his estate, equipage, everything! Our generous gamester returned all, only stipulating for the payment of L5000 whenever he might think proper to demand it. Some time after his lordship's death, Nash's affairs being on the wane, he demanded it of his heirs, WHO PAID IT WITHOUT HESITATION.

Nash one day complained of his ill luck to the Earl of Chesterfield, adding that he had lost L500 the last night. The earl replied, 'I don't wonder at your LOSING money, Nash, but all the world is surprised where you get it to lose.'

'The Corporation of Bath so highly respected Nash, that the Chamber voted a marble statue of him, which was erected in the Pump-room, between the busts of Newton and Pope; this gave rise to a stinging epigram by Lord Chesterfield, concluding with these lines:

"The STATUE placed these busts between Gives satire all its strength; WISDOM and WIT are little seen, But FOLLY at full length."'(116)

(116) The Book of Days, Feb. 3.


Walpole tells us that the celebrated Earl of Chesterfield LIVED at White's Club, gaming, and uttering witticisms among the boys of quality; 'yet he says to his son, that a member of a gaming club should be a cheat, or he will soon be a beggar;' an inconsistency which reminds one of old Fuller's saw—'A father that whipt his son for swearing, and swore himself whilst he whipt him, did more harm by his example than good by his correction.'


The character of Selwyn,' says Mr Jesse, 'was in many respects a remarkable one. With brilliant wit, a quick perception of the ridiculous, and a thorough knowledge of the world and human nature, he united classical knowledge and a taste for the fine arts. To these qualities may be added others of a very contradictory nature. With a thorough enjoyment of the pleasures of society, an imperturbable good-humour, a kind heart, and a passionate fondness for children, he united a morbid interest in the details of human suffering, and, more especially, a taste for witnessing criminal executions. Not only was he a constant frequenter of such scenes of horror, but all the details of crime, the private history of the criminal, his demeanour at his trial, in the dungeon, and on the scaffold, and the state of his feelings in the hour of death and degradation, were to Selwyn matters of the deepest and most extraordinary interest. Even the most frightful particulars relating to suicide and murder, the investigation of the disfigured corpse, the sight of an acquaintance lying in his shroud, seem to have afforded him a painful and unaccountable pleasure. When the first Lord Holland was on his death-bed he was told that Selwyn, who had lived on terms of the closest intimacy with him, had called to inquire after his health. "The next time Mr Selwyn calls," he said, "show him up; if I am alive I shall be delighted to see him, and if I am dead he will be glad to see me." When some ladies bantered him on his want of feeling in attending to see the terrible Lord Lovat's head cut off—"Why," he said, "I made amends by going to the undertaker's to see it sewed on again." And yet this was the same individual who delighted in the first words and in the sunny looks of childhood; whose friendship seems to have partaken of all the softness of female affection; and whose heart was never hardened against the wretched and depressed. Such was the "original" George Selwyn.'

This celebrated conversational wit was a devoted frequenter of the gaming table. Writing to Selwyn, in 1765, Lord Holland said:—'All that I can collect from what you say on the subject of money is, that fortune has been a little favourable lately; or may be, the last night only. Till you leave off play entirely you must be—in earnest, and without irony—en verite le serviteur tres-humble des evenements, "in truth, the very humble servant of events."'

His friend the Lord Carlisle, although himself a great gambler, also gave him good advice. 'I hope you have left off Hazard,' he wrote to Selwyn; 'if you are still so foolish, and will play, the best thing I can wish you is, that you may win and never throw crabs.(117) You do not put it in the power of chance to make you them, as we all know; and till the ninth miss is born I shall not be convinced to the contrary.'

(117) That is, aces, or ace and deuce, twelve, or seven. With false dice, as will appear in the sequel, it was impossible to throw any of these numbers, and as the caster always called the main, he was sure to win, as he could call an impossible number: those who were in the secret of course always took the odds.

Again:—'As you have played I am happy to hear you have won; but by this time there may be a triste revers de succes.'

Selwyn had taken to gaming before his father's death—probably from his first introduction to the clubs. His stakes were high, though not extravagantly so, compared with the sums hazarded by his contemporaries. In 1765 he lost L1000 to Mr Shafto, who applied for it in the language of an 'embarrassed tradesman.'

'July 1, 1765.

'DEAR SIR,—I have this moment received the favour of your letter. I intended to have gone out of town on Thursday, but as you shall not receive your money before the end of this week, I must postpone my journey till Sunday. A month would have made no difference to me, had I not had others to pay before I leave town, and must pay; therefore must beg that you will leave the whole before this week is out, at White's, as it is to be paid away to others to whom I have lost, and do not choose to leave town till that is done. Be sure you could not wish an indulgence I should not be happy to grant, if it my power.'

Nor was this the only dun of the kind that Selwyn had 'to put up with' on account of the gaming table. He received the following from Edward, Earl of Derby.(118)

(118) Edward, twelfth Earl of Derby, was born September 12, 1752, and died October 21, 1834. He married first, Elizabeth, daughter of James, sixth Duke of Hamilton, who died in 1799, and secondly, the celebrated actress, Miss Farren, who died April 23, 1829.

The Earl of Derby to George Selwyn.

'Nothing could equal what I feel at troubling you with this disagreeable note; but having lost a very monstrous sum of money last night, I find myself under the necessity of entreating your goodness to excuse the liberty I am taking of applying to you for assistance. If it is not very inconvenient to you, I should be glad of the money you owe me. If it is, I must pay what I can, and desire Brookes to trust me for the remainder. I repeat again my apologies, to which I shall beg leave to add how very sincerely I have the honour to be, my dear sir,

'Your most obedient humble servant, 'DEBBY.

This is the very model of a dun, and proves how handsomely such ugly things can be done when one has to deal with a noble instead of a plebeian creditor.

But Selwyn had not only to endure such indignities, but also to inflict them, as appears by the following letter to him from the Honourable General Fitzpatrick, in answer to a dun, which, we are assured, was 'gentle and moderate.'

'I am very sorry to hear the night ended so ill; but to give you some idea of the utter impossibility of my being useful on the occasion, I will inform you of the state of my affairs. I won L400 last night, which was immediately appropriated by Mr Martindale, to whom I still owe L300, and I am in Brookes' book for thrice that sum. Add to all this, that at Christmas I expect an inundation of clamorous creditors, who, unless I somehow or other scrape together some money to satisfy them, will overwhelm me entirely. What can be done? If I could coin my heart, or drop my blood into drachms, I would do it, though by this time I should probably have neither heart nor blood left. I am afraid you will find Stephen in the same state of insolvency. Adieu! I am obliged to you for the gentleness and moderation of your dun, considering how long I have been your debtor.

'Yours most sincerely, 'R. F.'(119)

(119) Apud Selwyn and his Contemporaries by Jesse.

Selwyn is said to have been a loser on the whole, and often pillaged. Latterly he appears to have got the better of his propensity for play, if we may judge from the following wise sentiment:—'It was too great a consumer,' he said, 'of four things—time, health, fortune, and thinking.' But a writer in the Edinburgh Review seems to doubt Selwyn's reformation; for his initiation of Wilberforce occurred in 1782, when he was 63; and previously, in 1776, he underwent the process of dunning from Lord Derby, before-mentioned, and in 1779 from Mr Crawford ('Fish Crawford,' as he was called), each of whom, like Mr Shafto, 'had a sum to make up'—in the infernal style so horridly provoking, even when we are able and willing to pay. However, as Selwyn died comparatively rich, it may be presumed that his fortune suffered to no great extent by his indulgence in the vice of gaming.

The following are some of George Selwyn's jokes relating to gambling:—

One night, at White's, observing the Postmaster-General, Sir Everard Fawkener, losing a large sum of money at Piquet, Selwyn, pointing to the successful player, remarked—'See now, he is robbing the MAIL!'

On another occasion, in 1756, observing Mr Ponsonby, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, tossing about bank-bills at a Hazard table at Newmarket—'Look,' he said, 'how easily the Speaker passes the money-bills!'

A few months afterwards (when the public journals were daily containing an account of some fresh town which had conferred the freedom of its corporation in a gold box on Mr Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, and the Right Honourable Henry Bilson Legge, his fellow-patriot and colleague), Selwyn, who neither admired their politics nor respected their principles, proposed to the old and new club at Arthur's, that he should be deputed to present to them the freedom of each club in a dice-box.

On one of the waiters at Arthur's club having been committed to prison for a felony—'What a horrid idea,' said Selwyn, 'he will give of us to the people in Newgate!'

When the affairs of Charles Fox were in a more than usually embarrassed state, chiefly through his gambling, his friends raised a subscription among themselves for his relief. One of them remarking that it would require some delicacy in breaking the matter to him, and adding that 'he wondered how Fox would take it.' 'Take it?' interrupted Selwyn, 'why, QUARTERLY, to be sure.'(120)

(120) Jesse, George Selwyn and his Contemporaries.


This eminent statesman was regarded by his contemporaries as an able, an influential, and occasionally a powerful speaker.

Though married to a lady for whom in his letters he ever expresses the warmest feelings of admiration and esteem; and surrounded by a young and increasing family, who were evidently the objects of his deepest affection, Lord Carlisle, nevertheless, at times appears to have been unable to extricate himself from the dangerous enticements to play to which he was exposed. His fatal passion for play—the source of adventitious excitement at night, and of deep distress in the morning—seems to have led to frequent and inconvenient losses, and eventually to have plunged him into comparative distress.

'In recording these failings of a man of otherwise strong sense, of a high sense of honour, and of kindly affections, we have said the worst that can be adduced to his disadvantage. Attached, indeed, as Lord Carlisle may have been to the pleasures of society, and unfortunate as may have been his passion for the gaming table, it is difficult to peruse those passages in his letters in which he deeply reproaches himself for yielding to the fatal fascination of play, and accuses himself of having diminished the inheritance of his children, without a feeling of commiseration for the sensations of a man of strong sense and deep feeling, while reflecting on his moral degradation. It is sufficient, however, to observe of Lord Carlisle, that the deep sense which he entertained of his own folly; the almost maddening moments to which he refers in his letters of self-condemnation and bitter regret; and subsequently his noble victory over the siren enticements of pleasure, and his thorough emancipation from the trammels of a domineering passion, make adequate amends for his previous unhappy career.'(121)

(121) Jesse, George Selwyn and his Contemporaries, ii.

Brave conquerors, for so ye are, Who war against your own affections, And the huge army of the world's desires.

Lady Sarah Bunbury, writing to George Selwyn, in 1767, says:—'If you are now at Paris with poor C. (evidently Carlisle), who I dare say is now swearing at the French people, give my compliments to him. I call him poor C. because I hope he is only miserable at having been such a PIGEON to Colonel Scott. I never can pity him for losing at play, and I think of it as little as I can, because I cannot bear to be obliged to abate the least of the good opinion I have always had of him.'

Oddly enough the writer had no better account to give of her own husband; she says, in the letter:—'Sir Charles games from morning till night, but he has never yet lost L100 in one day.'(122)

(122) This Lady Sarah Bunbury was the wife of Sir Charles Bunbury, after having had a chance of being Queen of England, as the wife of George III., who was passionately in love with her, and would have married her had it not been for the constitutional opposition of his privy council. This charming and beautiful woman died in 1826, at the age of 82. She was probably the last surviving great-granddaughter of Charles II.—Jesse, Ubi supra.

About the year 1776 Lord Carlisle wrote the following letter to George Selwyn:—

'MY DEAR GEORGE, 'I have undone myself, and it is to no purpose to conceal from you my abominable madness and folly, though perhaps the particulars may not be known to the rest of the world. I never lost so much in five times as I have done to-night, and am in debt to the house for the whole. You may be sure I do not tell you this with an idea that you can be of the least assistance to me; it is a great deal more than your abilities are equal to. Let me see you—though I shall be ashamed to look at you after your goodness to me.'

This letter is endorsed by George Selwyn—'After the loss of L10,000.' He tells Selwyn of a set which, at one point of the game, stood to win L50,000.

'Lord Byron, it is almost needless to remark, was nearly related to Lord Carlisle. The mother of Lord Carlisle was sister to John, fourth Lord Byron, the grandfather of the poet; Lord Carlisle and Lord Byron were consequently first cousins once removed. Had they happened to have been contemporaries, it would be difficult to form an idea of two individuals who, alike from tastes, feelings, and habits of life, were more likely to form a lasting and suitable intimacy. Both were men of high rank; both united an intimate knowledge of society and the world with the ardent temperament of a poet; and both in youth mingled a love of frolic and pleasure with a graver taste for literary pursuits.'


In the midst of the infatuated votaries of the gaming god in England, towers the mighty intellectual giant Charles James Fox. Nature had fashioned him to be equally an object of admiration and love. In addition to powerful eloquence, he was distinguished by the refinement of his taste in all matters connected with literature and art; he was deeply read in history; had some claims to be regarded as a poet; and possessed a thorough knowledge of the classical authors of antiquity, a knowledge of which he so often and so happily availed himself in his seat in the House of Commons. To these qualities was added a good-humour which was seldom ruffled,—a peculiar fascination of manner and address,—the most delightful powers of conversation,—a heart perfectly free from vindictiveness, ostentation, and deceit,—a strong sense of justice,—a thorough detestation of tyranny and oppression,—and an almost feminine tenderness of feeling for the sufferings of others. Unfortunately, however, his great talents and delightful qualities in private life rendered his defects the more glaring and lamentable; indeed, it is difficult to think or speak with common patience of those injurious practices and habits—that abandonment to self-gratification, and that criminal waste of the most transcendent abilities which exhausted in social conviviality and the gaming table what were formed to confer blessings on mankind.

So much for the character of Fox, as I have gathered from Mr Jesse;(123) and I continue the extremely interesting subject by quoting from that delightful book, 'The Queens of Society.'(124) 'With a father who had made an enormous fortune, with little principle, out of a public office—for Lord Holland owed the bulk of his wealth to his appointment of paymaster to the forces,—and who spoiled him, in his boyhood, Charles James Fox had begun life AS A FOP OF THE FIRST WATER, and squandered L50,000 in debt before he became of age. Afterwards he indulged recklessly and extravagantly in every course of licentiousness which the profligate society of the day opened to him. At Brookes' and the Thatched House Fox ate and drank to excess, threw thousands upon the Faro table, mingled with blacklegs, and made himself notorious for his shameless vices. Newmarket supplied another excitement. His back room was so incessantly filled with Jew money-lenders that he called it his Jerusalem Chamber. It was impossible that such a life should not destroy every principle of honour; and there is nothing improbable in the story that he appropriated to himself money which belonged to his dear friend Mrs Crewe, as before related.

(123) George Selwyn and his Contemporaries, ii.

(124) By Grace and Philip Wharton.

'Of his talents, which were certainly great, he made an affected display. Of his learning he was proud—but rather as adding lustre to his celebrity for universal tastes. He was not at all ashamed, but rather gloried in being able to describe himself as a fool, as he does in his verses to Mrs Crewe:—

"Is't reason? No; that my whole life will belie; For, who so at variance as reason and I? Is't ambition that fills up each chink in my heart, Nor allows any softer sensation a part? Oh! no; for in this all the world must agree, ONE FOLLY WAS NEVER SUFFICIENT FOR ME."

