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Play. The Merchant often risks his whole Effects in one Bottom, and the Gentleman often hazards all his Estate upon one Rubber : 'Tis true they are both liable to the Strokes of Fortune; for one cannot command the Winds and the Waves, any more than the other can the Aces and Honours; but their Designs are the fame, equally tending to advance their Family, and to serve their Country. The whole Distinction is, that when the fatal Stroke happens, one is styled a Bankrupt, the other a Cull; but for my own Part, I must be indulged in calling the Gamester, under those Circumstances, a Broken Merchant, because it was the Term we used at School when a Boy had lost all his Marbles.
But now, to fee the different Treatment the misjudging World affords to these two baffled Adventurers; One is received with Pity, the other with Infamy; neglected by his Friends, insulted by his Enemies, despised by all.—This is the Reward of distressed Merit in this Northern Climate! These are the Fruits a Gentleman is to expect after having facrificed his Time, Health, and Quiet, in the, Prosecution of a noble Scheme, merely because he has happened, in the Experiment, to beggar himself and his Posterity.
But I hope these Gentlemen, when they are brought to a Situation wherein they shall no longer choofe to be popular, I trust, they will appeal from the Clamours of the Multitude, to the still Voice of their own Conscience—And when they shall hear themselves traduced as Poisoners of Morals, and Corruptors of Youth, they will lay , - their their Hands upon their Breasts (where they will be sure to find all quiet) and reflect that all this happened to Socrates long ago.
I now come to those Objections wherein the Gamester is taxed as an Enemy to the general Good of the Community. And first, those oldfashioned Politicians (there are not many of them left) who think Righteousness exalteth a Nation, are in Pain for the general Defection to Vice, which Gaming occasions; and they are grievously afraid that the horrid Oaths and Blasphemies which are daily vented, and numberless Frauds which are incessantly practised, will soon complete the Measure of our Iniquities, and bring on the third Earthquake very shortly.
As to Oaths, the Objection, I must needs fay, is frivolous enough j for as all Persons are agreed, Gentlemen must swear somewhere, what is the matter whether it be done in the Progress of a Rubber, or an Intrigue, in W—te's Chocolatehouse, or a Lady's Bed-Chamber? But for my own Part, since Perjuries have been so freely tolerated of late, I thought (and if I am wrong I beg Pardon for a very innocent Mistake) I took it for granted that Oaths had been allowed, as tendings to enliven Converfation, and to revive Eloquence.
'she Supposition of Blasphemy must proceed • from a want of Candour, which, I hope, sew wilt imitate. Such Words should not be rashly applied to large Assemblies, where it is odds but far the greater Part are entirely innocent; for how can Men blaspheme a Power which they do not acknowledge to exist?
As to Frauds, they could never be suspected, if the Principles on which Gentlemen regulate their Conduct were once known, which I shall therefore take leave to disclose as briefly as possible.
It is agreed by Philosophers, there is a strict Analogy between the Natural and Moral Systems. Now as the Mass of Nature, according to Aristotle, is compounded out of four principal Ingredients, to which he afterwards added a §)uinta Ejfentia, of more refined Nature and occult Qua-lities; so Morality is formed in like manner out of four Elements, which are vulgarly styled the Cardinal Virtues, besides which there is a gguintejfence called Honour, for the Use of the Nobility and Gentry,—but No Others ; for thus the matter is ordered; the Mob content themselves with the Elements, leaving to the Quality the sole Possession of the Quintejsence. As to defining it, I shall not set about it for the present, nor in all Likelihood for the Time to come, it being a thing much easier to be felt than understood.—And here without the least Intention to offend the Clergy (for whose Function I have a sincere Reverence) I must have Permission to hint one thing.—It would be well taken if they would drop this Subject entirely in all their Discourses and Writings.— There is a secret Impediment in a Gown and Band, which disqualifies the Owner from faying any thing to the Purpose on this head; for, as a Noble Lord well observed, Honour should never be mentioned in the Pulpiti nor Religion out of it. Not that I think Justice should altogether be discarded carded; and I am of opinion that Temperance, with some few Improvements, might be made useful enough: But Honour! .
By Heavens it ivere an easy Leap To pluck bright Honour srom the pale-sac'J Moon, Or dive into the Bottom os the Deep, And pluck up drowned Honour by the Locks. Shakespear.
I hope no Man alive will fay any thing against Honour in my Hearing.
It is likewise alledged that Gaming has a Tendency to destroy all Distinctions of Rank and Quality; for that many Persons of the most sordid and obscure Families are hereby introduced to Familiarities with the Great, by which the Dignity of the P—age is debased.
With Submission I am of a different Opinion: I think the Dignity of the P—r—ge is most effectually debased by Pride, and exalted by Condescension. What can be more amiable than to see Persons of the highest Rank vying with each other to caress an unfortunate Man, that is making a desperate Pulh with the last. Handful of Guineas he has in the World? Proposing Betts with so much Affability, taking his Money in such a sriendly Manner, and aJminiftring the lafl Offices to him with such a Fund of Humanity? I see no Justice in excluding every Stranger from an E O Table, that cannot produce a Pedigree traced from the Ganquejl; If he has the Dress, and Purfo of a Gentleman, that is sufficient: As for a sull and true Account os hit Birth, Parentage, and Edu.'. • „ " — . cation, cation,—let that be reserved for another Time and Place.
To fay the Truth, these Questions about Family are more for Curiosity than Use; and do but serve to delay Business. For when a Dozen Carrion Birds are met together in a Field, and get Scent of a Carcase, I never could observe them debating whether it were an Horse or an Ass they were about to devour: All they do is, to vote themselves hungry, and fall on without farther Ceremony.
Lastly, it is urged, the Example is pernicious: Vices of Quality naturally descend to a lower Sphere, and infect those, who can easily learn the Corruptions, without having the Resources of Wealth; from whence Violence and Rapine are practised, as the only means to feed Riot and Extravagance.
I am afraid this Reasoning will prove rather more than it intended ; for at this rate Gentlemen must restrain their own Pleasures for the Sake of other People's Morals. Men of Wit and Spirit about Town must give up Genius, Fire, Vivacity, and all the Refinements of Life, in order to fave the Souls of half a Dozen Beggars. A very hopeful Scheme truly! But I doubt the Gameflers will hardly be at leisure to consult the Scruples of others, for this manifest Reason, because they have hitherto had none of their own; neither are their Consciences of that puling Kind, that will submit to be fed with this Milk sor Babes .-—they have Digestion for stronger Food.