The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims
Part 5 out of 6
table, when the play was very deep, Brummell, having lost a
considerable stake, affected, in his farcical way, a very
tragic air, and cried out--"Waiter, bring me a flat candlestick
and a pistol." Upon which Bligh, who was sitting opposite to
him, calmly produced two loaded pistols from his coat pocket,
which he placed on the table, and said, "Mr Brummell, if you are
really desirous to put a period to your existence, I am extremely
happy to offer you the means without troubling the waiter." The
effect upon those present may easily be imagined, at finding
themselves in the company of a known madman who had loaded
weapons about him.'
Brummell was at last completely beggared, though for some time he
continued to hold on by the help of funds raised on the mutual
security of himself and his friends, some of whom were not in a
much more flourishing condition than himself; their names,
however, and still more, their expectations, lent a charm to
their bills, in the eyes of the usurers, and money was procured,
of course at ruinous interest. It is said that some unpleasant
circumstances, connected with the division of one of these loans,
occasioned the Beau's expatriation, and that a personal
altercation took place between Brummell and a certain Mr M--,
when that gentleman accused him of taking the lion's share.
He died in utter poverty, and an idiot, at Caen, in the year
1840, aged 62 years. Brummell had a very odd way of accounting
for the sad change which took place in his affairs. He said that
up to a particular period of his life everything prospered with
him, and that he attributed good luck to the possession of a
certain silver sixpence with a hole in it, which somebody had
given him years before, with an injunction to take good care of
it, as everything would go well with him so long as he did, and
the reverse if he happened to lose it. The promised prosperity
attended him for many years, whilst he held the sixpence fast;
but having at length, in an evil hour, unfortunately given it by
mistake to a hackney-coachman, a complete reverse of his previous
good fortune ensued, till actual ruin overtook him at last, and
obliged him to expatriate himself. `On my asking him,' says the
narrator, `why he did not advertise and offer a reward for the
lost treasure; he said, "I did, and twenty people came with
sixpences having holes in them to obtain the promised reward, but
mine was not amongst them!" And you never afterwards,' said I,
`ascertained what became of it? "Oh yes," he replied,
"no doubt that rascal Rothschild, or some of his set, got hold
of it." ' Whatever poor Brummell's supernatural tendencies may
have generally been, he had unquestionably a superstitious
veneration for his lost sixpence.
Tom Duncombe graduated and took honours among the greatest
gamblers of the day. Like Fox, he was heir to a good fortune--
ten or twelve thousand a year--the whole of which he managed to
anticipate before he was thirty. `Tom Duncombe ran Charles Fox
close. When Mr Duncombe, sen., of Copgrove, caused his prodigal
son's debts to be estimated with a view to their settlement, they
were found to exceed L135,000; and the hopeful heir went
on adding to them till all possibility of extrication was at an
end. But he spent his money (or other people's money), so long
as he had any, like a gentleman; his heart was open like his
hand; he was generous, cordial, high-spirited; and his
expectations--till they were known to be discounted to the
uttermost farthing--kept up his credit, improved his social
position, and gained friends. "Society" (says his son)
"opened its arms to the possessor of a good name and the
inheritor of a good estate. Paterfamiliases and Materfamiliases
rivalled each other in endeavouring to make things pleasant in
their households for his particular delectation, especially if
they had grown-up daughters; hospitable hosts invited him to
dinner, fashionable matrons to balls; political leaders sought to
secure him as a partisan; _DEBUTANTES_ of the season endeavoured
to attract him as an admirer; _TRADESMEN THRONGED TO HIS
DOORSTEPS FOR HIS CUSTOM_, and his table was daily covered with
written applications for his patronage." _Noblesse oblige;_
and so does fashion. The aspirant had confessedly a hard time of
it. "He must be seen at Tattersall's as well as at Almack's; be
more frequent in attendance in the green-room of the theatre than
at a _levee_ in the palace; show as much readiness to enter
into a pigeon-match at Battersea Red House, as into a flirtation
in May Fair; distinguish himself in the hunting-field as much as
at the dinner-table; and make as effective an appearance in the
park as in the senate; in short, he must be everything--not by
turns, but all at once--sportsman, exquisite, gourmand,
rake, senator, and at least a dozen other variations of the man
of fashion,--his changes of character being often quicker than
those attempted by certain actors who nightly undertake the
performance of an entire _dramatis personae_." '
 It will be remembered that when Fox's debts were in
like manner estimated they amounted to L140,000: the
coincidence is curious. See ante.
Tommy Duncombe was not only indefatigable at Crockford's, but at
every other rendezvous of the votaries of fortune; a skilful
player withal, and not unfrequently a winner beyond expectation.
One night at Crockford's he astonished the house by carrying off
sixteen hundred pounds. He frequently played at cards with Count
D'Orsay, from whom, it is said, he invariably managed to win--the
Count persisting in playing with his pleasant companion, although
warned by others that he would never be a match for `Honest Tommy
Tom Duncombe died poor, but, says his son, `rich in the memory of
those who esteemed him, as Honest Tom Duncombe.'
Perhaps the best thing the son could have done was to leave his
father's memory at rest in the estimation of `those who esteemed
him;' but having dragged his name once more, and
prominently, before a censorious world, he can scarcely
resent the following estimate of Tom Duncombe, by a well-informed
reviewer in the _Times_. Alluding to the concluding summary of
the father's character and doings, this keen writer passes a
sentence which is worth preserving:--
`Much of this would do for a patriot and philanthropist of the
highest class--for a Pym, a Hampden, or a Wilberforce; or, we
could fancy, a son of Andrew Marvell, vowing over his grave "to
endeavour to imitate the virtues and emulate the self-sacrificing
patriotism of so estimable a parent, and so good a man." But we
can hardly fancy, we cannot leave, a son of Duncombe in such a
frame of mind. We cannot say to _HIM_--
Macte nova virtute, puer; sic itur ad astra.
"In virtue renewed go on; thus to the skies we go."
We are unfeignedly reluctant to check a filial effusion, or to
tell disagreeable truths; but there are occasions when a sense of
public duty imperatively requires them to be told.
`Why did this exemplary parent die poor? When did he abandon the
allurements of a patrician circle? He died poor because he
wasted a fine fortune. If he abandoned a patrician circle,
it was because he was tired of it, or thought he could make a
better thing of democracy. If he conquered his passions, it was,
like St Evremond--by indulging them.
` "Honest Tom Duncombe!" We never heard him so designated
before except in pleasantry. "As honest as any man living, that
is an old man, and not honester than I." We cannot go further
than Verges; it is a stretch of charity to go so far when we call
to mind the magnificent reversion and the French jobs. A ruined
spendthrift, although he may have many good qualities, can never,
strictly speaking, be termed honest. It is absurd to say of him
that he is nobody's enemy but his own--with family, friends, and
tradespeople paying the penalty for his self-indulgence. He must
be satisfied to be called honourable--to be charged with no
transgression of the law of honour; which Paley defines as "a
system of rules constructed by people of fashion, and calculated
to facilitate their intercourse with one another, _AND FOR NO
`There was one quality of honesty, however, which "honest Tom
Duncombe" did possess. He was not a hypocrite. He was not
devoid of right feeling. He had plenty of good sense; and it
would have given him a sickening pang on his death-bed to think
that his frailties were to be perpetuated by his descendants;
that he was to be pointed out as a shining star to guide, instead
of a beacon-fire to warn. "No," he would have said, if he
could have anticipated this most ill-chosen, however well-
intentioned, tribute, "spare me this terrible irony. Do not
provoke the inevitable retort. Say of me, if you must say
anything, that I was not a bad man, though an erring one; that I
was kindly disposed towards my fellow-creatures; that I did some
good in my generation, and was able and willing to do more, but
that I heedlessly wasted time, money, health, intellect, personal
gifts, social advantages and opportunities; that my career was a
failure, and my whole scheme of life a melancholy
 _Times_, Jan. 7, 1868.
This is a terrible rejoinder to a son endeavouring to raise a
monument to his beloved and respected parent. But, if we will
rake up rottenness from the grave--rottenness in which we are
interested--we must take our chance whether we shall find a
Hamlet who will say, `Alas! poor Yorick!' and say _NO MORE_ than
the musing Dane upon the occasion.
WAS THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON A GAMESTER?
A few years after the battle of Waterloo there appeared a French
work entitled `_L'Academie des Jeux_, par Philidor,' which was
soon translated into English, and here published under the title
of `Rouge et Noir; or, the Academies.' It was a denunciation of
gambling in all its varieties, and was, no doubt, well-
intentioned. There was, however, in the publication the
following astounding statement:--
`Not long ago the carriage of the heir-apparent to the T*****
of England, in going to his B****'s levee, was arrested for
debt in the open street. That great captain, who gained, if not
laurels, an immense treasure, on the plains of Wa****oo,
besides that fortune transmitted to him by the English people,
was impoverished in a few months by this ignoble passion.'
There can be no doubt that the alleged gambling of the great
warrior and statesman was the public scandal of the day, as
appears by the duke's own letters on the subject, published
in the last volume of his _Dispatches_. Even the eminent
counsel, Mr Adolphus, thought proper to allude to the report in
one of his speeches at the bar. This called forth the following
letter from the duke to Mr Adolphus:--
`17 Sept., 1823.
`The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr
Adolphus, and encloses him the "Morning Chronicle" of Friday,
the 12th instant, to which the duke's attention has just been
called, in which Mr Adolphus will observe that he is stated to
have represented the duke as a person _KNOWN SOMETIMES TO PLAY
AT HAZARD, WHO MIGHT BE COMMITTED AS A ROGUE AND VAGABOND_.
`The duke concludes that this paper contains a correct statement
of what Mr Adolphus said upon the occasion, and he assures Mr
Adolphus that he would not trouble him upon the subject if
circumstances did not exist which rendered this communication
`Some years have elapsed since the public have been informed,
_FROM THE VERY BEST AUTHORITY_, that the duke had totally ruined
himself at play; and Mr Adolphus was present upon one occasion
when a witness swore that he had heard the duke was
constantly obliged to sell the offices in the Ordnance himself,
instead of allowing them to be sold by others! ! The duke has
suffered some inconvenience from this report in a variety of
ways, and he is anxious that at least it should not be repeated
by a gentleman of such celebrity and authority as Mr Adolphus.
