« AnteriorContinuar »
31, 73, 115, 153, 189,
32, 76, 116, 154, 190
71, 114, 152
16, 88, 145
New London Magazine.
ADDRESS. The great demand for literary productions has been so often advanced as a reason for the appearance of new publications, that it is too threadbare to be urged as the motive for producing the New LONDON MAGAZINE; and we are therefore constrained to admit, that it is not the public demand for knowledge-however great that demand may be that has alone induced us to enter the literary arena; but a thorough conviction, that there is room for a publication which shall have for its exclusive object, the dissemination of useful as well as of entertaining knowledge.
Deeply impressed with this conviction, we have been led to commence the present work, and monthly to lay before our readers, an additional stock of information respecting men, manners, and things calculated both to amuse, and to enlighten. At the same time, we are aware, that in order to obtain public patronage, we must deserve it—we know that Fortune is a dame * that would be wooed, and not unsought be won”-and therefore, to secure her favors, we bring to our task a determination to deserve success. From the numerous offers of assistance we have received from persons eminently qualified for the task, and whose works have already gained a well merited popularity, we can with confidence promise, that the New LONDON MAGAZINE, shall not yield to any either in the quality or quantity of its contents.
It is the fashion with all addresses, to promise much; and unfortunately, such promises are but rarely kept. In order, therefore, not to be subjected to so heinous a charge, we shall merely state of what we intend the New LONDON MAGAZINE to consist, leaving our readers, to form their own idea of the merits of our publication from the arrangements we propose for their entertainment–Our work will consist of Original Essays and Papers connected with Science, Literature, and the Arts Tales of Reality and Fiction-Sketches of Men and Manners—Notices of discoveries in Science, and details of new and interesting facts in Natural History and Philosophy-Original PoetryImpartial Reviews of Books, New Music, and the Drama Reports of the proceedings of Learned Societies, &c., with notices of their various Meetings and Lectures.
With these objects in view, we confidently rely on the cordial co-operation of all persons interested in literature, and of such as are connected with scientific and popular institutions in the provincial towns as well as in London ; it being our especial desire to render the New LONDON MAGAZINE an efficient organ of scientific and general education no less than of the lighter departments of literature.
With many fears and some hopes, we launch our little bark upon the ocean of public opinion.
NO. 1.-VOL. I,
THE GAMING HOUSES OF LONDON;
AS DESCRIBED IN A LETTER FROM A NOVICE IN TOWN TO HIS FRIEND IN THE COUNTRY.
LETTER I. MY DEAR W.
Since my visit to this modern Babylon, I have been occupied in a round of the most pleasurable pastimes and recreations, and, (will you believe it ?) apart from the description of the agreeable, I have actually been introduced to one of those most notorious receptacles of vice and profligacy, the Hells, or Gaming Houses-of which there are at least forty or fifty in the parish of St. James's alone; under the very nose of royalty, and equally so of the metropolitan prelate, to whom the morals of the great city are confided. With the many melancholy recorded instances of the fatal consequences to which introductions of this kind have led, you will naturally feel alarmed at this awful piece of intelligence, but calm your friendly anxieties; for so far from its having engendered a feeling from which might result any direful effect, it has, on the contrary, created an indelible horror and disgust that cannot fail for ever to restrain me from the fatal consequences of play.
The limits of a letter will not permit me to indulge in the moral reflections to which the subject naturally gives rise; I proceed, therefore, to give you an account of the accident which led to my initiation as a gamester; and then, to particularise my visit. Novice as, thank God, I still am, the description will be but an imperfect one, falling very far short of the reality, but nothing shall be lacking in truth; there is no need to heighten by false or meretricious colouring a picture which, in mere outline, exhibits but too much of human nature's failings and deformities.
