An Exposée of the whole system of GAMBLING, as practised in the most notorious LONDON HELS
OF all the disgraceful scenes which deform the metropolis, the most vicious and ruinous is that of the fashionable hells, or rouge et noir gambling; and it is matter of astonishment and reproach, that they have yet remained undisturbed by the law, and hitherto unnoticed by the public press. At this time a large number of these sinks of iniquity are open for the purposes of fraud and seduction in noon-day, and not a few profane the Sabbath by their diabolical and sinful practices.
Although the metropolis has been time out of mind infested with the imps of play, it has only been within the last ten years that they have dared thus openly to pursue the practice in the broad face of day. It may be impossible to entirely suppress the vice of gambling, but surely some legislative enactment might be found which would destroy the bands of well-organized gamblers who now spread their nets for the unwary, and pursue their infamous courses in the very centre of British society, and in the neighbourhood of the throne and the two houses of parliament.
In exposing the vice we shall, however, cautiously avoid giving additional pain to the agonized feelings of those who, from the force of example and the seductive influence of fashion, may have been incautiously made the dupes of wily and experienced sharpers.
Our object is only to attack the incorrigible and the acknowledged professor; the hunter who starts the game, and pursues his victim till he has, for his own base purpose, plunged him, and with him, wife, children, kindred, friend, into the gulf of misery, penury, and destruction. To unravel the mystic web of secrecy with which these sharpers hive surrounded themselves, was a work of no mean exertion or enterprise. That we have succeeded (beyond even our most sanguine wishes) will be of little gratification to us, if we should fail in producing what we most desire, the interference of the legislature in suppressing these schools of infamy. To this end we labour, and to effect this purpose we shall give a history of the different gambling-houses, the proprietors, the frequenters, the game, hours of play, stakes played for; with such anecdotes as will tend to illustrate and expose the baneful and pernicious effects of gambling.
The gambling-house displays a heterogeneous mass of human character, weakness, folly, and duplicity, that is not to be met with in any other situation. We shall endeavour to place an impartial picture before the eyes of our readers, and it will be the fault of those who are addicted to play, if they do not profit by the exposure.
The following is a list of the principal gambling-houses:-- The G-- H--, in P-- M--, formerly conducted by a Clergyman of the Church of England, (lately abolished). In addition to which, there are--
- Five Houses in Pall Mall
- One House in Jermyn-street
- Two in St. James's-street
- One in Cleveland-row
- One in Bennett-street
- One in Piccadilly
- Two in King-street
- One in Leicester-square
- Four in Bury-street
To which might be added a long list of minor Hells, in and about the same neighbourhood.
Some of the Principal Black Legs are known among their own fraternity by the following nick-names:--
- The Leviathan
- The Mathematician
- The Black Dwarf
- The Hebrew Star
- The Calculator
- The Neptune
- The Four German Barons
- Jack Spiggot
- Coaxing Tom
- Captain Whimper
- The Pill Gilder
- Mother Bunch
- Count Bluster
- Ella Rosenberg
- Old Square Toes
- Portugal John
To these might be added a very numerous list of persons of the very highest rank in the state, not excepting some of orthodox habits, from the top of nobility down to the very lowest of the low, the scum and outcast of society, all commingled and identified in one ruinous vice; all following the same criminal pursuits, and each one endeavouring, by every means in his power, to ruin his fellow.
These dens have the appearance of private dwellings, with the exception, that the hall door of each is left ajar, during the hours of play, like those of trap-cages, to catch the passing pigeons, and to obviate the delay which might be occasioned by knocking; a delay that might expose the customers to a glance of an unsuspecting creditor, a confiding father, or a starving wife. It is generally understood that a stranger must be what they term "introduced" before he can get admission, or permission, to lose his money; and this is to obviate the danger of being surprised by the officers of the law: but it is, alas! too easy to break through that rule; and any gentleman, whom the door-keeper has sufficient reason to think is not a constable, finds the avenues of these labyrinths too ready to his foot.
On passing the outer door the visitor is impeded by another in the centre of the hall, in which is constructed a small spy-hole, exhibiting the fixed ball of a ruffian's eyes, intently examining his figure. If the visitor is a fair pigeon or an old crow, he is at once admitted by this Cyclops, and politely bowed upstairs; at the top of which another gate unbars its power. To this succeeds the last of these barriers, a massy iron door, which on opening presents the visitors of the house with a scene of dazzling astonishment. Around an oblong table, covered with green cloth, assemble the votaries of gaming on each side: while in the centre sit the priests of the ceremony: one to deal the cards and decide events, the other to assist him in collecting the plunder following these events. Behind the company are seen two or three or the proprietors, with eagle-eye, watching the progress of their gains: remorseless, avaricious, and happy, unmarked with the lines of care which contract and deform the faces of their victims, -- "they smile, and smile, and murder while they smile."
Their attention is always directed to the Punters, (or Players) and they talk and take snuff with them, not forgetting to explain the fairness of the game, and the great losses they have sustained! While the stranger's eye is delighted, and his avarice stimulated by a profusion of money flying about the table, and heaped in the centre, his senses become harmonized with his hopes through the influence of strong wines, liquors, &c., with which he is unceasingly plied by the obliging waiters; and, believing that his Midas touch must turn anything into gold, he boldly adventures.
In nine cases out of ten he is successful on his first night's play; and in the glare of his imaginary good fortune, he loses sight of all that proper value which he had before been accustomed to bestow upon his money; be becomes profuse in his expenditure, believing that half an hour at Rouge et Noir will make up for all, and he blesses the inventor of a system which ensures him all the happiness of unlimited fortune. A few days, or weeks at the most, convince him of his chimerical castles; and poverty, contempt, and destruction, tumble in upon him with all their horrors. It is not unfrequently the case, that men who one day stood beside the proprietors of these tables, not only independently, but looked down upon them, the next day they have been obliged to entreat their pecuniary assistance, and to receive the mortification of a refusal.
DESCRIPTION OF A GAMBLER AT ROUGE ET NOIR
It is heart-rending to observe the progress of the unfortunate votaries to this destructive game, as they gradually sink into the various stages of misery and want. A young man of fortune is first seen playing high stakes, with hundreds, and even thousands of pounds before him; he has alternate success, until losses throw him off his guard: desperation then seizes him, and he loses all. The following day he appears with a new capital; and again is unsuccessful. Thus he goes on, day after day, until his resources are exhausted; his credit gone, and his character blasted; he can now only play occasionally, and, when he does play, his stake is a crown, or less, as the gambling house he frequents, admits.
His appearance, which was at first fashionable and gay, and his clothes, new and well-made, are now sadly changed. He is haggard and pale, pining under distress and care; has passed the preceding night at the Rouge Table, and afterwards lingered the time away at Hazard, until five or six in the morning, and finished all by a futile attempt at borrowing a crown, probably from the waiter at the table; his fine spirit is gone; he shuns the companions of his brighter days, he is himself avoided, and styled a Gambler, or Black Leg. Look at him -- where is the Man of Fashion? This cannot be him, this young man has a rusty hat and thread-bare coat on: he wears patched boots, and dirty linen; his pantaloons are in holes, and he is detected sneaking through lanes and courts to avoid his creditors, for he owes money to every person who would trust him.
Such is the career of the Rouge et Noir Gambler.
THE first in order, and in consequence, of these Temples of Iniquity, (which has lately been closed,) was known by the name of the G-- H--. This spacious building was fitted up in the most extravagant style of modern elegance, a profusion of chandeliers and candelabras were tastefully arranged to light the victims to the altar of seduction. The furniture was of the most splendid description, and in the ante-room were arranged a collection of the most fragrant shrubs and choice exotics, forming a grove through which the dupes of these demons were led to destruction.
This house was opened by a joint stock company of the most experienced gamblers, and was intended by its sumptuous fittings, and extravagant arrangements, to have been exclusively used for the purpose of easing young noblemen and men of fortune of their superfluous cash, and the unnecessary incumbrance of a good estate, or the more weighty difficulty of a large funded property.
The project originated with, and was carried into execution by, a Reverend Divine, who officiated as the high-priest of this Temple of Vice.
As there are some curious circumstances connected with the origin of this house, it would not be doing justice to the parties or the public to pass them by unnoticed, particularly as the history abounds with some curious characteristic anecdotes of this class of persons.
A banker had become enamoured of a celebrated courtesan, over whose confidence the Reverend Professor of the Black Art had a most unlimited control. This lady lived in a very splendid style, kept her carriage and her establishment in elegant liveries, gave splendid parties to a few choice friends, and was in fact the gaze of fashion, and the great orb of attraction among the licentious and the giddy, who buzz around the unfathomable whirlpool of destructive folly. Many were the attempts of the Banker to obtain an interview with this adorable, but all his efforts proved abortive, till he had made certain arrangements with the high-priest of her presence, her orthodox confessor.
Acceptances upon the Banking house were given for a sum of Five Thousand Pounds, and to this was added a bonus of Two Thousand more in ready rhino, such was the infatuation of this deluded man for a notorious Cyprian, who, but a short time before was a nightly attendant in the lobbies of the theatres.
Up to this period, the Parson had been a constant visitor at the most notorious play-houses, occasionally picking up a crown or guinea as the pigeons were knocked down by the more wealthy and successful players. Tired of his dependence upon this precarious revenue, and elated with the success of his late negotiation (which far exceeded his former exploits with a French chere amie,) the Reverend determined to form a society of congenial worthies for the humane and moral purpose of opening a superior Gambling House. The abilities of the Parson were too generally acknowledged not to be highly appreciated, and accordingly eight other depredators embarked with the Parson in the New Gambling Scheme.
The house was opened with great éclat, but the success was by no means equal to the anticipated gains of the parties; in short, the thing was badly managed; the entrance through seven different doors before you gained the Sanctum Sanctorum was rather calculated to create suspicion in the minds of the most volatile or thoughtless; in fact, the object was too notorious, and young men of fashion, although quite foolish enough generally speaking, were not to be duped out of their money quite so glaringly.
