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History of Gambling in England

Ball Hughes was a dandy of the Regency, and from his fortune he was nick-named “the golden Ball”; of him Gronow says: “His fortune had dwindled down to a fourth of its original amount, for he was, perhaps, the greatest gambler of his day. His love of play was such, that, at one period of his life, he would rather play at pitch and toss than be without his favourite excitement. He told me that, at one time, he had lost considerable sums at battledore and shuttlecock. On one occasion, immediately after dinner, he and the eccentric Lord Petersham commenced playing with these toys, and continued hard at work during the whole of the night; next morning, he was found by his valet lying on the ground fast asleep, but ready for any other species of speculation.”

Legislation  about Cards was thought necessary in Henry VIII.'s time, for we see in 33 Hen. VIII., cap. 9, sec. xvi.: “Be it also enacted by the authority aforesaid. That no manner of artificer, or craftsman of any handicraft or occupation, husbandman, apprentice, labourer, servant at husbandry, journeyman, or servant of artificer, mariners, fishermen, watermen, or any serving man, shall from the said feast of the Nativity of St John Baptist, play at the tables, tennis, dice, cards, bowls, clash, coyting, logating, or any unlawful game, out of Christmas, under the pain of xx s. to be forfeit for every time,” &c.—an edict which was somewhat modified by sec. xxii., which provided “In what cases servants may play at dice, cards, tables, bowls, or tennis.”

This interference with the amusements of the people did not lead to good results, as Holinshed tells us (1526): “In the moneth of Maie was a proclamation made against all unlawfull games, according to the statute made in this behalfe, and commissions awarded to every shire for the execution of the same; so that, in all places, tables, dice, cards, and bouls were taken and burnt. Wherfore the people murmured against the cardinall, saieing: that he grudged at everie man's plesure, saving his owne. But this proclamation small time indured. For, when yong men were forbidden bouls and such other games, some fell to drinking, some to feretting of other men's conies, some to stealing of deere in parks and other unthriftinesse.”

Legislation  about Cards was thought necessary in Henry VIII.'s time, for we see in 33 Hen. VIII., cap. 9, sec. xvi.: “Be it also enacted by the authority aforesaid. That no manner of artificer, or craftsman of any handicraft or occupation, husbandman, apprentice, labourer, servant at husbandry, journeyman, or servant of artificer, mariners, fishermen, watermen, or any serving man, shall from the said feast of the Nativity of St John Baptist, play at the tables, tennis, dice, cards, bowls, clash, coyting, logating, or any unlawful game, out of Christmas, under the pain of xx s. to be forfeit for every time,” &c.—an edict which was somewhat modified by sec. xxii., which provided “In what cases servants may play at dice, cards, tables, bowls, or tennis.”

This interference with the amusements of the people did not lead to good results, as Holinshed tells us (1526): “In the moneth of Maie was a proclamation made against all unlawfull games, according to the statute made in this behalfe, and commissions awarded to every shire for the execution of the same; so that, in all places, tables, dice, cards, and bouls were taken and burnt. Wherfore the people murmured against the cardinall, saieing: that he grudged at everie man's plesure, saving his owne. But this proclamation small time indured. For, when yong men were forbidden bouls and such other games, some fell to drinking, some to feretting of other men's conies, some to stealing of deere in parks and other unthriftinesse.”

Of another dandy, Scrope Davies, he says: “As was the case with many of the foremost men of that day, the greater number of his hours were passed at the gambling table, where, for a length of time, he was eminently successful; for he was a first-rate calculator. He seldom played against individuals; he preferred going to the regular establishments. But, on one occasion, he had, by a remarkable run of good luck, completely ruined a young man, who had just reached his majority, and come into the possession of a considerable fortune. The poor youth sank down upon a sofa, in abject misery, when he reflected that he was a beggar; for he was on the point of marriage. Scrope Davies, touched by his despair, entered into conversation with him, and ended by giving him back the whole of his losses, upon a solemn promise that he would never play again. The only thing that Scrope retained of his winnings was one of the little carriages of that day, called a dormeuse  from its being fitted up with a bed, for he said, ‘When I travel in it, I shall sleep the better for having acted rightly.' The youth kept his promise; but when his benefactor wanted money, he forgot that he owed all he possessed to Scrope's generosity, and refused to assist him.

“For a long time Scrope Davies was a lucky player; but the time arrived when Fortune deserted her old favourite; and, shortly after the Dandy dynasty was overthrown, he found himself unable to mingle with the rich, the giddy, and the gay. With the wreck of his fortune, and, indeed, with little to live upon beyond the amount of his own Cambridge fellowship, he sought repose in Paris, and there, indulging in literary leisure, bade the world farewell.”

7th Feb. 1816.—“Yesterday, a gentleman, the head in a firm of a first-rate concern in the City, put a period to his existence by blowing out his brains. He had gone to the masquerade at the Argyll Rooms a few nights since, and accompanied a female home in a coach with two men, friends of the woman. When they got to her residence, the two men proposed to the gentleman to play for a dozen of champagne to treat the lady with, which the gentleman declined. They, however, after a great deal of persuasion, prevailed on him to play for small sums, and, according to the usual tricks of gamblers, allowed him to win at first, till they began to play for double, when, there is no doubt, the fellows produced loaded dice, and the gentleman lost to the amount of £1800, which brought him to his reflection and senses. He then invented an excuse for not paying that sum, by saying he was under an agreement with his partner not to draw for a larger amount than £300 for his private account, and gave them a draft for that amount, promising the remainder at a future day. This promise, however, he did not attend to, not feeling himself bound by such a villainous transaction. But the robbers found out who he was, and his residence, and had the audacity to go yesterday morning, armed with bludgeons, and attack him publicly on his own premises, in the presence of those employed there, demanding payment of their nefarious debt of honour , and threatening him, if he did not pay, that he should fight. This exposure had such an effect upon his feelings, that he  made an excuse to retire, when he destroyed himself by blowing out his brains with a pistol. This rash act is additionally to be lamented, as it prevents the bringing to condign punishment the plundering villains who were the cause of it, there being no evidence to convict them.”

Horse Guards, 18th Nov. 1816.—At a general Court-martial held at Cambray, in France, on the 23rd September 1816, and continued by adjournments to the 26th of the same month, Lieutenant the Honourable Augustus Stanhope, of the 12th regiment of Light Dragoons, was arraigned on the undermentioned charge, viz.:—

“For behaving in a scandalous, infamous manner, such as is unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman, in conspiring, with a certain other person, to draw in and seduce Lord Beauchamp to game and play with them, for the purposes of gain and advantage; and that, in pursuance of such conspiracy, he, Lieutenant Stanhope (having engaged Lord Beauchamp to come to his quarters in Paris, on Sunday, the 17th day of March 1816, upon an invitation to dine with him), did, in company and concert of such other person, draw in, seduce, and prevail upon Lord Beauchamp to play with them at a certain game of chance with cards, for very high stakes, whereby, on an account kept by them, Lieut. Stanhope, and the said other person, or one of them, of the losses and gains in the course of the play, he, Lieut. Stanhope, claimed to have won from Lord Beauchamp the sum of £8000 and upwards, and the said other person claimed to have won off Lord Beauchamp the further sum of £7000 and upwards.

“That, in further pursuance of the said concert and conspiracy, he, Lord Beauchamp, at the same time and place, was required by Lieut. Stanhope to write and sign two promissory notes, or engagements, to pay at the expiration of three years the said several sums of money so claimed to have been won off him, Lord Beauchamp, by Lieut. Stanhope and the said other person respectively.

“That he, Lord Beauchamp, was, at that time, about sixteen years of age, ignorant of, and unused to play, and affected by the wine he had been prevailed upon to take by the parties.”

Lieut. Stanhope was found guilty and dismissed from the army.

The Duke of Wellington had, in his early career, lost a considerable sum of money at play, and had been on the point of selling his commission in Dublin, with the view of relieving himself from some debts of honour which he had incurred.

“At a dinner party at Mr Greenwood's, of that excellent firm, Cox & Greenwood, I met Sir Harry Calvert, then Adjutant-General, who accompanied the Duke of York, as one of his staff, in his disastrous campaign in Holland; and he told us the following anecdote:—Lord Camden, the Viceroy, had been applied to by Lord Mornington, the brother of Captain Wesley (so the name was then spelt), for a Commissionership of Customs, or anything else in the gift of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, as it was the intention of the Captain to sell his commission to pay his debts. Lord Camden, in an interview with Captain Wesley, inquired whether he left the army in disgust, or what motive induced him to relinquish a service in which he was well qualified to distinguish himself. Captain Wesley explained everything that had occurred, upon which the Lord Lieutenant expressed a wish to be of service to him. ‘What can I do for you? Point out any plan by which you can be extricated from your present difficulties.' The answer was, ‘I have no alternative but to sell my commission; for I am poor, and unable to pay off my debts of honour.' ‘Remain in the army,' said Lord Camden, ‘and I will assist you in paying off your liabilities.' ‘I should like to study my profession at Angers,' replied the young soldier, ‘for the French are the great masters of the art of war.' Lord Camden assented to the proposition, supplied him with the means of living in France, and paid his debts....

“The lesson the Duke of Wellington had learnt at the gambling table, as a young man, was deeply impressed upon him; he, afterwards, never touched a card; and so firmly did he set his face against gambling, that, in Paris, none of his staff, from Lord Fitzroy Somerset down to Freemantle, was ever to be seen either at Frascati's, or the Salon des Etrangers.”

Card playing was justifiable, and legal, at Christmas. An ordinance for governing the household of the Duke of Clarence, in the reign of Edward IV., forbade all games at dice, cards, or other hazard for money except during the twelve days at Christmas. And, again, in the reign of Henry VII., an Act was passed against unlawful games, which expressly forbids artificers, labourers, servants, or apprentices to play at any such, except at Christmas : and, at some of the Colleges, Cards are introduced into the Combination Rooms, during the twelve days of Christmas, but never appear there during the remainder of the year.

Kirchmayer gives a curious custom of gambling in church on Christmas day:

“Then comes the day wherein the Lorde

did bring his birth to passe;

Whereas at midnight up they rise,

and every man to Masse.

The time so holy counted is,

that divers earnestly

Do think the waters all to wine

are changed sodainly;

In that same house that Christ himselfe

was borne, and came to light,

And unto water streight againe

transformde and altred quight.

There are beside that mindfully

the money still do watch

That first to aultar commes, which then

they privily do snatch.

The priestes, least others should it have,

take oft the same away,

Whereby they thinke, throughout the yeare

to have good luck in play,

And not to lose: then straight at game

till daylight they do strive,

To make some pleasant proofe how well

their hallowed pence will thrive.

Three Masses every priest doth sing

upon that solemne day,

With offerings unto every one,

that so the more may play.”

The law was occasionally put in motion, as we find. “Gent. Mag., Oct. 31, 1750. About 9 o'clock at night, a party of soldiers and constables, with proper warrants, enter'd a notorious gaming house, behind the Hoop  tavern in the Strand, and seiz'd 36 gamblers, and carry'd them to the vestry room at St Martin's, where the justices were sitting for that purpose; 21 of them, next morning, for want of bail, were committed to the Gatehouse, and the others bound in a recognizance of £80, to answer at the next Sessions; the fine gaming tables, which cost £200, were chopt to pieces, and a great part burnt.”

“Feb. 1, 1751. Justice Fielding  having received information of a rendezvous of gamesters in the Strand, procured a strong party of guards, who seized 45 at the table, which they broke to pieces, and carry'd the gamesters before the justice, who committed 39 of them to the Gatehouse  and admitted the other 6 to bail. There were three tables broken to pieces, which cost near £60 apiece; under each of them were observed two iron rollers, and two private springs, which those who were in the secret could touch, and stop the turning whenever they had any youngsters to deal with, and, so, cheated them of their money.”

“Ap. 17, 1751. Thomas Lediard, Esq., attended by a constable and a party of guards, went this night to the Long Room, in James St., Westminster, where there was a Masquerade, in order to suppress the notorious practice of gaming, for which such assemblies are calculated. The whole was conducted without opposition, or mischief. Seventeen were committed to the gatehouse, some were discharged, and others gave sufficient bail, never to play at any unlawful game, or resort to any gaming house. Numbers escaped over the Park wall, and other places, notwithstanding the vigilance of the magistrate and his assistants. The gaming tables were broke to pieces.”

We have many instances of the industry and vigilance of the London magistrates, especially Fielding, who, in 1756, wrote a warning to the public, entitled “The artifices and stratagems of the profligate and wicked part of the inhabitants of this great metropolis, in order to defraud and impose upon the weak and unwary, being multiplied to an incredible degree, Mr Fielding  has taken the pains to lay before the public a detail of such of them as have fallen under his own immediate observation as a Magistrate: in the recital of which he has mark'd the progress of deceit from the lowest pickpocket to the most accomplish'd gambler. That none may be in ignorance of the snares that are continually laid for them, this history of Gambling is inserted.” And in Ferdinand Count Fathom, by Smollett, Fielding's contemporary and brother novelist, we have a full description of a professional gambler's life.

With the exception of the grumbles of the Elizabethan puritans, such as Stubbes and others, we hear very little of card playing. Taylor, the “Water Poet,” in his Wit and Mirth  gives a little story anent it, and mentions a game now forgotten. “An unhappy boy that kept his father's sheepe in the country, did use to carry a paire of Cards in his pocket, and, meeting with boyes as good as himselfe, would fall to cards at the Cambrian game of whip-her-ginny, or English One and Thirty; at which sport, hee would some dayes lose a sheepe or two: for which, if his father corrected him, hee (in revenge), would drive the sheepe home at night over a narrow bridge, where some of them falling besides the bridge, were drowned in the swift brooke. The old man, being wearied with his ungracious dealing, complained to a Justice, thinking to affright him from doing any more the like. In briefe, before the Justice the youth was brought, where, (using small reverence and lesse manners), the Justice said to him: Sirrah, you are a notable villaine, you play at Cards, and lose your father's sheepe at One and Thirty. The Boy replied that it was a lye. A lye, quoth the Justice, you saucy knave, dost thou give me the lye? No, qd the boy, I gave thee not the lye, but you told me the lye, for I never lost sheepe at One and Thirty; for, when my game was one and thirty, I alwayes woune. Indeed, said the Justice, thou saist true, but I have another accusation against thee, which is, that you drive your father's sheepe over a narrow bridge where some of them are oftentimes drowned. That's a lye, too, quoth the boy, for those that go over the bridge are well enough, it is only those that fall beside which are drowned: Whereto the Justice said to the boy's father, Old man, why hast thou brought in two false accusations against thy soune, for he never lost sheepe at one and thirty, nor were there any drowned that went over the bridge.”

In Taylor's Motto  the same author names many other games at cards which were then in vogue:—

“The Prodigall's estate, like to a flux,
The Mercer, Draper, and the Silk-man sucks;
The Taylor, Millainer, Dogs, Drabs and Dice,
They trip, or Passage, or the Most at thrice;
At Irish, Tick tacke, Doublets, Draughts, or Chesse
He flings his money free with carelessnesse:
At Novum, Mumchance, mischance (chuse ye which),
At One and Thirty, or at Poore and Rich,
Ruffe, Flam, Trump, Noddy, Whisk, Hole, Sant, New Cut,
Unto the keeping of foure Knaves, he'l put
His whole estate at Loadum, or at Gleeke,
At Tickle me quickly, he's a merry Greeke,
At Primefisto, Post and Payre, Primero,
Maw, Whip-her-ginny, he's a lib'rall Hero:
At My sow pigg'd; and (Reader, never doubt ye,
He's skill'd in all games except), Looke about ye.
Bowles, Shove groate, Tennis, no game comes amiss,
His purse a purse for anybody is.”