`He therefore assures Mr Adolphus that in the whole course of his
life he never won or lost L20 at any game, and that he never
played at Hazard, or any game of chance, in any public place or
club, nor been for some years at all at any such place.
`From these circumstances, Mr Adolphus will see that there is no
ground for making use of the duke's name as an example of a
person _KNOWN SOMETIMES TO PLAY AT HAZARD, WHO MIGHT BE
COMMITTED AS A ROGUE AND VAGABOND_.'
_Mr Adolphus to Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington_.
`Percy Street, 21st Sept., 1823.
`Mr Adolphus has the honour to acknowledge the receipt of a note
from his Grace the Duke of Wellington, and would have done so
yesterday, but was detained in court till a late hour in the
evening. Mr Adolphus is extremely sorry that any expression used
by him should have occasioned a moment's uneasiness to the Duke
of Wellington. Mr Adolphus cannot deny that the report in the
"Chronicle" is accurate, so far as it recites his mere words;
but the scope of his argument, and the intended sense of his
expression, was, that if the Vagrant Act were to receive the
extensive construction contended for, the most illustrious
subject of the realm might be degraded to the condition of the
most abject and worthless, for an act in itself indifferent--and
which, until the times had assumed a character of affected
rigour, was considered rather as a proof of good society than as
an offence against good order. Mr Adolphus is, however,
perfectly sensible that his illustration in his Grace's person
was in all respects improper, and, considering the matters to
which his Grace has adverted, peculiarly unfortunate Mr Adolphus
feels with regret that any public expression of his sentiments on
this subject in the newspapers would not abate, but much
increase, the evil. Should an opportunity ever present itself of
doing it naturally and without affectation, Mr Adolphus
would most readily explain, in speaking at the bar, the error he
had committed; but it is very unlikely that there should exist an
occasion of which he can avail himself with a due regard to
delicacy. Mr Adolphus relies, however, on the Duke of
Wellington's exalted mind for credit to his assurance that he
never meant to treat his name but with the respect due to his
Grace's exalted rank and infinitely higher renown.'
_To Mr Adolphus_.
`Woolford, 23rd Sept., 1823.
`The Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr Adolphus,
and assures Mr Adolphus that he is convinced that Mr Adolphus
never intended to reflect injuriously upon him. If the duke had
believed that Mr Adolphus could have entertained such an
intention he would not have addressed him. The duke troubles Mr
Adolphus again upon this subject, as, in consequence of the
editor of the "Morning Chronicle" having thought proper to
advert to this subject in a paragraph published on the 18th
instant, the duke has referred the paper of that date and that of
the 12th to the Attorney and Solicitor-general, his counsel,
to consider whether the editor ought not to be prosecuted.
`The duke requests, therefore, that Mr Adolphus will not notice
the subject in the way he proposes until the gentlemen above
mentioned will have decided upon the advice which they will give
 `Dispatches,' vol. ii. part i.
The result was, however, that the matter was allowed to drop, as
the duke was advised by his counsel that the paragraph in the
"Morning Chronicle," though vile, was not actionable. The
positive declaration of the duke, `that in the whole course of
his life he never won or lost L20 at any game, and that he
never played at Hazard, or any game of chance, in any public
place or club, nor been for some years at all at any such place,'
should set the matter at rest. Certainly the duke was afterwards
an original member of Crockford's Club, founded in 1827, but,
unlike Blucher, who repeatedly lost everything at play, `The
Great Captain,' as Mr Timbs puts it, `was never known to play
deep at any game but war or politics.'
 Club Life in London.
This remarkable deference to private character and public
opinion, on the part of the Duke of Wellington, is in wonderful
contrast with the easy morality of the Old Bailey advocate, Mr
Adolphus, who did not hesitate to declare gambling `an act in
itself indifferent--and which, until the times had assumed a
character of _AFFECTED_ rigour, was considered rather as a proof
of good society than as an offence against good order.' This
averment of so distinguished a man may, perhaps, mitigate the
horror we now feel of the gambling propensities of our ancestors;
and it is a proof of some sort of advancement in morals, or good
taste, to know that no modern advocate would dare to utter such a
Other great names have been associated with gambling; thus Mr T.
H. Duncombe says, speaking of Crockford's soon after its
foundation:--`Sir St Vincent Cotton (Lord Combermere), Lord
Fitzroy Somerset (Raglan), the Marquis of Anglesey, Sir Hussey
Vivian, Wilson Croker, _Disraeli_, Horace Twiss, Copley, George
Anson, and George Payne _WERE PRETTY SURE OF BEING PRESENT_,
many of them playing high.'
Respecting this statement the _Times'_ reviewer
observes:--`We do not know what the Chancellor of the Exchequer
will say to this. Mr Wilson Croker (who affected great
strictness) would have fainted away. But the authority of a
writer who does not know Sir St Vincent Cotton (the ex-driver of
the Brighton coach) from Sir _Stapleton_ Cotton (the Peninsular
hero) will go for little in such matters; and as for Copley, Lord
Lyndhurst (just then promoted from the Rolls to the Woolsack),
why not say at once that he attended the nocturnal sittings at
Crockford's in his robes.'
 Jan. 7, 1868.
Monsieur CHevalier, Captain of the Grenadiers in the first
regiment of Foot Guards, in the time of Charles II. of England,
was a native of Normandy. In his younger days he was page to the
Duchess of Orleans; but growing too big for that service, he came
to England to seek his fortune, and by some good luck and favour
became an ensign in the first regiment of Foot Guards. His pay,
however, being insufficient to maintain him, he felt compelled to
become a gamester, or rather to resort to a practice in which
doubtless he had been early initiated at the Court of France; and
he managed so well that he was soon enabled to keep up an
equipage much above his station.
Among the `bubbles' who had the misfortune to fall into
Chevalier's hands, was a certain nobleman, who lost a larger sum
to him than he could conveniently pay down, and asked for time,
to which Chevalier assented, and in terms so courteous and
obliging that the former, a fortnight after, in order to let him
see that he remembered his civility, came one morning and told
Chevalier that he had a company of Foot to dispose of, and if it
was worth his while, it should be at his service. Nothing could
be more acceptable to Chevalier, who at once closed for the
bargain, and got his commission signed the same day. Besides the
fact that it was a time of peace, Chevalier knew well that the
military title of Captain was a very good cloak to shelter under.
He knew that a man of no employment or any visible income, who
appears and lives like a gentleman, and makes gaming his constant
business, is always suspected of not playing for diversion only;
and, in short, of knowing and practising more than he should do.
Chevalier once won 20 guineas from mad Ogle, the Life-guardsman,
who, understanding that the former had bit him, called him to
account, demanding either his money back, or satisfaction in the
field. Chevalier, having always courage enough to maintain
what he did, chose the latter. Ogle fought him in Hyde Park, and
wounded him through the sword arm, and got back his money. After
this they were always good friends, playing several comical
tricks, one of which is as follows, strikingly illustrating the
manners of the times.
Chevalier and Ogle meeting one day in Fleet Street jostled for
the wall, which they strove to take of each other, whereupon
words arising between them, they drew swords, and pushed very
hard at one another; but were prevented, by the great crowd which
gathered about them, from doing any mischief. Ogle, seeming
still to resent the affront, cried to Chevalier, `If you are a
gentleman, pray follow me.' The French hero accepted the
challenge; so going together up Bell Yard and through Lincoln's
Inn, with some hundreds of the mob at their heels, as soon as the
seeming adversaries were got into Lincoln's Inn Fields, they both
fell a running as fast as they could, with their swords drawn, up
towards Lord Powis's house, which was then building, and leaped
into a saw-pit. The rabble presently ran after them, to part
them again, and feared mischief would be done before they
could get up to them, but when they arrived at the saw-pit, they
saw Chevalier at one side of it and Ogle at the other, sitting
together as lovingly as if they had never fallen out at all. And
then the mob was so incensed at this trick put upon them, that
had not some gentlemen accidentally come by, they would have
knocked them both on the head with brickbats.
Chevalier had an excellent knack at cogging a die, and such
command in the throwing, that, chalking a circle on a table, with
its circumference no bigger than a shilling, he would, at above
the distance of one foot, throw a die exactly into it, which
should be either ace, deuce, trey, or what he pleased.
Aubrey de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was a great gambler of the time,
and often practised dice-throwing in his shirt during the morning
until he fancied himself in luck, when he would proceed to try
his fortune with Chevalier; but the dexterity of the latter
always convinced the earl that no certainty lies on the good
success which may be fancied as likely to result from play in
jest. Chevalier won a great deal of money from that peer, `who
lost most of his estate at gaming before he died, and which
ought to be a warning to all noblemen.'
Chevalier was a skilful sharper, and thoroughly up in the art and
mystery of loading dice with quicksilver; but having been
sometimes detected in his sharping tricks, he was obliged `to
look on the point of the sword, with which being often wounded,
latterly he declined fighting, if there were any way of escape.'
Having once `choused,' or cheated, a Mr Levingstone, page of
honour to King James II., out of 50 guineas, the latter gave the
captain a challenge to fight him next day behind Montague House--
a locality long used for the purpose of duelling. Chevalier
seemingly accepted the challenge, and next morning, Levingstone
going to Chevalier's lodging, whom he found in bed, put him in
mind of what he was come about. Chevalier, with the greatest air
of courage imaginable, rose, and having dressed himself, said to
Levingstone--`Me must beg de favour of you to stay a few minutes,
sir, while I step into my closet dere, for as me be going about
one desperate piece of work, it is very requisite for me to say a
small prayer or two.' Accordingly Mr Levingstone consented to
wait whilst Chevalier retired to his closet to pray; but
hearing the conclusion of his prayer to end with these words--`Me
verily believe spilling man's blood is one ver' great sin,
wherefore I hope all de saints will interced vid de Virgin for my
once killing Monsieur de Blotieres at Rochelle,--my killing
Chevalier de Cominge at Brest,--killing Major de Tierceville at
Lyons,--killing Lieutenant du Marche Falliere at Paris, with half
a dozen other men in France; so, being also sure of killing him
I'm now going to fight, me hope his forcing me to shed his blood
will not be laid to my charge;'--quoth Levingstone to himself--
`And are you then so sure of me? But I'll engage you shan't--for
if you are such a devil at killing men, you shall go and fight
yourself and be ----.' Whereupon he made what haste he could
away, and shortly Chevalier coming out of the closet and finding
Levingstone not in the room, was very glad of his absence.'
