Female Gambling

No. 120 of the Guardian  (July 29, 1713), by Steele, is devoted to female Gambling as it was in the time of Queen Anne, and the following is a portion of it:

“Their Passions  suffer no less by this Practice than their Understandings and Imaginations. What Hope and Fear, Joy and Anger, Sorrow and Discontent break out all at once in a fair Assembly upon So noble an Occasion as that of turning up a Card? Who can consider without a Secret Indignation that all those Affections of the Mind which should be consecrated to their Children, Husbands and Parents, are thus vilely prostituted and thrown away upon a Hand at Loo. For my own part, I cannot but be grieved when I see a fine Woman fretting and bleeding inwardly from such trivial Motives; when I behold the Face of an Angel agitated and discomposed by the Heart of a Fury.

“Our Minds are of such a Make, that they, naturally, give themselves up to every Diversion to which they are much accustomed, and we always find that Play, when followed with Assiduity, engrosses the whole Woman, She quickly grows uneasie in her own Family, takes but little Pleasure in all the domestick, innocent, Endearments of Life, and grows more fond of Pamm  than of her Husband. My friend Theophrastus, the best of Husbands and of Fathers, has often complained to me, with Tears in his Eyes, of the late Hours he is forced to keep, if he would enjoy his Wife's Conversation. When she returns to me with Joy in her Face, it does not arise, says he, from the Sight of her Husband, but from the good Luck she has had at Cards. On the contrary, says he, if she has been a Loser, I am doubly a Sufferer by it. She comes home out of humour, is angry with every Body, displeased with all I can do, or say, and, in Reality, for no other Reason but because she has been throwing away my Estate. What charming Bedfellows and Companions for Life, are Men likely to meet with, that chuse their Wives out of such Women of Vogue and Fashion? What a Race of Worthies, what Patriots, what Heroes, must we expect from Mothers of this Make?

“I come, in the next Place, to consider all the ill Consequences which Gaming has on the Bodies  of our Female Adventurers. It is so ordered that almost everything which corrupts the Soul, decays the Body. The Beauties of the Face and Mind are generally destroyed by the same means. This Consideration should have a particular Weight with the Female World, who were designed to please the Eye, and attract the Regards of the other half of the Species. Now, there is nothing that wears out a fine Face like the Vigils of the Card Table, and those cutting Passions which naturally attend them. Hollow Eyes, haggard Looks, and pale Complexions, are the natural Indications of a Female Gamester. Her Morning Sleeps are not able to repair her Midnight Watchings. I have known a Woman carried off half dead from Bassette, and have, many a time grieved to see a Person of Quality gliding by me, in her Chair, at two a Clock in the Morning, and looking like a Spectre amidst a flare of Flambeaux. In short, I never knew a thorough paced Female Gamester hold her Beauty two Winters together.

“But there is still another Case in which the Body is more endangered than in the former. All Play Debts must be paid in Specie, or by an Equivalent. The Man who plays beyond his Income, pawns his Estate; the Woman must find out something else to Mortgage when her Pin Money is gone. The Husband has his Lands to dispose of, the Wife, her Person.”

Almost all writers of the time note and deplore the gambling propensity of Ladies: and Pope, in his Rape of the Lock  (Canto III.), gives us a picture of a gambling lady, and a graphic description of the game of Ombre, which was played in the afternoon:—

“Meanwhile declining from the Noon of Day,
The Sun obliquely shoots his burning Ray;
The hungry Judges soon the Sentence sign,
And Wretches hang, that Jury-men may Dine;
The Merchant from th' Exchange  returns in Peace,
And the long Labours of the Toilette  cease—

Belinda  now, whom Thirst of Fame invites,
Burns to encounter two adventrous Knights,
At Ombre  singly to decide their Doom;
And swells her Breast with Conquests yet to come.
Strait the three Bands prepare in Arms to join,
Each Band the number of the Sacred Nine.
Soon as she spreads her Hand, th' Aerial Guard
Descend, and sit on each important Card:
First, Ariel  perch'd upon a Matadore,
Then each, according to the Rank they bore;
For Sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient Race,
Are, as when Women, wondrous fond of Place.