From the Restoration of Charles II. to the time of Anne, gambling was common; but in the reign of this latter monarch, it either reached a much higher pitch, or else, in that Augustan Age of Literature, we hear more about it. Any way, we only know what we read about it. In the epilogue to Mrs Centlivre's play of the Gamester, published in 1705, the audience is thus addressed:

“You Roaring Boys, who know the Midnight Cares
Of Rattling Tatts, ye Sons of Hopes and Fears;
Who Labour hard to bring your Ruin on,
And diligently toil to be undone;
You're Fortune's sporting Footballs at the best,
Few are his Joys, and small the Gamester's Rest:
Suppose then, Fortune only rules the Dice,
And on the Square you Play; yet, who that's Wise
Wou'd to the Credit of a Faithless Main
Trust his good Dad's hard-gotten hoarded Gain?
But, then, such Vultures round a Table wait,
And, hovering, watch the Bubble's sickly State;
The young fond Gambler, covetous of more,
Like Esop's  Dog, loses his certain Store.
Then the Spung squeez'd by all, grows dry,—And, now,
Compleatly Wretched, turns a Sharper too;
These Fools, for want of Bubbles, too, play Fair,
And lose to one another on the Square.


This Itch for Play, has, likewise, fatal been,
And more than Cupid, drawn the Ladies in,
A Thousand Guineas for Basset  prevails,
A Bait when Cash runs low, that seldom fails;
And, when the Fair One can't the Debt defray,
In Sterling Coin, does Sterling Beauty pay.”

Ward, in a Satire called Adam and Eve stript of their furbelows, published in 1705, has an Article on the Gambling lady of the period, entitled, Bad Luck to him that has her; Or, The Gaming Lady, of which the following is a portion:

“When an unfortunate Night has happen'd to empty her Cabinet ... her Jewels are carry'd privately into Lumbard Street, and Fortune is to be tempted the next Night with another Sum borrow'd of my Lady's Goldsmith at the Extortion of a Pawnbroker; and, if that fails, then she sells off her Wardrobe, to the great Grief of her Maids; stretches her Credit amongst those she deals with, pawns her Honour to her Intimates, or makes her Waiting-Woman dive into the Bottom of her Trunk, and lug out her green Net Purse, full of old Jacobus's, which she has got in her Time by her Servitude, in Hopes to recover her Losses by a Turn of Fortune, that she may conceal her bad Luck from the Knowledge of her Husband: But she is generally such a Bubble to some Smock fac'd Gamester, who can win her Money first, carry off the Loser in a Hackney Coach, and kiss her into a good humour before he parts with her, that she is generally driven to the last Extremity, and then forc'd to confess all to her forgiving Spouse, who, either thro' his fond Affection, natural Generosity, or Danger of Scandal, supplies her with Money to redeem her Moveables, buy her new Apparel, and to pay her Debts upon Honour, that her Ladyship may be in Statu quo ; in which Condition she never long continues, but repeats the same Game over and over, to the End of the Chapter: For she is so strangely infatuated with the Itch of Card Playing, that she makes the Devil's Books her very Practice of Piety ; and, were she at her Parish Church, in the Height of her Devotion, should any Body, in the Interim, but stand at the Church Door, and hold up the Knave of Clubs, she would take it to be a Challenge at Lanctre Loo ; and, starting from her Prayers, would follow her beloved Pam, as a deluded Traveller does an Ignis fatuus.”

So gambling went on merrily among all classes, as we may see by the following notices from the Morning Post :

5 July 1797. Is Mr Ogden (now called the Newmarket Oracle), the same person who, five-and-twenty years since, was an annual pedestrian to Ascot, covered with dust, amusing himself with pricking in the belthustling in the hat, &c., amongst the lowest class of rustics, at the inferior booths of the fair?

“Is D—k—y B—— w, who has now his snug farm, the same person who, some years since, drove post chaise  for T—— y of Bagshot, could neither read nor write, and was introduced to the family  only by his pre-eminence at cribbage?

“Is Mr Twycross (with his phaeton), the same person who, some years since, became a bankrupt in Tavistock Street, immediately commenced the Man of Fashion at Bath, kept running horses, &c., secundum artem ?

“Is Mr Phillips (who has now his town and country house, in the most fashionable style,) the same who was, originally, a linen draper and bankrupt at Salisbury, and who made his first family entré in the metropolis, by his superiority at Billiards  (with Capt. Wallace, Orrell, &c.) at Cropley's in Bow Street?

“Was poor carbuncled P—— e (so many years the favourite decoy duck of the family ) the very barber of Oxford who, in the midst of the operation upon a gentleman's face, laid down his razor, swearing that he would never shave another man so long as he lived, and immediately became the hero of the Card Table, the bonesthe box, and the cock-pit ?”

5 April 1805. The sum lately lost at play by a lady of high rank is variously stated. Some say it does not amount to more than £200,000, while others assert that it is little short of £700,000. Her Lord is very unhappy on the occasion, and is still undecided with respect to the best mode to be adopted in the unfortunate predicament.”

30 June 1806. The Marquis of H—— d is said to have been so successful at play, this season, as to have cleared £60,000. The Earl of B—— e has won upwards of £50,000, clear of all deductions. A Right Reverend is stated to be amongst those who are minus  on this occasion.”

8 July 1806. A certain Noble Marquis, who has been very fortunate, this season, in his gaming speculations, had a run of ill-luck last week. At one sitting his Lordship was minus  no less a sum than thirteen thousand pounds !”

15 July 1806. The noble Marquis, who has been so great a gainer this season, at hazard, never plays with anyone, from a Prince , to a Commoner, without having the stakes first  laid on the table. His lordship was always considered as a sure card, but, now, his fame is established, from the circumstance of his having cleared £35,000, after deducting all his losses for the last six months.”

Morning Herald, 16 June 1804. A noble Lord, lately high in office, and who manifests a strong inclination to be re-instated in his political power, lost, at the Union ,a night or two back, 4000 guineas before twelve o'clock; but, continuing to play, his luck took a turn, and he rose a winner of a 1000 before five the next morning.”

I have, also, two newspaper cuttings, but know not whence they came. “Mar. 28, 1811. The brother of a Noble Marquis is said to have lately won, at hazard, upwards of £30,000, all in one night!” “April 3, 1811. A young gentleman of family and fortune lost £7000, on Sunday Morning, at a gaming house in the neighbourhood of Pall Mall.”

“The Perpetual Almanack, or Soldier's Prayer Book

giving an Account of Richard Lane, a Private belonging to the 47th Regiment of Foot, who was taken before the Mayor of the Town for Playing at Cards during Divine Service.

The Sergeant commanded the Soldiers at Church, and when the Parson had read the prayers, he took his text. Those who had a Bible, took it out, but the Soldier had neither Bible nor Common Prayer Book, but, pulling out a Pack of Cards he spread them before him. He, first, looked at one card, and then at another: the Sergeant of the Company saw him, and said, ‘Richard, put up the Cards, this is not the place for them.' ‘Never mind that,' said Richard. When the service was over, the Constable took Richard prisoner, and brought him before the Mayor. ‘Well,' says the Mayor, ‘what have you brought that Soldier here for?' ‘For playing Cards in church.' ‘Well, Soldier, what have you to say for yourself?' ‘Much, I hope, Sir.' ‘Very good; if not, I will punish you more than ever man was punished.' ‘I have been,' said the Soldier, ‘about six weeks on the march. I have had but little to subsist on. I have neither Bible, nor Prayer Book—I have nothing but a Pack of Cards, and I hope to satisfy your Worship of the purity of my intentions.' ‘Very good,' said the Mayor. Then, spreading the cards before the Mayor, he began with the Ace.

‘When I see the Ace, it reminds me that there is only one God.

When I see the Deuce, it reminds me of the Father and the Son.

When I see the Tray, it reminds me of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

When I see the Four, it reminds me of the four Evangelists that preached, viz., Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

When I see the Five, it reminds me of the Five Wise Virgins that trimmed their lamps. There were ten, but five were wise, and five foolish, who were shut out.

When I see the Six, it reminds me that in Six days the Lord made Heaven and Earth.

When I see the Seven, it reminds me that on the seventh day God rested from the works which he had made, and hallowed it.

When I see the Eight, it reminds me of the eight righteous persons that were saved when God drowned the world, viz., Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives.

When I see the Nine, it reminds me of the nine lepers that were cleansed by our Saviour. There were ten, but nine never returned God thanks.

When I see the Ten, it reminds me of the Ten Commandments, which God handed down to Moses, on a table of stone.

When I see the King, it reminds me of the Great King of Heaven, which is God Almighty.

When I see the Queen, it reminds me of the Queen of Sheba, who went to hear the wisdom of Solomon; for she was as wise a woman as he was a man. She brought with her fifty boys and fifty girls, all dressed in boy's apparel for King Solomon to tell which were boys, and which were girls. King Solomon sent for water for them to wash themselves; the girls washed to the elbows, and the boys only to the wrist, so King Solomon told by that.'

‘Well,' said the Mayor, ‘you have given a description of all the Cards in the pack, except one.' ‘Which is that?' said the Soldier. ‘The Knave,' said the Mayor. ‘I will give your honour a description of that, too, if you will not be angry.' ‘I will not,' said the Mayor, ‘if you will not term me to be the Knave.' ‘Well,' said the Soldier, ‘the greatest knave I know, is the constable that brought me here.' ‘I do not know,' said the Mayor, ‘whether he is the greatest knave, but I know he is the greatest fool.'

‘When I count how many spots there are in a pack of cards, I find 365, as many days as there are in a year.

When I count the number of cards in a pack, I find there are 52, as many weeks as there are in a year.

When I count the tricks at Cards, I find 13, as many months as there are in a year. So you see, Sir, the Pack of Cards serves for a Bible, Almanack, and Common Prayer Book to me.'

The Mayor called for some bread and beef for the Soldier, gave him some money, and told him to go about his business, saying that he was the cleverest man he ever heard in his life.”

Such, then, was gambling, when the Select Committee on gaming sat in 1844, and Mr (afterwards Sir) Richard Mayne, in his evidence, shows the craftiness of the gaming-house keepers, and the difficulties of the police in obtaining a conviction. He says:—

“Superintendent Baker was the Superintendent who entered all those houses. With the permission of the Committee, I will read his report, in which he states the difficulties he has met with: ‘I beg, most respectfully, to lay before the Commissioners a few observations for their consideration, being extremely anxious that something more should be done respecting the gaming-houses, to put them down, which are the cause of so many young men's ruin, and, at the same time, show to the Commissioners the difficulties I have to contend with, before an entry can be effected; from the reluctance of the housekeepers to make the required affidavits, from not wishing to have their names brought forward in such matters; also, from the great difficulty in gaining an entrance to a gaming-house, from their extreme caution and watchfulness, besides the strength of their doors and fastenings, which gives them ample time to remove any implement of gaming from the premises: their vigilance is such that it is impossible to obtain an entry for the purpose of seeing play, unless treachery is used with some of the players, which is attended by danger and great expense. On the slightest alarm, the cloths, which are thrown loose over a common table, &c., are, in one moment, removed, and secreted about the persons of the keepers, &c.; and, as the present law stands, the police are not empowered to search them at all: there are no complaints from the housekeepers respecting the gaming-houses, and, in every instance of putting them down, the police have been obliged almost to compel them to go to the police court to swear to the necessary affidavits; such has been their reluctance. As the present law stands, before I can enter a gaming-house with safety, I am obliged to go through the following forms: 1st, to make such inquiry as to leave no doubt that gaming is carried on in a house; 2nd, to make a report of the circumstance to the Commissioners; 3rd, to show the said report to the housekeepers residing in the parish and neighbourhood where the house is situated, and the offence carried on, for them to make the necessary affidavits; 4th, to prepare affidavits for the housekeepers to sign, in the presence of the magistrates; 5th, to make a report of the same to the Commissioners when sworn to; 6th, to make out the Commissioners' warrant for me and the police under my command to enter; 7th, to endeavour, if possible, to get an officer in disguise into the gaming-house to witness play being carried on, previous to my entry, which is the most difficult task to encounter, as no one is admitted unless brought there by a Bonnet or a play-man, as a pigeon or freshman, commonly known as Punters or Flats. Since my entry into No. 34 St James's Street, kept by Isaiah Smart, whose son was killed by a fall from the roof in endeavouring to escape from the police, there is no doubt the gamblers have exercised the greatest ingenuity in their power in order to entrap me into a false entry on their premises by lighting up the rooms as if play was going on; employing persons to watch, both outside and in, to give the alarm on the appearance of any of the police passing; so that, if I was tempted to make an entry without taking the precaution of having an officer inside to prove gaming, there is not the least doubt but that they would instantly catch at the opportunity of bringing an action against me for trespass, &c., and thereby effect my ruin. I have received information that such is the case in the event of my making one false step, and which I have every reason to believe is true.'”

Crockford was examined, but the Committee got very little out of that old fox, except the fact that he had given up all active connection with the establishment in St James's Street for over four years.

Mr Mayne was recalled on the 9th May 1844, and gave evidence that, two nights previously, an entry was made into all houses, known to be gaming-houses in town, seventeen in number, with the result of a fine haul of men, money, and gaming implements.

The outcome of the Select Committees of both Houses of Parliament was the passing, on 8th August 1845, of 8-9 Vic., c. 109, “An Act to amend the Law against Games and Wagers”—and for many years afterwards professional gaming-houses in London were a tradition of the past. Now, however, they abound, thanks to the laxity of the law with regard to so-called clubs.

Here, then, ends the account of this phase of gambling, as it has been thought inexpedient to give any modern instances of play at so-called Clubs, or Card-sharping.

Captain Gronow gives a personal story of his own gambling. After Napoleon's escape from Elba, he had the offer of an appointment on the staff of General Picton, but his funds were somewhat low. “So I set about thinking how I should manage to get my outfit, in order to appear at Brussels in a manner worthy of the aide-de-camp  of the great general. As my funds were at a low ebb, I went to Cox and Greenwood's, those staunch friends of the hard up soldier. Sailors may talk of the ‘little cherub that sits up aloft,' but commend me for liberality, kindness, and generosity to my old friends in Craig's Court. I there obtained £200, which I took with me to a gambling house in St James' Square, where I managed, by some wonderful accident, to win £600; and, having thus obtained the sinews of war, I made numerous purchases, amongst others, two first-rate horses at Tattersall's for a high figure.”

He gives several instances of the English love for gambling, as exemplified at Paris, after its occupation by the Allies.

“Fox, the secretary of the embassy, was an excellent man, but odd, indolent, and careless in the extreme; he was seldom seen in the daytime, unless it was either at the embassy, in a state of negligée, or in bed. At night, he used to go to the Salon des Etrangers; and, if he possessed a Napoleon, it was sure to be thrown away at hazard, or rouge et noir. On one occasion, however, fortune favoured him in a most extraordinary manner. The late Henry Baring having recommended him to take the dice box, Fox replied, ‘I will do so for the last time, for all my money is thrown away upon this infernal table.' Fox staked all he had in his pockets; he threw in eleven  times, breaking the bank, and taking home for his share 60,000 francs. After this, several days passed without any tidings being heard of him; but, upon calling at the embassy to get my passport viséd, I went into his room, and saw it filled with Cashmere shawls, silk, Chantilly veils, bonnets, gloves, shoes, and other articles of ladies' dress. On my asking the purpose of all this millinery, Fox replied, ‘Why, my dear Gronow, it was the only means to prevent those rascals at the Salon winning back my money.'

“The play which took place in these saloons was, frequently, of the most reckless character; large fortunes were often lost, the losers disappearing, never more to be heard of. Amongst the English habitués  were the Hon. George T——, the late Henry Baring, Lord Thanet, Tom Sowerby, Cuthbert, Mr Steer, Henry Broadwood, and Bob Arnold.

“The late Henry Baring was more fortunate at hazard than his countrymen, but his love of gambling was the cause of his being excluded from the banking establishment. Col. Sowerby, of the Guards, was one of the most inveterate players in Paris: and, as is frequently the case with a fair player, a considerable loser. But, perhaps, the most incurable gamester amongst the English, was Lord Thanet, whose income was not less than £50,000 a year, every farthing of which he lost at play. Cuthbert dissipated the whole of his fortune in the like manner. In fact, I do not remember any instance where those who spent their time in this den did not lose all they possessed....

“Amongst others who visited the Salon des Etrangers were Sir Francis Vincent, Gooch, Green, Ball Hughes, and many others whose names I no longer remember. As at Crockford's, a magnificent supper was provided every night, for all who thought proper to avail themselves of it. The games principally played were rouge et noir  and hazard; the former producing an immense profit; for, not only were the whole of the expenses of this costly establishment defrayed by the winnings of the bank, but a very large sum was paid annually to the municipality of Paris. I recollect a young Irishman, Mr Gough, losing a large fortune at this tapis vert. After returning home about two A.M. he sat down and wrote a letter, giving reasons why he was about to commit suicide: these, it is needless to say, were simply his gambling reverses. A pistol shot through the brain terminated his existence. Sir Francis Vincent—a man of old family and considerable fortune—was another victim of this French hell, who contrived to get rid of his magnificent property, and then disappeared from society.”