A separation of partnership was the consequence, but the Parson being quite as well versed in the common as the canon law, and being withal in possession of the premises, determined to remain in statu quo. This was a gambling transaction, and such subjects are always viewed with a suspicious eye, both by judge and jury; the Parson was therefore under no great apprehensions of legal reprisal, and being thus firmly seated in a new and elegant establishment, determined to stand his ground, set his partners at defiance, and keep possession of the property.
Some of the associated robbers brought actions for their One Thousand Five Hundred Pounds each, but the Parson managed to justify the bail, and the plaintiffs were too wise to proceed.
Ultimately the house was let by the Parson to a company of Foreigners, at the head of whom was a person calling himself a Baron. The rent was thirty guineas per day, and thirteen guineas more were paid for house expenses, for which the Parson supplied the company with wine, sandwiches, tea, coffee, and refreshments. The sums, thus paid, will give some idea of the enormous gains of these houses, and to this is to be added the sums paid to the dealers and room-porters, door-keepers, &c., some of whom have their five pounds per day, and all are very liberally rewarded.
The play at this house was from five shillings to nominally one hundred pounds; but, in fact, for any sum you pleased, by its being previously mentioned to the banker.
The chances in Rouge et Noir are about two per cent against the player upon every stake arising from the apres, which, occur twice out of three deals, or about twice in eighty coups or events. Hazard was also played here to a very great extent, and it was no unusual circumstance to see one thousand pounds upon the table at a time.
Some short time after the Parson had opened his Saloon, he found out that some forgeries had been committed upon his bank, with respect to the introduction of ivory counters which were then in use. He laid a wager with one of his partners, that before twenty- four hours, he would detect the person who brought them to the house. A gentleman who had been in the daily habit of playing at his table, happened to be sent for by a friend, with whom he had made an appointment, and as it was in the middle of a deal he did not wish to disturb the game by getting change for sixteen counters be had left, and told the croupier he would take them away, and return and play them in the evening. During his absence, a set of silver counters were substituted in lieu of the ivory, and when he came in the evening, be found to his astonishment, that be was not permitted to stake them; they were alleged to be forgeries. The gentleman protested against such usage, and said he had received them at the table in the morning, and appealed to one of the croupiers, who confirmed his statements, but said that nothing could be done until the Parson made his appearance. When he came he examined the tokens, and declared eight out of sixteen to be false, charged the gentleman with having had them made, and said he had a person in the house who was ready to swear he had given him an order to make fourteen pounds worth. The gentleman demanded to be confronted with him, and upon questioning the man whether he had ever employed him, he declared he had never seen him in his life, nor was he like the person he had given a description of. Upon which his reverence got in a great passion, and swore with many oaths they were both a set of swindlers, and that his opinion was not in the least altered respecting the transaction, and that he had now won his wager.
The Parson could bully in safety as he knew the gentleman could not resent any insult he might offer, being bound over by his friends not to play; and if it were known he was in the habit of so doing he would lose a considerable annuity. Of this person the Parson made selection as an instrument to win his wager.
THE house at the corner of B-- Street, St. James's, is generally denominated the dandy house. Here the most elegant suppers are gratuitously given to the infatuated punters, as an inducement to play; the most intoxicating wines are freely distributed, and every luxury provided that can lull suspicion, and promote the views of the experienced sharper. The stakes here are from five shillings to one hundred pounds, but for any sum the punter pleases, by its being previously named to the banker. Many of the young officers of the guards, and some clerical associates, will remember their reverses in this house while they live.
It was here that one young man was first initiated into this dreadful vice, and afterwards ruined of all the property bequeathed to him by his lamented father; yet, such is his infatuation, that he still continues a constant visitant at all the notorious hells, being by nature far more attentive to the study of rouge et noir than to the honourable and lucrative profession which rendered his father one of the brightest ornaments of society.
As a proof of the destructive effects of such associations, we shall here relate an anecdote of this young man, which, we are sorry to say, is by no means a singular occurrence among the dissipated and thoughtless, who, driven to desperation, seize on any circumstance to recover some portion of their losses. This young sprig of fashion, and student of Lincoln's Inn, after losing in one night upwards of seven hundred pounds, went to a pawn-broker's in Jermyn-street, disrobed himself of his shirt, pledged it for the paltry sum of eight shillings, then buttoned up sans linen, and returned to the table, where he won about one hundred pounds of his money back again; and, will, it be believed, made his boast of the degrading circumstance which had enabled him to resume the same.
Next in destructive consequence to the Hell we last described is one in K-- Street, St. James. The proprietors of this den of infamy have assisted in no small degree for some years to people the King's Bench prison. The public cannot fail to be benefited by a full view of the internal mechanism by which, this diabolical engine is kept in daily motion.
There are four croupiers, who alternately deal the cards. One was formerly a commissariat clerk; and one a brother to the proprietor (and of slight-of-hand notoriety, having always at command a thirty-one apres, whenever the stakes are high).
These gentry are in perfect training, and move as regular as clock- work, receiving a stipend of from three to four pounds per week, and a percentage upon the winnings, or rather plunder. This is done with a view to keep them upon the alert, and to extinguish any spark of pity that might kindle in their bosom: in a few weeks they become as callous and hard-hearted as their employers.
There are also in the constant pay of the concern, a number of ruined gamesters, who are employed in the capacity of recruiting officers, who frequent the fashionable coffee-houses at the West- end, insinuate themselves into the society of young men of fashion, introduce them to the houses, and are paid a bonus by the proprietors, great, in proportion to the sum their victim has been robbed of.
When the company musters thick, and there is much play, two of them take their seats at the table opposite to each other, and deal the cards by turns. Their fame for slight of hand is too well known to require any comment; suffice it to say, that when they preside, the colour on which the most money is staked is sure to lose, or if stakes are nearly equal on both, a thirty-one apres is made, which gives them the half of both the stakes.
This is playing a sure game, and numberless are the victims whom these all-devouring monsters have thus destroyed; many are the instances of men, who after having been ruined by them, have been brought to the gallows. They have caused more ruin than plague, pestilence, or famine, could have done; their system of play is founded on deceit of all sorts, and by such means they rise like mushrooms, become suddenly rich, owing their wealth to no qualities but such as are most despicable, and holding in utter contempt those who strive to gain an independence by slow and honest means. Fraud and villainy are the deities worshipped by them, and at the shrine of their insatiate avarice, is immolated the victim, who, had he not been decoyed to this den of thieves, might still have continued to be happy.
To illustrate this, let us cite the example of one of the first brokers upon 'Change, who, a few years ago, rolled in wealth, whom they have actually stripped of incalculable sums, and now reduced next door to beggary. Of all the Hells about St. James's, this is the most infamous (the parson's excepted) and its proprietors ought to be held up to public execration.
Two gallants, brothers, officers in the army, who, after having escaped the dangers and perils of the peninsular war, returned home to enjoy in the bosoms of their families that peace and comfort which their patrimony, of which they had lately become possessed, promised them the enjoyment, became the prey of the recruiting serjeants belonging to this establishment, in three years were fleeced of a very large sum of money, and very speedily both were confined in prison.
Let us next take a peep a few doors lower in the same street, kept by the elder, and Dick -- of E. O. table, and false dice notoriety. This Hell is less in rank, though not least in villainy, to the foregoing; the aiders and abettors are Bill, son to the aforementioned, who bids fair to rival his sire in the arts of false play; Tommy, ci-devant conductor of stores to the army, a complete Greek, always ready at hand, to second the motion of Dick when a Johnny Newcome is to be fleeced; and last, not least, behold the Squire, who, under the most meek and sanctified outward appearance, conceals all the tricks and devices of an experienced black-leg, a perfect Iago.
Of such materials is composed the staff of this establishment, besides a good corps de reserve, always at hand.
They profess to place on the table a bank of three hundred pounds, but it scarce ever exceeds one hundred and fifty pounds, and with this trifling sum, they contrive to win from four hundred to five hundred pounds daily, and 'tis not rare to see an individual lose from eight hundred to twelve hundred pounds at a sitting. The stakes are from two shillings and six-pence to twenty-five pounds; one shilling and six-pence and two shillings are frequently put down by the broken punter, and the smallest donations are thankfully received by the bank.
You may daily behold at the table individuals who constantly win; they are in the secrets of the cabinet, and play for the bank in order to delude the young and unsuspecting punter into a belief there is a possibility of winning, although experience proves that certain ruin is sure to overtake him who is so infatuated as to persist in following up this destructive game.
They seldom, at this house, give the broken-down player the opportunity of resorting to the pawnbroker to recruit his finances; if the victim has about his person a valuable watch, seals, chain, diamond broach, or ring, from the moment of his entering this den of thieves, Tommy has already calculated its probable value, and steps forward and generously offers to lend about half its worth, on this security, encouraging the poor fellow again to try his luck, and he has always at his elbow one of the recruiting squad to recount some unaccountable story of Mr Such-a-one, who borrowed a few pounds on the security of his watch, and won all the money on the table. The poor fellow is credulous, again ventures, and, in a few moments, loses his last stake. When it is considered that his means are exhausted, and he neglects to redeem his pledges, in a few days, he is deemed completely plucked, and is refused admittance, unless he is base enough to consent to introduce some candidate who is flush (to use the cant words), in which case he is enrolled on the recruiting service, and is paid in proportion to the ruin he entails on those who may be weak enough to be deluded by him.
The bank can at first sight detect a forged note, being adepts in that science; yet 'tis very strange how many forged notes are received by the punters, and if they attempt to return them they are threatened with exposure. These practices, strange as it may appear, are carried on in the open face of day, and in defiance of the wise laws which have been enacted to prevent excessive and destructive gaming.
PROCEED we next to a description of one of the Hells in B-- Street, St. James's. The door is decorated with a brass plate, bearing the name of a pretended merchant. The hours of destruction in this place are from one to four in the forenoon, and from seven to eleven or twelve at night.
This hell is an immense gulf, in which many have been totally swallowed up, many very much shattered and damaged, some quite disjointed and broken to pieces; some, perhaps, may have escaped the common wreck, but the number of the last is very small.