Behold, four Kings  in Majesty rever'd,
With hoary Whiskers and a forky Beard;
And four fair Queens  whose hands sustain a Flow'r,
Th' expressive Emblem of their softer Pow'r;
Four Knaves  in Garbs succinct, a trusty Band,
Caps on their heads, and Halberds in their hand;
And Particolour'd Troops, a shining Train,
Draw forth to Combat on the Velvet Plain.

The skilful Nymph reviews her Force with Care,
Let Spades be Trumps, she said, and Trumps they were.
Now move to War her Sable Matadores,
In Show, like Leaders of the swarthy Moors.
Spadillo  first, unconquerable Lord!
Led off two captive Trumps, and swept the Board.
As many more Manillio  forc'd to yield,
And march'd a Victor from the verdant Field.
Him Basto  follow'd, but his Fate, more hard,
Gain'd but one Trump and one Plebeian Card.
With his broad Sabre, next, a Chief in Years,
The hoary Majesty of Spades  appears;
Puts forth one manly Leg, to sight reveal'd;
The rest, his many-colour'd Robe conceal'd.
The Rebel-Knave, that dares his Prince engage,
Proves the just Victim of his Royal Rage.
Ev'n mighty Pam, that Kings and Queens o'erthrew,
And mow'd down Armies in the Fights of Loo,
Sad Chance of War! now, destitute of Aid,
Falls undistinguish'd by the Victor Spade!

Thus far, both Armies to Belinda  yield;
Now, to the Baron  Fate inclines the Field.
His warlike Amazon  her Host invades,
Th' Imperial Consort of the Crown of Spades.
The Club's  black Tyrant first her Victim dy'd,
Spite of his haughty Mien, and barb'rous Pride:
What boots the Regal Circle on his Head,
His Giant Limbs in State unwieldy spread?
That, long behind, he trails his pompous Robe,
And, of all Monarchs, only grasps the Globe.

The Baron, now his Diamonds  pours apace;
Th' embroider'd King  who shows but half his Face,
And his refulgent Queen, with Pow'rs combin'd,
Of broken Troops an easie Conquest find.
ClubsDiamondsHearts, in wild Disorder seen,
With Throngs promiscuous strow the level Green.
Thus, when dispers'd, a routed Army runs,
Of Asia's  Troops, and Africk's  Sable Sons;
With like Confusion different Nations fly,
In various Habits, and of various Dye,
The pierc'd Battalions dis-united fall
In Heaps on Heaps; one Fate o'erwhelms them all.

The Knave  of Diamonds  now exerts his Arts,
And wins (oh, shameful Chance!) the Queen  of Hearts.
At this, the Blood the Virgin's Cheek forsook,
A livid Paleness spreads o'er all her Look;
She sees, and trembles at th' approaching Ill,
Just in the Jaws of Ruin, and Codille.
And now, (as oft in some distemper'd State)
On one nice Trick  depends the gen'ral Fate,
An Ace  of Hearts  steps forth; The King, unseen,
Lurk'd in her Hand, and mourn'd his captive Queen.
He springs to Vengeance with an eager Pace,
And falls like Thunder on the prostrate Ace.
The Nymph exulting, fills with Shouts the Sky,
The Walls, the Woods, and long Canals reply.”

We  have previously read how ladies of position kept gambling houses, and pleaded their privilege to do so; they, however, had to bow to the law. In the latter part of the eighteenth century many ladies opened their houses, the best known, probably, being Lady Buckinghamshire and Lady Archer. The former is said to have slept with a blunderbuss and a pair of pistols by her bedside, to protect her Faro bank; and the latter was notorious for her “make up,” as we may see by the two following notices in the Morning Post.