“Soon after Lord Granville's appointment [as British Ambassador] a strange occurrence took place at one of the public gambling houses. A colonel, on half-pay, in the British service, having lost every farthing he possessed, determined to destroy himself, together with all who were instrumental to his ruin. Accordingly, he placed a canister full of fulminating powder under the table, and set it on fire: it blew up, but, fortunately, no one was hurt. The police arrested the colonel, and placed him in prison; he was, however, through the humane interposition of our ambassador, sent out of France as a madman.”

We have a metrical description of gambling about this time supposed to have been written by a gambler who had to retire to France, and I here give a portion of it.[1]

“Ah me! what sad pangs ev'ry fibre now feels,
When I view the success of my exquisite deals,
My cutting  and shuffling, perform'd with such ease:
(And their talent is rare who can cut  when they please).
Ev'ry bet at Macao was decidedly mine;
For, faithful to me, was the snug winning Nine;
And the dice-box, alike, against Squire or Lord,
Brought whatever I pleased on the fortunate board.
Yet exil'd, in spite of success, to this land;
I have made of my gains but a very bad hand,
For here, gallant Greeks! my sad fortune deplore,
No pigeon  takes wing to the Gallican shore;
And the nation, composed of sly slippery elves,
Admits of no plucking, except by themselves;
Whilst Bourbon the pious, to vermin-like rats,
Grants Licences special, for doing the flats.

Ye haunts of St James's! ye Cyprian fair!
How sweet your amusements! how winning  your air!
Long, long have I served you, and valued you well,
From the Regent's proud palace, to Bennet Street hell,
Where nobles and simples alike take their swing,
With th' intention of being at all in the ring.
Their eyes are attracted with rouleaus of gold,
Or with thousands in paper, so neat in the fold:
Impatient they view them, and seize them elate,
And, when pocketing most, they most swallow the bait.
There's N—g—nt's proud lord, who, to angle for pelf,
Will soon find the secret of diddling himself;
There's H—rb—rt, who, lately, as knowing ones tell,
Won a tight seven hundred at house in Pall Mall;
Captain D—v—s, who, now, is a chick of the game,
But, although in high feather, the odds will soon tame;
And the Marquis of Bl—ndf—rd, who touch'd ‘em up rare,
For a thousand in Bennet Street (all on the square),
Where a service of plate gives a shine  to the job,
The whole made of crowns from young gentlemen's fob.
There's Ll—yd and C—m—ck, who'd a martinette be;
For none drills  a guinea more ably than he—
So his adjutant told him (a pretty good wipe,
Which the Colonel accepted and put in his pipe).
There's a certain rum baronet every one knows,
Who, on Saturday nights to the two sevens  goes;
With J—— and Cl——, Billy W—— and two more,
So drunk that they keep merry hell in a roar;
Long D—b—n, thin C—rt—r, a son of a gun,
Bill B——, the Doctor, that figure of fun:
They have all won a little, and now are in force,
But they'll find that it soon will return to its source:
The knowing ones watch them, and give them their fill,
And they'll soon be reduced to discounting their bill.


In fine, ev'ry object of popular fame,
Old hens, youthful chickens and cocks of the game,
Though distant, I ever shall keep you in view;
For all my enjoyments were centred in you.
To A. B.'s and Bailiff's I waft a sad tear;
For I know they have found me a friend that was dear ;
And the Bill-doers, too, who have fleeced Johnny Raw,
And, lastly, the Jem'men who follow  the law.
To the tradesmen who tick, a remembrance most kind,
I thus send, and assure them that Fortune is blind.
This truth is a sad one; I've learn'd it too late;
But ‘twill serve those, who now may take heed from my fate:
For the purses of others, ‘tis pretty well known,
I look'd too, but ne'er had an eye  to my own;
For which my Annuitants sternly refuse
My freedom, and, thereby have narrowed my views.

Time was, when so splendid, so gay, debonair,
I've had of these vermin a brace at my chair,
The slaves of my chamber, the shades at my doors,
Subservient, and bowing obedience by scores;
For, soit dit en passant, when ruin'd's a rake,
The greater's the plunder his liv'rymen make:
Then, the produce of filching, to noble in need,
Is lent out on annuity, mortgage, or deed:
So, the Peer, or the Commoner going to rack,
May sit with his Creditor stuck at his back,
Unconscious, howe'er, of so monstrous a bore,
The effects of a C—rp—w, a S—dl—y, or M—re,
Who the parties  procure, ‘mongst such miscreant trash;
For nothing's degrading in touching the cash—
A pound is the same, both in value and weight,
Though it came from the basest, or first in the State.
I grieve, whilst I think of the years which have flown,
Of the thousands I've squandered, the pleasures I've known,
Of the many occasions, which fortune has cast
In my way to be rich, which I slighted as fast—
How oft', independent I might have retired
With enough to live happy—nay, more than required:
But Greeks are like Cyprians, and Fate has decreed
That they both should spend fortunes, and perish in need;
That their treasures, with dreams of enchantment, should pass,
And leave them no solace, except from the—glass;
That, at length, youth and beauty, good luck, and foul play,
Should all thrive a season—then vanish away.”

[1]The Greeks—a poem, by Ελλην. Lon. 1817. 8vo.

Gaming was dreadfully prevalent in 1718, which might be demonstrated by the effect of one night's search by the Leet Jury of Westminster, who presented no less than thirty-five houses to the Justices for prosecution. And in the reign of George II. we have numerous notices of gambling: and the first number of the Gentleman's Magazine  in 1731 gives for the information of its readers the following list of officers established in the most notorious gaming houses:—

“1. A Commissioner, always a Proprietor, who looks in of a Night, and the Week's Accompt is audited by him, and two others of the Proprietors.—2. A Director, who superintends the Room.—3. An Operator, who deals the Cards at a cheating Game, called Faro.—4. Two Crowpees.[1] who watch the Cards, and gather the Money for the Bank.—5. Two Puffs, who have Money given them to decoy others to play.—6. A Clerk, who is a Check upon the Puffs, to see that they sink none of the Money that is given them to play with.—7. A Squib, is a Puff of a lower Rank, who serves at half Salary, while he is learning to deal.—8. A Flasher, to swear how often the Bank has been stript.—9. A Dunner, who goes about to recover Money lost at Play.—10. A Waiter, to fill out Wine, snuff Candles, and attend in the Gaming Room.—11. An Attorney, a Newgate  Solicitor.—12. A Captain, who is to fight a Gentleman that is peevish at losing his money.—13. An Usher, who lights Gentlemen up and down Stairs, and gives the Word to the Porter.—14. A Porter, who is, generally, a Soldier of the Foot Guards.—15. An Orderly Man, who walks 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 is to get Intelligence of the Justices meeting.—17.LinkboysCoachmenChairmenDrawersor others, who bring the first Intelligence of the Justices Meetings, or, of the Constables being out, at Half a Guinea Reward.—18.Common Bail Affidavit MenRuffiansBravoesAssassins, cum multis aliis.”

We have read before (p. 49) of the King's gambling at the Groom Porter's on 5 Jan. 1731, but, to show the fairness and equality of the law, I will give the very next paragraph: “At Night (5 Jan.) Mr Sharpless, High Constable of Holborn  Division, with several of his petty Constables, searched a notorious Gaming House behind Gray's Inn Walks, by Vertue of a Warrant from the Right Hon. Lord Delawar, and eleven other of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex ; but the Gamesters, having previous Notice, they all fled, except the Master of the House, who was apprehended, and bound in a Recognizance of £200 penalty, pursuant to the old Statute of 33 Hen. VIII.”

The Grub Street Journal  of 28 Dec. 1733, gives a practical hint how to utilise Gambling: “Dear Bavy.—As Gaming is becoming fashionable, and the Increase of the Poor a general Complaint, I propose to have a Poor's Box fix'd up in some convenient Place in every House, which may contain all Money that shall be won at Cards, or any other Games; and that a proper Person be appointed in every Parish to keep the Key, and to collect Weekly from each House what has been dropt into the Box, in order to distribute it among the poor, every Sunday. A Friend of mine, being obliged to play pretty high in a Family, where he visited, had, generally, Luck on his Side. In some time, the Master of the Family became extreamly embarrass'd in the World. My Friend, being acquainted with it, and touch'd with so moving a Circumstance, went home, and, opening a Drawer where he had deposited the Winnings brought from his House, repaid him; thereby, he retrieved his Credit, and whereby the whole Family was saved from Ruin.—Yours &c., Jeremy Hint.”

Another letter in the same Journal, 2 Sept. 1736, shows how the canker of gambling was surely eating into the very heart of the nation. It is à propos  of private Gaming Houses. “I beg leave, through your Means, to make a few Remarks upon the great Encrease of a Vice, which, if not timely prevented, will end in the Ruin of the young and unwary of both Sexes; I mean, Play in private Houses, and more particularly that artful and cheating Game  of Quadrille. It is the constant business of the Puffs  who belong to the Gaming Societies, to make a general Acquaintance, and, by a Volubility of Tongue, to commend Company and Conversation: to advise young People, or those who have but lately come to Town, to improve themselves in the Beau Monde. The young and unwary, thro' their Inexperience, greedily swallow this Advice, and deliver themselves up to the Conduct of these Harpies who swarm in every Corner, where Visiting is in Fashion: by whom they are introduced into these polite Families, and taught to lose their Money and Reputation in a genteel Manner. These Societies consist mostly of two or three insignificant old Maids, the same number of gay Widows; a batter'd old Beau or two, who, in King William's time, were the Pink of the Mode: The Master of the House, some decay'd Person of a good Family, made use of merely as a Cypher to carry on the Business, by having the Honour to be marry'd to the Lady, who, to oblige her Friends and People of good Fashion only, suffers her House to be made use of for these Purposes. In these places it is that young Ladies of moderate Fortunes are drawn in, to the infallible Ruin of their Reputations; and when, by false Cards, Slipping, Signs, and Crimp, they are stript of their last Guinea, their wretched companions will not know them. Any one acquainted with the West End of the Town cannot but have observed all this with Regret, if they have Honour and Compassion in them. Nor need I mention the West End only. I believe all Points of the Compass are infected, and it were to be wished a Remedy could be found out to prevent it.”

An attempt to remedy this state of things was made, in 1739, by passing “an Act for the more efficient preventing of excessive and deceitful gaming” (12 Geo. II. c. 28), which provided that the Person that keeps a house, or other place, to game in, forfeits £200, half to the prosecutor, and half to the poor of the parish, except at Bath, where the half goes to poor in the Hospital. Lotteries, Sales, Shares in Houses to be determined by Lottery, Raffle, &c., are under this Act, the Lands, Houses, &c. forfeited. All persons gaming in the places aforesaid, or adventurers in Lotteries, on conviction forfeit £50. The games forbidden are Ace of Hearts, Faro, Basset and Hazard, except in Royal Palaces. Justices of Peace refusing to act and convict on this Act forfeit £10.

But this Act did not go far enough, and it was amended by the 18 Geo. II. c. 34. The Journals of the House of Lords have a curious story to tell about this Act.

Dies Lunæ29 Aprilis 1745. The House (according to Order) was adjourned during Pleasure, and put into Committee upon the Bill intituled ‘An Act to amend, explain, and make more effectual, the Laws in being, to prevent excessive and deceitful Gaming: and to restrain and prevent the excessive Increase of Horse Races.'

After some time the House was resumed.

And the Earl of Warwick reported from the said Committee that they had gone through the Bill, and made some Amendments thereto; which he would be ready to report, when the House will please to receive the same.

Ordered. That the Report be received to-morrow.

The House being informed ‘That Mr Burdus, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for the City and Liberty of Westminster, Sir Thomas de Veil, and Mr Lane, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions for the County of Middlesex, were at the door.'

They were called in, and, at the Bar, severally gave an account that claims of privilege of Peerage were made, and insisted on, by the Ladies Mordington and Casselis, in order to intimidate the peace officers from doing their duty in suppressing the public gaming houses kept by the said Ladies.

And the said Burdus thereupon delivered in an instrument in writing, under the hand of the said Lady Mordington, containing the claim she made of privilege for her officers and servants employed by her in the said gaming house.

And then they were directed to withdraw.

And the said Instrument was read, as follows:—

‘I, Dame Mary, Baroness of Mordington, do hold a house in the Great Piazza, Covent Garden, for and as an Assembly, where all persons of credit are at liberty to frequent and play at such diversions as are used at other Assemblys. And I have hired Joseph Dewberry, William Horsely, Ham Cropper, and George Sanders, as my servants, or managers, (under me) thereof. I have given them orders to direct the management of the other inferior servants, (namely) John Bright, Richard Davis, John Hill, John Vandenvoren, as box-keepers. Gilbert Richardson, housekeeper, John Chaplain, regulator, William Stanley and Henry Huggins, servants that wait on the Company at the said Assembly, William Penny and Joseph Penny, as porters thereof. And all the above mentioned persons I claim as my domestick servants, and demand all those privileges that belong to me, as a Peeress of Great Britain, appertaining to my said Assembly. M. Mordington. Dated 8 Jan. 1745.'

Resolved and declared that no Person is entitled to Privilege of Peerage against any prosecution, or proceeding, for keeping any public or common gaming house, or any house, room, or place for playing at any game, or games prohibited by any law now in force.”

These ladies had already been presented by the Grand Jury for the County of Middlesex on 10 May 1744, together with the proprietors of the avenues leading to and from the several Playhouses in Covent Garden and Drury Lane, the proprietors of Sadler's Wells, and the proprietors of New Wells in Goodman's Fields, The London Spaw, Clerkenwell, and Halden's New Theatre, in May Fair.

[1] Croupiers.

Before  going into the history, &c., of playing cards, it may be as well to note the serious application that was made of them by some persons: and first, we will glance at the two sermons of Latimer's on cards, which he delivered in St Edward's Church, Cambridge, on the Sunday before Christmas Day 1529. In these sermons he used the card playing of the season for illustrations of spiritual truth. By having recourse to a series of similes, drawn from the rules of Primero and Trump, he illustrated his subject in a manner that for some weeks after caused his pithy sentences to be recalled at well nigh every social gathering; and his Card Sermons became the talk both of Town and University. The novelty of his method of treatment made it a complete success; and it was felt throughout the University that his shafts had told with more than ordinary effect. But, of course, these sermons being preached in pre-Reformation days, were considered somewhat heretical, and Buckenham, the Prior of the Dominicans at Cambridge, tried to answer Latimer in the same view. As Latimer derived his illustrations from Cards, so did Buckenham from Dice, and he instructed his hearers how they might confound Lutheranism by throwing quatre and cinque: the quatre being the “four doctors” of the Church, and the cinque being five passages from the New Testament selected by the preacher.

Says Latimer in the first of these sermons: “Now then, what is Christ's rule? Christ's rule consisteth in many things, as in the Commandments, and the Works of Mercy and so forth. And for because I cannot declare Christ's rule unto you at one time, as it ought to be done, I will apply myself according to your custom at this time of Christmas. I will, as I said, declare unto you Christ's rule, but that shall be in Christ's Cards. And, whereas you are wont to celebrate Christmas by playing at Cards, I intend, by God's grace to deal unto you Christ's Cards, wherein you shall perceive Christ's rule. The game that we will play at shall be called The Triumph, which, if it be well played at, he that dealeth shall win; the players shall likewise win; and the standers and lookers on shall do the same; insomuch that no man that is willing to play at this Triumph with these Cards, but they shall be all winners, and no losers.”

Next, is a curious little Black Letter tract, by James Balmford published in 1593. It is a dialogue between a Professor and a Preacher.

Professor. Sir, howsoever I am perswaded by that which I reade in the common places of Peter Martyr, par. 2, pag. 525, b. that Dice condemned both by the Civill lawes (and by the Fathers), are therefore unlawfull, because they depend upon chance; yet not satisfied with that which he writeth of Table playing, pag. 516, b. I would crave your opinion concerning playing at Tables and Cards.