The proprietors and setters-up of the game of Rouge et Noir, at this place, are, first, a notorious black-leg, who has realized a good fortune at the trade, and is said to be the proprietor of a large estate at Sydenham in Kent. Second, one called Vulcan, from his being lame; if report speaks true, 'tis said he was hurled (not from heaven), but from a second-floor window, by a son of Mars, some years since, for some little irregularity in casting the bones. His present occupation is that of catching Pigeons, with a net of his own construction, the meshes of which are so artfully woven as to be imperceptible, and very few, who have the misfortune to be, caught, escape complete plucking from the fangs of this Polyphemus. Third, Captain --. He may never have distinguished himself in that capacity, but it must be allowed that the trade he has been following up, for some years past, has disgraced him as an officer and a gentleman. He is a character devoid of moral feeling, who did not scruple to initiate his son in the mysteries of the Pandemonium, and made him his locum tenens, while forced to secrete himself, in consequence of writs being issued against him. Men, however depraved, generally wish to keep their offspring free from depravity; but with him 'tis quite the reverse, lucre is his god, and at its shrine he does not scruple to sacrifice parental duty and affection, and without compassion or remorse, converts into deadly poison the food he administers. Fourth, Jemmy, who goes by many names, and is as complete a master of the art of legerdemain as any professor at present exhibiting within the precincts of St. James's; famous for the undeviating and continued assiduity with which he has pursued his gambling career from year to year -- whose depth of calculating villainy is only exceeded by his power of assuming the semblance of modesty, a saint in appearance, but a demon in reality!!!
These are the proprietors of this Hell -- a quartetto of fit associates who have formed an odious and abominable conspiracy to effect the ruin of all who have the misfortune to come within their vortex.
A notice, framed and glazed, to the following purport, is exhibited most conspicuously opposite each entrance of the rooms:-"The bank will be on the table precisely at one o'clock in the forenoon till four o'clock, and in the evening at seven till eleven; the stakes are from two shillings and sixpence to twenty pounds."
The staff of this establishment is not so numerous, but equally, if not better, organized than that of their neighbours. There are three croupiers in daily attendance. One, a ci-devant dealer in cattle, from Yorkshire, who, in an unlucky moment was induced to play, lost his all, and became a Pigeon, and, as a dernier resort, was forced to take service under the banners of the Captain. He, however, to speak the truth, is a good sort of a fellow, merely a dealer, and not initiated in the mysteries of the black art, and is possessed of more feeling than could be supposed to be left to one of his employ.
Next comes a knight of the needle, who, feeling himself above his calling, and "malicious fate having given him high notions and a small estate," threw cabbage to the dogs (it was not profitable enough), slept all day and diced all night; being raw and inexperienced found himself deficient of the quelque chose, joined a band of strolling players -- paid his footing, and was admitted a member of the association, and from that time permitted to vend his quaint saying, ply his nostrums, and physic the flats. Such were his natural abilities, that from an entered apprentice he was raised to a fellow craft, and with hasty strides soon acquired the rank of a free and accepted blackleg. Scorning to be a satellite, he was not tardy in eclipsing his teachers, and blazed forth upon the horizon a fixed star of the first magnitude. Nothing could escape him, every passing meteor being obliged to pay tribute; those who, previous to his appearance, conceived themselves in the ascendency, were soon proved to be in the decline. He was a good judge, for he always backed the caster out; he could read the book of fate, foretell events, and was even gifted with second sight!!! His being no borrowed light, he felt assured he could work in the open face of day as well as by night. He sold his knowledge to the proprietors of this house; and it is here this worthy officiates at the game of Rouge et Noir, having always ready a quaint saying, or an obscene jest (for he is disgustingly foul-mouthed), to divert the attention of his punters from the tricks he is playing them. He assumes the most careless manner of dealing the cards, and an observer would draw the conclusion, that he is naturally awkward; in fact, he appears everything but a professor. How many have been deceived by him, how many have reason to curse the day they came in contact with him!
Seated opposite to him may be seen the golden knight, commonly known by the name of Porpoise, from the unwieldy bulk of his stinking carcass, for it "hath an ancient and fish-like smell."
This hero is not so barefaced, yet not a whit less rogue than the knight of the needle. He is a good dealer, and surprisingly active at his trade; he can handle the cards with such ease, that the punters very soon find themselves eased of the weight of their cash. Should he hear any complain of ill luck, he gives them some consolatory speech, coupled with the assurance that if they will but "call again to-morrow," it is more than probable they shall retrieve their loss; for, says he, (while he is shuffling, or rather packing the cards,) 'tis very singular to be for ever hearing gentlemen complaining they always lose; I can assure them (drawing himself up in his chair, and looking big), we have, I mean the bank has, been losing for the last eight months:" - "Tis true, so help me Bob," echoes the tailor; his deluded audience, for the most part, take this for granted, and keep at the game as long as there is a shot in the locker, but alas! their eyes are only open to conviction when 'tis too late.
In fact, to those who are not in the secret of the Pandemonium, it would appear the bank did not win; for the moment any punter has been fleeced by the confederated black-legs present, in comes one of their squad, and, after exchanging a few winks and significant nods with the dealers, plays the highest stakes, and soon clears the bank of the winnings, makes his exit, and as soon as strangers have withdrawn, returns, and pays back the money, receiving his percentage for the job.
It is impossible to have any suspicion of these gentry, as they are dressed in the very height of fashion, and come to the door either in their gig or on horseback, attended by a servant. The Captain keeps a gig for that very purpose; some of these gentry are styled captains, colonels, and baronets. Having played their part for a term, they are relieved by other actors; they are in perfect training; and a very lucrative employment it is.
Let us now take a cursory view of the company frequenting this hell. A bullying, thrice-bankrupted horse-dealer, and a pawn- broker from the Strand, are in daily attendance, the first a rogue in grain, and a sharp; the second a flat, who, if he has but for a while longer the run of the house, will be forced to take refuge up his own spout; they both act as supporters to an elegant, accomplished, and facetious A-- of F--, who, though a severe sufferer, swears, he will die game, "and cock-a-oodle-doo crow whilst he can." Many of his acquaintance have wondered why he put down his curricle; had they known he played rouge et noir, and French hazard, they would have been able to account satisfactorily for the circumstance.
Among the numerous visitors, behold, also a city broker, a German lieutenant, a hatter from Oxford-street, a collector of poor rates, an army agent, and the little whipper-snapper measurer of miles, near Charing Cross, formerly a partner in the firm of this hell. The little Tom-tit, or Lady-killer, and the brave major and learned doctor of the same regiment. The latter swears it gives him the jaundice to be so fleeced, and declares he will leave it off, yet is sure to be the first at play the next day.
Two Roulette Banks are daily and nightly open, in St. James's of which Monsieur -- is the principal manager; the other in -- Place, St James's under the auspices of Monsieur -- and Mynheer --, well known by the name of the Hebrew Star. This concern is reaping a golden harvest, they have contrived to fleece Colonel -- of some very heavy sums.
This game of Roulette, Anglice Roly-poly, seems to have taken deep root, and the number of its dupes seem to be daily increasing. Other tables have found their way across the channel, together with a set of French croupiers. It is wonderful how they continue to get these roulette tables to this country: they surely are too bulky to be smuggled as a parcel of French lace. Do the Custom-house officers allow them to pass on paying duty? The natural supposition would be, that the use of such articles being strictly prohibited in the country, they would be considered as contraband, and the individuals attempting to introduce them liable to be prosecuted.
This Mons. B. is concerned with all the roulette banks in London, -- to him we owe the introduction of this pestilence, and we sincerely hope that the retributive arm of justice will reach this delinquent before he has time to secure his unlawful gains and depart from this country. Let the police-officers be on the alert.
One of the principal Hells is a house at the corner of -- Row, Piccadilly, where Hazard and Rouge et Noire are played for the benefit of a company of six black legs. As two of the proprietors are so notorious for every description of foul play, it was thought prudent their names had better be kept a secret. A-- of Sloane Street, was a groom-porter to a person that kept a Hazard table at the corner of St. James's Street, some few years back. He then went to a coffee house in the same Street. C. was a fishmonger's man in the Strand, but was all ways amongst low Greeks, at the inferior Hells, till he became what they call a good workman, at card and dice. Another proprietor was originally a lighterman, tugging at the oar on the Thames, and being considered a good ruffian, he was employed by P-- of lottery fame, (who kept a gaming-house in Pall Mall,) also as croupier, or groom-porter, as he might be wanted. A circumstance one night, when he was dealing the cards at faro, fixed his fortune. Sir C-- was playing, and having won a large sum of money at Hazard, and being elated with his success, said to a gentleman that was with him, "If I win this stake, I will give it to the croupier," which was C--. The baronet won, and as he did not play any more that night, he gave it to C--. The sum was fifteen or seventeen hundred pounds. C--has been known to say, that he has never wanted money since. He after this attended Newmarket -- got concerned with the training grooms and jockeys, and now is a great man in his own estimation; he is a little hurt at his old acquaintance calling him by the name of Happy Jerry.
There is a new firm of Greeks established at Cheltenham, who think themselves very snug. The proprietors of this firm are, a person of the name of K--, master of the rooms, a son of K--, who kept a Hazard table, in Jermyn-street, and Pall Mall: also a Mr B--, who was a Billiard sharp in London for years. This B--, was considered the best packer of cards at Rouge et Noir of any of them, and cogger of a dice on dice, so you may judge how the people are fleeced here. The other partner's name is --, a broken down lawyer; this gentleman is considered clever at all games; he can hand, reef, and steer with anyone of them; he has a wife that is reported as clever as himself, and can cog a dice, or pack the cards at Whist, or any other game, as well or better than her spouse. This gentleman has a cottage, where he gives elegant supper parties, or dinner, as it may suit. They are carrying on a roaring trade. The last mentioned hero keeps his hunter and dogs, and picks up a number of flats in the winter, with the assistance of a certain Colonel --, a sprig of fashion in the neighbourhood.
ROUGE ET NOIR, or, as the French call it, Trente et Quarante, was introduced into this country some twenty-five or thirty years ago, and took the place of FARO, which has not been publicly played for many years; indeed, the odds at that game, and the fraudulent tricks practised by the bankers, soon rendered the game obsolete. Rouge et Noir is daily and nightly played at all the Hells, about thirty in number, in St. James's.
