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Abuses to the said Groom Porter, or his Deputies, at his Office, at Mr Stephenson's, a Scrivener's House, over against Old Man's Coffee House, near Whitehall."

We get a glimpse of the Groom Porters of this reign in Mrs Centlivre's play of The Busy Body:


"Sir Geo. Airy. Oh, I honour Men of the Sword; and I presume this Gentleman is lately come from Spain or Portugal -by his Scars.

Marplot. No, really, Sir George, mine sprung from civil Fury: Happening last night into the Groom porter's—I had a strong inclination to go ten Guineas with a sort of a-sort of a kind of a Milk Sop, as I thought: a Pox of the Dice, he flung out, and my Pockets being empty, as Charles knows they sometimes are, he prov'd a Surly North Briton, and broke my face for my deficiency."

Both George I. and George the Second played at the Groom Porter's at Christmas. In the first number of the Gentleman's Magazine, we read how George II. and his Queen spent their Epiphany. "Wednesday, Jan. 5, 1731. This being Twelfth Day . . . their Majesties, the Prince of Wales, and the three eldest Princesses, preceded by the Heralds, &c., went to the Chapel Royal, and heard divine Service. The King and Prince made the Offerings at the Altar, of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, according to Custom. At night, their Majesties &c. play'd at Hazard, for the benefit of the Groom Porter, and 'twas said the King won 600 Guineas, and the Queen 360, Princess Amelia 20, Princess Caroline 10, the Earl of Portmore and the Duke of Grafton, several thousands." And we have a similar record in the Grub Street Journal under date of 7 Jan., 1736. The Office of Groom Porter was abolished during the reign of George II. probably in 1772, for in the Annual Register for that year, under date 6 Jan., it says: "Their Majesties not being accustomed to play at Hazard, ordered a handsome gratuity to the Groom Porter; and orders were given, that, for the future, there be no card playing amongst the servants."

Card playing was justifiable, and legal, at Christmas.




An ordinance for governing the household of the Duke of Clarence, in the reign of Edward IV., forbade all games at dice, cards, or other hazard for money except during the twelve days at Christmas. And, again, in the reign of Henry VII., an Act was passed against unlawful games, which expressly forbids artificers, labourers, servants, or apprentices to play at any such, except at Christmas: and, at some of the Colleges, Cards are introduced into the Combination Rooms, during the twelve days of Christmas, but never appear there during the remainder of the year.

Kirchmayer1 gives a curious custom of gambling in church on Christmas day:

“Then comes the day wherein the Lorde

did bring his birth to passe;

Whereas at midnight up they rise,

and every man to Masse.

The time so holy counted is,

that divers earnestly

Do think the waters all to wine

are changed sodainly;

In that same house that Christ himselfe
was borne, and came to light,
And unto water streight againe

transformde and altred quight.

There are beside that mindfully
the money still do watch

That first to aultar commes, which then
they privily do snatch.

The priestes, least others should it have,
take oft the same away,

Whereby they thinke, throughout the yeare
to have good luck in play,

And not to lose then straight at game
till day-light they do strive,

To make some pleasant proofe how well
their hallowed pence will thrive.
Three Masses every priest doth sing
upon that solemne day,

With offerings unto every one,

that so the more may play."

1 The Popish Kingdome, or, Reigne of Antichrist, written in Latin Verse by Thomas Naogeorgus, and Englished by Barnabe Googe, 1570.


Gambling, early 18th Century-Mrs Centlivre-E. Ward-Steele-Pope--Details of a gaming-house—Grub St. Journal on Gambling-Legislation on gambling -Peeresses as gaming-house keepers-A child played for at cards-Raids on gaming-houses-Fielding.

BUT to return to the Chronology of Gambling. From the Restoration of Charles II. to the time of Anne, gambling was common; but in the reign of this latter monarch, it either reached a much higher pitch, or else, in that Augustan Age of Literature, we hear more about it. Any way, we only know what we read about it. In the epilogue to Mrs Centlivre's play of the Gamester, published in 1705, the audience is thus addressed:

"You Roaring Boys, who know the Midnight Cares
Of Rattling Tatts,1 ye Sons of Hopes and Fears;
Who Labour hard to bring your Ruin on,

And diligently toil to be undone ;

You're Fortune's sporting Footballs at the best,
Few are his Joys, and small the Gamester's Rest:
Suppose then, Fortune only rules the Dice,
And on the Square you Play; yet, who that's Wise
Wou'd to the Credit of a Faithless Main
Trust his good Dad's hard-gotten hoarded Gain?
But, then, such Vultures round a Table wait,

And, hovering, watch the Bubble's sickly State;
The young fond Gambler, covetous of more,

Like Esop's Dog, loses his certain Store.

