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The Gaming Table, Its Votaries and Victims Volume #2 by Andrew Steinmetz

Part 2 out of 5

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whatever rank of life, whether high or low,--beware of gambling!
Beware of so much as approaching an E O table! Had I ever met
with such a dreadful warning as I now offer thee, I might perhaps
have been saved from death--have been snatched from damnation.
Reader, art thou a woman? Oh, whether rich or poor, whether
wife, mother, sister, or daughter,--if thou suspect that the late
hours, the feverish body, the disturbed mind, the ruffled temper,
the sudden extravagance of him whom thou lovest, are caused by
frequenting the gaming table, oh, fail not to discover thy
suspicions--fail not to remonstrate! Had but my dear wife
remonstrated with me, when she saw me, in consequence of my
winnings, indulge in expense, which she must have known I could
not honestly afford, she would not now, within the next hour, be
deprived of her husband--of the only support of herself and her
three poor children in this world,--and deprived of him in a
manner which effectually cuts off all hopes of our ever meeting
in the happiness of another. * * * *

'Yes, in less than an hour, coward as I am, I shall have deserted
my duty and my family in this world; and, wretch as I am, shall
have rushed into all the horrors of hell in another world, by
drowning myself.

'By curiosity I was first led to the E O table. Ashamed to stand
idle I put upon E, it came E; upon O, it came O. Fortune
favoured me (as I foolishly called it), and I came away a winner.

Something worse than curiosity, though hardly more dangerous,
carried me to another table another night. My view in going was
answered. My view was to WIN, and again I WON in the course of
the evening. Again I went, and again I won. For some weeks this
was the constant story. Oh, happy had I lost at first! Now I
went every night. Everything I ought to have done, neglected.
Up all night, I was forced to lie in bed all day. The strength
of my mind, which at THIS moment might save me, was hourly
wasting away. My wife was deceived with continual falsehoods, to
which nothing but her fondness for me blinded her. Even my
winnings, with the expense and extravagance in which I indulged
myself and family, were every day more than half exhausted. But
I felt that I was always to win. Fortune favoured me. Fortune
was now my deity. * * * *

'But fortune, my new, my false deity, deserted me. My luck
TURNED. I am undone! Ruined! A beggar! My wife and children
will want a morsel of bread to eat. * * * * To destroy myself is
the only way to preserve my family from want, and to keep myself
from the GALLOWS. This morning I absolutely hesitated whether I
should not procure a sum of money with which to try my luck by
FORGERY. Gamesters, think of that-- FORGERY! O my dear wife, is
not anything better than seeing me conveyed to Tyburn? Yes, it
is better that before many hours you and your three helpless
daughters should be hanging in tears (I little merit) over my
lifeless, cold, and swollen body.

'Readers, farewell! From my sad and voluntary death, learn
wisdom. In consequence of gaming I go to seek my destruction in
the Thames. Oh, think in what manner he deserves to be punished
who commits a crime which he is fully persuaded merits, and will
not fail to meet, the severest punishment.'

The narrative proceeds to state that, 'between one and two
o'clock in the morning he took a sad farewell of this world, and
leaped over Blackfriars Bridge. It pleased Providence, however,
that he should be seen committing this desperate action by two
watermen, who found his body after it had been a considerable
time under water. In consequence of the methods used by the men
of the Humane Society, he was at length almost miraculously
restored to life and to his family. It is further stated that--
'In consequence of the advice of a worthy clergyman he was
restored to reason and to religion. He now wonders how he could
think of committing so horrid a crime; and is not without hope
that by a life of continual repentance and exemplary religion, he
may obtain pardon hereafter. The paper which he wrote before he
set forth to drown himself he still desires should be made as
public as possible, and that this narrative should be added to


In the year 1799, Sir W. L--, Bart., finding his eldest son
extremely distressed and embarrassed, told him that he would
relieve him from all his difficulties, on condition that he would
state to him, without reserve, their utmost extent, and give him
his honour never to play again for any considerable sum. The
debts--amounting to L22,000--were instantly discharged. Before a
week had elapsed he fell into his old habits again, and lost
L5000 more at a sitting; upon which he next morning shot himself!


In 1816 a gentleman, the head of a first-rate concern in the
city, put a period to his existence by blowing out his brains.
He had gone to the Argyle Rooms a few nights before the act, and
accompanied a female home in a coach, with two men, friends of
the woman. When they got to her residence the two men proposed
to the gentleman to play for a dozen champagne to treat the lady
with, which the gentleman declined. They, however, after a great
deal of persuasion, prevailed on him to play for small sums, and,
according to the usual trick of gamblers, allowed him to win at
first, till they began to play for double, when there is no doubt
the fellows produced loaded dice, and the gentleman lost to the
amount of L1800! This brought him to his senses--as well it
might. He then invented an excuse for not paying that sum, by
saying that he was under an agreement with his partner not to
draw for a larger amount than L300 for his private account--and
gave them a draft for that amount, promising the remainder at a
future day. This promise, however, he did not attend to, not
feeling himself bound by such a villainous transaction,
especially after giving them so much. But the robbers found out
who he was and his residence, and had the audacity to go, armed
with bludgeons, and attack him publicly on his own premises, in
the presence of those employed there, demanding payment of their
nefarious 'debt of honour,' and threatening him, if he did not
pay, that he should fight!

This exposure had such an effect on his feelings that he made an
excuse to retire--did so--and blew out his brains with a pistol!

This rash act was the more to be lamented because it prevented
the bringing to condign punishment, the plundering villains who
were the cause of it.[16]

[16] Annual Register, vol. lviii.


A gallant Dutch officer, after having lost a splendid fortune not
long since (1823) in a gambling house at Aix-la-Chapelle, shot
himself. A Russian general, also, of immense wealth, terminated
his existence in the same manner and for the same cause. More
recently, a young Englishman, who lost the whole of an immense
fortune by gambling at Paris, quitted this world by stabbing
himself in the neck with a fork. A short time previously another
Englishman, whose birth was as high as his wealth had been
considerable, blew his brains out in the Palais Royal, after
having literally lost his last shilling. Finally, an unfortunate
printer at Paris, who had a wife and five children, finished his
earthly career for the same cause, by suffocating himself with
the fumes of charcoal; he said, in his farewell note to his
unhappy wife--'Behold the effect of gaming!'[17]

[17] Ubi supra.


A young man having gambled away his last shilling, solicited the
loan of a few pounds from one of the proprietors of the hell in
which he had been plundered. 'What security will you give me?'
asked the fellow. 'My word of honour,' was the reply. 'Your
word of honour! That's poor security, and won't do,' rejoined
the hellite; 'if you can pawn nothing better than that, you'll
get no money out of me.' 'Then you won't lend me a couple of
pounds?' 'Not without security,' was the reply. 'Why, surely,
you won't refuse me a couple of sovereigns, after having lost so
much?' 'I won't advance you a couple of shillings without

Still bent upon play, and greedy for the means to gratify his
passion, the unhappy man, as if struck by a sudden thought,
exclaimed--'I'll give you security--the clothes on my back are
quite new, and worth eight guineas; you shall have them as
security. Lend me two sovereigns on them.'

'Suppose you lose,' doggedly rejoined the other, 'I cannot strip
them off your back.' 'Don't trouble yourself on that head,'
replied the desperate wretch; 'if I lose I shall commit suicide,
which I have been meditating for some time, and you shall surely
have my clothes. I shall return to my lodgings before daylight,
in the most worn-out and worthless dressing-gown or great-coat
you can procure for me, leaving my clothes with you.'

The two sovereigns were advanced, and in ten or twelve minutes
were lost. The keeper of the table demanded the clothes, and the
unfortunate man stripped himself with the utmost coolness of
manner, and wrapping his body in a worn-out greatcoat, quitted
the place with the full purpose of committing self-murder. He
did not direct his steps homeward, however, but resolved to
accomplish the horrid deed by suspending himself from a lamp-post
in a dark lane near the place. While making the necessary
preparations he was observed by a constable, who at once took him
into custody, and on the following morning he was carried before
the magistrate, where all the circumstances of the affair came


During the great French War, among other means resorted to in
order to ease the English prisoners at Verdun of their loose
cash, a gaming table was set up for their sole accommodation,
and, as usual, led to scenes of great depravity and horror. For
instance, a young man was enticed into this sink of iniquity,
when he was tempted to throw on the table a five-franc piece; he
won, and repeated the experiment several times successfully,
until luck turned against him, and he lost everything he had.
The manager immediately offered a rouleau of a thousand francs,
which, in the heat of play, he thoughtlessly accepted, and also
lost. He then drew a bill on his agent, which his captain (he
was an officer in the English army) endorsed. The proceeds of
this went the way of the rouleau. He drew two more bills, and
lost again. The next morning he was found dead in his bed, with
his limbs much distorted and his fingers dug into his sides. On
his table was found an empty laudanum bottle, and some scraps of
paper on which he had been practising the signature of Captain
B----. On inquiry it was found that he had forged that officer's
name to the two last bills.


In 1819 an inquest was held on the body of a gentleman found
hanging from one of the trees in St James's Park. The evidence
established the melancholy fact that the deceased was in the
habit of frequenting gambling houses, and had sunk into a state
of dejection on account of his losses; and it seemed probable
that it was immediately after his departure from one of these
receptacles of rogues and their dupes that he committed suicide.
The son of the gate-keeper at St James's saw several persons
round the body at four o'clock in the morning, one of whom, a
noted gambler, said: 'Look at his face; why, have you forgotten
last night? Don't you recollect him now?' They were, no doubt,
all gamblers--in at the death.'

The three following stories, if not of actual suicide, relate
crimes which bear a close resemblance to self-murder.


A clerk named Chambers, losing his monthly pay, which was his
all, at a gaming table, begged to borrow of the manager's; but
they knew his history too well to lend without security, and
therefore demanded something in pawn. 'I have nothing to give
but my ears,' he replied. 'Well,' said one of the witty demons,
'let us have them.' The youth immediately took a knife out of
his pocket and actually cut off all the fleshy part of one of his
cars and threw it on the table, to the astonishment of the
admiring gamesters. He received his two dollars, and gambled on.


