« VorigeDoorgaan »
with hazard, and which individuals might convert into the means of moral depravity and temporal ruin, they have forbidden these also, by including them under the appellation of gaming.
Of this description are concerns in the lottery, from which all Quakers are advised to refrain. These include the purchase of tickets, and all insurance upon the same.
In transactions of this kind there is always a monied stake, and the issue is dependent upon chance. Ther is of course the same fascinating stimulus as in cards, or dice, arising from the hope of gain. The mind also must be equally agitated between hope and fear; and the same state of desperation may be produced, with other fatal consequences, in the event of loss.
Buying and selling in the public stocks of the kingdom is, under particular circumstances, discouraged also. Where any of the members of the society buy into the stocks, under the idea, that they are likely to obtain better security, or more permanent advantages, such a transfer of their property is allowable. But if any were to make a practice of buying or selling, week after week, upon speculation only, such a practice would come under the denomination of gaming. In this case, like the preceding, it is evident, that money would be the object in view; that the issue would be hazardous; and, if the stake or deposit
were of great importance, the tranquillity of the mind might be equally disturbed, and many temporal sufferings might follow.
The Quakers have thought it right, upon the same principle, to forbid the custom of laying wagers upon any occasion whatever, or of reaping advantage from any doubtful event, by a previous agreement upon a monied stake. This prohibition, however, is not on record, like the former, but is observed as a traditional law. No Quaker-parent would suffer his child, nor Quaker-schoolmaster the children entrusted to his care, nor any member another, to be concerned in amusements of this kind, without a suitable reproof.
By means of these prohibitions, which are enforced, in a great measure, by the discipline, the Quakers have put a stop to gaming more effectually than others, but particularly by means of the latter. For history has shewn us, that we cannot always place a reliance on a mere prohibition of any particular amusement or employment, as a cure for gaming, because any pastime or employment, however innocent in itself, may be made an instrument for its designs. There are few customs, however harmless, which avarice cannot convert into the means of rapine on the one hand, and of distress on the other.
Many of the games, which are now in use with such pernicious effects to individuals, were not for
merly the instruments of private ruin. Horse-racing was originally instituted with a view of promoting a better breed of horses for the services of man. Upon this principle it was continued. It afforded no private emolument to any individual. The by-standers were only spectators. They were not interested in the victory. The victor himself was remunerated, not with money, but with crowns and garlands, the testimonies of public applause. But the spirit of gaming got hold of the custom, and turned it into a private diversion, which was to afford the opportunity of a private prize.
Cock-fighting, as we learn from Ælian, was instituted by the Athenians, immediately after their victory over the Persians, to perpetuate the memory of the event, and to stimulate the courage of the youth of Greece in the defence of their own freedom; and it was continued upon the same principle, or as a public institution for a public good. But the spirit of avarice seized it, as it has done the custom of horse-racing, and continued it for a private gain.
Cards, that is, European cards, were, as all are agreed, of an harmless origin. Charles the sixth, of France, was particularly afflicted with the hypochondriasis. While in this disoredred state, one of his subjects invented them, to give variety of amusement to his mind. From the court they passed into
private families. And here the same avaricious spirit
In the same manner as the spirit of gaming has
whenever it can be enforced, it must be an effectual cure for gaming. For we have no idea, how a man can gratify his desire of gain by means of any of the amusements of chance, if he can make no monied arrangements about their issue.
The first argument for the prohibition of cards, and of similar amusements, by the Quakers, is—that they are below the dignity of the intellect of man, and of his moral and christian character sentiments of Addison on this subject.
THE reasons, which the Quakers give for the pro
hibition of cards, and of amusements of a similar nature, to the members of their own society, are generally such as are given by other Christians, though they make use of one, which is peculiar to themselves.
It has been often observed, that the word amusement is proper to characterize the employments of children, but that the word utility is the only one proper to characterize the employment of men.