'Sensual and self-indulgent—with a grossness that is even patent on his very portrait (and bust), Fox had nevertheless a manner which enchanted the sex, and he was the only politician of the day who thoroughly enlisted the personal sympathies of women of mind and character, as well as of those who might be captivated by his profusion. When he visited Paris in later days, even Madame Recamier, noted for her refinement, and of whom he himself said, with his usual coarse ideas of the sphere of woman, that "she was the only woman who united the attractions of pleasure to those of modesty," delighted to be seen with him! At the time of which we are speaking the most celebrated beauties of England were his most ardent supporters.

'The election of 1784, in which he stood and was returned for Westminster, was one of the most famous of the old riotous political demonstrations..... Loving hazard of all kinds for its own sake, Fox had made party hostility a new sphere of gambling, had adopted the character of a demagogue, and at a time when the whole of Europe was undergoing, a great revolution in principles, was welcomed gladly as "The Man of the People." In the beginning, of the year he had been convicted of bribery, but in spite of this his popularity increased.... The election for Westminster, in which Fox was opposed by Sir Cecil Wray, was the most tempestuous of all. There were 20,000 votes to be polled, and the opposing parties resorted to any means of intimidation, or violence, or persuasion which political enthusiasm could suggest. On the eighth day the poll was against the popular member, and he called upon his friends to make a great effort on his behalf. It was then that the "ladies' canvass" began. Lady Duncannon, the Duchess of Devonshire, Mrs Crewe, and Mrs Damer dressed themselves in blue and buff—the colours of the American Independents, which Fox had adopted and wore in the House of Commons—and set out to visit the purlieus of Westminster. Here, in their enthusiasm, they shook the dirty hands of honest workmen, expressed the greatest interest in their wives and families, and even, as in the case of the Duchess of Devonshire and the butcher, submitted their fair cheeks to be kissed by the possessors of votes! At the butcher's shop, the owner, in his apron and sleeves, stoutly refused his vote, except on one condition—"Would her Grace give him a kiss?" The request was granted; and the vote thus purchased went to swell the majority which finally secured the return of "The Man of the People."

'The colouring of political friends, which concealed his vices, or rather which gave them a false hue, has long since faded away. We now know Fox as he WAS. In the latest journals of Horace Walpole his inveterate gambling, his open profligacy, his utter want of honour, is disclosed by one of his own opinion. Corrupted ere yet he had left his home, whilst in age a boy, there is, however, the comfort of reflecting that he outlived his vices which seem to have "cropped out" by his ancestral connection in the female line with the reprobate Charles II., whom he was thought to resemble in features. Fox, afterwards, with a green apron tied round his waist, pruning and nailing up his fruit trees at St Ann's Hill, or amusing himself innocently with a few friends, is a pleasing object to remember, even whilst his early career occurs forcibly to the mind.'

Peace, then, to the shade of Charles James Fox! The three last public acts which he performed were worthy of the man, and should suffice to prove that, in spite of his terrible failings, he was most useful in his generation. By one, he laboured to repair the outrages of war—to obtain a breathing time for our allies; and, by an extension of our commerce, to afford, if necessary, to his country all the advantages of a renovated contest, without the danger of drying up our resources. By another, he attempted to remove all legal disabilities arising out of religion—to unite more closely THE INTERESTS OF IRELAND WITH THOSE OF ENGLAND; and thus, by an extension of common rights, and a participation of common benefits, wisely to render that which has always been considered the weakest and most troublesome portion of our empire, at least a useful and valuable part of England's greatness among the nations. Queen Elizabeth's Minister, Lord Burleigh, in the presence of the 'Irish difficulty' in his day, wished Ireland at the bottom of the sea, and doubtless many at the present time wish the same; but Fox endeavoured to grapple with it manfully and honestly, and it was not his fault that he did not settle it. The vices of Fox were those of the age in which he lived; had he been reserved for the present epoch, what a different biography should we have to write of him! What a helmsman he might be at the present time, when the ship of Old England is at sea and in peril!

It appears from a letter addressed by Lord Carlisle to Lady Holland (Fox's mother) in 1773, that he had become security for Fox to the amount of fifteen or sixteen thousand pounds; and a letter to Selwyn in 1777, puts the ruinous character of their gaming transactions in the strongest light. Lord Ilchester (Fox's cousin) had lost thirteen thousand pounds at one sitting to Lord Carlisle, who offered to take three thousand pounds down. Nothing was paid. But ten years afterwards, when Lord Carlisle pressed for his money, he complained that an attempt was made to construe the offer into a remission of the ten thousand pounds:—'The only way, in honour, that Lord Ilchester could have accepted my offer, would have been by taking some steps to pay the L3000. I remained in a state of uncertainty, I think, for nearly three years; but his taking no notice of it during that time, convinced me that he had no intention of availing himself of it. Charles Fox was also at a much earlier period clear that he never meant to accept it. There is also great injustice in the behaviour of the family in passing by the instantaneous payment of, I believe, five thousand pounds, to Charles, won at the same sitting, without any observations. At one period of the play I remember there was a balance in favour of one of these gentlemen (but which I protest I do not remember) of about fifty thousand.'

At the time in question Fox was hardly eighteen. The following letter from Lord Carlisle, written in 1771, contains highly interesting information respecting the youthful habits and already vast intellectual pre-eminence of this memorable statesman:—'It gives me great pain to hear that Charles begins to be unreasonably impatient at losing. I fear it is the prologue to much fretfulness of temper, for disappointment in raising money, and any serious reflections upon his situation, will (in spite of his affected spirits and dissipation) occasion him many disagreeable moments.' Lord Carlisle's fears proved groundless in this respect. As before stated, Fox was always remarkable for his sweetness of temper, which remained with him to the last; but it is most painful to think how much mankind has lost through his recklessness.

Gibbon writes to Lord Sheffield in 1773, 'You know Lord Holland is paying Charles Fox's debts. They amount to L140,000.'(125)

(125) Timbs, Club Life in London.

His love of play was desperate. A few evenings before he moved the repeal of the Marriage Act, in February, 1772, he had been at Brompton on two errands,—one to consult Justice Fielding on the penal laws, the other to borrow L10,000, which he brought to town at the hazard of being robbed. He played admirably both at Whist and Piquet,—with such skill, indeed, that by the general admission of Brookes' Club, he might have made four thousand pounds a-year, as they calculated, at these games, if he could have confined himself to them. But his misfortune arose from playing games of chance, particularly at Faro.

After eating and drinking plentifully, he would sit down at the Faro table, and invariably rose a loser. Once, indeed, and once only, he won about eight thousand pounds in the course of a single evening. Part of the money he paid to his creditors, and the remainder he lost almost immediately.

Before he attained his thirtieth year he had completely dissipated everything that he could either command or could procure by the most ruinous expedients. He had even undergone, at times, many of the severest privations incidental to the vicissitudes that attend a gamester's progress; frequently wanting money to defray the common daily wants of the most pressing nature. Topham Beauclerc, who lived much in Fox's society, declared that no man could form an idea of the extremities to which he had been driven to raise money, often losing his last guinea at the Faro table. The very sedan-chairmen, whom he was unable to pay, used to dun him for arrears. In 1781, he might be considered as an extinct volcano,—for the pecuniary aliment that had fed the flame was long consumed. Yet he even then occupied a house or lodgings in St James's Street, close to Brookes', where he passed almost every hour which was not devoted to the House of Commons. Brookes' was then the rallying point or rendezvous of the Opposition, where Faro, Whist, and supper prolonged the night, the principal members of the minority in both Houses met, in order to compare their information, or to concert and mature their parliamentary measures. Great sums were then borrowed of Jews at exorbitant premiums.

His brother Stephen was enormously fat; George Selwyn said he was in the right to deal with Shylocks, as he could give them pounds of flesh.

Walpole, in 1781, walking up St James's Street, saw a cart at Fox's door, with copper and an old chest of drawers, loading. His success at Faro had awakened a host of creditors; but, unless his bank had swelled to the size of the Bank of England, it could not have yielded a half-penny apiece for each. Epsom too had been unpropitious; and one creditor had actually seized and carried off Fox's goods, which did not seem worth removing. Yet, shortly after this, whom should Walpole find sauntering by his own door but Fox, who came up and talked to him at the coach window, on the Marriage Bill, with as much sang-froid as if he knew nothing of what had happened. Doubtless this indifference was to be attributed quite as much to the callousness of the reckless gambler as to anything that might be called 'philosophy.'

It seems clear that the ruling passion of Fox was partly owing to the lax training of his father, who, by his lavish allowances, not only fostered his propensity to play, but had also been accustomed to give him, when a mere boy, money to amuse himself at the gaming table. According to Chesterfield, the first Lord Holland 'had no fixed principles in religion or morality,' and he censures him to his son for being 'too unwary in ridiculing and exposing them.' He gave full swing to Charles in his youth. 'Let nothing be done,' said his lordship, 'to break his spirit, the world will do that for him.' At his death, in 1774, he left him L154,000 to pay his debts; it was all 'bespoke,' and Fox soon became as deeply pledged as before.(126)

(126) Timbs, ubi supra. There is a mistake in the anecdote respecting Fox's duel with Mr Adam (not Adams), as related by Mr Timbs in his amusing book of the Clubs. The challenge was in consequence of some words uttered by Fox in parliament, and not on account of some remark on Government powder, to which Fox wittily alluded, after the duel, saying—'Egad, Adam, you would have killed me if it had not been Government powder.' See Gilchrist, Ordeals, Millingen, Hist. of Duelling, ii., and Steinmetz, Romance of Duelling, ii.

The following are authentic anecdotes of Fox, as a gambler.

Fox had a gambling debt to pay to Sir John Slade. Finding himself in cash, after a lucky run at Faro, he sent a complimentary card to the knight, desiring to discharge the claim. Sir John no sooner saw the money than he called for pen and ink, and began to figure. 'What now?' cried Fox. 'Only calculating the interest,' replied the other. 'Are you so?' coolly rejoined Charles James, and pocketed the cash, adding—'I thought it was a debt of honour. As you seem to consider it a trading debt, and as I make it an invariable rule to pay my Jew-creditors last, you must wait a little longer for your money.'

Fox once played cards with Fitzpatrick at Brookes' from ten o'clock at night till near six o'clock the next morning—a waiter standing by to tell them 'whose deal it was'—they being too sleepy to know.

On another occasion he won about L8000; and one of his bond-creditors, who soon heard of his good luck, presented himself and asked for payment. 'Impossible, sir,' replied Fox; 'I must first discharge my debts of honour.' The bond-creditor remonstrated, and finding Fox inflexible, tore the bond to pieces and flung it into the fire, exclaiming—'Now, sir, your debt to me is a debt of honour.' Struck by the creditor's witty rejoinder, Fox instantly paid the money.(127)

(127) The above is the version of this anecdote which I remember as being current in my young days. Mr Timbs and others before him relate the anecdote as follows:—'On another occasion he won about L8000; and one of his bond-creditors, who soon heard of his good luck, presented himself and asked for payment.'

'Impossible, sir,' replied Fox 'I must first discharge my debts of honour.' The bond-creditor remonstrated. 'Well, sir, give me your bond.' It was delivered to Fox, who tore it in pieces and threw it into the fire. 'Now, sir,' said Fox, 'my debt to you is a debt of honour;' and immediately paid him.

Now, it is evident that Fox could not destroy the document without rendering himself still more 'liable' in point of law. I submit that the version in the text is the true one, conforming with the legal requirement of the case and influencing the debtor by the originality of the performance of the creditor.

Amidst the wildest excesses of youth, even while the perpetual victim of his passion for play, Fox eagerly cultivated his taste for letters, especially the Greek and Roman historians and poets; and he found resources in their works under the most severe depressions occasioned by ill-successes at the gaming table. One morning, after Fox had passed the whole night in company with Topham Beauclerc at Faro, the two friends were about to separate.

Fox had lost throughout the night, and was in a frame of mind approaching to desperation. Beauclerc's anxiety for the consequences which might ensue led him to be early at Fox's lodgings; and on arriving he inquired, not without apprehension, whether he had risen. The servant replied that Mr Fox was in the drawing-room, when Beauclerc walked up-stairs and cautiously opened the door, expecting to behold a frantic gamester stretched on the floor, bewailing his losses, or plunged in moody despair; but he was astonished to find him reading a Greek Herodotus.

On perceiving his friend's surprise, Fox exclaimed, 'What would you have me do? I have lost my last shilling.'

Upon other occasions, after staking and losing all that he could raise at Faro, instead of exclaiming against fortune, or manifesting the agitation natural under such circumstances, he would lay his head on the table and retain his place, but, exhausted by mental and bodily fatigue, almost immediately fall into a profound sleep.

Fox's best friends are said to have been half ruined in annuities given by them as securities for him to the Jews. L500,000 a-year of such annuities of Fox and his 'society' were advertised to be sold at one time. Walpole wondered what Fox would do when he had sold the estates of his friends. Walpole further notes that in the debate on the Thirty-nine Articles, February 6, 1772, Fox did not shine; nor could it be wondered at. He had sat up playing at Hazard, at Almack's, from Tuesday evening, the 4th, till five in the afternoon of Wednesday, the 5th. An hour before he had recovered L12,000 that he had lost; and by dinner, which was at five o'clock, he had ended losing L11,000! On the Thursday he spoke in the above debate, went to dinner at past eleven at night; from thence to White's, where he drank till seven the next morning; thence to Almack's, where he won L6000; and between three and four in the afternoon he set out for Newmarket. His brother Stephen lost L11,000 two nights after, and Charles L10,000 more on the 13th; so that in three nights the two brothers—the eldest not twenty-five years of age—lost L32,000!(128)

(128) Timbs, ubi supra.

On one occasion Stephen Fox was dreadfully fleeced at a gaming house at the West End. He entered it with L13,000, and left without a farthing.

Assuredly these Foxes were misnamed. Pigeons—dupes of sharpers at play—would have been a more appropriate cognomen.


These eminent statesmen were gamesters at one period of their lives. When Wilberforce came to London in 1780, after his return to Parliament, his great success signalized his entry into public life, and he was at once elected a member of the leading clubs—Miles' and Evans', Brookes', Boodle's, White's, and Goosetree's. The latter was Wilberforce's usual resort, where his friendship with Pitt—who played with characteristic and intense eagerness, and whom he had slightly known at Cambridge—greatly increased. He once lost L100 at the Faro table.

'We played a good deal at Goosetree's,' he states, and I well remember the intense earnestness which Pitt displayed when joining in these games of chance. He perceived their increasing fascination, and soon after abandoned them for ever.'

Wilberforce's own case is thus recorded by his biographers, on the authority of his private Journal:—'We can have no play to-night,' complained some of the party at the club, 'for St Andrew is not here to keep bank.' 'Wilberforce,' said Mr Bankes, who never joined himself, 'if you will keep it I will give you a guinea.' The playful challenge was accepted, but as the game grew deep he rose the winner of L600. Much of this was lost by those who were only heirs to fortunes, and therefore could not meet such a call without inconvenience. The pain he felt at their annoyance cured him of a taste which seemed but too likely to become predominant.

Goosetree's being then almost exclusively composed of incipient orators and embryo statesmen, the call for a gambling table there may be regarded as a decisive proof of the universal prevalence of the vice.

'The first time I was at Brookes',' says Wilberforce, 'scarcely knowing any one, I joined, from mere shyness, in play at the Faro tables, where George Selwyn kept bank. A friend, who knew my inexperience, and regarded me as a victim decked out for sacrifice, called to me—"What, Wilberforce, is that you?" Selwyn quite resented the interference, and, turning to him, said in his most expressive tone, "Oh, sir, don't interrupt Mr Wilberforce, he could not be better employed."