Jan. 5, 1789. The Lady Archer, whose death was announced in this paper of Saturday, is not the celebrated character whose cosmetic powers  have long been held in public estimation.”

Jan. 8, 1789. It is said that the dealers in Carmine and dead white, as well as the perfumers  in general, have it in contemplation to present an Address to Lady Archer, in gratitude for her not having DIED  according to a late alarming report.”

We get portraits of these two ladies in a satirical print by Gillray (31st March 1792), which is entitled “Modern Hospitality, or a Friendly Party in High Life,” where they are shewn keeping a Faro bank; and as these fair ones were then somewhat passées, the picture has the following:—“To those earthly Divinities who charmed twenty years ago, this Honourable method of banishing mortifying reflections isdedicated. O, Woman! Woman! everlasting is your power over us, for in youth you charm away our hearts, and, in your after years, you charm away our purses!” The players are easily recognised. Lady Archer, who sits on the extreme left, has won largely; rouleaux of gold and bank notes are before her, and, on her right hand, are two heaps of loose gold: and the painted old gambler smiles as she shows her cards, saying, “The Knave wins all!” Her next-door neighbour, the Prince of Wales, who has staked and lost his last piece, lifts his hands and eyes in astonishment at the luck. Lady Buckinghamshire has doubled her stake, playing on two cards, and is, evidently, annoyed at her loss, while poor, black-muzzled Fox laments the loss of his last three pieces.

Gillray portrayed these two ladies on several occasions. There are two pictures of St James's and St Giles's, and in “Dividing the Spoil, St James's, 1796,” we see Lady Archer and Lady Buckinghamshire quarrelling over gold, bank notes, a sword, and an order. One other lady, probably Lady Mount Edgecumbe, is scrutinising a bill, whilst a fourth, with a pile of gold and notes before her, looks on smilingly.

Another print (16th May 1796) is called “Faro's Daughters, or the Kenyonian Blow Up to Gamblers.” Here we see Lady Archer and Mrs Concannon placed together in the pillory, where they are mutually upbraiding each other. The motif  for this picture was a speech of Lord Kenyon's, who, at a trial to recover £15, won at gaming on Sunday, at a public-house, commented very severely on the hold the vice of gaming had on all classes of society, from the highest to the lowest. The former, he said, set the example to the latter, and, he added, “They think they are too great for the law; I wish they could be punished”—and then continued, “If any prosecutions of this kind are fairly brought before me, and the parties are justly convicted, whatever be their rank or station in the country, though they be the first ladies in the land, they shall certainly exhibit themselves in the pillory.”

They were getting somewhat too notorious. In spite of Lady Buckinghamshire's precautions of blunderbuss and pistols, her croupier, Martindale, announced, on 30th Jan. 1797, that the box containing the cash of the Faro bank had unaccountably disappeared. All eyes were turned towards her ladyship. Mrs Concannon said she once lost a gold snuff-box from the table when she went to speak to Lord C. Another lady said she lost her purse there the previous winter, and a story was told that a certain lady had taken by mistake  a cloak which did not belong to her at a rout given by the late Countess of Guildford. Unfortunately, a discovery was made, and when the servant knocked at the door to demand it, some very valuable lace with which it was trimmed had been taken off. Some surmised that the lady who stole the cloak might also have stolen the Faro bank.

Townsend and his meddlesome police would poke their noses into the business, and, although they did not recover the Faro bank, something did come out of their interference, as we read in the Times  of 13th March 1797. “Public Office, Marlborough Street.Faro Banks.—On Saturday came on to be heard informations against Lady Buckinghamshire, Lady Elizabeth Luttrell, Mrs Sturt, and Mr Concannon, for having, on the night of the 30th of last January, played at Faro, at Lady Buckinghamshire's house, in St James's Square, and Mr Martindale was charged with being the proprietor of the table.

