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Gambling at Bath-Beau Nash-Anecdotes of him—A lady gambler-Horace Walpole's gossip about gambling-Awful story about Richard Parsons— Gambling anecdotes-C. J. Fox.

NOR was it only in London that this gambling fever existed : it equally polluted the quieter resorts of men, and at fashionable watering places, like Bath, it was rampant, as Oliver Goldsmith writes in his life of Beau Nash, of whom he tells several anecdotes connected with play. "When he first figured at Bath, there were few laws against this destructive amusement. The gaming table was the constant resource of despair and indigence, and the frequent ruin of opulent fortunes. Wherever people of fashion came, needy adventurers were generally found in waiting. With such Bath swarmed, and, among this class, Mr Nash was certainly to be numbered in the beginning; only, with this difference, that he wanted the corrupt heart, too commonly attending a life of expedients; for he was generous, humane, and honourable, even though, by profession, a gambler.

A thousand instances might be given of his integrity, even in this infamous profession, where his generosity often impelled him to act in contradiction to his interest. Wherever he found a novice in the hands of a sharper, he generally forewarned him of the danger; whenever he found any inclined to play, yet ignorant of the game, he would offer his services, and play for them. I remember an instance to this effect, though too nearly concerned in the affair to publish the gentleman's name of whom it is related.

In the year 1725, there came to Bath a giddy youth, who had just resigned his fellowship at Oxford. He brought his whole fortune with him there; it was but a trifle, however,

he was resolved to venture it all. Good fortune seemed kinder than could be expected. Without the smallest skill in play, he won a sum sufficient to make any unambitious man happy. His desire of gain increasing with his gains, in the October following he was at all, and added four thousand pounds to his former capital. Mr Nash, one night, after losing a considerable sum to this undeserving son of fortune, invited him to supper. Sir, cried this honest, though veteran gamester, perhaps you may imagine I have invited you, in order to have my revenge at home; but, sir, I scorn such an inhospitable action. I desired the favour of your company to give you some advice, which, you will pardon me, sir, you seem to stand in need of. You are now high in spirits, and drawn away by a torrent of success. But, there will come a time, when you will repent having left the calm of a college life for the turbulent profession of a gamester. Ill runs will come, as certain as day and night succeed each other. Be therefore advised; remain content with your present gains; for, be persuaded that, had you the Bank of England, with your present ignorance of gaming, it would vanish like a fairy dream. You are a stranger to me; but, to convince you of the part I take in your welfare, I'll give you fifty guineas, to forfeit twenty, every time you lose two hundred at one sitting. The young gentleman refused his offer, and was at last undone !

"The late Duke of B. being chagrined at losing a considerable sum, pressed Mr Nash to tie him up for the future from playing deep. Accordingly, the beau gave his grace an hundred guineas, to forfeit ten thousand, whenever he lost a sum, to the same amount, at play at one sitting. The duke loved play to distraction; and, soon after, at hazard, lost eight thousand guineas, and was going to throw for three thousand more, when Nash, catching hold of the dice box, entreated his grace to reflect upon the penalty if he lost. The duke, for that time, desisted; but so strong was the furor of play upon him that, soon after losing a considerable sum at Newmarket, he was contented to pay the penalty.


"When the late Earl of Td was a youth, he was passionately fond of play, and never better pleased than with having Mr Nash for his antagonist. Nash saw, with concern, his lordship's foible, and undertook to cure him, though by a very disagreeable remedy. Conscious of his own superior skill, he determined to engage him in single play for a very considerable sum. His lordship, in proportion as he lost his game, lost his temper, too; and, as he approached the gulph, seemed still more eager for ruin. He lost his estate; some writings were put into the winner's possession: his very equipage deposited as a last stake, and he lost that also. But, when our generous gamester had found his lordship sufficiently punished for his temerity, he returned all, only stipulating that he should be paid five thousand pounds whenever he should think proper to make the demand. However, he never made any such demand during his lordship's life; but, some time after his decease, Mr Nash's affairs being in the wane, he demanded the money of his lordship's heirs, who honourably paid it without any hesitation."