Some time after, Chevalier was called to account by another
gentleman. They met at the appointed hour in Chelsea Fields,
when Chevalier said to his adversary--`Pray, sir, for what do we
fight?' The gentleman replied--`For honour and reputation.'
Thereupon Chevalier pulling a halter out of his pocket, and
throwing it between him and his antagonist, exclaimed--`Begar,
sir, we only fight for dis one piece of rope--so e'en _WIN IT
AND WEAR IT_.' The effect of this jest was so great on his
adversary that swords were put up, and they went home together
Chevalier continued his sharping courses for about fourteen
years, running a reckless race, `sometimes with much money,
sometimes with little, but always as lavish in spending as he was
covetous in getting it; until at last King James ascending the
throne, the Duke of Monmouth raised a rebellion in the West of
England, where, in a skirmish between the Royalists and Rebels,
he was shot in the back, and the wound thought to be given by one
of his own men, to whom he had always been a most cruel, harsh
officer, whilst a captain of the Grenadiers of the Foot Guards.
He was sensible himself how he came by this misfortune; for when
he was carried to his tent mortally wounded, and the Duke of
Albemarle came to visit him, he said to his Grace--`Dis was none
of my foe dat shot me in the back.' `He was none of your friend
that shot you,' the duke replied.
So dying within a few hours after, he was interred in a
field near Philip Norton Lane, as the old chronicler says--`much
_UN_lamented by all who knew him.'
 Lucas, _Memoirs of Gamesters and Sharpers_.
This gambler, who flourished towards the end of the 17th century,
was descended from a very good family in the West of England. In
his younger days he was a member of the Honourable Society of the
Middle Temple, but his inclinations being incompatible with close
study of the law, he soon quitted the inns of court and went into
the army. He obtained not only a commission in the first
regiment of Boot Guards, but a commission of the peace for the
county of Middlesex, in which he continued for three or four
years as Justice Higden. He was very great at dice; and one
night he and another of his fraternity going to a gaming house,
Higden drew a chair and sat down, but as often as the box came to
him he passed it, and remained only as a spectator; but at last
one of the players said to him pertly, `Sir, if you won't play,
what do you sit there for?' Upon which Higden snatched up
the dice-box and said, `Set me what you will and I'll throw at
it.' One of the gentlemen set him two guineas, which he won, and
then set him four, which he `nicked' also. The rest of the
gentlemen took the part of the loser, and set to Higden, who, by
some art and some good luck, won 120 guineas; and presently,
after throwing out, rose from the table and went to his companion
by the fireside, who asked him how he durst be so audacious as to
play, knowing he had not a shilling in his pocket? One of the
losers overhearing what was said, exclaimed, `How's that--you had
no money when you began to play?' `That's no matter,' replied
Higden, `I have enough _NOW;_ and if you had won of me, you must
have been contented to have kicked, buffeted, or pumped me, and
you would have done it as long as you liked. Besides, sir, I am
a soldier, and have often faced the mouths of thundering cannons
for _EIGHT SHILLINGS A DAY_, and do you think I would not hazard
the tossing of a blanket for the money I have won to-night?'
`All the parties wondered at his confidence, but he laughed
heartily at their folly and his good fortune, and so marched off
with a light heart and a heavy purse.' Afterwards, `to make
himself as miserable as he could, he turned poet, went to
Ireland, published a play or two, and shortly after he died very
poor, in 1703.'
 _ubi supra._
This gambler was of low birth, his parents keeping an ordinary in
Holland, where he was born, as stated by the old chronicler, `in
the happy Revolution of 1688.'
His career is remarkable on account of his connection with Lady
Mary Mordaunt, wife of `the Duke of Norfolk, who, proving her
guilty of adultery, was divorced from her. She then lived
publicly with Germain.'
This Germain was the first to introduce what was called the
_Spanish Whist_, stated to be `a mere bite, performed after this
manner:--Having a pack of cards, the four treys are privately
laid on the top of them, under them an ace, and next to that a
deuce; then, letting your adversary cut the cards, you do not
pack them, but deal all of them that are cut off, one at a time,
between you; then, taking up the other parcel of cards, you deal
more cards, giving yourself two treys and a deuce, and to
the other persons two treys and an ace, when, laying the
remainder of the cards down--wherein are allowed no trumps, but
only the highest cards win--so they are but of the same suit,
whilst you are playing, giving your antagonist all you can, as
though it is not in your power to prevent him. You seem to fret,
and cry you have good _put-cards;_ he, having two treys and an
ace, will be apt to lay a wager with you that you cannot have
better than he; then you binding the wager, he soon sees his
mistake. But in this trick you must observe to put the other
three deuces under yours when you deal.'
It seems that this Monsieur Germain is not only remarkable for
the above precious addition to human knowledge, but also on
account of his expertness at the game of _Ombre_, celebrated and
so elegantly described by Pope in his `Rape of the Lock.'
He appears to have lived with the Duchess of Norfolk ever after
the divorce; and he died a little after Lady Mary, in 1712, aged
 _ubi supra_.
This Irishman was born in Dublin, and was the son of a
respectable tradesman. Falling into dissipated company, he soon
left the city to try his fortune in London, where he played very
deep and very successfully.
He threw away his gains as fast as he made them, chiefly among
the frail sisterhood, at a notorious house in those days, in the
Piazza, Covent Garden. He frequented Carlisle House in Soho
Square, and was a proprietor of E O tables kept by a Dr Graham in
He had a rencontre, in consequence of a dispute at play, and was
wounded. The meeting took place under the Piazza, and his
antagonist's sword struck a rib, which counteracted its dangerous
Soon afterwards he won L3000 from a young man just of age, who
made over to him a landed estate for the amount, and he was
shortly after admitted a member of the Jockey Club.
His fortune now changed, and falling into the hands of Old Pope,
the money-lender, he was not long before he had to transfer his
estate to him.
After many ups and downs he became an inmate of the
spunging-house of the infamous Scoldwell, who was afterwards
transported. He actually used his prison as a gaming house, to
which his infatuated friends resorted; but his means failed, his
friends cooled, and he was removed `over the water,' from which
he was only released by the Insolvent Act, with a broken
constitution. Arrest soon restored him to his old habitation, a
lock-up house, where he died so poor, a victim to grief, misery,
and disease, that he did not leave enough to pay for a coffin,
which was procured by his quondam friend, Mr Thornton, at whose
cost he was buried. Perhaps more than half a million of money
had `passed through his hands.'
ANDREWS, THE GREAT BILLIARD-PLAYER.
Andrews was reckoned so theoretically and practically perfect at
the game of Billiards that he had no equal except Abraham Carter,
who kept the tables at the corner of the Piazza, Russell Street,
He one night won of Colonel W----e about a thousand pounds; and
the Colonel appointed to meet him next day to transact for stock
accordingly. Going in a hackney-coach to the Bank of England
for this purpose, they tossed up who should pay for the coach.
Andrews lost--and positively on this small beginning he was
excited to continue betting, until he lost the whole sum he had
won the night before! When the coachman stopped he was ordered
to drive them back again, as they had no occasion to get out!
Thus, in a few years, Hazard and other games of chance stripped
him of his immense winnings at Billiards, and he had nothing left
but a small annuity, fortunately for him so settled that he could
not dispose of it--though he made every effort to do so!
He afterwards retired in the county of Kent, and was heard to
declare that he never knew contentment when wallowing in riches;
but that since he was compelled to live on a scanty pittance, he
was one of the happiest men in the world.
Whig Middleton was a tall, handsome, fashionable man, with an
adequate fortune. He one night had a run of ill-luck at
Arthur's, and lost about a thousand guineas. Lord Montford, in
the gaming phrase, asked him what he would do or what he
would not do, to get home? `My lord,' said he, `prescribe your
`Then,' resumed Lord Montford, `dress directly opposite to the
fashion for ten years. Will you agree to it?' Middleton said
that he would, and kept his word. Nay, he died nine years
afterwards so unfashionably that he did not owe a tradesman a
farthing--left some playing debts unliquidated, and his coat and
wig were of the cut of Queen Anne's reign.
Lord Montford is said to have died in a very different but quite
Captain Campbell, of the Guards, was a natural son of the Duke
of ----. He lost a thousand guineas to a Shark, which he could
not pay. Being questioned by the duke one day at dinner as to
the cause of his dejection, he reluctantly confessed the fact.
`Sir,' said his Grace, `you do not owe a farthing to the
blackguard. My steward settled with him this morning for _TEN_
guineas, and he was glad to take them, only saying--"I was
damned far North, and it was well it was no worse." '
WROTHESLY, DUKE OF BEDFORD.
Wrothesly, Duke of Bedford, was the subject of a conspiracy at
Bath, formed by several first-rate sharpers, among whom were the
manager of a theatre, and Beau Nash, master of the ceremonies.
After being plundered of above L70,000 at Hazard, his Grace
rose in a passion, put the dice in his pocket, and intimated his
resolution to inspect them. He then retired into another room,
and, flinging himself upon a sofa, fell asleep.
The winners, to escape disgrace, and obtain their money, cast
lots who should pick his pockets of the loaded dice, and
introduce fair ones in their place. The lot fell on the manager
of the theatre, who performed his part without discovery. The
duke inspected the dice when he awoke, and finding them correct,
renewed his party, and lost L30,000 more.
The conspirators had received L5000, but disagreed on its
division, and Beau Nash, thinking himself ill-used, divulged the
fact to his Grace, who saved thereby the remainder of the money.
He made Nash a handsome present, and ever after gave him his
countenance, supposing that the secret had been divulged through
THE DUKE OF NORFOLK.
A similar anecdote is told of another gamester. `The late Duke
of Norfolk,' says the author of `Rouge et Noir,' writing in 1823,
`in one evening lost the sum of L70,000 in a gaming house on
the right side of St James's Street: suspecting foul play, he put
the dice in his pocket, and, as was his custom when up late, took
a bed in the house. The blacklegs were all dismayed, till one of
the worthies, who is believed to have been a principal in
poisoning the horses at Newmarket, for which Dan Dawson was
hanged, offered for L5000 to go to the duke's room with a
brace of pistols and a pair of dice, and, if the duke was awake,
to shoot him, if asleep to change the dice! Fortunately for the
gang, the duke "snored," as the agent stated, "like a pig;"
the dice were changed. His Grace had them broken in the morning,
when, finding them good, he paid the money, and left off
 Rouge et Noir; the Academicians of 1823.