Again: 'The very first time I went to Boodle's I won twenty-five guineas of the Duke of Norfolk. I belonged at this time to five clubs—Miles' and Evans', Brookes', Boodle's, White's, and Goosetree's.'


Sir Philip Francis, the eminent politician and supposed author of the celebrated 'Letters of Junius,' was a gambler, and the convivial companion of Fox. During the short administration of that statesman he was made a Knight of the Bath. One evening, Roger Wilbraham came up to the Whist table, at Brookes', where Sir Philip, who for the first time wore the ribbon of the Order, was engaged in a rubber, and thus accosted him. Laying hold of the ribbon, and examining it for some time, he said:—'So, this is the way they have rewarded you at last; they have given you a little bit of red ribbon for your services, Sir Philip, have they? A pretty bit of red ribbon to hang about your neck; and that satisfies you, does it? Now, I wonder what I shall have. What do you think they will give me, Sir Philip?' The newly-made knight, who had twenty-five guineas depending on the rubber, and who was not very well pleased at the interruption, suddenly turned round, and looking at him fiercely, exclaimed, 'A halter, and be,' &c.


Unquestionably this reverend gentleman was one of the most lucky of gamesters—having died in full possession of the gifts vouchsafed to him by the goddess of fortune.

He was educated at Eton, graduated at King's College, Cambridge, as Bachelor of Arts in 1801, and Master of Arts in 1804, and obtained a fellowship, having also a curacy at Tiverton, held conjointly. Some six years after he appeared in print as a denouncer of a 'ghost story,' and in 1812, as the author of 'Hypocrisy,' a satirical poem, and 'Napoleon,' a poem. In 1818 he was presented by his college to the vicarage of Kew with Petersham, in Surrey. Two years after he established a literary reputation—lasting to the present time—by the publication of a volume of aphorisms or maxims, under the title of 'LACON; or, Many Things in Few Words.' This work is very far from original, being founded mainly on Lord Bacon's celebrated Essays, and Burdon's 'Materials for Thinking,' La Bruyiere, and De la Rochefoucault; still it is highly creditable to the abilities of the writer. It has passed through several editions; and even at the present time its only rival is, 'The Guesses at Truth,' although we have numerous collections of apothegmatic extracts from authors, a class of works which is not without its fascination, if readers are inclined to THINK.(129)

(129) The first work I published was of this kind, and entitled, 'Gems of Genius; or, Words of the Wise, with extracts from the Diary of a Young Man,' in 1838.

Two years after he returned to his 'Napoleon,' which he republished, with extensive additions, under the new title of 'The Conflagration of Moscow.

It would appear that Colton at this period gave in to the fashionable gaming of the day; at any rate, he dabbled deeply in Spanish bonds, became involved in pecuniary difficulties, and, without investigating his affairs closely—which might have been easily arranged—he absconded.

He subsequently made appearance, in order to retain his living; but in 1828 he lost it, a successor being appointed by his college. He then went to the United States of America; what he did there is not on record; but he subsequently returned to Europe, went to Paris, took up his abode in the Palais Royal, and—devoted his talents to the mysteries of the gaming table, by which he was so successful that in the course of a year or two he won L25,000!

Oddly enough, one of his 'maxims' in his Lacon runs as follows: 'The gamester, if he die a martyr to his profession, is doubly ruined. He adds his soul to every other loss, and, by the act of suicide, renounces earth, to forfeit heaven.'

It has been suggested that this was writing his own epitaph, and it would appear so from the notices of the man in most of the biographies; but nothing could be further from the fact. Caleb Colton managed to KEEP his gambling fortune, and what is more, devoted it to a worthy purpose. Part of his wealth he employed in forming a picture-gallery; and he printed at Paris, for private distribution, an ode on the death of Lord Byron. He certainly committed suicide, but the act was not the gamester's martyrdom. He was afflicted by a disease which necessitated some painful surgical operation, and rather than submit to it, he blew out his brains, at the house of a friend, at Fontainebleau, in 1832.(130)

(130) Gent. Mag. New Month. Mag. Gorton's Gen. Biograph. Dict.


This singular man was an inveterate gambler, and for some time very 'lucky;' but the reaction came at last; the stakes were too high, and the purses of his companions too long for him to stand against any continued run of bad luck; indeed, the play at Wattier's, which was very deep, eventually ruined the club, as well as Brummell and several other members of it; a certain baronet now living, according to Captain Jesse, is asserted to have lost ten thousand pounds there at Ecarte at one sitting.(131)

(131) Life of Beau Brummell.

The season of 1814 saw Brummell a winner, and a loser likewise—and this time he lost not only his winnings, but 'an unfortunate ten thousand pounds,' which, when relating the circumstance to a friend many years afterwards, he said was all that remained at his banker's. One night—the fifth of a most relentless run of ill-luck—his friend Pemberton Mills heard him exclaim that he had lost every shilling, and only wished some one would bind him never to play again:—'I will,' said Mills; and taking out a ten-pound note he offered it to Brummell on condition that he should forfeit a thousand if he played at White's within a month from that evening. The Beau took it, and for a few days discontinued coming to the club; but about a fortnight after Mills, happening to go in, saw him hard at work. Of course the thousand pounds was forfeited; but his friend, instead of claiming it, merely went up to him and, touching him gently on the shoulder, said—'Well, Brummell, you may at least give me back the ten pounds you had the other night.'

Among the members who indulged in high play at Brookes' Club was Alderman Combe, the brewer, who is said to have made as much money in this way as he did by brewing. One evening whilst he filled the office of Lord Mayor, he was busy at a full Hazard table at Brookes', where the wit and the dice-box circulated together with great glee, and where Beau Brummell was one of the party. 'Come, Mash-tub,' said Brummell, who was the caster, 'what do you set?' 'Twenty-five guineas,' answered the Alderman. 'Well, then,' returned the Beau, 'have at the mare's pony' (a gaming term for 25 guineas). He continued to throw until he drove home the brewer's twelve ponies running; and then getting up, and making him a low bow, whilst pocketing the cash, he said—'Thank you, Alderman; for the future I shall never drink any porter but yours.' 'I wish, sir,' replied the brewer, 'that every other blackguard in London would tell me the same.'(132)

(132) Jesse, ubi supra.

The following occurrence must have caused a 'sensation' to poor Brummell.

Among the members of Wattier's Club was Bligh, a notorious madman, of whom Mr Raikes relates:—'One evening at the Macao table, when the play was very deep, Brummell, having lost a considerable stake, affected, in his farcical way, a very tragic air, and cried out—"Waiter, bring me a flat candlestick and a pistol." Upon which Bligh, who was sitting opposite to him, calmly produced two loaded pistols from his coat pocket, which he placed on the table, and said, "Mr Brummell, if you are really desirous to put a period to your existence, I am extremely happy to offer you the means without troubling the waiter." The effect upon those present may easily be imagined, at finding themselves in the company of a known madman who had loaded weapons about him.'

Brummell was at last completely beggared, though for some time he continued to hold on by the help of funds raised on the mutual security of himself and his friends, some of whom were not in a much more flourishing condition than himself; their names, however, and still more, their expectations, lent a charm to their bills, in the eyes of the usurers, and money was procured, of course at ruinous interest. It is said that some unpleasant circumstances, connected with the division of one of these loans, occasioned the Beau's expatriation, and that a personal altercation took place between Brummell and a certain Mr M—, when that gentleman accused him of taking the lion's share.

He died in utter poverty, and an idiot, at Caen, in the year 1840, aged 62 years. Brummell had a very odd way of accounting for the sad change which took place in his affairs. He said that up to a particular period of his life everything prospered with him, and that he attributed good luck to the possession of a certain silver sixpence with a hole in it, which somebody had given him years before, with an injunction to take good care of it, as everything would go well with him so long as he did, and the reverse if he happened to lose it. The promised prosperity attended him for many years, whilst he held the sixpence fast; but having at length, in an evil hour, unfortunately given it by mistake to a hackney-coachman, a complete reverse of his previous good fortune ensued, till actual ruin overtook him at last, and obliged him to expatriate himself. 'On my asking him,' says the narrator, 'why he did not advertise and offer a reward for the lost treasure; he said, "I did, and twenty people came with sixpences having holes in them to obtain the promised reward, but mine was not amongst them!" And you never afterwards,' said I, 'ascertained what became of it? "Oh yes," he replied, "no doubt that rascal Rothschild, or some of his set, got hold of it."' Whatever poor Brummell's supernatural tendencies may have generally been, he had unquestionably a superstitious veneration for his lost sixpence.


Tom Duncombe graduated and took honours among the greatest gamblers of the day. Like Fox, he was heir to a good fortune—ten or twelve thousand a year—the whole of which he managed to anticipate before he was thirty. 'Tom Duncombe ran Charles Fox close. When Mr Duncombe, sen., of Copgrove, caused his prodigal son's debts to be estimated with a view to their settlement, they were found to exceed L135,000;(133) and the hopeful heir went on adding to them till all possibility of extrication was at an end. But he spent his money (or other people's money), so long as he had any, like a gentleman; his heart was open like his hand; he was generous, cordial, high-spirited; and his expectations—till they were known to be discounted to the uttermost farthing—kept up his credit, improved his social position, and gained friends. "Society" (says his son) "opened its arms to the possessor of a good name and the inheritor of a good estate. Paterfamiliases and Materfamiliases rivalled each other in endeavouring to make things pleasant in their households for his particular delectation, especially if they had grown-up daughters; hospitable hosts invited him to dinner, fashionable matrons to balls; political leaders sought to secure him as a partisan; DEBUTANTES of the season endeavoured to attract him as an admirer; TRADESMEN THRONGED TO HIS DOORSTEPS FOR HIS CUSTOM, and his table was daily covered with written applications for his patronage." Noblesse oblige; and so does fashion. The aspirant had confessedly a hard time of it. "He must be seen at Tattersall's as well as at Almack's; be more frequent in attendance in the green-room of the theatre than at a levee in the palace; show as much readiness to enter into a pigeon-match at Battersea Red House, as into a flirtation in May Fair; distinguish himself in the hunting-field as much as at the dinner-table; and make as effective an appearance in the park as in the senate; in short, he must be everything—not by turns, but all at once—sportsman, exquisite, gourmand, rake, senator, and at least a dozen other variations of the man of fashion,—his changes of character being often quicker than those attempted by certain actors who nightly undertake the performance of an entire dramatis personae."'

(133) It will be remembered that when Fox's debts were in like manner estimated they amounted to L140,000: the coincidence is curious. See ante.

Tommy Duncombe was not only indefatigable at Crockford's, but at every other rendezvous of the votaries of fortune; a skilful player withal, and not unfrequently a winner beyond expectation. One night at Crockford's he astonished the house by carrying off sixteen hundred pounds. He frequently played at cards with Count D'Orsay, from whom, it is said, he invariably managed to win—the Count persisting in playing with his pleasant companion, although warned by others that he would never be a match for 'Honest Tommy Duncombe.'

Tom Duncombe died poor, but, says his son, 'rich in the memory of those who esteemed him, as Honest Tom Duncombe.'

Perhaps the best thing the son could have done was to leave his father's memory at rest in the estimation of 'those who esteemed him;' but having dragged his name once more, and prominently, before a censorious world, he can scarcely resent the following estimate of Tom Duncombe, by a well-informed reviewer in the Times. Alluding to the concluding summary of the father's character and doings, this keen writer passes a sentence which is worth preserving:—

'Much of this would do for a patriot and philanthropist of the highest class—for a Pym, a Hampden, or a Wilberforce; or, we could fancy, a son of Andrew Marvell, vowing over his grave "to endeavour to imitate the virtues and emulate the self-sacrificing patriotism of so estimable a parent, and so good a man." But we can hardly fancy, we cannot leave, a son of Duncombe in such a frame of mind. We cannot say to HIM

Macte nova virtute, puer; sic itur ad astra. "In virtue renewed go on; thus to the skies we go."

We are unfeignedly reluctant to check a filial effusion, or to tell disagreeable truths; but there are occasions when a sense of public duty imperatively requires them to be told.

'Why did this exemplary parent die poor? When did he abandon the allurements of a patrician circle? He died poor because he wasted a fine fortune. If he abandoned a patrician circle, it was because he was tired of it, or thought he could make a better thing of democracy. If he conquered his passions, it was, like St Evremond—by indulging them.

'"Honest Tom Duncombe!" We never heard him so designated before except in pleasantry. "As honest as any man living, that is an old man, and not honester than I." We cannot go further than Verges; it is a stretch of charity to go so far when we call to mind the magnificent reversion and the French jobs. A ruined spendthrift, although he may have many good qualities, can never, strictly speaking, be termed honest. It is absurd to say of him that he is nobody's enemy but his own—with family, friends, and tradespeople paying the penalty for his self-indulgence. He must be satisfied to be called honourable—to be charged with no transgression of the law of honour; which Paley defines as "a system of rules constructed by people of fashion, and calculated to facilitate their intercourse with one another, AND FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE."

'There was one quality of honesty, however, which "honest Tom Duncombe" did possess. He was not a hypocrite. He was not devoid of right feeling. He had plenty of good sense; and it would have given him a sickening pang on his death-bed to think that his frailties were to be perpetuated by his descendants; that he was to be pointed out as a shining star to guide, instead of a beacon-fire to warn. "No," he would have said, if he could have anticipated this most ill-chosen, however well-intentioned, tribute, "spare me this terrible irony. Do not provoke the inevitable retort. Say of me, if you must say anything, that I was not a bad man, though an erring one; that I was kindly disposed towards my fellow-creatures; that I did some good in my generation, and was able and willing to do more, but that I heedlessly wasted time, money, health, intellect, personal gifts, social advantages and opportunities; that my career was a failure, and my whole scheme of life a melancholy mistake."'(134)

(134) Times, Jan. 7, 1868.

This is a terrible rejoinder to a son endeavouring to raise a monument to his beloved and respected parent. But, if we will rake up rottenness from the grave—rottenness in which we are interested—we must take our chance whether we shall find a Hamlet who will say, 'Alas! poor Yorick!' and say NO MORE than the musing Dane upon the occasion.


A few years after the battle of Waterloo there appeared a French work entitled 'L'Academie des Jeux, par Philidor,' which was soon translated into English, and here published under the title of 'Rouge et Noir; or, the Academies.' It was a denunciation of gambling in all its varieties, and was, no doubt, well-intentioned. There was, however, in the publication the following astounding statement:—

'Not long ago the carriage of the heir-apparent to the T***** of England, in going to his B****'s levee, was arrested for debt in the open street. That great captain, who gained, if not laurels, an immense treasure, on the plains of Wa****oo, besides that fortune transmitted to him by the English people, was impoverished in a few months by this ignoble passion.'

There can be no doubt that the alleged gambling of the great warrior and statesman was the public scandal of the day, as appears by the duke's own letters on the subject, published in the last volume of his Dispatches. Even the eminent counsel, Mr Adolphus, thought proper to allude to the report in one of his speeches at the bar. This called forth the following letter from the duke to Mr Adolphus:—

'17 Sept., 1823. 'The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr Adolphus, and encloses him the "Morning Chronicle" of Friday, the 12th instant, to which the duke's attention has just been called, in which Mr Adolphus will observe that he is stated to have represented the duke as a person KNOWN SOMETIMES TO PLAY AT HAZARD, WHO MIGHT BE COMMITTED AS A ROGUE AND VAGABOND.