Strolling through town with my friend -, a man of much experience and well-acquired knowledge of character, as it is to be met with in all its shades and peculiarities in London, we had occasion to seek shelter from one of those pelting and pitiless showers, which, from their sudden and unexpected fall, are somewhat inconvenient to the fashionable lounger-chance and the emergency of the moment, directed us to a public-house in the neighbourhood of St. James's Street, in the parlour of which we took up our position, and, by way of qualifying our intrusion, called for a glass of brandy-and-water. While discussing its merits, which, by the way, were of a very inferior degree, my attention was attracted towards an individual seated in an opposite box, who was so intently engaged as to be wholly unobservant of our entrance, and totally unconscious of our presence, notwithstanding the fact that we had been loud and authoritative in our commands for the potation that was to reconcile mine host to our society. The individual alluded to, had, placed before him in methodical arrangement, a number of cards of very peculiar character; in his hand was the fragment of a plain unsophisticated cedar pencil, and his mind ap
peared to be wandering in the labyrinth of problematical discovery-his countenance with thermometer-like variability, at times exhibiting the light and smile of heartfelt satisfaction, and anon becoming overcast by the lourings of disappointment. I taxed my ingenuity to the very stretch of its imagining, but could not arrive at any probable or satisfactory cause for these sudden and extraordinary changes in the mental atmosphere of the man, and my curiosity was about to break through the rules of courtesy and good breeding by boldly and unceremoniously trespassing on the stranger's occupations, when; my friend timely checked me, and, perceiving my anxiety, kindly relieved me by communicating to me in a tone little above a whisper, that the individual who had so greatly excited my attention was one of those unfortunate and infatuated persons who frequent the rouge et noir tables at the different Hells or Gaming Houses of the metropolis, and although in other respects a man of strong mind, of highly cultivated intellect, and extensive attainments, was the victim of a fatal and destructive weakness which led him to imagine that his knowledge of figures and power of calculation would discover to him a system that should controul the numberless changes and combinations of which six packs of cards (the number used at the game of rouge et noir) are capable; in other terms, that from past events he could ensure future favourable results to his speculations, and thus, by mere arithmetical amusement, work out redemption of the fortune he had lost. “Years,” observed my informant, “have found him thus abstractedly occupied. System after system has suggested itself to his aine and bigotted expectations, and failure upon failure has been the certain and distressing result; still, however, his mind as you may perceive, is more than ever possessed with the practicability of his schemes and the accomplishment of the grand object to which, with never-ceasing application, he has devoted ability, that, applied to any laudable and reasonable pursuit, must have worked out profit and honour to its possessor. Still, with more than frantic faith, "he hugs the dear falsehood to the last,' and though possessing all the capabilities of reasoning, still lacks that strength which strikes the understanding and impresses conviction on the mind, he still pursues the phantom and feeds on hope
“So obstinately strong That doth invert the test of ears and eyes.' “ The cards which you see before him," continued my friend, "are the lists or memoranda of events that have taken place in reference to winning and losing colours on past deals or games, and from these he is now labouring to establish on probability alone, future certain results, and thereon to plan a scale or progression of risk that shall ensure ultimate gain. He is scheming, in fact, to discover the philosopher's stone of gaming, spite of his knowledge that, as a player, he has to contend with a certain calculated per centage against him, which not even the skill of a Demoivre, or even of a Newton, could counteract or defeat, and which like the legacy duty will in time absorb all capital. And yet," added my friend, “ this gentleman (for such he is by birth and education), is but one of a host of infatuated and debased beings,
who, spite of the bitter cup of experience, which they have drained to the very dregs, still continue to exhaust every shilling they can raise in the fatal experiment of their false and visionary calculations. Fortune, frieuds, connections, and all the bappy and endearing ties and prospects of life are sacrificed to this dreadful monomania, and frequently it happens that the unhappy victims of such delusions are reduced to the degrading and heart-rending necessity of soliciting assistance from those whom their folly has enriched. Such,” said my informant, “is the fate of a punter, (as he is termed), or rouge et noir player, and the illustration is now before you in the person of the individual who has so engrossed your attention, and who, though reduced to the pitiable condition in which you now behold him, once held high military rank in his majesty's service. The annals of gaming would furnish a lengthened and distressing list of men fallen from similar high estate, and who, for one fatal imprudence, have, perhaps, been too hastily and too unfeelingly condemned by their friends to a life of wretchedness and misery, when kindness and sympathy might have redeemed them from error, and restored them to their lost place in society. St. James's is the haunt of many such condemned and wretched men, for it is the hot-bed of the evil that has embittered their existence. Speaking on this melancholy subject” said my friend, " it would be well (if you feel that you have sufficient resolve to resist the fascinations and excitement of play) that you should have some insight of a system which begets such incalculable and irretrievable mischief. A visit to one of the many dens that “from night to morn, from morn to dewy eve' open wide their doors to the thoughtless and inexperienced, will be a lesson in the great book of worldly knowledge, which if well studied and properly digested, may be productive of great benefits to you in after life, inasmuch as it will give you some acquaintance with the character of men of the town, as they are comprehensively termed, and will, in all probability, protect you from many deceits and impositions that may be attempted to be practised on you by persons having the address and exterior of gentlemen, but who, in fact, are neither more nor less than systematic sharpers, or what is worse, agents or decoys to mislead the youthful and inexperienced into the ruinous speculation of play, themselves participating, nay absolutely depending for subsistence on their proportion of the plunder to result therefrom. Such specious and designing knaves are dispersed through the town in every direction, and are on the constant alert to introduce themselves to the open-hearted and unsuspecting ; while others of more bold and decided character are equally alive, to pluck from the wing of the well-feathered pigeon the downy feathers that adorn it. Character in all its variety is to be met with in the chamber of a gaming house, from the bold unblushing villain who commits the most barefaced robbery and maintains his right by oaths and imprecations, to the abject broken-spirited wretch, who having exhausted all means of honourable subsistence is driven by the pinchings of necessity to haunt the scene of his ruin, and solicit charity from the purse of the successful. Time and frequent intercourse can alone give perfect acquaintance with the many striking and distinguishing characteristics,