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[-360-] 

CHAPTER CCXLIV.

THE HISTORY OF A GAMESTER.

"I WAS born In 1790, and am consequently in my fifty-third year. My father was a merchant, who married late in life, upon his retirement from business; and I was an only child. Your highness may therefore well imagine that I was spoilt by my affectionate parents, whose mistaken tenderness would never permit me to be thwarted in any inclination which it was possible for them to gratify. Instead of being sent to school at a proper age, I was kept at home, and a master attended daily to give me instruction in the rudiments of education; but as I preferred play to learning, and found that if I pleaded headach my mother invariably suggested the propriety of giving me a holiday, I practised that subterfuge so constantly, that my master's place was a sinecure, and I could scarcely read two words correctly when I was ten years old.
    "At that period my mother died; and my father, yielding to the representations of his friends, agreed to send me to a boarding-school. The resolution was speedily carried into effect; and during the next six years of my existence, I made up for the previously neglected state of my education. At the school alluded to, and which was in a town about fifteen miles from London, there were youths of all ages between eight and eighteen; and the younger ones thought that nothing could be more manly than to imitate the elder in all shapes and ways. Thus I was scarcely twelve when I began to play pitch and toss, odd man, shuffle-halfpenny, and other games of the kind; and as my father gave me a more liberal weekly allowance of pocket-money than any other lad of my own age possessed, I was enabled to compete with the elder youths in the spirit of petty gambling. The passion grew upon me; and that which I had at first commenced [-361-]

through a merely imitative motive, gradually became a pleasure and delight.
    "I had just completed my sixteenth year, and was one afternoon passing the half-holiday at pitch and toss with several other boys in a remote corner of the spacious play-ground, when an usher came to inform me that my father had just arrived, and was waiting in the parlour. Thither I accordingly repaired; and in a few minutes after I had been closeted with my parent, I learnt that he had just purchased an ensign's commission for me in the  —th Regiment of Light Infantry, and that I was to return home with him that very day to prepare my outfit previously to joining the corps. Thus was I suddenly transformed from a raw school-boy into an officer In His Majesty's service.
    "Two months afterwards I joined my regiment, which was quartered at Portsmouth. My father had intimated his intention of allowing me three hundred a-year in addition to my pay: I was therefore enabled to keep a couple of horses, and to cut a better figure in all respects than any other subaltern in the regiment. The lieutenant-colonel, who was in command of the regiment, and whose name was Beaumont, was a young man of scarcely eight-and-twenty; but his father was the member for a county, a stanch supporter of the Tories, and therefore possessed of influence sufficient to push his son on with astonishing rapidity. It was a ridiculous — nay, a cruel thing to see lieutenants of five or six-and-thirty, captains of eight-and-forty, and the major of nearly sixty, under the command of this colonel, who was a mere boy in comparison with them. But. so it was — and so it is still with many, many regiments in the service; and the fact is most disgraceful to our military system.
    "Colonel Beaumont was mightily annoyed when he heard that a merchant's son had obtained a commission in his regiment; for, aristocratic as military officers are even now-a-days in their opinions, they were far more illiberal and proud at the time when I entered the army. It was then the year 1807 — during the war, and when the deaths of Pitt and Fox, which both occurred in the previous year, had left the country in a very distracted condition. When, however, the colonel learnt that my father was a rich man, that I had a handsome allowance, and was possessed of a couple of fine horses, his [-362-] humour underwent an immediate change, and he received me with marked politeness.