'The duke concludes that this paper contains a correct statement of what Mr Adolphus said upon the occasion, and he assures Mr Adolphus that he would not trouble him upon the subject if circumstances did not exist which rendered this communication desirable.

'Some years have elapsed since the public have been informed, FROM THE VERY BEST AUTHORITY, that the duke had totally ruined himself at play; and Mr Adolphus was present upon one occasion when a witness swore that he had heard the duke was constantly obliged to sell the offices in the Ordnance himself, instead of allowing them to be sold by others!! The duke has suffered some inconvenience from this report in a variety of ways, and he is anxious that at least it should not be repeated by a gentleman of such celebrity and authority as Mr Adolphus.

'He therefore assures Mr Adolphus that in the whole course of his life he never won or lost L20 at any game, and that he never played at Hazard, or any game of chance, in any public place or club, nor been for some years at all at any such place.

'From these circumstances, Mr Adolphus will see that there is no ground for making use of the duke's name as an example of a person KNOWN SOMETIMES TO PLAY AT HAZARD, WHO MIGHT BE COMMITTED AS A ROGUE AND VAGABOND.'

Mr Adolphus to Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington.

'Percy Street, 21st Sept., 1823.

'Mr Adolphus has the honour to acknowledge the receipt of a note from his Grace the Duke of Wellington, and would have done so yesterday, but was detained in court till a late hour in the evening. Mr Adolphus is extremely sorry that any expression used by him should have occasioned a moment's uneasiness to the Duke of Wellington. Mr Adolphus cannot deny that the report in the "Chronicle" is accurate, so far as it recites his mere words; but the scope of his argument, and the intended sense of his expression, was, that if the Vagrant Act were to receive the extensive construction contended for, the most illustrious subject of the realm might be degraded to the condition of the most abject and worthless, for an act in itself indifferent—and which, until the times had assumed a character of affected rigour, was considered rather as a proof of good society than as an offence against good order. Mr Adolphus is, however, perfectly sensible that his illustration in his Grace's person was in all respects improper, and, considering the matters to which his Grace has adverted, peculiarly unfortunate Mr Adolphus feels with regret that any public expression of his sentiments on this subject in the newspapers would not abate, but much increase, the evil. Should an opportunity ever present itself of doing it naturally and without affectation, Mr Adolphus would most readily explain, in speaking at the bar, the error he had committed; but it is very unlikely that there should exist an occasion of which he can avail himself with a due regard to delicacy. Mr Adolphus relies, however, on the Duke of Wellington's exalted mind for credit to his assurance that he never meant to treat his name but with the respect due to his Grace's exalted rank and infinitely higher renown.'

To Mr Adolphus.

'Woolford, 23rd Sept., 1823.

'The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr Adolphus, and assures Mr Adolphus that he is convinced that Mr Adolphus never intended to reflect injuriously upon him. If the duke had believed that Mr Adolphus could have entertained such an intention he would not have addressed him. The duke troubles Mr Adolphus again upon this subject, as, in consequence of the editor of the "Morning Chronicle" having thought proper to advert to this subject in a paragraph published on the 18th instant, the duke has referred the paper of that date and that of the 12th to the Attorney and Solicitor-general, his counsel, to consider whether the editor ought not to be prosecuted.

'The duke requests, therefore, that Mr Adolphus will not notice the subject in the way he proposes until the gentlemen above mentioned will have decided upon the advice which they will give the duke.'(135)

(135) 'Dispatches,' vol. ii. part i.

The result was, however, that the matter was allowed to drop, as the duke was advised by his counsel that the paragraph in the "Morning Chronicle," though vile, was not actionable. The positive declaration of the duke, 'that in the whole course of his life he never won or lost L20 at any game, and that he never played at Hazard, or any game of chance, in any public place or club, nor been for some years at all at any such place,' should set the matter at rest. Certainly the duke was afterwards an original member of Crockford's Club, founded in 1827, but, unlike Blucher, who repeatedly lost everything at play, 'The Great Captain,' as Mr Timbs puts it, 'was never known to play deep at any game but war or politics.'(136)

(136) Club Life in London.

This remarkable deference to private character and public opinion, on the part of the Duke of Wellington, is in wonderful contrast with the easy morality of the Old Bailey advocate, Mr Adolphus, who did not hesitate to declare gambling 'an act in itself indifferent—and which, until the times had assumed a character of AFFECTED rigour, was considered rather as a proof of good society than as an offence against good order.' This averment of so distinguished a man may, perhaps, mitigate the horror we now feel of the gambling propensities of our ancestors; and it is a proof of some sort of advancement in morals, or good taste, to know that no modern advocate would dare to utter such a sentiment.

Other great names have been associated with gambling; thus Mr T. H. Duncombe says, speaking of Crockford's soon after its foundation:—'Sir St Vincent Cotton (Lord Combermere), Lord Fitzroy Somerset (Raglan), the Marquis of Anglesey, Sir Hussey Vivian, Wilson Croker, Disraeli, Horace Twiss, Copley, George Anson, and George Payne WERE PRETTY SURE OF BEING PRESENT, many of them playing high.'

Respecting this statement the Times'(137) reviewer observes:—'We do not know what the Chancellor of the Exchequer will say to this. Mr Wilson Croker (who affected great strictness) would have fainted away. But the authority of a writer who does not know Sir St Vincent Cotton (the ex-driver of the Brighton coach) from Sir Stapleton Cotton (the Peninsular hero) will go for little in such matters; and as for Copley, Lord Lyndhurst (just then promoted from the Rolls to the Woolsack), why not say at once that he attended the nocturnal sittings at Crockford's in his robes.'

(137) Jan. 7, 1868.


Monsieur CHevalier, Captain of the Grenadiers in the first regiment of Foot Guards, in the time of Charles II. of England, was a native of Normandy. In his younger days he was page to the Duchess of Orleans; but growing too big for that service, he came to England to seek his fortune, and by some good luck and favour became an ensign in the first regiment of Foot Guards. His pay, however, being insufficient to maintain him, he felt compelled to become a gamester, or rather to resort to a practice in which doubtless he had been early initiated at the Court of France; and he managed so well that he was soon enabled to keep up an equipage much above his station.

Among the 'bubbles' who had the misfortune to fall into Chevalier's hands, was a certain nobleman, who lost a larger sum to him than he could conveniently pay down, and asked for time, to which Chevalier assented, and in terms so courteous and obliging that the former, a fortnight after, in order to let him see that he remembered his civility, came one morning and told Chevalier that he had a company of Foot to dispose of, and if it was worth his while, it should be at his service. Nothing could be more acceptable to Chevalier, who at once closed for the bargain, and got his commission signed the same day. Besides the fact that it was a time of peace, Chevalier knew well that the military title of Captain was a very good cloak to shelter under.

He knew that a man of no employment or any visible income, who appears and lives like a gentleman, and makes gaming his constant business, is always suspected of not playing for diversion only; and, in short, of knowing and practising more than he should do.

Chevalier once won 20 guineas from mad Ogle, the Life-guardsman, who, understanding that the former had bit him, called him to account, demanding either his money back, or satisfaction in the field. Chevalier, having always courage enough to maintain what he did, chose the latter. Ogle fought him in Hyde Park, and wounded him through the sword arm, and got back his money. After this they were always good friends, playing several comical tricks, one of which is as follows, strikingly illustrating the manners of the times.

Chevalier and Ogle meeting one day in Fleet Street jostled for the wall, which they strove to take of each other, whereupon words arising between them, they drew swords, and pushed very hard at one another; but were prevented, by the great crowd which gathered about them, from doing any mischief. Ogle, seeming still to resent the affront, cried to Chevalier, 'If you are a gentleman, pray follow me.' The French hero accepted the challenge; so going together up Bell Yard and through Lincoln's Inn, with some hundreds of the mob at their heels, as soon as the seeming adversaries were got into Lincoln's Inn Fields, they both fell a running as fast as they could, with their swords drawn, up towards Lord Powis's house, which was then building, and leaped into a saw-pit. The rabble presently ran after them, to part them again, and feared mischief would be done before they could get up to them, but when they arrived at the saw-pit, they saw Chevalier at one side of it and Ogle at the other, sitting together as lovingly as if they had never fallen out at all. And then the mob was so incensed at this trick put upon them, that had not some gentlemen accidentally come by, they would have knocked them both on the head with brickbats.

Chevalier had an excellent knack at cogging a die, and such command in the throwing, that, chalking a circle on a table, with its circumference no bigger than a shilling, he would, at above the distance of one foot, throw a die exactly into it, which should be either ace, deuce, trey, or what he pleased.

Aubrey de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was a great gambler of the time, and often practised dice-throwing in his shirt during the morning until he fancied himself in luck, when he would proceed to try his fortune with Chevalier; but the dexterity of the latter always convinced the earl that no certainty lies on the good success which may be fancied as likely to result from play in jest. Chevalier won a great deal of money from that peer, 'who lost most of his estate at gaming before he died, and which ought to be a warning to all noblemen.'

Chevalier was a skilful sharper, and thoroughly up in the art and mystery of loading dice with quicksilver; but having been sometimes detected in his sharping tricks, he was obliged 'to look on the point of the sword, with which being often wounded, latterly he declined fighting, if there were any way of escape.' Having once 'choused,' or cheated, a Mr Levingstone, page of honour to King James II., out of 50 guineas, the latter gave the captain a challenge to fight him next day behind Montague House—a locality long used for the purpose of duelling. Chevalier seemingly accepted the challenge, and next morning, Levingstone going to Chevalier's lodging, whom he found in bed, put him in mind of what he was come about. Chevalier, with the greatest air of courage imaginable, rose, and having dressed himself, said to Levingstone—'Me must beg de favour of you to stay a few minutes, sir, while I step into my closet dere, for as me be going about one desperate piece of work, it is very requisite for me to say a small prayer or two.' Accordingly Mr Levingstone consented to wait whilst Chevalier retired to his closet to pray; but hearing the conclusion of his prayer to end with these words—'Me verily believe spilling man's blood is one ver' great sin, wherefore I hope all de saints will interced vid de Virgin for my once killing Monsieur de Blotieres at Rochelle,—my killing Chevalier de Cominge at Brest,—killing Major de Tierceville at Lyons,—killing Lieutenant du Marche Falliere at Paris, with half a dozen other men in France; so, being also sure of killing him I'm now going to fight, me hope his forcing me to shed his blood will not be laid to my charge;'—quoth Levingstone to himself—'And are you then so sure of me? But I'll engage you shan't—for if you are such a devil at killing men, you shall go and fight yourself and be ——.' Whereupon he made what haste he could away, and shortly Chevalier coming out of the closet and finding Levingstone not in the room, was very glad of his absence.'

Some time after, Chevalier was called to account by another gentleman. They met at the appointed hour in Chelsea Fields, when Chevalier said to his adversary—'Pray, sir, for what do we fight?' The gentleman replied—'For honour and reputation.' Thereupon Chevalier pulling a halter out of his pocket, and throwing it between him and his antagonist, exclaimed—'Begar, sir, we only fight for dis one piece of rope—so e'en WIN IT AND WEAR IT.' The effect of this jest was so great on his adversary that swords were put up, and they went home together good friends.

Chevalier continued his sharping courses for about fourteen years, running a reckless race, 'sometimes with much money, sometimes with little, but always as lavish in spending as he was covetous in getting it; until at last King James ascending the throne, the Duke of Monmouth raised a rebellion in the West of England, where, in a skirmish between the Royalists and Rebels, he was shot in the back, and the wound thought to be given by one of his own men, to whom he had always been a most cruel, harsh officer, whilst a captain of the Grenadiers of the Foot Guards. He was sensible himself how he came by this misfortune; for when he was carried to his tent mortally wounded, and the Duke of Albemarle came to visit him, he said to his Grace—'Dis was none of my foe dat shot me in the back.' 'He was none of your friend that shot you,' the duke replied.

So dying within a few hours after, he was interred in a field near Philip Norton Lane, as the old chronicler says—'much UNlamented by all who knew him.'(138)

(138) Lucas, Memoirs of Gamesters and Sharpers.


This gambler, who flourished towards the end of the 17th century, was descended from a very good family in the West of England. In his younger days he was a member of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, but his inclinations being incompatible with close study of the law, he soon quitted the inns of court and went into the army. He obtained not only a commission in the first regiment of Boot Guards, but a commission of the peace for the county of Middlesex, in which he continued for three or four years as Justice Higden. He was very great at dice; and one night he and another of his fraternity going to a gaming house, Higden drew a chair and sat down, but as often as the box came to him he passed it, and remained only as a spectator; but at last one of the players said to him pertly, 'Sir, if you won't play, what do you sit there for?' Upon which Higden snatched up the dice-box and said, 'Set me what you will and I'll throw at it.' One of the gentlemen set him two guineas, which he won, and then set him four, which he 'nicked' also. The rest of the gentlemen took the part of the loser, and set to Higden, who, by some art and some good luck, won 120 guineas; and presently, after throwing out, rose from the table and went to his companion by the fireside, who asked him how he durst be so audacious as to play, knowing he had not a shilling in his pocket? One of the losers overhearing what was said, exclaimed, 'How's that—you had no money when you began to play?' 'That's no matter,' replied Higden, 'I have enough NOW; and if you had won of me, you must have been contented to have kicked, buffeted, or pumped me, and you would have done it as long as you liked. Besides, sir, I am a soldier, and have often faced the mouths of thundering cannons for EIGHT SHILLINGS A DAY, and do you think I would not hazard the tossing of a blanket for the money I have won to-night?'

'All the parties wondered at his confidence, but he laughed heartily at their folly and his good fortune, and so marched off with a light heart and a heavy purse.' Afterwards, 'to make himself as miserable as he could, he turned poet, went to Ireland, published a play or two, and shortly after he died very poor, in 1703.'(139)

(139) ubi supra.


This gambler was of low birth, his parents keeping an ordinary in Holland, where he was born, as stated by the old chronicler, 'in the happy Revolution of 1688.'

His career is remarkable on account of his connection with Lady Mary Mordaunt, wife of 'the Duke of Norfolk, who, proving her guilty of adultery, was divorced from her. She then lived publicly with Germain.'

This Germain was the first to introduce what was called the Spanish Whist, stated to be 'a mere bite, performed after this manner:—Having a pack of cards, the four treys are privately laid on the top of them, under them an ace, and next to that a deuce; then, letting your adversary cut the cards, you do not pack them, but deal all of them that are cut off, one at a time, between you; then, taking up the other parcel of cards, you deal more cards, giving yourself two treys and a deuce, and to the other persons two treys and an ace, when, laying the remainder of the cards down—wherein are allowed no trumps, but only the highest cards win—so they are but of the same suit, whilst you are playing, giving your antagonist all you can, as though it is not in your power to prevent him. You seem to fret, and cry you have good put-cards; he, having two treys and an ace, will be apt to lay a wager with you that you cannot have better than he; then you binding the wager, he soon sees his mistake. But in this trick you must observe to put the other three deuces under yours when you deal.'

It seems that this Monsieur Germain is not only remarkable for the above precious addition to human knowledge, but also on account of his expertness at the game of Ombre, celebrated and so elegantly described by Pope in his 'Rape of the Lock.'

He appears to have lived with the Duchess of Norfolk ever after the divorce; and he died a little after Lady Mary, in 1712, aged 46 years.(140)

(140) ubi supra.


