The Link between Fashion and Gambling from Mary Robinson’s Modern Manners, a Poem. In Two Cantos (1793) and 'The Gamester' (1800)
from Robinson, Mary. Modern Manners, A Poem. In Two Cantos (London: James Evans, 1793).
. . . O, Fashion! delegate of taste and wit, Oft do I see thee triumph in the pit; When Hobart’s critic fan attention draws, The airy signal of ill-judged applause! When pale-faced misses sigh from side-box rows, And painted matrons nod to painted beaux: Where the lank lord, incircled in the throng, Shews his white teeth, and hums a fav’rite song; Who, spite of season, crowds it to the play, Wrapp’d in six waistcoats—in the month of May; Who, just at noon, has strength to rise from bed, With empty pocket—and more empty head; Who, scarce recover’d from the courtly dance, Sees with disgust the vulgar day advance: Anticipates the wax-illumin’d night, Cassino’s charms, and Faro’s proud delight! Who hates the broad intolerable sun, That points his door to every gaping dun; Who saunters all the morn, and reads the news, ’Midst clouds of odours and Olympian dews; Till three o’clock proclaims the time to meet On the throng’d pavement of St. James’s street; Where various shops on various follies thrive, ‘Beaux, banish beaux—and coaches, coaches drive:’ While to Hyde Park this titled tribe are flocking, To walk in boots—or ride in silken stocking. . . .
Robinson, Mary. 'The Gamester.' Whitehall Evening Post (January 14-16, 1800) 4; Morning Post and Gazetteer (Wednesday, 15 January 1800) 3. The version below is taken from the Whitehall Evening Post.
AH! what is he, whose haggard eye Scarce dares to meet the morning ray? Who, trembling, would, but cannot fly From Man, and from the busy day. Mark how his lip is fever’d o’er, Behold his cheek, how deathly it appears! See! how his blood-shot eye-balls pour A burning torrent of unpitied tears!
Now watch the varying gesture, wild, See how his tortur’d bosom heaves! Behold, Misfortune’s wayward child, For whom no kindred Nature grieves! Despis’d, suspected, ruin’d, lost! His fortune, health, and reputation flown; On mis’ry’s stormy ocean tost, Condemn’d to curse his fate, and curse alone!
Once, were his prospects bright and gay, And Independence blest his hours: His was the smooth and sunny way, Where tip-toe Pleasure scatter’d flow’rs. Love bound his brow with thornless sweets, And smiling Friendship fill’d his cup of joy; Now, not a Friend the victim meets, For, like a Wolf, he wanders to destroy.
All day, upon a couch of thorn, His weary, fev’rish limbs recline; All night, distracted and forlorn, He hovers round the fateful shrine! Eager to seize, with grasping hands, The slender pittance of the easy Fool; He links himself with caitiff bands, And learns the lesson of the Gamester’s school!
One-hour, elate with ill-got gold, And dazzled by the shining ore, In plenitude of joys, behold The Prodigal display his store! The next, in poverty and fear, He hides him, trembling at approaching fate, While greedy Creditors appear, And with remorseless rage lurk round his gate.
Then comes the horror-breeding hour! While recreant Suicide attends; Or Madness, with impetuous pow’r, The scene of desolation ends! Upon his grave no parent mourns, No widow’d Love laments with graceful woe; No dawn of joy for him returns— For Heav’n denies that peace, his frenzy lost below! L. M. [Laura Maria]