    "I had not been many weeks in the regiment when I discovered that several of the officers were accustomed to meet in each other's rooms for the purpose of private play; and I speedily became one of the party. The colonel himself joined these assemblies, which took place under the guise of 'wine-parties;' and though the pay was not high, the losses were frequently large enough to cause serious embarrassment to those officers whose means were not extensive. Thus they were very often compelled to absent themselves from the wine-parties for several weeks until they received fresh supplies from their agents or friends; whereas those who had capital sufficient to continue playing, were sometimes enabled to retrieve in the long run what they had previously lost This was the ease with the colonel, myself, and two or three others; and we soon obtained the credit of being the only winners. Such a reputation was by no means an enviable one; for though not a suspicion existed against the fairness of our play, we were looked on upon with aversion by those officers who never joined the parties, and with something like hatred by those who lost to us. We stood in the light of individuals who made use of the advantages of superior income to prey upon those of far more slender means; and although there was no open hostility towards us, yet we certainly made many private enemies. For the very atmosphere in which gamblers live is tainted by the foulness of their detestable vice!
    "One evening — when I had been about a year in the regiment-it was my turn to give the wine-party in my room; but at the usual hour of meeting no one made his appearance save the colonel. 'Well,' he said, laughing, 'I suppose we cleaned the others out so effectually last night, that they have not a feather left to fly with. But that need not prevent us from having a game together.' — I readily on assented, for cards and dice already possessed extraordinary fascinations in my eyes; and we sat down to ιcartι. At first we played for small stakes, and drank our wine very leisurely; but as I won nearly every game, the colonel became excited, and made more frequent applications to the bottle. Still he lost — and the more he lost, the more wine he took until, getting into a passion, he threw down the cards, exclaiming, 'Curse my ill-luck to-night! I have already paid over to you a hundred and seventeen guineas at this miserable peddling work and I will have no more of it. Damn it, Anderson if you've any pluck you'll let me set you fifty guineas at hazard?' — 'Done!' cried I; and the cards being thrown aside, we took to the dice. My luck still continued: I won three hundred pounds-all the ready money the colonel had about him, and he then played on credit, scoring his losses on a sheet of paper. His excitement increased to a fearful pitch, and he drank furiously. Still we played on, and the grey dawn of morning found us at our shameful work. At length Beaumont started up, dashed the dice-box upon the floor, crushed it beneath his heel, and uttered a terrible imprecation upon his ill-luck. He drank soda-water to cool himself; and we then examined the account that had been kept. The colonel owed me four thousand four hundred pounds, in addition to the ready money he had already lost. Pale as death, and with quivering lip, he gave me his note of hand for the amount; and having enjoined me in a low hoarse voice not to mention the affair to a single soul, rushed out of the room. I retired to bed, as happy as if I had performed some great and honourable achievement.
    "The Colonel did not make his appearance all day — nor for several days afterwards; and the answer to all inquiries was that he was indisposed. On the evening of the sixth day after the night of his losses, I received a message requesting me to visit him at his room.. Thither I immediately repaired, taking his note of hand with me under the pleasing supposition that I was about to be paid the amount. When I entered his sitting-apartment, I was shocked to find him ghastly pale — the cadaverous expression of his countenance being enhanced by the six days' beard which no razor had touched. He was sitting near the fire — for it was still early in Spring — wrapped in a dressing-gown. Pointing to a chair, he said in a mournful voice, 'Anderson, you must think it strange that I have not yet settled the little memorandum which you hold; but the fact is I am totally dependent upon my father, and I wrote to him confessing my loss, and soliciting the means to defray it. There is his answer:' — and he tossed me a letter which, by the date, he had received that morning. I perused it, and found that his father gave a stern refusal to the colonel's request. Mr Beaumont stated that he had already paid his son's debts too often, and had so many drains made upon him by his other children, that he was resolved not to encourage the colonel's extravagances any farther The letter was so positively worded that an appeal against its decision was evidently hopeless 'You see in what a position I am placed,' continued the colonel, when I had returned the letter to him, 'and the only alternative remaining for me is to sell my commission. This I will do as speedily as possible; and until that object can be accomplished, I must request your forbearance.' Not for one moment did I hesitate how to act. 'No,' I exclaimed; 'never shall it be said that I was the cause of your ruin;' and I threw the note of hand into the fire. — He watched the paper until it was completely burnt, with the surprise of a man who could scarcely believe his own eyes; and at length, starting up, he embraced me as fervently as if I had just saved his life. He called me his saviour — his benefactor, and swore eternal friendship. We parted; and next day I. appeared on parade, a little pale, but in better spirits than ever. I could not, however, avoid noticing that he encountered me with some degree of coolness and reserve, and that his manner at the mess table in the evening was distant and constrained towards me only. But the circumstance made little impression on me at the time.