GENERAL OGLE: A BOLD STROKE.
A few weeks before General Ogle was to sail for India, he
constantly attended Paine's, in Charles Street, St James's
Square. One evening there were before him two wooden bowls full
of gold, which held L1500 guineas each, and L4000 in
rouleaus, which he had won.
When the box came to him, he shook the dice and with great
coolness and pleasantry said--`Come, I'll either win or lose
seven thousand upon this hand. Will any gentleman set on the
whole? _SEVEN_ is the main.' Then rattling the dice once more,
cast the box from him and quitted it, the dice remaining
Although the General did not think this too large a sum for one
man to risk at a single throw, the rest of the gentlemen did, and
for some time the bold gamester remained unset.
He then said--`Well, gentlemen, will you make it up amongst you?'
One set him 500 guineas, another 500. `Come,' said he, `whilst
you are making up the money I'll tell you a story.' Here he
began--but perceiving that he was at last completely set for the
cast, stopt short--laid his hand on the box, saying--`I believe I
am completely set, gentlemen?' `Yes, sir, and Seven is the
main,' was the reply. The General threw out, and lost!
Seven thousand guineas!
Then with astonishing coolness he took up his snuff-box and
smiling exclaimed--`Now, gentlemen, if you please, I'll finish my
There can be no doubt that Horace Walpole was an inveterate
gambler, although he managed to keep always afloat and merrily
sailing--for he says himself:--`A good lady last year was
delighted at my becoming peer, and said--"I hope you will get an
Act of Parliament for putting down Faro." As if I could make
Acts of Parliament! and could I, it would be very consistent too
in me, who for some years played more at Faro than anybody.'
 Letters, IX.
THE EARL OF MARCH.
This extraordinary and still famous personage, better known as
the Duke of Queensberry, was the `observed of all observers'
almost from his boyhood to extreme old age. His passions were
for women and the turf; and the sensual devotedness with which he
pursued the one, and the eccentricity which he displayed in the
enjoyment of both, added to the observation which he
attracted from his position as a man of high rank and princely
fortune, rendered him an object of unceasing curiosity. He was
deeply versed in the mysteries of the turf, and in all practical
and theoretical knowledge connected with the race-course was
acknowledged to be the most accomplished adept of his own time.
He seems also to have been a skilful gamester and player of
billiards. Writing to George Selwyn from Paris in 1763, he
says:--`I won the first day about L2000, of which I brought
off about L1500. All things are exaggerated, I am supposed to
have won at least twice as much.' In 1765 he is said to have won
two thousand louis of a German at billiards. Writing to Selwyn,
Gilly Williams says of him: `I did not know he was more an adept
at that game than you are at any other, but I think you are both
said to be losers on the whole, at least Betty says that her
letters mention you as pillaged.'
Among the numerous occasions on which the name of the Duke of
Queensberry came before the public in connection with sporting
matters, may be mentioned the circumstance of the following
curious trial, which took place before Lord Mansfield in the
Court of King's Bench, in 1771. The Duke of Queensberry, then
Lord March, was the plaintiff, and a Mr Pigot the defendant. The
object of this trial was to recover the sum of five hundred
guineas, being the amount of a wager laid by the duke With Mr
Pigot--whether Sir William Codrington or _OLD_ Mr Pigot should
die first. It had singularly happened that Mr Pigot died
suddenly the _SAME MORNING_, of the gout in his head, but before
either of the parties interested in the result of the wager could
by any possibility have been made acquainted with the fact. In
the contemporary accounts of the trial, the Duke of Queensberry
is mentioned as having been accommodated with a seat on the
bench; while Lord Ossory, and several other noblemen, were
examined on the merits of the case. By the counsel for the
defendant it was argued that (as in the case of a horse dying
before the day on which he was to be run) the wager was invalid
and annulled. Lord Mansfield, however, was of a different
opinion; and after a brief charge from that great lawyer, the
jury brought in a verdict for the plaintiff for five hundred
guineas, and he sentenced the defendant to defray the costs of
 Jesse, George Selwyn and his Contemporaries, vol. i. p.
This prince of debauchees seems to have surpassed every
model of the kind, ancient or modern. In his prime he reproduced
in his own drawing-room the scene of Paris and the Goddesses,
exactly as we see it in classic pictures, three of the most
beautiful women of London representing the divinities as they
appeared to Paris on Mount Ida, while he himself, dressed as the
Dardan shepherd holding a _GILDED_ apple (it should have been
really golden) in his hand, conferred the prize on her whom he
deemed the fairest. In his decrepit old age it was his custom,
in fine sunny weather, to seat himself in his balcony in
Piccadilly, where his figure was familiar to every person who was
in the habit of passing through that great thoroughfare. Here
(his emaciated figure rendered the more conspicuous from his
custom of holding a parasol over his head) he was in the habit of
watching every attractive female form, and ogling every pretty
face that met his eye. He is said, indeed, to have kept a pony
and a servant in constant readiness, in order to follow and
ascertain the residence of any fair girl whose attractions
particularly caught his fancy! At this period the old man was
deaf with one ear, blind with one eye, nearly toothless, and
labouring under multiplied infirmities. But the hideous
propensities of his prime still pursued him when all enjoyment
was impossible. Can there be a greater penalty for unbridled
Mr Lumsden, whose inveterate love of gambling eventually caused
his ruin, was to be seen every day at Frascati's, the celebrated
gambling house kept by Mme Dunan, where some of the most
celebrated women of the _demi-monde_ usually congregated. He was
a martyr to the gout, and his hands and knuckles were a mass of
chalk-stones. He stuck to the _Rouge et Noir_ table until
everybody had left; and while playing would take from his pocket
a small slate, upon which he would rub his chalk-stones until
blood flowed. `Having on one occasion been placed near him at
the _Rouge et Noir_ table, I ventured,' says Captain Gronow, `to
expostulate with him for rubbing his knuckles against his slate.
He coolly answered, "I feel relieved when I see the blood ooze
Mr Lumsden was remarkable for his courtly manners; but his
absence of mind was astonishing, for he would frequently ask
his neighbour _WHERE HE WAS_! Crowds of men and women would
congregate behind his chair, to look at `the mad Englishman,' as
he was called; and his eccentricities used to amuse even the
croupiers. After losing a large fortune at this den of iniquity,
Mr Lumsden encountered every evil of poverty, and died in a
wretched lodging in the Rue St Marc.
 Gronow, _Last Recollections._
GENERAL SCOTT, THE HONEST WINNER OF L200,000.
General Scott, the father-in-law of George Canning and the Duke
of Portland, was known to have won at White's L200,000, thanks
to his notorious sobriety and knowledge of the game of Whist.
The general possessed a great advantage over his companions by
avoiding those indulgences at the table which used to muddle
other men's brains. He confined himself to dining off something
like a boiled chicken, with toast and water; by such a regimen he
came to the Whist table with a clear head; and possessing as he
did a remarkable memory, with great coolness of judgment, he was
able honestly to win the enormous sum of L200,000.
Richard Bennet had gone through every walk of a blackleg, from
being a billiard sharper at a table in Bell Alley until he became
a keeper or partner in all the `hells' in St James's. In each
stage of his journey he had contrived to have so much the better
of his competitors, that he was enabled to live well, to bring up
and educate a large legitimate family, and to gratify all his
passions and sensuality. But besides all this, he accumulated an
ample fortune, which this inveterate gamester did actually
possess when the terriers of justice overtook and hunted him into
the custody of the Marshal of the Court of Queen's Bench. Here
he was sentenced to be imprisoned a certain time, on distinct
indictments, for keeping different gaming houses, and was ordered
to be kept in custody until he had also paid fines to the amount,
we believe, of L4000. Bennet, however, after undergoing the
imprisonment, managed to get himself discharged without paying
Dennis O'Kelly was the Napoleon of the turf and the gaming
table. Ascot was his elysium. His horses occupied him by day
and the Hazard table by night. At the latter one night he was
seen repeatedly turning over a _QUIRE OF BANK NOTES_, and a
gentleman asked him what he was looking for, when he replied, `I
am looking for a _LITTLE ONE_.' The inquirer said he could
accommodate him, and desired to know for what sum. Dennis
O'Kelly answered, `I want a FIFTY, or something of _THAT SORT_,
just to set the _CASTER_. At this moment it was supposed he had
seven or eight _THOUSAND_ pounds in notes in his hand, but not
one for less than a _HUNDRED!_
Dennis O'Kelly always threw with great success; and when he held
the box he was seldom known to refuse throwing for _ANY SUM_
that the company chose to set him. He was always liberal in
_SETTING THE CASTER_, and preventing a stagnation of trade at
the _TABLE_, which, from the great property always about him, it
was his good fortune very frequently to deprive of its last
floating guinea, when the box of course became dormant for want
of a single adventurer.
It was his custom to carry a great number of bank notes in his
waistcoat pocket, twisted up together, with the greatest
indifference; and on one occasion, in his attendance at a Hazard
table at Windsor, during the races, being a _STANDING_ better
and every chair full, a person's hand was observed, by those on
the opposite side of the table, just in the act of drawing two
notes out of his pocket. The alarm was given, and the hand, from
the person behind, was instantly withdrawn, and the notes left
sticking out. The company became clamorous for taking the
offender before a magistrate, and many attempted to secure him
for the purpose; but Captain Dennis O'Kelly very philosophically
seized him by the collar, kicked him down-stairs, and exultingly
exclaimed, `'Twas a _SUFFICIENT PUNISHMENT_ to be deprived of
the pleasure of keeping company with _JONTLEMEN_.'
A bet for a large sum was once proposed to this `Admirable
Crichton' of the turf and the gaming table, and accepted. The
proposer asked O'Kelly where lay his _ESTATES_ to answer for the
amount if he lost?' `My estates!' cried O'Kelly. `Oh, if that's
what you _MANE_, I've a _MAP_ of them here'--and opening his
pocket-book he exhibited bank notes to _TEN TIMES_ the sum in
question, and ultimately added the _INQUIRER'S_ contribution to
Such was the wonderful son of Erin, `Captain' or `Colonel'
Dennis O'Kelly. One would like to know what ultimately became of
Jack Tether, Bob W--r, Tom H--ll, Captain O'Kelly, and others,
spent with Dick England a great part of the plunder of poor
Clutterbuck, a clerk of the Bank of England, who not only lost
his all, but robbed the Bank of an immense sum to pay his `debts
A Mr B--, a Yorkshire gentleman, proposed to his brother-in-law,
who was with him, to put down ten pounds each and try their luck
at the `Hell' kept by `the Clerks of the Minster,' in the Minster
Yard, next the Church. It was the race-week. There were about
thirteen Greeks there, Dick England at their head. Mr B-- put
down L10. England then called `Seven the main--if seven or
eleven is thrown next, the Caster wins.' Of course Dick intended
to win; but he blundered in his operation; he _LANDED_ at six
and the other did not answer his hopes. Yet, with matchless
effrontery, he swore he had called _SIX_ and not seven; and as
it was referred to the majority of the goodly company,
thirteen _HONEST GENTLEMEN_ gave it in Dick England's
favour, and with him divided the spoil.