The company take their seats at an oblong table, about six yards long, and two and a half broad; on each side, at the centre, sits a croupier (i. e. dealer) with bank notes and gold before him, and in turn one of these worthies deal the cards, that is three deals each in succession. At about eighteen inches from each extremity of the table, which is covered with green cloth after the fashion of a Billiard table, there are two patches, one red and the other black, about three feet and a half long by two feet and a half broad; above these there are two spaces marked by a yellow line. The punters, for so the persons who play are called, place upon the patches, either on the red or black patches as they may fancy, the sum of money they wish to stake. The cards are then shuffled, which consist of six packs, and tell as follow. Court cards are valued at ten pips, and aces for one; other cards as they are marked. The dealer, taking up a handful of cards goes on dealing the first row, which is always for the black, and stops as soon as the pips exceed thirty; thus, if he deals out three court cards, or three tens, which make thirty, he must go on with another card, which we will suppose to be an ace, it makes thirty-one, the lowest number. He then stops and cries ONE, deals out another row for the red, and if the pips exceed thirty-one the red loses. Thus an eight, two tens, and a five, which make thirty-three pips, he cries three, red loses, and goes on in this manner, taking the lowest number between thirty and forty. The money staked on the losing colour is drawn by the croupiers with a rake of the shape of a garden hoe, and an equal sum paid to what has been staked upon the winning colour.
The odds at this game in favour of the bank, if no fraud is practised, may be reckoned at about two and a half per cent.
When both colours turn up thirty-one, which is called a one apres, the money staked on both colours is drawn within the two spaces mentioned, and the players have the option of halving their stake with the bank, or trusting to the chance of the next event: he who is then upon the winning colour receives back his original stake only, and the croupiers draw the money on the losing side; so that every time a thirty-one apres occurs, the bank wins half the money staked upon the table. The average is, that three thirty-one apres takes place in two deals, or nineteen events; each deal consists of never less than twenty-eight coups or events.
To give an idea of the profits accruing to the keepers of these Hells, let us select the one kept by J-- D-- and R-- D-- in K-- Street, St. James's, one of the minor Hells, where to a certainty ten pounds may be averaged to be staked through the year upon every event. They play at this Hell full eight hours per day, three deals take place every hour, which makes twenty-four deals per day. Consequently thirty-six one apres takes place, on each of which they win five pounds, making L.180 per day, L.1,080 per week, and L.56,160 per annum. In this estimate the stakes are averaged very low, for frequently may be seen from L.50 to L.300 staked upon a coup or event.
Those who are infatuated or silly enough to follow this destructive game for any length of time, are sure to be fleeced of their last farthing; and the foregoing calculation has clearly proved, that a person playing every day at Rouge et Noir, and staking only one pound on each event, is sure to be loser at the end of the year, to the amount of L.5,616. Suppose a person stakes only half-a-crown on each event, he must pay to the bank for thirty-six apres four pounds ten shillings in the course of a day's play, twenty-seven pounds per week, and in a year, fifty-two weeks, L.1,404.
That it is impossible for anyone to be a winner for any length of time, was proved by a wager laid some time since by a gentleman and Mr T-- L-- of Roundhead notoriety, who betted that beginning play with twenty pounds every day, at anyone time of the day he should be a winner of half-a-crown, and this was to be done for thirty days, which if he accomplished Tommy -- was to pay him twenty pounds. He went on for some few days winning his half-a- crown, but the twentieth day lost his capital of twenty pounds, without being at anytime that day half-a-crown ahead; of course he lost his wager. Does not this circumstance prove, clear as day, that however great your capital may be at starting, your loss in the end will be great in proportion.
Enormous as the profits are to the bankers or setters up of, this game, still greater is their desire of satisfying their insatiate avarice; it is almost impossible to detect their ingenious villainy, or to check their art of multiplying deceit, which they practise with unblushing impunity. They can at any time when it is worth their while, and play is high, command a thirty-one apres. The young inexperienced player is generally permitted to win for the first two or three times, and when his appetite is a little whetted, they proceed secundem artem, to phlebotomise, or, to use their slang language, to flea bottomise their patient. To make use of a simile quite applicable to the worthy Tommy --, he may be considered as the Hyena, who begins by a private snap, goes on to a morsel among friends, proceeds to a meal, advances to a surfeit, and at last sucks blood like a vampire.
DESCRIPTION OF THE NEWLY-INTRODUCED FRENCH GAME OF ROULETTE, OR ROLY-POLY
ROULETTE is played upon a round table composed of thirty-eight compartments regularly numbered, thirty-six of which are for the players, and two for the bankers. The compartments (les cases) or receiving boxes, are numbered from one to thirty-six, half red and half black, the two remaining compartments, are marked one, by a single nought or zero, which is black; the other by a double zero, which is red. When the ball is delivered, it must, of inevitable necessity, fall into one of the compartments, which number is the decided winner on the six chances marked upon the cloth; the chance paid is equal to the stake put down, for the number thirty- five times the stake (la mise) is paid. Upon the columns, (as they are called) which is composed of thirty-six square compartments, ten in length divided by four, nine of which contain the thirty-six figures and four blanks; the double and single zeros being placed at the opposite end. At the sides are three elliptics, embracing three divisions of the figures, in which is written, Out, Red, Odd, on the one side; and In, Black, Even, on the other. Only eight times is paid, though it may be said thirty-six times is paid, taking the stake into consideration. When a simple or single Zero takes place, the banker calls out simple Zero, black or odds and in this case, he does not pay any chances, but sweeps up all the stakes both in the numbers and on the columns. It is precisely the same when the double Zero takes place.
The most villainous deceptions are practiced, at this game. The tables are made to act with a spring, which is managed with the foot, and by which means, the director can make a zero whenever he pleases. Of all the infamous games ever introduced in this country for the purpose of fraud and robbery, this is decidedly the most abominable. It is disgraceful to the police of the metropolis, that these gangs of French sharpers are allowed to pursue their destructive plans with impunity. Above twelve of these tables are now in play, both day and night, in the neighbourhood of St. James's alone. Can such things be, and escape the vigilance of the magistrates?
THAT gaming leads to every vice is so true, that the most humane persons, urged on by cards, have been known to commit the most detestable crimes. The following true tale will illustrate the above.
Antonio, the only son and heir of the Count C--, was brought up under the eyes of virtuous parents, and became himself a faultless being. His form was noble and commanding. In his open countenance you could read the slightest thought that was passing in his well-stored mind. His temper was gentle and humane. In fact, at the age of twenty, he was what every man should be, but few are. No one, however virtuous, but possesses a vice. No one, however vicious, but possesses a virtue. If Antonio did possess a vice, it was his adoration of beauty. And how excusable. What man that has not, at one time of his life, felt his heart palpitate with rapture at the approach of the fairest part of the creation? Oh! lost, indeed, is that man, whose careless breast is dead to every soft emotion. But even virtue, when it rises to a passion, descends to a vice.
Antonio became acquainted with a lovely female (Mademoiselle Louisa), who, under the garb of modesty, could throw out lures to catch the unsuspicious and innocent. Indeed, so great an adept she was in deception, that a painter would have chosen her outward form to portray Prudence: no wonder, then, that our hero, who was wont to look at beauty as the paragon of bliss, was easily deceived. For hours would he stand behind her chair, and listen to the fascinating tone of her harmonized voice; or, while she hung upon his arm, he would, with the greatest attention, hearken, as she conversed of that she knew alone by name -- virtue. Who would have thought, when they beheld her lovely blue eyes gazing with animation on the sky above her, while from her lips flowed pious praises to the Most High, that she was a hypocrite. In a countenance like hers, even Lavater could not have traced the dark recesses of her bosom. From the moment Antonio became acquainted with Louisa, he forgot all beside. At day he was her constant companion, at night her image floated before his eyes to bless his dreams. To oblige her, he would frequently sit down with some of her friends to a game of cards. And, although he generally got up minus twenty or thirty Louis, he did not heed the trifle, because he was placed next to Louisa, and he would have bought that bliss at a much higher price. Louisa's companions became his; and, by degrees, he grew so fond of cards, that his nights were spent in gaming. For Louisa would converse with him while her friends fleeced him of his money.
One night, in the absence of Louisa, he played higher than usual. Fortune against him, he became so frantic at his ill-luck, that he doubled the stakes at each time, till he found himself a ruined man, having lost every farthing he possessed. Distractedly he started up from the table, and rushed from the apartment into another that joined it, when, oh! horror, stretched on a sofa, lay Louisa locked in the arms of Henry de Virville, the man he thought his dearest friend, and to whom be had intrusted his love for Louisa. He felt his brain burn like flames of fire, and, drawing his sword, he flew towards them, and stretched them both lifeless at his feet.
Disturbed by a rustling noise, the servants entered the apartment, and found their mistress and M. de Virville laying weltering in their blood, while Antonio, with his still reeking sword, stood exultingly over them, "See, see!" he madly exclaimed, "Go, proclaim it to the world, Antonio is a ruined gamester and a murderer. She swore love to me (pointing to the dead body of Louisa)--I found her in the arms of De Virville -- I have punished them. -- One thing alone remains undone, and thus, then, ends Antonio's woes, and Antonio's crimes." Thus saying, before he could be prevented, he fell upon his sword, and, with a frantic shriek, expired.
Thus ended the life of one who, before he became acquainted with cards, was generally admired and courted. True he was seduced to play; but cards became first his passion, and then his ruin.
It is grievous to behold how much that detestable vice changes the nature, the conduct, the feeling, the countenance, of a human being.
"I have seen," says an indignant moralist, "and I relate it with horror, the countenance of beauty -- ay, of female beauty, so much distorted, that she appeared a complete fury; her eyes started from her head, her teeth gnashed with rage, and her passion was so great, that she could not speak for ten minutes, and all because her partner played a wrong card."