“The evidence went to prove that the defendants had gaming parties at their different houses in rotation; and, that when they met at Lady B.'s, the witnesses used to wait upon them in the gambling room, and that they played at E. O.Rouge et Noir, &c., from about eleven or twelve till three or four o'clock in the morning. After hearing counsel the Magistrates convicted Henry Martindale  in the penalty of £200, and each of the ladies  in £50. The information against Mr Concannon was quashed, on account of his being summoned by a wrong Christian name.”

Gillray improved this occasion, giving us “Discipline à la Kenyon,” and drew Lady Buckinghamshire tied to the tail of a cart, on which is a placard, “Faro's Daughters Beware ”: the Lord Chief Justice is depicted as administering a sound flogging both with birch and cat-o'-nine-tails to the delinquent lady, whilst Lady Luttrell and Mrs Sturt stand in the pillory guarded by a stalwart constable.

These ladies do not seem to have survived the century, for the Morning Post  of Jan. 12, 1800, says: “Society has reason to rejoice in the complete downfall of the Faro Dames, who were so long the disgrace of human nature. Their die  is cast, and their odd tricks  avail no longer. The game  is up, and very few of them have cut  with honours.” Mrs Concannon still kept on, but not in London, as is seen by the following paragraph.Morning Herald, 18th Dec. 1802: “The visitors to Mrs Concannon's petits soupers  at Paris, are not attracted by billets  previously circulated, but by cards, afterwards dealt out  in an elegant and scientific manner; not to mince the matter, they are the rendezvous of deep play : and the only questionable point about the matter is, whether the Irish  or the French  will prove victors at the close of so desperate a winter's campaign.”

The following extracts from The Times  tell us much about the fashionable professional lady gamblers:—

Feb. 5, 1793. Mrs Sturt's house in St James Square was opened yesterday evening, for the first time this season, for public play. The visitors were numerous.”

Feb. 6, 1793. Some of the Faro ladies  have opened their play-houses, and announced the Road to Ruin  until further notice. The Gamesters  was publicly rehearsed in St James Square on Monday night.”

Feb. 10, 1793. The profits of Faro  are become so considerably reduced that most of the Banks now lose almost every evening, after defraying the expenses of the house, which are very considerable. Those public spirited  Ladies who give such frequent routs, do so at a certain gain: for the sum of Twenty-five  guineas is regularly advancedby the bank holders towards the night's expenses. The punters  at Mrs Hobart's  and Mrs Sturt's  Faro banks have dropped off considerably; and those who continue are got so knowing  that heavy complaints are made that they bring no grist to the mill. There have not been above eight punters at Mrs Sturt's  bank any night this season. The pigeons  are all flown, and the punters are nothing better than hawks.”

14 Mar. 1793. The Banking  Ladies  in St James Square do not see themselves much obliged to the Abbé de St Farre, and his brother, for introducing so many noble Emigrants to their houses. These people come with their crown pieces and half guineas, and absolutely form a circle round the Faro tables, to the total exclusion of our English Lords and Ladies, who can scarcely get one punt  during the whole evening.”

2 May 1793. A Banking  Lady, in St James Square, is about to commence a prosecution, because it is said, that there was much filching  at her Faro  table. The house was quite in an uproar, on Tuesday night, in consequence of a paragraph that appeared in a Morning Paper of the preceding day. The Lady vows  she will call in the aid of an Attorney  to support her reputation : and observes, that the credit  of her house will suffer, if such reports are permitted to go unpunished. The Faro Ladies  are, in the sporting phrase, almost done up. Jewels, trinkets, watches, laces, &c., are often at the pawnbrokers, and scarcely anything is left to raise money upon except their pads.[1] If justice is to be hoodwinked, and gambling  and sharking  permitted, why not make it an article of revenue, as in foreign countries, and lay a heavy tax on it.”

2 Apr. 1794. Lord Hampden's  Faro Bank  is broken up for the present season. Lady Buckinghamshire, Mrs Sturt and Mrs Concannon alternately divide the Beau monde  at their respective houses. Instead of having two different hot suppers at one and three  in the morning, the Faro Banks  will now scarcely afford bread and cheese and porter.

