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

Scanned with OmniPage Professional OCR software donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226. Contact Mike Lough THE GAMING TABLE: ITS VOTARIES AND VICTIMS, In all Times and Countries, especially in England and in France. BY ANDREW STEINMETZ, ESQ., OF THE MIDDLE TEMPLE, BARRISTER-AT-LAW; FIRST-CLASS EXTRA CERTIFICATE SCHOOL OF MUSKETRY, HYTHE; late OFFICER INSTRUCTOR MUSKETRY, THE QUEENS OWN
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Scanned with OmniPage Professional OCR software donated by Caere Corporation, 1-800-535-7226. Contact Mike Lough


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



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







Chevaliers d’industrie, or polite and accomplished sharpers, have always existed in every city, from the earliest times to the present. The ordinary progress of these interesting gentlemen is as follows. Their debut is often difficult, and many of them are stopped short in their career. They only succeed by means of great exertion and severe trials; but they endure everything in order to be tolerated or permitted to exercise their calling. To secure credit they ally themselves with men of respectability, or those who pass for such. When they have no titles they fabricate them; and few persons dispute their claims. They are found useful for the pleasures of society, the expenses of which they often pay–at the cost of the dupes they make in the world. The income of chevaliers d’industrie is at first derived from those inexperienced persons whom they get in their clutches by means of every kind of enticement, in order to ruin them some day–if they have any ‘expectations’ or are likely to be rich; or in order to make accomplices of them if they have only aptitudes for the purpose. After having led them from error to error, after suggesting to them all sorts of wants and vices, they make them gamble, if they are of age; they hold up play to them as an inexhaustible source of wealth.

The ‘protector’ next hands over his ‘young friends’ to ‘executioners,’ who fleece them for the common benefit of the confederates. They do not always wait for the coming of age of their young dupes in order to strike the grand ‘stroke.’ When they find that the father of a family shudders at the idea of a public scandal, they immolate their victim at once–for fear lest he should escape from their hands. Of course they are always open to ‘capitulate’–to come to terms; and if the aid of the law is invoked they give in discreetly.

About a century ago there flourished at Paris one of these adventurers, who made a great noise and did a vast amount of evil. This man of a thousand faces, this Proteus, as great a corrupter as he was corrupted, changed his name, his quarters, and field of operations, according to the exigences of business. Although a man of ardent temperament and inconceivable activity, his cold-blooded rascality was never in a hurry. He could wait; he could bide his time. Taking in, at a glance, all the requirements of a case, and seeing through all its difficulties, he worked out his scheme with the utmost patience and consummated his crime with absolute security.

Sometimes he gave a concert for amateurs, elegant suppers for gay ladies, and special soirees for the learned and the witty. He was not particular as to the means of doing business; thus he trafficked in everything,–for the sale of a living, or the procuration of a mistress–for he had associates in all ranks, among all professions of men.

He had twenty Faro tables in operation every night, whilst his emissaries were on the watch for new arrivals, and for those who had recently come into property.

In general, rogues soon betray themselves by some stupid bungle; but such was not the case with this man; he defended himself, as it were, on all sides, and always kept himself in position so as to oppose to each of his vices the proof positive of the contrary virtues. Thus, if accused of usury, he could prove that he had lent, without interest, considerable sums of money. Cowardly and base in a tete-a-tete, he was bold and redoubtable in public; those who had made him tremble in secret were then compelled to acknowledge him a man of courage. Even his more than suspected probity was defended by such as believed themselves his depositaries, whereas they were, in point of fact, only receivers of stolen property.

Affable, insinuating to a degree, he might be compared to those brigands of Egypt who embraced their victims in order to strangle them.[1] He never showed more devotedness than when he meditated some perfidy, nor more assurance than when convicted of the rascality. Playing fast and loose with honour and the laws, he was sure to find, when threatened by the arm of justice, the female relatives of the judges themselves taking his part and doing their best to ‘get him off.’ Such was this extraordinary chevalier d’industrie, who might have gone on with his diabolical perpetrations had he not, at last, attempted too much, failing in the grandest stroke he had ever meditated–and yet a vulgar fraud–when he was convicted, branded, and sent to the galleys.[2]

[1] Senec., Epist. Ii.
[2] Dusaulx, De la Passion du Jeu.

The following narrative elucidates a still more modern phase of this elegant ‘industry.’ My authority is M. Robert-Houdin.


M. Olivier de —- was a dissipated young gentleman. His family was one of the oldest and most respectable of the country, and deservedly enjoyed the highest consideration. M. Olivier de —-, his father, was not rich, and therefore could not do much for his son; the consequence was that owing to his outrageous prodigality the son was sorely pinched for means to keep up his position; he exhausted his credit, and was soon overwhelmed with debt. Among the companions of his dissipation was a young man whose abundant means filled him with admiration and envy; he lived like a prince and had not a single creditor. One day he asked his friend to explain the mystery of the fact that, without possessing any fortune, he could gratify all his tastes and fancies, whilst he himself, with certain resources, was compelled to submit to privations, still getting into debt.

Chauvignac–such was the name of the friend thus addressed–was a card-sharper, and he instantly seized the opportunity to make something out of the happy disposition of this modern prodigal son, this scion of gentility. With the utmost frankness he explained to the young man his wonderful method of keeping his pockets full of money, and showed that nothing could be easier than for Olivier to go and do likewise in his terrible condition;–in short, on one hand there were within his grasp, riches, pleasure, all manner of enjoyment; on the other, pitiless creditors, ruin, misery, and contempt. The tempter, moreover, offered to initiate his listener in his infallible method of getting rich. In his frame of mind Olivier yielded to the temptation, with the full determination, if not to get money by cheating at cards, at any rate to learn the method which might serve as a means of self-defence should he not think proper to use it for attack–such was the final argument suggested by the human Mephistopheles to his pupil.

Taking Olivier to his house, he showed him a pack of cards. ‘Now here is a pack of cards,’ he said; ‘there seems to be nothing remarkable about it, does there?’ Olivier examined the pack and declared that the cards did not appear to differ in the least from all others. ‘Well,’ said Chauvignac, ‘nevertheless they have been subjected to a preparation called biseautage, or having one end of the cards made narrower than the other. This disposition enables us to remove from the pack such and such cards and then to class them in the necessary order so that they may get into the hand of the operator.’ Chauvignac then proceeded to apply his precepts by an example, and although the young man had no particular qualification for the art of legerdemain, he succeeded at once to admiration in a game at Ecarte, for he had already mastered the first process of cheating. Having thus, as he thought, sufficiently compromised his victim, Chauvignac left him to his temptations, and took leave of him.

Two days afterwards the professor returned to his pupil and invited him to accompany him on a pleasure trip. Olivier excused himself on account of his desperate condition–one of his creditors being in pursuit of him for a debt of one thousand francs. ‘Is that all?’ said Chauvignac; and pulling out his pocket-book he added,–‘Here’s a bank-note; you can repay me to- morrow.’ ‘Why, man, you are mad!’ exclaimed Olivier. ‘Be it so,’ said Chauvignac; ‘and in my madness I give you credit for another thousand-franc bank-note to go and get thirty thousand francs which are waiting for you.’ ‘Now, do explain yourself, for you are driving ME mad.’ ‘Nothing more easy. Here is the fact,’ said Chauvignac. ‘M. le Comte de Vandermool, a wealthy Belgian capitalist, a desperate gamester if ever there was one, and who can lose a hundred thousand francs without much inconvenience, is now at Boulogne, where he will remain a week. This millionnaire must be thinned a little. Nothing is easier. One of my friends and confreres, named Chaffard, is already with the count to prepare the way. We have only now to set to work. You are one of us–that’s agreed–and in a few days you will return, to satisfy your creditors and buy your mistress a shawl.’

‘Stop a bit. You are going too fast. Wait a little. I haven’t as yet said Yes,’ replied Olivier. ‘I don’t want your Yes now; you will say it at Boulogne. For the present go and pay your bill. We set out in two hours; the post-horses are already ordered; we shall start from my house: be punctual.’

The party reached Boulogne and put up at the Hotel de l’Univers. On their arrival they were informed that no time was to be lost, as the count talked of leaving next day. The two travellers took a hasty dinner, and at once proceeded to the apartment of the Belgian millionnaire. Chaffard, who had preceded them, introduced them as two of his friends, whose property was situated in the vicinity of Boulogne.

M. le Comte de Vandermool was a man about fifty years of age, with an open, candid countenance. He wore several foreign decorations. He received the two gentlemen with charming affability; he did more; he invited them to spend the evening with him. Of course the invitation was accepted. When the conversation began to flag, the count proposed a game–which was also, of course, very readily agreed to by the three comperes.

While the table was prepared, Chauvignac gave his young friend two packs of cards, to be substituted for those which should be furnished by the count. Ecarte was to be the game, and Olivier was to play, the two other associates having pretended to know nothing about the game, and saying that they would content themselves by betting with each other. Of course Olivier was rather surprised at this declaration, but he soon understood by certain signs from Chauvignac that this reservation was intended to do away with the count’s suspicions, in case of their success.

