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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Culture and Life

A Gambler

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

A GamblerAMONG the innumerable anecdotes related of the ruin of persons at play, there is one worth relating, which refers to a Mr. Porter, a gentleman who, in the reign of Queen Anne, possessed one of the best estates in Northumberland, the whole of which he lost at hazard in twelve months.

According to the story told of this madman – for we call him nothing else – when he had just completed the loss of his last acre, at a gambling-house in London, and was proceeding down the stairs to throw himself into a carriage to convey him home to his house in town, he retrieved his losses, and immediately returned to the room where the play was going on. Nerved for the worst that might happen, he insisted that the person he had been playing with should give him one chance of recover or fight with him.

His proposition was this: That his carriage and horses, the trinkets and loose money in his pockets, his town house, plate, and furniture – in short, all he had in the world, should be valued in a lump at a certain sum, and be thrown at a single cast. No persuasions could prevail on him to depart from his purpose. He threw and lost; then conducting the winner to the door, he told the coachman there was his master; and marched forth into the dark and dismal streets, without house or home, or any one creditable means of support. Thus beggared, he retired to an obscure lodging in a cheap part of the town, subsisting partly on charity, sometimes acting as the marker at a billiard table, and occasionally as a helper in a livery stable. In this miserable condition, with nakedness and famine staring him in the face, exposed to the taunts and insults of those whom he had once supported, he was recognized by an old friend, who gave him ten guineas to purchase necessaries. He expended five in procuring decent apparel; with the remaining five he repaired to a common gaming-house, and increased them to fifty; he then adjourned to one of the higher order of houses, sat down with former associates, and won twenty thousand pounds. Returning the next night, he lost it all, was once more penniless, and after subsisting many years in abject penury, died a ragged beggar in Saint Giles’s.