Preacher. Saving the judgement of so excellent a Divine, so Farre as I can learne out of God's word, Cardes and Tables seeme to mee no more lawfull, (though less offensive) than Dice. For Table playing is no whit the more lawfull, because Plato compares the life of man thereunto, than a theefe is the more justifiable, because Christ compareth his second coming to burglarie in the night (Mat. xxiv. 43, 44). Againe, if Dice be wholly evill, because they wholly depend upon chance, then Tables and Cardes must needes be somewhat evill, because they somewhat depend upon chance. Therefore, consider well this reason, which condemneth the one as well as the other: Lots are not to be used in sport; but games consisting in chance, as Dice, Cardes, Tables, are Lots; therefore not to be used in sport.

Professor. For my better instruction, prove that Lots are not to be used in sport.

Preacher. Consider with regard these three things: First, that we reade not in the Scriptures that Lots were used, but only in serious matters, both by the Jewes and Gentiles. Secondly, that a Lot, in the nature thereof doth as necessarily suppose the special providence and determining presence of God, as an oth in the nature thereof doth suppose the testifying presence of God. Yea, so that, as in an oth, so in a lot, prayer is expressed, or to bee understoode (I Sam. xiv. 41). Thirdly, that the proper end of a Lot, as of an oth (Heb. vi. 16) is to end a controversie: and, therefore, for your better instruction, examine these reasons. Whatsoever directly, or of itselfe, or in a speciall manner, tendeth to the advancing of the name of God, is to be used religiously, and not to be used in sport, as we are not to pray or sweare in sport: but the use of Lots, directly of itselfe, and in a speciall manner, tendeth to the advancing of the name of God, in attributing to His speciall Providence in the whole and immediate disposing of the Lot, and expecting the event (Pro. xvi. 33; Acts i. 24, 26). Therefore the use of Lots is not to be in sport. Againe, we are not to tempte the Almightie by a vaine desire of manifestation of his power and speciall providence (Psal. lxxviii. 18, 19; Esa. vii. 12; Matth. iv. 6, 7). But, by using Lots in sport, we tempt the Almighty, vainly desiring the manifestation of his speciall providence in his immediate disposing. Lastly, whatsoever God hath sanctified to a proper end, is not to be perverted to a worse (Matth. xxi. 12, 13). But God hath sanctified Lots to a proper end, namely to end controversies (Num. xxvi. 55; Pro. xviii. 18), therefore man is not to pervert them to a worse, namely to play, and, by playing, to get away another man's money, which, without controversie, is his owne. For the common saying is, Sine lucro friget lusus, no gaining, cold gaming.

Professor. God hath sanctified Psalmes to the praise of his name, and bread and wine to represent the bodie and bloud of our crucified Saviour, which be holie ends; and the children of God may sing Psalmes to make themselves merie in the Lord, and feede upon bread and wine, not only from necessitie, but to cheere themselves; why, then, may not God's children recreate themselves by lotterie, notwithstanding God hath sanctified the same to end a controversie?

Preacher. Because we finde not in the Scriptures any dispensation for recreation by lotterie, as we do for godlie mirth by singing (Jam. v. 13), and for religious and sober cheering ourselves by eating and drinking (Deut. viii. 9, 10). And, therefore, (it being withall considered that the ends you speake of, be not proper, though holy) it followeth, that God who only disposeth the Lot touching the event, and is, therefore, a principall actor, is not to bee set on worke by lotterie in any case, but when hee dispenseth with us, or gives us leave so to doe. But dispensation for recreation by lotterie cannot be shewed.

Professor. Lots may be used for profit in a matter of right (Num. xxvi. 55), why not, for pleasure?

Preacher. Then othes may be used for pleasure, for they may for profit, in a matter of truth (Exod. xxii. 8, 11). But, indeede, lots, (as othes) are not to be used for profit or pleasure, but only to end a controversie.

Professor. The wit is exercised by Tables and Cards, therefore they be no lots.

Preacher. Yet Lotterie is used by casting Dice, and by shufling and cutting, before the wit is exercised. But how doth this follow? Because Cards and Tables bee not naked Lots, consisting only in chance (as Dice) they are, therefore, no lots at all. Although (being used without cogging, or packing) they consist principally in chance, from whence they are to receive denomination. In which respect, a Lot is called in Latin, Sors, that is, chance or hazard. And Lyra  upon Pro. xvi. saith, To use Lots, is, by a variable event of some sensible thing, to determine some doubtfull or uncertaine matter, as to draw cuts, or to cast Dice. But, whether you will call Cards and Tables, Lots, or no, you play with chance, or use Lotterie. Then, consider whether exercise of wit doth sanctifie playing with lotterie, or playing with lotterie make such exercising of wit a sinne (Hag. ii. 13, 14). For as calling God to witness by vaine swearing, is a sinne, (2 Cor. i. 13) so making God an umpire, by playing with lotterie, must needs be a sinne; yea, such a sin as maketh the offender (in some respects) more blame worthie. For there bee moe occasions of swearing than of lotterie. Secondly, vaine othes most commonly slip out unawares, whereas lots cannot be used but with deliberation. Thirdly, swearing is to satisfie other, whereas this kind of lotterie is altogether to fulfil our own lusts. Therefore, take heede, that you be not guiltie of perverting the ordinance of the Lord, of taking the name of God in vaine, and of tempting the Almightie, by a gamesome putting off things to hazard, and making play of lotterie, except you thinke that God hath no government in vaine actions, or hath dispensed with such lewd games.

Professor. In shooting, there is a chance, by a sudden blast, yet shooting is no lotterie.

Preacher. It is true; for chance commeth by accident, and not of the nature of the game, to be used.

Professor. Lots are secret, and the whole disposing of them is of God (Pro. xvi. 33); but it is otherwise in tables and Cards.

Preacher. Lots are cast into the lap by man, and that openly, lest conveiance should be suspected; but the disposing of the chance is secret, that it may be chance indeed, and wholly of God, who directeth all things (Prov. xvi. 13, 9, 33). So in Tables, man by faire casting Dice truly made, and in Cards, by shuffling and cutting, doth openly dispose the Dice and Cards so, as whereby a variable event may follow; but it is only and immediately of God that the Dice bee so cast, and the Cards so shuffled and cut, as that this or that game followeth, except there be cogging and packing. So that, in faire play, man's wit is not exercised in disposing the chance, but in making the best of it, being past.

Professor. The end of our play is recreation, and not to make God an umpire; but recreation (no doubt) is lawfull.

Preacher. It may be the souldiers had no such end when they cast lots for Christ his coate (Mat. xxvii. 25), but this should be your end when you use lotterie, as the end of an oth should be, to call God to witnesse. Therefore, as swearing, so lotterie, without due respect, is sinne. Againe, howsoever recreation be your pretended end, yet, remember that wee must not doe evill that good may come of it (Rom. iii. 8). And that therefore we are to recreate ourselves by lawfull recreations. Then see how Cardes and Tables be lawfull.

Professor. If they be not abused by swearing or brawling, playing for too long time, or too much money.

Preacher. Though I am perswaded that it is not lawfull to play for any money, considering that thankes cannot be given in faith for that which is so gotten (Deut. xxiii. 18, Esa. lxi. 8) Gamesters worke not with their hands the thing that is good, to be free from stealing (Ephe. iv. 28), and the loser hath not answerable benefit for his money so lost (Gen. xxix. 15) contrary to that equitie which Aristotle, by the light of nature hath taught long since; yet I grant, if Cards and Tables, so used as you speak, be lesse sinfull, but how they bee lawfull I see not yet.

Professor. Good men, and well learned, use them.

Preacher. We must live by precept, not by examples, except they be undoubtedly good. Therefore, examine whether they bee good and well learned in doing so, or no. For every man may erre (Ro. iii. 4).

Professor. It is not good to be too just, or too wise (Eccl. vii. 18).

Preacher. It is not good to be too wise, or too foolish, in despising the word of God (Prov. i. 22) and not regarding the weaknesse of other (Rom. xiv. 21). Let us therefore beware that we love not pleasure more than godlinesse (2 Tim. iii. 4).”

The following broadside, which was bought in the streets, about 1850, is a copy of one which appeared in the newspapers about the year 1744, when it was entitled “Cards Spiritualized.” The name of the soldier is there stated to be one Richard Middleton, who attended divine service, at a church in Glasgow, with the rest of the regiment.

Naturally, under the Puritans, card playing was anathema, and we hear nothing about it, if we except the political satire by Henry Nevile, which was published in 1659, the year after Cromwell's death. It is entitled “Shuffling, Cutting, and Dealing in a Game at Picquet: Being acted from the Year 1653 to 1658 by O. P. [Oliver, Protector] and others, with great applause. Tempora mutantur et nos.” It is well worth reading, but it is too long for reproduction here.

But, as soon as the King enjoyed his own again, dicing and card playing were rampant, as Pepys tells us. “7 Feb. 1661. Among others Mr Creed and Captain Ferrers tell me the stories of my Lord Duke of Buckingham's and my Lord's falling out at Havre de Grace, at Cards; they two and my Lord St Albans playing. The Duke did, to my Lord's dishonour, often say that he did, in his conscience, know the contrary to what he then said, about the difference at Cards; and so did take up the money that he should have lost to my Lord, which, my Lord resenting, said nothing then, but that he doubted not but there were ways enough to get his money of him. So they parted that night; and my Lord sent Sir R. Stayner, the next morning, to the Duke, to know whether he did remember what he said last night, and whether he would owne it with his sword and a second; which he said he would, and so both sides agreed. But my Lord St Albans, and the Queen, and Ambassador Montagu did waylay them at their lodgings till the difference was made up, to my Lord's honour; who hath got great reputation thereby.”

17 Feb. 1667. This evening, going to the Queene's side, to see the ladies, I did find the Queene, the Duchesse of York, and another or two, at cards, with a room full of great ladies and men, which I was amazed at to see on a Sunday, having not believed it; but, contrarily, flatly denied the same, a little while since, to my cousin Roger Pepys.”

1 Jan. 1668. By and by I met with Mr Brisband; and having it in my mind this Christmas to do what I never can remember that I did, go to see the gaming at the Groome-Porter's, I, having, in my coming from the playhouse, stepped into the two Temple halls, and there saw the dirty prentices and idle people playing, wherein I was mistaken in thinking to have seen gentlemen of quality playing there, as I think it was when I was a little child, that one of my father's servants, John Bassum, I think, carried me in his arms thither, where, after staying an hour, they began to play at about eight at night; where, to see how differently one man took his losing from another, one cursing and swearing, and another only muttering and grumbling to himself, a third without any apparent discontent at all: to see how the dice will run good luck in one hand for half an hour together, and on another have no good luck at all: to see how easily here, where they play nothing but guinnys, a £100 is won or lost: to see two or three gentlemen come in there drunk, and, putting their stock of gold together, one 22 pieces, the second 4, and the third 5 pieces; and these two play one with another, and forget how much each of them brought, but he that brought the 22 thinks that he brought no more than the rest: to see the different humours of gamesters to change their luck, when it is bad, to shift their places, to alter their manner of throwing, and that with great industry, as if there was anything in it: to see how some old gamesters, that have no money now to spend as formerly, do come and sit and look on, and, among others, Sir Lewes Dives, who was here, and hath been a great gamester in his time: to hear their cursing and damning to no purpose, as one man being to throw a seven, if he could; and, failing to do it after a great many throws, cried he would be damned if ever he flung seven more while he lived, his despair of throwing it being so great, while others did it, as their luck served, almost every throw: to see how persons of the best quality do here sit down, and play with people of any, though meaner; and to see how people in ordinary clothes shall come hither and play away 100, or 2, or 300 guinnys, without any kind of difficulty; and, lastly, to see the formality of the groome-porter, who is their judge of all disputes in play, and all quarrels that may arise therein, and how his under officers are there to observe true play at each table and to give new dice, is a consideration I never could have thought had been in the world had I not seen it. And mighty glad I am that I did see it, and, it may be, will find another evening before Christmas be over, to see it again, when I may stay later, for their heat of play begins not till about eleven or twelve o'clock; which did give me another pretty observation of a man that did win mighty fast when I was there. I think he won £100 at single pieces in a little time. While all the rest envied him his good fortune, he cursed it, saying, it come so early upon me, for this fortune, two hours hence, would be worth something to me, but then I shall have no such luck. This kind of prophane, mad entertainment they give themselves. And so, I, having enough for once, refusing to venture, though Brisband pressed me hard, and tempted me with saying that no man was ever known to lose the first time, the devil being too cunning to discourage a gamester, and he offered, also, to lend me 10 pieces to venture; but I did refuse, and so went away.”

We get a good account of the Gaming-house of this period in “The Nicker Nicked; or, the Cheats of Gaming Discovered” (1669), but as it closely resembles Cotton's account of an Ordinary, I only give a portion of it.

“If what has been said, will not make you detest this abominable kind of life; will the almost certain loss of your money do it? I will undertake to demonstrate that it is ten to one you shall be a loser at the year's end, with constant play upon the square. If, then, twenty persons bring two hundred pounds a piece, which makes four thousand pounds, and resolve to play, for example, three or four hours a day for a year; I will wager the box shall have fifteen hundred pounds of the money, and that eighteen out of the twenty persons shall be losers.

“I have seen (in a lower instance) three persons sit down at Twelvepenny In and In, and each draw forty shillings a piece; and, in little more than two hours, the box has had three pounds of the money; and all the three gamesters have been losers, and laughed at for their indiscretion.

“At an Ordinary, you shall scarce have a night pass without a quarrel, and you must either tamely put up with an affront, or else be engaged in a duel next morning, upon some trifling insignificant occasion, pretended to be a point of honour.

“Most gamesters begin at small game; and, by degrees, if their money, or estates, hold out, they rise to great sums; some have played, first of all, their money, then their rings, coach and horses, even their wearing clothes and perukes; and then, such a farm; and, at last, perhaps, a lordship. You may read, in our histories, how Sir Miles Partridge played at Dice with King Henry the Eighth for Jesus Bells, so called, which were the greatest in England, and hung in a tower of St Paul's Church; and won them; whereby he brought them to ring in his pocket; but the ropes, afterwards, catched about his neck, for, in Edward the Sixth's days, he was hanged for some criminal offences.

“Consider how many people have been ruined by play. Sir Arthur Smithouse is yet fresh in memory: he had a fair estate, which in a few years he so lost at play that he died in great want and penury. Since that Mr Ba——, who was a Clerk in the Six Clerks Office, and well cliented, fell to play, and won, by extraordinary fortune, two thousand pieces in ready gold: was not content with that; played on; lost all he had won, and almost all his own estate; sold his place in the office; and, at last marched off to a foreign plantation to begin a new world with the sweat of his brow. For that is commonly the destiny of a decayed gamester, either to go to some foreign plantation, or to be preferred to the dignity of a box-keeper.

“It is not denied, but most gamesters have, at one time or other, a considerable run of winning, but, (such is the infatuation of play) I could never hear of a man that gave over, a winner, (I mean to give over so as never to play again;) I am sure it is a rara avis : for if you once ‘break bulk,' as they phrase it, you are in again for all. Sir Humphrey Foster had lost the greatest part of his estate, and then (playing, it is said, for a dead horse,) did, by happy fortune, recover it again, then gave over, and wisely too.

“If a man has a competent estate of his own, and plays whether himself or another man shall have it, it is extreme folly; if his estate be small, then to hazard the loss even of that and reduce himself to absolute beggary is direct madness. Besides, it has been generally observed, that the loss of one hundred pounds shall do you more prejudice in disquieting your mind than the gain of two hundred pounds shall do you good, were you sure to keep it.”

The “Groom Porter” has been more than once mentioned in these pages. He was formerly an officer of the Lord Steward's department of the Royal Household. When the office was first appointed is unknown, but Henry Fitzalan, Earl of Arundel, Lord Chamberlain to Henry VIII. from 1526 to 1530, compiled a book containing the duties of the officers, in which is set forth “the roome and service belonging to a groome porter to do.” His business was to see the King's lodgings furnished with tables, chairs, stools, firing, rushes for strewing the floors, to provide cards, dice, &c., and to decide disputes arising at dice, cards, bowling, &c. The Groom Porter's is referred to as a place of excessive play in the seventeenth year of the reign of Henry VIII. (1526), when it was directed that the privy chamber shall be “kept honestly,” and that it “be not used by frequent and intemperate play, as the Groom Porter's house.”