“One of the Faro Banks in St James Square lost £7000 last year by bad debts. A young son of Levi is a considerable debtor to one of them; but not finding it convenient to pay what is not recoverable by law, he no longer appears in those fashionable circles.”

4 Ap. 1794. It is impossible to conceive a more complete system of fraud and dishonour than is practised every night at the Faro banks. Though every table has four croupiers, yet the Bank holders find that double that number are necessary to watch all the little tricks and artifices of some of the fashionable punters. But Mrs G—— beats all her associates in the art of doubling, or cocking a card.”

25 June 1794. The Faro Banks being no longer a profitable game, certain Ladies in St James Square have substituted another instead of it, called Roulet : but it is, in fact, only the old game of E.O. under a different title.”

30 Dec. 1795. It is to the credit of the rising generation of females, that they have unanimously quitted those infamous meetings, called Private Pharoes, where some of their shameless Mammas, and the faded reputations of the present age, still expose their vices, and cheat the boys who have not been long enough in the army to wear out their first cockades.”

17 Dec. 1794. It is said to be the intention of some of the leading circles in the fashionable world, to abolish the tax of Card money,2] as an imposition upon hospitality. This would prove the return of good sense, inasmuch as it tends to substantiate the truth—that when one person invites another to partake of the conviviality of his house, he should not lay an impost upon him, even more exorbitant than that which he would pay, were he to attend a Tavern Club. When a friend is invited, it is an insult to friendship, to make him pay for his entertainment.”

22 March 1796. The tabbies  at Bath are in a state of insurrection, in consequence of an example set by Lady Elcho, who neither visits, nor receives Company that pay for  Cards: the laudable reformation is adopted so generally, that many of the Dowagers, who have so long fed upon Card money, are turning their thoughts to some more creditable means of earning their livelihood.”

24 March 1796. We hope the Ladies in London, who stand upon a nice point of honour, will follow the example of the Bath Ladies, and exclude the odious, and pitiful, custom of taking card money at their houses. It is a meanness, which no persons who pretend to the honour of keeping good company, ought to allow. We are afraid that many a party is formed, rather to derive benefit from the card tables, than for the sake of hospitality.”

This custom died hard, for I find in the Morning Herald, 15th Dec. 1802: “In a pleasant village near the Metropolis, noted for its constant ‘tea and turn-out' parties, the extortion of Card Money  had, lately, risen to such a pitch, that it was no unusual thing for the Lady  of the House, upon the breaking up of a table, to immediately examine the sub. cargo of the candlestick, and, previous to the departure of her guests, proclaim aloud the lamentable defalcation of a pitiful shilling, which they might, perchance, have forgot to contribute. We are happy to find that some of the most respectable people in the place have resolved to discountenance and abolish this shabby genteel  custom, which has too long prevailed; a shameful degradation of everything like English hospitality.”

Times2 Nov. 1797. At some of our first Boarding Schools, the fair pupils are now taught to play whist and casino. Amongst their winning  ways, this may not be the least agreeable to Papa and Mamma.

“It is calculated that a clever child, by its Cards, and its novels, may pay for its own education.

“At a boarding school in the neighbourhood of Moorfields, the mistress complains that she is unable to teach her scholars either Whist, or Pharo.”

22 Dec. 1797. So completely has gambling got the better of dancing, that at a private Ball, last week, a gentleman asking a young lady, from Bath, to dance the next two dances, she very ingenuously replied, ‘Yes, if you will play two rubbers at Casino.'”

Enough has been written to give us a good insight into female gambling. I will now continue with that of the men, and first let us have a description of a gaming house from the Times  of 14th Feb. 1793.