The following incident is said to have occurred in London:--Two
fellows were observed by a patrol sitting at a lamp-post in the
New Road; and, on closely watching them, the latter discovered
that one was tying up the other, who offered no resistance, by
the neck. The patrol interfered to prevent such a strange kind
of murder, and was assailed by both, and very considerably beaten
for his good offices; the watchmen, however, poured in, and the
parties were secured. On examination next morning, it appeared
that the men had been gambling; that one had lost all his money
to the other, and had at last proposed to stake his clothes. The
winner demurred--observing that he could not strip his adversary
naked in the event of his losing. 'Oh,' replied the other, 'do
not give yourself any uneasiness about that; if I lose I shall be
unable to live, and you shall hang me, and take my clothes after
I am dead, for I shall then, you know, have no occasion for
them.' The proposed arrangement was assented to; and the fellow
having lost, was quietly submitting to the terms of the treaty
when he was interrupted by the patrol, whose impertinent
interference he so angrily resented.


In the year 1812 an extraordinary investigation took place at Bow
Street. Croker, the officer, was passing along Hampstead Road;
he observed at a short distance before him two men on a wall, and
directly after saw the tallest of them, a stout man, about six
feet high, hanging by his neck from a lamp-post attached to the
wall, being that instant tied up and turned off by the short man.

This unexpected and extraordinary sight astonished the officer;
he made up to the spot with all speed, and just after he arrived
there the tall man, who had been hanged, fell to the ground, the
handkerchief with which he had been suspended having given way.
Croker produced his staff, said he was an officer, and demanded
to know of the other man the cause of such conduct; in the mean
time the man who had been hanged recovered, got up, and on
Croker's interfering, gave him a violent blow on his nose, which
nearly knocked him backward. The short man was endeavouring to
make off; however, the officer procured assistance, and both were
brought to the office, where the account they gave was that they
worked on canals. They had been together on Wednesday afternoon,
tossed for money, and afterwards for their CLOTHES; the tall man
who was hanged won the other's jacket, trousers, and shoes; they
then tossed up which should HANG THE OTHER, and the short one won
the toss. They got upon the wall, the one to submit, and the
other to hang him on the lamp-iron. They both agreed in this
statement. The tall one, who had been hanged, said if he had won
the toss he would have hanged the other. He said he then felt
the effects upon his neck of his hanging, and his eyes were so
much swelled that he saw DOUBLE.

The magistrates, continues the report in the 'Annual Register,'
expressed their horror and disgust; and ordered the man who had
been hanged to find bail for the violent and unjustifiable
assault upon the officer; and the short one, for hanging the
other--a very odd decision in the latter case--since the act was
murder 'to all intents and purposes' designed and intended. The
report says, however, that, not having bail, they were committed
to Bridewell for trial.[20] The result I have not discovered.

[20] Annual Register, 1812, vol. liv.

Innumerable duels have resulted from quarrels over the gaming
table, although nothing could be more Draconic than the law
especially directed against such duels. By the Act of Queen Anne
against gaming, all persons sending a challenge on account of
gaming disputes were liable to forfeit all their goods and to be
committed to prison for two years. No case of the kind, however,
was ever prosecuted on that clause of the Act, which was, in
other respects, very nearly inoperative.


It so happened that almost every month of the year 1818 was
'distinguished' by a duel or two, resulting from quarrels at
gambling or in gambling houses.

January. 'A meeting took place yesterday at an early hour,
between Captain B--r--y and Lieutenant T--n--n, in consequence of
a dispute at play. Wimbledon Common was the ground, and the
parties fired twice, when the lieutenant was slightly wounded in
the pistol hand, the ball grazing the right side; and here the
affair ended.'

January. 'A meeting took place on the 9th instant, at Calais,
between Lieut. Finch, 20th regiment of Dragoons, and Lieut.
Boileau, on half-pay of the 41st regiment. Lieut. Finch was
bound over, some days back, to keep the peace in England; in
consequence of which he proceeded to Calais, accompanied by his
friend, Captain Butler, where they were followed by Lieut.
Boileau and his friend Lieut. Hartley. It was settled by Captain
Butler, previous to Lieut. Finch taking his ground, that HE WAS
BOUND IN HONOUR to receive LIEUT. BOILEAU'S FIRE as he had given
so serious a provocation as a blow. This arrangement was,
however, defeated, by Lieut. Finch's pistol "accidentally" going
off, apparently in the direction of his opponent, which would
probably have led to fatal consequences had it not been for the
IMPLICIT RELIANCE placed by Lieut. Boileau's friend on the STRICT
HONOUR of Capt. Butler, whose anxiety, steadiness, and
gentlemanly conduct on this and every other occasion, were too
well known to leave a doubt on the minds of the opposite party,
that Lieut. Finch's pistol going off was ENTIRELY ACCIDENTAL. A
reconciliation, therefore, immediately took place.'

February 17. 'Information was received at the public office,
Marlborough Street, on Saturday last, that a duel was about to
take place yesterday, in the fields contiguous to Chalk Farm,
between Colonel Tucker and Lieut. Nixon, the latter having
challenged the former in public company, for which and previous
abuse the colonel inflicted severe chastisement with a thick
stick. Subsequent information was received that the colonel's
friends deemed it unnecessary for him to meet the challenger, but
that his remedy was to repeat the former chastisement when
insulted. It was further stated that a few half-pay officers, of
inferior rank, had leagued together for the purpose of procuring
others to give a challenge, and which it was the determination to
put down by adopting the colonel's plan.'

February. 'A captain in the army shook hands with a gallant
lieut.-colonel (who had distinguished himself in the Peninsula)
at one of the West End gaming houses, and Lieut. N--, who was
present, upbraided the colonel with the epithet of "poltroon."
On a fit opportunity the colonel inflicted summary justice upon
the lieutenant with a cane or horse-whip. This produced a
challenge; but the colonel was advised that he would degrade
himself by combat with the challenger, and he therefore declined
it, but promised similar chastisement to that inflicted. It was
then stated that the colonel was bound to fight any other person
who would stand forth as the champion of Lieut. N--, to which the
colonel consented,--when a Lieut. J--n--e appeared as the
champion, and the meeting was appointed for Tuesday morning at
Turnham Green. The information of the police was renewed, and
Thomas Foy apprehended the parties at an inn near the spot, early
in the morning. They were consequently bound over to keep the
peace. It appears, however, that the lieutenant in this instance
was not the champion of the former, but had been challenged by
the colonel.'

April. 'A meeting was to have taken place yesterday in
consequence of a dispute at play, between Captain R--n--s and Mr
B--e--r, a gentleman of fortune; but it was prevented by the
interference of the police, and the parties escaped. It took
place, however, on the following day, on Wimbledon Common, and
after exchanging a single shot the matter was adjusted.'

May. 'In consequence of a dispute at a gaming table, on Monday
night, in the vicinity of Piccadilly, Mr M--, who was an officer
in the British service at Brussels, and Mr B--n, a medical man,
met, at three in the morning, on Tuesday, in the King's Road.
They fought at twelve paces. Mr B--n was wounded on the back
part of the hand, and the affair was adjusted.'

July. 'A duel was fought yesterday morning, on Wimbledon Common,
between a Mr Arrowsmith and Lieut. Flynn, which ended in the
former being wounded in the thigh. The dispute which occasioned
the meeting originated in a gaming transaction.'

September. 'A duel was fought this morning on Hounslow Heath,
between Messrs Hillson and Marsden. The dispute arose in one of
the stands at Egham races. The latter was seriously wounded in
the left side, and conveyed away in a gig.'

November. 'A duel originating, over a dispute at play was fixed
to take place on Wimbledon Common, at daybreak, yesterday
morning, but information having been received that police
officers were waiting, the parties withdrew.'


A medical student, named Goulard, quarrelled at billiards with a
fellow-student named Caire. Their mutual friends, having in vain
tried every means of persuasion to prevent the consequences of
the dispute, accompanied the young men without the walls of
Paris. Goulard seemed disposed to submit to an arrangement, but
Cairo obstinately refused. The seconds measured the ground, and
the first shot having been won by Goulard, he fired, and Caire
fell dead. Goulard did not appear during the prosecution that
followed; he continued absent on the day fixed for judgment, and
the court, conformably to the code of criminal proceedings,
pronounced on the charge without the intervention of a jury. It
acquitted Goulard of premeditation, but condemned him for
contumacy, to perpetual hard labour, and to be branded; and this
in spite of the fact that the advocate-general had demanded
Goulard's acquittal of the charge.


In 1788, a Scotch gentleman, named William Brodie, was tried and
convicted at Edinburgh, for stealing bank-notes and money, with
violence. This man, at the death of his father, twelve years
before, inherited a considerable estate in houses, in the city of
Edinburgh, together with L10,000 in money; but, by an unhappy
connection and a too great propensity to gaming, he was reduced
to the desperation which brought him at last to the scaffold. It
is stated that his demeanour on receiving the dreadful sentence
was equally cool and determined; moreover, that he was dressed in
a blue coat, fancy vest, satin breeches, and white silk
stockings; a cocked hat; his hair full dressed and powdered; and,
lastly, that he was carried back to prison in a chair. Such was
the respectful treatment of 'gentlemen' prisoners in Scotland
towards the end of the last century.


A Monsieur de Boisseuil, one of the Kings equerries, being at a
card-party, detected one of the players cheating, and exposed his

The insulted 'gentleman' demanded satisfaction, when Boisseuil
replied that he did not fight with a person who was a rogue.

'That MAY be,' said the other, 'but I do not like to be CALLED

They met on the ground, and Boisseuil received two desperate
wounds from the sharper.

This man's plea against Boisseuil is a remarkable trait. Madame
de Stael has alluded to it in her best style. 'In France,' she
says, 'we constantly see persons of distinguished rank, who, when
accused of an improper action, will say--"It may have been wrong,
but no one will dare assert it to my face!" Such an expression
is an evident proof of confirmed depravity; for, what would be
the condition of society if it was only requisite to kill one
another, to commit with impunity every evil action,--to break
one's word and assert falsehood--provided no one dared tell you
that you lied?'

In countries where public opinion is more severe on the want of
probity and fair-dealing, should a man transgress the laws of
these principles of human conduct, ten duels a day would not
enable him to recover the esteem he has forfeited.


This duel originated as follows:--It appears that a Major Oneby,
being in company with a Mr Gower and three other persons, at a
tavern, in a friendly manner, after some time began playing at
Hazard; when one of the company, named Rich, asked if any one
would set him three half-crowns; whereupon Mr Gower, in a jocular
manner, laid down three half-pence, telling Rich he had set him
three pieces, and Major Oneby at the same time set Rich three
half-crowns, and lost them to him.