Play at Court was lawful, and encouraged, from Christmas to Epiphany, and this was the Groom Porter's legitimate time. When the King felt disposed, and it was his pleasure to play, it was the etiquette and custom to announce to the company, that “His Majesty was out”; on which intimation all Court ceremony and restraint were set aside, and the sport commenced; and when the Royal Gamester had either lost, or won, to his heart's content, notice of the Royal pleasure to discontinue the game was, with like formality, announced by intimation that “His Majesty was at home,” whereupon play forthwith ceased, and the etiquette and ceremony of the palace was resumed.

The fact of the Christmas gambling is noted in Jonson's Alchemist

“He will win you,

By irresistible luck, within this fortnight
Enough to buy a barony. This will set him
Upmost at the Groom Porter's all the Christmas.”

We saw that Pepys visited the Groom Porter's at Christmas, so also did Evelyn.

6 Jan. 1662. This evening, according to custom, his Majesty opened the revels of that night, by throwing the dice himself in the privy chamber, where was a table set on purpose, and lost his £100. (The year before he won £1500.) The ladies, also, played very deep. I came away when the Duke of Ormond had won about £1000, and left them still at passage, cards, &c. At other tables, both there and at the Groom Porter's, observing the wicked folly and monstrous excess of passion amongst some losers: sorry am I that such a wretched custom as play to that excess should be countenanced in a Court, which ought to be an example of virtue to the rest of the kingdom.”

8 Jan. 1668. I saw deep and prodigious gaming at the Groom Porter's, vast heaps of gold squandered away in a vain and profuse manner. This I looked on as a horrid vice, and unsuitable to a Christian Court.”

In the reign of James II. the Groom Porter's was still an institution, and so it was in William III.'s time, for we read in The Flying Post, No. 573, Jan. 10-13, 1699. “Friday last, being Twelf-day, the King, according to custom, plaid at the Groom Porter's; where, we hear, Esqre. Frampton was the greatest gainer.”

In Queen Anne's time he was still in evidence, as we find in the London Gazette, December 6-10, 1705. “Whereas Her Majesty, by her Letters Patent to Thomas Archer, Esqre., constituting him Her Groom Porter, hath given full power to him and such Deputies as he shall appoint to supervise, regulate and authorize (by and under the Rules, Conditions, and Restrictions by the Law prescribed,) all manner of Gaming within this Kingdom. And, whereas, several of Her Majesty's Subjects, keeping Plays or Games in their Houses, have been lately abused, and had Moneys extorted from them by several ill disposed Persons, contrary to Law. These are, therefore, to give Notice, That no Person whatsoever, not producing his Authority from the said Groom Porter, under Seal of his Office, hath any Power to act anything under the said Patent. And, to the end that all such Persons offending as aforesaid, may be proceeded against according to Law, it is hereby desired, that Notice be given of all such Abuses to the said Groom Porter, or his Deputies, at his Office, at Mr Stephenson's, a Scrivener's House, over against Old Man's Coffee House, near Whitehall.”

We get a glimpse of the Groom Porters of this reign in Mrs Centlivre's play of The Busy Body :

Sir Geo. Airy. Oh, I honour Men of the Sword; and I presume this Gentleman is lately come from Spain or Portugal—by his Scars.

Marplot. No, really, Sir George, mine sprung from civil Fury: Happening last night into the Groom porter's—I had a strong inclination to go ten Guineas with a sort of a—sort of a—kind of a Milk Sop, as I thought: a Pox of the Dice, he flung out, and my Pockets being empty, as Charles knows they sometimes are, he prov'd a Surly North Briton, and broke my face for my deficiency.”

Both George I. and George the Second played at the Groom Porter's at Christmas. In the first number of the Gentleman's Magazine, we read how George II. and his Queen spent their Epiphany. “Wednesday, Jan. 5, 1731. This being Twelfth Day ... their Majesties, the Prince of Wales, and the three eldest Princesses, preceded by the Heralds, &c., went to the Chapel Royal, and heard divine Service. The King and Prince made the Offerings at the Altar, of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, according to Custom. At night, their Majesties &c. play'd at Hazard, for the benefit of the Groom Porter, and ‘twas said the King won 600 Guineas, and the Queen 360, Princess Amelia 20, Princess Caroline 10, the Earl of Portmore and the Duke of Grafton, several thousands.” And we have a similar record in the Grub Street Journal  under date of 7 Jan., 1736. The Office of Groom Porter was abolished during the reign of George III. probably in 1772, for in the Annual Register  for that year, under date 6 Jan., it says: “Their Majesties not being accustomed to play at Hazard, ordered a handsome gratuity to the Groom Porter; and orders were given, that, for the future, there be no card playing amongst the servants.”

Gossiping Horace Walpole gives us many anecdotes of gambling in his time, scattered among his letters to Sir Horace Mann, &c. In one of them (Dec. 26, 1748), he tells a story of Sir William Burdett, of whom he says; “in short, to give you his character at once, there is a wager entered in the bet book at White's (a MS. of which I may, one day or other, give you an account), that the first baronet that will be hanged, is this Sir William Burdett.”

The Baronet casually met Lord Castledurrow (afterwards Viscount Ashbrook), and Captain (afterwards Lord) Rodney, “a young seaman, who has made a fortune by very gallant behaviour during the war,” and he asked them to dinner.

“When they came, he presented them to a lady, dressed foreign, as a princess of the house of Brandenburg: she had a toad eater, and there was another man, who gave himself for a count. After dinner, Sir William looked at his watch, and said ‘J—— s! it is not so late as I thought, by an hour; Princess, will your Highness say how we shall divert ourselves till it is time to go to the play! ‘Oh!' said she, ‘for my part, you know I abominate everything but Pharaoh.' ‘I am very sorry, Madam,' replied he, very gravely, ‘but I don't know whom your Highness will get to tally to you; you know I am ruined by dealing.' ‘Oh!' says she, ‘the Count will deal to us.' ‘I would, with all my soul,' said the Count, ‘but I protest I have no money about me.' She insisted: at last the Count said, ‘Since your Highness commands us peremptorily, I believe Sir William has four or five hundred pounds of mine, that I am to pay away in the city to-morrow; if he will be so good as to step to his bureau for that sum, I will make a bank of it.' Mr Rodney owns he was a little astonished at seeing the Count shuffle with the faces of the cards upwards; but, concluding that Sir William Burdett, at whose house he was, was a relation, or particular friend of Lord Castledurrow, he was unwilling to affront my lord. In short, my lord and he lost about a hundred and fifty apiece, and it was settled that they should meet for payment, the next morning, at Ranelagh. In the meantime, Lord C. had the curiosity to inquire a little into the character of his new friend, the Baronet; and being au fait, he went up to him at Ranelagh, and apostrophised him; ‘Sir William, here is the sum I think I lost last night; since that, I have heard that you are a professed pickpocket, and, therefore, desire to have no farther acquaintance with you.' Sir William bowed, took the money and no notice; but, as they were going away, he followed Lord Castledurrow, and said, ‘Good God! my lord, my equipage is not come; will you be so good as to set me down at Buckingham Gate?' and, without waiting for an answer, whipped into the chariot, and came to town with him. If you don't admire the coolness of this impudence, I shall wonder.”

10 Jan. 1750. To make up for my long silence, and to make up a long letter, I will string another story, which I have just heard, to this. General Wade was at a low gaming house, and had a very fine snuff-box, which, on a sudden, he missed. Everybody denied having taken it: he insisted on searching the company. He did: there remained only one man, who had stood behind him, but refused to be searched, unless the General would go into another room, alone, with him. There the man told him, that he was born a gentleman, was reduced, and lived by what little bets he could pick up there, and by fragments which the waiters sometimes gave him. ‘At this moment I have half a fowl in my pocket; I was afraid of being exposed; here it is! Now, Sir, you may search me.' Wade was so struck, that he gave the man a hundred pounds; and, immediately, the genius of generosity, whose province is almost a sinecure, was very glad of the opportunity of making him find his own snuff-box, or another very like it, in his own pocket again.”

19 Dec. 1750. Poor Lord Lempster is more Cerberus[1] than ever; (you remember his bon mot  that proved such a blunder;) he has lost twelve thousand pounds at hazard, to an ensign of the guards.”

23 Feb. 1755. The great event is the catastrophe of Sir John Bland, who has flirted away his whole fortune at hazard. He, t'other night, exceeded what was lost by the late Duke of Bedford, having, at one period of the night, (though he recovered the greatest part of it) lost two and thirty thousand pounds. The citizens put on their double channeled pumps, and trudge to St James's Street, in expectation of seeing judgments executed on White's—angels with flaming swords, and devils flying away with dice boxes, like the prints in Sadeler's Hermits.[2] Sir John lost this immense sum to a Captain Scott,[3] who, at present, has nothing but a few debts and his commission.”

20 Ap. 1756. I shall send you, soon, the fruits of my last party to Strawberry; Dick Edgecumbe, George Selwyn, and Williams were with me; we composed a coat of arms for the two clubs at White's, which is actually engraving from a very pretty painting of Edgecumbe,[4] whom Mr Chute, as Strawberry King at Arms, has appointed our chief herald painter; here is the blazon:—

Vert (for card table), between three parolis proper, on a chevron table (for hazard table), two rouleaus in saltire, between two dice proper; in a canton, sable, a white ball (for election), argent.

Supporters, An old Knave of Clubs  on the dexter, a young Knave on the sinister side; both accoutred proper.

Crest, Issuing out of an earl's coronet (Lord Darlington) an arm shaking a dice box, all proper.

Motto (alluding to the crest), Cogit amor nummi. The arms encircled by a claret bottle ticket, by way of Order.”

14 May 1761. Jemmy Lumley, last week, had a party of whist at his own house; the combatants, Lucy Southwell, that curtseys like a bear, Mrs Prijeau, and a Mrs Mackenzie. They played from six in the evening till twelve the next day; Jemmy never winning one rubber, and rising a loser of two thousand pounds. How it happened, I know not, nor why his suspicions arrived so late, but he fancied himself cheated, and refused to pay. However, the bear  had no share in his evil surmises: on the contrary, a day or two afterwards, he promised a dinner at Hampstead to Lucy and her virtuous sister. As he went to the rendezvous, his chaise was stopped by somebody, who advised him not to proceed. Yet, no whit daunted, he advanced. In the garden, he found the gentle conqueress, Mrs Mackenzie, who accosted him in the most friendly manner. After a few compliments, she asked him if he did not intend to pay her. ‘No, indeed I shan't, I shan't; your servant, your servant.' ‘Shan't you,' said the fair virago; and, taking a horsewhip from beneath her hoop, she fell upon him with as much vehemence as the Empress Queen would upon the King of Prussia, if she could catch him alone in the garden at Hampstead. Jemmy cried out Murder; his servants rushed in, rescued him from the jaws of the lioness, and carried him off in his chaise to town. The Southwells, who were already arrived, and descended, on the noise of the fray, finding nobody to pay for the dinner, and fearing they must, set out for London without it.”

3 Dec. 1761. If you are acquainted with my Lady Barrymore, pray tell her that, in less than two hours, t'other night, the Duke of Cumberland lost four hundred and fifty pounds at Loo; Miss Pelham won three hundred, and I, the rest. However, in general, Loo is extremely gone to decay: I am to play at Princess Emily's to-morrow, for the first time this winter; and it is with difficulty that she has made a party.”

2 Feb. 1770. The gaming at Almack's, which has taken the pas  of White's, is worthy of the decline of our Empire, or Commonwealth, which you please. The young men of the age lose five, ten, fifteen thousands pounds in an evening there. Lord Stavordale, not one and twenty, lost eleven thousand there, last Tuesday, but recovered it by one great hand at hazard: he swore a great oath,—‘Now, if I had been playing deep, I might have won millions.' His cousin, Charles Fox, shines equally there, and in the House of Commons.”

18 Aug. 1776. To-day I have heard the shocking news of Mr Damer's death, who shot himself yesterday, at three o'clock in the morning, at a tavern in Covent Garden. My first alarm was for Mr Conway; not knowing what effect such a horrid surprise would have on him, scarce recovered from an attack himself; happily, it proves his nerves were not affected, for I have had a very calm letter from him on the occasion. Mr Charles Fox, with infinite good nature, met Mrs Damer coming to town, and stopped her to prepare her for the dismal event. It is almost impossible to refrain from bursting into commonplace reflections on this occasion; but, can the walls of Almack's help moralizing, when £5000 a year, in present, and £22,000 in reversion, are not sufficient for happiness, and cannot check a pistol!”

19 Jan. 1777. Lord Dillon told me this morning that Lord Besborough and he, playing at quinze t'other night with Miss Pelham, and, happening to laugh, she flew in a passion and said, ‘It was terrible to play with boys !' And our two ages together, said Lord Dillon, make up above a hundred and forty.”

6 Feb. 1780. Within this week there has been a cast at hazard at the Cocoa Tree, the difference of which amounted to a hundred and four score thousand pounds. Mr O'Birne, an Irish gamester, had won one hundred thousand pounds of a young Mr Harvey, of Chigwell, just started from a midshipman[5] into an estate, by his elder brother's death. O'Birne said, ‘You never can pay me.' ‘I can,' said the youth; my estate will sell for the debt.' ‘No,' said O., ‘I will win ten thousand—you shall throw for the odd ninety.' They did, and Harvey won.”

29 Jan. 1791. Pray delight in the following story: Caroline Vernon, fille d'honneur, lost, t'other night, two hundred pounds at faro, and bade Martindale mark it up. He said he would rather have a draft on her banker. ‘Oh! willingly'; and she gave him one. Next morning, he hurried to Drummond's, lest all her money should be drawn out. ‘Sir,' said the clerk, ‘would you receive the contents immediately?' ‘Assuredly.' ‘Why, sir, have you read the note?' Martindale took it; it was, ‘Pay the bearer two hundred blows, well applied.' The nymph tells the story herself; and, yet, I think, the clerk had the more humour of the two.”

There can be no doubt but that in the last half of the eighteenth century, gambling for large sums was very rife. We have evidence of it on all hands.

Ann. Reg.8 Feb. 1766. We are informed that a lady, at the West end of the town, lost, one night, at a sitting, 3000 guineas at Loo.”

Par parenthèse, the same volume has (p. 191) the following horrible story: “A circumstantial and authentic account of the miserable case of Richard Parsons, as transmitted in a letter from William Dallaway, Esq., High Sheriff of Gloucestershire, to his friend in London.

“On the 20th of February last, Richard Parsons, and three more men met at a private house at Chalford, in order to play at cards, about six o'clock in the evening. They played at loo till about eleven or twelve that night, when they changed their game to whist: after a few deals, a dispute arose about the state of the game. Parsons affirmed, with oaths, that they were six, which the others denied, upon which he wished ‘that he might never enter the kingdom of heaven, that his flesh might rot upon his bones, if they were not six in the game.' These wishes were several times repeated, both then and afterwards. Upon this, the candle was put out by one James Young, a stander by, who says he was shocked with the oaths and expressions he heard; and that he put out the candle with a design to put an end to the game.

“Presently, upon this, they adjourned to another house, and there began a fresh game, when Parsons and his partner had great success. Then they played at loo again till four in the morning. During this second playing, Parson complained to one Rolles, his partner, of a bad pain in his leg, which, from that time, increased. There was an appearance of a swelling, and, afterwards, the colour changing to that of a mortified state. On the following Sunday, he rode to Minchin Hampton, to get the advice of Mr Pegler, the surgeon in that town, who attended him from the Thursday after February 27. Notwithstanding all the applications that were made, the mortification increased, and showed itself in different parts of the body. On Monday, March 3, at the request of some of his female relations, the clergyman of Bisley attended him, and administered the sacrament, without any knowledge of what had happened before, and which he continued a stranger to, till he saw the account in the Gloucester Journal. Parsons appeared to be extremely ignorant of religion, having been accustomed to swear, to drink (though he was not in liquor when he uttered the above execrable wish), to game, and to profane the Sabbath, though he was only in his nineteenth year. After he had received the Sacrament, he appeared to have some sense of the ordinance; for he said, ‘Now I must never sin again; he hoped God would forgive him, having been wicked not above six years, and that, whatsoever should happen, he would not play at cards again.'