The count, enormously rich as he was, would only play for bank-notes. ‘Metal smells bad in a room,’ he said. The novice, at first confused at being a party to the intended roguery, followed the dictates of his conscience and, neglecting the advantages of his hands, trusted merely to chance. The result was that the only thousand-franc bank-note he had was speedily transferred to the count. At that moment Chauvignac gave him a significant look, and this, together with the desire to retrieve his loss, induced him to put into execution the culpable manoeuvres which his friend had taught him. His work was of the easiest; the count was so short-sighted that he had to keep his nose almost upon the cards to see them. Chance now turned, as might be expected, and thousand-franc bank-notes soon accumulated in the hands of Olivier, who, intoxicated by this possession, worked away with incredible ardour. Moreover, the count was not in the least out of humour at losing so immensely; on the contrary, he was quite jovial; indeed, from his looks he might have been supposed to be the winner. At length, however, he said with a smile, taking a pinch from his golden snuff-box–‘I am evidently not in vein. I have lost eighty thousand francs. I see that I shall soon be in for one hundred thousand. But it is proper, my dear sir, that I should say I don’t make a habit of losing more than this sum at a sitting; and if it must be so, I propose to sup before losing my last twenty thousand francs. Perhaps this will change my vein. I think you will grant me this indulgence.’ The proposal was agreed to.

Olivier, almost out of his senses at the possession of eighty thousand francs, could not resist the desire of expressing his gratitude to Chauvignac, which he did, grasping his hand with emotion and leading him into a corner of the room.

Alas! the whole thing was only an infamous conspiracy to ruin the young man. The Belgian capitalist, this count apparently so respectable, was only an expert card-sharper whom Chauvignac had brought from Paris to play out the vile tragi-comedy, the denouement of which would be the ruin of the unfortunate Olivier.

At the moment when the latter left the card-table to go to Chauvignac, the pretended millionnaire changed the pack of cards they had been using for two other packs.

Supper went off very pleasantly. They drank very moderately, for the head had to be kept cool for what had to follow. They soon sat down again at the card-table. ‘Now,’ said the Parisian card- shaper, on resuming his seat, ‘I should like to end the matter quickly: I will stake the twenty thousand francs in a lump.’

Olivier, confident of success after his previous achievement, readily assented; but, alas, the twenty thousand francs of which he made sure was won by his adversary.

Forty thousand francs went in like manner. Olivier, breathless, utterly prostrate, knew not what to do. All his manoeuvres were practised in vain; he could give himself none but small cards. His opponent had his hands full of trumps, and HE dealt them to him! In his despair he consulted Chauvignac by a look, and the latter made a sign to him to go on. The wretched young man went on, and lost again. Bewildered, beside himself, he staked fabulous sums to try and make up for his losses, and very soon found, in his turn, that he owed his adversary one hundred thousand francs(L4166)!

At this point the horrible denouement commenced. The pretended count stopped, and crossing his arms on his breast, said sternly–‘Monsieur Olivier de —-, you must be very rich to stake so glibly such enormous sums. Of course you know your fortune and can square yourself with it; but, however rich you may be, you ought to know that it is not sufficient to lose a hundred thousand francs, but that you must pay it. Besides, I have given you the example. Begin, therefore, by putting down the sum I have won from you; after which we can go on.’ . . .

‘Nothing can be more proper, sir,’ stammered out young Olivier, ‘I am ready to satisfy you; but, after all, you know that . . . .

gaming debts . . . . my word . . . .’

‘The d–l! sir,’ said the pretended count, giving the table a violent blow with his fist–‘Why do you talk to me about your WORD. Gad! You are well entitled to appeal to the engagements of honour! Well! We have now to play another game on this table, and we must speak out plainly. Monsieur Olivier de —-, you are a rogue . . . Yes, a rogue! The cards we have been using are biseautees and YOU brought them hither.’

‘Sir! . . You insult me!’ said Olivier.

‘Indeed? Well, sir, that astonishes me!’ replied the false Belgian ironically.

‘That is too much, sir. I demand satisfaction, and that on the very instant. Do you understand me? Let us go out at once.’

‘No! no! We must end this quarrel here, sir. Look here–your two friends shall be your “seconds;” I am now going to send for MINE.’

The card-sharper, who had risen at these words, rang the bell violently. His own servant entered. ‘Go,’ said he, ‘to the Procureur de Roi, and request him to come here on a very important matter. Be as quick as you can.’

‘Oh, sir, be merciful! Don’t ruin me!’ exclaimed the wretched Olivier; ‘I will do what you like.’ At these words, the sharper told his servant to wait behind the door, and to execute his order if he should hear nothing to the contrary in ten minutes.

‘And now, sir,’ continued the sharper, turning to Olivier, ‘and now, sir, for the business between you and me. These cards have been substituted by you in the place of those which I supplied . . . You must do them up, write your name upon the cover, and seal it with the coat of arms on your ring.’

Olivier looked first at Chauvignac and then at Chaffard, but both the fellows only made signs to him to resign himself to the circumstances. He did what was ordered.

‘That is not all, sir,’ added the false Belgian; ‘I have fairly won money from you and have a right to demand a guarantee for payment. You must draw me short bills for the sum of one hundred thousand francs.’

As the wretched young man hesitated to comply with this demand, his pitiless creditor rose to ring the bell.

‘Don’t ring, sir, don’t ring,’ said Olivier, ‘I’ll sign.’

He signed, and the villany was consummated. Olivier returned to his family and made an humble avowal of his fault and his engagements. His venerable father received the terrible blow with resignation, and paid the 100,000 francs, estimating his honour far above that amount of money.[3]

[3] This narrative is condensed from the account of the affair by Robert-Hondin, Tricherics des Grecs devoilees.


A turfite and gambler, represented under the letters of Mr H–e, having lost all his money at Doncaster and the following York Meeting, devised a plan, with his coadjutor, to obtain the means for their departure from York, which, no doubt, will be considered exceedingly ingenious.

He had heard of an attorney in the town who was very fond of Backgammon; and on this simple piece of information an elaborate plan was concocted. Mr H–e feigned illness, went to bed, and sent for a large quantity of tartar emetic, which he took. After he had suffered the operation of the first dose he sent for a doctor, who pronounced him, of course, very languid and ill; and not knowing the cause, ordered him more medicine, which the patient took good care not to allow to stay on his stomach.

On the second day he asked the doctor, with great gravity, if he considered him in danger, adding, ‘because he had never made a WILL to bequeath his property.’ The doctor replied, ‘No, not in absolute danger, but there was no harm in making a WILL.’

The attorney, accordingly, was sent for–of course the very man wished for–the lover of Backgammon before mentioned. The good man came; he took the ‘instructions,’ and drew up the last will and testament of the ruined turfite, who left (in the will) about L50,000, which no man ever heard of, living or dead.

The BUSINESS being done, the patient said that if he had a moment’s relaxation he thought he should rally and overcome the malady. The poor lawyer said if he could in any way contribute to his comfort he should be happy. The offer was embraced by observing that if he could sit up in bed–but he was afraid he was not able–a hit at Backgammon would be a great source of amusement.

The lawyer, like all adepts in such matters, was only too willing to catch at the idea; the board was brought.

Of course the man who had L50,000 to leave behind could not be expected to play ‘for love;’ and so when Mr H–e proposed ‘a pound a hit or treble a gammon,’ the lawyer not only thought it reasonable, but, conscious of his power in the game, eagerly accepted the terms of playing. They played; but the lawyer was gammoned almost incessantly, till he lost L50. Then H–e proposed ‘double or quits to L1000,’–thereupon the poor lawyer, believing that fortune could not always forsake him, said he had but L2000 in the world, but that he would set the L1000. He lost; and became almost frantic. In the midst of his excessive grief, H–e said, ‘You have a HORSE, what is it worth?’ L50 was the answer. ‘Well, well, you may win all back now, and I’ll set L50 on your horse.’

They began again. Lost! ‘You have a COW in your paddock, haven’t you? What’s that worth?’ asked Mr H–e. The attorney said L12. ‘Well, I’ll set that sum by way of giving you a chance.’ The game proceeded, and the poor lawyer, equally unfortunate, raved and swore he had lost his last shilling. ‘No, no!’ said H–e,’ you have not: I saw a HAY-RICK in your ground. It is of no use now that the horse and cow are gone– what is that worth?’ L15, replied the attorney, with a sigh. ‘I set L15 then,’ said H–e.

This seemed to be ‘rather too much’ for the lawyer. The loss of the hay-rick–like the last straw laid on the overladen camel’s back–staggered him. Besides, he thought he saw–as doubtless he did see–H–e twisting his fingers round one of the dice. Up he started at once, and declared that he was cheated!

Thereupon the sick man forgot his sickness, jumped out of bed, and gave the lawyer a regular drubbing, got the cheque for the L2000,–but the horse, cow, and hay he said he would leave ‘until further orders.’


An Archbishop of Canterbury was once on a tour, when a genteel man, apparently in earnest conversation, though alone in a wood, attracted his notice. His Grace made up to him, and, after a little previous conversation, asked him what he was about. Stranger. ‘I am at play.’
Archbishop. ‘At play? With whom? I see nobody.’ Sir. ‘I own, sir, my antagonist is not visible: I am playing with God.’
Abp. ‘At what game, pray, sir?’
Str. ‘At Chess.’
Abp. ‘Do you play for anything?’ Str. ‘Certainly.’
Abp. ‘You cannot have any chance, as your adversary must be so superior to you.’
Str. ‘He takes no advantage, but plays merely as a man.’ Abp. ‘When you win or lose, how do you settle accounts?’ Str. ‘Very exactly and punctually.’
Abp. ‘Indeed! Pray, how stands your game now?’ Str. ‘There! I have just lost!’
Abp. ‘How much have you lost?’
Str. ‘Fifty guineas.’
Abp. ‘How do you manage to pay it? Does God take your money?’ Str. ‘No! The poor are his treasurers. He always sends some worthy person to receive it, and you are at present his purse-bearer.’

Saying this, the stranger put fifty guineas into his Grace’s hand, and retired, adding–‘I shall play no more to-day.’