“The number of new gaming houses, established at the West-end of the town, is, indeed, a mattter of very serious evil: but they are not likely to decrease while examples of the same nature are held forth in the higher circles of life. It is needless to point out any one of these houses in particular: it is sufficient for us to expose the tricks that are practised at many of them to swindle the unsuspecting young men of fortune, who are entrapped into these whirlpools of destruction. The first thing necessary is, to give the guests a good dinner and plenty of wine, which most of these houses do, gratis. When they are sufficiently intoxicated, and having lost all the money about them, their acceptance is obtained to Bills of Exchange to a considerable amount, which are frequently paid, to avoid the disagreeable circumstance of a public exposition in a Court of Justice, which is always threatened, though the gamesters well know that no such measure durst be adopted by them.

“Should any reluctance, or hesitation, be shewn by the injured party, to accept these Bills, he is shewn into a long room, with a target at the end of it, and several pistols lying about, where he is given to understand that these sharpers practice a considerable time of the day in shooting at a mark, and have arrived at such perfection in this exercise, that they can shoot a pistol ball, within an inch of the mark, from the common distance taken by duellists. A hint is then dropped, that further hesitation will render the use of the pistols necessary, and will again be the case, should he ever divulge what he has seen, and heard.

“If further particulars, or proofs, are wanting, they may be known, on application to certain Military characters, who have already made some noise in the world.”

Nor was it only public play—gambling was universal. Michael Kelly, the vocalist, does not seem to think it anything very extraordinary, when he tells the following story:—

“While at Margate, Mr and Mrs Crouch, and myself, were staying at the Hotel, kept by a man whose manners were as free and easy as any I have ever met with. He was proverbial for his nonchalance, and a perfect master of the art of making out a bill. One day, Johnstone dined with us, and we drank our usual quantum of wine. In the course of the evening, our bashful host, who, amongst other good qualities, was a notorious gambler, forced upon us some Pink Champagne, which he wished us to give our opinions of. My friend Jack Johnstone, who never was an enemy to the juice of the grape, took such copious draughts of the sparkling beverage, that his eyes began to twinkle, and his speech became somewhat of the thickest: my honest host, on perceiving this, thinking, I suppose, to amuse him, entered our room with a backgammon table and dice, and asked Johnstone if he would like to play a game. Johnstone, at that time, was considered fond of play, of which circumstance mine host was perfectly aware. Mrs Crouch and I earnestly entreated Jack to go to bed, but we could not prevail upon him to do so; he whispered me, saying, ‘You shall see how I will serve the fellow for his impudence' and to it they went. The end of the business was, that before they parted, Johnstone won nearly two hundred pounds, and I retired to bed, delighted to see the biter bit.”

Of another Kelly, or rather O'Kelly (the Colonel who was owner of the famous race horse, Eclipse), Harcourt[3] tells some stories, and, indeed the book is a mine of anecdotes, some of which I reproduce:—

“Dennis O'Kelly was much attached to Ascot, where his horses occupied him by day, and the hazard table by night.

“Here it was, that repeatedly turning over a Quire of Bank Notes , a gentleman asked him ‘what he was in want of?' when he replied, ‘he was looking for a little one.' The enquirer said ‘he could accommodate him, and desired to know for what sum?' When he answered ‘A Fifty , or something of that sort, just to set the Caster.' At this time it was supposed he had seven or eight thousand pounds in notes in his hand, but no one for less than a hundred. He always threw with great success; and, when he held the box, was seldom known to refuse throwing for any sum  that the company chose to set him; and, when ‘out,' was always as liberal in setting the Caster, and preventing stagnation of trade at the table, which, from the great property always about him, it was his good fortune very often to deprive of the last floating guinea, when the box, of course, became dormant  for want of a single adventurer.

“It was his usual custom to carry a great number of bank notes  in his waistcoat pocket, twisted up together with the greatest indifference. When, in his attendance upon a hazard table at Windsor, during the races, being a standing better, and every chair full, a person's hand was observed, by those on the opposite side of the table, just in the act of drawing two notes out of his pocket. The alarm was given, and the hand, from the person behind, was instantaneously  withdrawn, and the notes left more than half out of the pocket. The company became clamorous for the offender being taken before a magistrate, and many attempted to secure him for the purpose; the Captain very philosophically  seizing him by the collar, kicked him down stairs, and exultingly exclaimed, ‘'twas a sufficient punishment  to be deprived of the pleasure of keeping company with jontlemon.'