A Mr D--, a gentleman of considerable landed property in the
North, proposed passing a few days at Scarborough. Dick England
saw his carriage enter the town, and contrived to get into his
company and go with him to the rooms. When the assembly was
over, he prevailed on Mr D-- to sup with him. After supper Mr
D-- was completely intoxicated, and every effort to make him play
was tried in vain.
This was, of course, very provoking; but still something must be
done, and a very clever scheme they hit upon to try and `do' this
`young man from the country.' Dick England and two of his
associates played for five minutes, and then each of them marked
a card as follows:--`D-- owes me one hundred guineas,' `D-- owes
me eighty guineas;' but Dick marked _HIS_ card--`I owe D--
The next day, Mr D-- met Dick England on the cliff and apologized
for his excess the night before, hoping he had given no offence
`when drunk and incapable.' Having satisfied the gentleman on
this point, Dick England presented him with a thirty-guinea
note, which, in spite of contradiction, remonstrance, and denial
of any play having taken place, he forced on Mr D-- as his _FAIR
WINNING_--adding that he had paid hundreds to gentlemen in
liquor, who knew nothing of it till he had produced the account.
Of course Mr D-- could not help congratulating himself at having
fallen in with a perfect gentleman, as well as consoling himself
for any head-ache or other inconvenience resulting from his
night's potation. They parted with gushing civilities between
Soon afterwards, however, two other gentlemen came up to Mr D--,
whom the latter had some vague recollection of having seen the
evening before, in company with Dick England; and at length, from
what the two gentlemen said, he had no doubt of the fact, and
thought it a fit opportunity to make a due acknowledgment of the
gentlemanly conduct of their friend, who had paid him a bet which
he had no remembrance of having made.
No mood could be better for the purpose of the meeting; so the
two gentlemen not only approved of the conduct of Dick, and
descanted on the propriety of paying drunken men what they won,
but also declared that no _GENTLEMAN_ would refuse to pay a
debt of honour won from him when drunk; and at once begged
leave to `remind' Mr D-- that he had lost to them 180 guineas!
In vain the astounded Mr D-- denied all knowledge of the
transaction; the gentlemen affected to be highly indignant, and
talked loudly of injured honour. Besides, had he not received 30
guineas from their friend? So he assented, and appointed the
next morning to settle the matter.
Fortunately for Mr D--, however, some intelligent friends of his
arrived in the mean time, and having heard his statement about
the whole affair, they `smelt a rat,' and determined to ferret it
out. They examined the waiter--previously handing him over five
guineas--and this man declared the truth that Mr D-- did not play
at all--in fact, that he was in such a condition that there could
not be any real play. Dick England was therefore `blown' on this
occasion. Mr D-- returned him his thirty guineas, and paid five
guineas for his share of the supper; and well he might,
considering that it very nearly cost him 150 guineas--that is,
having to receive 30 guineas and to pay 180 guineas to the
Greeks--profit and loss with a vengeance.
Being thus `blown' at Scarborough, Dick England and his
associates decamped on the following morning.
He next formed a connection with a lieutenant on half pay, nephew
to an Irish earl. With this lieutenant he went to Spa, and
realized something considerable; but not without suspicion--for a
few dice were missed.
Dick England returned to London, where he shortly disagreed with
the lieutenant. The latter joined the worthy before described,
Captain O'Kelly, who was also at enmity with Dick England; and
the latter took an opportunity of knocking their heads together
in a public coffee-room, and thrashing them both till they took
shelter under the tables. Dick had the strength of an ox, the
ferocity of a bull-dog, and `the cunning of the serpent,'
although what the latter is no naturalist has ever yet discovered
The lieutenant determined on revenge for the thrashing. He had
joined his regiment, and he `peached' against his former friend,
disclosing to the officers the circumstance of the dice at Spa,
before mentioned; and, of course, upset all the designs of Dick
England and his associates. This enraged all the blacklegs; a
combination was formed against the lieutenant; and he was
shot through the head by `a brother officer,' who belonged to the
The son of an earl lost forty thousand pounds in play to Dick
England; and shot himself at Stacie's Hotel in consequence--the
very night before his honourable father sent his steward to pay
the `debt of honour' in full--though aware that his son had been
cheated out of it.
But the most extraordinary `pass' of Dick England's career is
still to be related--not without points in it which make it
difficult to believe, in spite of the evidence, that it is the
same `party' who was concerned in it. Here it is.
In the _Gentleman's Magazine_, in Gilchrist's Collection of
British Duels, in Dr Millingen's reproduction of the latter, the
following account occurs:--
`Mr Richard England was put to the bar at the Old Bailey, charged
with the "wilful murder" of Mr Rowlls, brewer, of Kingston, in
a duel at Cranford-bridge, June 18, 1784.
`Lord Derby, the first witness, gave evidence that he was present
at Ascot races. When in the stand upon the race-course, he heard
Mr England cautioning the gentlemen present not to bet with
the deceased, as he neither paid what he lost nor what he
borrowed. On which Mr Rowlls went up to him, called him rascal
or scoundrel, and offered to strike him; when Mr England bid him
stand off, or he would be obliged to knock him down; saying, at
the same time--"We have interrupted the company sufficiently
here, and if you have anything further to say to me, you know
where I am to be found." A further altercation ensued; but his
Lordship being at the other end of the stand, did not distinctly
hear it, and then the parties retired.
`Lord Dartrey, afterwards Lord Cremorne, and his lady, with a
gentleman, were at the inn at the time the duel was fought. They
went into the garden and endeavoured to prevent the duel; several
other persons were collected in the garden. Mr Rowlls desired
his Lordship and others not to interfere; and on a second attempt
of his Lordship to make peace, Mr Rowlls said, if they did not
retire, he must, though reluctantly, call them impertinent. Mr
England at the same time stepped forward, and took off his hat;
he said--"Gentlemen, I have been cruelly treated; I have been
injured in my honour and character; let reparation be made, and I
am ready to have done this moment." Lady Dartrey retired.
His Lordship stood in the bower of the garden until he saw Mr
Rowlls fall. One or two witnesses were called, who proved
nothing material. A paper, containing the prisoner's defence,
being read, _the Earl of Derby, the Marquis of Hertford, Sir
Whitbread, jun., Colonel Bishopp, and other gentlemen_, were
called to his character. They all spoke of him as a man of
_decent gentlemanly deportment_, who, instead of seeking
quarrels, was studious to avoid them. He had been friendly to
Englishmen while abroad, and had rendered some service to the
military at the siege of Newport.
`Mr Justice Rooke summoned up the evidence; after which the jury
retired for about three quarters of an hour, when they returned a
verdict of "manslaughter."
`The prisoner having fled from the laws of his country for twelve
years, the Court was disposed to show no lenity. He was
therefore sentenced to pay a fine of one shilling, and be
imprisoned in Newgate twelve months.'
This trial took place in the year 1796, and the facts in evidence
give a strange picture of the times. A duel actually fought in
the garden of an inn, a noble lord close by in a bower therein,
and his lady certainly within _HEARING_ of the shots, and
doubtless a spectator of the bloody spectacle. But this is not
the point,--the incomprehensible point,--to which I have
alluded--which is, how Lord Derby and the other gentlemen of the
highest standing could come forward to speak to the character of
_DICK ENGLAND_, if he was the same man who killed the
unfortunate brewer of Kingston?
Here is _ANOTHER_ account of the matter, which warrants the
doubt, although it is fearfully circumstantial, as to the certain
`Mr William Peter le Rowles, of Kingston, brewer, was habitually
fond of play. On one occasion he was induced--when in a state of
intoxication--to play with Dick England, who claimed, in
consequence, winnings to the amount of two hundred guineas. Mr
le Rowles utterly denied the debt, and was in consequence pursued
by England until he was compelled to a duel, in which Mr le
Rowles fell. Lord Dartrey, afterwards Lord Cremorne, was present
at Ascot Heath races on the fatal occasion, which happened in
1784; and his evidence before the coroner's inquest produced a
verdict of wilful murder against Dick England, who fled at
the time, but returned twelve years afterwards, was tried, and
found guilty of manslaughter only. He was imprisoned for twelve
months. England was strongly suspected of highway robberies;
particularly on one occasion, when his associate, F--, was shot
dead by Col. P-- on his return from the Curragh races to the town
of Naas. The Marquis of Hertford, Lords Derby and Cremorne,
Colonels Bishopp and Wollaston, and Messrs Whitbread, Breton,
&c., were evidences in the trial.'
 _The Gaming Calendar_, by Seymour Harcourt.
It may seem strange that such a man as Dick England could procure
such distinguished `witnesses to character.' The thing is easily
explained, however. They knew the man only as a turf companion.
We can come to no other conclusion,--remembering other instances
of the kind. For example, the case of Palmer, convicted for the
poisoning of Cooke. Had Palmer been on his trial merely for
fighting a fatal duel; there can be no doubt that several
noblemen would have come forward to give him a good character. I
was present at his trial, and saw him _BOW TO ONE, AT LEAST, OF
OUR MOST DISTINGUISHED NOBLEMEN_ when the latter took his
seat near the judge, at the trial. There was a _TURF
ACQUAINTANCESHIP_ between them, and, of course, all
`acquaintanceship' may be presumed upon, if we lay ourselves open
to the degradation.
The following is a curious case in point. A gentleman of the
highest standing and greatest respectability was accosted by a
stranger to whom he said--`Sir, you have the advantage of me.'
`Oh!' rejoined the former, `don't you remember when we used to
meet at certain parties at Bath many years ago?' `Well, sir,'
exclaimed the gentleman, `you may speak to me should you ever
again meet me at certain parties at Bath, but nowhere else.'