The prelate was delighted; though he could not tell what to make of this extraordinary man. The guineas were all good; and the archbishop applied them to the use of the poor, as he had been directed.

The archbishop, on his return, stopped at the same town, and could not help going in search of the chess-player, whom he found engaged as before, when the following dialogue ensued:– Abp. ‘How has the chance stood since we met before?’ Str. ‘Sometimes for me–sometimes against me. I have lost and won.’
Abp. ‘Are you at play now?’
Str. ‘Yes, sir. We have played several games to-day.’ Abp. ‘Who wins?’
Str. ‘The advantage is on my side. The game is just over. I have a fine stroke–check-mate– there it is.’ Abp. ‘How much have you won?’
Str. ‘Five hundred guineas.’
Abp. ‘That is a large sum. How are you to he paid?’ Str. ‘God always sends some good rich man when I win, and YOU are the person. He is remarkably punctual on these occasions.’

The archbishop had received a considerable sum on that day, as the stranger knew; and so, producing a pistol by way of receipt, he compelled the delivery of it. His Grace now discovered that he had been the dupe of a thief; and though he had greatly bruited his first adventure, he prudently kept his own counsel in regard to the last.

Such is the tale. Se non e vero e ben trovato.


‘I know a respectable tradesman,’ says a writer in Cassell’s Magazine–‘I know him now, for he lives in the house he occupied at the time of my tale–who was sent for to see a French gentleman at a tavern, on business connected with the removal of this gentleman’s property from one of the London docks. The business, as explained by the messenger, promising to be profitable, he of course promptly obeyed the summons, and during his walk found that his conductor had once been in service in France. This delighted Mr Chase–the name by which I signify the tradesman–for he, too, had once so lived in France; and by the time he reached the tavern he had talked himself into a very good opinion of his new patron. The French gentleman was very urbane, gave Mr Chase his instructions, let him understand expense was not to be studied, and, as he was at lunch, would not be satisfied unless the tradesman sat down with him. This was a great honour for the latter, as he found his employer was a baron. Well, the foreigner was disposed to praise everything English; he was glad he had come to live in London–Paris was nothing to it; they had nothing in France like the English beer, with which, in the exuberance of his hospitality, he filled and refilled Mr Chase’s glass; but that which delighted him above all that he had seen “vos de leetle game vid de ball–vot you call– de–de–aha! de skittel.” Mr Chase assented that it was a very nice game certainly; and the French gentleman seeming by this time to have had quite enough beer, insisted, before they went to the docks–which was essential–that they should see just one game played.

‘As he insisted on paying Mr Chase for all the time consumed with him, and as his servant, of course, could not object, the party adjourned to the “Select Subscription Ground” at once. In the ground there was a quiet, insignificant-looking little man, smoking a cigar; and as they were so few, he was asked to assist, which, after considerable hesitation and many apologies for his bad play, he did. The end is of course guessed. The French gentleman was a foolish victim, with more money than wits, who backed himself to do almost impossible feats, when it was evident he could not play at all, and laid sovereigns against the best player, who was the little stranger, doing the easiest. What with the excitement, and what with the beer, which was probably spiced with some unknown relish a little stronger than nutmeg, Mr Chase could not help joining in winning the foreign gentleman’s money; it seemed no harm, he had so much of it.

‘By a strange concurrence of events, it so happened that by random throws the Frenchman sometimes knocked all the pins down at a single swoop, though he clearly could not play–Mr Chase was sure of that–while the skilful player made every now and then one of the blunders to which the best players are liable. That the tradesman lost forty sovereigns will be easily understood; and did his tale end here it would have differed so little from a hundred others as scarcely to deserve telling; but it will surprise many, as it did me, to learn that he then walked to and from his own house–a distance of precisely a mile each way–fetched a bill for thirty pounds, which a customer had recently paid him, got it discounted, went back to the skittle- ground, and, under the same malignant star, lost the whole.

‘It was the only case in my experience of the work going on smoothly after such a break. I never could account for it, nor could Mr Chase. Great was the latter’s disgust, on setting the police to work, to find that the French nobleman, his servant, and the quiet stranger, were all dwellers within half a mile or so of his own house, and slightly known to him–men who had trusted, and very successfully, to great audacity and well- arranged disguise.’

A vast deal of gambling still goes on with skittles all over the country. At a place not ten miles from London, I am told that as much as two thousand pounds has been seen upon the table in a single ‘alley,’ or place of play. The bets were, accordingly, very high. The instances revealed by exposure at the police- courts give but a faint idea of the extent of skittle sharping.

Amidst such abuses of the game, it can scarcely surprise us that the police have been recently directed to prohibit all playing at skittles and bowls. However much we may regret the interference with popular pastimes, in themselves unobjectionable, it is evident that their flagrant abuse warrants the most stringent measures in order to prevent their constantly repeated and dismal consequences. Even where money was not played for, pots of beer were the wager–leading, in many instances, to intoxication, or promoting this habit, which is the cause of so much misery among the lower orders.



A gambling house at the end of the last century was conducted by the following officials:–

1. A Commissioner,–who was always a proprietor; who looked in of a night, and audited the week’s account with two other proprietors.

2. A Director,–who superintended the room.

3. An Operator,–who dealt the cards at the cheating game called Faro.

4. Two Croupiers, or crow-pees, as they were vulgarly called, whose duty it was to watch the cards and gather or rake in the money for the bank.

5. Two Puffs,–who had money given to them to decoy others to play.

6. A Clerk,–who was a check on the Puffs, to see that they sank none of the money given to them to play with.

7. A Squib,–who was a puff of a lower rank, serving at half salary, whilst learning to deal.

8. A Flasher,–to swear how often the bank had been stripped by lucky players.

9. A Dunner,–who went about to recover money lost at play.

10. A Waiter,–to fill out wine, snuff candles, and attend the room.

11. An Attorney,–who was generally a Newgate solicitor.

12. A Captain,–who was to fight any gentleman who might be peevish at losing his money.

13. An Usher,–who lighted the gentlemen up and down stairs, and gave the word to the porter.

14. A Porter,–who was generally a soldier of the Foot Guards.

15. An Orderly-man,–who walked up and down the outside of the door, to give notice to the porter, and alarm the house at the approach of the constables.

16. A Runner,–who was to get intelligence of the Justices’ meetings.

17. Link Boys, Coachmen, Chairmen, Drawers, and others, who brought the first intelligence of Justices’ meetings, of constables going out, at half a guinea reward.

18. Common Bail, Affidavit Men, Ruffians, Bravos, Assassins, &c. &c.

It may be proper to remark that the above list of officials was only calculated for gambling houses of an inferior order. In these it is evident that the fear of interruption and the necessity for precaution presided over the arrangements. There were others, however, which seemed to defy law, to spurn at justice, and to remain secure, in every way, by the ‘respectability’ of their frequenters. These were houses supported at an amazing expense–within sight of the palace– which were open every night and all night–where men of the first rank were to be found gambling away immense sums of money, such as no man, whatever his fortune might be, could sustain. ‘What, then,’ says a writer at the time, ‘are the consequences? Why, that the UNDONE part of them sell their VOTES for bread, and the successful give them for honours.

‘He who has never seen the gamblers’ apartments in some of the magnificent houses in the neighbourhood of St James’s, has never seen the most horrid sight that the imagination of a thinking man can conceive.

‘A new pack of cards is called for at every deal, and the “old” ones are then thrown upon the floor, and in such an immense quantity, that the writer of this letter has seen a very large room nearly ANKLE-DEEP, in the greatest part of it, by four o’clock in the morning! Judge, then, to what height they must have risen by daylight.’

It is a melancholy truth, but confirmed by the history of all nations, that the most polite and refined age of a kingdom is never the most virtuous; not, indeed, that any such compliment can be paid to that gross age, but still it was refined compared with the past. The distinctions of personal merit being but little regarded–in the low moral tone that prevailed–there needed but to support a certain ‘figure’ in life (managed by the fashionable tailor)[4], to be conversant with a few etiquettes of good breeding and sentiments of modern or current honour, in order to be received with affability and courteous attention in the highest circles. The vilest sharper, having once gained admission, was sure of constant entertainment, for nothing formed a greater cement of union than the spirit of HIGH GAMING. There being so little cognizance taken of the good qualities of the heart in fashionable assemblies, no wonder that amid the medley of characters to be found in these places the ‘sharper’ of polite address should gain too easy an admission.

[4] ‘How shalt THOU to Caesar’s hall repair? For, ah! no DAMAGED coat can enter there!’

BEATTIE’S Minstrel.

This fraternity of artists–whether they were to be denominated rooks,[5] sharps, sharpers, black-legs, Greeks, or gripes–were exceedingly numerous, and were dispersed among all ranks of society.

[5] So called because rooks are famous for stealing materials out of other birds’ nests to build their own.

The follies and vices of others–of open-hearted youth in particular–were the great game or pursuit of this odious crew. Though cool and dispassionate themselves, they did all in their power to throw others off their guard, that they might make their advantage of them.

In others they promoted excess of all kinds, whilst they themselves took care to maintain the utmost sobriety and temperance. ‘Gamesters,’ says Falconer, ‘whose minds must be always on the watch to take advantages, and prepared to form calculations, and to employ the memory, constantly avoid a full meal of animal food, which they find incapacitates them for play nearly as much as a quantity of strong liquor would have done, for which reason they feed chiefly on milk and vegetables.’

As profit, not pleasure, was the aim of these knights of darkness, they lay concealed under all shapes and disguises, and followed up their game with all wariness and discretion. Like wise traders, they made it the business of their lives to excel in their calling.