“After this, he was in great agony, chiefly delirious, spoke of his companions by name, and seemed as if his imagination was engaged at cards. He started, had distracted looks and gestures, and, in a dreadful fit of shaking and trembling, died on Tuesday morning, the 4th of March last: and was buried the next day at the parish church of Bisley. His eyes were open when he died, and could not be closed by the common methods; so that they remained open when he was put into the coffin. From this circumstance arose a report, that he wished his eyes might never close ; but this was a mistake; for, from the most creditable witnesses, I am fully convinced that no such wish was uttered; and the fact is, that he did close his eyes after he was taken with the mortification, and either dozed or slept several times.

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

But this is a digression. Among the deaths recorded in the Gents' Magazine  for 1776, is “Ap. 30. William G——, Esq.: who, having been left £18,000, a few months before, by his father, lost it all by gaming, in less than a month; in the Rules of the King's Bench.”

Oct. 25, 1777. At the Sessions for the County of Norfolk, a tradesman of Norwich, for cheating at cards, was fined £20, and sentenced to suffer six months' imprisonment in the castle, without bail or main prize; and, in case the said fine was not paid at the expiration of the term, then to stand on the pillory, one hour, with his ears nailed to the same.”

The gamblers of those days were giants in their way, there were George Selwyn, Lord Carlisle, Stephen Fox, who, on one occasion was fleeced most unmercifully at a West-end gambling house. He went into it with £13,000, and left without a farthing. His younger brother, Charles James, was a notorious gambler, and, if the following anecdote is true, not over honourable. He ranked among the admirers of Mrs Crewe. A gentleman lost a considerable sum to this lady at play, and, being obliged to leave town suddenly, gave Mr Fox the money to pay her, begging him to apologise to the lady for his not having paid the debt of honour in person. Fox, unfortunately, lost every shilling of it before morning. Mrs Crewe often met the supposed debtor afterwards, and, surprised that he never noticed the circumstance, at length, delicately hinted the matter to him. “Bless me,” said he, “I paid the money to Mr Fox three months ago.” “Oh! did you, Sir?” said Mrs Crewe, good-naturedly, “then probably he paid me, and I forgot it.”

Steinmetz[6] (vol. i., p. 323) says: “Fox's best friends are said to have been half-ruined in annuities given by them as securities for him to the Jews. £500,000 a year of such annuities of Fox and his ‘society' were advertised to be sold at one time. Walpole wondered what Fox would do when he had sold the estates of his friends. Walpole further notes that, in the debate on the Thirty-nine Articles, Feb. 6, 1772, Fox did not shine; nor could it be wondered at. He had sat up playing at hazard, at Almack's, from Tuesday evening, the 4th, till five in the afternoon of Wednesday, the 5th. An hour before, he had recovered £12,000 that he had lost; and by dinner, which was at five o'clock, he had ended, losing £11,000! On the Thursday, he spoke in the above debate; went to dinner at half-past eleven, at night; from thence to White's, where he drank till seven the next morning; thence to Almack's, where he won £6000; and, between three and four in the afternoon, he set out for Newmarket. His brother Stephen lost £11,000 two nights after, and Charles £10,000 more on the 13th, so that in three nights the two brothers—the eldest not twenty-five  years of age—lost £32,000!”

[1]When he was on his travels, and ran much in debt, his parents paid his debts; some more came out afterwards; he wrote to his mother, that he could only compare himself to Cerberus, who, when one head was cut off, had another spring up in its room.

[2]Cannot be found in Solitudo, sive Vitæ Patrum Eremicolarum, &c. Johann & Raphael Sadeler. 1594.

[3]Afterwards General Scott.

[4]This painting was bought at the Strawberry Hill Sale, by Arthur's Club House, for twenty-two shillings.

5]Afterwards Admiral Sir Eliab Harvey, Knt., G.C.B., who fought at Trafalgar.

[6]“The Gaming Table, &c.,” by A. Steinmetz. Lon. 1870.

Hells in the Quadrant, 1833—Smith v. Bond—Police powers—“Confessions of a Croupier.”

The  West End of London literally swarmed with gambling houses, for the most part of a very different description from Crockford's, as may be seen by the two following quotations from The Times, Jan. 24, 1833:—

The Hells in the Quadrant.

“Those seats of vice (the gaming-houses) which for some time past have existed in the Quadrant, appear to be done up, as, since Saturday, not one of them has been opened. Since the five persons have been apprehended, the visitors have been extremely scarce; nor was their confidence restored, even by the proprietors having the chain up at the street door, coupled with a fellow's being employed at each of the hells, to patrol before the different establishments, for the purpose of giving the requisite information as to who sought admission into those dens of destruction. Although a very active search has been made for the purpose of ascertaining what has become of Daly, the clerk of the Athenæum Club-house, who left that establishment on the 8th instant, no trace had been found of him—one of the many lamentable cases of loss of character and ruin which overtake those who suffer themselves to be lured into those houses. Daly, who enjoyed the confidence of the whole of the members, was suddenly missed on the above day. On looking over his papers, a diary was found, from which it appeared that he had lost large sums of money at No. 60, and, as it has since been ascertained he was there on the previous day, it is supposed that he lost twenty-four £5 notes, at play, which belonged to his employers. Upon this discovery being made, some gentlemen of the Athenæum waited on the parish officers, to ascertain whether they could not put a stop to the gaming-houses. It was, however, found that it could not be done unless some person would come forward and identify those at play; a relation of Daly accordingly went to the house and supplied the necessary proof. It was at this establishment, a few months since, the foreigners who had been fleeced made an attempt to rob the bank; and, shortly after that, placards were posted on the walls in the neighbourhood of the Quadrant, cautioning persons from going into any of the hells, as drugged wine was invariably given to those who were going to play.”

May 9th: “Three prisoners, out of six, answered to the indictment of keeping and maintaining a common gaming-house, and pleaded guilty. The prosecuting counsel, Mr Clarkson, said that the house in question was situate No. 4 Regent's Circus, six doors from the house which was lately prosecuted. He should have been able to prove that on February the 7th, 9th, 12th, and 14th last, the games of rouge et noir  and roulette  were played for sums varying from one sovereign to one shilling. He should also have proved that on some one, or on all those occasions, the defendants acted in the capacities of doorkeeper, banker, and waiter. He (Mr Clarkson) was informed by the officers of St James's parish, that, at the last Sessions there were twenty-seven houses of this description situate therein, and out of that number only two had been closed in the interval, but three new ones had been opened, so that the number had been increased rather than otherwise.

“Mr Phillips, for the defence, said that those houses had nothing to do with the present case. He would advise the parish officers to go to Crockford's, not far distant from the house in question, where they would find lords and peers of the realm at play.

“The bench sentenced two of the prisoners to three months', and one to fourteen days' imprisonment, in the House of Correction, whilst the bail of one who did not appear was estreated.”

Of the hells in London in 1833, we get a very fair notion in a long article in Fraser's Magazine  for August of that year, from which I take the following small portion:—

“On an average, during the last twenty years, about thirty hells have been regularly open in London for the accommodation of the lowest and most vile set of hazard players. The game of hazard is the principal one played at the low houses, and is, like the characters who play it, the most desperate and ruinous of all games. The wretched men who follow this play are partial to it, because it gives a chance, from a run of good luck, to become speedily possessed of all the money on the table: no man who plays hazard ever despairs of making his fortune at some time. Such is the nature of this destructive game, that I can now point out several men, whom you see daily, who were in rags and wretchedness on Monday, and, before the termination of the week, they ride in a newly-purchased Stanhope of their own, having several thousand pounds in their possession. The few instances of such successes which, unfortunately, occur, are generally well-known, and, consequently, encourage the hopes of others, who nightly attend these places, sacrificing all considerations of life to the carrying (if it only be a few shillings) their all, every twenty-four hours, to stake in this great lottery, under the delusive hope of catching Dame Fortune, at some time, in a merry mood. Thousands annually fall, in health, fame, and fortune, by this maddening infatuation, whilst not one in a thousand finds an oasis in the desert.

“The inferior houses of play are always situated in obscure courts, or other places of retirement, and, most frequently, are kept shut up during the day as well as at night, as if unoccupied, or some appearance of trade is carried on as a blind. A back room is selected for all operations, if one can be procured sufficiently capacious for the accommodation of forty or fifty persons at one time. In the centre of the room is fixed a substantial circular table, immoveable to any power of pressure against it by the company who go to play; a circle of inlaid white holly wood is formed in the middle of the table of about four feet diameter, and a lamp is suspended immediately over this ring. A man, designated the Groom Porter, is mounted on a stool, with a stick in his hand, having a transverse piece of wood affixed to its end, which is used by him to rake in the dice after having been thrown out of the box by the caster (the person who throws the dice).

“The avowed profits of keeping a table of this kind is the receipt of a piece for each box hand,—that is, when a player wins three times successively, he pays a certain sum to the table, and there is an aperture in the table made to receive these contributions. At the minor establishments, the price of a box hand  varies from a shilling to half-a-crown, according to the terms on which the house is known to have been originally opened. If there is much play, these payments produce ample profits to the keeper of the house; but their remuneration for running the risk of keeping an unlawful table of play, is plunder.

“At all these houses, as at the higher ones, there is always a set of men who are dependent on the keepers of the house, who hang about the table like sharks for prey, waiting for those who stay late, or are inebriated, and come in towards morning to play when there are but few lookers on; unfair means are then resorted to with impunity, and all share the plunder. About eleven o'clock, when all honest and regular persons are preparing for rest, the play commences, the adventurers being seated around the table: one takes the box and dice, putting what he is disposed to play for into the ring marked on the table; as soon as it is covered with a like sum, or set, as it is termed, by another person, the player calls a main, and at the same moment throws the dice; if the number called comes up, the caster wins; but if any other main comes uppermost on the dice the thrower takes that chance for his own, and his adversary has the one he called; the throwing then continues, during which bets are made by others on the event until it is decided. If the caster throws deuce ace, or aces, when he first calls a main, it is said to be crabbed, and he loses; but if he throws the number named he is said to have nicked it, and thereby wins it. Also, if he should call six or eight, and throws the double sixes he wins; or, if seven be the number called, and eleven is thrown, it is a nick, because those chances are nicks to these mains; which regulation is necessary to the equalisation of all the chances of this game when calling a main. The odds against any number being thrown against another varies from two to one to six to five, and, consequently, keeps all the table engaged in betting. All bets are staked, and the noise occasioned by proposing and accepting wagers is most uproarious and deafening among the low players, each having one eye on the black spots marked on the dice as they land from the box, and the other on the stakes, ready to snatch it if successful. To prevent the noise being heard in the streets, shutters, closely fitted to the window frames, are affixed, which are padded and covered with green baize: there is, invariably, an inner door placed in the passage, having an aperture in it, through which all who enter the door from the street may be viewed; this precaution answers two purposes, it deadens the sound of noisy voices at the table and prevents surprise by the officers of justice.

“The generality of the minor gambling houses are kept by prize-fighters and other desperate characters, who bully and hector the more timid out of their money by deciding that bets have been lost, when, in fact, they have been won. Bread, cheese and beer are supplied to the players, and a glass of gin is handed, when called for, gratis. To these places thieves resort, and such other loose characters as are lost to every feeling of honesty and shame: a table of this nature in full operation is a terrific sight; all the bad passions appertaining to the vicious propensities of mankind are portrayed on the countenances of the players.

“An assembly of the most horrible demons could not exhibit a more appalling effect; recklessness and desperation overshadow every noble trait which should enlighten the countenance of a human being. Many, in their desperation, strip themselves, on the spot, of their clothes, either to stake against money or to pledge to the table keeper for a trifle to renew their play: and many instances occur of men going home half naked, having lost their all.

“They assemble in parties of from forty to fifty persons, who probably bring, on an average, each night, from one to twenty shillings to play with. As the money is lost the players depart, if they cannot borrow or beg more; and this goes on sometimes in the winter season, for fourteen to sixteen hours in succession; so that from 100 to 140 persons may be calculated to visit one gambling table in the course of a night; and it not unfrequently happens that, ultimately, all the money brought to the table gets into the hands of one or two of the most fortunate adventurers, save that which is paid to the table for box hands; whilst the losers separate only to devise plans by which a few more shillings may be procured for the next night's play. Every man so engaged is destined either to become, by success, a more finished and mischievous gambler, or to appear at the bar of the Old Bailey, where, indeed, most of them may be said to have figured already.

“The successful players, by degrees, improve their external appearance, and obtain admission into houses of higher play, where 2s. 6d. or 3s. 4d. is demanded for the box hands. At these places silver counters are used, representing the aliquot parts of a pound; these are called pieces, one of which is a box hand. If success attends them in the first step of advancement, they next become initiated into Crown houses, and associate with gamblers of respectable exterior; where, if they show talents, they either become confederates in forming schemes of plunder, and in aiding establishments to carry on their concerns in defiance of the law, or fall back to their old station of playing chicken hazard, as the small play is designated.”

And so things went on for ten years longer, until the scandal was too grievous to be borne, and a Select Committee sat in Parliament, in 1844, on the subject of gaming. This was principally brought about by the revelations in the case of Smith  v. Bond, which was tried before Lord Abinger and a special jury at the Middlesex Sittings after Michaelmas Term, 1842. It was a common gaming-house case brought under the statute of Anne (9th, c. 14), which was enacted to repress excessive gaming.

The parish of St George's, Hanover Square, swarmed with hells, and the efforts of the parish officers had hitherto been unable to put them down. The play at such houses was notoriously unfair, and the keepers had thriven in proportion to the number and wealth of the victims they had been able to fleece. It was therefore resolved to bring an action under this statute, which not only prohibits excessive gaming, but enables the loser of above £10 at a sitting, to recover treble the amount of his losses; or, if he does not choose to take this course himself, any informer is enabled to sue for and obtain the penalty, one half of which is to benefit the poor of the parish in which the offence was committed, and the other half is to go to the person bringing the action.

In the case tried before Lord Abinger, the gaming-house went by the name of the Minor St James's Club-house; but there was not the least pretence for calling it a club; anybody went there to play with hardly the formality of a first introduction. The keepers did a thriving trade, at French Hazard chiefly, and it was proved by the plaintiff, who had been one of the coterie who kept the table, that Mr Bredell had lost £200, Mr Fitzroy Stanhope £50, the Marquis of Conyngham £500 on each of two separate occasions, Lord Cantalupe £400, and other noblemen and gentlemen various sums.

An ingenious plea was put in by counsel on behalf of Bond, the keeper of the so-called club, that the sums in question were paid by cheques, and as a cheque is not held to be a payment in law until cashed, and as the banks at which the cheques were payable were not in the parish of St George's, Hanover Square, the offence was not completed in that parish, and the plaintiff could not recover. The Chief Baron overruled the objection, and under his direction the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for £3508, being treble the amount actually proved to have been lost, thus teaching a very useful lesson to the keepers of gaming-houses generally. Had Lords Conyngham and Cantalupe and Mr Stanhope come forward as witnesses, and certified to their losses on the two occasions mentioned, additional penalties would have accrued to the amount of £5820.

The Act of 1822 (3 Geo. IV., c. 114) was still in force, by which a gaming-house keeper might be imprisoned with hard labour, and the Police Act of 1839 (2 and 3 Vic., c. 47, § 48) provided that “it shall be lawful for the Commissioners, by Order in Writing, to authorize the Superintendent to enter any such House, or Room, with such Constables as shall be directed by the Commissioners to accompany him, and, if necessary, to use Force for the Purpose of effecting such Entry, whether by breaking open Doors, or otherwise, and to take into Custody all Persons who shall be found therein, and to seize and destroy all Tables and Instruments of gaming found in such House, or Premises; and, also, to seize all Monies and Securities for Money found therein, and the Owner, or Keeper of the said Gaming-House, or other person having the Care and Management thereof; and, also, every Banker, Croupier, and other Person who shall act in any manner in conducting the said Gaming-House, shall be liable to a Penalty of not more than One Hundred Pounds; or, in the discretion of the Magistrate before whom he shall be convicted of the Offence, may be committed to the House of Correction, with or without hard Labour, for a Time not more than Six Calendar Months; and, upon Conviction of any such Offender, all the Monies and Securities for Monies, which shall have been seized, as aforesaid, shall be paid to the said Receiver, to be, by him, applied towards defraying the Charge of the Police of the Metropolis; and every Person found in such Premises, without lawful Excuse, shall be liable to a Penalty of not more than Five Pounds.”