“A bet for a large sum was once proposed to Col. O'Kelly, at a race, and accepted. The proposer asked the Colonel where lay his estates to answer for the amount if he lost? ‘My estates! by Jasus.' cried O'Kelly. ‘Oh, if that's what you mane, I've a map of them here.' Then, opening his pocket book, he exhibited bank notes to ten times the sum in question, and, ultimately, added the enquirer's contribution to them.”

An advertisement copied from the Courier, 5 Mar. 1794. As Faro is the most fashionable circular game in the haut ton, in exclusion of melancholy Whist, and to prevent a company being cantoned into separate parties, a gentleman, of unexceptionable character, will, on invitation, do himself the honour to attend the rout of any lady, nobleman, or gentleman, with a Faro Bank and Fund, adequate to the style of play, from 500 to 2000 guineas. Address G. A. by letter, to be left at Mr Harding's, Piccadilly, nearly opposite Bond Street.—N.B. This advertisement will not appear again.”

“On Sunday  night, towards the end of December 1795. Gen. Tarleton lost £800 at Mrs Concannon's; Mr Hankey, £300. The Prince was to have been there, but sent a late excuse. Mr Boone of the Guards; Mr Derby, son of the late Admiral, and Mr Dashwood, frequently rise winners or losers of £5000 nightly. Lord Cholmondeley, Thompson & Co. were Faro Bankers at Brookes's, till which there was no Faro Bank of male  celebrity, except at the Cocoa Tree.”

“Henry Weston, who was hanged for forgery, was nephew to the late Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser.

“Having an unlimited control of the whole large property of his employer, Mr Cowan, during his absence from town he was tempted, first to gamble in the funds, where, being unfortunate, he went next to a Gaming House in Pall Mall, and lost a very large sum, and, at length, gamed away nearly all his master's property. This, he hoped to patch up by forgery of Gen. Tonyn's name, by which he obtained from the Bank of England above £10,000. Even this only lasted two nights; and, procuring a woman to personate the General's sister, he obtained another large supply, and went off. He was soon taken, and cut his throat on his return; but not effectually. He was convicted at the Old Bailey on the 18th March 1796, and suffered on the 6th July, aged only twenty-three years.

“He sent Lord Kenyon a list of a number of professional gamblers, and, among them, was a person of very high rank. Weston, at different times, lost above £46,000 at play; and, at a house in Pall Mall, where he lost a considerable part of it, three young officers also lost no less than £35,000.

“It was stated, some time since, in the Court of King's Bench, that the dinners given by gambling houses in and about Oxendon Street, amounted to £15,000 per annum!”

“The following facts were disclosed on a motion in the Court of King's Bench, 24 Nov. 1797. Joseph Atkinson and Mary, his wife, had, for many years, kept a Gaming House, No. 15, under the Piazza, Covent Garden. They, daily, gave magnificent play dinners; cards of invitation for which were sent to the clerks of merchants, bankers and brokers in the city. Atkinson used to say he liked citizens, whom he called flats, better than any one else, for, when they had dined, they played freely; and, after they had lost all their money, they had credit to borrow more. When he had cleaned them out, when the Pigeons were completely plucked, they were sent to some of their solvent friends. After dinner, play was introduced, and, till dinner time the next day, the different games at cards, dice and E.O. were continually going on.