Then the Spung squeez'd by all, grows dry,-And, now,
Compleatly Wretched, turns a Sharper too;
These Fools, for want of Bubbles, too, play Fair,
And lose to one another on the Square.

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A Thousand Guineas for Basset prevails,

A Bait when Cash runs low, that seldom fails;
And, when the Fair One can't the Debt defray,
In Sterling Coin, does Sterling Beauty pay."

Ward, in a Satire called Adam and Eve stript of their furbelows, published in 1705, has an Article an Article on the Gambling lady of the period, entitled, Bad Luck to him that has her; Or, The Gaming Lady, of which the following is a portion :

"When an unfortunate Night has happen'd to empty her Cabinet . . . her Jewels are carry'd privately into Lumbard Street, and Fortune is to be tempted the next Night with another Sum borrow'd of my Lady's Goldsmith at the Extortion of a Pawnbroker; and, if that fails, then she sells off her Wardrobe, to the great Grief of her Maids; stretches her Credit amongst those she deals with, pawns her Honour to her Intimates, or makes her Waiting-Woman dive into the Bottom of her Trunk, and lug out her green Net Purse, full of old Jacobus's, which she has got in her Time by her Servitude, in Hopes to recover her Losses by a Turn of Fortune, that she may conceal her bad Luck from the Knowledge of her Husband: But she is generally such a Bubble to some Smock fac'd Gamester, who can win her Money first, carry off the Loser in a Hackney Coach, and kiss her into a good humour before he parts with her, that she is generally driven to the last Extremity, and then forc'd to confess all to her forgiving Spouse, who, either thro' his fond Affection, natural Generosity, or Danger of Scandal, supplies her with Money to redeem her Moveables, buy her new Apparel, and to pay her Debts upon Honour, that her Ladyship may be in Statu quo; in which Condition she never long continues, but repeats the same Game over and over, to the End of the Chapter: For she is so strangely infatuated with the Itch of Card Playing, that she makes the Devil's Books her very Practice of Piety; and, were she at her Parish Church, in the Height of her Devotion, should any Body, in the Interim, but stand at the Church Door, and

hold up the Knave of Clubs, she would take it to be a Challenge at Lanctre Loo; and, starting from her Prayers, would follow her beloved Pam, as a deluded Traveller does an Ignis fatuus.”

No. 120 of the Guardian (July 29, 1713), by Steele, is devoted to female Gambling as it was in the time of Queen Anne, and the following is a portion of it:

"Their Passions suffer no less by this Practice than their Understandings and Imaginations. What Hope and Fear, Joy and Anger, Sorrow and Discontent break out all at once in a fair Assembly upon So noble an Occasion as that of turning up a Card? Who can consider without a Secret Indignation that all those Affections of the Mind which should be consecrated to their Children, Husbands and Parents, are thus vilely prostituted and thrown away upon a Hand at Loo. For my own part, I cannot but be grieved when I see a fine Woman fretting and bleeding inwardly from such trivial Motives; when I behold the Face of an Angel agitated and discomposed by the Heart of a Fury.

"Our Minds are of such a Make, that they, naturally, give themselves up to every Diversion to which they are much accustomed, and we always find that Play, when followed with Assiduity, engrosses the whole Woman, She quickly grows uneasie in her own Family, takes but little Pleasure in all the domestick, innocent, Endearments of Life, and grows more fond of Pamm than of her Husband. My friend Theophrastus, the best of Husbands and of Fathers, has often complained to me, with Tears in his Eyes, of the late Hours he is forced to keep, if he would enjoy his Wife's Conversation. When she returns to me with Joy in her Face, it does not arise, says he, from the Sight of her Husband, but from the good Luck she has had at Cards. On the contrary, says he, if she has been a Loser, I am doubly a Sufferer by it. She comes home out of humour, is angry with every Body, displeased with all I can do, or say, and, in Reality, for no other Reason but because

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