For this end they studied the secret mysteries of their art by night and by day; they improved on the scientific schemes of their profound master, Hoyle, and on his deep doctrines and calculations of chances. They became skilful without a rival where skill was necessary, and fraudulent without conscience where fraud was safe and advantageous; and while fortune or chance appeared to direct everything, they practised numberless devices by which they insured her ultimate favours to themselves.

Of these none were more efficacious, because none are more ensnaring, than bribing their young and artless dupes to future play by suffering them to win at their first onsets. By rising a winner the dupe imbibed a confidence in his own gambling abilities, or deemed himself a favourite of fortune. He engaged again, and was again successful–which increased his exultation and confirmed his future confidence; and thus did the simple gudgeon swallow their bait, till it became at last fast hooked.

When rendered thus secure of their prey, they began to level their whole train of artillery against the boasted honours of his short-lived triumph. Then the extensive manors, the ancient forests, the paternal mansions, began to tremble for their future destiny. The pigeon was marked down, and the infernal crew began in good earnest to pluck his rich plumage. The wink was given on his appearance in the room, as a signal of commencing their covert attacks. The shrug, the nod, the hem–every motion of the eyes, hands, feet–every air and gesture, look and word–became an expressive, though disguised, language of fraud and cozenage, big with deceit and swollen with ruin. Besides this, the card was marked, or ‘slipped,’ or COVERED. The story is told of a noted sharper of distinction, a foreigner, whose hand was thrust through with a fork by his adversary, Captain Roche, and thus nailed to the table, with this cool expression of concern– ‘I ask your pardon, sir, if you have not the knave of clubs under your hand.’ The cards were packed, or cut, or even SWALLOWED. A card has been eaten between two slices of bread and butter, for the purpose of concealment.

With wily craft the sharpers substituted their deceitful ‘doctors’ or false dice; and thus ‘crabs,’ or ‘a losing game,’ became the portion of the ‘flats,’ or dupes.

There were different ways of throwing dice. There was the ‘Stamp’–when the caster with an elastic spring of the wrist rapped the cornet or box with vehemence on the table, the dice as yet not appearing from under the box. The ‘Dribble’ was, when with an air of easy but ingenious motion, the caster poured, as it were, the dice on the board–when, if he happened to be an old practitioner, he might suddenly cog with his fore-finger one of the cubes. The ‘Long Gallery’ was when the dice were flung or hurled the whole length of the board. Sometimes the dice were thrown off the table, near a confederate, who, in picking them up, changed one of the fair for a false die with two sixes. This was generally done at the first throw, and at the last, when the fair die was replaced. The sixes were on the opposite squares, so that the fraud could only be detected by examination. Of course this trick could only be practised at raffles, where only three throws are required.

A pair of false dice was arranged as follows:–

{Two fours
On one die, {Two fives
{Two sixes

{Two fives
On the other, {Two threes {Two aces

With these dice it was impossible to throw what is at Hazard denominated Crabs, or a losing game–that is, aces, or ace and deuce, twelve, or seven. Hence, the caster always called for his main; consequently, as he could neither throw one nor seven, let his chance be what it might, he was sure to win, and he and those who were in the secret of course always took the odds. The false dice being concealed in the left hand, the caster took the box with the fair dice in it in his right hand, and in the act of shaking it caught the fair dice in his hand, and unperceived shifted the box empty to his left, from which he dropped the false dice into the box, which he began to rattle, called his main seven, and threw. Having won his stake he repeated it as often as he thought proper. He then caught the false dice in the same way, shifted the empty box again, and threw till he threw out, still calling the same main, by which artifice he escaped suspicion.

Two gambling adventurers would set out with a certain number of signs and signals. The use of the handkerchief during the game was the certain evidence of a good hand. The use of the snuff- box a sign equally indicative of a bad one. An affected cough, apparently as a natural one, once, twice, three, or four times repeated, was an assurance of so many honours in hand. Rubbing the left eye was an invitation to lead trumps,–the right eye the reverse,–the cards thrown down with one finger and the thumb was a sign of one trump; two fingers and the thumb, two trumps, and so on progressively, and in exact explanation of the whole hand, with a variety of manoeuvres by which chance was reduced to certainty, and certainty followed by ruin.[6]

[6] Bon Ton Magazine, 1791.


In an old work on cards the following curious disclosures are made respecting cheating at whist:–

‘He that can by craft overlook his adversary’s game hath a great advantage; for by that means he may partly know what to play securely; or if he can have some petty glimpse of his partner’s hand. There is a way by making some sign by the fingers, to discover to their partners what honours they have, or by the wink of one eye it signifies one honour, shutting both eyes two, placing three fingers or four on the table, three or four honours. FOR WHICH REASON ALL NICE GAMSTERS PLAY BEHIND CURTAINS.

‘Dealing the cards out by one and one to each person is the best method of putting it out of the dealer’s power to impose on you. But I shall demonstrate that, deal the cards which way you will, a confederacy of two sharpers will beat any two persons in the world, though ever so good players, that are not of the gang, or in the secret, and “THREE poll ONE” is as safe and secure as if the money was in their pockets. All which will appear presently.

The first necessary instructions to be observed at Whist, as principals of the secret, which may be likewise transferred to most other games at cards, are:–

Brief or short cards,


Middle-bend (or Kingston-bridge).

‘Of brief cards there are two sorts: one is a card longer than the rest,–the other is a card broader than the rest. The long sort are such as three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine; the broad sort are such as aces, kings, queens, and knaves. The use and advantage of each are as follows:–

‘Example:–When you cut the cards to your adversary, cut them long, or endways, and he will have a three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine at bottom. When your adversary cuts the cards to you, put them broadside to him, and he will naturally cut (without ever suspecting what you do) ace, king, queen, or knave, &c., which is sufficient advantage to secure any game.

‘And in case you cannot get cards of proper sizes ready-made to mix with others, you may shave them with a razor or penknife from the threes to the nines each side, and from the aces to the knaves each end; then put them up in the same case or cover, and if they are done as they ought to be, they will pass upon anybody.

‘As Whist is a tavern-game, the sharpers generally take care to put about the bottle before the game begins, so quick, that a BUBBLE cannot be said to see clearly even when he begins to play.

‘The next is the corner-bend, which is four cards turned down finely at one corner–a signal to cut by.

‘The other is vulgarly called Kingston-bridge, or the middle- bend. It is done by bending your own or adversary’s TRICKS two different ways, which will cause an opening, or arch, in the middle, which is of the same use and service as the other two ways, and only practised in its turn to amuse you.

‘The next thing to be considered is, who deals the cards, you or your adversary; because that is a main point, and from whence your advantage must arise. Suppose, for example, {Sharpers,
A and B {

{Bubbles, or Flats,
C and D {
{ Partners.

After a deal or two is formally played, A and B will begin to operate in the following manner:–

‘When A or B is to deal, they observe the PRECEDING DEAL to take up the tricks thus:–
1. A bad card. 2. A good card. 3. A bad card. 4. A good card.

(Meaning the best and worst that fall in that list).

‘When C or D deals, they must be taken up thus:– 1. A good card. 2. A bad card.
3. A good card. 4. A bad card.

‘By this rule it is plain that the best cards fall to A and B every deal. How is it possible, therefore, that C and D should ever win a game without permission? But it would be deemed ill policy, and contrary to the true interest of A and B, to act thus every deal. I will, therefore, suppose it is practised just when they please, according as bets happen in company; though the rule with gamesters, in low life, is at the first setting out to stupify you with wine and the loss of your money, that you may never come to a perfect understanding of what you are doing. It may be truly said that many an honest gentleman has been kept a month in such a condition by the management and contrivance of a set of sharpers.

‘Now you may imagine it not in the power of A and B to cause the tricks to be taken up after the manner aforesaid: there is nothing so easy nor so frequently practised, especially at Three poll One; for in playing the cards the confederates will not only take care of their own tricks, but also of yours, for the cards may be so played, and shoved together in such a manner, as will even cause you to take them right yourself; and if a trick should lie untowardly on the table, A or B will pay you the compliment of taking it up for you, and say–“Sir, that’s yours.” This operation will the more readily be apprehended by seeing it practised half a score times; when once you are aware of it, it will otherwise (I may say fairly) pass upon any person that has not been let into the secret. This being allowed, the next point and difficulty is to shuffle and cut.

‘I say, that either A or B are such curious workmen, and can make a sham shuffle with a pack of cards so artfully, that you would believe they were splitting them, when at the time they will not displace a single card from its order! Such is the SHARPER’S shuffling.

‘Now, to cut the cards, a BEND is prepared for you to cut to– the middle is the best; and it is odds but you unwarily cut to it; if not, SLIP is the word; but if you have no opportunity to do that neither, then deal away at all hazards, it is but an equal bet that they come in your favour; if right, proceed; if otherwise, miss a card in its course, and it brings the cards according to your first design; it is but giving two at last where you missed; and if that cannot be conveniently done, you only lose the deal, and there is an end of it.

‘But when A or B is to cut, they make it all safe; for then they make the CORNER-BEND, which any one that knows may cut to, a hundred times together.

‘Piping at Whist. By piping I mean, when one of the company that does not play, which frequently happens, sits down in a convenient place to smoke a pipe, and so look on, pretending to amuse himself that way. Now, the disposing of his fingers on the pipe whilst smoking discovers the principal cards that are in the person’s hand he overlooks; which was always esteemed a sufficient advantage whereby to win a game. There is another method, namely, by uttering words. “Indeed” signifies diamonds; “truly,” hearts; “upon my word,” clubs; “I assure you,” spades. But as soon as these methods become known, new ones are invented; and it is most curious that two persons may discover to each other what sort of cards they have in hand, and which ought first to be played, many different ways, without speaking a word.’