“Theophilus Bellasis had long been an infamous character, well known at Bow Street, where he had been charged with breaking into the counting-house of Sir James Sanderson, Bart. Bellasis was sometimes clerk, and sometimes client, to John Shepherd, an attorney of that Court; and at other times, Shepherd was the prosecutor of those who kept Gaming Houses, and Bellasis attorney. Sir William Addington was so well aware that these two men commenced prosecutions solely for the purpose of hush money  that he refused to act. Atkinson at one time gave them £100, at another £80; and, in this way, they had amassed an immense sum, and undertook, for a specific amount, to defend keepers of Gaming Houses against all prosecutions!

“Mr Garrow, on a former occasion, charged Atkinson with using dispatches, that is, loaded dice, which in, five minutes, would dispatch £500 out of the pocket of any young man when intoxicated with champagne.”

Jan. 26, 1798. A notice came on in the King's Bench, Cornet William Moore, 3rd Dragoon Guards, v. Captain Hankey. The former had won off the latter, at play, £14,000, for which Hankey had given his bond; but a Court of Inquiry having declared that Moore had cheated him out of it, he made his application to set aside the bond.”

It will be remembered that in that famous prosecution, in 1797, of Lady Buckinghamshire and her friends, their manager, Henry Martindale, was fined £200. Next year he was bankrupt, and we read that “The debts proved under Mr Martindale's commission amounted to £328,000, besides Debts of Honour, which were struck off to the amount of £150,000.”

“His failure is said to be owing to misplaced confidence in a subordinate, who robbed him of thousands. The first suspicion was occasioned by his purchasing an estate of £500 a year, but other purchases followed to a considerable extent, and it was soon discovered that the Faro Bank had been robbed, sometimes of two thousand guineas a week!

“On the 14th of April 1798, other arrears to a large amount were submitted to and rejected by the Commissioners, who declared a first dividend of one shilling and fivepence in the pound.”

“The Right Honourable Charles James Fox had an old gambling debt to pay to Sir John Lade. Finding himself in cash after a lucky run at Faro, he sent a complimentary card to the knight, desiring to discharge the claim. Sir John no sooner saw the money than he called for pen and ink, and began to figure. ‘What now,' cried Fox. ‘Only calculating the interest,' replied the other. ‘Are you so,' coolly rejoined Charles, and pocketed the cash.' I thought it was a debt of honour. As you seem to consider it a trading debt, and as I make it an invariable rule to pay my Jew creditors last, you must wait a little longer for your money.'”

Before leaving the eighteenth century, let us hear what Col. Hanger[4] (4th Lord Coleraine) says of private gambling in his time, and undoubtedly he mixed in the very highest society. “If a gentleman in these days has but a few guineas in his purse, and will walk directly up to the Faro table, he will be the most welcome guest in the house; it is not necessary for him to speak, or even bow, to a single lady in the room, unless some unfortunate woman at the gaming-table ask him politely for the loan of a few guineas; then his answer need be but short—‘No, Dolly, no; can't'; for this ever will be received as wit, though the unfortunate lady's bosom may be heaving, not from the tenderer passions, but with grief and despair at having lost the last farthing.

“When I first came into the world (1751?) there was no such thing as a Faro table admitted into the house of a woman of fashion; in those days they had too much pride to receive tribute[5] from the proprietor of such a machine. In former times there was no such thing as gaming at a private house, although there was more deep play at the clubs at that time than ever was before, or has been since. It is lamentable to see lovely woman destroying her health and beauty at six o'clock in the morning at a gaming-table. Can any woman expect to give to her husband a vigorous and healthy offspring, whose mind, night after night, is thus distracted, and whose body is relaxed by anxiety and the fatigue of late hours? It is impossible.”


[1]Ladies then wore their hair very high-combed over pads of horse hair.

[2]The guests paid a small sum each into a pool (generally the snuffer tray) for every new pack of cards used, and this was popularly supposed to be a perquisite of the servants.

[3]“The Gaming Calendar,” by Seymour Harcourt: Lon. 1820.

[4]Life, Adventures, and Opinions of Col. George Hanger, written by himself. London, 1801.

[5]In some houses in this age the lady of the house is paid fifty guineas each night by the proprietor of the Faro table.—G. H.