And others more slenderly stock’d, disfurnish their husbands’ studies, and play off the books which, it may be, help’d to feed them
And thus one of them is run through the lungs, and left agonizing upon the place: or, as it happen’d not long since, the gamester is knocked down with a pint-pot, and his skull broken: he is forced to be trepan’d, and then relapsing into play and drinking, dies of a frenzy.
None of the editors mention either the name of the author, or the time when he lived
“As to the hazards, they are frightful, and sufficient to overset the temper of better principled people than gamesters commonly are. Have we not heard of ladies losing hundreds of guineas at a sitting? And when the women are thus courageous, the men conclude their own sex calls for a bolder liberty: that they ought to go farther in danger, and appear more brave in the methods of ruin: thus a manor has been lost in an afternoon; the suit and service follow the cast, and the right is transfer’d sooner than the lawyer can draw the conveyance. A box and dice are terrible artillery, a battery of cannon scarcely plays with more execution. They make a breach in a castle, and command a surrender in a little time. “
A curious Rabbinical tract on the subject of Gaming, entitled, ??? ???,- Sur Mera ,-that is, “Depart from Evil,” seems to require some notice here. It was first printed at Venice, about 1615; was reprinted at Leyden about 1660; and a third edition, accompanied with a German translation, was published at Leipsic in 1683. The work is in the form of a dialogue between two young Jews, one of whom, named Medad , maintains the lawfulness of Gaming, and is opposed by the other, named Eldad . The work is divided into six chapters. The first is merely introductory, giving a brief account of the speakers in the dialogue;-Medad, a merchant’s son, addicted to play; and Eldad, his friend, who endeavours to reclaim him. The second chapter [Pg 317] contains the argument which they had on the subject of gaming and commerce; Medad endeavouring to show that play is commendable and similar to commerce; while Eldad maintains the contrary. In the third chapter, Eldad undertakes to prove from the Scriptures that a gamester breaks all the Ten Commandments, and Medad ingeniously answers him. In the fourth chapter, Eldad, on the authority of the Talmud and other Rabbinical works, maintains that a gamester can neither be a judge nor a witness; and Medad answers him, citing opposite passages from the same authorities. In the fifth chapter, Eldad recites a piece of poetry descriptive of the miserable state of a gamester; and Medad, in return, recites another, wherein the pleasures of a gamester’s life are highly extolled. In the sixth and last chapter, Eldad seriously exhorts his friend to assent to truth; Medad yields, and acknowledges that the cause which he had maintained was bad.
The following are a few of the more remarkable passages in the argument of Medad, the advocate of gaming: “Play is commendable, the same as all other human inventions. It is like a bright mirror in which many excellent things are to be discovered, exciting to a sluggish man, and causing him to forget the cares incident to daily life. Though it be undeniable that he whose whole pleasure consists in keeping the commands of the Lord, and who is neither vain nor ambitious, is a better man than he who plays; yet of the various pursuits in which men engage in order to obtain wealth or power, Play is one which may be allowed to those who, without pretending to be absolutely righteous, yet endeavour to be as righteous as they can.