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A Letter from the Parson of the Parish, to Sir Charles Easy, in London.
DEAR SIR CHARLES,
You will forgive your old friend, who has troubled you now and then with wholesome advice, if he should do so once more, as now there seems to be particular occasion for it. You say in your last, that you are £.2,000 the poorer this year for play. I am sorry to hear it, with all my heart! for we country people look upon £. 2,000 as a very serious matter; and had I not known you so well, I should have been much surprised to find that you can write so gaily on losing so large a sum.
I know that you gentlemen of the town look upon gaming only as an idle and weak thing at the worst, but I have long considered it as one
of the greatest sins: You will forgive an old parson for using a word, which they tell us is almost grown out of fashion.
Will you give me leave to tell
you why I consider gaming as so very wicked? It is because it may make a very bad man of a very good one.
I know your temper very well; and I am sure, that naturally you were much inclined to do good, and very desirous of having a good name in the world. You were from your earliest infancy of a sweet disposition; and, I have seen you, when a boy, give sixpence to a poor old woman, when you had not twopence left in your pocket. How then can you continue to be so fond of a vice that may in time render you unwise, inglorious, sunk in repulation, unmerciful, and unjust?
I know you will laugh and say I am preaching to you. Well, that, you know, is my trade; and I hope I shall never be ashamed of it. But how does play do all these bad things? Why it you please I will tell you; and that in a few words too, though I'am so old a man.
The manners of all are tinged with the company which they keep. Now, the lower sort of gamesters are weak men, if you take them out of their cards and dice; and those who game much, must frequently be reduced to their company, and consequently cannot derive the smallest
improvement from their conversation. As for reputation, the character of a gamester is generally allowed to be of the worst kind; and though the world is so bad, yet none have ever been esteemed for being gamesters; unless things are grown worse since I was in London, which was at the last convocation.
I beg you to recollect; for I know your good disposition, and how often you have been willing to relieve some worthy object in distress, and could not, because the dice had a run against you the night or two before. In each of these instances the dice made you not generous, where you wished much to exert your generosity.
Whenever an income is lessened by play, the tenants in the country must be pressed to pay their rents: the rents must also be racked up as high as possible, to supply the annual demands of the gaming table; and both of those, I fear, often in a manner that may be termed unmerciful.
Whenever gaming swallows great part of an income, as gaming debts must be paid first, most other debts are neglected. Now the true value of trade consists in circulation; and if tradesmen's debts remain long unpaid, there must be injustice somewhere. Either they charge no
more than to a speedy payer, and then you are unjust to them in so long detaining their money; or they will charge you more than the proper value of their goods, and then you are the occasion of injustice to yourself.
So that what I said was true, that gaming will render you unwise, sunk in reputation, ungenerous, unmerciful, and unjust. But the point, I own, which grieves me most is, that so excellent a turn of mind as yours, should be rendered of no effect, by such pitiful means.
I have just been computing how much good you might have done during the last year; all which you have omitted without adding to your character and happiness. I will put down the calculation.
An account of what might have been done by Sir Charles Easy for the benefit and happiness of mankind in 1743.
Towards apprenticing the two sons of a
soldier who fought bravely and lost his life in the battle of Dettingen
To a poor clergyman, who bred up a large family with only £.15 a year
To portions for five young women of good character on their marriages with ho- nest tradesmen
To clothing and schooling ten boys,
Towards setting up four young men just out of their time, in their trades
Loan to poor tradesmen without interest
Instead of this in your present account all
/stands under one article.
Lost in gaming
£.2,000 0 0
Ah! Sir Charles, let me entreat you to compare these two very different accounts, and weigh the one against the other. Had you had the happiness to have followed the former, you would have derived great pleasure every time you looked it over, to reflect that you had contributed so much in one year, towards making so