« السابقةمتابعة »
PROGRESS OF THE GAMBLER.
the house, is 300 feet long, and filled with the choicest wines and liquors in the world : it contains 300,000 bottles, and innumerable casks. Crockford's cook, the celebrated Monsieur (I forget his name) has a salary of a thousand guineas per annum, and spreads an entertainment as magnificent as the heart of the most fastidious epicure could desire ; and all this is at the service of the flushed young nobleman.
“At last the tables are turned, and he begins to lose. But it is only the fortune of the game. No man can expect to have all the luck on his side, and the play goes on. His ready money is gone; what shall he do? It will not answer' for him to be embarrassed now; he has made a sensation in the circles of fashion and rank; it must not be whispered at Almack's that young Lord can no longer keep up his elegant establishment: but he has no money. This matters not, since Crockford's bank, which is always full, will advance him all the money for which they have ascertained him to be good.'
“ He is now ready for a deeper and more exciting game, with the belief that his luck will turn, and he feels that he must win back his money, or fall from his elevation in disgrace. In this state of mind, he is introduced to another and a private room, where the French hazard-table stands, and here the work of plunder and robbery is prosecuted on a grand scale. The stakes are usually high: the first
he wins; and then, persuaded that the tide of fortune has at last turned in his favour, he resolves to seize the favoured hour to repair his broken fortune. The next stake is higher, and this he also wins. Crockford's delicious wines sparkle on the table afresh, and the game once more goes on: an immense stake is laid, exceeding the aggregate of all that had gone before; the throw is made-he loses it.
“He now feels that, unless he can recover himself by one fortunate throw, he is a ruined man; and in the madness of desperation he resolves to make or mar his furtune forever: he stakes his all : the next cast of the dice makes the
nobleman a beggar. He gives his securities, signs the papers, and is seen no more.
He embarks for the Continent, where he lives an exile from his paternal estates until their income discharges the obligation. After the best part of his days has been spent in atoning for his folly, he returns to his home, but generally a broken down and ruined man. For fifteen, twenty, or thirty years, he has been a stranger to his native land; when he at length comes back, but few of his early friends are living; and those who are, remember little more than his name. As he drives up to his door, the old porter comes out to meet his longexiled master, and blesses God for his return. Once more his ancestral halls are lighted up, and his servants collected around him; but none of them all, except the old housekeeper and the gray-headed
porter, have ever seen him before. A few early friends may gather about him, and he may improve his grounds and adorn his house; but the remainder of his days are covered with gloom.
“ You may call this a melancholy picture, and think it can scarcely be so; but let me relate to
few facts in illustration of what I have said. Not many years ago, Lord — paid down, on his coming of age, for debts of honour contracted at Crockford's before he was twenty-one years old, the enormous sum of £100,000; and at about the same time, Lord —, the grandson of an aged and venerable earl, lost £30,000 in one night. It is well known that the Marquis of — has at different times won over a million and a half sterling, and spent the greater part of it in dissipation. If a gentleman whose estate is sufficiently large offers to play for a stake of £100,000 at Crockford's, he is instantly accepted.
“ There is a moral certainty that every man who frequents that establishment will come off a beggar at last, unless he is a participator in the gains of the house; and when his money and his estate are gone, he is no longer wanted there, and is generally turned away with but little ceremony. Still, there are several regular gamblers at Crockford's who are not worth a farthing, their presence being indispensable to the success of the concern.' They are Crockford's creatures. They are not mere hangers-on, but active and efficient agents for their base-born
master. They are constantly on the alert to catch every fortune which goes up to London. It is pretty generally understood that Count d'Orsay, the president of the board of fashion, who has done more to corrupt the society of the highest classes than any other man, is one of the most efficient and best paid 'flat-catchers of Crockford's corps. Indeed, he is chiefly distinguished in that capacity, and as gallant to the Countess of Blessington. He married a daughter of the countess, and took the mother for his wife.
“Ah! that Crockford's is a terrible place. I have often been there to gratify my friends, and am perfectly familiar with the whole establishment, but I never could be prevailed upon to play. I promised my father, when he was dying, that I would do these things; that I would maintain the honour of his house, preserve his family estates unimpaired, and never gamble; and I have held my pledge sacred. But many of my friends have been ruined there.
"A twelvemonth ago a young friend of mine, the Marquis of — came to me about 12 o'clock at night, in the saloon of the ATHENEUM CLUB, and asked me for £1000. I knew he wanted it for play, but I had great confidence in his judgment and self-control; it was an inconsiderable sum, and I drew for him to the amount. He came out of the hazard-room in two or three hours with £23,000. The next evening he staked and lost it all. He came to me at half past one o'clock that night, and asked me for
RUIN BY GAMIMG.
£5000: he was a friend, and I could not refuse him. I gave it to him, and in half an hour he had not only lost every guinea of it, but impoverished his family for ten years. You may imagine the feelings of his beautiful wife, when, on returning home from Almack's the same morning, she found at her door a man waiting to take her carriage to Tattersal's, to be sold for the benefit of Crockford's. 'Anticipating the result, I had gone with my friend to his house, on his leaving Crockford's. We were sitting in the drawing-room when his wife entered. He was almost raving with madness. She was exceedingly alarmed when she perceived the change in her husband, and came to him, took his hand, and asked him what troubled him. You are a beggar, Mary,' he screamed out in despair, and fell senseless on the floor. After he was restored, she came and sat down by my side on the sofa, and prayed me to tell her all. It was a painful task, I assure you. I shall never forget the scene which followed. more affecting sight to see the agony of this beautiful woman, than it would have been to see her die a thousand times. I satisfied his creditors at Crockford's for £33,000; and this saved the furniture, her horses and carriage, and their house in the country. She left London with a broken heart, and is now living a retired and miserable life.
“ One would suppose that this would have extinguished the young marquis's passion for play forever ; but it had the contrary effect. It became more wild
It was a