But all this legislation was of no use; the gaming-tables continued to flourish until after the Report of the Select Committee. What they were like at that time may best be learnt by the following extract from an article in Bentley's Magazine  for June 1844, entitled “A Fashionable Gaming-house, Confessions of a Croupier.”

“The—— gaming-house,—— Street, some years ago, was kept by three well-known individuals. After passing through two lobbies you entered the play-room, which formed a coup d'œil  of no ordinary attraction. It was a large room, richly carpeted. Two rich and massive chandeliers, suspended from the ceiling, showed the dazzling gilt and colour of the empanelled walls; from which, at alternate distances, extended elegant mirror branches with lights. The chimney piece was furnished with a plate of glass, which reached the ceiling, the sides were concealed by falling drapery of crimson and gold, and supported by two gilt full-length figures bearing lights. At the opposite end were placed two beaufets, furnished with costly plate, glass, etc. In the middle was fixed the hazard table, of a long oval form, having an adumbrated lamp hanging over the centre. On the right stood the rouge et noir  and roulette  tables, idly placed, ‘to make up a show.' Not so that on the left, for, there, stood the supper table. This was laid out with viands worthy the contemplation of an epicure, on whitest damask, in costly china, and in forms delicate and recherché. Everything which might court the most fastidious taste was there spread in luxuriant profusion; game, poultry, ham, tongue, not forgetting the substantial sirloin; lobster salads, oysters, en outre les petites misères ; confectionery and preserves; creams, jellies, and pine apples. Silver candelabra lighted each end of this long and well supplied table, while the middle was reserved for the display of one of still greater magnificence, said to have been designed and executed for his Royal Highness, the late Duke of——. It was composed of a large figure of Hercules contending with the Hydra with seven heads. This gorgeous piece of plate supported seven wax lights. Iolaus (who assisted Hercules) was, also, represented, bearing the lighted brand wherewith to staunch the blood, lest another head should spring from the wound.”

This is much; but when to this is added—

‘Something, still, which prompts the eternal sigh!'

One Thousand Sovereigns! a shining golden heap! and Ten Thousand Pounds  in notes! the reader may imagine the scene which every evening met the eye. Yes! every evening, into a silver vase, which stood on the hazard table, were emptied ten bags, each containing one hundred sovereigns!

On some evenings, there would, perhaps, be no play, and insufferably tedious would have been the hours from eleven till three but for the relief offered by some tragi-comic incident. The London season was about to open; the Newmarket Spring Meeting had just closed, and Tattersall's, consequently, exhibited a slight gathering. The members of Crockford's, as yet, presented a meagre attendance; the Opera Bills announced attractive novelties, and the minor theatres promised their many marvels. In fact, the busy, bustling hive of human interests was on the move. The dormant began to stir, the watchful to speculate; the beauty to take her promenade in the yet pale sunshine; the invalid to snatch his walk at the meridian hour; the gambler to devise his means of expense, and the banker-hell-keeper how to frustrate them.

It was one evening, about this period, that a party entered to try the fortune of an hour. The result of the evening's play was against the bank. One of the visitors won five hundred pounds, which, for a whim, he took away in gold. He tied the sovereigns up in a white pocket handkerchief, threw them over his shoulder, and, in that manner, walked up St James's Street. From that night, the same party continued to visit us; and, with occasional droppers in of ex-colonels, majors, captains, etc., we, generally, made up a table. What! enter again, after having won five hundred pounds! ‘Oh! infatuated man,' I hear the reader exclaim. Yes! for of all things unfathomable and absorbing, there is nothing so unfathomably deep as the desires of the human heart, when stimulated by the excitement of speculation.

For some weeks the play had been constant, and, as the season advanced, the company increased, and the money began to return to the bank. Sometimes play began late, perhaps not till after one.

Among our very constant visitors was a gallant captain. He came early, and was good to lose a hundred pounds, and satisfied to win fifty. His entrance was always met by a ready welcome.

‘Here comes the gallant captain! How are you, captain?'

‘Hearty, thank ye!' he replied. ‘I say, how was it that my cheque was not paid this morning?'

‘Not paid! you're joking, captain!'

‘Joking!' replied the captain. ‘No, I'll be d—d if it is a joke.'

The captain, on the previous evening, having won, had put up his counters and wished for a fifty pound note.

‘Certainly,' said one of the triumvirs, looking into the box. ‘A fifty, did you say, captain? I am sorry to say I have not got a fifty. Make it a hundred, captain. You will soon do it if you put it down a little spicy.'

‘No,' rejoined the captain, ‘I don't want to play any more, for I must leave town early to-morrow morning.'

‘Well; but what is to be done?' said the manager. Then, calling to his partner, he inquired if he had a fifty pound note for Captain——.

‘No, I have not; but I will write a cheque for him; that will be all the same.'

Away went the captain, as light hearted as a cricket, to sleep away the few remaining hours that intervened before another day wakes us all to our divers duties. Who has not noticed the punctuality of the banker's clerks wending their way to their daily toil. Not quite so early as these, yet not much later, did the captain doff his night gear; then made his appearance at the banker's, nothing doubting. He presents ‘the bit o' writin'' ‘Two twenties and ten in gold.' The clerk puts forward his attenuated fingers, examines it: a pause ensues. How can it be? The date is right, and the autograph is genuine; but there is no order to pay it.

‘No order to pay it?' echoed the captain, much annoyed.

Between ourselves, the private mark was wanting: which was, perhaps, a pin hole, or not a pin hole.

On the evening I have referred to, he received counters for this cheque, and was, already, deep in the game, when the chef  made his appearance. The above ruse  was frequently resorted to.

It is customary to lend money to parties on cheque, or otherwise, if the applicants are considered safe. One of the visitors, who was passionately addicted to play and the turf, having lost his ready money, borrowed three hundred pounds in counters, and, having lost these also, gave a cheque for the amount; but with this condition, that it should not be sent in to his banker's in the country for some few days. No sooner, however, was his back turned than an employé was instructed to start off very early the following morning to get the cheque cashed; the date, which was left open, being first clapped in. The cheque was paid; and two or three nights afterwards the young gentleman came for an explanation of the circumstance, and to remonstrate. The poor employé, as usual, was made the scapegoat, and was roundly abused for his stupidity in not understanding that he was particularly ordered not to present it till further notice.

It was the practice, also, to present post-dated cheques, which had been refused payment, and even to sue on them. Sometimes, after an evening's play, a gentleman would find himself the winner of a couple of hundred pounds, when, all but folding up the notes, and preparing to go, he would find, to his mortification, a small account against him, of, perhaps, seventy or eighty pounds. ‘Eighty pounds! impossible! there must be some mistake.' Expostulation was vain. ‘It is down in the book. It is perfectly correct, you may rest assured. I pledge you my honour of this.'

Sometimes it happened that a gentleman would borrow one hundred pounds, of course in counters, on a cheque or a short bill. Perhaps he might win thirty or forty pounds, in which case, the one hundred pounds in counters would be taken from him and his cheque returned, and he would be left to do his best with the small capital remaining to him, with the privilege of renewing the transaction, should he lose it. Counters, so borrowed, were not allowed to be lent to a friend.

Nevertheless, it may seem not a bad ‘hedge,' technically speaking, to have the opportunity of borrowing hundred after hundred, as some people would do, till a hand came off. I have known persons to come in without a penny, and declare the Caster, in or out, ten pounds, and losing the bet, would ask for a hundred pounds, would receive it and lose it, and receive in the same way to the amount of six or seven hundred pounds, and then would declare that they would not pay one farthing unless accommodated with another hundred. I have known a man of high rank lose to the amount of fourteen hundred pounds, on account, which, under the circumstances, his lordship had more sense than to pay. But, for the bold style, I will quote a city wine merchant. Having lost his cash, he requested a hundred pounds, which he received; he then asked for another, which he also received. He demanded another! After a few words, and a reference to a friend then at the table, this, too, was given to him, and a cheque for £300 was received for the advance made. It so happened that the third hundred was lost also. He, then, peremptorily demanded more, and, upon being refused, he requested to see the cheque, disputing the amount, which being handed to him, he immediately tore it to pieces, and left the room.


It may be thought that a gentleman who has lost above a thousand pounds in a gaming-house may have the right of entrée  by prescription. Nothing is more unlike the fact. From the height of his prosperity to its declension, every occultation in his course is noted with the nicest observation; for instance, playing for lower stakes, a more febrile excitement when losing, occasionally borrowing of a friend, a cheque not punctually paid; and, finally, a small sum borrowed of the bank, to enable him to take up a bill under a very pressing emergency. These are the little circumstances which lead to his ultimate exclusion. On some fine evening during the ensuing season, he calls, thinking to be admitted as heretofore; but he is stopped at the first door with the ready excuse, that ‘there is nothing doing.' On the next call, he is told ‘there is no play going on.'

‘No play? So you said the last time I called; and I have since understood from a friend that there was play. Let me in; I want to see the manager.'

‘He is not in, sir.'

‘Oh, very well, I shall take some other opportunity of seeing him.'

When he does see the chef, the latter expresses most sincere regret at the occurrence, and makes a most specious promise to have the interdict removed. Thus assured, who is now to oppose his entrance? Not the porter, surely! Yes; the very same person still insists that the great man is not within; that he knows nothing about the explanation given, and, therefore, cannot admit him. Thus repulsed, the applicant murmurs a threat about not paying, and thus ends the matter.”

Crockford's Club—His Life—His new Club-house—Epigrams thereon—Ude and the Magistrate—Description of Club-house—Anecdotes of Crockford's.

À propos  of Crockford, or Crockey, as he was familiarly called, his was perhaps the most celebrated gambling house in London, and deserves especial mention. It was on the site now occupied by the Devonshire Club, No. 50 St James's Street.

William Crockford was born in 1775, his father being a fishmonger in a small way of business, having a shop adjoining Temple Bar, which was pulled down in 1846. His father dying when he was young, the business was carried on, first by his mother, and afterwards by himself, but he soon took to betting and gambling, became a proficient at cards, and was more particularly skilled in the games of whist, piquet and cribbage; he frequented the better kind of sporting houses in the neighbourhood of St James's market, where the latter game, more especially, was much played, and for large sums, by opulent tradesmen and others. He made some money at gambling, became connected with a gaming house in King Street, St James's, and then he turned his attention to horse racing; frequenting Tattersalls as a bookmaker, and becoming the owner of race horses. He had a splendid mansion and grounds at Newmarket, where he trained his stud, and at one time owned the celebrated horse Sultan, the sire of Bay Middleton, who won the Derby in 1836. But the roguery at Newmarket was too much even for him, and he sold his racing stud, and confined himself to his London businesses. About this time he is metrically described in a little pamphlet called “Leggiana,” which described the Legs  who used to frequent The Sun tavern in Jermyn Street.

“Seated within the box, to window nearest,
See Crocky, richest, cunningest, and queerest
Of all the motley group that here assemble
To sport their blunt, chaff, blackguard and dissemble;
Who live (as slang has termed it) on the mace,
Tho' Crocky's  heavy pull is, now, deuce ace.
His wine, or grog, as may be, placed before him,
And looking stupid as his mother bore him,
For Crock, tho' skilful in his betting duty,
Is not, ‘twill be allowed, the greatest beauty;
Nor does his mug  (we mean no disrespect)
Exhibit outward sign of intellect;
In other words, old Crocky's  chubby face
Bespeaks not inward store of mental grace;
Besides, each night, he's drunk as any lord,
And clips his mother English every word.
His head, howe'er, tho' thick to chance beholders,
Is screw'd right well upon his brawny shoulders;
He's quick as thought, and ripe at calculation,
Malgrè the drink's most potent visitation.
His pencil, list, and betting book on table,
His wits at work, as hard as he is able,
His odds matur'd, at scarce a moment's pains,
Out pops the offspring of his ready brains,
In some enormous, captivating wager,
‘Gainst one horse winning DerbyOaks  and Leger.
The bait is tak'n by some astonished wight,
Who chuckles, thinking it a glorious bite,
Nor takes the pains the figures o'er to run,
And see, by calculation, that he's done ;
While Crocky  books it, cash, for certain, won.
And why, forsooth, is Crocky  to be blamed
More than those legs who're honourable  named,
Whose inclination is plain sense to jockey,
But who lack brains to work the pull  like Crocky ?
Who, by the way, gives vast accommodation,
Nor bothers any one by litigation.
And, if a bet you'd have, you've nought to do,
But give it Crock, and, with it, sovereigns two ;
You'll quickly, if you win it, touch the treasure,
For Crock  (unlike some legs) dubs up with pleasure.”

Crockford was indicted on several occasions, and by different persons, for his share in the nuisance of the public gaming-house in King Street; but his policy always led him to a settlement of the matter with the prosecutor, in preference to the risk of imprisonment and the treadmill.

On one occasion an indictment was preferred, and a true bill found against him and others, for keeping the before-mentioned house; and it was not without difficulty and delay, creative of direful alarm, that the matter could be arranged so as to prevent the parties being brought to trial.

The prosecutor was a person known as Baron d'A——, who formerly held a commission in the German Legion. This gentleman had been desperate, and, of course, unfortunate in his speculation at rouge et noir ; and, at last, lost not only his pay, but the proceeds of the sale of his commission. Thus reduced, he became equally desperate in determination, and occasionally made demands and levied contributions from the parties who had won from him, but, compliance with such demands becoming less frequent and less willing, he resorted to the process of indictment, and made Crockford one of the objects of his attack. On the true bill being found, Crockford put in the necessary bail; between the period of which and the day appointed for trial, communication was opened with the baron, with a view to amicable settlement and non-appearance of the prosecutor on the day of trial; but in the negotiation Crockford's party relied too much on the poverty and distress of the baron, believing that the griping hand of necessity would oblige him to accept any offered sum to relieve his wants. Under such belief an inconsiderable amount was tendered, but refused. The baron had, fortunately for him, met with a shrewd adviser, who persuaded him to hold out against any overtures short of a handsome consideration; and he did so, notwithstanding the fact that a considerable advance had been made on the original sum offered to him.

The eve of trial approached, and Crockford's alarm was great. At length came the eventful day of his appearance at Clerkenwell Sessions. What was to be done? Incarceration and hard labour stared him in the face, and with them all the evil consequences connected with his absence from his newly established club.

In this dilemma he sought the advice and active service of Guy, his principal acting man in St James's Street. This man accompanied Crockford to the scene of trial, and, discovering the baron in the precinct of the Court, contrived to get into friendly conversation with him, a scheme which led to some judicious hints on the impolicy of his longer holding out against the liberal offer which he (Guy) had now the authority to make from Crockford. Fortunately for the latter the indictment was low down in the list of the day's business, and this gave opportunity to Guy to proceed more leisurely in his designs. He prevailed on the baron to accompany him to a tavern in the neighbourhood, and there, under the influence of copious draughts of wine, an arrangement was ultimately effected. The proposal, once entertained by the baron, was not left to the chance of change, nor was the baron permitted to consult with his adviser in the matter; time was precious, the cause was approaching its hearing, and at this crisis Guy called a coach, took from his pocket a tempting sum, hurried the baron into the vehicle, gave him the money, and never left him until he had seen him on board a vessel bound for a foreign country.

At the commencement of the season 1821-22, luck went against Crockford's gaming establishment, and night after night their capital decreased, so that, at last, it was with difficulty they could supply the funds requisite for the night's bank. One night, their last £5000 was scraped together, and they were all on wires; for an hour after play had commenced £3000 had flown away. Crockford could stand it no longer; he left the house, meditating whether he should hang or drown himself: but scarcely was his back turned than the run of luck changed, and, within two hours, the bank had not only recovered their night's loss, but a good round sum besides. For the remainder of the season Fortune was in their favour, and, at its close, the proprietors had netted over £200,000.

Crockford began building his new club house in St James's Street in 1827, and workmen were engaged on it day and night. A huge ice house was dug which so affected the Guard's club house, which adjoined the northern end of Crockford's premises, that one entire side of it fell with a crash, leaving the entire interior completely exposed to the public gaze. There are two bon mots  on the subject, preserved.

“‘What can the workmen be about?
Do, Crockford, let the secret out,

Why thus our houses fall.

Quoth he, ‘Since folks are out of town,
I find it better to pull down,

Than have no pull at all.'”