Lieutenant Carelly, a half-pay officer, quite upon the town, called upon his friend Juan for the loan of a sum of money, which the latter was unable to lend him. The Lieutenant observed, that there was no occasion for a spirited fellow to want money, while there was a gambling-house in St. James's, and accordingly proposed that they should go to one that very night. Juan had before heard that many men of fashion lived by frequenting these houses; and that some were so skilful or so fortunate in the line, as to pocket considerable sums every night, as regularly as if it were the income arising from the exercise of a trade or profession. He therefore dosed with the proposal, and, calling a coach, proceeded with the Lieutenant to No.--, St. James's Street.
The gambling-houses, or, as they have been very properly designated, Hells, are generally elegantly furnished houses, abounding in all parts of London, but particularly in and about the neighbourhood of St. James's; many of them are supported by the subscriptions of the visitors, and others are the private property of unprincipled individual speculators. To the extensive and destructive system of gambling carried on therein, may be traced too many of those afflicting instances of raving madness, of self- destruction, and the beggary of respectable families, which so frequently occur in the metropolis. Herds of black-legs and sharpers, without any other means of support than their illicit income from the gaming-table, frequent all those houses, where, by continual practice and collusion with the keeper of the house, they contrive to fleece their short-sighted dupes out of sums of money so considerable, as to enable them to live in all the pomp and state of independent fortune. When once an inexperienced person becomes introduced to this diabolical connexion, it rarely happens that he can shake it off before his present means, and even his future prospects in life, are entirely destroyed; for so completely does be become enveloped in their serpentine folds, that in the moment of frenzy produced by the loss of his ready cash, he suffers himself to be persuaded to sign promissory notes, or powers of attorney, transferring to the holder the growing rents of his estates, or the profits of his business; and instances have been known, wherein, on the death of a man who had lived in comfort and affluence upon an independent property, his whole estate has been claimed, to the ruin of his family, by virtue of post-obit bonds extorted from him under the irritation of loss, and the dread of exposure. Clerks and confidential servants having the chargé of their employer's money, are also frequently involved in infamy and ruin through their unfortunate visits to the gaming-table, where they are regularly fleeced out of everything they stake, and are at last induced to risk the property intrusted to their care, in the vain hope of recovering their losses, and preserving their characters.
The room was crowded to excess with anxious groups, some playing at the E.O. tables -- some at Faro -- others at Rouge et Noir, and several, in the true spirit of gambling, staking enormous sums on what suit would next turn up. Several young men, whom the Lieutenant noticed, were lounging about, apparently with no other object than that of partaking of the refreshments; but the scene was new to Juan, and his active observation soon passed from the mere lookers-on, to the actual performers of the important drama in progress; and he found an ample field for reflection in the countenances of a party seated round a table appropriated to the game of Hazard.
It was a mixed and piebald association, composed of clerks, tradesmen, half-pay officers, broken-down gentlemen, and professed gamblers, all intent on the turn of a card which would either consign to their grasp a considerable sum of money, or promote by another grade the destined ruin of themselves and families. Countenances that bore the stamp of youth, were distorted by internal emotions; cheeks seemed burning with rage, bosoms panting with disappointment; eyes darting forth the lightnings of despair; and pallid lips quivering with the apprehension of impending ruin. One individual alone seemed indifferent to the progress of the game, and altogether unmoved either by personal feelings or contagion from the atmosphere of agitation by which he was surrounded, This was a hoary-headed gambler -- a man grown old, and withering in the service of vice -- in whose veins the "milk of human kindness" had never circulated, and whose iron heart was impervious to every sensation of humanity. Whether by accident or fraud Juan could not discover, but so it was, that the card upon which the game depended turned up in favour of the hoary gamester, who eagerly cleared the table of the stakes, and coolly looking round upon his penniless and suffering victims, announced his triumph in a mixed farrago of oaths and blasphemies, and, for the first and only time, relaxed his frigid countenance into a Sardonic grin, while the rest of the party left the table with visible signs of desperation and despair!
"Well," thought Juan, "this is indeed a lesson of human infirmity and short-sightedness! The traveller who encounters the highway- robber -- the libertine who commits his life and fortune to the conduct of the wanton -- the mariner who launches his boat in a tempest -- or the aeronaut who consigns his flimsy car to the mercy of the hurricane -- all, all are less exposed to peril than the dupe who commits himself to the destructive vortex of a gaming-table! And yet the scene I now behold is one of no extraordinary occurrence, but the common every-day routine of a London gaming-house!"
The experienced Lieutenant Carelly was in luck that evening, and after having won a considerable sum, had the prudence to leave off, while Juan whose volatile and inconstant nature soon suppressed his moral reflections, becoming familiar with the scene, and recollecting the lowness of his finances, joined the table, and at two ventures lost all the money be had.
He was, however, so stimulated, both by the success of his companions and their sneers at his want of spirit, that he had already staked a considerable sum, which, if he had lost, he possessed no means of paying, when an unexpected circumstance relieved him from the probable consequences of such a proceeding. A whispering occurred at one end of the room -- a noise was heard on the stairs -- angry voices, and a scuffle! One of the company threw the cards which he was about to deal into the fire -- another hurled the dice through the window, and a third was about to follow the example by throwing himself after the dice, when the door was burst open, and a party of police officers entering, commanded all present to surrender at discretion.
A scene of infinite confusion ensued. Some attempted to break through the mass -- some overturned the tables, and others put out the lights. Juan made a dart at a window, and opened it with the intention of descending, when three or four legal intruders sprung from an ambush on the opposite side, and barred all egress. Meanwhile a regular battle-royal was going on in the dark -- some good blows were apparently put in on both sides, though the hands that dealt them were unseen. Through this mass our hero contrived, however, to fight his way, knocking some of the interlopers down, and walking over others; and, having groped his way to the door, made a rush downstairs, and thus succeeded in effecting his escape.
The interior economy of these schools of licentiousness and nurseries of vice, the utter hopelessness of anything like a rational chance of advantage to the casual player, and the immense profits made by the keepers of the tables, have of late been exposed in the following valuable observations, published in a daily journal: -- "There are, within ten minutes walk of one another in the neighbourhood of St. James's, upwards of thirty Gaming-houses, opening every day at different hours, from one in the day till two, three, and four in the morning; at some of which you may stake as low as two shillings, at others as high as two thousand pounds in one sum; and the tables are constantly filled with players. The profits of these tables, leaving out of the question unfair play, are immense. The banker's point, at the game universally played, Rouge et Noir, is termed a thirty-one apres, which is calculated to occur once in a deal of about twenty-eight coups. Upon this occasion all the money on the table is impounded, and the next deal decides which colour wins: the happy winner in this case gets back his stake only; the loser, of course, gets back nothing. This course is exactly equivalent to taking half the money staked on the table at the time the apres happens, and at many of the higher class of houses L.300 is staked every coup. Thus, then, we arrive at the means of ascertaining the profits of some of these concerns -- twelve deals in a night is a usual quantity, in these twelve deals, on an average, happen twelve apres, each giving the banker L.150; thus one day's profit amounts to no less than L.1,800, making a total of L.563,400, per annum, giving them credit for shutting Hell up on the Sabbath, which is seldom done.
"Well may these men afford to receive their guests in magnificent apartments, to spread out gratuitous feasts, with a profusion of wine, &c.! amply are they enabled to bribe (if such things can be) the Police; no wonder that, in defiance of law, these places are kept open, and that any man with the appearance of a gentleman, may be accommodated, to complete his ruin, with money upon his own cheque! let us wonder only at the infatuation of the players.
"That no one may doubt the immensity of the profits, it may be stated, that the sum paid to the French government for the licences for gaming, amounts to between two and three millions sterling per annum, and yet the contractor is generally the richest man in the kingdom; what then, must be his profits, and the profits of those who, by taking under-licences, make his fortune and their own? This ruinous game is carried on here to the same extent as it is in France, with this only difference, that here the bankers take all the profit. A player going in with five pounds, may imagine that he only pays his two per cent, (the lowest average profit of the banker) on five pounds; but if he has the usual fluctuation of luck, the fact is, that his five pounds will be staked twenty or thirty, perhaps fifty times, in the course of a day's play; thus, supposing, for the sake of example, this little sum shall have been staked twenty times backwards and forwards, he will have paid two pounds to the table. This calculation applied to L.100, of course gives L.40 as the sum paid for the opportunity of playing while the hundred pounds last." The encouragement which of late years has been given in this country to the professor of gaming, or, more properly speaking, of the black art, is truly wonderful;-- not content with those of our own growth, exotics coming from abroad receive every encouragement; here they strike root as soon as imported, and the parish of St. James's may be compared to a vast dunghill, which receives, and supplies them with that nutriment which their own vernacular soil denies them. They have made strange ravages there, and their depredations have spread with pestilential rapidity, infecting almost every rank, from the peer to the haberdasher's apprentice; while the vile miscreants, who are the abettors of this infernal system, fatten upon the very vitals of the victims they have immolated on the altar of destruction, enjoy perfect security, and continue their nefarious practices with unblushing, impudent audacity, under the very walls of a royal palace.
Formerly, men of the lowest stamp, sprung from the very dregs of the people, the vilest of the vile, were seen to embark in this trade of villainy and deceit, such has had forfeited every claim on society; but now we behold captains and colonels, holding his majesty's commission, coming forward and unblushingly announcing themselves as principal agents in this abominable traffic;-- but, "oh, shame! where is thy blush!" most conspicuous among this herd appears a clergyman of the Church of England, (holding a considerable living, stated at L.1,500 per annum) setting aside his sacred calling, presiding, officiating as high-priest at one of the most noted of these temples of iniquity! To this man we are indebted for the introduction of those foreigners who have of late infested this metropolis, and set up French hazard and roulette, or roly-poly, described in Chapter One.
It was under the patronage and fostering care of the Holy Saint that the notorious Monsieur B-- and his gang were introduced to this country; who, after having initiated his reverend patron and colleagues in all the mystery of the black art, for which, by-the- bye, the police of Paris, more on the alert than ours, forced him to emigrate, took his reverence completely in, who paid dear for his initiation fee, is now figuring away on his own account, leagued on the one hand with Colonel M--, and Monsieur B--, in C-- R--; and on the other with Mr--, alias the Hebrew Star; and, if report speak true, another establishment has been opened under the auspices of this worthy Monsieur B--, in M-- street, Manchester-square.