    "A few days after this event the colonel obtained three months' leave of absence; and during that period the major remained in command. He was a severe, but honourable and upright man, and he intimated his desire that the wine-parties should be discontinued. Myself and the other officers who were accustomed to play, took the hint, and no longer assembled for gaming purposes in our rooms; but we had supper-parties at one of the principal-taverns in the town, and the cards and dice were in as much request amongst us as ever.
    "At the expiration of the three months the colonel returned; and he took the first opportunity of sig-[-363-]nifying his approval of the major's conduct in suppressing the wine-parties. This was, however, mere hypocrisy on his part, and because he did not dare encourage what an officer so near his own rank had disapproved of. His manner towards myself was more cold and distant than it was previously to his departure, — yet not so pointed in its frigidity as to authorise me to request an explanation. Besides, he was my commanding officer, and could treat me as he chose, short of proffering a direct insult.
    Time passed very rapidly away, and my father purchased me a lieutenancy in the same regiment, a vacancy occurring. I would gladly have exchanged into another corps, the coldness of the colonel towards me being a source of much mortification and annoyance-the more especially as it was so little deserved on my part. I however rejoiced at my promotion, and submitted so resignedly to Beaumont's behaviour that he never had an opportunity of addressing me in the language of reprimand.
    "I was now nineteen, and had been in the army three years. During that period I had gambled incessantly, but with such success that I more than doubled my income by means of cards and dice. I was completely infatuated with play, and looked upon it alike as a source of profit and recreation. About this time I formed the acquaintance of a young lady, whose name was Julia Vandeleur. She resided with her mother, who was a widow, in a neat little dwelling about two miles from Portsmouth, on the verge of South-sea common. Her deceased husband had belonged to a family of French extraction, and after passing the greater portion of his life in a government office, had died suddenly, leaving his widow, however, in comfortable though by no means affluent circumstances. Julia, at the time when I was first introduced to her at a small party given by the principal banker of Portsmouth, was a charming girl of sixteen. Not absolutely beautiful, she was endowed with an amiability and cheerfulness of disposition which, combined with the most perfect artlessness and with a rare purity of soul, rendered her a being whom it was impossible to see without admiring. Well educated, accomplished, and intelligent, she was the pride of an excellent mother, whose own good conduct through life was recompensed by the irreproachable behaviour and tender affection of her interesting daughter. Need I say that I was almost immediately struck by the appearance and manners of the charming Julia Vandeleur?
    "I paid her a great deal of attention that evening, and called next day at her abode. To be brief, I soon became a constant visitor; and Mrs. Vandeleur did not discountenance my presence. Nor did her daughter manifest any repugnance towards me. The influence of that dear creature was then most salutary: — would that it had always continued so! For one year I never touched a card nor die, all my leisure time being passed at the cottage. To add to my happiness my father came down to Portsmouth to see me: he took apartments for a few weeks at the George Hotel; and I introduced him to Mrs. and Miss Vandeleur. Although Julia was no heiress, my father was too much attached to me to throw any obstacle in the way of my suit, and I was accepted as Miss Vandeleur's intended husband. Oh! what joyous days were those — days of the most pure and unadulterated happiness!