This Irishman was born in Dublin, and was the son of a respectable tradesman. Falling into dissipated company, he soon left the city to try his fortune in London, where he played very deep and very successfully.

He threw away his gains as fast as he made them, chiefly among the frail sisterhood, at a notorious house in those days, in the Piazza, Covent Garden. He frequented Carlisle House in Soho Square, and was a proprietor of E O tables kept by a Dr Graham in Pall Mall.

He had a rencontre, in consequence of a dispute at play, and was wounded. The meeting took place under the Piazza, and his antagonist's sword struck a rib, which counteracted its dangerous effect.

Soon afterwards he won L3000 from a young man just of age, who made over to him a landed estate for the amount, and he was shortly after admitted a member of the Jockey Club.

His fortune now changed, and falling into the hands of Old Pope, the money-lender, he was not long before he had to transfer his estate to him.

After many ups and downs he became an inmate of the spunging-house of the infamous Scoldwell, who was afterwards transported. He actually used his prison as a gaming house, to which his infatuated friends resorted; but his means failed, his friends cooled, and he was removed 'over the water,' from which he was only released by the Insolvent Act, with a broken constitution. Arrest soon restored him to his old habitation, a lock-up house, where he died so poor, a victim to grief, misery, and disease, that he did not leave enough to pay for a coffin, which was procured by his quondam friend, Mr Thornton, at whose cost he was buried. Perhaps more than half a million of money had 'passed through his hands.'


Andrews was reckoned so theoretically and practically perfect at the game of Billiards that he had no equal except Abraham Carter, who kept the tables at the corner of the Piazza, Russell Street, Covent Garden.

He one night won of Colonel W——e about a thousand pounds; and the Colonel appointed to meet him next day to transact for stock accordingly. Going in a hackney-coach to the Bank of England for this purpose, they tossed up who should pay for the coach. Andrews lost—and positively on this small beginning he was excited to continue betting, until he lost the whole sum he had won the night before! When the coachman stopped he was ordered to drive them back again, as they had no occasion to get out!

Thus, in a few years, Hazard and other games of chance stripped him of his immense winnings at Billiards, and he had nothing left but a small annuity, fortunately for him so settled that he could not dispose of it—though he made every effort to do so!

He afterwards retired in the county of Kent, and was heard to declare that he never knew contentment when wallowing in riches; but that since he was compelled to live on a scanty pittance, he was one of the happiest men in the world.


Whig Middleton was a tall, handsome, fashionable man, with an adequate fortune. He one night had a run of ill-luck at Arthur's, and lost about a thousand guineas. Lord Montford, in the gaming phrase, asked him what he would do or what he would not do, to get home? 'My lord,' said he, 'prescribe your own terms.'

'Then,' resumed Lord Montford, 'dress directly opposite to the fashion for ten years. Will you agree to it?' Middleton said that he would, and kept his word. Nay, he died nine years afterwards so unfashionably that he did not owe a tradesman a farthing—left some playing debts unliquidated, and his coat and wig were of the cut of Queen Anne's reign.

Lord Montford is said to have died in a very different but quite fashionable manner.


Captain Campbell, of the Guards, was a natural son of the Duke of ——. He lost a thousand guineas to a Shark, which he could not pay. Being questioned by the duke one day at dinner as to the cause of his dejection, he reluctantly confessed the fact. 'Sir,' said his Grace, 'you do not owe a farthing to the blackguard. My steward settled with him this morning for TEN guineas, and he was glad to take them, only saying—"I was damned far North, and it was well it was no worse."'


Wrothesly, Duke of Bedford, was the subject of a conspiracy at Bath, formed by several first-rate sharpers, among whom were the manager of a theatre, and Beau Nash, master of the ceremonies. After being plundered of above L70,000 at Hazard, his Grace rose in a passion, put the dice in his pocket, and intimated his resolution to inspect them. He then retired into another room, and, flinging himself upon a sofa, fell asleep.

The winners, to escape disgrace, and obtain their money, cast lots who should pick his pockets of the loaded dice, and introduce fair ones in their place. The lot fell on the manager of the theatre, who performed his part without discovery. The duke inspected the dice when he awoke, and finding them correct, renewed his party, and lost L30,000 more.

The conspirators had received L5000, but disagreed on its division, and Beau Nash, thinking himself ill-used, divulged the fact to his Grace, who saved thereby the remainder of the money. He made Nash a handsome present, and ever after gave him his countenance, supposing that the secret had been divulged through pure friendship.


A similar anecdote is told of another gamester. 'The late Duke of Norfolk,' says the author of 'Rouge et Noir,' writing in 1823, 'in one evening lost the sum of L70,000 in a gaming house on the right side of St James's Street: suspecting foul play, he put the dice in his pocket, and, as was his custom when up late, took a bed in the house. The blacklegs were all dismayed, till one of the worthies, who is believed to have been a principal in poisoning the horses at Newmarket, for which Dan Dawson was hanged, offered for L5000 to go to the duke's room with a brace of pistols and a pair of dice, and, if the duke was awake, to shoot him, if asleep to change the dice! Fortunately for the gang, the duke "snored," as the agent stated, "like a pig;" the dice were changed. His Grace had them broken in the morning, when, finding them good, he paid the money, and left off gambling.'(141)

(141) Rouge et Noir; the Academicians of 1823.


A few weeks before General Ogle was to sail for India, he constantly attended Paine's, in Charles Street, St James's Square. One evening there were before him two wooden bowls full of gold, which held L1500 guineas each, and L4000 in rouleaus, which he had won.

When the box came to him, he shook the dice and with great coolness and pleasantry said—'Come, I'll either win or lose seven thousand upon this hand. Will any gentleman set on the whole? SEVEN is the main.' Then rattling the dice once more, cast the box from him and quitted it, the dice remaining uncovered.

Although the General did not think this too large a sum for one man to risk at a single throw, the rest of the gentlemen did, and for some time the bold gamester remained unset.

He then said—'Well, gentlemen, will you make it up amongst you?'

One set him 500 guineas, another 500. 'Come,' said he, 'whilst you are making up the money I'll tell you a story.' Here he began—but perceiving that he was at last completely set for the cast, stopt short—laid his hand on the box, saying—'I believe I am completely set, gentlemen?' 'Yes, sir, and Seven is the main,' was the reply. The General threw out, and lost! Seven thousand guineas!

Then with astonishing coolness he took up his snuff-box and smiling exclaimed—'Now, gentlemen, if you please, I'll finish my story.'


There can be no doubt that Horace Walpole was an inveterate gambler, although he managed to keep always afloat and merrily sailing—for he says himself:—'A good lady last year was delighted at my becoming peer, and said—"I hope you will get an Act of Parliament for putting down Faro." As if I could make Acts of Parliament! and could I, it would be very consistent too in me, who for some years played more at Faro than anybody.'(142)

(142) Letters, IX.


This extraordinary and still famous personage, better known as the Duke of Queensberry, was the 'observed of all observers' almost from his boyhood to extreme old age. His passions were for women and the turf; and the sensual devotedness with which he pursued the one, and the eccentricity which he displayed in the enjoyment of both, added to the observation which he attracted from his position as a man of high rank and princely fortune, rendered him an object of unceasing curiosity. He was deeply versed in the mysteries of the turf, and in all practical and theoretical knowledge connected with the race-course was acknowledged to be the most accomplished adept of his own time. He seems also to have been a skilful gamester and player of billiards. Writing to George Selwyn from Paris in 1763, he says:—'I won the first day about L2000, of which I brought off about L1500. All things are exaggerated, I am supposed to have won at least twice as much.' In 1765 he is said to have won two thousand louis of a German at billiards. Writing to Selwyn, Gilly Williams says of him: 'I did not know he was more an adept at that game than you are at any other, but I think you are both said to be losers on the whole, at least Betty says that her letters mention you as pillaged.'

Among the numerous occasions on which the name of the Duke of Queensberry came before the public in connection with sporting matters, may be mentioned the circumstance of the following curious trial, which took place before Lord Mansfield in the Court of King's Bench, in 1771. The Duke of Queensberry, then Lord March, was the plaintiff, and a Mr Pigot the defendant. The object of this trial was to recover the sum of five hundred guineas, being the amount of a wager laid by the duke With Mr Pigot—whether Sir William Codrington or OLD Mr Pigot should die first. It had singularly happened that Mr Pigot died suddenly the SAME MORNING, of the gout in his head, but before either of the parties interested in the result of the wager could by any possibility have been made acquainted with the fact. In the contemporary accounts of the trial, the Duke of Queensberry is mentioned as having been accommodated with a seat on the bench; while Lord Ossory, and several other noblemen, were examined on the merits of the case. By the counsel for the defendant it was argued that (as in the case of a horse dying before the day on which he was to be run) the wager was invalid and annulled. Lord Mansfield, however, was of a different opinion; and after a brief charge from that great lawyer, the jury brought in a verdict for the plaintiff for five hundred guineas, and he sentenced the defendant to defray the costs of the suit.(143)

(143) Jesse, George Selwyn and his Contemporaries, vol. i. p. 194.

This prince of debauchees seems to have surpassed every model of the kind, ancient or modern. In his prime he reproduced in his own drawing-room the scene of Paris and the Goddesses, exactly as we see it in classic pictures, three of the most beautiful women of London representing the divinities as they appeared to Paris on Mount Ida, while he himself, dressed as the Dardan shepherd holding a GILDED apple (it should have been really golden) in his hand, conferred the prize on her whom he deemed the fairest. In his decrepit old age it was his custom, in fine sunny weather, to seat himself in his balcony in Piccadilly, where his figure was familiar to every person who was in the habit of passing through that great thoroughfare. Here (his emaciated figure rendered the more conspicuous from his custom of holding a parasol over his head) he was in the habit of watching every attractive female form, and ogling every pretty face that met his eye. He is said, indeed, to have kept a pony and a servant in constant readiness, in order to follow and ascertain the residence of any fair girl whose attractions particularly caught his fancy! At this period the old man was deaf with one ear, blind with one eye, nearly toothless, and labouring under multiplied infirmities. But the hideous propensities of his prime still pursued him when all enjoyment was impossible. Can there be a greater penalty for unbridled licentiousness?


Mr Lumsden, whose inveterate love of gambling eventually caused his ruin, was to be seen every day at Frascati's, the celebrated gambling house kept by Mme Dunan, where some of the most celebrated women of the demi-monde usually congregated. He was a martyr to the gout, and his hands and knuckles were a mass of chalk-stones. He stuck to the Rouge et Noir table until everybody had left; and while playing would take from his pocket a small slate, upon which he would rub his chalk-stones until blood flowed. 'Having on one occasion been placed near him at the Rouge et Noir table, I ventured,' says Captain Gronow, 'to expostulate with him for rubbing his knuckles against his slate. He coolly answered, "I feel relieved when I see the blood ooze out."'

Mr Lumsden was remarkable for his courtly manners; but his absence of mind was astonishing, for he would frequently ask his neighbour WHERE HE WAS! Crowds of men and women would congregate behind his chair, to look at 'the mad Englishman,' as he was called; and his eccentricities used to amuse even the croupiers. After losing a large fortune at this den of iniquity, Mr Lumsden encountered every evil of poverty, and died in a wretched lodging in the Rue St Marc.(144)

(144) Gronow, Last Recollections.


General Scott, the father-in-law of George Canning and the Duke of Portland, was known to have won at White's L200,000, thanks to his notorious sobriety and knowledge of the game of Whist. The general possessed a great advantage over his companions by avoiding those indulgences at the table which used to muddle other men's brains. He confined himself to dining off something like a boiled chicken, with toast and water; by such a regimen he came to the Whist table with a clear head; and possessing as he did a remarkable memory, with great coolness of judgment, he was able honestly to win the enormous sum of L200,000.


Richard Bennet had gone through every walk of a blackleg, from being a billiard sharper at a table in Bell Alley until he became a keeper or partner in all the 'hells' in St James's. In each stage of his journey he had contrived to have so much the better of his competitors, that he was enabled to live well, to bring up and educate a large legitimate family, and to gratify all his passions and sensuality. But besides all this, he accumulated an ample fortune, which this inveterate gamester did actually possess when the terriers of justice overtook and hunted him into the custody of the Marshal of the Court of Queen's Bench. Here he was sentenced to be imprisoned a certain time, on distinct indictments, for keeping different gaming houses, and was ordered to be kept in custody until he had also paid fines to the amount, we believe, of L4000. Bennet, however, after undergoing the imprisonment, managed to get himself discharged without paying the fines.


Dennis O'Kelly was the Napoleon of the turf and the gaming table. Ascot was his elysium. His horses occupied him by day and the Hazard table by night. At the latter one night he was seen repeatedly turning over a QUIRE OF BANK NOTES, and a gentleman asked him what he was looking for, when he replied, 'I am looking for a LITTLE ONE.' The inquirer said he could accommodate him, and desired to know for what sum. Dennis O'Kelly answered, 'I want a FIFTY, or something of THAT SORT, just to set the CASTER. At this moment it was supposed he had seven or eight THOUSAND pounds in notes in his hand, but not one for less than a HUNDRED!

Dennis O'Kelly always threw with great success; and when he held the box he was seldom known to refuse throwing for ANY SUM that the company chose to set him. He was always liberal in SETTING THE CASTER, and preventing a stagnation of trade at the TABLE, which, from the great property always about him, it was his good fortune very frequently to deprive of its last floating guinea, when the box of course became dormant for want of a single adventurer.

It was his custom to carry a great number of bank notes in his waistcoat pocket, twisted up together, with the greatest indifference; and on one occasion, in his attendance at a Hazard table at Windsor, during the races, being a STANDING better and every chair full, a person's hand was observed, by those on the opposite side of the table, just in the act of drawing two notes out of his pocket. The alarm was given, and the hand, from the person behind, was instantly withdrawn, and the notes left sticking out. The company became clamorous for taking the offender before a magistrate, and many attempted to secure him for the purpose; but Captain Dennis O'Kelly very philosophically seized him by the collar, kicked him down-stairs, and exultingly exclaimed, ''Twas a SUFFICIENT PUNISHMENT to be deprived of the pleasure of keeping company with JONTLEMEN.'

A bet for a large sum was once proposed to this 'Admirable Crichton' of the turf and the gaming table, and accepted. The proposer asked O'Kelly where lay his ESTATES to answer for the amount if he lost?' 'My estates!' cried O'Kelly. 'Oh, if that's what you MANE, I've a MAP of them here'—and opening his pocket-book he exhibited bank notes to TEN TIMES the sum in question, and ultimately added the INQUIRER'S contribution to them.

Such was the wonderful son of Erin, 'Captain' or 'Colonel' Dennis O'Kelly. One would like to know what ultimately became of him.


Jack Tether, Bob W—r, Tom H—ll, Captain O'Kelly, and others, spent with Dick England a great part of the plunder of poor Clutterbuck, a clerk of the Bank of England, who not only lost his all, but robbed the Bank of an immense sum to pay his 'debts of honour.'

A Mr B—, a Yorkshire gentleman, proposed to his brother-in-law, who was with him, to put down ten pounds each and try their luck at the 'Hell' kept by 'the Clerks of the Minster,' in the Minster Yard, next the Church. It was the race-week. There were about thirteen Greeks there, Dick England at their head. Mr B— put down L10. England then called 'Seven the main—if seven or eleven is thrown next, the Caster wins.' Of course Dick intended to win; but he blundered in his operation; he LANDED at six and the other did not answer his hopes. Yet, with matchless effrontery, he swore he had called SIX and not seven; and as it was referred to the majority of the goodly company, thirteen HONEST GENTLEMEN gave it in Dick England's favour, and with him divided the spoil.