Honest Dick having, out of pure charity, taken his reverence in tow, has, in these days of trouble and tribulation, been named leader of the band, and he has now taken the field in earnest. He has lately been seen, like "Solomon in all his glory," surrounded by all his staff, and supported by certain auxiliaries on the retired list, take his station in the avenues of the King's Bench, Westminster. Nay, in the very sight of the Judge, attempting to intimidate, with threats and abusive language, a gentleman who manfully stepped forward and attacked this whole gang of depredators, and spread fear and dismay in the very sanctum sanctorum of the Pandemonium. Thanks to the exertions and perseverance of the gentleman alluded to, the retributive arm of justice has reached some of the principal members of the gang, and we trust soon to see the best part of this nefarious crew annihilated;-- they are all links of one chain, they have dug a pit for themselves, and which ever way they move, backward or forward, to the right or the left, it is ready to swallow them up. They now appear the picture of "petty larceny personified;" every step they take brings them a point nearer to the final catastrophe. Let these miscreant reptiles begone, and cease to contend with insurmountable power. The visitation will be dreadful, and we may now look with confidence to the day when the whole system of fraud and villainy will meet a total overthrow. Thoughtless mortals, let them "go build houses, plant orchards, purchase estates, for to-morrow they die."
It will be no small satisfaction to the public to know that the Rev.--, keeper of the gaming-house in Pall-Mall, has been taken up upon a warrant, and held to bail to appear and take his trial; that indictments are to be preferred against others, and that a number of fashionable and distinguished punters are to be brought forward as evidence upon the occasion; also, some haberdashers' apprentices, and clerks from the vicinity of Cheapside, who have been enticed by the parson's good wine and suppers, and have left on his rouge et noir and hazard tables their master's money. His reverence has had the assurance to affirm, that none but the first nobility in the land were admitted into the precincts of his hell; but we shall make it apparent to his reverence, though he fleeces the Nobility, he is not above doing the like to the Mobility.
To return, however, to the French professors of the black art;-- they opened their conclave, and promised to eclipse and out-do, in fraud and false play, every other establishment of the kind; they employed none but light-fingered Frenchmen well versed in the art of legerdemain. The proprietors of the English Hells took the alarm, as well they might; the craft scarce knew how to proceed. Were they to suffer the French intruders to poach with impunity on a manor which, for many years, they had been in the habit of considering as their own exclusive property? Many were the consultations which took place upon the subject, and they all agreed upon one point: viz, that this French gang ought to be annihilated. A general meeting was accordingly held, and honest old Dick --, veteran London Black-leg, argued thus: -- "This, my worthy friends and fellow-sufferers, is the fruit of Parson A--'s French importation; 'twas he who opened the road for these French fouters; without him they would never have found their way over here; 'twas a deuced unlucky hit. It appears to me there are but two ways of putting these gentry to the rout; the first, to proceed boldly against these intruders by information and indictment; but this, my friends, is a path we must tread with the greatest caution, if we pursue it; for you will all agree, 'tis dangerous to bring such matters before a Jury: it serves to establish precedents, which, sooner or later, may be brought to bear against us. The second is to tip them a taste of the alien act; this might be done snugly; and the coast once clear of these French vagabonds, we might take our measures accordingly, and carry on our operations as heretofore. This Hebrew vagabond, who is a German Jew, was the first who made a serious attack upon our system; 'twas he who taught the enemy our weak point; he made the first breach in our ramparts. Why did you initiate him in our mysteries? You know how strenuously I set my face against the countenance afforded him by that stupid blockhead jack A--, who bribed him, with ready money and fair promises, to destroy old S--'s establishment: it has turned out as I predicted; you have given him stones to break your head with, and he now sets you at defiance; he has unfurled the tri- coloured flag; which now floats triumphantly under your very noses; and what none of us were bold enough to attempt, he has effected. Has he not transplanted from France the game of roulette? and see how soon it has taken root in this soil. It has attracted every punter which we had spared and were reserving for a bonne bouche. We are visited by none but plucked pigeons, who merely call in to take a glass of our wine, and be damned to them."
At length the French gang experienced a material falling off in their play. Their sterling customers were drawn away to the other decoys in the neighbourhood. In order to remedy this evil, they sent round a polite circular, inviting the punters to return, and grace by their presence, the United Club, as they styled themselves; and partake of the amusements of the Rouge et Noir, French Hazard, and Roulette; and pledging themselves that no expense and trouble should be wanted, which might conduce to the ease and comfort of the punters; the plain meaning of which is -- the comfort of their being eased of their cash, by every trick, stratagem, and cheat, which human ingenuity is capable of devising.
These swindling miscreants, base as they are deceitful, everything that is at once despicable and wicked, sacrifice victim after victim, by every foul and nefarious practice; and are, incessantly, bellowing out lies about the fairness of their play; but "the balances of deceit are in their hands."
Much about the same time, another Hell was established under the immediate direction and superintendence of the Jew --, and of the notorious Monsieur, a new curse to the metropolis, and a nuisance to the neighbourhood; from which men ought to flee as from a pestilence that walketh by night.
Very lately, on the morning between Saturday and Sunday, a tremendous affray took place, between this gang of ruffians and their customers, after a great deal of bow-wowing and quarrelling and much altercation about fair play and cheating. From words and threats they came to blows, missile weapons of all sorts were used, candlesticks were thrown at the heads of the punters, who were not backward in returning the compliment with interest; such was the raging of the storm and uproar in this den of thieves, that it could be heard half way down Pall Mall; and this on a Sunday morning!!!
How long will the legislature suffer these Sabbath-breaking ruffians to carry on their nefarious system with impunity?
On the following day this Hell presented a new scene of riot; a gentleman having detected the croupiers at some of their tricks, bluntly taxed them with the facts; he was taken to task by one of the gang, who not finding himself of sufficient weight to support the credit of the firm vi et armis, summoned up to his assistance a strong and athletic ruffian, the door-keeper. This Cerberus fastened upon the gentleman, and gave him a most unmerciful milling, the marks of which upon his face bore ample testimony of his having good cause to remember this visit to the infernal regions of gambling.
These foreign gamblers have, by acts of fraud, wholly without a parallel, and by a long string of contrivances, each of which merit a halter, ruined hundreds of families; they ought not only to be made to disgorge, but to undergo the most rigorous punishments the law can inflict, in order that their fate may be a warning to all fraudulent gamblers and common cheats, in time to come.
It is come to a pretty pass, when such vagabonds as these, not contenting themselves with the enormous profits accruing to them from the infamous game of Roulette, or Roly Poly, have recourse to foul play, and enforce such cheating by assault and battery, and keep in their own house hired ruffians to bully and insult the victims they have plundered. Every hour such vagabonds are permitted to carry on these depredations, is a disgrace to a civilized country. Why does not the Secretary of State at once put a stop to this abominable system, and send these miscreants out of the country, by enforcing the alien act against them. A statement of this infamous system ought to be presented to the House of Commons.
Another set of these French gamblers are carrying on their depredations under the very walls of St. James's Palace. A noble colonel, brother to a peer of the realm is at the head of this establishment, and daily superintends their machinations. The principals in this concern are a French soi-disant colonel M--, Monsieur B--, Monsieur L-- C--, and Monsieur de S-- F--, who is the son of the man who invented the game of Rouge et Noir. All these fellows are adepts at the system; and no doubt have come to this country for more purposes than one.
It is really surprising that English gentlemen are such silly beings as to suffer themselves to be duped, and, in the end, ruined by these French cormorants. Why do they associate with such blackguards; surely, if gamble they must, there are English club- houses where they may be sure not to be cheated.
Lately, these Frenchmen withdrew their capital from one of these tables, and left only sixty pounds, with the determination, if they lost that sum, to shut up shop for a time; but so skilfully did they manage their cards and roulette, that this trifling sum increased like a snow-ball, and they determined to continue their depredatory warfare, and not break into their former winnings, which are immense. Some of the gang who had gone back to France to secure their plunder, and who have a strange longing after our English money, are about to despatch from Paris a well regulated company of sharpers, to set up in opposition to their countrymen in this town.
HAVING in our former Chapter lifted aside the veil of mystery under cover of which the unholy rites of the modern hells were celebrated, we now proceed to detail the means by which justice has at length overtaken some portion of the worthless crew.
Numerous prosecutions have at different periods been commenced against the keepers of common gaming houses, and in some instances convictions have followed, but the defendants escaped being brought up to receive the judgement of the Court; for it unfortunately happened that the prosecutors were men, whose fortunes had been lost at the gaming-table, and who were either intimidated by threats and persecutions to drop proceedings, or from the necessity of their circumstances were unable to withstand a bribe, and were thus induced to compromise their public duty.
Such have been the means by which the gaming house keepers, have for so great a length of time baffled the ends of justice, and been enabled to continue their profitable, but iniquitous and ruinous system of plunder, in open defiance of the laws.
It remained for a Mr Woodroffe and a Mr Grant, (the prosecutors in the trials which we are now about to record) to perform the important and beneficial duty of dragging to the Bar of Justice some of the most notorious of the delinquents, there to receive that just punishment, which the highly criminal and demoralising nature of their offences had so long and so richly deserved.
To the firm and manly exertions of these prosecutors the public are indebted for the first effectual check which the gaming-house system has received. In the performance of these duties they have been assailed by every species of obloquy and slander which the pen of miserable and hireling calumniators could invent. They rejected with scorn the offered bribe; and steadily pursued that course which a sense of public duty pointed out. Their exertions have been crowned with success: and there can be no doubt that the severity of the sentence passed upon such of the proprietors of the Hells as have at present been brought to justice, will effectually deter others from the commission of similar offences. The sufficiency of the laws to repress Gaming is herein demonstrated; and the public will surely no longer behold with indifference the continuance of that system which has brought thousands to ruin, suicide, and the scaffold!
We now proceed to give a digested report of some of the trials which have taken place on indictments against persons for keeping common gaming-houses. The strictest attention which the reader can bestow, on the evidence by which these indictments have been supported, will be amply repaid by the very curious light which it throws on the tricks and frauds of the master black-legs.