There can be no doubt that the act of sorting the cards is capable of giving an acute observer a tolerably accurate idea of his partner’s or either of his opponents’ hands; so that where cheating is suspected it would be better to play the cards without sorting them. The number of times a sorter carries a card to a particular part indicates so many of a suit; your own hand and his play will readily indicate the nature of the cards in which he is either strong or weak.

I now quote Robert-Houdin’s account of


Although there are 32 cards in the game of Piquet, all of them may be designated by twelve different signs, namely, eight for the nature of the cards, and four for the colours.

At Ecarte, the number of the signals is still less, as it is only the figures that require indication: but to make these indications it is necessary to execute a sort of pantomime, according to certain authors, such as blowing the nose, coughing, drumming on the table, sneezing, &c. Such evolutions, however, are totally unworthy of your modern Greek, and would soon be denounced as gross fraud. The signals which he employs are only appreciable by his confederate,–as follows:–

If he looks

1. At his confederate, he designates A king.

2. At the play of his adversary . . . A queen.

3. At the stake . . . . . . . . . . . A knave.

4. At the opposite side . . . . . . . An ace.

And whilst he indicates the nature of the cards he at the same time makes known the colour by the following signs:–

1. The mouth slightly open . . . . . Hearts.

2. The mouth shut . . . . . . . . . . Diamonds.

3. The upper-lip slightly pouting
over the lower . . . . . . . Clubs.

4. The lower-lip drawn over the upper . . . . . . . . . . . Spades.

Thus, if the Greek wishes to announce, for instance, the knave and ace of hearts, he successively directs his looks upon the play of his adversary, upon the stake, and to the opposite side, whilst keeping his mouth slightly open.

It is evident that this telegraphy may be employed at all games where there is a gallery. In effect, nothing is easier at Piquet than to indicate, by the aid of these signals, the colour in which the player should discard and that in which he should keep what cards he has.

These are the simplest signs; but some of the Greeks have a great number of them, to designate everything; and even sometimes to communicate and receive intelligence, when necessary. This telegraphy is so imperceptible that it is difficult to describe it, and altogether impossible to detect it.[7]

[7] Tricheries des Grecs devoilees.

Robert-Houdin has exhausted the subject of card-trickery, in connection with that prestidigitation which, it seems, all card- sharpers cultivate, the description of which, however, is by no means so entertaining as the visible performance. I find, nevertheless, in his book, under the title of ‘Small Trickeries made innocent by Custom,’ certain things alluded to which I can attest by experience.

I. At Whist, no communication whatever must be made by a player to his partner, excepting those authorized by the laws of the game; but some persons go further, and by the play of their features ‘telegraph’ to their partners the value of their hands.

II. Any one with a good memory and endowed with quick perception may form a very accurate estimate of the hands held by all the players by remembering THE TRICKS AS THEY ARE PLAYED AND TURNED DOWN–all of a suit, or trumped. Cards ‘stick together’ most lovingly, and the ordinary shuffling scarcely alters their sequence; and so, if a trick has been taken by an ace over a king, for instance, and in the next deal you get the same king, you may be sure that the ace is either on your right or your left, according to the deal; of course, if you get the ace, then the same probability, or rather necessity, exists as to the king; and so on. Knave, queen, king, ace, of the same name, are almost sure to be separated in the deal between the four players, or one player will have two of them. The observation is a tax upon the faculties; but I am sure, quite sure, that the thing can be done, and is, when done, of material service; although, of course, the knowledge can be turned to account only by an expert player, with a partner who can understand the game which he wishes to play.

Whist is, decidedly, one of the fairest of games; but for that very reason, it is open to the greatest over-reaching, or, if you like, cheating.

With regard to dice, of course, they were and, doubtless, are still loaded. Such were formerly called ‘dispatches,’ because they would ‘in five minutes dispatch L500 out of the pocket of any young man when intoxicated with champagne.’

Roulette and Rouge et Noir tables were and are so arranged as always to make the bank win at the will of the attendant, regulating them with a touch.

At Hazard, they used ‘low or high dice,’ that is, with only certain numbers on them, high or low,–a pair of which every sharper always had in his possession, changing them with great dexterity. They also used ‘cramped’ boxes, by which they ‘cogged’ or fastened the dice in the box as they dropped them IN, and so could drop them OUT with the required face upwards.



Although all the motives of human action have long been known– although psychology, or the science of soul and sentiment, has ceased to present us with any new facts–it is quite certain that our edifice of Morals is not quite built up. We may rest assured that as long as intellectual man exists the problem will be considered unsolved, and the question will be agitated. Future generations will destroy what we establish, and will fashion a something according to their advancement, and so on; for if there be a term which, of all others, should be expunged from the dictionaries of all human beings, it seems to be Lord Russell’s word FINALITY. Something NEW will always be wanted. ‘Sensation’ is the very life of humanity; it is motion–the reverse of ‘death’–which we all abhor.

The gamester lives only for the ‘sensation’ of gaming. Menage tells us of a gamester who declared that he had never seen any luminary above the horizon but the moon. Saint Evremond, writing to the Count de Grammont, says–‘You play from morning to night, or rather from night to morning. All the rays of the gamester’s existence terminate in play; it is on this centre that his very existence depends. He enjoys not an hour of calm or serenity. During the day he longs for night, and during the night he dreads the return of day.’

Being always pre-occupied, gamesters are subject to a ridiculous absence of mind. Tacitus tells us that the Emperor Vitellius was so torpid that he would have forgotten he was a prince unless people had reminded him of it from time to time.[8] Many gamesters have forgotten that they were husbands and fathers. During play some one said that the government were about to levy a tax on bachelors. ‘Then I shall be ruined!’ exclaimed one of the players absorbed in the game. ‘Why, man, you have a wife and five children,’ said the speaker.

[8] Tanta torpedo invaserat animum Vitellii, ut si principem eum fuisse non meminissent, ipse oblivisceretur. Hist., lib. iii.

This infatuation may be simply ridiculous; but it has also a horrible aspect. A distracted wife has rushed to the gaming table, imploring her husband, who had for two entire days been engaged at play, to return to his home.

‘Only let me stay one moment longer–only one moment. . . . . I shall return perhaps the day after to-morrow,’ he stammered out to the wretched woman, who retired. Alas! he returned sooner than he had promised. His wife was in bed, holding the last of her children to her breast.

‘Get up, madam,’ said the ruined gambler, ‘the bed on which you lie belongs to us no longer!’ . . .

When the gamester is fortunate, he enjoys his success elsewhere; to his home he brings only consternation.

A wife had received the most solemn promise from her husband that he would gamble no more. One night, however, he slunk out of bed, rushed to the gaming table, and lost all the money he had with him. He tried to borrow more, but was refused. He went home. His wife had taken the precaution to lock the drawer that contained their last money. Vain obstacle! The madman broke it open, carried off two thousand crowns–to take his revenge, as he said, but in reality to lose the whole as before.

But it is to the gaming room that we must go to behold the progress of the terrible drama–the ebb and flow of opposite movements–the shocks of alternate hope and fear, infinitely varied in the countenance, not only of the actors, but also of the spectators. What is visible, however, is nothing in comparison to the secret agony. It is in his heart that the tempest roars most fiercely.

Two players once exhibited their rage, the one by a mournful silence, the other by repeated imprecations. The latter, shocked at the sang-froid of his neighbour, reproached him for enduring, without complaint, such losses one after the other. ‘Look here!’ said the other, uncovering his breast and displaying it all bloody with lacerations.

It is only at play that we can observe, from moment to moment, all the phases of despair; from time to time there occur new ones–strange, eccentric, or terrible. After having lost quietly, and even with serenity, half his fortune, the father of a family staked the remainder, and lost it without a murmur. Facere solent extrema securos mala.[9] The bystanders looked at him; his features changed not; only it was perceived that they were fixed. It seemed that he was unconscious of life. Two streams of tears trickled from his eyes, and yet his features remained the same. He was literally a weeping statue. The spectators were seized with fright, and, although gamesters, they melted into pity.

[9] ‘Great calamities render us CARELESS.’

At Bayonne, in 1725, a French officer, in a rage at billiards, jammed a billiard-ball in his mouth, where it stuck fast, arresting respiration, until it was, with difficulty, extracted by a surgeon. Dusaulx states that he was told the fact by a lieutenant-general, who was an eye-witness.

It is well known that gamblers, like dogs that bite a stone flung at them, have eaten up the cards, crushed up the dice, broken the tables, damaged the furniture, and finally ‘pitched into’ each other–as described by Lucian in his Saturnalia. Dusaulx assures us that he saw an enraged gambler put a burning candle into his mouth, chew it, and swallow it. A mad player at Naples bit the table with such violence that his teeth went deep into the wood; thus he remained, as it were, nailed to it, and suddenly expired.

The other players took to flight; the officers of justice visited the place; and the corpse was deprived of the usual ceremony of burial.[10]

[10] Gazette de Deux-Ponts, du 26 Novembre, 1772.

The following strange but apparently authentic fact, is related in the Mercure Francois (Tome I. Annee 1610).