A Mr D—, a gentleman of considerable landed property in the North, proposed passing a few days at Scarborough. Dick England saw his carriage enter the town, and contrived to get into his company and go with him to the rooms. When the assembly was over, he prevailed on Mr D— to sup with him. After supper Mr D— was completely intoxicated, and every effort to make him play was tried in vain.

This was, of course, very provoking; but still something must be done, and a very clever scheme they hit upon to try and 'do' this 'young man from the country.' Dick England and two of his associates played for five minutes, and then each of them marked a card as follows:—'D— owes me one hundred guineas,' 'D— owes me eighty guineas;' but Dick marked HIS card—'I owe D—thirty guineas.'

The next day, Mr D— met Dick England on the cliff and apologized for his excess the night before, hoping he had given no offence 'when drunk and incapable.' Having satisfied the gentleman on this point, Dick England presented him with a thirty-guinea note, which, in spite of contradiction, remonstrance, and denial of any play having taken place, he forced on Mr D— as his FAIR WINNING—adding that he had paid hundreds to gentlemen in liquor, who knew nothing of it till he had produced the account. Of course Mr D— could not help congratulating himself at having fallen in with a perfect gentleman, as well as consoling himself for any head-ache or other inconvenience resulting from his night's potation. They parted with gushing civilities between them.

Soon afterwards, however, two other gentlemen came up to Mr D—, whom the latter had some vague recollection of having seen the evening before, in company with Dick England; and at length, from what the two gentlemen said, he had no doubt of the fact, and thought it a fit opportunity to make a due acknowledgment of the gentlemanly conduct of their friend, who had paid him a bet which he had no remembrance of having made.

No mood could be better for the purpose of the meeting; so the two gentlemen not only approved of the conduct of Dick, and descanted on the propriety of paying drunken men what they won, but also declared that no GENTLEMAN would refuse to pay a debt of honour won from him when drunk; and at once begged leave to 'remind' Mr D— that he had lost to them 180 guineas! In vain the astounded Mr D— denied all knowledge of the transaction; the gentlemen affected to be highly indignant, and talked loudly of injured honour. Besides, had he not received 30 guineas from their friend? So he assented, and appointed the next morning to settle the matter.

Fortunately for Mr D—, however, some intelligent friends of his arrived in the mean time, and having heard his statement about the whole affair, they 'smelt a rat,' and determined to ferret it out. They examined the waiter—previously handing him over five guineas—and this man declared the truth that Mr D— did not play at all—in fact, that he was in such a condition that there could not be any real play. Dick England was therefore 'blown' on this occasion. Mr D— returned him his thirty guineas, and paid five guineas for his share of the supper; and well he might, considering that it very nearly cost him 150 guineas—that is, having to receive 30 guineas and to pay 180 guineas to the Greeks—profit and loss with a vengeance.

Being thus 'blown' at Scarborough, Dick England and his associates decamped on the following morning.

He next formed a connection with a lieutenant on half pay, nephew to an Irish earl. With this lieutenant he went to Spa, and realized something considerable; but not without suspicion—for a few dice were missed.

Dick England returned to London, where he shortly disagreed with the lieutenant. The latter joined the worthy before described, Captain O'Kelly, who was also at enmity with Dick England; and the latter took an opportunity of knocking their heads together in a public coffee-room, and thrashing them both till they took shelter under the tables. Dick had the strength of an ox, the ferocity of a bull-dog, and 'the cunning of the serpent,' although what the latter is no naturalist has ever yet discovered or explained.

The lieutenant determined on revenge for the thrashing. He had joined his regiment, and he 'peached' against his former friend, disclosing to the officers the circumstance of the dice at Spa, before mentioned; and, of course, upset all the designs of Dick England and his associates. This enraged all the blacklegs; a combination was formed against the lieutenant; and he was shot through the head by 'a brother officer,' who belonged to the confraternity.

The son of an earl lost forty thousand pounds in play to Dick England; and shot himself at Stacie's Hotel in consequence—the very night before his honourable father sent his steward to pay the 'debt of honour' in full—though aware that his son had been cheated out of it.

But the most extraordinary 'pass' of Dick England's career is still to be related—not without points in it which make it difficult to believe, in spite of the evidence, that it is the same 'party' who was concerned in it. Here it is.

In the Gentleman's Magazine, in Gilchrist's Collection of British Duels, in Dr Millingen's reproduction of the latter, the following account occurs:—

'Mr Richard England was put to the bar at the Old Bailey, charged with the "wilful murder" of Mr Rowlls, brewer, of Kingston, in a duel at Cranford-bridge, June 18, 1784.

'Lord Derby, the first witness, gave evidence that he was present at Ascot races. When in the stand upon the race-course, he heard Mr England cautioning the gentlemen present not to bet with the deceased, as he neither paid what he lost nor what he borrowed. On which Mr Rowlls went up to him, called him rascal or scoundrel, and offered to strike him; when Mr England bid him stand off, or he would be obliged to knock him down; saying, at the same time—"We have interrupted the company sufficiently here, and if you have anything further to say to me, you know where I am to be found." A further altercation ensued; but his Lordship being at the other end of the stand, did not distinctly hear it, and then the parties retired.

'Lord Dartrey, afterwards Lord Cremorne, and his lady, with a gentleman, were at the inn at the time the duel was fought. They went into the garden and endeavoured to prevent the duel; several other persons were collected in the garden. Mr Rowlls desired his Lordship and others not to interfere; and on a second attempt of his Lordship to make peace, Mr Rowlls said, if they did not retire, he must, though reluctantly, call them impertinent. Mr England at the same time stepped forward, and took off his hat; he said—"Gentlemen, I have been cruelly treated; I have been injured in my honour and character; let reparation be made, and I am ready to have done this moment." Lady Dartrey retired. His Lordship stood in the bower of the garden until he saw Mr Rowlls fall. One or two witnesses were called, who proved nothing material. A paper, containing the prisoner's defence, being read, the Earl of Derby, the Marquis of Hertford, Sir Whitbread, jun., Colonel Bishopp, and other gentlemen, were called to his character. They all spoke of him as a man of decent gentlemanly deportment, who, instead of seeking quarrels, was studious to avoid them. He had been friendly to Englishmen while abroad, and had rendered some service to the military at the siege of Newport.

'Mr Justice Rooke summoned up the evidence; after which the jury retired for about three quarters of an hour, when they returned a verdict of "manslaughter."

'The prisoner having fled from the laws of his country for twelve years, the Court was disposed to show no lenity. He was therefore sentenced to pay a fine of one shilling, and be imprisoned in Newgate twelve months.'

This trial took place in the year 1796, and the facts in evidence give a strange picture of the times. A duel actually fought in the garden of an inn, a noble lord close by in a bower therein, and his lady certainly within HEARING of the shots, and doubtless a spectator of the bloody spectacle. But this is not the point,—the incomprehensible point,—to which I have alluded—which is, how Lord Derby and the other gentlemen of the highest standing could come forward to speak to the character of DICK ENGLAND, if he was the same man who killed the unfortunate brewer of Kingston?

Here is ANOTHER account of the matter, which warrants the doubt, although it is fearfully circumstantial, as to the certain identity:—

'Mr William Peter le Rowles, of Kingston, brewer, was habitually fond of play. On one occasion he was induced—when in a state of intoxication—to play with Dick England, who claimed, in consequence, winnings to the amount of two hundred guineas. Mr le Rowles utterly denied the debt, and was in consequence pursued by England until he was compelled to a duel, in which Mr le Rowles fell. Lord Dartrey, afterwards Lord Cremorne, was present at Ascot Heath races on the fatal occasion, which happened in 1784; and his evidence before the coroner's inquest produced a verdict of wilful murder against Dick England, who fled at the time, but returned twelve years afterwards, was tried, and found guilty of manslaughter only. He was imprisoned for twelve months. England was strongly suspected of highway robberies; particularly on one occasion, when his associate, F—, was shot dead by Col. P— on his return from the Curragh races to the town of Naas. The Marquis of Hertford, Lords Derby and Cremorne, Colonels Bishopp and Wollaston, and Messrs Whitbread, Breton, &c., were evidences in the trial.'(145)

(145) The Gaming Calendar, by Seymour Harcourt.

It may seem strange that such a man as Dick England could procure such distinguished 'witnesses to character.' The thing is easily explained, however. They knew the man only as a turf companion. We can come to no other conclusion,—remembering other instances of the kind. For example, the case of Palmer, convicted for the poisoning of Cooke. Had Palmer been on his trial merely for fighting a fatal duel; there can be no doubt that several noblemen would have come forward to give him a good character. I was present at his trial, and saw him BOW TO ONE, AT LEAST, OF OUR MOST DISTINGUISHED NOBLEMEN when the latter took his seat near the judge, at the trial. There was a TURF ACQUAINTANCESHIP between them, and, of course, all 'acquaintanceship' may be presumed upon, if we lay ourselves open to the degradation.

The following is a curious case in point. A gentleman of the highest standing and greatest respectability was accosted by a stranger to whom he said—'Sir, you have the advantage of me.' 'Oh!' rejoined the former, 'don't you remember when we used to meet at certain parties at Bath many years ago?' 'Well, sir,' exclaimed the gentleman, 'you may speak to me should you ever again meet me at certain parties at Bath, but nowhere else.'


This famous gamester died in 1792, by a cold caught in 'a round-house,' or place of detention, to which he had been taken by Justice Hyde, from a gaming table.

When too ill to rise out of his chair, he would be carried in that chair to the Hazard table.

He was supposed to have been the utter ruin of above forty persons at play. He fought eleven duels.


The Duc de Mirefois was ambassador at the British Court, and was extremely fond of chess. A reverend gentleman being nearly his equal, they frequently played together. At that time the clergyman kept a petty day-school in a small village, and had a living of not more than twenty pounds a-year. The French nobleman made uncommon interest with a noble duke, through whose favour he obtained for his reverend protege a living of about L600 per annum—an odd way of obtaining the 'cure of souls!'


'Some years since I was lieutenant in a regiment, which the alarm and policy of administration occasioned to be quartered in the vicinity of the metropolis, where I was for the first time. A young nobleman of very distinguished family undertook to be my conductor. Alas! to what scenes did he introduce me! To places of debauchery and dens of destruction. I need not detail particulars. From the lures of the courtesan we went to an adjoining gaming room. Though I thought my knowledge of cards superior to those I saw play that night, I touched no card nor dice. From this my conductor, a brother officer, and myself adjourned to Pall Mall. We returned to our lodgings about six o'clock in the morning.

'I could think of nothing but Faro's magic centre, and longed for the next evening, when I determined to enter that path which has led so many to infamy, beggary, and suicide. I began cautiously, and for some time had reason to be satisfied with my success. It enabled me to live expensively. I made golden calculations of my future fortune as I improved in skill. My manuals were treatises on gaming and chances, and no man understood this doctrine better than I did. I, however, did not calculate the disparity of resisting powers—my purse with FIFTY guineas, and the Faro bank with a hundred thousand. It was ruin only which opened my eyes to this truism at last.

'Good meats, good cooking, and good wines, given gratis and plenteously, at these houses, drew many to them at first, for the sake of the society. Among them I one evening chanced to see a clerical prig, who was incumbent of a parish adjoining that in which my mother lived. I was intoxicated with wine and pleasure, when I, on this occasion, entered a haunt of ruin and enterprising avarice in Pall Mall. I played high and lost in proportion.

'The spirit of adventure was now growing on me every day. I was sometimes very successful. Yet my health was impaired, and my temper soured by the alternation of good and bad fortune, and my pity or contempt for those with whom I associated. From the nobleman, whose acres were nightly melting in the dice box, there were adventurers even to the UNFLEDGED APPRENTICE, who came with the pillage of his unsuspecting master's till, to swell the guilty bank of Dame N— and Co. Were the Commissioners of Bankruptcy to know how many citizens are prepared for them at those houses, they would be bound to thank them.

'Many a score of guineas have I won of tradesmen, who seemed only to turn an honest penny in Leadenhall Street, Aldgate, Birchin Lane, Cornhill, Cheapside, Holborn, the Borough, and other eastern spots of industry; but I fleeced them only for the benefit of the Faro bank, which is sure, finally, to absorb the gain of all. Some of the croupiers would call their gold GIFTS OF THE WISE MEN OF THE EAST; others termed their guineas COCKNEY COUNTERS!

'One night I had such a run of luck in the Hazard room, which was rather thinly attended, that I won everything, and with my load of treasure collected from the East and West, nay, probably, some of it from Finchley Common and Hounslow Heath, I went, in the flush of success, to attack the Faro bank.

'It was my determination, however, if fortune favoured me through the night, never to tempt her more. For some hours I proceeded in the torture of suspense, alternately agitated by hope and fear—but by five o'clock in the morning I attained a state of certainty similar to that of a wretch ushered into the regions of the damned. I had lost L3500 guineas, which I had brought with me from the Hazard table, together with L2000 which the bank advanced me on my credit. There they stopped; and, with an apathy peculiar to themselves, listened to a torrent of puerile abuse which I vented against them in my despair.

'Two days and two nights I shut myself up, to indulge in the most racking reflections. I was ruined beyond repair, and I had, on the third morning, worked myself up to resort for relief to a loaded pistol. I rang for my servant to bring me some gunpowder, and was debating with myself whether to direct its force to my brain or my heart, when he entered with a letter. It was from Harriet ——. She had heard of my misfortunes, and urged me with the soul and pen of a heroine, to fly the destructive habits of the town, and to wait for nine months, when her minority would expire, and she would come into the uncontrolled possession of L1700. With that small sum she hoped my expenses, talents, and domestic comfort, under her housewifery, would create a state of happiness and independence which millions could not procure in the mad career which I had pursued.

'This was the voice of a guardian angel in the moment of despair. In her next, at my request, she informed me that the channel of her early and minute information was the clerical prig, her neighbour and admirer, who was related to one of the croupiers at ——, and had from him a regular detail of my proceedings.

'Soothed by the magic influence of my virtuous Harriet, instead of calling the croupier to account, I wrote to the proprietors of the bank, stating my ruined condition, and my readiness to sell my commission and pay them what I could. These gentlemen have friends in every department. They completed the transfer of my lieutenancy in two days, and then, in their superabundant humanity, offered me the place of croupier in an inferior house which they kept near Hanover Square. This offer I declined; and after having paid my tradesman's bill, I left London with only eleven guineas in my pocket. I married the best of women, my preserver, and have ever since lived in real comfort and happiness, on an income less than one hundred pounds a year.'


A stranger plainly dressed took his seat at a Faro table, when the bank was richer than usual. After some little routine play, he challenged the bank, and tossed his pocket-book to the banker that he might be satisfied of his responsibility. It was found to contain bills to an immense amount; and on the banker showing reluctance to accept the challenge, the stranger sternly demanded compliance with the laws of the game. The card soon turned up which decided the ruin of the banker. 'Heaven!' exclaimed an old infirm Austrian officer, who had sat next to the stranger—'the twentieth part of your gains would make me the happiest man in the universe!' The stranger briskly answered—'You shall have it, then;' and quitted the room. A servant speedily returned, and presented the officer with the twentieth part of the bank, adding—'My master requires no answer, sir,' and went out. The successful stranger was soon recognized to be the great King of Prussia in disguise.


