The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims
Part 2 out of 6
the contrary, it is certain that many of the French kings
patronized and applauded well-known cheats at the gaming table.
 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." '
 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.
 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
 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
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.
 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.
 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.'
 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!'
 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.
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
 In the original, however, the word is piffre, (vulgo)
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
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.'
 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
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
`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
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 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.
 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
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
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
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; I shudder at the thought. Four hundred
pistoles are very easily lost: _ce n'est rien pour Admete et
c'est beaucoup pour lui_. 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_.'
 The Dauphin.
 `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-
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
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!
 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.
 Mem. et Reflex., &e., par M. L. M. L. F. (the Marquis de la
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. 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.
 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
`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
`I have just read in a newspaper, 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.
 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.'
 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. 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.
 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
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.' 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.
 Nouv. Heloise, t. iv.
 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.'
STATE OF THE ANNUAL EXPENSES OF THE GAMES OF PARIS.
Under the present Administration, there are:--
7 Tables of Trente-et-un.
9 ditto of Roulette.
1 ditto of Passe-Dix.
1 Table of Craps.
1 ditto of Hazard.
1 ditto of Biribi.
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
SERVICE FOR THE NINE ROULETTES AND ONE PASSE-DIX.
80 Dealers, at 275 fr. a month . . . . . . . . 22,000
60 Assistants, at 150. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,000
SERVICE OF THE CRAPS, BIRIBI, AND HAZARD,
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.
THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF MODERN GAMING IN ENGLAND.
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.'
 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
`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
`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
`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.
 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. 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
 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, 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_.
 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
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
`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.,
`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
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
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
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
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, `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
 `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
`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
`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
`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,
`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.'
 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
 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. 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
 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.'
GAMBLING IN BRIGHTON IN 1817.
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
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
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
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
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
O'Mara appeared, with his counsel, the celebrated Mr Adolphus--
the Ballantyne of his day--of Old Bailey renown and forensic
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.
 See Chapter XI. for the views of Mr Adolphus here
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.
GAMBLING AT THE GERMAN BATHING-PLACES.
BADEN AND ITS CONVERSATION 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
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
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.
`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
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