‘A man named Pennichon, being a prisoner in the Conciergerie during the month of September, 1610, died there of a wonderfully sudden death. He could not refrain from play. Having one day lost his money, he uttered frightful imprecations against his body and against his soul, swearing that he would never play at cards again. Nevertheless, a few days after, he began to play again with those in his apartment, and on a dispute respecting discarding, he repeated his execrable oaths. And when one of the company told him he should fear the Divine justice, he only swore the more, and made such confusion that there had to be another deal. But as soon as three other cards were given him, he placed them in his hat, which he held before him, and whilst looking at them, with his elbows on the table and his face in the hat, he so suddenly expired that one of the party said–“Come, now play,” and pushed him with his elbow, thinking he was asleep, when he fell down dead upon the floor.’

In some cases the effect of losses at play is simply stupefaction. Some players, at the end of the sitting, neither know what they do nor what they say. M. de Crequi, afterwards Duc de Lesdiguieres, leaving a gambling party with Henry IV., after losing a large sum, met M. de Guise in the court-yard of the castle. ‘My friend,’ said he to the latter, ‘where are the quarters of the Guards now-a-days?’ M. de Guise stepped back, saying, ‘Excuse me, sir, I don’t belong to this country,’ and immediately went to the king, whom he greatly amused with the anecdote.

A dissipated buck, who had been sitting all night at Hazard, went to a church, not far from St James’s, just before the second reading of the Lord’s Prayer, on Sunday. He was scarcely seated before he dozed, and the clerk in a short time bawled out AMEN, which he pronounced A–main. The buck jumped up half asleep and roared out, ‘I’ll bet the caster 20 guineas!’ The congregation was thrown into a titter, and the buck ran out, overwhelmed with shame. A similar anecdote is told of another ‘dissipated buck’ in a church. The grand masquerade given on the opening of the Union Club House, in Pall Mall, was not entirely over till a late hour on the following Sunday. A young man nearly intoxicated–certainly not knowing what he was about– reeled into St. James’s church, in his masquerade dress, with his hat on. The late Rev. Thomas Bracken, attracted by the noise of his entrance, looked directly at him as he chanced to deliver the following words:–‘Friend! how camest thou in hither, not having on a wedding garment?’ It seemed so to strike the culprit that he instantly took off his hat and withdrew in confusion.

At play, a winner redoubles his caution and sang-froid just in proportion as his adversary gets bewildered by his losses, becoming desperate; he takes advantage of the weakness of the latter, giving him the law, and striving for greater success. When the luck changes, however, the case is reversed, and the former loser becomes, in his turn, ten times more pitiless–like that Roman prefect, mentioned by Tacitus, who was the more inexorable because he had been harshly treated in his youth, co immmitior quia toleraverat. The joy at winning back his money only makes a gamester the more covetous of winning that of his adversary. A wealthy man once lost 100,000 crowns, and begged to be allowed to go and sell his property, which was worth double the amount he had lost. ‘Why sell it?’ said his adversary; ‘let us play for the remainder.’ They played; luck changed; and the late LOSER ruined the other.

Sometimes avidity makes terrible mistakes; many, in order to win more, have lost their all to persons who had not a shilling to lose. During the depth of a severe winter, a gamester beheld with terror the bottom of his purse. Unable to resolve on quitting the gaming table–for players in that condition are always the most stubborn–he shouted to his valet–‘Go and fetch my great sack.’ These words, uttered without design, stimulated the cupidity of those who no longer cared to play with him, and now they were eager for it. His luck changed, and he won thrice as much as he had lost. Then his ‘great sack’ was brought to him: it was a BEAR-SKIN SACK he used as a cloak!

In the madness of gaming the player stakes everything after losing his money–his watch, his rings, his clothing; and some have staked their EARS, and others their very LIVES– instances of all which will be related in the sequel.

Not very long ago a publican, who lost all his money, staked his public-house, lost it, and had to ‘clear out.’ The man who won it is alive and flourishing.

‘The debt of honour must be paid: ‘these are the terrible words that haunt the gamester as he wakes (if he has slept) on the morning after the night of horrors: these are the furies that take him in hand, and drag him to torture, laughing the while. . . .

What a ‘sensation’ it must be to lose one’s ALL! A man, intoxicated with his gains, left one gaming house and entered another. As soon as he entered he exclaimed, ‘Well, I am filled, my pockets are full of gold, and here goes, ODDS OR EVEN?’ ‘Odds,’ cried a player. It was ODDS, and the fortunate winner pocketed the enormous sum just boasted of by the other.

On the other hand, sudden prosperity has deranged more heads and killed more people than reverses and grief; either because it takes a longer time to get convinced of utter ruin than great good fortune, or because the instinct of self- preservation compels us to seek, in adversity, for resources to mitigate despair; whereas, in the assault of excessive joy, the soul’s spring is distended and broken when it is suddenly compressed by too many thoughts and too many sensations. Sophocles, Diagoras, Philippides, died of joy. Another Greek expired at the sight of the three crowns won by his three sons at the Olympic games.

Many fine intellects among players have been brutified by loses; others, in greater number, have been so by their winnings. Some in the course of their prosperity perish from idleness, get deranged, and ruin themselves after ruining others. An instance is mentioned of an officer who won so enormously that he actually lost his senses in counting his gains. Astonished at himself, he thought he was no longer an ordinary mortal; and required his valets to do him extraordinary honours, flinging handfuls of gold to them. The same night, however, he returned to the gaming house, and recovered from his madness when he had lost not only all his gains, but even the value of an appointment which he held.


M. G–me was a most estimable man, combining in himself the best qualities of both heart and head. He was good-humoured, witty, and benevolent. With these qualifications, and one other which seldom operates to a man’s disadvantage–a clear income of three thousand a year–the best society in Paris was open to him. He had been a visitor in that capital about a month, when he received an invitation to one of the splendid dinners given weekly at the salon. As he never played, he hesitated about the propriety of accepting it, but on the assurance that it would not be expected of him to play; and, moreover, as he might not again have so good an opportunity of visiting an establishment of the kind, he resolved to go–merely for the satisfaction of his curiosity. He had a few stray napoleons in his purse, to throw them–‘just for the good of the house,’ as he considered it– could hardly be called PLAY, so he threw them. Poor fellow! He left off a winner of fourteen hundred napoleons, or about as many pounds sterling–and so easily won! He went again, again, and again; but he was not always a winner; and within fifteen months of the moment when his hand first grasped the dice-box he was lying dead in a jail!


At a gambling party Lord Worthall had lost all his money, and in a fit of excitement staked his whole estate against L1000, at cutting low with cards, and in cutting exclaimed,–

‘Up now Deuce, or else a Trey, Or Worthall’s gone for ever and aye.’

He had the luck to cut the deuce of diamonds; and to commemorate the serious event, he got the deuce of diamonds cut in marble and had it fixed on the parapet of his mansion.


He was an inveterate gamester on a small scale, and almost invariably, after a day’s duty in the House, would drop in at a favourite casino, and win or lose fifty dollars–that being the average limit of his betting.


A Monsieur B–, well known in Parisian life, having recently lost every shilling at a certain sporting club where play is carried on in Paris, went to the country, where his sister lent him L150.

He won all back again, and got a considerable sum of money in hand. He then went to his hotel, to his bootmaker, and tailor, paid them, and made arrangements to be fed, clothed, and shod for ten years.


Lord Foley, who died in 1793, entered upon the turf with an estate of L18,000 per annum, and L100,000 ready money. He left with a ruined constitution, an encumbered estate, and not a shilling of ready money!


Lord Kenyon, in 1795, tried a clerk ‘for misapplying his master’s confidence,’ and the facts were as follows. He went with a bank note of L1000 to a gaming house in Osendon Street, where he won a little. He also won two hundred guineas at another in Suffolk Street. He next accompanied some keepers of a third house to their tables, where he lost above nine hundred pounds. He played there almost every night; and finally lost about L2500!


An Irish officer struck out a mode of gambling, for recruits. He gave five guineas bounty, and one hundred to be raffled for by young recruits,–the winner to be paid immediately, and to purchase his discharge, if he pleased, for L20. The dice-box was constantly going at his recruiting office in Dublin.


A dashing young man of large fortune, about the year 1820, lost at a subscription house at the West End, L80,000. The winner was a person of high rank. The young man, however, by doubling the stakes, not only recovered his losses, but in his turn gained considerably of his antagonist.


A fashionable nobleman had won from a young and noble relative the sum of L40,000. The cash not being forthcoming, he accepted an annuity of L4000.


It is told of Sir William Colepepper that, after he had been ruined himself at the gaming table, his whole delight was to sit there and see others ruined. Hardened wretch–‘Who though he plays no more, overlooks the cards’–with this diabolical disposition!


A certain duchess, of a ci-devant lord-lieutenant, who expected to make a pigeon of Marshal Blucher, was fleeced of L200,000; to pay which her lord was obliged to sell a great part of his property, and reside on the continent.


A stout-hearted and gallant military baronet lost an immense sum at a celebrated gaming house; but was so fortunate as to recover it, with L1200 more. This last sum HE PRESENTED TO THE WAITERS. He was pursued by two of the ‘play-wrights’ to a northern watering-place, where he was so plucked that all his possessions were brought to the hammer. A competency was, however, saved from the magnificent wreck.


When Sir C– T–, a weak young man, with a large fortune, came of age, the Greeks, thinking him an excellent quarry, went to York Races, made him drunk and plundered him of a large sum. The next morning one of the party waited upon him to acquaint him of his loss–(L20,000 or L30,000), and brought bonds for his signature to that amount!


In the year 1799, when the Marquis of Donegal succeeded to the title on his father’s death, his debts, principally to gamblers and money-lenders, amounted to two hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling!