Immediately after this, Major Oneby, in a angry manner, turned
about to Mr Gower and said--'It was an impertinent thing to set
down half-pence,' and called him 'an impertinent puppy' for so
doing. To this Mr Gower answered--'Whoever calls me so is a
rascal. 'Thereupon Major Oneby took up a bottle, and with great
force threw it at Mr Gower's head, but did not hit him, the
bottle only brushing some of the powder out of his hair. Mr
Gower, in return, immediately tossed a candlestick or a bottle at
Major Oneby, which missed him; upon which they both rose to fetch
their swords, which were then hung in the room, and Mr Gower drew
his sword, but the Major was prevented from drawing his by the
company. Thereupon Mr Gower threw away his sword, and the
company interposing, they sat down again for the space of an

At the expiration of that time, Mr Gower said to Major Oneby--'We
have had hot words, and you were the aggressor, but I think we
may pass it over'--at the same time offering him his hand; but
the Major replied--'No, d--n you, I WILL HAVE YOUR BLOOD.'

After this, the reckoning being paid, all the company, excepting
Major Oneby, went out to go home, and he called to Mr Gower,
saying--'Young man, come back, I have something to say to you.'
Whereupon Mr Gower returned to the room, and immediately the door
was closed, and the rest of the company excluded--when a clashing
of swords was heard, and Major Oneby gave Mr Gower a mortal
wound. It was found, on the breaking up of the company, that
Major Oneby had his great coat over his shoulders, and that he
had received three slight wounds in the fight. Mr Gower, being
asked on his death-bed whether he had received his wounds in a
manner among swordsmen called fair, answered--'I think I did.'
Major Oneby was tried for the offence, and found guilty of
murder, 'having acted upon malice and deliberation, and not from
sudden passion.'


In 1813, the nephew of a British peer was executed at Lisbon. He
had involved himself by gambling, and being detected in robbing
the house of an English friend, by a Portuguese servant, he shot
the latter dead to prevent discovery. This desperate act,
however, did not enable him to escape the hands of justice.
After execution, his head was severed from his body and fixed on
a pole opposite the house in which the murder and robbery were

The following facts will show the intimate connection between
gambling and Robbery or Forgery.


Edward Wortley Montagu was the only son of the celebrated Lady
Mary Wortley Montagu, whose eccentricities he inherited without
her genius. Montagu, together with Lords Taffe and Southwell,
was accused of having invited one Abraham Payba, alias James
Roberts, a Jew, to dine with them at Paris, in the year 1751; and
of having plied him with wine till he became intoxicated, and so
lost at play the sum of 800 louis d'ors. It was affirmed that
they subsequently called at his house, and that on his exhibiting
an evident disinclination to satisfy their demands, they
threatened to cut him across the face with their swords unless he
instantly paid them. Terrified by their violence, and, at the
same time, unwilling to part with his gold, the Jew had cunning
enough to give them drafts on a Paris banker, by whom, as he had
no dealings with him, he well knew that his bills would be
dishonoured; and, to escape the vengeance of those whom he had
outwitted, quitted Paris. On ascertaining how completely they
had been duped, Montagu, with his associates Lords Taffe and
Southwell, repaired to the house of the Jew, and after ransacking
his drawers and strong boxes, are said to have possessed
themselves of a very considerable sum of money, in addition to
diamonds, jewels, and other valuable articles. The Jew had it
now in his power to turn on his persecutors, and accordingly he
appealed to the legislature for redress. Lord Southwell
contrived to effect his escape, but Lord Taffe and Montagu were
arrested, and were kept in separate dungeons in the Grand
Chatelet, for nearly three months. The case was subsequently
tried in a court of law, and decided in favour of the
accused,--the Jew being adjudged to make reparation and defray
the costs! Against the injustice of this sentence he appealed to
the high court of La Tournelle at Paris, which reversed it. Lord
Taffe and Montagu afterwards appealed, in their turn, but of the
definitive result there is no record.


Le Sage, in his 'Gil Blas,' says that 'the devil has a particular
spite against private tutors;' and he might have added, against
popular preachers. By popular preachers I do not mean such grand
old things as Bossuet, Massillon, and Bourdaloue. All such men
were proof against the fiery darts of the infernal tempter. From
their earliest days they had been trained to live up to the Non
nobis Domine, 'Not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name, give
glory.' All of them had only at heart the glory of their church-
cause; though, of course, the Jesuit Bourdaloue worked also for
his great Order, then culminating in glory.

The last-named, too, was another La Fontaine in simplicity,
preparing for his grandest predications by sorrily rasping on an
execrable fiddle. So, if the devil had lifted him up to a high
mountain, showing him all he would give him, he would have simply
invited him to his lonely cell, to have a jig to the tune of his

Your popular preachers in England have been, and are, a different
sort of spiritual workers. They have been, and are,
individualities, perpetually reminded of the fact, withal; and
fiercely tempted accordingly. The world, the flesh, and the
devil, incessantly knock at their door. If they fall into the
snare it is but natural, and much to be lamented.

Dr Dodd had many amiable qualities; but his reputation as a
scholar, and his notoriety as a preacher, appear to have entirely
turned his head.

He had presented to him a good living in Bedfordshire; but the
income thereof was of no avail in supplying his wants: he was
vain, pompous, in debt, a gambler. Temptation came upon him. To
relieve himself he tried by indirect means to obtain the rectory
of St George's, Hanover Square, by sending an anonymous letter to
Lady Apsley, offering the sum of L3000 if by her means he could
be presented to the living; the letter was immediately sent to
the chancellor, and, after being traced to the sender, laid
before the king. His name was ordered to be struck out of the
list of chaplains; the press abounded with satire and invective;
Dodd was abused and ridiculed, and even Foote, in one of his
performances at the Haymarket, made him a subject of
entertainment. Dodd then decamped, and went to his former pupil,
Lord Chesterfield, in Switzerland, who gave him another living;
but his extravagance being undiminished, he was driven to schemes
which covered him with infamy. After the most extravagant and
unseemly conduct in France, he returned to England, and forged a
bond as from his pupil, Lord Chesterfield, for the sum of L4200,
and, upon the credit of it, obtained a large sum of money; but
detection instantly following, he was committed to prison, tried
and convicted at the Old Bailey, Feb. 24, and executed at
Tyburn, June 27 (after a delay of four months), exhibiting every
appearance of penitence. The great delay between the sentence
and execution was owing to a doubt for some time respecting the
admissibility of an evidence which had been made use of to
convict him.

Lord Chesterfield has been accused of a cold and relentless
disposition in having deserted his old tutor in his extremity.
But Mr Jesse says that he heard it related by a person who lived
at the period, that at a preliminary examination of the
unfortunate divine, Lord Chesterfield, on some pretence, placed
the forged document in Dodd's hands, with the kind intention that
he should take the opportunity of destroying it, but the latter
wanted either the courage or the presence of mind enough to avail
himself of the occasion. This, however, is scarcely an excuse,
for, certainly, it was not for Dr Dodd to destroy the fatal
document. If Lord Chesterfield had wished to suppress that vital
evidence he could have done so.

Dr Johnson exerted himself to the utmost to try and save poor
Dodd; but George III. was inexorable. Respecting this benevolent
attempt of the Doctor, Chalmers writes as follows:--

Dr Johnson appears indeed in this instance to have been more
swayed by popular judgment than he would perhaps have been
willing to allow. The cry was--"the honour of the clergy;" but
if the honour of the clergy was tarnished, it was by Dodd's
crime, and not his punishment; for his life had been so long a
disgrace to his cloth that he had deprived himself of the
sympathy which attaches to the first deviation from rectitude,
and few criminals could have had less claim to such a display of
popular feeling.'

All applications for the Royal mercy having failed, Dr Dodd
prepared himself for death, and with a warmth of gratitude wrote
to Dr Johnson as follows:--

'June 25, Midnight.

'Accept, thou GREAT and GOOD heart, my earnest and fervent thanks
and prayers for all thy benevolent and kind efforts in my
behalf.--Oh! Dr Johnson! as I sought your knowledge at an early
hour in my life, would to Heaven I had cultivated the love and
acquaintance of so excellent a man!--I pray God most sincerely to
bless you with the highest transports--the infelt satisfaction of
HUMANE and benevolent exertions!--And admitted, as I trust I
shall be, to the realms of bliss before you, I shall hail YOUR
arrival there with transport, and rejoice to acknowledge that you
were my comforter, my advocate, and my FRIEND. God be EVER with

Dr Johnson's reply.

'To the Reverend Dr Dodd.

'Dear Sir,--That which is appointed to all men is now coming upon
you. Outward circumstances, the eyes and thoughts of men, are
below the notice of an immortal being about to stand the trial
for eternity, before the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth. Be
comforted: your crime, morally or religiously considered, has no
very deep dye of turpitude. It corrupted no man's principles.
It attacked no man's life. It involved only a temporary and
reparable injury. Of this, and of all other sins, you are
earnestly to repent; and may God, who knoweth our frailty, and
desireth not our death, accept your repentance, for the sake of
His Son Jesus Christ our Lord!

'In requital of those well-intended offices which you are pleased
so emphatically to acknowledge, let me beg that you make in your
devotions one petition for my eternal welfare.
'I am, dear Sir,
'Your affectionate servant,


Next day, 27th June, Dr Dodd was executed.


Captain Davis was some time in the Life Guards, and a lieutenant
in the Yeomen of the Household--a situation which placed him
often about the persons of the Royal family. He was seldom known
to play for less stakes than L50, often won or lost large sums,
and was represented as a gentleman of extensive and independent
fortune, although some of his enemies declared otherwise, and
repeated anecdotes to confirm the assertion. He was at length
committed for forgeries to an immense amount. To the fidelity of
a servant he owed his escape from Giltspur Street prison--another
fatal example of the sure result of gambling. Heir to a
title--moving in the first society--having held a commission in
the most distinguished of the Royal regiments--he was reduced to
the alternative of an ignominious flight with outlawry, or
risking the forfeiture of his wretched life, to the outraged laws
of his country. When in Paris, he at one time had won L30,000,
and on his way home he dropped into another gambling house, where
he lost it all but L3000. He set out in life with L20,000 in


Henry Weston was nephew to the distinguished Admiral Sir Hugh

Having unlimited control of the large property of his employer, a
Mr Cowan, during the absence of the latter from town, he was
tempted first to gamble in the funds, wherein being unfortunate,
he next went to a gambling house in Pall Mall, and lost a very
large sum; and at length, gamed away nearly all his master's

In this tremendous result--lost to all intents and purposes--he
made a supreme effort to 'patch up' the ruin he had made. He
forged the name of General Tonyn; and so dexterously, that he
obtained from the Bank of England the sum of L10,000.