This famous gamester died in 1792, by a cold caught in `a round-
house,' or place of detention, to which he had been taken by
Justice Hyde, from a gaming table.
When too ill to rise out of his chair, he would be carried in
that chair to the Hazard table.
He was supposed to have been the utter ruin of above forty
persons at play. He fought eleven duels.
THE DUC DE MIREFOIX.
The Duc de Mirefois was ambassador at the British Court, and was
extremely fond of chess. A reverend gentleman being nearly his
equal, they frequently played together. At that time the
clergyman kept a petty day-school in a small village, and had a
living of not more than twenty pounds a-year. The French
nobleman made uncommon interest with a noble duke, through whose
favour he obtained for his reverend protege a living of
about L600 per annum--an odd way of obtaining the `cure of
A RECLAIMED GAMBLER'S ACCOUNT OF HIS CAREER.
`Some years since I was lieutenant in a regiment, which the alarm
and policy of administration occasioned to be quartered in the
vicinity of the metropolis, where I was for the first time. A
young nobleman of very distinguished family undertook to be my
conductor. Alas! to what scenes did he introduce me! To places
of debauchery and dens of destruction. I need not detail
particulars. From the lures of the courtesan we went to an
adjoining gaming room. Though I thought my knowledge of
cards superior to those I saw play that night, I touched no card
nor dice. From this my conductor, a brother officer, and myself
adjourned to Pall Mall. We returned to our lodgings about six
o'clock in the morning.
`I could think of nothing but Faro's magic centre, and longed for
the next evening, when I determined to enter that path which has
led so many to infamy, beggary, and suicide. I began cautiously,
and for some time had reason to be satisfied with my success. It
enabled me to live expensively. I made golden calculations of my
future fortune as I improved in skill. My manuals were treatises
on gaming and chances, and no man understood this doctrine better
than I did. I, however, did not calculate the disparity of
resisting powers--my purse with _FIFTY_ guineas, and the Faro
bank with a hundred thousand. It was ruin only which opened my
eyes to this truism at last.
`Good meats, good cooking, and good wines, given gratis and
plenteously, at these houses, drew many to them at first, for the
sake of the society. Among them I one evening chanced to see a
clerical prig, who was incumbent of a parish adjoining that
in which my mother lived. I was intoxicated with wine and
pleasure, when I, on this occasion, entered a haunt of ruin and
enterprising avarice in Pall Mall. I played high and lost in
`The spirit of adventure was now growing on me every day. I was
sometimes very successful. Yet my health was impaired, and my
temper soured by the alternation of good and bad fortune, and my
pity or contempt for those with whom I associated. From the
nobleman, whose acres were nightly melting in the dice box, there
were adventurers even to the _UNFLEDGED APPRENTICE_, who came
with the pillage of his unsuspecting master's till, to swell the
guilty bank of Dame N-- and Co. Were the Commissioners of
Bankruptcy to know how many citizens are prepared for them at
those houses, they would be bound to thank them.
`Many a score of guineas have I won of tradesmen, who seemed only
to turn an honest penny in Leadenhall Street, Aldgate, Birchin
Lane, Cornhill, Cheapside, Holborn, the Borough, and other
eastern spots of industry; but I fleeced them only for the
benefit of the Faro bank, which is sure, finally, to absorb the
gain of all. Some of the croupiers would call their gold
_GIFTS OF THE WISE MEN OF THE EAST;_ others termed their guineas
`One night I had such a run of luck in the Hazard room, which was
rather thinly attended, that I won everything, and with my load
of treasure collected from the East and West, nay, probably, some
of it from _Finchley Common_ and _Hounslow Heath_, I went, in
the flush of success, to attack the Faro bank.
`It was my determination, however, if fortune favoured me through
the night, never to tempt her more. For some hours I proceeded
in the torture of suspense, alternately agitated by hope and
fear--but by five o'clock in the morning I attained a state of
certainty similar to that of a wretch ushered into the regions of
the damned. I had lost L3500 guineas, which I had brought
with me from the Hazard table, together with L2000 which the
bank advanced me on my credit. There they stopped; and, with an
apathy peculiar to themselves, listened to a torrent of puerile
abuse which I vented against them in my despair.
`Two days and two nights I shut myself up, to indulge in the most
racking reflections. I was ruined beyond repair, and I had,
on the third morning, worked myself up to resort for relief to a
loaded pistol. I rang for my servant to bring me some gunpowder,
and was debating with myself whether to direct its force to my
brain or my heart, when he entered with a letter. It was from
Harriet ----. She had heard of my misfortunes, and urged me with
the soul and pen of a heroine, to fly the destructive habits of
the town, and to wait for nine months, when her minority would
expire, and she would come into the uncontrolled possession of
L1700. With that small sum she hoped my expenses, talents,
and domestic comfort, under her housewifery, would create a state
of happiness and independence which millions could not procure in
the mad career which I had pursued.
`This was the voice of a guardian angel in the moment of despair.
In her next, at my request, she informed me that the channel of
her early and minute information was the clerical prig, her
neighbour and admirer, who was related to one of the croupiers
at ----, and had from him a regular detail of my proceedings.
`Soothed by the magic influence of my virtuous Harriet,
instead of calling the croupier to account, I wrote to the
proprietors of the bank, stating my ruined condition, and my
readiness to sell my commission and pay them what I could. These
gentlemen have friends in every department. They completed the
transfer of my lieutenancy in two days, and then, in their
superabundant humanity, offered me the place of croupier in an
inferior house which they kept near Hanover Square. This offer I
declined; and after having paid my tradesman's bill, I left
London with only eleven guineas in my pocket. I married the best
of women, my preserver, and have ever since lived in real comfort
and happiness, on an income less than one hundred pounds a year.'
A stranger plainly dressed took his seat at a Faro table, when
the bank was richer than usual. After some little routine play,
he challenged the bank, and tossed his pocket-book to the banker
that he might be satisfied of his responsibility. It was found
to contain bills to an immense amount; and on the banker showing
reluctance to accept the challenge, the stranger sternly demanded
compliance with the laws of the game. The card soon turned
up which decided the ruin of the banker. `Heaven!' exclaimed an
old infirm Austrian officer, who had sat next to the stranger--
`the twentieth part of your gains would make me the happiest man
in the universe!' The stranger briskly answered--`You shall have
it, then;' and quitted the room. A servant speedily returned,
and presented the officer with the twentieth part of the bank,
adding--`My master requires no answer, sir,' and went out. The
successful stranger was soon recognized to be the great King of
Prussia in disguise.
THE LOTTERIES AND THEIR BEWILDERMENTS.
If we are to believe Pere Menestrier, the institution of
Lotteries is to be found in the Bible, in the words--`The _LOT_
causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty,'
Prov. xviii. 18. Be that as it may, it is certain that lotteries
were in use among the ancient Romans, taking place during the
_Saturnalia_, or festivities in honour of the god Saturn, when
those who took part in them received a numbered ticket, which
entitled the bearer to a prize. During the reign of Augustus the
thing became a means of gratifying the cupidity of his courtiers;
and Nero used it as the method of distributing his gifts to the
people,--granting as many as a thousand tickets a day, some of
them entitling the bearers to slaves, ships, houses, and
lands. Domitian compelled the senators and knights to
participate in the lotteries, in order to debase them; and
Heliogabalus, in his fantastic festivities, distributed tickets
which entitled the bearers to camels, flies, and other odd things
suggested by his madness. In all this, however, the distinctive
character of modern lotteries was totally absent: the tickets
were always gratuitous; so that if the people did not win
anything, they never lost.
In the Middle Ages the same practice prevailed at the banquets of
feudal princes, who apportioned their presents economically, and
without the fear of exciting jealousy among the recipients, by
granting lottery tickets indiscriminately to their friends. The
practice afterwards descended to the merchants; and in Italy,
during the 16th century, it became a favourite mode of disposing
of their wares.
The application of lotteries by paid tickets to the service of
the state is said to have originated at Florence, under the name
of `Lotto,' in 1530; others say at Genoa, under the following
circumstances:--It had long been customary in the latter city to
choose annually, by ballot, five members of the Senate (composed
of 90 persons) in order to form a particular council. Some
persons took this opportunity of laying bets that the lot would
fall on such or such senators. The government, seeing with what
eagerness the people interested themselves in these bets,
conceived the idea of establishing a lottery on the same
principle, which was attended with such great success, that all
the cities of Italy wished to participate in it, and sent large
sums of money to Genoa for that purpose.
To increase the revenues of the Church, the Pope also was induced
to establish a lottery at Rome; the inhabitants of which place
became so fond of this species of gambling, that they often
deprived themselves and their families of the necessaries of
life, that they might have money to lay out in this speculation.
The French borrowed the idea from the Italians. In the year
1520, under Francis I., lotteries were permitted by edict under
the name of _Blanques_, from the Italian _bianca carta_, `white
tickets,'-- because all the losing tickets were considered
_BLANKS;_--hence the introduction of the word into common talk,
with a similar meaning. From the year 1539 the state derived a
revenue from the lotteries, although from 1563 to 1609 the French
parliament repeatedly endeavoured to suppress them as social
evils. At the marriage of Louis XIV. a lottery was organized to
distribute the royal presents to the people--after the fashion of
the Roman emperor. Lotteries were multiplied during this reign
and that of Louis XV. In 1776 the Royal Lottery of France was
established. This was abolished in 1793, re-established at the
commencement of the Republic; but finally all lotteries were
prohibited by law in 1836,--excepting `for benevolent purposes.'
One of the most remarkable of these lotteries `for benevolent
purposes' was the `Lottery of the Gold Lingots,' authorized in
1849, to favour emigration to California. In this lottery the
grand prize was a lingot of gold valued at about L1700.
The old French lottery consisted of 90 numbers, that is, from No.
1 to No. 90, and the drawing was five numbers at a time. Five
wheels were established at Paris, Lyons, Strasbourg, Bordeaus,
and Lille. A drawing took place every ten days at each city.
The exit of a single number was called _extrait_, and it won 15
times the amount deposited, and 70 times if the number was
determined; the exit of two numbers was called the _ambe_,
winning 270 times the deposit, and 5100 times if the number was
determined;--the exit of three numbers was called the _terne_,
winning 5500 times; the _quaterne_, or exit of four numbers, won
75,000 times the deposit. In all this, however, the chances were
greatly in favour of the state banker;--in the _extrait_ the
chances were 18 to 15 in his favour, vastly increasing, of
course, in the remainder; thus in the _ambe_ it was 1602 against
270; and so on.