There is a sad story told of a lady gambler at Bath, which must have occurred about this time, say 1750 or thereabouts. Miss Frances Braddock, daughter of a distinguished officer, Maj.-Gen. Braddock, was the admiration of the circle in which she moved. Her person was elegant, her face beautiful, and her mind accomplished. Unhappily for her, she spent a season at Bath, where she was courted by the fashionables there present, for her taste was admirable and her wit brilliant. Her father, at his death, bequeathed twelve thousand pounds between her and her sister (a large amount in those days), besides a considerable sum to her brother, Maj.-Gen. Braddock, who was, in the American War, surrounded by Indians, and mortally wounded, dying 13th July 1755. Four years after her father's death, her sister died, by which her fortune was doubled -but, alas! in the course of one short month, she lost the whole; gambled away at cards,

It soon became known that she was penniless, and her sensitive spirit being unable to brook the real and fictitious condolences, she robed herself in maiden white, and, tying a gold and silver girdle together, she hanged herself therewith, dying at the early age of twenty-three years.

Gossiping Horace Walpole gives us many anecdotes of gambling in his time, scattered among his letters to Sir Horace Mann, &c. In one of them (Dec. 26, 1748), he tells a story of Sir William Burdett, of whom he says; "in short, to give you his character at once, there is a wager entered in the bet book at White's (a MS. of which I may, one day or other, give you an account), that the first baronet that will be hanged, is this Sir William Burdett."

The Baronet casually met Lord Castledurrow (afterwards Viscount Ashbrook), and Captain (afterwards Lord) Rodney, "a young seaman, who has made a fortune by very gallant behaviour during the war," and he asked them dinner.


"When they came, he presented them to a lady, dressed foreign, as a princess of the house of Brandenburg: she had a toad eater, and there was another man, who gave himself for a count. After dinner, Sir William looked at his watch, and said 'J-s! it is not so late as I thought, by an hour; Princess, will your Highness say how we shall divert ourselves till it is time to go to the play! 'Oh!' said she, 'for my part, you know I abominate everything but Pharaoh.' 'I am very sorry, Madam,' replied he, very gravely, 'but I don't know whom your Highness will get to tally to you; you know I am ruined by dealing.' 'Oh!' says she, 'the Count will deal to us.' 'I would, with all my soul,' said the Count,' but I protest I have no money about me.' She insisted at last the Count said, 'Since your Highness commands us peremptorily, I believe Sir William has four or five hundred pounds of mine, that I am to pay away in the city to-morrow; if he will be so good as to step to his bureau for that sum, I will make a bank of it.' Mr Rodney owns he was a little astonished at seeing the Count shuffle

with the faces of the cards upwards; but, concluding that Sir William Burdett, at whose house he was, was a relation, or particular friend of Lord Castledurrow, he was unwilling to affront my lord. In short, my lord and he lost about a hundred and fifty apiece, and it was settled that they should meet for payment, the next morning, at Ranelagh. In the meantime, Lord C. had the curiosity to inquire a little into the character of his new friend, the Baronet; and being au fait, he went up to him at Ranelagh, and apostrophised him; Sir William, here is the sum I think I lost last night; since that, I have heard that you are a professed pickpocket, and, therefore, desire to have no farther acquaintance with you.' Sir William bowed, took the money and no notice; but, as they were going away, he followed Lord Castledurrow, and said, 'Good God! my lord, my equipage is not come; will you be so good as to set me down at Buckingham Gate?' and, without waiting for an answer, whipped into the chariot, and came to town with him. If you don't admire the coolness of this impudence, I shall wonder."

"10 Jan. 1750. To make up for my long silence, and to make up a long letter, I will string another story, which I have just heard, to this. General Wade was at a low gaming house, and had a very fine snuff-box, which, on a sudden, he missed. Everybody denied having taken it: he insisted on searching the company. He did there remained only one man, who had stood behind him, but refused to be searched, unless the General would go into another room, alone, with him. There the man told him, that he was born a gentleman, was reduced, and lived by what little bets he could pick up there, and by fragments which the waiters sometimes gave him. 'At this moment I have half a fowl in my pocket; I was afraid of being exposed; here it is! Now, Sir, you may search me.' Wade was so struck, that he gave the man a hundred pounds; and, immediately, the genius of generosity, whose province is almost a sinecure, was very glad of the opportunity of making him find his own snuff-box, or another very like it, in his own pocket again."

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