In an old magazine I find the following curious statement:–

‘There is now living in Barnaby Street, Carnaby Market, a man who, although exercising the menial office of penny barber, was in his younger days in possession of estates and personal property to a large amount, and is the only lineal descendant remaining of the very ancient family of the H–s of Bristol.

‘His relations dying when he was young, he was placed under proper guardians, and received a liberal education, first at Westminster, and afterwards at Cambridge, suitable to his rank and fortune. When of age he converted his estates into money, and retired to Dublin, where he remained some time. He then made the tour of Europe, and returned to Ireland, where he went through all the scenes of dissipation to which young men are so much addicted, till at last he was beset by those harpies the gamblers, and stripped of his immense fortune in one single night!

‘He then subsisted for some little time on the bounty of his undoers, who intended to make him one of them; but, not having sufficient address for the profession, he was dismissed and “left in the lurch;” and most of his friends discarding him, he embarked with his last guinea for England. Here he has encountered many difficulties, often been in gaol for debt, and passed through various scenes of life, as valet, footman, thief- taker, and at length, a penny-barber! He has a wife and large family and lives in a very penurious manner, often lamenting his early folly.'[11]

[11] ‘The Western County Magazine, 1791. By a Society of Gentlemen.’ This well-conducted old magazine was printed and published at Salisbury, and was decidedly a credit to the town and county.


A visitor at Frascati’s gaming house in Paris tells us:–

‘I saw the Chevalier de la C–(a descendant of the once celebrated romance-writer) when he was nearly ninety. The mode of life of this old man was singular. He had lost a princely property at the play-table, and by a piece of good fortune of rare occurrence to gamesters, and unparalleled generosity, the proprietors of the salon allowed him a pension to support him in his miserable senility, just sufficient to supply him with a wretched lodging–bread, and a change of raiment once in every three or four years! In addition to this he was allowed a supper–which was, in fact, his dinner–at the gaming house, whither he went every night at about eleven o’clock. Till supper-time (two o’clock in the morning) he amused himself in watching the games and calculating the various chances, although incapable of playing a single coup. At four o’clock he returned to his lodging, retired to bed, and lay till between nine and ten o’clock on the following night. A cup of coffee was then brought to him, and, having dressed himself, at the usual hour he again proceeded to the salon. This had been his round of life for several years; and he told me that during all that time (excepting on a few mornings about Midsummer) he had never beheld the sun!’

A Mr R–y, son of a baronet, left Wattier’s club one night with only L4 in his pocket, saying that he would look in at the hells.

He did so, and, returning after three o’clock in the morning, offered to bet L500 that he had above L4000. The result proved that he had L4300, all won at gaming tables, from the small beginning of L4. He then sat down to play games of skill at Wattier’s, and went home at six o’clock without a single pound! The same man subsequently won L30,000, and afterwards lost it all, with L15,000 more, and then ‘went to the Continent.’

A major of the Rifle Brigade, in consequence of gambling in London, by which he lost vast sums of money, went out of his senses and died a few years ago in an asylum. This occurred within the last ten or twelve years.

Says Mr Seymour Harcourt, in his ‘Gaming Calendar,’ ‘I have myself seen hanging in chains a man whom, a short time before, I saw at a Hazard table!’

Hogarth lent his tremendous power to the portrayal of the ruined gamester, and shows it to the life in his print of the gaming house in the ‘Rake’s Progress.’

Three stages of that species of madness which attends gaming are there described. On the first shock all is inward dismay. The ruined gamester is represented leaning against a wall with his arms across, lost in an agony of horror. Shortly after this horrible gloom bursts into a storm and fury. He tears in pieces whatever comes near him, and, kneeling down, invokes curses on himself. His next attack is on others–on every one whom he imagines to have been instrumental in his ruin. The eager joy of the winning gamester, the attention of the usurer, and the profound reverie of the highwayman, are all strongly marked in this wonderful picture.


It is an observation made by those who calculate on the gaming world, that above nine-tenths of the persons who play LIVE by it.

Now, as the ordinary establishment of a GENTEEL gamester, as he is commonly called, cannot be less than L1000 per annum, luck, which turns out EQUAL in the long run, will not support him; he must therefore LIVE by what they call among themselves the BEST OF THE GAME–or, in plain English, cheating.

So much for the inner and outer life of gamblers. And now I shall introduce Mr Ben. Disraeli, recounting, in the happiest vein of his younger days, a magnificent gambling scene, quite on a par with the legend of the Hindoo epic before quoted,[12] and which, I doubt not, will (to use the young Disraeli’s own words) make the reader ‘scud along and warm up into friskiness.’

[12] Chapter II.

A curious phrase occurs in the 9th chapter of ‘The Young Duke,’ in the paragraph at the beginning, after the words–‘O ye immortal gods!’

Although the scene of the drama is part of a novel, yet there can be no doubt of its being ‘founded on fact’–at any rate, I think there never was a narrative of greater verisimilitude.

‘After dinner, with the exception of Cogit, who was busied in compounding some wonderful liquid for the future refreshment, they sat down to Ecarte. Without having exchanged a word upon the subject, there seemed a general understanding among all the parties, that to-night was to be a pitched battle–and they began at once, very briskly. Yet, in spite of their universal determination, midnight arrived without anything very decisive. Another hour passed over, and then Tom Cogit kept touching the baron’s elbow, and whispering in a voice which everybody could understand. All this meant that supper was ready. It was brought into the room.

‘Gaming has one advantage–it gives you an appetite; that is to say, so long as you have a chance remaining. The duke had thousands,–for at present his resources were unimpaired, and he was exhausted by the constant attention and anxiety of five hours. He passed over the delicacies, and went to the side- table, and began cutting himself some cold roast beef. Tom Cogit ran up, not to his Grace, but to the baron, to announce the shocking fact, that the Duke of St James was enduring great trouble; and then the baron asked his Grace to permit Mr Cogit to serve him.

‘Our hero devoured–we use the word advisedly, as fools say in the House of Commons–he devoured the roast beef, and rejecting the hermitage with disgust, asked for porter.

‘They set to again, fresh as eagles. At six o’clock, accounts were so complicated, that they stopped to make up their books. Each played with his memorandums and pencil at his side. Nothing fatal had yet happened. The duke owed Lord Dice about L5000, and Temple Grace owed him as many hundreds. Lord Castlefort also was his debtor to the tune of 750, and the baron was in his books, but slightly.

‘Every half-hour they had a new pack of cards, and threw the used ones on the floor. All this time Tom Cogit did nothing but snuff the candles, stir the fire, bring them a new pack, and occasionally made a tumbler for them.

‘At eight o’clock the duke’s situation was worsened. The run was greatly against him, and perhaps his losses were doubled. He pulled up again the next hour or two; but, nevertheless, at ten o’clock owed every one something. No one offered to give over; and every one, perhaps, felt that his object was not obtained. They made their toilets, and went down-stairs to breakfast. In the mean time the shutters were opened, the room aired; and in less than an hour they were at it again.

‘They played till dinner-time without intermission; and though the duke made some desperate efforts, and some successful ones, his losses were, nevertheless, trebled. Yet he ate an excellent dinner, and was not at all depressed; because the more he lost the more his courage and his resources seemed to expand. At first, he had limited himself to 10,000; after breakfast, it was to have been 20,000; then 30,000 was the ultimatum; and now he dismissed all thoughts of limits from his mind, and was determined to risk or gain everything.

‘At midnight he had lost L48,000.

‘Affairs now began to be serious. His supper was not so hearty. While the rest were eating, he walked about the room, and began to limit his ambition to recovery, and not to gain.

‘When you play to win back, the fun is over: there is nothing to recompense you for your bodily tortures and your degraded feelings; and the very best result that can happen, while it has no charms, seems to your cowed mind impossible.

‘On they played, and the duke lost more. His mind was jaded. He floundered–he made desperate efforts, but plunged deeper in the slough. Feeling that, to regain his ground, each card must tell, he acted on each as if it must win, and the consequences of this insanity (for a gamester at such a crisis is really insane) were, that his losses were prodigious.

‘Another morning came, and there they sat, ankle-deep in cards. No attempt at breakfast now–no affectation of making a toilet, or airing the room. The atmosphere was hot, to be sure, but it well became such a hell. There they sat, in total, in positive forgetfulness of everything but the hot game they were hunting down. There was not a man in the room, except Tom Cogit, who could have told you the name of the town in which they were living. There they sat, almost breathless, watching every turn with the fell look in their cannibal eyes, which showed their total inability to sympathize with their fellow-beings. All the forms of society had been forgotten. There was no snuff-box handed about now, for courtesy, admiration, or a pinch; no affectation of occasionally making a remark upon any other topic but the all-engrossing one.

‘Lord Castlefort rested with his arms on the table:–a false tooth had got unhinged. His Lordship, who, at any other time, would have been most annoyed, coolly put it in his pocket. His cheeks had fallen, and he looked twenty years older.

‘Lord Dice had torn off his cravat, and his hair flung down over his callous, bloodless checks, straight as silk.

‘Temple Grace looked as if he were blighted by lightning; and his deep-blue eyes gleamed like a hyaena.

‘The baron was least changed.

‘Tom Cogit, who smelt that the crisis was at hand, was as quiet as a bribed rat.

‘On they played till six o’clock in the evening, and then they agreed to desist till after dinner. Lord Dice threw himself on a sofa. Lord Castlefort breathed with difficulty. The rest walked about. While they were resting on their oars, the young duke roughly made up his accounts. He found that he was minus about L100,000.