    "It was settled that my father should purchase me a captaincy, and that the marriage should then take place. He accordingly returned to town to make the necessary exertions and arrangements for my promotion; and it was during his absence that my contemplated union reached the ears of Colonel Beaumont I had kept my attachment and my engagement an entire secret from my brother officers, because I did not wish to introduce a set of profligate and dissipated men to the innocent girl who loved me, nor to her parent whom I respected. But that secret did transpire somehow or another; and Beaumont then found an opportunity of venting his spite upon me. He called upon Mrs. Vandeleur, sought a private interview with her, and declared that his conscience would not permit him to allow her to bestow her daughter, without due warning, upon a confirmed gamester. He then took his leave, having produced a most painful impression upon the mind of Mrs. Vandeleur. She did not, however, immediately speak to her daughter upon the subject; but when I called as usual in the evening, she took an opportunity to confer with me alone. She then calmly and sorrowfully stated the particulars of the colonel's visit. I was confounded; and my manner confirmed the truth of his accusation. Mrs. Vandeleur implored me to urge my suit with her daughter no farther — to break off the engagement where it stood — and urged me, as I gentleman, to release Julia from her promise. I threw myself at her feet — confessed that I had been addicted to play — but swore in the most solemn manner that for a year past I had renounced the abominable vice, into which my affection for her daughter would never permit me to relapse. She was moved by my sincerity — and at length she yielded to my earnest prayers. Oh! never shall I forget that excellent lady's words on this occasion. 'William,' she said, 'I will give you my daughter. But remember that the poor widow is thereby bestowing upon you the only treasure which she possesses — her only solace-her only consolation; and if you deceive her by rendering that dear child unhappy, you will break the heart of her who now addresses you!' — 'Oh! my dear madam,' I exclaimed, 'the example of your virtues and the consciousness of possessing Julia's love will make me all that you can desire. And by yon pale moon I swear that never — never more will I deserve the name of a gambler. No: may this right hand wither — may the lightning of heaven strike it — if it ever touch cards or dice again!' — Mrs. Vandeleur rebuked me for the words I used; but the sincerity of my manner. completely reassured her. Julia remained in ignorance of the object of the Colonel's visit and of this explanation between her mother and myself.
    "Colonel Beaumont speedily found that his malignant officiousness had failed to produce the desired aim; and he called again, with some plausible pretext, upon the widow. By hypocritically affecting a merely conscientious motive in having acted as he had done, he gleaned from her the pledges I had made and the satisfaction with which she had received them. That same afternoon, at the mess-table, his manner became as kind and courteous towards me as it was wont to be when I first joined the regiment; I could not however respond with any congeniality. Still he did not seem abashed, but appeared not to notice my disinclination to ac-[-364-]cept his advances. When I was about to leave the table, for the purpose of repairing to the abode of my beloved, the Colonel said, 'Anderson, I wish to speak to you in my room.' — I bowed and accompanied him thither. — 'Let us forget the past,' he said, extending his hand towards me, 'and be friendly as we were wont.' — 'I am not aware, sir,' was my reply, 'that I ever offended you.' — 'No; but you humiliated me,' he answered, with a singular expression of countenance; 'and that, to a military man and a superior officer, was most galling. Circumstances have lately changed with me. A distant relative has died and left me a considerable property; and my first duty is to pay you the four thousand pounds I owe you.' — 'That debt, sir,' said I, 'has been cancelled long ago.' — 'You generously destroyed the proof,' he hastily rejoined; 'but the obligation never could be annihilated, save in this manner:' and he handed me the sum which he had formerly owed. — I of course received the amount, and my opinion of him grew far more favourable, in spite of his attempt to ruin me with Mrs. Vandeleur.
    "When this transaction was completed, the Colonel said, 'Anderson, we are now quits, but not exactly on equal terms. You have won a large sum from me; and though a settlement has been delayed, still that sum is now paid. As a gentleman you will give me my revenge. — I started and turned pale. — 'Of course you cannot refuse to allow me the chance of recovering myself,' he continued, calmly producing a dice-box. — 'I dare not play, sir,' I exclaimed, my breath coming thickly. — 'Oh! as a gentleman,' he repeated, 'you are bound to do so.' — 'I have sworn a solemn oath never to touch cards nor dice again.' — 'And if you had also sworn never to fight a duel, would that plea justify you in receiving an insult unresented, in the eyes of honourable men?' he demanded. — 'Colonel Beaumont,' I said, 'in the name of heaven do not urge me to break that solemn vow!' — 'Will you compel me to declare that oaths are sometimes mere matters of convenience?' cried the colonel: 'will you force me to express my conviction that Lieutenant Anderson will enrich himself by play, and will not afford the loser that opportunity of revenge which all honourable men concede?' — 'Take back your money, sir,' I cried, dreadfully agitated; 'and permit me to retire.' — 'Would you insult me by restoring money that I owed?' demanded the Colonel. — 'Not for worlds would I insult you, sir,' was my answer: 'but do not force me to violate my promise to Mrs. Vandeleur.' — 'Oh! a promise made to a lady, eh?' he exclaimed. 'I thought you more of a man than to refuse honourable satisfaction in consequence of a vow pledged under the influence of love. Come, Anderson, act fairly; and do not compel me to explain the transaction to your brother-officers.'