This huge robbery from Peter was not to pay Paul. Not a bit of
it. It was to try the fickle goddess of gaming once more--a
Napoleonic stroke for an Austerlitz of fortune.

He lost this L10,000 in two nights.

Did he despair at this hideous catastrophe? Did he tear his
hair--rush out of the room--blow his brains out or drown himself?

Not a bit of it. He 'set his wits to work' once more. He
procured a woman to personate General Tonyn's sister--forged
again--and again obtained from the Bank of England another large
supply of ready cash--with which, however, he 'went off' this

He was caught; and then only he thought of self-murder, and cut
his throat--but not effectually. He recovered, was tried at the
Old Bailey, and hanged on the 6th of July, 1796.

No doubt the reader imagines that the man of such a career was an
OLD stager--some long-visaged, parchment-faced fellow the OTHER
side of forty at least. Well, this hero of the gaming table,
Henry Weston, was aged only TWENTY-THREE years! What terrible
times those must have been to produce such a prodigy!

To the judge who tried him Henry Weston sent a list of a number
of PROFESSIONAL GAMBLERS, among them was a person of high rank.
Weston, at different times, lost above L46,000 at play; and at a
house in Pall Mall, where he lost a considerable part of it,
three young officers also lost no less than L35,000.


It seems that the wretched traitor Arthur Thistlewood, who paid
the forfeit of his life for his crimes, had dissipated by gaming
the property he had acquired by a matrimonial connection--
L12,000. An unfortunate transaction at cards, during the Lincoln
races, involved him in difficulties, which he found it impossible
to meet; and he fled to avoid the importunities of his more
fortunate associates. He was afterwards known only as the
factious demagogue and the professed gambler!


Henry Fountleroy was a gentleman of rank, a partner in the
banking house of Marsh, Sibbold, and Co., of Berners Street. He
was convicted of having forged a deed for the transfer of L5450
long annuities, in fraud of a certain Frances Young. Like
Thurtell, Fountleroy defended himself, and battled with the
prejudicial reports circulated against him--among the rest his
addiction to gambling. 'I am accused,' he said, 'of being an
habitual gambler, an accusation which, if true, might easily
account for the diffusion of the property. I am, indeed, a
member of two clubs, the Albion and the Stratford, but never in
my life did I play in either at cards, or dice, or any game of
chance; this is well known to the gentlemen of these clubs; and
my private friends, with whom I more intimately associated, can
equally assert my freedom from all habit or disposition to

[21] See the case in 'Celebrated Trials,' vol. vi

I close this record of crime and misery by a few narratives of a
more miscellaneous character.


Marshal Grammont used to tell a story of three soldiers, who,
having committed offences punishable by death, it was ordered
that one of them should be hanged as an example, and the three
were directed to decide which of them should suffer by throwing
dice. The first threw fourteen, the second seventeen, and the
last, taking up the dice as coolly as though he were engaged in a
trivial game, threw eighteen! Thereupon he exclaimed, with an
expression of vexation, 'Ah, now! if I had been playing for money
I should not have been so lucky!'

This may appear 'taking it very cool;' but I think the following
cases of Englishmen' rather stronger.'


In the Times of February 11th, 1819, mention is made of a gang of
nearly thirty persons, male and female, and all presenting the
most shocking appearance of both want and depravity, who were
brought to the Marlborough Street Office. Among these wretched
beings was a woman named Hewitt, said to be the wife of one
Captain Hewitt, a leader of the ton, who, after ruining himself
and family at the gambling table, ran away from them, and was not
since heard of. His wife being left to herself, and having
probably been tainted by his evil example, by an easy gradation
became first embarrassed, then a prostitute, then a thief, and on
the occasion above mentioned exhibited one of the most
distressing spectacles of vice and misery that could be


This man, it is well known, was executed for the murder of Weare.

Thurtell was evidently no common man. His spoken defence, as
reported, is one of the finest specimens of impassioned
eloquence--perfectly Demosthenic. His indignation at the reports
circulated in prejudice of his case was overwhelming. Nothing
can be finer than the turn of the following sentence:--'I have
been represented by the Press--WHICH CARRIES ITS BENEFITS OR
CURSES ON RAPID WINGS from one extremity of the kingdom to the
other--as a man more depraved, more gratuitously and habitually
profligate and cruel, than has ever appeared in modern times.'

Touching his gambling pursuits, he said:--'I have been
represented to you as a man who was given to gambling, and the
constant companion of gamblers. To this accusation in some part
my heart, with feeling penitence, pleads guilty. I have gambled;
I have been a gambler, but not for the last three years. During
that time I have not attended or betted upon a horse-race, or a
fight, or any public exhibition of that nature. If I have erred
in these things, half of the nobility of the land have been my
examples; some of the most enlightened statesmen of the country
have been my companions in them. I have, indeed, been a gambler;
I have been an unfortunate one. But whose fortune have I
ruined?--whom undone? My own family have I ruined; I have undone

[22] See the entire speech in 'Celebrated Trials,' vol. vi. 547.


In the Annual Register for the year 1766 occurs the following
'circumstantial and authentic account of the memorable case of
Richard Parsons,' transmitted by the high sheriff of
Gloucestershire to his friend in London.

On the 20th of February, 1766, Richard Parsons and three more met
at a private house in Chalfold, in order to play at cards, about
six o'clock in the evening. They played at Loo till about eleven
or twelve that night, when they changed their game for Whist.
After a few deals a dispute arose about the state of the game.
Parsons asserted with oaths that they were six, which the others
denied; upon which he wished 'that he might never enter the
kingdom of heaven, and that his flesh might rot upon his bones,
if there were not six in the game.' These wishes were several
times repeated both then and afterwards. Upon this the candle
was put out by a party present, who said he was shocked with the
oaths and expressions he heard, and that he put out the candle
with a design to put an end to the game. Presently upon this
they adjourned to another house, and there began a fresh game,
when Parsons and his partner had great success. They then played
at Loo again till four in the morning. During the second playing
Parsons complained to one Rolles, his partner, of a bad pain in
his leg, which from that time increased. There was an appearance
of a swelling, and afterwards the colour changing to that of a
mortified state. On the following Sunday he took advice of a
surgeon, who attended him until his death. Notwithstanding all
the applications that were made the mortification increased, and
showed itself in different parts of the body. He was visited by
a clergyman, who administered the sacrament to him, without any
knowledge of what had happened before--the man appearing to be
extremely ignorant of religion, having been accustomed to swear,
to drink, to game, and to profane the Sabbath. After receiving
the sacrament he said--'Now, I must never sin again.' He hoped
God would forgive him, having been wicked not above six years,
and that whatever should happen he would not play at cards again.

After this he was in great agony--chiefly delirious; spoke of his
companions by name, and seemed as if his imagination was engaged
at cards. He started, had distracted looks and gestures, and in
a dreadful fit of shaking and trembling died on the 4th of March,
just about a fortnight after the utterance of his terrible

The worthy sheriff of Gloucestershire goes on to say that the
man's eyes were open when he died, and could not be closed by the
common method, so that they remained open when he was put into
the coffin. From this circumstance arose a report that he WISHED
HIS EYES MIGHT NEVER CLOSE; 'but,' says the sheriff, 'this is a
mistake; for, from the most creditable witnesses, I am fully
convinced no such wish was uttered; and the fact is, that he did
close his eyes after he was taken with the mortification, and
either dozed or slept several times.

'When the body came to be laid out, it appeared all over
discoloured or spotted; and it might, in the most literal sense,
be said, that his flesh rotted on his bones before he died.'

At the request of the sheriff, the surgeon (a Mr Pegler) who
attended the unfortunate man, sent in the following report:--
'Sir,--You desire me to acquaint you, in writing, with what I
know relating to the melancholy case of the late Richard Parsons;
a request I readily comply with, hoping that his sad catastrophe
will serve to admonish all those who profane the sacred name of

'February 27th last I visited Richard Parsons, who, I found, had
an inflamed leg, stretching from the foot almost to the knee,
tending to a gangrene. The tenseness and redness of the skin was
almost gone off, and became of a duskish and livid colour, and
felt very lax and flabby. Symptoms being so dangerous, some
incisions were made down to the quick, some spirituous
fomentations made use of, and the whole limb dressed up with such
applications as are most approved in such desperate
circumstances, joined with proper internal medicines. The next
day he seemed much the same; but on March the 1st he was worse,
the incisions discharged a sharp fetid odor (which is generally
of the worst consequence). On the next day, which was Sunday,
the symptoms seemed to be a little more favourable; but, to my
great surprise, the very next day I found his leg not only
mortified up to the knee, but the same began anew in four
different parts, viz., under each eye, on the top of his
shoulder, and on one hand; and in about twelve hours after he
died. I shall not presume to say there was anything supernatural
in the case; but, however, it must be confessed, that such cases
are rather uncommon in subjects so young, and of so good a habit
as he had always been previous to his illness.'

On one occasion Justice Maule was about to pass sentence on a
prisoner, who upon being asked to say why judgment should not be
pronounced, 'wished that God might strike him dead if he was not
innocent of the crime.' After a pause, the judge said:--'As the
Almighty has not thought proper to comply with your request, the
sentence of the court is,' &c.


Every Englishman recollects the fate of that unhappy heiress, the
richest of all Europe, married to a man of rank and family, who
was plundered in the course of a few years of the whole of his
wealth, in one of those club houses, and was obliged to surrender
himself to a common prison, and ultimately fly from his country,
leaving his wife with her relations in the greatest despair and

[23] Rouge et Noir: the Academicians of 1823.


There are few departments of human distinction in which Great
Britain cannot boast a 'celebrity'--genteel or ungenteel. In the
matter of gambling we have been unapproachable--not only in the
'thorough' determination with which we have exhausted the
pursuit--but in the vast, the fabulous millions which make up the
sum total that Englishmen have 'turned over' at the gaming table.

