Page images
PDF
EPUB

butler, was indicted for robbing his master, Mr. MATTHEW FORSTER, of plate to the value of $200 and upwards. To this charge he pleaded

Guilty,' alleging that horse-racing and betting-houses had brought him to the dock: that he had been sometimes worth £1,000 and sometimes not a penny; and that if he had had a few days he could have set himself right again. His master deposed that the prisoner had lived in his service fifteen or sixteen years, with a good character; and besought the indulgence of the Court for him, not only on this ground, but

because he thought that until those nurseries of crime and dens of vice, the betting-houses, were put down, we were not justified in acting harshly to their unfortunate victims.' Mr. WITHAM considered that this was no excuse,' and that everyone who went to a betting-house ought to be ashamed of himself.' However, in deference to the prosecutor's recommendation, he looked leniently on the matter, and recorded

twelve months with hard labour,' as the sentence of the Court. Without discriminating very rigorously between the several principles here exemplified, we can close at once with one of Mr. Forster's observations, that these betting-houses ought to be put down.'

" To the summary action, indeed, of the legislature in this respect, we can only conceive one honest objection, and

that is, that it is unwise to interfere with private dealings, and unjust to circumscribe the poorer classes in a license which is permitted to their superiors. Noblemen and gentlemen go to Newmarket and Doncaster, enjoy the spectacle, stake their money, and satisfy their cravings for excitement or gain. Poorer men cannot leave their work or their abodes ; but if they can snatch a little pleasure from a practice which brings the amusement to their own doors, why should they not do so? Perhaps they sometimes get into difficulties in consequence, and when a man is in difficulties he is driven to hard thoughts to get out of them : but gentlemen run just the same risks, and we do not hear of Epsom or Ascot being put down because some “ well-known character' has come to a shocking end. This we take to be about all that any honest person would have to say for the system of betting-houses.

“ As all such argument is based on the assumed interests of the poorer classes themselves, we can very quickly dispose of it. It is simply preposterous to describe as beneficial to any class of people a system which this very class charges with bringing them to ruin. That betting-houses have undermined the probity, and ruined the prospects of hundreds of persons in places of trust, we learn from their own mouths. The complaint did not originally proceed from proprietors : it was put on record week after week by some wretched victim of the system. No person objected to betting-houses till their results became manifest in the police-courts. A practice, which notoriously and by confession seduces into crime those who have been proof against all other temptations of their position, must necessarily stand condemned by its own effects. What do these advocates of the poorer classes say when a master leaves valuable property in the way of a servant, and thus puts sin within his reach? They say that the master is the true culprit, for that the servant has been deprived of the protection against temptation, to which he was fully entitled. To what protection, then, is he entitled in the case before us? And how can those who thus argue maintain the defensibility of establishments, in which temptation is

organized to its very highest pitch of power? Be it remembered, too, that the property' at stake is not confined to the possessions of a landlord or master. The very first to perish is that of the poor themselves--the small inheritance, or the hard-earned savings of many years' labour. THOMAS Scott, we may safely presume, did not resort to his master's plate-chest till he had exhausted all the stock which fifteen years' faithful service, in a good place, had enabled him to amass. It is not only the goods of the rich that are endangered, but the earnings of the poor. In every one of the hundred cases which have come before the public we may be perfectly certain that the prisoner had been reduced to beggary before he was driven to theft.

To those, again, who think that the subject is not one for legislative action, we commend the following considerations :-Some years ago a portion of the revenue of this country was raised by public lotteries, and the tax thus collected had at least this remarkable advantage over other taxes ever known, that it was paid not only with cheerfulness, but with avidity. In point of fact, people ruined themselves both in pocket and character, as they do now in the betting houses, for the sake of satisfying the CHANCELLOR OF The Exchequer in this particular contribution to the revenue. Thus the State gained a considerable supply with a positive gratification to the tax-payer ; but the whole system and practice was absolutely forbidden by law even in private lands. And why was this? Because it was incontestably shown to foster a spirit of immorality and dishonesty: because it diverted men's minds from honest labour to dangerous gambling, and induced them to stake character and credit on the chance of rapid gain. Now, how can betting-houses be defended if lotteries have been suppressed ? Lotteries were immeasurably the less noxious of the two; for not only did a certain advantage actually result to the State, but there was at least no fraud or imposture in the administration of the scheme. A man buying one of Mr. Bish's tickets bought all the chances he conceived himself to be buying, and was guaranteed against all disadvantages but those of the lottery itself; whereas the bettinghouses not only inveigle their victims, but cheat them into the bargain. Servants are not only ruined, but ruined by foul play.