    "Oh! what will your Highness think of me when I declare that I was alarmed by this threat, and that I yielded to the colonel's urgent solicitation! He produced wine; and I drank deeply to drown my remorse. At first I trembled as I touched the dice-box — for I remembered the solemn oath pledged only a few days previously. But in a short time the influence of the liquor and the excitement of play stifled all compunction; and I once more devoted myself to the game with all the intense interest which is experienced by the confirmed gamester. Beaumont was cool and collected: I was nervous and irritable. Fortune seemed to be bent upon giving him the revenge which he had solicited. I lost — we doubled our stakes: I continued to lose — and I steeped my vexation in frequent draughts of wine. In three hours I lost back again the whole amount he had paid me. The colonel then threw down the box, and said, 'I am satisfied.' — 'But I am not,' I exclaimed furiously: 'let us go on.' — 'As you please,' he observed calmly; and, maddened with drink — hurried on, too, by the terrible excitement which gamblers alone can know, I played — and played until I owed the colonel two thousand three hundred pounds. Then a revulsion of feeling took place; and I cursed my folly. I loathed myself: intoxicated as I was, I felt as a perjurer should feel. The colonel claimed my note of hand; and I gave it. This done, I rushed wildly from his room, and hastened to my own.
    "When I awoke in the morning, I could scarcely believe that the scene of the previous night had really occurred. It seemed to me as if I were standing on the brink of a dreadful yawning gulf, which a mist hid from my sight, but which I nevertheless knew to be there. Then that mist gradually rolled away; and the blackness of the abyss was revealed to me with all its horrors. Terrible were my feelings. But I was compelled to reflect upon what was to be done. My mind was soon made up. The debt must be paid; and, that obligation once satisfied, I would never touch the dice again! Having written a hurried letter to Julia, stating that business of importance suddenly called me to London, and having obtained leave of absence from the colonel, I repaired in all possible haste to the metropolis. But my father, to whom it was of course my intention to apply for succour, had left town that very morning for Portsmouth; and we had therefore crossed each other on the way. An idea struck me: — could I not borrow the money I required without being compelled to reveal the truth to my father The thought pleased me — and I even felt rejoiced that we had so missed each other. Early next morning I obtained the two thousand three hundred pounds of one Mr. Goldshig, a Jew, who received my note of hand for three thousand in return, with the understanding that he would continue to hold it so long as I paid a hundred pounds every quarter for the accommodation — such payments, however, not to be deducted from the principal, but to be regarded simply in the light of interest.
    "Much relieved by this speedy and easily-effected negotiation, I returned to Portsmouth, where I arrived at about nine o'clock in the evening. I repaired straight to the George Hotel, at which, as I expected, my father had put up. But he was not within; and I accordingly hastened to the barracks to pay the money to Beaumont. The Colonel was at home, and received me with a chilling coldness for which, after all that had recently passed between us, I was little prepared. I did not however appear to notice the circumstance; but tendered him the amount due. 'Oh! Mr. Anderson,' he replied, 'the debt is paid.' — 'Paid!' I exclaimed, greatly surprised at this announcement. — 'Yes,' he said: 'it was settled this evening, about two hours since. Your father called on me, and redeemed the note of hand.' — 'My father!' cried I, a cold chill striking to my heart: 'how came he to know that you held such a document I 'Really. Mr. Anderson, I have no time to converse [-365-] with you now,' answered the Colonel; and he bowed me out with freezing politeness.