I think that many thousands of millions would be 'within the
mark' as the contribution of England to the insatiate god of

I have presented to the reader the record of gambling all the
world over--the gambling of savages--the gambling of the ancient
Persians, Greeks, and Romans--the gambling of the gorgeous
monarchs of France and their impassioned subjects; but I have now
to introduce upon the horrible stage a Prince Royal, who
surpassed all his predecessors in the gaming art, having right
royally lost at play not much less than a million sterling, or,
as stated, L800,000--before he was twenty-one years of age!

If the following be facts, vouched for by a writer of
authority,[24] the results were most atrocious.

[24] James Grant (Editor of the Morning Advertiser), Sketches in

'Every one is aware that George IV., when Prince of Wales, was,
as the common phrase is, over-head-and-ears in debt; and that it
was because he would thereby be enabled to meet the claims of his
creditors, that he consented to marry the Princess Caroline of
Brunswick. But although this is known to every one,
comparatively few people are acquainted with the circumstances
under which his debts were contracted. Those debts, then, were
the result of losses at the gaming table. He was an inveterate
gambler--a habit which he most probably contracted through his
intimacy with Fox. It is a well-ascertained fact that in two
short years, after he attained his majority, he lost L800,000 at

'It was with the view and in the hope that marriage would cure
his propensity for the gaming table, that his father was so
anxious to see him united to Caroline; and it was solely on
account of his marriage with that princess constituting the only
condition of his debts being paid by the country, that he agreed
to lead her to the hymeneal altar.

'The unfortunate results of this union are but too well known,
not only as regarded the parties themselves, but as regarded
society generally. To the gambling habits, then, of the Prince
of Wales are to be ascribed all the unhappiness which he entailed
on the unfortunate Caroline, and the vast amount of injury which
the separation from her, and the subsequent trial, produced on
the morals of the nation generally.'




Certain grandees and wealthy persons, more through vanity or
weakness than generosity, have sacrificed their avidity to
ostentation--some by renouncing their winnings, others by
purposely losing. The greater number of such eccentrics,
however, seem to have allowed themselves to be pillaged merely
because they had not the generosity or the courage to give away
what was wanted.

The Cardinal d'Este, playing one day with the Cardinal de
Medicis, his guest, thought that his magnificence required him to
allow the latter to win a stake of 10,000 crowns--'not wishing,'
he said, 'to make him pay his reckoning or allow him to depart
unsatisfied.' Brantome calls this 'greatness;' the following is
an instance of what he calls 'kindness.'

'Guilty or innocent,' he says, 'everybody was well received at
the house of this cardinal, who kept an open table at Rome for
the French chevaliers. These gentlemen having appropriated a
portion of his plate, it was proposed to search them: 'No, no!'
said the cardinal, 'they are poor companions who have only their
sword, cloak, and crucifixes; they are brave fellows; the plate
will be a great benefit to them, and the loss of it will not make
me poorer.'

Vigneul de Marville tells us of certain extravagant abbes, named
Ruccellai and Frangipani, who carried their ostentation to such a
pitch as to set gold in dishes on their tables when entertaining
their gaming companions! Were any of these base enough to put
their hands in and help themselves? This is not stated by the
historian. These two Italian abbes were ne plus ultras in luxury
and effeminacy. In the reign of Henry IV., they laid before
their guests vermilion dishes filled with gloves, fans, coins to
play with after the repast, essences and perfumes.[25] I wonder
if the delightful scent called Frangipani, vouchsafed to us by
Rimmel and Piesse and Lubin, was named after this exquisite
ecclesiastic of old?

[25] Melanges d' Hist. et de Lit.

One day when Henry IV. was dining at the Duc de Sully's, the
latter, as soon as the cloth was raised, brought in cards and
dice, and placed upon the table two purses of 4000 pistoles each,
one for the King, the other to lend to the lords of his suite.
Thereupon the king exclaimed:--'Great master, come and let me
embrace you, for I love you as you deserve: I feel so comfortable
here that I shall sup and stay the night.' Evidently Sully was
more a courtier than usual on this occasion--as no doubt the
whole affair was by the king's order, with which he complied
reluctantly; but he made the king play with his own money only.
The Duc de Lerme, when entertaining Monsieur the brother of Louis
XIII. at his quarters near Maestricht, had the boldness to bring
in, at the end of the repast, two bags of 1000 pistoles each,
declaring that he gave them up to the players without any
condition except to return them when they pleased.[26]

[26] Mem. de Jeu M. le Duc d'Orleans.

This Duc de Lerme was at least a great lord, and the army which
he commanded may have warranted his extravagance; but what are we
to think when we find the base and mean-spirited Fouquet giving
himself the same princely airs? During certain festivities
prepared for Louis XIV., Fouquet placed in the room of every
courtier of the king's suite, a purse of gold for gambling, in
case any of them should be short of money. Well might Duclos
remark that 'Nobody was shocked at this MAGNIFICENT SCANDAL![27]

[27] Consideration sur les Moeeurs,

They tell of a certain lordly gamester who looked upon any money
that fell from his hands as lost, and would never stoop to pick
it up! This reminds us of the freedman Pallas mentioned by
Tacitus, who wrote down what he had to say to his slaves, lest he
should degrade his voice to their level--ne vocem

[28] Ann. l. xiii


Osterman, Grand Chancellor of Russia, during the reign of the
Empress Anne, obtained information that the court of Versailles
had formed a scheme to send an insinuating, elegant gamester, to
attack the Duke of Biran on his weak side--a rage for play--and
thereby probably gain some political advantage over him.

The chancellor called on the duke to make the necessary
communication, but the minister did not choose to be at home.
The chancellor, then pretending to be suffering from a severe fit
of gout, wrote to his sovereign, stating that he had important
matter to reveal, but was unable to move, and the Duke of Biran
was consequently ordered to wait on him by the empress.
Osterman, affecting great pain, articulated with apparent
difficulty these words--'The French are sending a gamester!'
Thereupon the duke withdrew in a pet, and represented to the
empress that the chancellor was delirious from the gout, and had
really nothing to communicate.

The subject had long been forgotten by the duke, when an elegant,
easy, dissipated marquis actually arrived. He had extensive
credit on a house of the English Factory, and presently
insinuated himself into the good graces of the duke, whom he soon
eased of all his superfluous cash.

The chancellor became alarmed for the consequences, and resolved
to try and play off the French for their clever finesse. He
looked about for a match for the redoubtable French gamester, and
soon got information of a party who might serve his turn. This
was a midshipman at Moscow, named Cruckoff, who, he was assured,
was without an equal in the MANAGEMENT of cards, and the
knowledge of Quizze--then the fashionable court game--and that at
which the Duke of Biran had lost his money. The chancellor
immediately despatched a courier to Moscow to fetch the Russian

The midshipman was forthwith made an ensign of the Guards, in
order to entitle him to play at court. He set to work at once in
accordance with his instructions, but after his own plan in the
execution. He began with losing freely; and was, of course, soon
noticed by the marquis, and marked as a pigeon worth plucking.
The young Russian, however, forced him into high play, and he
lost the greater part of his former gain. The marquis got
nettled, lost his self-command, and proposed a monstrous stake,
to the extent of his credit and gains, of which he thought he
might make himself sure by some master-stroke of art.
Accordingly, by means of a sleight, he managed to hold fifteen in
hand, but his wily antagonist was equal to the occasion: by the
aid of some sweetmeats from an adjoining table he SWALLOWED a
card, and, being first in hand, the chance was determined in his
favour, and he ruined the marquis.

Once more the chancellor waited on the duke, and plainly told him
that he had been anxious to guard him against the French
gamester, purposely sent to fleece him, if he had had the
patience to hear him. The duke then became outrageous, and
wished to arrest the Frenchman as a cheat; but Osterman coolly
said he had punished him in kind; and, producing a large bag,
returned the duke's money, bidding him in future not to be so
impatient when information was to be communicated by gouty

The clever ensign was allowed to retain the rest of the spoil,
with an injunction, however, never to touch a card again, unless
he wished to end his days among the exiles of Siberia.


written by the Lord Fitz-Gerald[29] (a great gamester) a little
before his death, which was in the year 1580.

[29] This Lord Fitzgerald was eldest son to the Earl of Kildare,
and died at the age of twenty-one.

'By loss in play, men oft forget
The duty they do owe
To Him that did bestow the same,
And thousand millions moe.

'I loath to hear them swear and stare,
When they the Main have lost,
Forgetting all the Byes that wear
With God and Holy Ghost.

'By wounds and nails they think to win,
But truly 'tis not so;
For all their frets and fumes in sin
They moneyless must go.

'There is no wight that used it more
Than he that wrote this verse,
Who cries Peccavi now, therefore;
His oaths his heart do pierce.

'Therefore example take by me,
That curse the luckless time
That ever dice mine eyes did see,
Which bred in me this crime.

'Pardon me for that is past,
I will offend no more,
In this most vile and sinful cast,
Which I will still abhor.'[30]

[30] Harl. Miscel.


Horace Walpole, writing to Mann, says:-- 'The event that has made
most noise since my last is the extempore wedding of the youngest
of the two Gunnings, two ladies of surpassing loveliness, named
respectively Mary and Elizabeth, the daughters of John Gunning,
Esq., of Castle Coote, in Ireland, whom Mrs Montague calls "those
goddesses the Gunnings." Lord Coventry, a grave young lord, of
the remains of the patriot breed, has long dangled after the
eldest, virtuously, with regard to her honour, not very
honourably with regard to his own credit. About six weeks ago
Duke Hamilton, the very reverse of the earl, hot, debauched,
extravagant, and equally damaged in his fortune and person, fell
in love with the youngest at the masquerade, and determined to
marry her in the spring. About a fortnight since, at an immense
assembly at my Lord Chesterfield's, made to show the house, which
is really most magnificent, Duke Hamilton made violent love at
one end of the room, while he was playing at Faro at the other
end; that is, he saw neither the bank nor his own cards, which
were of three hundred pounds each: he soon lost a thousand. I
own I was so little a professor in love that I thought all this
parade looked ill for the poor girl; and could not conceive, if
he was so much engaged with his mistress as to disregard such
sums, why he played at all. However, two nights afterwards,
being left alone with her, while her mother and sister were at
Bedford House, he found himself so impatient that he sent for a
parson. The Doctor refused to perform the ceremony without
license or ring; the duke swore he would send for the archbishop;
at last they were married with a ring of the BED-CURTAIN, at
half-an-hour after twelve at night, at May-fair Chapel.'