If we are to believe Pere Menestrier, the institution of Lotteries is to be found in the Bible, in the words—'The LOT causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty,' Prov. xviii. 18. Be that as it may, it is certain that lotteries were in use among the ancient Romans, taking place during the Saturnalia, or festivities in honour of the god Saturn, when those who took part in them received a numbered ticket, which entitled the bearer to a prize. During the reign of Augustus the thing became a means of gratifying the cupidity of his courtiers; and Nero used it as the method of distributing his gifts to the people,—granting as many as a thousand tickets a day, some of them entitling the bearers to slaves, ships, houses, and lands. Domitian compelled the senators and knights to participate in the lotteries, in order to debase them; and Heliogabalus, in his fantastic festivities, distributed tickets which entitled the bearers to camels, flies, and other odd things suggested by his madness. In all this, however, the distinctive character of modern lotteries was totally absent: the tickets were always gratuitous; so that if the people did not win anything, they never lost.

In the Middle Ages the same practice prevailed at the banquets of feudal princes, who apportioned their presents economically, and without the fear of exciting jealousy among the recipients, by granting lottery tickets indiscriminately to their friends. The practice afterwards descended to the merchants; and in Italy, during the 16th century, it became a favourite mode of disposing of their wares.

The application of lotteries by paid tickets to the service of the state is said to have originated at Florence, under the name of 'Lotto,' in 1530; others say at Genoa, under the following circumstances:—It had long been customary in the latter city to choose annually, by ballot, five members of the Senate (composed of 90 persons) in order to form a particular council. Some persons took this opportunity of laying bets that the lot would fall on such or such senators. The government, seeing with what eagerness the people interested themselves in these bets, conceived the idea of establishing a lottery on the same principle, which was attended with such great success, that all the cities of Italy wished to participate in it, and sent large sums of money to Genoa for that purpose.

To increase the revenues of the Church, the Pope also was induced to establish a lottery at Rome; the inhabitants of which place became so fond of this species of gambling, that they often deprived themselves and their families of the necessaries of life, that they might have money to lay out in this speculation.

The French borrowed the idea from the Italians. In the year 1520, under Francis I., lotteries were permitted by edict under the name of Blanques, from the Italian bianca carta, 'white tickets,'— because all the losing tickets were considered BLANKS;—hence the introduction of the word into common talk, with a similar meaning. From the year 1539 the state derived a revenue from the lotteries, although from 1563 to 1609 the French parliament repeatedly endeavoured to suppress them as social evils. At the marriage of Louis XIV. a lottery was organized to distribute the royal presents to the people—after the fashion of the Roman emperor. Lotteries were multiplied during this reign and that of Louis XV. In 1776 the Royal Lottery of France was established. This was abolished in 1793, re-established at the commencement of the Republic; but finally all lotteries were prohibited by law in 1836,—excepting 'for benevolent purposes.' One of the most remarkable of these lotteries 'for benevolent purposes' was the 'Lottery of the Gold Lingots,' authorized in 1849, to favour emigration to California. In this lottery the grand prize was a lingot of gold valued at about L1700.

The old French lottery consisted of 90 numbers, that is, from No. 1 to No. 90, and the drawing was five numbers at a time. Five wheels were established at Paris, Lyons, Strasbourg, Bordeaus, and Lille. A drawing took place every ten days at each city. The exit of a single number was called extrait, and it won 15 times the amount deposited, and 70 times if the number was determined; the exit of two numbers was called the ambe, winning 270 times the deposit, and 5100 times if the number was determined;—the exit of three numbers was called the terne, winning 5500 times; the quaterne, or exit of four numbers, won 75,000 times the deposit. In all this, however, the chances were greatly in favour of the state banker;—in the extrait the chances were 18 to 15 in his favour, vastly increasing, of course, in the remainder; thus in the ambe it was 1602 against 270; and so on.

The first English lottery mentioned in history was drawn in the year 1569. It consisted of 400,000 lots, at 10s. each lot. The prizes were plate; and the profits were to go towards repairing the havens or ports of this kingdom. It was drawn at the west door of St Paul's Cathedral. The drawing began on the 10th of January, 1569, and continued incessantly, DAY AND NIGHT, till the 6th of May following.(146) Another lottery was held at the same place in 1612, King James having permitted it in favour of 'the plantation of English colonies in Virginia.' One Thomas Sharplys, a tailor of London, won the chief prize, which was '4000 crowns in fair plate.'

(146) The printed scheme of this lottery is still in the possession of the Antiquarian Society of London.

In 1680, a lottery was granted to supply London with water. At the end of the 17th century, the government being in want of money to carry on the war, resorted to a lottery, and L1,200,000 was set apart or NAMED for the purpose. The tickets were all disposed of in less than six months, friends and enemies joining in the speculation. It was a great success; and when right-minded people murmured at the impropriety of the thing, they were told to hold their tongues, and assured that this lottery was the very queen of lotteries, and that it had just taken Namur!(147)

(147) This town was captured in 1695, by William III.

At the same time the Dutch gave in to the infatuation with the utmost enthusiasm; lotteries were established all over Holland; and learned professors and ministers of the gospel spoke of nothing else but the lottery to their pupils and hearers.

From this time forward the spirit of gambling increased so rapidly and grew so strong in England, that in the reign of Queen Anne private lotteries had to be suppressed as public nuisances.

The first parliamentary lottery was instituted in 1709, and from this period till 1824 the passing of a lottery bill was in the programme of every session. Up to the close of the 18th century the prizes were generally paid in the form of terminable, and sometimes of perpetual, annuities. Loans were also raised by granting a bonus of lottery tickets to all who subscribed a certain amount.

This gambling of annuities, despite the restrictions of an act passed in 1793, soon led to an appalling amount of vice and misery; and in 1808, a committee of the House of Commons urged the suppression of this ruinous mode of filling the national exchequer. The last public lottery in Great Britain was drawn in October, 1826.

The lotteries exerted a most baneful influence on trade, by relaxing the sinews of industry and fostering the destructive spirit of gaming among all orders of men. Nor was that all. The stream of this evil was immensely swelled and polluted, in open defiance of the law, by a set of artful and designing men, who were ever on the watch to allure and draw in the ignorant and unwary by the various modes and artifices of 'insurance,' which were all most flagrant and gross impositions on the public, as well as a direct violation of the law. One of the most common and notorious of these schemes was the insuring of numbers for the next day's drawing, at a premium which (if legal) was much greater than adequate to the risk. Thus, in 1778, when the just premium of the lottery was only 7s. 6d., the office-keepers charged 9s., which was a certain gain of nearly 30 per cent.; and they aggravated the fraud as the drawing advanced.

On the sixteenth day of drawing the just premium was not quite 20s., whereas the office-keepers charged L1 4s. 6d., which clearly shows the great disadvantage that every person laboured under who was imprudent enough to be concerned in the insurance of numbers.(148)

(148) Public Ledger, Dec. 3, 1778.

In every country where lotteries were in operation numbers were ruined at the close of each drawing, and of these not a few sought an oblivion of their folly ill self-murder—by the rope, the razor, or the river.

A more than usual number of adventurers were said to have been ruined in the lottery of 1788, owing to the several prizes continuing long in the wheel (which gave occasion to much gambling), and also to the desperate state of certain branches of trade, caused by numerous and important bankruptcies. The suicides increased in proportion. Among them one person made herself remarkable by a thoughtful provision to prevent disappointment. A woman, who had scraped everything together to put into the lottery, and who found herself ruined at its close, fixed a rope to a beam of sufficient strength; but lest there should be any accidental failure in the beam or rope, she placed a large tub of water underneath, that she might drop into it; and near her also were two razors on a table ready to be used, if hanging or drowning should prove ineffectual.

A writer of the time gives the following account of the excitement that prevailed during the drawing of the lottery:—'Indeed, whoever wishes to know what are the "blessings" of a lottery, should often visit Guildhall during the time of its drawing,—when he will see thousands of workmen, servants, clerks, apprentices, passing and repassing, with looks full of suspense and anxiety, and who are stealing at least from their master's time, if they have not many of them also robbed him of his property, in order to enable them to become adventurers. In the next place, at the end of the drawing, let our observer direct his steps to the shops of the pawnbrokers, and view, as he may, the stock, furniture, and clothes of many hundred poor families, servants, and others, who have been ruined by the lottery. If he wish for further satisfaction, let him attend at the next Old Bailey Sessions, and hear the death-warrant of many a luckless gambler in lotteries, who has been guilty of subsequent theft and forgery; or if he seek more proof, let him attend to the numerous and horrid scenes of self-murder, which are known to accompany the closing of the wheels of fortune each year:(149) and then let him determine on "the wisdom and policy" of lotteries in a commercial city.'

(149) A case is mentioned of two servants who, having lost their all in lotteries, robbed their master; and in order to prevent being seized and hanged in public, murdered themselves in private.

The capital prizes were so large that they excited the eagerness of hope; but the sum secured by the government was small when compared with the infinite mischief it occasioned. On opening the budget of 1788, the minister observed in the House of Commons, 'that the bargain he had this year for the lottery was so very good for the public, that it would produce a gain of L270,000, from which he would deduct L12,000 for the expenses of drawing, &c., and then there would remain a net produce of L258,000.' This result, therefore, was deemed extraordinary; but what was that to the extraordinary mischief done to the community by the authorization of excessive gambling!

Some curious facts are on record relating to the lotteries.

Until the year 1800 the drawing of the lottery (which usually consisted of 60,000 tickets for England alone) occupied forty-two days in succession; it was, therefore, about forty-two to one against any particular number being drawn the first day; if it remained in the wheel, it was forty-one to one against its being drawn on the second, &;c.; the adventurer, therefore, who could for eight-pence insure the return of a guinea, if a given number came up the first day, would naturally be led, if he failed, to a small increase of the deposit according to the decrease of the chance against him, until his number was drawn, or the person who took the insurance money would take it no longer.

In the inquiry respecting the mendicity of London, in 1815, Mr Wakefield declared his opinion that the lottery was a cause of mendicity; and related an instance—the case of an industrious man who applied to the Committee of Spitalfields Soup Society for relief; and when, on being asked his profession, said he was a 'Translator'—which, when TRANSLATED, signifies, it seems, the art of converting old boots and shoes into wearable ones; 'but the lottery is about to draw, and,' says he, 'I have no sale for boots or shoes during the time that the lottery draws'—the money of his customers being spent in the purchase of tickets, or the payment of 'insurances.' The 'translator' may have been mistaken as to the cause of his trade falling off; but there can be no doubt that the system of the lottery-drawing was a very infatuating mode of gambling, as the passion was kept alive from day to day; and though, perhaps, it did not create mendicity, yet it mainly contributed, with the gin-shops, night-cellars, obscure gambling houses, and places of amusement, to fill the PAWNBROKERS' shops, and diminish the profits of the worthy 'translator of old shoes.'(150)

(150) This term is still in use. I recently asked one of the craft if he called himself a translator. 'Yes, sir, not of languages, but old boots and shoes,' was the reply.

This reasoning, however, is very uncertain.

The sixteenth of a lottery ticket, which is the smallest share that can be purchased, has not for many years been sold under thirty shillings, a sum much too large for a person who buys old shoes 'translated,' and even for the 'translator' himself, to advance; we may therefore safely conclude that the purchase of tickets is not the mode of gambling by which Crispin's customers are brought to distress.

A great number of foreign lotteries still exist in vigorous operation. Some are supported by the state, and others are only authorized; most of them are flourishing. In Germany, especially, lotteries are abundant; immense properties are disposed of by this method. The 'bank' gains, of course, enormously; and, also of course, a great deal of trickery and swindling, or something like it, is perpetrated.

Foreign lottery tickets are now and then illegally offered in England. A few years ago there appeared an advertisement in the papers, offering a considerable income for the payment of one or two pounds. Upon inquiry it was found to be the agency of a foreign lottery! These tempting offers of advertising speculators are a cruel addition to the miseries of misfortune.

The Hamburg lottery seems to afford the most favourable representation of the system—as such—because in it all the money raised by the sale of tickets is redistributed in the drawing of the lots, with the exception of 10 per cent. deducted in expenses and otherwise; but nothing can compensate for the pernicious effects of the spirit of gambling which is fostered by lotteries, however fairly conducted. They are an unmitigated evil.

In the United States lotteries were established by Congress in 1776, but, save in the Southern States, heavy penalties are now imposed on persons attempting to establish them.

I need scarcely say that lotteries, whether foreign or British, are utterly forbidden by law, excepting those of Art Unions. The operations of these associations were indeed suspended in 1811; but in the following year an act indemnified those who embarked in them for losses which they had incurred by the arrest of their proceedings; and since that time they have been TOLERATED under the eye of the law without any express statute being framed for their exemption. It is thought, however, that they tend to keep up the spirit of gambling, and therefore ought not to be allowed even on the specious plea of favouring 'art.'

PRIVATE lotteries are now illegal at Common Law in Great Britain and Ireland; and penalties are also incurred by the advertisers of FOREIGN lotteries. Some years ago it became common in Scotland to dispose of merchandise by means of lotteries; but this is specially condemned in the statute 42 Geo. III. c. 119. An evasion of the law has been attempted by affixing a prize to every ticket, so as to make the transaction resemble a legal sale; but this has been punished as a fraud, even where it could be proved that the prize equalled in value the price of the ticket. The decision rested upon the plea that in such a transaction there was no definite sale of a specific article. Even the lotteries; for Twelfth Cakes, &c., are illegal, and render their conductors liable to the penalties of the law. Decisive action has been taken on this law, and the usual Christmas lotteries have been this year (1870) rigorously prohibited throughout the country. It is impossible to doubt the soundness of the policy that strives to check the spirit of gambling among the people; but still there may be some truth in the following remarks which appeared on the subject, in a leading journal:—

'We hear that the police have received directions to caution the promoters of lotteries for the distribution of game, wine, spirits, and other articles of this description, that these schemes are illegal, and that the offenders will be prosecuted. These attempts to enforce rigidly the provisions of the 10 and 11 William III., c. 17, 42 George III., c. 119, and to check the spirit of speculation which pervades so many classes in this country may possibly be successful, but as a mere question of morality there can be no doubt that Derby lotteries, and, in fact, all speculations on the turf or Stock Exchange, are open to quite as much animadversion as the Christmas lotteries for a little pig or an aged goose, which it appears are to be suppressed in future. Is it not also questionable policy to enforce every law merely because it is a law, unless its breach is productive of serious evil to the community? If every old Act of Parliament is rummaged out and brought to bear upon us, we fear we shall find ourselves in rather an uncomfortable position.

We cannot say whether or not the harm produced by these humble lotteries is sufficient to render their forcible suppression a matter of necessity. They certainly do produce an amount of indigestion which of itself must be no small penalty to pay for those whose misfortune it is to win the luxuries raffled for, but we never yet heard of any one being ruined by raffling for a pig or goose; and if our Government is going to be paternal and look after our pocket-money, we hope it will also be maternal and take some little interest in our health. The sanitary laws require putting into operation quite as much as the laws against public-house lotteries and skittles.'

No 'extenuating circumstances,' however, can be admitted respecting the notorious racing lotteries, in spite of the small figure of the tickets; nay this rather aggravates the danger, being a temptation to the thoughtless multitude. One of these lotteries, called the Deptford Spec., was not long ago suppressed by the strong arm of the law; but others still exist under different names. In one of these the law is thought to be evaded by the sale of a number of photographs; in another, a chance of winning on a horse is secured by the purchase of certain numbers of a newspaper struggling into existence; but the following is, perhaps, the drollest phase of the evasion as yet attempted:

'Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast.'—Rev., chap. xiii.


