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when the destruction to which you yourself have been accessary overtakes your children, you sit down and vent the bitterness of your soul in unavailing complaint. The benefits of gaming none but a villain or a fool will. undertake to display! Its mischiefs are palpable, horrible, endless! Its history is written in tears and blood. Its vouchers are the most fell passions of the human heart, and the most fearful excesses of human depravity. And yet, while facts, which ought to send alarm and abhorrence along every shivering nerve, are repeating their admonitions every hour, parents-parents professing themselves Christians-do, both by example and precept, put their own children directly into the gambler's path! And as if the temptations which assault the age of puberty were too few, too feeble, or too tardy, parents themselves anticipate the work of corruption, antedate the progress of sin, and apply their own ingenuity to help in bringing forward their children to a forced maturity of vice. We cannot exempt from this censure any who permit gaming, under whatever form or pretext, in their houses, and who do not discountenance it in their offspring, or others subjected to them, by their severest displeasure. It admits not of dispute, that if the orderly and reputable members of society were utterly to discard the game of chance, gambling would soon be destroyed or VOL. III.
confined to the spendthrift and the thief. But how can we hope for such a blessed reformation, when, besides notorious gaming houses, many who figure in the higher classes of society play, and play deep, in their own houses. Could these public and private seminaries of all that is base and abominable be exposed at one view to the eye, we will not say of a Christian, but of a political moralist, he would almost despair of our country. The rage for play was lately so great in the city of New York, that public prints ascribed the desertion of the theatre to the multitude of gambling parties! A rare account of the virtue taught and learned at the theatre we must own! We ask a plain question. Had cards and dice not been reputable as an amusement, could they ever have become so general as a vice? And is it to be wondered at that those places of vile resort, the public gaming houses, should be crowded with our youth? Is it not a perfectly natural consequence of play among heads of families, merely to relieve a tedious hour, that children, apprentices, and servants, should pursue the practice farther, and at last plunder parents and masters, to meet the demands of the card-table and the billiard-room? The number of those fine young gentlemen who have nothing to do; heirs of estates with pockets full of money; lawyers and merchants? clerks; idlers, who, by a sad misnomer, are nick
named students; beaux, whose greatest adroitness is shown in keeping out of the hands of the bailiff at the suit of tailors, and shoemakers, and washerwomen; et id genus omne, which flock about the gaming houses, is incredible to those who have no opportunities of observing them. But it is not more lamentable than true, that from nine in the morning till eleven at night, and often much later, these nuisances are attended by a succession of youth. Some spend there the chief part of the twenty-four hours, and there are always adepts in iniquity to decoy the inexperienced and uncorrupted. Why is the suppression of these enormities so difficult? Why are laws so easily, so openly, and so impudently evaded? One reason is plain-gaming grows less infamous. It grows less infamous because respectable people of both sexes game. The number of gamesters is so great because they are kept in countenance by so many who play only for amusement. Let the experiment be fairly tried. Let the latter give up their sport, and we shall soon see multitudes of the former give up their lust. The community would speedily be rid of legions of those fiends who now haunt its retreats, and prey upon its strength. That immovable selfishness; that cold-blooded malignity; that hardened impiety; that fell desperation, ready for fraud, for robbery, for mur-, der, for suicide, which form the character of a
finished gamester, impose upon every man a solemn obligation to resist the gaming system in all its parts and progress. Every man, whom the extinction of virtuous feeling has not prepared for adding to the dishonor and the miseries of human life, will perceive the obligation in proportion as he reasons correctly, and applies the discoveries of his understanding to the regulation of his conduct. All our principles on this subject are false, and all our deductions from them impertinent, or it follows, that every one who plays at cards or dice is responsible, to the whole extent of the influence of his example in preserving the knowledge and practice of gaming, for all its tremendous effects on body and soul, on property, character, and happiness -on the best interests of his fellow-creatures here, and on their best hopes for the eternal world.