This incident occurred in 1752, and reminds us of the marriage-
scene described by Dryden in one of his tales, which was quoted
by Lord Lyndhurst on that memorable occasion when he opposed Lord
Campbell's Bill for the suppression of indecent publications, and
made a speech which was more creditable to his wit than his
taste, and perfectly horrifying to Lord Campbell, who inflicted a
most damaging verbal castigation on his very sprightly but
imprudent opponent.


Mr Manners, a relation of the Duke of Rutland, many years ago,
lost a considerable sum to a well-known gamester, who set up his
carriage in consequence. Being at a loss for a motto, Mr Manners
suggested the following:--



The commanding officer of a Militia regiment having passed an
evening with several of his officers, carried one of them, who
was much intoxicated, to town with him. How the rest of the
night was passed was not known--at least to the young man; but in
the morning the colonel slipped into his hand a memorandum of his
having lost to him at play L700--for which sum he was actually
arrested ON THE PARADE the same day, and was compelled to grant
an annuity to a nominee of the colonel for L100 per annum!


Archdeacon Bruges mentions a gentleman who was so thorough a
gamester, that he left in his will an injunction that his bones
should be made into dice, and his skin prepared so as to be a
covering for dice-boxes![31]

[31] A similar anecdote is related of a Frenchman.


A blackleg, famous for 'cogging a die,' said that there had been
great sport at Newmarket. 'What!' said Foote, 'I suppose you
were detected, and kicked out of the Hazard room.'

F--d, the Clerk of the Arraigns, brought off Lookup when indicted
for perjury. Foote, afterwards playing with him at Whist, said,
'F--d, you can do anything, after bringing of Lookup. I don't
wonder you hold thirteen trumps in your hand. The least he could
do was to teach you the "long shuffle" for your services.'

The Rev. Dr Dodd was a very unlucky gamester, and received a
guinea to forfeit twenty if he ever played again above a guinea.
This, among gamblers, is termed being TIED UP. When the doctor
was executed for forgery a gentleman observed to Foote--'I
suppose the doctor is launched into eternity by this time.' 'How
so?' said Foote, 'he was TIED UP long ago.'


Lord C-- lost one night L33,000 to General Scott. The amiable
peer, however, benefited by the severe lesson, and resolved never
again to lose more than one hundred at a sitting! He is said to
have strictly kept his resolve.


Some gamblers duping a country fellow at the game called Put, in
a public-house near St Pancras, one of them appealed to an
Irishman who was looking on whether he had not THREE TREYS IN HIS
HAND? 'You had all that,' said Paddy; 'and what's more, I saw
you TAKE THEM ALL out of your pocket.'


The Honourable Jesse Anker, in order to dissipate the gloom
occasioned by the loss of his wife, whom he passionately loved,
had recourse to gaming, by which, at different times, he lost
considerable sums, but not so as to injure his property, which
was very large, in any material degree. The remedy did not prove
effectual; he shot himself at his lodgings at Bath.


A gentleman who had been called out, applied to a friend who had
won a large sum of money to be his second. 'My dear friend,'
answered the gamester, 'I won fifteen hundred guineas last night,
and shall cut a poor figure at fighting to-day; but if you apply
to the person I won them of, he will fight like a devil, for he
has not a farthing left.'


Lord Mark Stair and Lord Stair were at play in a coffee-house,
when a stranger overlooked the game, and disturbed them with
questions. Lord Mark said--'Let us throw dice to see which of us
shall pink this impudent fellow.' Lord Stair won. The other
exclaimed--'Ah! Stair, Stair! you have been always more
fortunate in life than I.'


Captain Roche, alias Tyger, alias Savage Roche, who stuck his
gaming companion's hand to the table with a fork for concealing a
card under it, happened to be at the Bedford Billiard-table,
which was extremely crowded. Roche was knocking the balls about
with his cue, and Major Williamson, another celebrity, with whom
he was engaged on business, desired him to leave off, as he
hindered gentlemen from playing. 'Gentlemen?' sneeringly
exclaimed Roche; 'why, major, except you and me (and two or three
more) there is not a gentleman in the room--the rest are all

On leaving the place, the major expressed his astonishment at his
rudeness, and wondered, out of so numerous a company, it was not
resented. 'Oh, sir,' said Roche, 'there was no fear of that;
there was not a thief in the room who did not suppose himself one
of "the two or three gentlemen" I mentioned.'


The following advertisement appeared in the Courier newspaper in

'As Faro is the most fashionable circular game in the haut ton in
exclusion of melancholy Whist, and to prevent a company being
cantoned into separate parties, a gentleman of unexceptionable
character will, on invitation, do himself the honour to attend
the rout of any lady, nobleman, or gentleman, with a Faro Bank
and Fund, adequate to the style of play, from 500 to 2000

'Address, G. A., by letter, to be left at Mr Harding's,
Piccadilly, nearly opposite Bond Street.

'N.B.--This advertisement will not appear again.'


The following advertisement appeared in the Morning Chronicle in

'Any person who can command Two Thousand Pounds in ready money,
may advance it in a speculation which will realize at least L100
per week, and perhaps not require the advance of above one half
the money. The personal attendance of the party engaging is
requisite; but there will be no occasion for articles of
partnership, or any establishment, as the profits may be divided


At a Westminster election the keeper of a notorious gaming house
in St Ann's parish was asked, as usual, what his trade was, when,
after a little hesitation, he said, 'I am an ivory turner.'


Mrs Law, executrix of George Law, late proprietor of the Smyrna
Coffee House, St James's Street, in 1807, found, among her
husband's papers, several notes and memoranda of money advanced
to a Mr Nelthorpe, which she put in suit. The latter alleged
that they were for gambling purposes, and called Mrs Law to say
whether her husband did not keep a common gambling house; and his
counsel contended that it was clear the notes were for gaming
transactions, BECAUSE they were for 100 GUINEAS, 200 GUINEAS, and
so on--disdaining the vulgar enumeration of pounds. But the lord
far as counsel was concerned--was for GUINEAS.


Not long since an advertisement appeared, and was noticed by
several of the papers, purporting to enable any person to realize
a large fortune by a small advance to the advertiser. It will
readily be seen that the following is the ORIGINAL of the scheme,
put forth in the Morning Chronicle, in 1818:--

'Important Offer. A gentleman of respectability has discovered a
method of winning at any game of chance, fairly and honourably,
to a certainty, by a method hitherto unknown;--he will SELL THE
SECRET for a consideration, or treat with a gentleman able to
join him with a capital of L300, by which a fortune may be made;
in either case he will engage with one person only. This will be
found well worth the attention of a member of the superior clubs.
**** No personal application will be answered.'


A gentleman celebrated for his quickness at repartee, when
informed that a young nobleman of his acquaintance (remarkably
fond of a fashionable game) had shot an immense number of RED
partridges, and also of the BLACK game, which abounded on his
estates, replied--'I am not in the least surprised; he was at all
times, EVEN WHEN IN LONDON, devotedly attached to the GAME OF


'My skill at billiards,' says a confessing gamester, 'gave me a
superiority over most I met with. I could also hide my skill
very dexterously, which is generally found a work of great
difficulty, and judiciously winning or losing, I contrived to
make it answer my purpose,--until one day, going to a table which
I was very much in the practice of frequenting, and where no one
was then engaged, I was invited by a stranger to play. I
accepted the invitation for a small stake, and won very easily,
so much so, that on commencing a new game I offered to give him
six, to place us more on an equality. He accepted it eagerly,
but it produced him no benefit; he played so badly, and managed
both his cue and mace so awkwardly--for I made no objection to
his changing them as often as he pleased--that, playing very
carelessly, I could not avoid beating him. We continued
increasing the stakes every successive game; money seemed of no
value to him; he appeared to have plenty, and lost it with a
spirit that told me I had got hold of an excellent subject, who
could pay me well for beating him. I did not wish to win too
palpably, and therefore kept increasing the advantage I yielded
him, till it amounted to sixteen. He now proposed making the bet
ONE HUNDRED POUNDS, and that I should give him eighteen. His
eagerness, as well as the manner in which he handled his tools,
convinced me of his inexperience, and I accepted the
proposal;--but, to my surprise, he won the game. He laughed so
heartily at the event, and conducted himself so extravagantly,
that I felt persuaded the thing was accidental. He proposed
doubling the stakes, which I refused; yet I agreed to play him
for the same sum as before, but giving him only fourteen. By
some chance he won again; and then I declined playing any more;
but he pushed me so hard, and offered to play the even game
rather than I should give over, that I was induced to yield. He
declared he did not want my money, and wished to give me an
opportunity of recovering it. It was the depth of artifice, and
I discovered it too late. He won . . . and I had no money to
pay! One of the bystanders took part with him; my case did not
invite or interest any one to stand by me. I was treated with
great indignity; and though I gave up my watch and every article
of value I possessed, yet I was not allowed to depart without
very ill usage. I had transgressed the laws of gaming, by
betting after I had ceased to be able to pay; but I had so
confidently felt that I had my antagonist in my own power, that I
considered the stake as my own as soon as the bet was made. The
injuries I received were very severe, and confined me to my bed
for several days.'[32]

[32] Confessions of a Gamester.

The splendid and fascinating game of Billiards seems to have been
an English invention; and it became greatly in vogue during the
reign of Louis XIV. of France, to whom it was recommended by his
physicians as an exercise after meals.

It is said that Chamillard, who played with the king, entirely
owed his political fortune to the skill which he displayed in
this game. Billiards has not as yet been placed, like skittles
and bowls, under the interdict of the police authorities, and it
is difficult to see how they could venture upon so tremendous an
experiment. The game seems to be more in vogue than ever, and
doubtless heavy sums are lost and won at it. Billiard matches
have during the last three years become quite one of the winter
exhibitions, and particularly this season have the public shown
their taste for the game. Perhaps the extraordinary performances
of some of the first-class cueists have stirred up the shades of
Kentfield's days, his homely game of cannons off list cushions
and gently-played strength strokes; or by chance those that
favour Marden's style, his losing hazards and forcing half balls,
have revived once more, and we yearn with wonder to see the great
spot strokes of the present age, when as many red hazards can be
scored in one break as were made in olden times in an evening's
play. At the present time Roberts, sen., may claim the honour in
the billiard world of having brought the spot stroke to light: he
has made no less than 104 consecutive hazards in one break, and
up to the present winter that wonderful performance stood
unparalleled. Cook, however, very recently in an exhibition
match with J. Bennett, scored the spot hazard no less than 119
times, making 388 off the balls, the biggest break on record.
Such feats as these, supplemented by the but little inferior play
of Roberts, jun., and Bennett, have done more than excite
surprise, and have caused old heads carefully to look into the
style of play of 1869 and to ponder thereon. It appears that
they affirm, and not without reason, that much of the success of
the spot stroke arises from the position of the spot being
further from the top cushion than formerly, and by this means not
only is the angle of the striker's ball for position made easier,
by a greater scope for screw or side, but the mouth of the
pockets themselves are easier of access; and the chance of a
wobble all but avoided. Billiard players and table makers should
meet and arrange a regular standard size for table pockets and
balls, with the spots at regulated positions. We should then be
able to compare merits with greater certainty, and such terrible
scores would not trouble the markers.

