Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Regency Romance Era Editorial On The Evils Of Female Gamesters

The Following Is A Regency Romance Editorial

On The Evils Of Gaming By Women

'As soon as you have set up your unicorn, there is no question but the ladies will make him push very furiously at the men; for which reason, I think it is good to be beforehand with them, and make the lion roar aloud at female irregularities. Among these I wonder how their gaming has so long escaped your notice.
'You who converse with the sober family of the Lizards, are, perhaps, a stranger to these viragoes; but what would you say, should you see the Sparkler shaking her elbow for a whole night together, and thumping the table with a dice-box? Or how would you like to hear good widow lady herself returning to her house at midnight and alarming the whole street with a most enormous rap, after having sat up till that time at crimp or ombre? Sir, I am the husband of one of these female gamesters, and a great loser by it both in rest my and pocket. As my wife reads your papers, one upon this subject might be of use both to her, and;
I should ill deserve the name of Guardian, did I not caution all my fair wards against a practice, which, when it runs to excess, is the most shameful but one that the female world can fall into. The ill consequences of it are more than can be contained in this paper. However, that I may proceed in method, I shall consider them, First, as they relate to the mind; Secondly, as they relate to the body.
Could we look into the mind of a female gamester, we should see it full of nothing but trumps and mattadores. Her slumbers are haunted with kings, queens, and knaves. The day lies heavy upon her till the play-season returns, when for half a dozen hours together, all her faculties are employed in shuffling, cutting, dealing and sorting out a pack of cards; and no ideas to be discovered in a soul which calls itself rational, excepting little square figures of painted and spotted paper.
Was the understanding, that divine part in our composition, given for such an use? Is it thus that we improve the greatest talent human nature is endowed with? What would a superior being think, were he shewn this intellectual faculty in a female gamester, and at the same time told, that it was by this she was distinguished from brutes, and allied to angels?
When our women thus fill their imaginations with pips and counters, I cannot wonder at the story I have lately heard of a new-born child that was marked with the five of clubs.
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 which they are much accustomed to, and we always find, that play, when followed with assiduity, engrosses the whole woman. She quickly grows uneasy in her own family, takes but little pleasure in all the domestic innocent endearments of life, and grows more fond of Pam 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 humor, is angry with every body, displeased with all I can do or say, and in reality for no other reason but because she has been throwing away my estate. What charming bed fellows and companions for life are men likely to meet with, that chuse their wives out of such women of vogue and fashion? What a race of worthies, what patriots, what heroes must we expect from mothers of this make?
I come in the next place to consider the ill consequences which gaming has on the bodies of our female adventurers. It is so ordered, that almost every thing which corrupts the soul decays the body. The beauties of the face and mind are generally destroyed by the same means. This consideration should have a particular weight with the female world, who are designed to please the eye and attract the regards of the other half of the species.
Now there is nothing that wears out a fine face like the vigils of the card table, and those cutting passions which naturally attend them. Hollow eyes, haggard looks, and pale complexions, are the natural indications of a female gamester. Her morning sleeps are not able to repair her midnight watchings.
I have known a woman carried off half dead from bassette, and have many a time grieved, to see a person of quality gliding by me in her chair at two o'clock in the morning, and looking like a spectre amidst a glare of flambeaux: in short, I never knew a thorough-paced female gamester hold her beauty two winters together.
But there is still another case in which the body is more endangered than in the former. All play-debts must be paid in specie, or by an equivalent. The man that plays beyond his income pawns his estate; the woman must find out something else to mortgage when her pin-money is gone. The husband has his lauds to dispose of, the wife her person. Now when the female body is once dipped, if the creditor be very importunate, I leave my reader to consider the consequences.
It is needless here to mention the ill consequences attending this passion among the men, who are often bubbled out of their money and estates by sharpers, and to make up their loss, have recourse to means productive of dire events, instances of which frequently occur; for strictly speaking, those who set their minds upon gaming, can hardly be honest; a man's reflections, after losing, render him desperate, so as to commit violence either upon himself or some other person, and therefore gaming should be discouraged in all well regulated communities.

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