The first English lottery mentioned in history was drawn in the
year 1569. It consisted of 400,000 lots, at 10_s_. each lot.
The prizes were plate; and the profits were to go towards
repairing the havens or ports of this kingdom. It was drawn at
the west door of St Paul's Cathedral. The drawing began on the
10th of January, 1569, and continued incessantly, _DAY AND
NIGHT_, till the 6th of May following. Another lottery was
held at the same place in 1612, King James having permitted it in
favour of `the plantation of English colonies in Virginia.' One
Thomas Sharplys, a tailor of London, won the chief prize, which
was `4000 crowns in fair plate.'
 The printed scheme of this lottery is still in the
possession of the Antiquarian Society of London.
In 1680, a lottery was granted to supply London with water.
At the end of the 17th century, the government being in want of
money to carry on the war, resorted to a lottery, and
L1,200,000 was set apart or _NAMED_ for the purpose. The
tickets were all disposed of in less than six months, friends and
enemies joining in the speculation. It was a great success; and
when right-minded people murmured at the impropriety of the
thing, they were told to hold their tongues, and assured that
this lottery was the very queen of lotteries, and that it had
just taken Namur!
 This town was captured in 1695, by William III.
At the same time the Dutch gave in to the infatuation with the
utmost enthusiasm; lotteries were established all over Holland;
and learned professors and ministers of the gospel spoke of
nothing else but the lottery to their pupils and hearers.
From this time forward the spirit of gambling increased so
rapidly and grew so strong in England, that in the reign of Queen
Anne private lotteries had to be suppressed as public nuisances.
The first _parliamentary_ lottery was instituted in 1709,
and from this period till 1824 the passing of a lottery bill was
in the programme of every session. Up to the close of the 18th
century the prizes were generally paid in the form of terminable,
and sometimes of perpetual, annuities. Loans were also raised by
granting a bonus of lottery tickets to all who subscribed a
This gambling of annuities, despite the restrictions of an act
passed in 1793, soon led to an appalling amount of vice and
misery; and in 1808, a committee of the House of Commons urged
the suppression of this ruinous mode of filling the national
exchequer. The last public lottery in Great Britain was drawn in
The lotteries exerted a most baneful influence on trade, by
relaxing the sinews of industry and fostering the destructive
spirit of gaming among all orders of men. Nor was that all. The
stream of this evil was immensely swelled and polluted, in open
defiance of the law, by a set of artful and designing men, who
were ever on the watch to allure and draw in the ignorant and
unwary by the various modes and artifices of `_insurance_,' which
were all most flagrant and gross impositions on the public, as
well as a direct violation of the law. One of the most
common and notorious of these schemes was the insuring of numbers
for the next day's drawing, at a _premium_ which (if legal) was
much greater than adequate to the risk. Thus, in 1778, when the
just premium of the lottery was only 7_s_. 6_d_., the office-
keepers charged 9_s_., which was a certain gain of nearly 30 per
cent.; and they aggravated the fraud as the drawing advanced.
On the sixteenth day of drawing the just premium was not quite
20_s_., whereas the office-keepers charged L1 4_s_. 6_d_.,
which clearly shows the great disadvantage that every person
laboured under who was imprudent enough to be concerned in the
insurance of numbers.
 Public Ledger, Dec. 3, 1778.
In every country where lotteries were in operation numbers were
ruined at the close of each drawing, and of these not a few
sought an oblivion of their folly ill self-murder--by the rope,
the razor, or the river.
A more than usual number of adventurers were said to have been
ruined in the lottery of 1788, owing to the several prizes
continuing long in the wheel (which gave occasion to much
gambling), and also to the desperate state of certain branches
of trade, caused by numerous and important bankruptcies.
The suicides increased in proportion. Among them one person made
herself remarkable by a thoughtful provision to prevent
disappointment. A woman, who had scraped everything together to
put into the lottery, and who found herself ruined at its close,
fixed a rope to a beam of sufficient strength; but lest there
should be any accidental failure in the beam or rope, she placed
a large tub of water underneath, that she might drop into it; and
near her also were two razors on a table ready to be used, if
hanging or drowning should prove ineffectual.
A writer of the time gives the following account of the
excitement that prevailed during the drawing of the lottery:--
`Indeed, whoever wishes to know what are the "blessings" of a
lottery, should often visit Guildhall during the time of its
drawing,--when he will see thousands of workmen, servants,
clerks, apprentices, passing and repassing, with looks full of
suspense and anxiety, and who are stealing at least from their
master's time, if they have not many of them also robbed him of
his property, in order to enable them to become adventurers. In
the next place, at the end of the drawing, let our observer
direct his steps to the shops of the pawnbrokers, and view, as he
may, the stock, furniture, and clothes of many hundred poor
families, servants, and others, who have been ruined by the
lottery. If he wish for further satisfaction, let him attend at
the next Old Bailey Sessions, and hear the death-warrant of many
a luckless gambler in lotteries, who has been guilty of
subsequent theft and forgery; or if he seek more proof, let him
attend to the numerous and horrid scenes of self-murder, which
are known to accompany the closing of the wheels of fortune each
year: and then let him determine on "the wisdom and
policy" of lotteries in a commercial city.'
 A case is mentioned of two servants who, having lost their
all in lotteries, robbed their master; and in order to prevent
being seized and hanged in public, murdered themselves in
The capital prizes were so large that they excited the eagerness
of hope; but the sum secured by the government was small when
compared with the infinite mischief it occasioned. On opening
the budget of 1788, the minister observed in the House of
Commons, `that the bargain he had this year for the lottery was
so very good for the public, that it would produce a gain of
L270,000, from which he would deduct L12,000 for the
expenses of drawing, &c., and then there would remain a net
produce of L258,000.' This result, therefore, was deemed
extraordinary; but what was that to the extraordinary mischief
done to the community by the authorization of excessive gambling!
Some curious facts are on record relating to the lotteries.
Until the year 1800 the drawing of the lottery (which usually
consisted of 60,000 tickets for England alone) occupied forty-two
days in succession; it was, therefore, about forty-two to one
against any particular number being drawn the first day; if it
remained in the wheel, it was forty-one to one against its being
drawn on the second, &;c.; the adventurer, therefore, who could
for eight-pence insure the return of a guinea, if a given number
came up the first day, would naturally be led, if he failed, to a
small increase of the deposit according to the decrease of the
chance against him, until his number was drawn, or the person who
took the insurance money would take it no longer.
In the inquiry respecting the mendicity of London, in 1815, Mr
Wakefield declared his opinion that the lottery was a cause of
mendicity; and related an instance--the case of an
industrious man who applied to the Committee of Spitalfields Soup
Society for relief; and when, on being asked his profession, said
he was a `_Translator_'--which, when _TRANSLATED_, signifies, it
seems, the art of converting old boots and shoes into wearable
ones; `but the lottery is about to draw, and,' says he, `I have
no sale for boots or shoes during the time that the lottery
draws'--the money of his customers being spent in the purchase of
tickets, or the payment of `insurances.' The `translator' may
have been mistaken as to the cause of his trade falling off; but
there can be no doubt that the system of the lottery-drawing was
a very infatuating mode of gambling, as the passion was kept
alive from day to day; and though, perhaps, it did not create
mendicity, yet it mainly contributed, with the gin-shops, night-
cellars, obscure gambling houses, and places of amusement, to
fill the _PAWNBROKERS_' shops, and diminish the profits of the
worthy `translator of old shoes.'
 This term is still in use. I recently asked one of
the craft if he called himself a translator. `Yes, sir, not of
languages, but old boots and shoes,' was the reply.
This reasoning, however, is very uncertain.
The sixteenth of a lottery ticket, which is the smallest
share that can be purchased, has not for many years been sold
under thirty shillings, a sum much too large for a person who
buys old shoes `translated,' and even for the `translator'
himself, to advance; we may therefore safely conclude that the
purchase of tickets is not the mode of gambling by which
Crispin's customers are brought to distress.
A great number of foreign lotteries still exist in vigorous
operation. Some are supported by the state, and others are only
authorized; most of them are flourishing. In Germany,
especially, lotteries are abundant; immense properties are
disposed of by this method. The `bank' gains, of course,
enormously; and, also of course, a great deal of trickery and
swindling, or something like it, is perpetrated.
Foreign lottery tickets are now and then illegally offered in
England. A few years ago there appeared an advertisement in the
papers, offering a considerable income for the payment of one or
two pounds. Upon inquiry it was found to be the agency of a
foreign lottery! These tempting offers of advertising
speculators are a cruel addition to the miseries of
The Hamburg lottery seems to afford the most favourable
representation of the system--as such--because in it all the
money raised by the sale of tickets is redistributed in the
drawing of the lots, with the exception of 10 per cent. deducted
in expenses and otherwise; but nothing can compensate for the
pernicious effects of the spirit of gambling which is fostered by
lotteries, however fairly conducted. They are an unmitigated
In the United States lotteries were established by Congress in
1776, but, save in the Southern States, heavy penalties are now
imposed on persons attempting to establish them.
I need scarcely say that lotteries, whether foreign or British,
are utterly forbidden by law, excepting those of Art Unions. The
operations of these associations were indeed suspended in 1811;
but in the following year an act indemnified those who embarked
in them for losses which they had incurred by the arrest of their
proceedings; and since that time they have been _TOLERATED_
under the eye of the law without any express statute being framed
for their exemption. It is thought, however, that they tend to
keep up the spirit of gambling, and therefore ought not to
be allowed even on the specious plea of favouring `art.'
_PRIVATE_ lotteries are now illegal at Common Law in Great
Britain and Ireland; and penalties are also incurred by the
advertisers of _FOREIGN_ lotteries. Some years ago it became
common in Scotland to dispose of merchandise by means of
lotteries; but this is specially condemned in the statute 42 Geo.
III. c. 119. An evasion of the law has been attempted by
affixing a prize to every ticket, so as to make the transaction
resemble a legal sale; but this has been punished as a fraud,
even where it could be proved that the prize equalled in value
the price of the ticket. The decision rested upon the plea that
in such a transaction there was no definite sale of a specific
article. Even the lotteries; for Twelfth Cakes, &c., are
illegal, and render their conductors liable to the penalties of
the law. Decisive action has been taken on this law, and the
usual Christmas lotteries have been this year (1870) rigorously
prohibited throughout the country. It is impossible to doubt the
soundness of the policy that strives to check the spirit of
gambling among the people; but still there may be some truth in
the following remarks which appeared on the subject, in a
`We hear that the police have received directions to caution the
promoters of lotteries for the distribution of game, wine,
spirits, and other articles of this description, that these
schemes are illegal, and that the offenders will be prosecuted.