IN THE COURT OF KING'S BENCH The King, on the Prosecution of John Woodroffe, Esq., against Richard Bennett, Frederick Oldfield, John Philips, and Thomas Carlos, for a Misdemeanour in keeping a Common Gaming House at No. 75, St. James's-Street.
MR C. PHILLIPS and Mr Talford conducted the prosecutor's case, and Mr Curwood and Mr Platt were for the defendants.
Mr TALFORD opened the proceedings by stating the nature of the indictment against the defendants, which was for keeping a common gaming-house. The specific acts were variously laid in four counts.
Mr CHARLES PHILLIPS stated the case to the Jury. The offence charged against the defendants, he said, was that of keeping a common gaming house. In a criminal proceeding of so serious a nature, he deemed it unjustifiable to introduce any observations which might tend to prejudice or inflame the case against the defendants, and would therefore confine himself to a simple and naked statements of the facts, and to laying them before the jury. The question was whether or not No. 75, St. James's Street, was a house where unlawful games were played, and whether the defendants were the masters of it? He hoped to be able to establish this proposition to the entire satisfaction of the jury. He would not at present pass any strong comments upon the defendants being persons of the description charged in the indictment, because if they were convicted of the offence, there would be another occasion better fitted for the introduction of such remarks. This indictment was preferred by a gentleman of the name of Woodroffe, a student of the Inner Temple. From this gentleman, who, like too many others, had been seduced to visit these receptacles of vice, the jury would learn that sums of an unlawful amount were played for there. It was Mr Woodroffe's misfortune to lose considerable sums at play, and he was acquainted with the persons of the four defendants. Upon the question of its being a gaming-house, however, there could be little doubt; and the only remaining question was, whether the four defendants were the proprietors? Mr Woodroffe would speak to seeing the four defendants present whilst the games were playing, and that they acted as masters, being distinguished from the visitors by their not wearing their hats, whilst all other persons in the room were generally covered.
He would also tell the jury that he saw them dividing the spoil after the play was done; and that upon one night particularly when he came in late, he was informed by one of the defendants that the game was over, but that they would be glad to see him another time. Another witness would be called to confirm Mr Woodroffe's testimony; and from him the jury would learn a circumstance which would be important against one of the defendants. This witness, having the too common misfortune to be involved in a personal quarrel with another gentleman whom he met at a house of this description, in obedience to the dictates of false honour, if there could be any honour in such a place, requested that one of the defendants to lend him a pair of pistols, he having been informed that the defendant possessed an excellent pair: the defendant, however, refused to accommodate him, observing, "You know I must not. If anything unfortunate should occur, I should get into a pretty scrape." So much for the proof of proprietorship against this house. With one observation, then, he should leave the case in the hands of the jury. An attempt might be made on the other side to impeach the credit of the witnesses, on the ground of their being disappointed gamesters. He (Mr Phillips) was convinced the jury would find them honourable men. He did not however wish to bespeak them any indulgence for them, for he wished the jury to deal with them as they saw them. That they had gamed at this house there could be no doubt, but it should be recollected, that if credit was not to be given to the testimony of such witnesses, the keepers of these dens of iniquity could never be brought to justice, as no other persons would be good evidence but such as were present. When he had laid this evidence before the jury, he had no doubt of their verdict.
JOHN WOODROFFE, the prosecutor, was then called and examined: "I know the house No. 75 St. James's-street. I first frequented it in the latter end of July, 1821. I was introduced by a gentleman whom I met at a coffee-house. There seemed to be great difficulty in getting in; and we had to pass through several doors strongly barricaded before we came to the gambling room, which was in a front room upstairs. The furniture of the room was of a gorgeous description, the curtains damask, and everything tended to captivate the senses. There were about thirty persons present; they played at a French game called Rouge et Noir. They all played against the bank. The game is played upon a large oblong table, covered with green cloth, upon which there are four compartments or divisions, coloured red and black alternately, and the players may stake their money upon either colour as suits their fancy. The bank is placed on the middle of the table, and the croupiers or dealers sit opposite each other, having the bank before them. There were six packs of cards used in the play, and each event or stake is decided in half a minute. Whenever a thirty-one aprés occurs, which is calculated to take place three times in every two deals of twenty-eight events, the keepers of the bank win half the money staked on the table, without the possibility of losing anything. The chances of winning are vastly in favour of the bank. I have been to the house seven or eight times, and have invariably been a loser. I have played at hazard there also. I have seen all the defendants there, acting as masters or managers. The visitors generally kept their hats on, but the defendants used always to be uncovered, as if they were at home. I have heard them giving directions to their servants about the refreshments. These, consisting of the choicest wines, spirits, &C., were handed about, gratis, and in profusion, and the visitors partook of them till many became drunk. I recollect going in one night, after the game was over, when the four defendants were sitting round the table counting the money in the bank. Carlos told me the play was over, but they would be glad to see me another night. I have always seen the defendants there when I went. Upon one occasion I interfered in the case of a gentleman who was drunk, and whose money I thought they were taking unfairly, when Phillips said, 'We know how to rectify mistakes without your interference.' The defendants were always sober, but many of the players were often intoxicated."
Cross-examined by Mr CURWOOD: "I have played in defendants' house several times. I am a student of the Inner Temple, and expect to be called to the bar. I have unfortunately lost too much time at these houses. I have brought civil actions for the recovery of money I have lost against these same defendants, and have preferred an indictment against another gaming-house in Pall Mall. I am not concerned in any other indictment. I was not much alarmed when I was first introduced into this gaming-house. I had lost a great deal of money, and by the advice of my friends preferred this indictment. I have never been in the Fleet Prison, nor have I ever taken the benefit of the Insolvent Act. I have been arrested more than once by a sheriff's officer; but always paid debt and costs. I have repeatedly refused to compromise this proceeding against the defendants."
WILLIAM SMITH, a lieutenant in the army, who had accompanied Mr Woodroffe: "Refreshments, consisting of wine, spirits, fruit, sandwiches, &c, were provided for the players, and distributed gratis. I have occasionally seen persons in the room who were not quite sober. The defendants were generally sober. All the defendants, except Oldfield, were constantly in the room, and took an active part in the management of the concern. Oldfield was not always there; he generally came in late. I once applied to Bennett to lend me a pair of pistols, but he refused, with an observation upon the impropriety of his lending me his pistols. I was in the house on the 2nd of August, and saw Mr Woodroffe there. The stakes played for at this house are from 10s. to L.100."
Cross-examined by Mr CURWOOD: "I have been indicted. The keepers of the gaming-houses indicted me after I had taken proceedings against them. I have never taken the benefit of the Insolvent Act. I am now in the rules of the King's Bench, but should not be there had I not been arrested by the gaming-house keepers; and two of my detaining creditors at this moment are keepers of gaming-houses."
Re-examined by Mr PHILLIPS: "I have lost very large sums of money. I do not think I lost more than L.100 at 75, St. James's Street. I have lost upwards of L.2,000 at 32, Pall Mall. I have been a great loser at other houses."
JOHN TOMLINSON, the collector of taxes, proved that the house was in the parish of St. James's.
Mr PHILLIPS. This is my case.
Mr CURWOOD addressed the Jury for the defendants. He contended that the witnesses were disappointed gamblers, who had commenced these prosecutions for the purpose of extorting money, and that consequently their testimony was not worthy of credit. They did not come into Court with clean hands; they accused others of the very crime of which they themselves had been guilty. Upon the whole, he trusted the Jury would look with great suspicion upon their evidence, and disappoint the motives which had induced this prosecution.
The Lord CHIEF JUSTICE reviewed the case, and said, there was not even a shadow which could impeach the credit of the witnesses. The Jury could not expect to get evidence in such cases, if they did not receive the testimony of persons who frequented these houses; and for his own part he saw no reason to disbelieve the evidence which had been laid before them.
The Jury instantly found all four defendants, GUILTY.
IN THE COURT OF KING'S BENCH The King, on the Prosecution of John Woodroffe, Esq., against Charles Edward Rogier and William Southwell Humphries, for a Misdemeanour in keeping a Common Gaming House, at No. 32, late 40, Pall Mall.
Mr TALFORD opened the pleadings in this case. The indictment was in all respects similar to the one in the preceding trial, with the exception of the change of names.
The LORD CHIEF JUSTICE recapitulated the evidence, and addressed a few words to the Jury, who instantly found the defendants GUILTY.
On the following day, as soon as the court was full, the prisoners, Rogier, Humphries, Bennett, Oldfield, and Carlos, were brought into court, in the custody of Mr Gibons the tipstaff.
Mr CHARLES PHILLIPS then moved the judgment of the court upon Richard Bennett, Frederick Oldfield, and Thomas Carlos. John Phillips, who was also found guilty with them, did not appear on account of illness, and a certificate from his physicians to that effect, was read in court.
An affidavit in mitigation, on the part of Frederick Oldfield was read. He stated that he withdrew from all concern and interest in the house, No. 75, St. James's-street, in June, 1821, and that in the September of the same year the nuisance was abated. Since that period he had embarked his capital in trade, on which he now depended for the support of his family. He had a wife and nine children dependant upon him, who would be reduced to poverty if any heavy fine should be inflicted; and he was subject to a disease in his head, arising from a determination of blood to that part, which protracted imprisonment would dangerously heighten. Under these circumstances, he threw himself upon the mercy of the court.
Bennett's affidavit set forth that the house in question was shut up in September 1821; that he then retired with his family to the New Road, where he now resided; that he had a wife and seven children, and was in indigent circumstances; and that he was subject to periodical attacks of the gout, which would endanger his life if he should be detained long in prison.
The statements of Oldfield and Bennett respecting their health, were confirmed by the affidavits of their medical attendants.
Thomas Carlos, in his affidavit of mitigation, deposed, that had a wife and seven children. His wife was in a delicate state of health, and he believed any severe sentence upon him would produce an effect on her extremely dangerous. He had served as a lieutenant in his majesty's service for nearly thirty years, and had been employed in various parts of the world, particularly in the West Indies, and during the rebellion in Ireland: but on the peace he was thrown on the world destitute of money and resources, and at the present moment he believed the whole of this property was barely sufficient to pay his creditors. He further stated, that he had never been concerned in a house of this description before, nor had he ever before been indicted. He concluded by throwing himself upon the mercy of the court.
