Every device that suddenly changes money or property from one person to another without a
quid pro quo, or leaving an equivalent, produces individual embarrassment - often extreme
misery. More pernicious is that plan, if it changes property and money from the hands of the
many to the few.
Gambling does this, and often inflicts a still greater injury, by poisoning its victims with vice,
that eventually leads to crimes of the darkest hue. Usually, the money basely filched from its
victims, is the smallest part of the injury inflicted. It almost inevitably leads to intemperance.
Every species of offence, on the black catalogue of crime, may be traced to the gambling table,
as the entering wedge to its perpetration.
This alarming evil is as wide-spread as our country. It is practiced from the humblest water
craft that floats on our canals up to the majestic steamboat on our mighty rivers; from the
lowest groggeries that curse the community, up to the most fashionable hotels that claim
respectability; from the hod-carrier in his bespattered rags, up to the honorable members of
congress in their ruffles. Like a mighty maelstrom, its motion, at the outside, is scarcely
perceptible, but soon increase to a fearful velocity; suddenly the awful centre is reached - the
victim is lost in the vortex. Interested friends may warn, the wife may entreat, with all the
eloquence of tears; children may cling and cry for bread - once in the fatal snare, the victim of
gamblers is seldom saved, He combines the deafness of the adder with the desperation of a
maniac, and rushes on, regardless of danger - reckless of consequences.
To the fashionable of our country, who play cards and other games as an innocent amusement,
we may trace the most aggravated injuries resulting from gambling. It is there that young men
of talents, education, and wealth, take the degree of entered apprentice. The example of men
in high life, men in public stations and responsible offices, has a powerful and corrupting
influence on society, and does much to increase the evil, and forward, as well as sanction the
high-handed robbery of fine dressed blacklegs. The gambling hells in our cities, tolerated and
patronized, are a disgrace to a nation bearing a Christian name, and would be banished from
a Pagan community.
Gambling assumes a great variety of forms, from the flipping of a cent in the bar room for a
glass of whisky, up to the splendidly furnished faro bank room, where men are occasionally
swindled to the tune of "ten thousand a year," and sometimes a much larger amount. In
addition to these varieties, we have legalized lotteries and fancy stock brokers, and among
those who manage them, professors of religion are not unfrequently found.
Thousands who carefully shun the monster under any other form, pay a willing tribute to the
tyrant at the shrine of lotteries. Persons from all classes throw their money into this vault of
uncertainty, this whirlpool of speculation, with a less chance to regain it than when at the
detested faro bank. It is here that th epoor man spends his last dollar; it is here that the rich
often become poor, for a man has ten chances to be killed by lightning where he has one to
draw a capital prize. The ostensible objects of lotteries are always praiseworthy. Meeting
houses, hospitals, seminaries of learning, internal improvement, some laudable enterprise,
may always be found first and foremost in a lottery scheme; the most ingenious and most fatal
gull trap ever invented by man or devil.
Gaming cowers in darkness, and often blots out all the nobler powers of the heart, paralyzes
its sensibilities to human woe, severs the sacred ties that bind man to man, to woman, to
family, to community, to morals, to religion, to social order, and to country. It transforms men
to brutes, desperadoes, maniacs, misanthropists, and strips human nature of all its native
dignity. The gamester forfeits the happiness of this life and endures the penalties of sin in both
worlds. His profession is the scavenger of avarice, haggard and filthy, badly fed, poorly clad,
and worse paid.
Let me entreat all to shun the monster, under all his borrowed and deceptive forms.
Remember that gambling for amusement is the wicket gate into the labyrinth, and when once
in, you may find it difficult to get out. Ruin is marked in blazing capitals over the door of the
gambler; his hell is the vestibule to that eternal hell where the worm dieth not and the fire is
not quenched. If you regard your own, and the happiness of your family and friends, and the
salvation of your immortal soul, recoil from even the shadow of a shade reflected by this
heaven-daring, heart-breaking, soul-destroying, fashionable, but ruinous vice.
An evil that starts upon a wrong principle, the vital element of which is injustice, must have a
vast productive force in creating other evils. It is necessarily a mighty agency in destroying all
that is good in the soul; vitiating the whole character, and dragging down every lofty purpose
and noble aspiration. And we find that the gambler is rapidly qualified for every other species
of wickedness. The fiery excitement to which he yields himself in the game-room inflames
every other passion. It produces a state of mind that can be satisfied only with intense and
forbidden pleasures. It virtually takes him out of the circle of refined, rational enjoyment and
plunges him into scenes more congenial to a corrupt taste. He would gladly witness as a
pastime bull fights, pugilistic contests; and perhaps his craving for excitement could only be
fully satisfied by scenes such as Roman persecutors and heathen spectators formerly feasted
upon, in which men and women were torn in pieces by wild beasts. Such bloody encounters
and horrid tragedies might come up to his standard of amusement.
Thus does the giant vice uncivilize a man and throw him back into a state of barbarism. It
revolutionizes his tastes at the same time that it cases down his moral principles. If its victim
has been in early life under the influence of religious sentiment, it speedily obliterates those
sentiments from the mind. If the voice of conscience has been in the past years heard, that
voice is now silenced. If feelings of humanity once had influence, their power is now gone. If
visions of extensive usefulness and honorable achievement once floated in the imagination they
have vanished; vanished in the distance, never to return.
Nor should the youth forget that if he is once taken in the coils of this vice, the hope of
extricating himself, or of realizing his visions of wealth and happiness, is exceedingly faint. He
has no rational grounds to expect that he can escape the terrible consequences that are
inseparably connected with this sin. If he does not become bankrupt in property, he is sure to
become one in character and in moral principle; he becomes a debauched, debased, friendless
The Royal Path of Life - Aims and Aids to Success and Happiness - 1882 by T.L. Haines & L.W. Yaggy