‘Immense as this loss was, he was more struck–more appalled, let us say–at the strangeness of the surrounding scene, than even by his own ruin. As he looked upon his fellow-gamesters, he seemed, for the first time in his life, to gaze upon some of those hideous demons of whom he had read. He looked in the mirror at himself. A blight seemed to have fallen over his beauty, and his presence seemed accursed. He had pursued a dissipated, even more than a dissipated, career. Many were the nights that had been spent by him not on his couch; great had been the exhaustion that he had often experienced; haggard had sometimes even been the lustre of his youth. But when had been marked upon his brow this harrowing care? When had his features before been stamped with this anxiety, this anguish, this baffled desire, this strange, unearthly scowl, which made him even tremble? What! was it possible?–it could not be–that in time he was to be like those awful, those unearthly, those unhallowed things that were around him. He felt as if he had fallen from his state, as if he had dishonoured his ancestry, as if he had betrayed his trust. He felt a criminal.

‘In the darkness of his meditations a flash burst from his lurid mind, a celestial light appeared to dissipate this thickening gloom, and his soul felt, as it were, bathed with the softening radiancy. He thought of May Dacre, he thought of everything that was pure, and holy, and beautiful, and luminous, and calm. It was the innate virtue of the man that made this appeal to his corrupted nature. His losses seemed nothing; his dukedom would be too slight a ransom for freedom from these ghouls, and for the breath of the sweet air.

‘He advanced to the baron, and expressed his desire to play no more. There was an immediate stir. All jumped up, and now the deed was done. Cant, in spite of their exhaustion, assumed her reign. They begged him to have his revenge,–were quite annoyed at the result,–had no doubt he would recover if he proceeded.

‘Without noticing their remarks, he seated himself at the table, and wrote cheques for their respective amounts, Tom Cogit jumping up and bringing him the inkstand. Lord Castlefort, in the most affectionate manner, pocketed the draft; at the same time recommending the duke not to be in a hurry, but to send it when he was cool. Lord Dice received his with a bow, Temple Grace with a sigh, the baron with an avowal of his readiness always to give him his revenge.

‘The duke, though sick at heart, would not leave the room with any evidence of a broken spirit; and when Lord Castlefort again repeated–“Pay us when we meet again,” he said, “I think it very improbable that we shall meet again, my Lord. I wished to know what gaming was. I had heard a great deal about it. It is not so very disgusting; but I am a young man, and cannot play tricks with my complexion.”

‘He reached his house. The Bird was out. He gave orders for himself not to be disturbed, and he went to bed; but in vain he tried to sleep. What rack exceeds the torture of an excited brain and an exhausted body? His hands and feet were like ice, his brow like fire; his ears rung with supernatural roaring; a nausea had seized upon him, and death he would have welcomed. In vain, in vain he courted repose; in vain he had recourse to every expedient to wile himself to slumber. Each minute he started from his pillow with some phrase which reminded him of his late fearful society. Hour after hour moved on with its leaden pace; each hour he heard strike, and each hour seemed an age. Each hour was only a signal to cast off some covering, or shift his position. It was, at length, morning. With a feeling that he should go mad if he remained any longer in bed, he rose, and paced his chamber. The air refreshed him. He threw himself on the floor, the cold crept over his senses, and he slept.'[13]

[13] ‘The Young Duke,’ by B. Disraeli, chapter VIII. This gambling is the turning-point in the young duke’s career; he proves himself at length not unworthy of his noble ancestry arm his high hereditary position,–takes his place in the Senate, and weds the maiden of his love.



The history of all nations is but the record of their cupidity; and when the fury of gaming appears on the scene, it has never failed to double the insolence and atrocities of tyranny.

The atrocious gambling of the Hindoo Rajas has been related;[14] and I have incidentally adverted to similar concomitants of the vice among all nations. I now propose to bring together a series of facts specially elucidative of the harrowing theme.

[14] Chapter II.

One of the Ptolemys, kings of Egypt, required all causes to be submitted to him whilst at play, and pronounced even sentence of death according to chance. On one occasion his wife, Berenice, pronounced thereanent those memorable words:–‘There cannot be too much deliberation when the death of a man is concerned’– afterwards adopted by Juvenal–Nulla unquam de morte hominis cunctatio longa est.[15]

[15] Aelian, Var. Hist. lib. XLIV. c. xiii.; Juvenal, Sat. vi.

Tolomnius, King of the Veii, happened to be playing at dice when the arrival of Roman ambassadors was announced. At the very instant he uttered the word KILL, a term of the game; the word was misinterpreted by the hearers, and they went forthwith and massacred the ambassadors. Livy suggests that this was an excuse alleged AFTER the commission of the deed; but gamesters are subject to such absence of mind that there is really nothing incredible or astonishing in the act. ‘Sire,’ exclaimed a messenger to the Caliph Alamin, ‘it is no longer time for play– Babylon is besieged!’ ‘Silence!’ said the caliph, ‘don’t you see I am on the point of giving checkmate?’ The same story is told of a Duke of Normandy.

Wars have arisen from very trivial causes–among the rest gambling. Henry, the son of William the Conqueror, was playing at chess with Louis, the son of Philip, King of France. The latter, perceiving that he was losing the game got into a passion, and calling Henry the son of a bastard, flung the chess- board into his face. Henry took the chess-board and struck Louis with it so violently that he drew blood, and would have killed him if his brother, who happened to come in, had not prevented him. The two brothers took to flight, but a great and lasting war was the consequence of the gambling fracas.

A gaming quarrel was the cause of the slap in the face given by the Duc Rene to Louis XII., then only Duc d’Orleans. This slap was the origin of a ligue which was termed ‘the mad war.’ The resentment of the outraged prince was not appeased until he mounted the throne, when he uttered these memorable words:–‘A King of France does not avenge insults offered to a Duke of Orleans.’

Many narratives of suicide committed by desperate gamblers are on record, some of which I now adduce.


Sir John Bland, of Kippax Park, flirted away his whole fortune at Hazard. ‘He, t’other night,’ says Walpole, ‘exceeded what was lost by the late Duke of Bedford, having at one period of the night (though he recovered the greater part of it) lost two and thirty thousand pounds.’ Sir John Kippax shot himself in 1705.


Lord Mountford came to a tragic end through his gambling. He had lost money; feared to be reduced to distress; asked for a government appointment, and determined to throw the die of life or death on the answer received from court. The answer was unfavourable. He consulted several persons, indirectly at first, afterwards pretty directly, on the easiest mode of finishing life; invited a dinner-party for the day after; supped at White’s, and played at Whist till one o’clock of the New Year’s morning. Lord Robert Bertie drank to him ‘a happy new year;’ he clapped his hand strangely to his eyes. In the morning, he sent for a lawyer and three witnesses, executed his will, made them read it over twice, paragraph by paragraph, asked the lawyer if that will would stand good though a man were to shoot himself. Being assured it would, he said–‘Pray stay, while I step into the next room;’ went into the next room and shot himself, placing the muzzle of the pistol so close to his head that the report was not heard.


Gamblers have been known to set as coolly and deliberately about blowing out their brains as if they had only been going to light their cigars. Lord Orford, in his correspondence with Horace Walpole, mentions two curious instances.

One of the fashionable young men of Lord Orford’s day had been unhappily decoyed into a gambling house, where his passion for play became so great that he spent nearly the whole of his time in throwing the dice. He continued to gamble until he had not only lost a princely fortune, but had incurred a large amount of debt among his tradesmen. With the loss of his money, and the utter beggary which stared him in the face, the unfortunate victim of play lost all relish for life; and sought in death the only refuge he could fancy from the infamy and misery which he had brought upon himself. But whilst fully resolved on self- destruction, he thought, before carrying his fatal purpose into execution, he might as well do his tradesmen an act of justice, even if in so doing he should do injustice to others. He insured his life to the extent of his debts, amounting to several thousand pounds. Being acquainted with several of the directors of the company (he called them his life-and-death brokers) in which he insured, he invited them to dinner the following day, with the ostensible view of celebrating the completion of the insurance. The tradesmen also received strict orders to be present; and as the non-payment of their accounts for a long period to come was the penalty of not acceding to his wishes in this respect, it can scarcely be necessary to say that they were all ‘punctual as lovers to the moment sworn.’ The dinner over, and a liberal allowance of wine having been quaffed, the ruined gambler desired the servant to call up all who were in the hall below. In a few seconds the dining-room was filled with tradesmen, all eager to receive payment of their accounts. ‘Now, gentlemen,’ said the gambler, addressing his guests, and pointing to the little crowd of tradesmen,–‘now, gentlemen, these are all my tradesmen; they are honest industrious men, to whom I am indebted, and as I see no other earthly means of being ever able to meet their just claims, you will be so kind as to pay them out of the sum for which I insured my life yesterday. Allow me, gentlemen, to bid you farewell.’ And so saying, he pulled a pistol from his pocket, and placing it to his head, that instant blew out his brains. Of course his insurance office must have been one that undertook to pay insurances whatever might be the cause of death, not excepting suicide–which, like duelling, has usually been a bar to such claims.


The following is ‘A full and particular account of a person who threw himself into the Thames, from Blackfriars Bridge, on Wednesday, July 10, 1782; with the melancholy paper he left behind him, accounting to his wife and children for so rash an action.’ It is said that several thousands of the papers were dispersed through London, and it is to be hoped that some of them might produce that good effect which seems to have been so anxiously desired by the person who wished them to be distributed.

‘Midnight, July 10, 1782.

‘Whoever thou art that readest this paper, listen to the voice of one from the DEAD. While thine eyes peruse the lines their writer may be suffering the most horrid punishments which an incensed Creator can inflict upon the greatest sinner.

‘Reader, art thou of my own sex? Art thou a man? Oh, in