Mr WOODROFFE, the prosecutor, put in an affidavit in aggravation. He described the strong fastenings which secured the approaches to the rooms; the furniture was of the most splendid kind, and wines, spirits and refreshments were plentifully supplied free of expense. Some of the visitors every night were in a state of intoxication, and hazarded their money while in that condition. On one occasion, a very young man was playing in a state of high inebriation for large sums, and the defendant Phillips, took up his money, as if he had lost on the event, whereas he had in reality won; upon this Mr Woodroffe remonstrated, and Phillips paid the young man, saying that it was a mistake, which they could rectify without the interference of a stranger. Play was carried on in three rooms to a great extent, and was shared by young men and lads, apparently the clerks of merchants and tradesmen. Mr Woodroffe remembered one of them stung to madness, by his losses, declaring that the money he had lost, was the property of his employers. He believed the defendants had been engaged for many years in the management of gaming-houses -- that they had "branch establishments" in various parts of the country, at Brighton, Bath, Preston Guild, and many other places -- that many actions bad been brought against them for money won at play -- and that Oldfield and Bennett had been convicted on one indictment, but judgment had never been prayed against them.
Mr CURWOOD here interposed, and said this ought not to be stated, as it was only on belief.
The LORD CHIEF JUSTICE. It will have no effect on us; what ever a party in such an affidavit states on mere information and belief, will always be entirely futile.
The affidavit of the prosecutor further stated that Oldfield and Bennett were possessed of enormous wealth, and lived in a costly style.
Mr CURWOOD addressed the Court on behalf of Bennett and Oldfield. The character of the prosecutor was disclosed by the affidavits which he had put in, which manifested a savage desire to press down the prisoners with aggravated sufferings. But he was sure the Court would divest their minds from every kind of prejudice, which those affidavits might for the moment have created. His learned friend (Mr Phillips) had eloquence and the popular feeling on his side; he had topics which came home to every heart; in fact, he carried the whole torrent of public indignation against his unfortunate clients. He (Mr Curwood) would not repeat those general observations which he had urged yesterday; but he would beg the Court to remember that in the opinion of some, gambling-houses were not totally without defence, for it must not be forgotten that private ruin was not always unmixed with public good, and some political writers of eminence have thought that much benefit was conferred upon society, by the breaking up of large capitals, which could only be effectually distributed at the gaming table. (Much laughter.) The learned counsel then urged the bodily infirmities to which his clients were subject, and expressed his hope, that the Court would remember, that to these persons, imprisonment would be so severe while it lasted, that they might reasonably shorten the duration, for upon them it would fall with accumulated severity.
Mr E. LAWES addressed the Court on the part of Thomas Carlos. The Court would he trusted attend to his expressions of contrition, and to his determination never again to be engaged in such an occupation. He was unfortunately entrapped into an employment which he now sincerely regretted; but having been for thirty years an officer in his Majesty's service, he was, perhaps, from his situation in life, the more liable to temptation; his offence, therefore, was entitled to lenient sentence.
LORD CHIEF JUSTICE. It does not appear upon the affidavit of the prisoner Carlos, that he has abandoned the concern, or that this house has been abated. I have looked anxiously into the affidavits, and to see if they contained any statements that this party had entirely ceased from his occupation, but there is nothing of the kind in any of them, except that of Rogier, one of the defendants who was before us yesterday.
Mr C. PHILLIPS then addressed the Court in aggravation, as follows:
"I should ill repay the indulgence which I experienced yesterday, if I occupied much of your Lordships' time upon the present occasion. But I cannot refrain from remarking upon the strange explanation given by my friend (Mr Lawes) of the situation of his client. He says that he was in his Majesty's service thirty years, and that his situation qualified him, as it were, for his new situation as a gaining-house keeper. In what a very pleasant condition would the country be placed, if in case we ever went to war again, that on the return of peace all the half-pay officers were to set up gambling-houses, a situation for which (my learned friend says) their previous occupations had so eminently qualified them! (A laugh.) There has been a remark made by my friend, Mr Curwood, that I have on my side all the popular topics, and that the observations which have been made upon the conduct of the defendants came home to every heart. But unfortunately the defendants formed an exception to this rule, for although they now talked of the feelings of their families, they have evinced all their lives a total disregard to the feelings and families of others. There is one more topic to which I wish allude, I mean the censure which has been cast upon the prosecutor; the Court has had a specimen of what a man has to endure who comes into Court to prosecute persons of this description. Every topic of calumny which ingenuity could devise, my learned friends have been advised to resort to, with a view to injure his character and prospects in life. Mr Woodroffe is a very young man; he has been trepanned into a line of conduct which he now sincerely regrets, not on account of any losses he has sustained, for if he had consented to have foregone this prosecution these would have been repaid ten-fold, but on account of the exposure of his character, to which, by a sense of public duty be is impelled, in calling up the defendants to receive the judgment of this Court upon their offences. I will detain your Lordships no longer than merely to state a communication which I have just received from the prosecutor; he states that he has made anxious inquiries, and that he is convinced the defendant Rogier has entirely ceased to be connected with the trade of gaming-houses; but not so the other defendants, as might be inferred by their affidavits being silent on that part of the subject.
The Court having conferred together for a considerable time, Mr Justice BAILEY addressed the prisoners as follows: --
"Charles Edward Rogier, William Southwell Humphries, Richard Jennert, Frederick Oldfield, and Thomas Carlos, you appear here to receive the sentence of the Court. You have been found guilty upon indictments preferred against you for keeping common gaming-houses. Much has been said by counsel, and stated in affidavits, respecting the motives of the prosecutors; but this Court looks at the offence of which you have been convicted, without paying any regard to the motives of those by whom you have been brought to justice. Nor can it fail to remark that whatever may be the motive of the prosecutor, when a man brings forward into a Court of Justice, a public delinquent, he is a great well-doer to the public; and for this reason the Court did not think themselves bound to examine the motives of the prosecutors. The offence is one of a very high nature, and highly prejudicial to the interests of the public. Houses of this description bring ruin not only upon the individuals actually engaged in gaming, but upon their families and connexions -- blast their prospects, and too frequently produce irretrievable ruin. You were charged with keeping common gaming-houses, and it was urged yesterday by your counsel that keeping a common gaming-house was not an offence at common law; but if your counsel had inquired more minutely into the law of the case, he would have found, that, upwards of a century ago, keeping a common gaming-house was held to be an offence at common law. It is also sworn in the affidavit of Rogier, that the game of Rouge et Noir is not an unlawful game. The Court is not called upon to give any opinion upon that point, because you are not charged with playing at Rouge et Noir, and thereby committing an offence; but you are charged with keeping common gaming- houses, and playing for large sums at the game of Rouge et Noir. A common gaming-house is a nuisance of the worst description. It has a tendency to make persons lose not only the property belonging to themselves and their families, but in many instances it holds out a temptation to persons intrusted with the property of others, to hazard that property. You have submitted to the Court that this was not unlawful gaming; but it is quite clear that you did not feel that you were acting legally. The manner in which the houses were conducted proved what your conviction was. The doors were secured, and admittance refused to the officers of justice. Why was this extraordinary course resorted to, unless you had a consciousness of extraordinary danger? If bad practices were not going on, why should you have been anxious to keep out strangers? It appears that there were refreshments, foreign wines and spirits, provided gratis for the persons engaged at play; and if also appears that those persons were in many instances intoxicated, whilst you, the keepers of these houses, were invariably sober. It has been stated in the affidavits put in on the part of the prosecutors, that Rogier had said he had large funds, out of which would be advanced the sums necessary for paying any pecuniary fines which might be imposed by the Court, and for defending all prosecutions, and in the affidavit of Rogier that is not denied. It has been urged on behalf of Bennett and Oldfield, that their imprisonment would bring extreme distress upon their wives and children. The Court cannot avoid feeling that these defendants having wives and children, should have been securities for the wives and children of others, who frequented these houses, many of whom doubt less have been involved in unutterable ruin. The Court has attended to that part of the affidavits in which it is stated that a heavy imprisonment might prove fatal to two of the defendants; and the Court has also attended to the affidavit of Rogier, which states, that he has not, during a considerable time past, been engaged in gaming, and that he is not now engaged in any gaming practices; but the Court is sorry to observe that no such declaration is made in the affidavits of any of the other defendants. The Court, therefore, taking all the circumstances of the case into consideration, and feeling that in the discharge of their duty they owe it to the public to put down such practices, doth order and adjudge,
That you, CHARLES EDWARD ROGIER, do pay to the King a fine of L.5,000, and be imprisoned in his Majesty's House of Correction, Cold Bath-fields, for the term of twelve calendar months.
That you, WILLIAM SOUTHWELL HUMPHRIES, do pay to the King a fine of L.200, and be imprisoned in the same prison for the term of two years.
That you, FREDERICK OLDFIELD, do pay to the King a fine of L.1,000, and be imprisoned in the prison of this Court for one year.
That you, RICHARD BENNETT, do pay to the King a fine of L.l,000, and be imprisoned in the same prison for one year.
That you, THOMAS CARLOS, do pay to the King a fine of L.500, and be imprisoned in his Majesty's House of Correction, Cold Bath-fields, for the term of eighteen calendar months.
That each of you, at the expiration of your several periods of imprisonment, do enter into recognizances for your good behaviour for five years, yourselves in L.2,000 each, and two sufficient sureties in L.1,000 each; and further, that you be imprisoned in the said prisons until such fines be paid, and such recognizances entered into.
Mr Justice BAYLEY farther observed, that in this instance the Court did not, under the provisions of a late act of parliament, feel themselves bound to order that the defendants during their several periods of imprisonment should be kept to HARD LABOUR, because the offences of which they had been found guilty were committed prior to the passing of that act of parliament. Let it, however, be understood, that the Court would in future punish with hard labour persons convicted of offences similar to those for which the defendants had received the judgment of the Court.
The defendants were then taken out of Court in the custody of the tipstaff.