“See, passenger, at Crockford's high behest,
Red coats  by black legs  ousted from their nest;
The arts of peace o'ermatching reckless war,
And gallant rouge  outdone by wily noir.”

The Club was opened in the latter part of 1827 with a great flourish of trumpets, and cards to view, which were eagerly sought after by the éliteThe Times  of 1st Jan. 1828 gives an account of the royal displeasure at this Club, which comes extremely à propos  from the unsullied lips of George IV. “Crockford's Hell. The establishment of the Pandemonium in St James's, under the entire superintendence of the fishmonger and his unblushing patronizers, lately called forth the opinion of the highest personage in the kingdom, who expressed himself in a manner which reflected the utmost credit on his head and heart. A Nobleman of some standing at Court, in answer to a question from his royal master, denied, in the most unequivocal way, having become a subscriber to this splendid temple of vice. The monarch evinced his satisfaction at the intelligence, and, in his usual nervous style, denounced such infamous receptacles for plunder, as not only a disgrace to the country at large, but the age in which we live.”

The number of members belonging to the Club was from 1000 to 1200, exclusive of the privilege, or right of entrée permitted to ambassadors and foreigners of distinction during their diplomatic sojourn, or temporary visit, to this country, and the Duke of Wellington, although he did not gamble, was one of the earliest members. The annual subscription was twenty-five pounds, and, for this, the members had the most luxurious club of its time, with wines and viands at a very low rate, although the latter were presided over by the celebrated chef, Ude, to whom Crockford paid a salary of £1200! The Annual Register, for 1834, tells a very amusing story of Ude in connection with Crockford's Club.

“On July 25 M. Eustache Ude, the celebrated French cook, appeared at Bow Street on a summons at the suit of the Marquess of Queensberry, for unlawfully disposing of certain birds called ‘red game,' between the 19th of March and the 1st of August, contrary to the provisions of the Game Laws.

“Sir Roger Griesley deposed that he was a member of Crockford's Club House, and one of the managing committee of that establishment. The defendant was cook there, and, on the 19th of June, witness dined at the Club house, and saw grouse served in the room, but did not partake of it.

M. Ude : Vell, my dear Sare Rojer, vat is all dis to me? Certainement you must know dat I don't know vat de devil goes up into de dining room. How de devil can I tell veder black game, or vite game, or red game go up to de dining room? Dere is plenty of game always go on in de house, but dat is nothing to me. My only business is to cook for de palates of dose who like de game.

Sir Roger Griesley : I really don't know what, in common justice, M. Ude can have to do in this matter. He is the cook of the establishment, certainly, but he only prepares what is ordered. The Committee order the things, and he provides according to that order.

M. Ude : Tank you, my dear Sare Rojer. I knew you vould get me out of de scrape vot de noble marquis has got me into dis time.

Charles, Marquess of Queensberry, sworn : I was a member of the Committee at Crockford's, but am not now. I was at Crockford's on the 19th, and dined, and grouse was served at the table.

M. Ude : But, my noble friend (great laughter), as I said to my friend Sare Rojer, I know noting at all about vot vent into de room. I never sawed it at all. De orders are given to me. I send my people to de butcher, and to de poulterer, and to de fishmonger, and de tings are brought, and I command dem to be cooked, and dey are cooked, and dat is all I know about it.

Sir F. Roe : Whether you know it, or not, the Act of Parliament makes you liable.

M. Ude : Upon my honour dat is very hard. Ven I got de summons I remonstrated vid my Lord Alvanley, and he say, ‘Oh, never mind, Ude, say dey vere pigeons, instead of grouse.' ‘Ah, my lord,' say I, ‘I can not do better dan dem pigeons, because dat bird is so common in dis house.' (Loud Laughter).

Sir F. Roe, who appeared greatly to enjoy the scene, said he must, upon the oaths of the noble marquess and Sir Roger Griesley, convict the defendant; but he should, certainly, put the lowest penalty, namely 5s.

M. Ude : Vel, I shall pay de money, but it is dam hard. Ve have always game in our house, and de poor devil of a cook have to pay de penalty for it. (Great laughter).”

The following is a contemporary description of this palatial establishment.

“On entering from the street, a magnificent vestibule and staircase break upon the view; to the right and left of the hall are reading and dining rooms. The staircase is of a sinuous form, sustained in its landing by four columns of the Doric order, above which are a series of examples of the Ionic order, forming a quadrangle with apertures to the chief apartments. Above the pillars is a covered ceiling, perforated with luminous panels of stained glass, from which springs a dome of surpassing beauty: from the dome depends a lantern containing a magnificent chandelier.

The State Drawing Room  next attracts attention, a most noble apartment, baffling perfect description of its beauty, but decorated in the most florid style of Louis Quatorze. The room presents a series of panels containing subjects, in the style of Watteau, from the pencil of Mr Martin, a relative of the celebrated historical painter of that name: these panels are alternated with splendid mirrors. A chandelier of exquisite workmanship hangs from the centre of the ceiling, and three large tables, beautifully carved and gilded, and covered with rich blue and crimson velvet, are placed in different parts of the room. The upholstery and decorative adjuncts are imitative of the gorgeous taste of George the Fourth. Royalty can scarcely be conceived to vie with the style and consummate splendour of this magnificent chamber.

The lofty and capacious Dining Room, supported by marble pillars, and furnished in the most substantial and aristocratic style of comfort, is equal to any arrangement of the kind in the most lordly mansions.

The Drawing Room  is allowed to be one of the most elegant apartments in the kingdom.

The Sanctum Sanctorum, or Play Room, is comparatively small, but handsomely furnished. In the centre of the apartment stands the all attractive Hazard Table, innocent and unpretending enough in its form and appearance, but fatally mischievous and destructive in its conjunctive influence with box and dice. On this table, it may, with truth, be asserted that the greater portion, if not the whole of Crockford's immense wealth was achieved; and for this piece of plain, unassuming mahogany, he had, doubtless, a more profound veneration than for the most costly piece of furniture that ever graced a palace. This bench of business is large, and of oval shape, well stuffed, and covered with fine green cloth, marked with yellow lines, denoting thedifferent departments of speculation. Round these compartments are double lines, similarly marked, for the odds, or proportions, between what is technically known as the main  and chance. In the centre, on each side, are indented positions for the croupiers, or persons engaged at the table in calling the main and chance, regulating the stakes, and paying and receiving money, as the events decisive of gain and loss occur. Over the table is suspended a three light lamp, conveniently shaded, so as to show its full luminous power on the cloth, and, at the same time, to protect the eyes of the croupiers from the light's too strong effect. At another part of the room is fixed a writing table, or desk, where the Pluto of the place was wont to preside, to mete out loans on draft or other security, and to answer all demands by successful players. Chairs of easy make, dice boxes, bowls for holding counters representing sums from £1 to £200, with small hand rakes used by players to draw their counters from any inconvenient distance on the table, may be said to complete the furniture, machinery, and implements of this great workshop.”

It is said that during the first two seasons Crockford must have netted about £300,000, but his expenses were heavy, the item of dice alone (at about a guinea a pair) was £2000 per annum; three new pairs being provided for the opening play each night, and very often as many more called for by players, or put down by Crockford himself with a view to change a player's luck.

Crockford was bound by his agreement with his committee to put down a bank, or capital, of £5000, nightly, during the sitting of Parliament, and he was not permitted to terminate the play until a stated hour, as long as any of that £5000 remained.

He died at his mansion in Carlton House Terrace, on 25 May 1844, aged 69. He died a very wealthy man, although he experienced very heavy losses in sundry speculations. A contemporary says of him:

“The entire property amassed by Mr Crockford must have been immense, regard being had to the fact that, exclusively of a sum of money, amounting to nearly half a million sterling, bequeathed to his widow, he is confidently reported to have distributed amongst his children, about two years ago, a sum nearly equalling, if not exceeding that amount: a circumstance not at all improbable in a man of foresight, like Mr Crockford, and one which will fully account, as well for the bequest of the whole bulk of his remaining fortune to his widow, as for such bequest being absolute, and free from all condition. In estimating the wealth acquired by Mr Crockford through the medium and success of his French hazard bank (for this was the never-failing source of gain), there must be taken into account the heavy and extravagant expenditure of the establishment in St James's Street; his own expensive, though by no means foolishly extravagant, mode of living; the maintenance and education of a very numerous family, the advances of money from time to time, made to fit them out and further their prospects in life; the expense of a racing stud; a considerable outlay in suppressing various indictments preferred against him for his former proprietorship in King Street, and the heavy losses more recently sustained by other venture and speculation. It may be fairly calculated that the certain profits of the hazard table must have embraced millions! and some idea may be formed of the extent of evil to others consequent on such an accumulation of capital extracted from their means.”

Captain Gronow[1] gives us a very graphic description of this club, drawn from the life, for he was a member thereof.

“I have alluded, in my first volume, to the high play which took place at White's and Brookes's in the olden time, and at Wattier's in the days of Brummel and the dandies. Charles Fox, George Selwyn, Lord Carlisle, Fitzpatrick, Horace Walpole, the Duke of Queensberry, and others, lost whole fortunes at faro, macao and hazard;almost the only winners, indeed, of that generation were General Scott, father-in-law of Canning, the Duke of Portland, and Lord Robert Spencer; Lord Robert, indeed, bought the beautiful estate of Woolbidding, in Sussex, with the proceeds of his gains by keeping the bank at Brookes's.

“But in the reign of George IV. a new star rose upon the horizon in the person of Mr William Crockford; and the old-fashioned game of faro, macao and lansquenet gave place to the all-devouring thirst for the game of hazard. Crockey, when still a young man, had relinquished the peaceful trade of a fishmonger for a share in a “hell,” where, with his partner Gye, he managed to win, after a sitting of twenty-four hours, the enormous sum of one hundred thousand pounds from Lords Thanet and Granville, Mr Ball Hughes, and two other gentlemen whose names I do not now remember. With this capital added to his former gains, he built the well known palace in St James's Street, where a club was established, and play organised, on a scale of magnificence and liberality hitherto unknown in Europe.

“One may safely say, without exaggeration, that Crockford won the whole of the ready money of the then existing generation. As is often the case at Lord's cricket ground, the great match of the gentlemen of England against the professional players was won by the latter. It was a very hollow thing, and in a very few years twelve hundred thousand pounds were swept away by the fortunate fishmonger. He did not, however, die worth more than a sixth part of this vast sum; the difference being swallowed up in various unlucky speculations.

“No one can describe the splendour and excitement of the early days of Crockey. A supper of the most exquisite kind, prepared by the famous Ude, and accompanied by the best wines in the world, together with every luxury of the season, was furnished gratis. The members of the club included all the celebrities of England, from the Duke of Wellington, to the youngest Ensign of the Guards; and, at the gay and festive board, which was constantly replenished from midnight to early dawn, the most brilliant sallies of wit, the most agreeable conversation, the most interesting anecdotes, interspersed with grave political discussions and acute logical reasoning on every conceivable subject, proceeded from the soldiers, scholars, statesmen, poets and men of pleasure, who, when the ‘house was up,' and balls and parties at an end, delighted to finish their evening with a little supper, and a good deal of hazard at old Crockey's. The tone of the club was most excellent. A most gentlemanlike feeling prevailed, and none of the rudeness, familiarity and ill breeding which disgrace some of the minor clubs of the present day, would have been tolerated for a moment.

“Though not many years have elapsed since the time of which I write, the supper table had a very different appearance from what it would present, did the club now exist. Beards were completely unknown, and the rare mustachios were only worn by officers of the Household Brigade, or hussar regiments. Stiff white neckcloths, blue coats and brass buttons, rather short waisted white waistcoats, and tremendously embroidered shirt fronts, with gorgeous studs of great value, were considered the right thing. A late deservedly popular Colonel in the Guards used to give Storr & Mortimer £25 a year, to furnish him with a new set of studs every Saturday night during the London season.

“The great foreign diplomatists, Prince Talleyrand, Count Pozzo di Borgo, General Alava, the Duke of Palmella, Prince Esterhazy, the French, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Austrian ambassadors, and all persons of distinction and eminence who arrived in England, belonged to Crockford's as a matter of course; but many rued the day when they became members of that fascinating but dangerous coterie. The great Duke himself, always rather a friend of the dandies, did not disdain to appear now and then at this charming club; whilst the late Lord Raglan, Lord Anglesey, Sir Hussey Vivian, and many more of our Peninsula and Waterloo heroes, were constant visitors. The two great novelists of the day, who have since become great statesmen, Disraeli and Bulwer Lytton, displayed at that brilliant supper-table, the one his sable, the other his auburn curls; there Horace Twiss made proof of an appetite, and Edward Montague of a thirst, which astonished all beholders; whilst the bitter jests of Sir Joseph Copley, Colonel Armstrong, and John Wilson Croker, and the brilliant wit of Alvanley, were the delight of all present, and their bon mots  were the next day retailed all over England.

“In the play-room might be heard the clear ringing voice of that agreeable reprobate, Tom Duncombe, as he cheerfully called ‘Seven,' and the powerful hand of the vigorous Sefton in throwing for a ten. There might be noted the scientific dribbling of a four by ‘King' Allen, the tremendous backing of nines and fives by Ball Hughes and Auriol, the enormous stakes played for by Lords Lichfield and Chesterfield, George Payne, Sir St Vincent Cotton, D'Orsay, and George Anson, and, above all, the gentlemanly bearing and calm and unmoved demeanour, under losses or gains, of all the men of that generation.

“The old fishmonger himself, seated snug and sly at his desk in the corner of the room, watchful as the dragon that guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, would only give credit to good and approved signatures. Who that ever entered that dangerous little room can ever forget the large green table, with the croupiers, Page, Darking, and Bacon, with their suave manners, sleek appearance, stiff white neck cloths, and the almost miraculous quickness and dexterity with which they swept away the money of the unfortunate punters when the fatal cry of ‘Deuce ace,' ‘Aces,' or ‘Sixes out,' was heard in answer to the caster's bold cry of ‘Seven,' or ‘Nine,' or ‘Five's the main.'

O noctes cœnæque deûm! but the brightest medal has its reverse, and after all the wit and gaiety and excitement of the night, how disagreeable the waking up, and how very unpleasant the sight of the little card, with its numerous figures marked down on the debtor side in the fine bold hand of Mr Page. Alas, poor Crockey's! shorn of its former glory, has become a sort of refuge for the destitute, a cheap dining-house.[2]How are the mighty fallen! Irish buckeens, spring captains, ‘welchers' from Newmarket, and suspicious looking foreigners, may be seen swaggering after dinner through the marble halls, and up that gorgeous staircase where once the chivalry of England loved to congregate; and those who remember Crockford's in all its glory, cast, as they pass, a look of unavailing regret at its dingy walls, with many a sigh to the memory of the pleasant days they passed there, and the gay companions and noble gentlemen who have long since gone to their last home.”

One more story about Crockford's, told by Sir George Chetwynd,[3] and I have done with this subject. Speaking of Mr George Payne, he says: “Many were the stories he told of his early life, of his hunting, of the enormous sum he lost on the Leger before he came of age, of his never seeing daylight for a whole week in one winter, owing to being challenged by a friend to play a certain number of games at écarté, which resulted in their playing every night for six days till seven o'clock in the morning. Of course it was dark then at that season, and he used not to get up till 3.30 to 4 o'clock. He was fond of describing Crockford's when the conversation turned on hazard or cards, and used to speak of the lavish way in which the old fishmonger supplied his guests (or victims) with the finest hot-house peaches, grapes, and every conceivable delicacy that could be obtained for money, and all this gratis. A number of men who did not care to play at hazard, used purposely to lose a hundred or two a year at the tables, to have the pleasure of dining and supping with their friends, who all flocked to the magnificent rooms, which, at night, presented the appearance of aluxurious club. Mr Payne used to narrate that, after dinner, he would sometimes stroll round there early, and, finding hardly anyone there except Crockford at his desk, used to sit down and play a game of backgammon with him, both being fine players.”

[1]Reminiscences, 3 Ser.

[2]After Crockford's death the club-house was sold. It was re-decorated in 1849, and opened as “The Military, Naval, and County Service Club,” but this only lasted till 1851, when it was turned into a dining-house, called the “Wellington.”

[3]“Racing Reminiscences.” Lon. 1891.