Mary Robinson’s Views on Gambling from 'Present State of the Manners, Society, &c. &c. of the Metropolis of England' (1800)
Robinson, Mary. 'Present State of the Manners, Society, &c. &c. of the Metropolis of England'. Monthly Magazine; or British Register. Vol. 10 (September 1800): 138-140.
p. 140: The vice of gaming seems to have reached its climax at the fashionable end of the metropolis: and though the magistrates have endeavoured to check its progress among the subordinate ranks of society, it is still not only winked at, but tolerated, in the higher circles. The petty gambler, who opens his shop of iniquity with the puny traffic of silver, is without mercy punished, and held up as an example of depraved manners; while the nobles hold their public clubs, gamble for thousands, outface the magistrates, and defy the laws, with boldness and impunity! It is at the gaming-tables of the exalted, that our legislators, our nobility, our generals, and our country-gentlemen practice those very vices which the needy and the private individual is punished for attempting. It is at those ennobled midnight scenes of folly and rapacity, that the demon of suicide anticipates his triumphs over the weakness, avarice, and false pride of mortals. The effects of those scenes have recently presented horrors and death! yet the magistrates are passive, and the laws tardy in the occupation of administering justice; and it is with sorrow that the moralist and the philanthropist have traced the progress of this pernicious propensity even to the private assemblies of the most elegant women; while the ruined husband, and the thoughtless wife, have, by dissipating their children’s patrimony, exposed the females to the miseries of seduction, and set an example to the males, which has undermined both the wealth and the honour of their family. Indeed to this fatal employment may be attributed the many domestic exposures which have taken place within the last twenty years. Men now devote their hours to clubs, to gaming-tables, to tennis-courts, and to cricket-grounds. Wives are left to roam, or permitted to hold their midnight orgies, with the most dissipated of their own as well as of the other sex. Play involves them in debts of honour, which the sacrifice of honour too frequently discharges: and, it is an absolute fact, that even the family jewels and the family plate have been disposed to supply the faro bank of one of those infamous scenes of profligate debasement; while the husband has been the passive spectator, and the daughters employed at places of public entertainment, as decoys to ensnare the young, the wealthy and the unwary!