As a healthful exercise, and in its tendency to promote the
physical development of the body, the game of Billiards is
unsurpassed; but it is much to be regretted that it is generally-
played in ill-ventilated and crowded rooms, often reeking with
the pestilential fumes of tobacco, and not without the adjunct of
frequent alcoholic potations. Moreover, there can be no doubt
that many modern instances of billiard sharping occur, such as I
have just quoted, in which the unwary are unscrupulously
'fleeced.' I know of several.


A certain high military character sat down to play with a Russian
prince, who introduced loaded dice. The travelled Englishman
lost every bet; for the Russian never missed his seven or eleven,
and modestly threw only ten times. The supposed pigeon then took
up the box with fair dice; and, having learned to 'secure,'[33]
called different mains at pleasure; threw sixteen times; won all
the aristocrat's money, and wished him good night. Such is the
effect of not knowing your man!

[33] This term means making sure of what you throw.


John Metcalfe, much better known by the nickname of blind Jack of
Knaresborough, was a celebrity at Harrowgate during the first
quarter of the present century. This extraordinary man had been
deprived of his eyesight at so early a period that he retained no
idea of either light or vision; but his remaining faculties were
so actively employed that few persons in the full enjoyment of
sight have surpassed him in the execution of undertakings, which
seemed particularly to require the exercise of that faculty. He
traversed the neighbourhood without a guide or companion;
surveyed tracts of country to plan and lay down roads, where none
had ever been before; contracted for the building of bridges, and
fulfilled his contracts without the assistance of another person,
either as architect or superintendent of the work; became a guide
to those who, possessing sight, could not find their way across
the neighbouring moors when covered with deep falls of snow and
impenetrable fogs; rode well, and followed the hounds with a zeal
and spirit equal to that of the most dashing horseman in the
field, and, finally, played at many games of chance, or skill,
with a knowledge and ingenuity that enabled him to come off
victorious in many contests with persons eager to try his ability
or to prove their own.

Such a man was sure to attract notice in any place or
neighbourhood, but particularly at a place of general resort.
Besides, he possessed a facetious mode of talking, and on several
occasions exercised a practical sort of wit, which was equally
certain of gaining patronage. Visitors of the highest rank
treated him with kindness, and even familiarity; and as he never
forgot himself, or trespassed upon those who thus favoured him,
he continued in fashion as long as he lived, and terminated his
singular career at more than 80 years of age.

Among his many exploits was the following. Various trials of his
skill and activity were proposed by gentlemen who offered to
support their opinions with their money. But Metcalfe had a
determination of his own, and refused taking a share in any of
the ingenious proposals urged upon him, until a country squire,
the Nimrod of a neighbouring district, submitted a plan which he
expected would baffle all his manoeuvres. He asked the blind man
if he was willing to run 100 yards against his favourite mare.
The offer was immediately accepted--provided he might CHOOSE THE
GROUND, which should be an open space on the adjoining moor. The
stakes were deposited the same evening; and a fine level space
being selected, and the distance marked out with great exactness
early the following morning, the decision followed with little
delay. The party selected to ride against the blind man was much
admired for his horsemanship; and at the appointed time, every
preparation being completed, the signal was given and the race
commenced. The horseman was instantly far ahead, but before he
could finish his stipulated distance the fore feet of his hunter
sank deep in a bog, from which, being unable to extricate them,
he came completely over, treating his rider with a tremendous
somerset. The loud shouts of the spectators announced to the
blind man that his expectations were realized. The turf showed
no apparent difference, and was sufficiently strong to carry a
man with safety,--perhaps it would have borne a horse going only
at a moderate pace, but at full speed his feet pierced the sod,
and entangled him in the hidden danger. Metcalfe passed his
extended rival, terminated his career, and won the race before
those who had run to the prostrate horseman could render him any
assistance. Indeed, it was too late for that purpose, he had
finished his earthly course having ruptured a vessel near the
heart in his fall!


A young and wealthy commoner, who seemed to vie with the pea-
green in the desperate folly of getting rid of a suddenly
obtained fortune of L130,000 in ready money, as fast as possible,
and whose relish for the society of legs, bullies, and fighting
men was equally notorious, went to the Fishmonger's Hall Club
late one morning, much flushed with wine. The well-lighted
avenues directed him to the French Hazard table. There was no
play going on at the time, but at the entrance of this PIGEON,
who before had been DRAWN of a good round sum, the box and dice
were soon put in motion, and 'seven's the main, seven,' was
promptly the cry. A certain noble lord, who had been for years
an experienced NURSE of the dice, and who knew how to NICK the
MAINS or THROW CRABS, as well as the best leg in England, held
the bow. The commoner commenced by backing the noble lord IN.
The noble lord threw OUT. He then backed the noble lord OUT, and
the noble lord threw in. He backed the noble lord OUT again, who
threw five to the main. The commoner betted the odds deeply at
the rate of three to two. The noble lord threw the FIVE. The
commoner, uneasy, changed about, and backed the noble lord IN for
a large stake,--the noble lord then threw OUT. The commoner now
rose in a rage, and insinuated broadly that he was cheated,
robbed, and it could not be fair play. Of course much
indignation was shown by the noble lord, and it was with
difficulty that a fight was prevented; but his lordship,
nevertheless, condescended to demonstrate that he played his own
money at the time, and what he lost found its way into the bank,
with which 'he was not at all connected.' This reasoning
satisfied the suspicious young commoner (poor easy man!); an
apology was given; and peace was restored.


A party of players were assembled to throw for a stake, which was
enormous. It was, however, agreed that the LOWEST throw should
win. The players threw until one of them turned up two aces.
All but one had thrown, and shouts of applause greeted the lucky
caster, when the last who was to throw exclaimed--'Hold! I'll try
and beat that.' . . .

Rattling the dice, he turned down the box on the table, and on
lifting it up displayed the two dice ONE UPON THE TOP OF THE
OTHER, and both aces! He was therefore declared the winner.[34]

[34] Menageana.


A French lady had an only child, a handsome young man, much
addicted to gaming. He lost at one sitting L40,000, and being
destitute of other resources, he joined a company of strolling
players. They chanced some time afterwards to pass a short time
at Worcester, near which his mother, who was considerably
advanced in years, resided. The lady, though highly displeased
with her son's life, yet, hearing of his performance, could not
resist a wish to see him; and for this purpose she went thither
incog. He supported the principal character in 'The Gamester.'

The feelings of the mother were so excited at the passages which
closely applied to her son's conduct, that she exclaimed aloud,
'Ay, there he is--the--the beggar--the scoundrel! Always the
same--no change in him!' The delusion so increased at the fifth
act, when Beverley lifts his hand to kill the child, that the
lady in a most distressing tone cried out--'Wretch that thou art,
don't kill the child--I'll take it home with me!'


A Frenchman who had become notorious for the unerring certainty
with which he won from all who ventured to play with him, at
length found himself unable to induce persons to sit down to the
table with him, there being not the slightest chance of winning
against his play. After being thus idle for some time, an
Englishman, who had heard of his triumphs, expressed his
readiness to enter the lists against him. They sat down, and
played for three hours without intermission, and at the end of
that time were exactly in the same position as when they begun.
They at length paused to take some refreshment. 'Sare,' said the
Frenchman, in a sort of whisper, to a party who accompanied his
antagonist, 'your friend is a very clever man at de cards--deuced
clever, sare.' 'He is a very clever fellow,' observed the
Englishman. 'I shall try him again,' said Monsieur; and as he
made the observation he proceeded to the room in which they had
been playing, and which was fixed on as the scene of their
continued contest. He had scarcely quitted the place when the
other made his appearance, and observed that the Frenchman was
the most skilful player he had ever met with. The parties again
met, and the cards were again produced. The game was renewed at
eleven o'clock, and continued without intermission till six
o'clock on the following morning, at which time they found, to
the surprise of each other, that they were still as they began.
'Sare,' said the Frenchman, 'you are the best player I ever met
with.' 'And you, Monsieur,' returned the other, 'are the only
gentleman I ever played with, from whom I could win nothing.'
'Indeed, sare!' said Monsieur, hesitatingly. 'It is a fact, I
assure you.' 'Sare, I am quite astonished at your skill.' 'And
I'm not less so at yours, Monsieur.' 'You're de most skilfullest
man at de cards in England.' 'Not while you are in it,
Monsieur,' replied the Englishman, with a smile. 'Sare, I
CHEATED, and yet could not win from you!' remarked the Frenchman,
hurriedly and with much emphasis, feeling it impossible any
longer to conceal his surprise at the circumstance of being
unable to play a winning game with the Englishman. 'And,
Monsieur, I did the same thing with you, and yet you are no
loser!' remarked the other, with corresponding energy of tone.

The problem was thus solved: both had been cheating during the
whole night, and were exactly equal in dexterity, both being
unconscious of the dishonest practices of each other; and the
result was that each got up from the table with the same amount
of money as he had when he sat down. The cheats cordially shook
hands, apparently much gratified that they had at length
ascertained how it had happened that neither could pluck the



On the subject of Clubs Mr Cunningham in his 'Clubs of London,'
and Mr Timbs in his 'Club Life in London,' have said pretty well
everything that we want to know, and by their help, and that of
other writers, I shall endeavour to give an account of the
gambling carried on in such places.


