Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ways and means in abundance for aftertimes, though we have none for the present. Only give us a long pay day, and we can do this, or we can do that. But the wheel of time presently brings round the six months, or the twelvemonth, or the yet longer period. It vanish. es like a dream : and the debtor, failing in his calcula. tions, if he calculated at all, is quite as unable to pay as he was at the instant the contract was made. He is now in the hands of his creditor, who can spunge him, or ruin him, as he pleases.

I am not speaking of what might be, but of what has been in innumerable instances. The circumstances of the late times were such as to excite in the minds of a great portion of the people confident hopes of extraordinary profit and gain, and, meanwhile, credit was attainable more easily and in greater extent, than ever perhaps had been witnessed at any other period or in any other country. Corresponding with this state of things, there has been a general rashness of courage as respects plunging headlong into debt; and the direful consequences are now seen and felt in all parts of the general community.--For what is past there is no help; but the ills of past experience should teach us prudence for the time to come.

Running in debt is a serious business, which, if proper caution be wanting, jeopardises not only property, but character also, and personal freedom. Of those who have been adventurous and rash in this respect, how many have been utterly ruined in estate? How many have lost their credit and reputation ? How many have forfeited the character for truth and integrity, to which they once had been fairly entitled ? How many, prompted by the violent temptations arising out of their embarrassed circumstances, have acted in a manner astonishing to all who knew them in their better days?

Credit, so invaluable to all who are in any reputable

kind of business, and especially to those who have lita tle else to depend upon, is of a delicate and frail nature : it must be used with moderation, or it languishes and dies. A man disposed at all times to extend his credit as far as he possibly can, or to take up all the credit he can get, has many chances to one, of being a bankrupt in credit as well as in circumstances.

A word to spirited young men ; a word that will apply fully as well to a great many who are not young. If credit, long credit be offered you—pause awhile ere ye swallow the bait. Calculate the thing on all sides, and in all its bearings-its mischances, as well as its chances.-Credit, long credit, with interest. With interest! “ There's the rub." This same interest is a devourer: it eats like a canker.

NUMBER LXXIX.

Of the foul nature and direful effects of customary

gaming.

The Play at Cards, which at the first was used for mere amusement,* no sooner was adopted by avarice than it turned to be Gaming ;-and, through this transmutation of its nature as well as name, it has proved one of the greatest scourges of community, every where, in all the four quarters of the world.

Avarice is a mother-sin, of whose numerous brood Gaming is the most haggard and wretched; for however abundant be its prey, it never thrives. It devours innumerable fatlings, and yet remains ever lean

* The invention of Cards is said to have been for the purpose of diverting the mind of a certain melancholic king of France.

itself. There is a curse upon its basket and store; I curse that blights its gains, and turns its enjoyments to wormwood and gall. Neither is this to be wondered at, when we consider the objects of gaming : the print. ciples of the art ; and the certain and necessary consequences of the practice or habit.

The main object of the gamester, is to acquire wealth by plunder ; utterly regardless of the age, or sex, or circumstances, of any who fall into his toils. For it makes no difference whether the victim be a stranger or a familiar acquaintance, a man of age and experience or a stripling, an alien from his blood or his own mother's son.

Gamesters by profession, are a migratory tribe, as strongly marked with peculiarities, as the Gypsies. They have a jargon that is all their own ; a jargon, which, interlarded with oaths and blasphemies, is in common use at their board. Also, they have a kind of police belonging exclusively to themselves. Other men form themselves into distinct bodies,,for valuable and noble purposes ; some for the improvement of the individual members; some for the furtherance of the arts and sciences; and some for the promotion of the holy cause of Religion and Morality, and particularly of Charity : and all these havé by-laws and regulations corresponding to the worthiness of the ends in view. So, also, Gamesters have a code of laws--the laws of the table-perfectly corresponding, in the main, to the base ends they drive at.

But it may be said, and indeed it has been said, that the laws of the gaming room prohibit foul play, under the penalty of expulsion ; that a considerable portion of gamesters are men of rank, and of a delicate sense of honour-men who would sooner lose their hearts blood than trespass upon the rules of the game. Be it

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The question then arises, What is foul play? Its meaning, I believe, is pretty much confined to direct fraud, or downright cheating in the management of the cards. This touches the honour, and the moral sense, forsooth, of gamesters; so that the delinquent, if his fraud be manifest, falls under the general reprobation, and is no longer considered as fit for the company of gentlemen. On the other hand, what is fair play? Assuredly, it has a marvellous latitude of meaning. For according to the casuistry of even the most upright and honorable gamesters, “ Every advantage may be legitimately taken of the young, the unwary, and the inebriated, which superior coolness, skill, address, and activity can supply.” Yes, the gamester may inveigle the unwary youth to the table, and artfully lead him on, step by step, till he has stripped him of his whole patrimony; or he may secretly help to intoxicate a fellowplayer, and, taking advantage of his inebriation, instantly plunge him into a condition of wretchedness and ruin--he may do all this, and much more, and yet be considered as a fair gamester, a gentleman of honour!

The dreadful consequences of gaming are too numerous to be told in a short essay, and some of them are too obvious to need it. I touch not upon the most awful part of the subject--the hopeless death of the unrepenting gamester, and the peculiar terribleness of his audit. Nor will the narrow limits I have prescribed to myself permit me to detail the deplorable consequences that this practice brings after it upon society at large. I will only mention, therefore, some instances of the harm which gamesters inevitably bring upon themselves in the present life : meaning this for the special benefit of those, who are but in the threshold of the practice.

“Every amiable propensity in the heart of man, every endearing tie, every sacred pledge, every honorable feeling, are set aside and forgotten when gaming takes possession of the human mind.” This is not said at random ; it is the voice of truth and experience, and has been exemplified in innumerable instances. And yet the danger is neither seen nor apprehended, by the young beginner. Many a youth of fair promise enters

upon the career of gaming, more out of thoughtlessness than 'viciousness. Not aware of the fraud with which the system is implicated, nor of the train of bad propensities that necessarily enter into the composition of a gamester, he steps into the fatal path without intention of pursuing it far, and without fear of being lost in its labyrinths. But presently the leprosy seizes him, and the plague of it overspreads his whole mind and heart. His love of gaming increases, alike, whether he gains or loses. It fixes, and as it were fascinates, his whole attention ; so that every thing else is neglected. The company he keeps, the language he hears, the scenes of depredation he daily witnesses, poison, within him, the source of moral feel. ing. The jealousy, the rage, the revenge, incidental to the employ in which he is engaged, generate a ferocity of temper. He is lost to all that is good, and prepared for every evil. He that, by habits of industry, might have been of competent wealth; he that might have been the source of joy and felicity to an amiable wife, and the father of a progeny that would have blessed his

memory; he that might have been an ornament to society and an honor to the family of man,-is, at last, a vagabond-—as destitute of property as of principlethe grief and shame of his kindred

despised of the world, and a burden to himself.

« ПредишнаНапред »