These attempts to enforce rigidly the provisions of the 10 and 11
William III., c. 17, 42 George III., c. 119, and to check the
spirit of speculation which pervades so many classes in this
country may possibly be successful, but as a mere question of
morality there can be no doubt that Derby lotteries, and, in
fact, all speculations on the turf or Stock Exchange, are open to
quite as much animadversion as the Christmas lotteries for a
little pig or an aged goose, which it appears are to be
suppressed in future. Is it not also questionable policy to
enforce every law merely because it is a law, unless its breach
is productive of serious evil to the community? If every old Act
of Parliament is rummaged out and brought to bear upon us, we
fear we shall find ourselves in rather an uncomfortable position.
We cannot say whether or not the harm produced by these humble
lotteries is sufficient to render their forcible suppression
a matter of necessity. They certainly do produce an amount of
indigestion which of itself must be no small penalty to pay for
those whose misfortune it is to win the luxuries raffled for, but
we never yet heard of any one being ruined by raffling for a pig
or goose; and if our Government is going to be paternal and look
after our pocket-money, we hope it will also be maternal and take
some little interest in our health. The sanitary laws require
putting into operation quite as much as the laws against public-
house lotteries and skittles.'
No `extenuating circumstances,' however, can be admitted
respecting the notorious racing lotteries, in spite of the small
figure of the tickets; nay this rather aggravates the danger,
being a temptation to the thoughtless multitude. One of these
lotteries, called the Deptford Spec., was not long ago suppressed
by the strong arm of the law; but others still exist under
different names. In one of these the law is thought to be evaded
by the sale of a number of photographs; in another, a chance of
winning on a horse is secured by the purchase of certain numbers
of a newspaper struggling into existence; but the following is,
perhaps, the drollest phase of the evasion as yet attempted:
`Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding _count the
number of the beast_.'--Rev., chap. xiii.
`NICKOLAS REX.--"LUCKY" BANQUETS.
`HIS SATANIC MAJESTY purposes holding a series of Banquets,
Levees, and DRAWING ROOMS at Pandemonium during the ensuing
autumn, to each of which about 10,000 of his faithful disciples
will be invited. H. S. M. will, at those drawing-rooms and
receptions, _NUMBER_ a lot of beasts, and distribute a series of
REWARDS, varying in value from L100 to 10_s_. of her Britannic
`Tickets One Shilling each, application for which must be made
_BY LETTER_ to His S. Majesty's Chamberlain, &c. &c. The LAST
_DRAWING-ROOM_ of this season will be held a few days before the
Feast of the CROYDON STEEPLECHASES, &c. &c.
THE LAWS AGAINST GAMING IN VARIOUS COUNTRIES.
1. ANCIENT ROME.
In ancient Rome all games of chance, with the exception of five
which had relation to bodily vigour, were absolutely prohibited
in public or private. The loser could not be sued for moneys
lost, and could recover what he might have paid, such right being
secured to his heirs against the heirs of the winner, even after
the lapse of 30 years' prescription. During 50 years after the
loss, should the loser or his heirs neglect their action, it was
open to any one that chose to prosecute, and chiefly to the
municipal authorities, the sum recovered to be expended in that
case for public purposes. No surety for the payment of money for
gambling purposes was bound. The betting on lawful games
was restricted to a certain amount, beyond which the loser could
recover moneys paid, and could not be sued for the amount. A
person in whose house gambling had taken place, if struck or
injured, or if robbed on the occasion thereof, was denied
redress; but offences of gamblers among themselves were
punishable. Blows or injuries might be inflicted on the gambling
house keeper at any time and anywhere without being penal as
against any person; but theft was not exempted from punishment,
unless committed at the time of gambling--and not by a gambler.
Children and freedmen could recover their losses as against their
parents and patrons.
Cicero, in his second Philippic, speaks of a criminal process
(_publicum judicium_) then in force against gamblers.
The laws of ancient Rome were, therefore, very stringent on this
subject, although, there can be no doubt, without much effect.
At the time of the French Revolution warlike games alone
conferred the right of action, restricted, however, in cases of
excessive losses; games of strength and skill generally were
lawful, but were considered as not giving any right of action;
games of mere chance were prohibited, but minors alone were
allowed to recover moneys lost.
By the present law of France no judicial action is allowed for
gambling debts and wagers, except in the case of such games as
depend upon bodily skill and effort, foot, horse, and chariot
races, and others of the like nature: the claim may be rejected
if the court considers it excessive; but moneys paid can never be
recovered unless on the ground of fraud. The keepers of gaming
houses, their managers or agents, are punishable with fine (100
to 6000 francs) and imprisonment (two to six months), and may be
deprived of most of their civil rights.
By the Prussian Code all games of chance, except when licensed by
the state, are prohibited. Gaming debts are not the subjects of
action; but moneys paid cannot be sued for by losers. Wagers
give a right of action when the stakes consist of cash in the
hands of a third person; they are void if the winner had a
knowledge of the event, and concealed it. Moneys lent for
gambling or betting purposes, or to pay gambling or betting
debts, cannot be sued for. Gaming house keepers and gamblers are
punishable with fine; professed gamblers with imprisonment.
Occasional cheating at play obliges to compensation; professed
swindlers at play are punishable as for theft, and banished
afterwards. Moneys won from a drunken man, if to a considerable
amount, must be returned, and a fine paid of equal value.
In Austria no right of action is given either to the winner or
the loser. All games of chance are prohibited except when
licensed by the state. Cheating at play is punished with
imprisonment, according to the amount of fraudulent gain.
Playing at unlawful games, or allowing such to take place in
one's house, subjects the party to a heavy fine, or in default,
The provisions of the Sardinian Civil Code are similar to those
of the French, giving an action for moneys won at games of
strength or skill--when not excessive in amount; but not
allowing the recovery of moneys lost, except on the ground of
fraud or _MINORITY_, a provision taken from the _OLD_ French
By the Bavarian Code games of skill, and of mixed skill and
chance, are not forbidden. The loser cannot refuse to pay, nor
can he recover his losses, provided the sport be honestly
conducted, and the stakes not excessive, having regard to the
rank, character, and fortune of the parties. In cases of
fraudulent and excessive gaming, and in all games of mere chance,
the winner cannot claim his winnings, but must repay the loser on
demand. In the two latter cases (apparently) both winner and
loser are liable to a fine, equal in amount,--for the first time
of conviction, to one-third of the stakes; for the second time,
to two-thirds; and for the third time, to the whole: in certain
cases the bank is to be confiscated. Hotel and coffee-house
keepers, &c., who allow gambling on their premises, are punished
for the first offence by a fine of 50 florins; for the second,
with one of 100 florins; for the third, with the loss of the
license. The punishment of private persons for the like
offence is left to the discretion of the judge. _UNLAWFUL_
games may be _LEGALIZED_ by authority; but in such case, fraud
or gross excess disables the winner from claiming moneys won,
renders him liable to repayment, and subjects him to arbitrary
punishment. _IMMORAL_ wagers are void; and _EXCESSIVE_ wagers
are to be reduced in amount. Betting on indifferent things is
not prohibited, nor even as to a known and certain thing--when
there is no deception. No wager is void on account of mere
disparity of odds. Professed gamblers, who also cheat at play,
and their accomplices, and the setters-up and collectors of
fictitious lotteries, are subject to imprisonment, with hard
labour, for a term of from four to eight years.
Although, therefore, cheating gamblers are liable to punishment
in Bavaria, it is evident that gambling is there tolerated to the
utmost extent required by the votaries of Fortune.
Wagers appear to be lawful in Spain, when not in themselves
fraudulent, or relating to anything illegal or immoral.
In England some of the forms of gambling or gaming have been
absolutely forbidden under heavy penalties, whilst others have
been tolerated, but at the same time discouraged; and the reasons
for the prohibition were not always directed against the
impropriety or iniquity of the practice in itself;--thus it was
alleged in an Act passed in 1541, that for the sake of the games
the people neglected to practise _ARCHERY_, through which
England had become great--`to the terrible dread and fear of all
The first of the strictly-called Gaming Acts is one of Charles
II.'s reign, which was intended to check the habit of gambling so
prevalent then, as before stated. By this Act it was ordered
that, if any one shall play at any pastime or game, by gaming or
betting with those who game, and shall lose more than one hundred
pounds on credit, he shall not be bound to pay, and any contract
to do so shall be void. In consequence of this Act losers of a
less amount--whether less wealthy or less profligate--and the
whole of the poorer classes, remained unprotected from the
cheating of sharpers, for it must be presumed that nobody has a
right to refuse to pay a fair gambling debt, since he would
evidently be glad to receive his winnings. No doubt much misery
followed through the contrivances of sharpers; still it was a
salutary warning to gamesters of the poorer classes--whilst in
the higher ranks the `honour' of play was equally stringent, and,
I may add, in many cases ruinous. By the recital of the Act it
is evident that the object was to check and put down gaming as a
business profession, `to gain a living;' and therefore it
specially mulcted the class out of which `adventurers' in this
line usually arise.
The Act of Queen Anne, by its sweeping character, shows that
gaming had become very virulent, for by it not only were all
securities for money lost at gaming void, but money actually
paid, if more than L10, might be recovered in an action at
law; not only might this be done, within three months, by the
loser himself, but by any one else--together with treble the
value--half for himself, and half for the poor of the parish.
Persons winning, by fraudulent means, L10 and upwards at any
game were condemned by this Act to pay five times the amount
or value of the thing won, and, moreover, they were to `be deemed
infamous, and suffer such corporal punishment as in cases of
wilful perjury.' The Act went further:--if persons were
suspected of getting their living by gaming, they might be
summoned before a magistrate, required to show that the greater
portion of their income did not depend upon gaming, and to find
sureties for their good behaviour during twelve months, or be
committed to gaol.
There were, besides, two curious provisions;-- any one assaulting
or challenging another to a duel on account of disputes over
gaming, should forfeit all his goods and be imprisoned for two
years; secondly, the royal palaces of St James's and Whitehall
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