'The gaming at Almack's,' writes Walpole to Horace Mann, 'which
has taken the pas of White's, is worthy of the decline of our
empire, or commonwealth, which you please. The young men of the
age lose ten, fifteen, twenty thousand pounds in an evening
there. Lord Stavordale, not one-and-twenty, lost L11,000 there
last Tuesday, but recovered it by one great hand at Hazard. He
swore a great oath--"Now, if I had been playing DEEP I might have
won millions!" His cousin, Charles Fox, shines equally here and
in the House of Commons.'

Among the rules of the establishment, it was ordered 'that every
person playing at the twenty-guinea table do not keep less than
twenty guineas before him,' and 'that every person playing at the
new guinea table do keep fifty guineas before him.' That the
play ran high may be inferred from a note against the name of Mr
Thynne, in the Club-books:--'Mr Thynne having won ONLY 12,000
guineas during the last two months, retired in disgust, March
21st, 1772.' Indeed, the play was unusually high--for rouleaus
of L50 each, and generally there was L10,000 in specie on the
table. The gamesters began by pulling off their embroidered
clothes, and putting on frieze great coats, or turned their coats
inside out for luck! They put on pieces of leather (such as are
worn by footmen when they clean knives) to save their laced
ruffles; and to guard their eyes from the light, and to keep
their hair in order, wore high-crowned straw hats with broad
brims adorned with flowers and ribbons; they also wore masks to
conceal their emotions when they played at quinz.[35] Each
gamester had a small neat stand by him, to hold his tea, or a
wooden bowl with an edge of ormolu, to hold the rouleaus of

[35] Quinze, the French for fifteen. This is a game at cards, in
which the winner is he who counts fifteen, or nearest to that
number, in all the points of his hand. Three, five, or six might
play at it. Two entire packs of cards are used, so disposed that
the spades and clubs are on one side, and the hearts and diamonds
on the other. The entire art of the game consists in making
fifteen; below that number the party loses.


This club was remarkable for high if not for foul play. Walpole,
writing to Horace Mann in 1780, says:--'Within this week there
has been a cast at Hazard at the Cocoa-tree (in St James's
Street) the difference of which amounted to one hundred and
fourscore thousand pounds! Mr O'Birne, an Irish gamester, had
won one hundred thousand pounds of a young Mr Harvey of Chigwell,
just started into an estate by his elder brother's death.
O'Birne said,--"You can never pay me." "I can," said the youth,
"my estate will sell for the debt." "No," said O'Birne, "I will
win ten thousand,--you shall throw for the odd ninety." They
did, and Harvey won!'


This gaming club is remarkable for a scandal which made some
noise at the time of its occurrence, and one version of which a
writer in the Times has been at some pains to rectify. In Mr
Duncombe's 'Life' of his father occurs the following account of
this curious transaction.

'In Graham's Club there was also a good deal of play, and large
sums were lost and won among the noblemen and gentlemen who were
its members. An unpleasant rumour circulated in town in the
winter of 1836, to the effect that a noble lord had been detected
in cheating by means of marked cards. The presumed offender was
well known in society as a skilful card-player, but by those who
had been most intimate with him was considered incapable of any
unfair practice. He was abroad when the scandal was set afloat,
but returned to England directly he heard of it, and having
traced the accusation to its source, defied his traducers. Thus
challenged, they had no alternative but to support their
allegation, and it took this shape:--They accused Henry William
Lord de Ros of marking the edges of the court cards with his
thumb-nail, as well as of performing a certain trick by which he
unfairly secured an ace as the turn-up card. His accusers were
---- ----, who had formerly kept a gaming table; Mr ---- ----,
also a professional gambler; Lord Henry Bentinck, and Mr F.
Cumming. Lord Henry appears to have taken no very active part in
the proceedings; the other three had lost money in play with Lord
de Ros, and, as unsuccessful gamblers have done before and since,
considered that they had lost it unfairly.

'Lord de Ros, instead of prosecuting the four for a libel,
brought an action only against Cumming, which permitted the
others to come forward as witnesses against him. The cause came
on in the Court of King's Bench before Lord Denman. The
plaintiff's witnesses were Lord Wharncliffe, Lord Robert
Grosvenor, the Earl of Clare, and Sir Charles Dalbiac, who had
known and played with him from between 20 to 30 years, as a very
skilful but honourable Whist player. The evidence of Mr
Lawrence, the eminent surgeon, proved that Lord de Ros had long
suffered under a stiffness of the joints of the fingers that made
holding a pack of cards difficult, and the performance of the
imputed trick of legerdemain impossible. For the defence
appeared the keeper of the house and his son; two or three
gamblers who had lived by their winnings; one acknowledged to
have won L35,000 in 15 years. Mr Baring Wall, one of the
witnesses, swore that he had never witnessed anything improper in
the play of Lord de Ros, though he had played with and against
him many years; another witness, the Hon. Colonel Anson, had
observed nothing suspicious; but the testimony of others went to
prove that the aces and kings had been marked inside their edges;
and one averred that he had seen Lord de Ros perform sauter la
coupe a hundred times. The whole case wore much the look of a
combination among a little coterie who lived by gambling to drive
from the field a player whose skill had diminished their income;
nevertheless, the incidents sworn to by some of them wore a
suspicious significance, and a verdict was given against Lord de
Ros, which he only survived a short time.'

On this statement the Times' reviewer comments as follows:--

'If many old scandals may be revived with impunity, there are
some that cannot. Mr Duncombe the younger has hit on one which
affects several gentlemen still living, and his injurious version
of it cannot be neutralized or atoned for by an apology to one.
We call attention to it in the hope that any more serious notice
will be rendered needless by the simple exposure of its

'It is difficult to conceive a more inexcusable misstatement, for
the case was fully reported,[36] and the public judgment
perfectly coincided with the verdict. Lord de Ros was not abroad
when the scandal was set afloat. He went abroad after the scene
at Graham's had set all London talking, and he returned in
consequence of a peremptory call from his friends. He was most
reluctantly induced to take the required steps for the
vindication of his character; and it is preposterous to suppose
that any little coterie would have dreamt of accusing a man of
his rank and position with the view of driving a skilful player
from the field. His accusers were not challenged. Neither were
they volunteers. They became his accusers, because they formed
the Whist party at which he was first openly denounced. They
signed a paper particularizing their charge, and offered to refer
the question to a tribunal of gentlemen, with the Duke of
Wellington or Lord Wharncliffe to preside. Would a little
coterie, who lived by gambling, have made this offer? Or would
Lord de Ros have refused it if he had been the intended victim of
a conspiracy? Lord Henry Bentinck signed the paper, appeared as
a witness, and took quite as active a part in the proceedings as
any of the four, except Mr Cumming, who undertook the sole legal
liability by admitting the publication of the paper.

[36] The Times of February 11 and 13, 1837.

'The evidence was overwhelming. Suspicions had long been rife;
and on no less than ten or twelve occasions the marked packs had
been examined in the presence of unimpeachable witnesses, and
sealed up. These packs were produced at the trial. Several
witnesses swore to the trick called sauter la coupe. It was the
late Sir William Ingilby who swore that he had seen Lord de Ros
perform it from 50 to 100 times; and when asked why he did not at
once denounce him, he replied that if he had done so before his
Lordship began to get blown upon, he should have had no
alternative between the window and the door. Of course, every
one who had been in the habit of playing with Lord de Ros prior
to the exposure would have said the same as Sir Charles Dalbiac
and Mr Baring Wall. With regard to the gentlemen whose names we
have omitted we take it for granted that the author is not aware
of the position they held, and continue to hold, or he would
hardly have ventured to describe them so offensively. He has
apologized to one, and he had better apologize to the other
without delay.

'The case was complete without the evidence of either of the
original accusers, and the few friends of Lord de Ros who tried
to bear him up against the resulting obloquy were obliged to go
with the stream. When Lord Alvanley was asked whether he meant
to leave his card, he replied, "No, he will stick it in his
chimney-piece and count it among his honours.' "

Having read through the long case as reported in the Times, I
must declare that I do not find that the evidence against Lord de
Ros was, after all, so 'overwhelming' as the reviewer declares;
indeed, the 'leader' in the Times on the trial emphatically
raises a doubt on the subject. Among other passages in it there
is the following:--

'In the process of the trial it appeared that the most material
part of the evidence against Lord de Ros, that called sauter la
coupe,--which, for the sake of our English readers we shall
translate into CHANGING THE TURN-UP CARD,--the times and places
at which it was said to have been done could not be specified.
Some of the witnesses had seen the trick done 50 or 100 times by
Lord de Ros, but could neither say on what day, in what week,
month, or even year, they had so seen it done. People were
excessively struck at this deviation from the extreme punctuality
required in criminal cases by the British courts of law.'

'The disclosures,' says Mr Grant,[27] 'which took place in the
Court of Queen's Bench, on the occasion of the trial of Lord de
Ros, for cheating at cards, furnished the strongest demonstration
that he was not the only person who was in the habit of cheating
in certain clubs; while there were others who, if they could not
be charged with direct cheating, or cheating in their own
persons, did cheat indirectly, and by proxy, inasmuch as they, by
their own admission, were, on frequent occasions, partners with
Lord de Ros, long after they knew that he habitually or
systematically cheated. The noble lord, by the confession of the
titled parties to whom I allude, thus cheated for himself and
them at the same time.'

[37] Sketches in London.

Lord de Ros was at the head of the barons of England. He was the
son of Lord Henry Fitzgerald, and Lady de Ros, who inherited in
her own right that ancient title, which dates from the reign of
Henry III. He had studied at Eton and Oxford, and afterwards on
the Continent, and there was not a more accomplished man in
Europe. He possessed an ample fortune, was a member of several
of the clubs--White's, Boodle's, Brookes', and Graham's, and one
of the best Whist players in England.

It appears that at Graham's Club, at the commencement of the
season, and before Lord de Ros came to town, whispers were
circulated of unfair play, and various persons were supposed
guilty. A determination was therefore formed that the club
should be dissolved and reconstructed, leaving out the names of
certain persons to whom suspicion attached. The main object of
the master of the club, and of some of those who attended it for
the purpose of professional gain, was that its character should
be cleared. Not long after Lord de Ros came to town he received
an anonymous letter, cautioning him against continuing to play at
Graham's, and intimating to him, if he did so, that measures
would be taken which he would have reason to regret. Of course
his Lordship disregarded the threat; he attended the club for
several days more assiduously than before, and continued to play
until the end of the season, in the beginning of July. In
September the Satirist newspaper published a distinct charge of

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