“But, perhaps, it will be said Parliament cannot directly interfere in so small a matter. The matter is not small; but even if it were far less serious than it really is, we could bring a precedent for prompt legislative interference. Six or seven years ago persons of quality' lost their dogs at a rate which was thought alarming. These little quadrupeds--the henchmen of the nineteenth century--were kidnapped in such numbers, and by an organized system of thievery, that an Eng. lishman's terrier was no longer safe in his own castle. Parliament set to work at once. A committee was appointed to take evidence, and the caterans of Piccadilly were caressed into disclosing all the secrets of modern cattle-lifting. The result, though half a dozen measures of importance were left to stand over, was a Blue-book and a Dog Bill. A like promptitude in the present case would soon terminate the system of betting-houses. The police, armed with proper powers, could make an end of them in a fortnight; and this is a subject on which Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli may push “protection” to its very fullest extent, with the hearty co-operation of the country. It is really high time for

[graphic][ocr errors]

members to bestir themselves, or something more precious than even corn-rents may be brought into peril. When confidential butlers get to the bottom of the plate-chest they have not much further to go, and another week or two at the betting-house may send them with a razor to their masters' throats."....

Thus that which a few years ago was a noble national sport has been transformed into an outrageous social scandal. The crisis which for seasons I have been foretelling has at length arrived. If the occasion be vigorously dealt with, all may yet be well ; but if no remedy be applied, then assuredly-as an institution for gentle patronage and resort -THE TURF IS DOOMED !

MARGARETTA.

SISTER TO MOCKING-BIRD AND MARMOSETTE.
ENGRAVED BY E. HACKER, FROM A PAINTING BY G. H. LAPORTE.

Margaretta, a black bitch, the property of Mr. S. R. Gilbert, bred by Sir W. A. Maxwell, Bart., in 1843, was got by his black dog Massaroni, out of his red bitch Maid of Honour. Marniosette and Mockingbird, out of the same dam, figure in the Coursing Calendar as winners of large stakes, though we should state that Sir William's Mocking-bird is not the one of that name which has attained so much celebrity further south, and whose portrait has already appeared in the Magazine.

PERFORMANCES. In October, 1844, at the Ardrossan Meeting, Margaretta won the Tyro Stakes of sixteen dogs, for puppies of 1843, Mr. A. Graham's Jock-the-Bleacher running up.

In September, 1815, at the Clydesdale Meeting, she won the Speculation Stakes, when Mr. A. Graham's Rough ran up to her.

In the November of the same year, at the Mid-Lothian Meeting, she won the Buccleugh Stakes, beating Mr. W. Sharpe's Dainty Davie, and seven others.

In December, at the Clydesdale Meeting, after the third round, she divided the Lanarkshire Plate with her sister, Marmosette.

In January, 1846, at the Clydesdale Meeting, Margaretta ran up to Lord Eglinton's Rufus, for the Champion Collar.

In February, at Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, she won the All-aged Cup, beating Mr. A. Graham's Lord Turnabout, and six others.

In the same month, at the Midlothian Meeting, she won the Champion Cup, Mr. W. Ramsay's Rector running up.

In March, at the Lanarkshire (Wishaw) Meeting, she ran up in the fourth ties to her old opponent, Lord Eglinton's Rufus, for the Lanarkshire Stakes.

In February, 1847, she ran up to Mr. Wauchope's Victory, for the Cup, at the Mid Lothian Meeting, breaking two of her toes in the deciding course.

It might be inconvenient, as well as uninteresting, to give the full return of courses contested so far back. It would, however, be all to

« PreviousContinue »