The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims
Andrew Steinmetz

Part 1 out of 6

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




`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.'



The Duke of Wellington, K.G.



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

`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,

[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





















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

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

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

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

[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

`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

[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

`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

[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.

`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

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

[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

`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

`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

[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

`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

`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

`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

`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

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

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

`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

`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

`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

`You are again successful,' he groaned, `but save my wife--save

`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

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

`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


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
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

[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

[30] Inter coenam lusimus 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 1_s_. 3 3/4_d_.

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

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

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

`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

[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,

[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

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

[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


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