'HIS SATANIC MAJESTY purposes holding a series of Banquets, Levees, and DRAWING ROOMS at Pandemonium during the ensuing autumn, to each of which about 10,000 of his faithful disciples will be invited. H. S. M. will, at those drawing-rooms and receptions, NUMBER a lot of beasts, and distribute a series of REWARDS, varying in value from L100 to 10s. of her Britannic Majesty's money.

'Tickets One Shilling each, application for which must be made BY LETTER to His S. Majesty's Chamberlain, &c. &c. The LAST DRAWING-ROOM of this season will be held a few days before the Feast of the CROYDON STEEPLECHASES, &c. &c.



In ancient Rome all games of chance, with the exception of five which had relation to bodily vigour, were absolutely prohibited in public or private. The loser could not be sued for moneys lost, and could recover what he might have paid, such right being secured to his heirs against the heirs of the winner, even after the lapse of 30 years' prescription. During 50 years after the loss, should the loser or his heirs neglect their action, it was open to any one that chose to prosecute, and chiefly to the municipal authorities, the sum recovered to be expended in that case for public purposes. No surety for the payment of money for gambling purposes was bound. The betting on lawful games was restricted to a certain amount, beyond which the loser could recover moneys paid, and could not be sued for the amount. A person in whose house gambling had taken place, if struck or injured, or if robbed on the occasion thereof, was denied redress; but offences of gamblers among themselves were punishable. Blows or injuries might be inflicted on the gambling house keeper at any time and anywhere without being penal as against any person; but theft was not exempted from punishment, unless committed at the time of gambling—and not by a gambler. Children and freedmen could recover their losses as against their parents and patrons.

Cicero, in his second Philippic, speaks of a criminal process (publicum judicium) then in force against gamblers.

The laws of ancient Rome were, therefore, very stringent on this subject, although, there can be no doubt, without much effect.


At the time of the French Revolution warlike games alone conferred the right of action, restricted, however, in cases of excessive losses; games of strength and skill generally were lawful, but were considered as not giving any right of action; games of mere chance were prohibited, but minors alone were allowed to recover moneys lost.

By the present law of France no judicial action is allowed for gambling debts and wagers, except in the case of such games as depend upon bodily skill and effort, foot, horse, and chariot races, and others of the like nature: the claim may be rejected if the court considers it excessive; but moneys paid can never be recovered unless on the ground of fraud. The keepers of gaming houses, their managers or agents, are punishable with fine (100 to 6000 francs) and imprisonment (two to six months), and may be deprived of most of their civil rights.


By the Prussian Code all games of chance, except when licensed by the state, are prohibited. Gaming debts are not the subjects of action; but moneys paid cannot be sued for by losers. Wagers give a right of action when the stakes consist of cash in the hands of a third person; they are void if the winner had a knowledge of the event, and concealed it. Moneys lent for gambling or betting purposes, or to pay gambling or betting debts, cannot be sued for. Gaming house keepers and gamblers are punishable with fine; professed gamblers with imprisonment. Occasional cheating at play obliges to compensation; professed swindlers at play are punishable as for theft, and banished afterwards. Moneys won from a drunken man, if to a considerable amount, must be returned, and a fine paid of equal value.


In Austria no right of action is given either to the winner or the loser. All games of chance are prohibited except when licensed by the state. Cheating at play is punished with imprisonment, according to the amount of fraudulent gain. Playing at unlawful games, or allowing such to take place in one's house, subjects the party to a heavy fine, or in default, to imprisonment.


The provisions of the Sardinian Civil Code are similar to those of the French, giving an action for moneys won at games of strength or skill—when not excessive in amount; but not allowing the recovery of moneys lost, except on the ground of fraud or MINORITY, a provision taken from the OLD French law.


By the Bavarian Code games of skill, and of mixed skill and chance, are not forbidden. The loser cannot refuse to pay, nor can he recover his losses, provided the sport be honestly conducted, and the stakes not excessive, having regard to the rank, character, and fortune of the parties. In cases of fraudulent and excessive gaming, and in all games of mere chance, the winner cannot claim his winnings, but must repay the loser on demand. In the two latter cases (apparently) both winner and loser are liable to a fine, equal in amount,—for the first time of conviction, to one-third of the stakes; for the second time, to two-thirds; and for the third time, to the whole: in certain cases the bank is to be confiscated. Hotel and coffee-house keepers, &c., who allow gambling on their premises, are punished for the first offence by a fine of 50 florins; for the second, with one of 100 florins; for the third, with the loss of the license. The punishment of private persons for the like offence is left to the discretion of the judge. UNLAWFUL games may be LEGALIZED by authority; but in such case, fraud or gross excess disables the winner from claiming moneys won, renders him liable to repayment, and subjects him to arbitrary punishment. IMMORAL wagers are void; and EXCESSIVE wagers are to be reduced in amount. Betting on indifferent things is not prohibited, nor even as to a known and certain thing—when there is no deception. No wager is void on account of mere disparity of odds. Professed gamblers, who also cheat at play, and their accomplices, and the setters-up and collectors of fictitious lotteries, are subject to imprisonment, with hard labour, for a term of from four to eight years.

Although, therefore, cheating gamblers are liable to punishment in Bavaria, it is evident that gambling is there tolerated to the utmost extent required by the votaries of Fortune.


Wagers appear to be lawful in Spain, when not in themselves fraudulent, or relating to anything illegal or immoral.


In England some of the forms of gambling or gaming have been absolutely forbidden under heavy penalties, whilst others have been tolerated, but at the same time discouraged; and the reasons for the prohibition were not always directed against the impropriety or iniquity of the practice in itself;—thus it was alleged in an Act passed in 1541, that for the sake of the games the people neglected to practise ARCHERY, through which England had become great—'to the terrible dread and fear of all strange nations.'

The first of the strictly-called Gaming Acts is one of Charles II.'s reign, which was intended to check the habit of gambling so prevalent then, as before stated. By this Act it was ordered that, if any one shall play at any pastime or game, by gaming or betting with those who game, and shall lose more than one hundred pounds on credit, he shall not be bound to pay, and any contract to do so shall be void. In consequence of this Act losers of a less amount—whether less wealthy or less profligate—and the whole of the poorer classes, remained unprotected from the cheating of sharpers, for it must be presumed that nobody has a right to refuse to pay a fair gambling debt, since he would evidently be glad to receive his winnings. No doubt much misery followed through the contrivances of sharpers; still it was a salutary warning to gamesters of the poorer classes—whilst in the higher ranks the 'honour' of play was equally stringent, and, I may add, in many cases ruinous. By the recital of the Act it is evident that the object was to check and put down gaming as a business profession, 'to gain a living;' and therefore it specially mulcted the class out of which 'adventurers' in this line usually arise.

The Act of Queen Anne, by its sweeping character, shows that gaming had become very virulent, for by it not only were all securities for money lost at gaming void, but money actually paid, if more than L10, might be recovered in an action at law; not only might this be done, within three months, by the loser himself, but by any one else—together with treble the value—half for himself, and half for the poor of the parish. Persons winning, by fraudulent means, L10 and upwards at any game were condemned by this Act to pay five times the amount or value of the thing won, and, moreover, they were to 'be deemed infamous, and suffer such corporal punishment as in cases of wilful perjury.' The Act went further:—if persons were suspected of getting their living by gaming, they might be summoned before a magistrate, required to show that the greater portion of their income did not depend upon gaming, and to find sureties for their good behaviour during twelve months, or be committed to gaol.

There were, besides, two curious provisions;—any one assaulting or challenging another to a duel on account of disputes over gaming, should forfeit all his goods and be imprisoned for two years; secondly, the royal palaces of St James's and Whitehall were exempted from the operation of this statute, so long as the sovereign was actually resident within them—which last clause probably showed that the entire Draconian enactment was but a farce. It is quite certain that it was inoperative, and that it did no more than express the conscience of the legislature—in deference to PRINCIPLE, 'which nobody could deny.'

After the lapse of many years—the evil being on the increase—the legislature stirred again during the reign of George II., and passed several Acts against gaming. The games of Faro, Basset, Hazard, &c., in fact, all games with dice, were proscribed under a penalty of L200 against the provider of the game, and L50 a time for the players. Roulette or Roly Poly, termed in the Act 'a certain pernicious game,' was interdicted, under the penalty of five times the value of the thing or sum lost at it.

Thus stood the statute law against gaming down to the year 1845, when, in consequence of the report of the select committee which sat on the subject, a new enactment was promulgated, which is in force at the present time.

It was admitted that the laws in force against gaming were 'of no avail to prevent the mischiefs which may happen therefrom;' and the lawgivers enacted a comprehensive measure on the subject. Much of the old law—for instance, the prohibition of games which interfered with the practice of ARCHERY—was repealed; also the Acts of Charles II., of Queen Anne, and a part of that of George II.—Gaming houses, in which a bank is kept by one or more of the players, or in which the chances of play are not alike favourable to the players—being declared unlawful, as of old. Billiards, bagatelle, or 'any game of the kind' (open, of course, to legal discussion), may be played in private houses, or in licensed houses; but still, in the case of licensed houses of public resort, the police may enter at any time to see that the law is complied with. 'Licensed for Billiards' must be legibly printed on some conspicuous place near the door and outside a licensed house. Billiards and like games may not be played in public rooms after one, and before eight, o'clock in the morning of any day, nor on Sundays, Christmas Day, Good Friday, nor on any public fast or thanksgiving. Publicans whose houses are licensed for billiards must not allow persons to play at any time when public-houses are not allowed to be open.

'In order to constitute the house a common gaming house, it is not necessary to prove that any person found playing at any game was playing for any money, wager, or stake. The police may enter the house on the report of a superintendent, and the authority of a commissioner, without the necessity of an allegation of two householders; and if any cards, dice, balls, counters, tables, or other instruments of gaming be found in the house, or about the person of any of those who shall be found therein, such discovery shall be evidence against the establishment until the contrary be made to appear. Those who shall appear as witnesses, moreover, are protected from the consequences of having been engaged in unlawful gaming.'(151)

(151) Chambers's Cyclopaedia, Art. Gambling.

The penalty of cheating at any game is liability to penal servitude for three years—the delinquent being proceeded against as one who obtains money under false pretences. Wagers and bets are not recoverable by law, whether from the loser or from the wager-holder; and money paid for bets may be recovered in an action 'for money received to the defendant's use.' All betting houses are gaming houses within the meaning of the Act, and the proprietors and managers of them are punishable accordingly.

The existing law on the gaming of horse-racing is as follows. Bets on horse-races are illegal; and therefore are not recoverable by law. In order to prevent the nuisance which betting houses, disguised under other names, occasioned, a law was passed in 1853, forbidding the maintenance of any house, room, or other place, for betting; and by the new Metropolitan Traffic Regulation Act, now in force, any three persons found betting in the street may be fined five pounds each 'for obstructing the thoroughfare'—a very odd reason, certainly, since it is the BETTING that we wish to prevent, as we will not permit it to be carried on in any house, &c. These LEGAL reasons are too often sadly out of place. Any constable, however, may, without a warrant, arrest anybody he may see in the act of betting in the street.

The laws relating to horse-racing have undergone curious revisions and interpretations. 'The law of George II.'s reign, declaring horse-racing to be good, as tending to promote the breed of fine horses, exempted horse-races from the list of unlawful games, provided that the sum of money run for or the value of the prize should be fifty pounds and upwards, that certain weights only might be used, and that no owner should run more than one horse for the same prize, under pain of forfeiting all horses except the first. Newmarket, and Black Hambledon in Yorkshire, are the only places licensed for races in this Act, which, however, was also construed to legalize any race at any place whatever, so long as the stakes were worth fifty pounds and upwards, and the weights were of the regulated standard. An Act passed five years afterwards removed the restrictions as to the weights, and declared that any one anywhere might start a horse-race with any weights, so long as the stakes were fifty pounds or more. The provision for the forfeiture of all horses but one belonging to one owner and running in the same race was overlooked or forgotten, and owners with perfect impunity ran their horses, as many as they pleased, in the same race. In 1839, however, informations were laid against certain owners, whose horses were claimed as forfeits; and then everybody woke up to the fact that this curious clause of the Act of George II. was still unrepealed. The Legislature interfered in behalf of the defendants, and passed an Act, repealing in their eagerness not merely the penal clauses of the Act, but the Act itself, so far as it related to horse-racing. Now, it was supposed that upon the Act of the thirteenth of George II. depended the whole legality of horse-racing, that the Act of the eighteenth of George II. was merely explanatory of that statute, which, being repealed, brought the practice again within the old law, according to which it was illegal. By a judgment of the Court of Common Pleas it was decided, however, that the words of the eighteenth of George II. were large enough to legalize all races anywhere for fifty pounds and upwards, and that the Act was not merely an explanatory one. Upon this basis rests the existing law on the subject of horse-racing. Bets, however, as before stated, on horse-races are still as illegal as they are on any of the forbidden games—that is to say, they are outside the law; the law will not lend its assistance to recover them.'(152)

(152) Ubi Supra.

The extent to which gambling has been carried on in the street by boys was shown by the following summary laid before the Committee of the House of Commons on Gaming, in 1844:—

Boys apprehended for gaming in the streets—

                      Convicted.  Discharged.
   1841....   305....    68....   237
   1842....   245....    66....   179
   1813....   329....   114....   185
              ——      ——      ——
              879       278       601

Only recently has any effectual check been put to this pernicious practice. It is however enacted by the New Gaming Act, that—'Every person playing or betting by way of wagering or gaming in any street, road, highway, or other open and public place to which the public have or are permitted to have access, at or with any table or instrument of gaming, or any coin, card, token, or other article used as an instrument of gaming or means of such wagering or gaming, at any game or pretended game of chance, shall be deemed a rogue and vagabond within the true intent and meaning of the recited Act, and as such may be punished under the provision of that Act.'

On this provision a daily paper justly remarks:—'A statute very much needed has come into force. Persons playing or betting in the streets with coins or cards are now made amenable to the 5th George IV., c. 83, and may be committed to gaol as rogues and vagabonds. The statutes already in force against such rogues and vagabonds subject them, we believe, not only to imprisonment with hard labour, but also to corporal punishment. In any case the New Act should, if stringently administered, speedily put a stop to the too common and quite intolerable nuisance of young men and boys sprawling about the pavement, or in corners of the wharves by the waterside, and playing at "pitch-and-toss," "shove-halfpenny," "Tommy Dodd," "coddams," and other games of chance. Who has not seen that terrible etching in Hogarth's "Industry and Idleness," where the idle apprentice, instead of going devoutly to church and singing out of the same hymn-book with his master's pretty daughter, is gambling on a tombstone with a knot of dissolute boys? A watchful beadle has espied the youthful gamesters, and is preparing to administer a sounding thwack with a cane on the shoulders of Thomas Idle. But the race of London beadles is now well-nigh extinct; and the few that remain dare not use their switches on the small vagabonds, for fear of being summoned for assault. It is to be hoped that the police will be instructed to put the Act sharply in force against the pitch-and-toss players; and, in passing, we might express a wish that they would also suppress the ragged urchins who turn "cart-wheels" in the mud, and the half-naked girls who haunt the vicinity of railway stations and steamboat piers, pestering passengers to buy cigar-lights.'


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