    "Strange misgivings now oppressed me; and I began to read something malignant and systematically vindictive in the conduct of the Colonel; for it was evident that he must have mentioned the fact of possessing my note of hand. Dreadfully agitated, I returned to the George. My father had just come in; and his countenance was mournfully severe, when I entered his presence. 'William,' said he, 'I am deceived in you; and you have acted in a manner which you will have cause to rue as long as you live; that is, if your attachment for Miss Vandeleur be truly sincere.' — 'My God!' I exclaimed: 'what has occurred? Does Mrs. Vandeleur know of this?' — 'She knows all; and she not only sees in you a confirmed gambler, but a wicked perjurer,' answered my father. 'Her door is closed against you forever.' — 'Oh! wretch that I am!' I cried, beating my breast in despair. 'But who can have done all this mischief?' — 'Colonel Beaumont called this morning on Mrs. Vandeleur, and insultingly exhibited your note of hand, which I have ere now redeemed.' — 'The villain!' I exclaimed, rushing towards the door: 'but he shall pay dearly for this!' — 'Stop, sir, I command you,' cried my father. 'He is your superior officer; he evidently hates you; and, were you to challenge him, he would ruin you. No: that is not the course to pursue. I have purchased you a Captain's commission in the  — the [sic] regiment, which is stationed at Chatham; and you have also three months' leave of absence. Return with me to London; and endeavour by your future conduct to atone for the misdeeds of the past.'
    "In reply to my hurried and anxious questions, I learnt that any attempt to see Julia would be vain, and could have no other result than to irritate Mrs. Vandeleur the more against me. My father offered me some consolation by the assurance that if I conducted myself well for a year, there would be a hope of reconciliation with the incensed lady; and I trusted to Julia's love to ensure her fidelity. Thus, partially — though very partially — relieved from the intenseness of that pain which now pierced to my very soul, I hastened to the barracks to superintend the packing up of my things, and to take leave of my brother-officers. This being done, I was passing out of the barrack-yard, when I encountered the Colonel. The light of the lamp fell upon his countenance, which expressed fiend-like satisfaction and triumph. Catching me by the arm, as I was about to pass him in silence, he muttered between his teeth, 'Anderson, I am avenged. You humiliated me once; and I hate you for it! Know me as your implacable enemy; and renounce all hope of your Julia — for she shall be mine!'
    "He then hurried away. I was so stupefied by this sudden revelation of the ferocious and most unjust enmity of this bad man, that I remained rooted as it were to the spot. Never was there such ingratitude! But his threat relative to Julia, — oh! I could have afforded to laugh at his hatred: that menace, however, rang in my ears like a deafening bell. Mournfully I turned away, and hastened back to the inn. I passed a sleepless — wretched night; and during the journey to town, scarcely spoke a word to my father the whole way.
    "The money that I had borrowed of the Jew was still in my possession; and I resolved to lose no time in returning it. Accordingly, the very next day after my arrival in London, I set out on my way to his abode in the City; but meeting with some officers of my acquaintance, I agreed to dine with them at an hotel in Bridge Street, Blackfriars. In fact, I was so very unhappy that I was glad to meet with such society; and I thought that I could easily postpone my visit to the Jew until the morrow. The dinner was first-rate — the wines excellent; and I drank copiously to drown my cares. Presently some one proposed cards: I could not offer any objection; but I simply stated that I should not play. Cards, however, were brought; and ιcartι was the game. I sate looking on. In the course of half an hour I saw a most favourable opportunity for making a good bet; and, with the most wretched sophistry, I reasoned to myself that betting and playing were two very different things. I accordingly offered the wager, and won it. Encouraged by this success, I bet again; and again I won. In less than another half hour I had pocketed two hundred guineas — for the play was high and the wagers in proportion. The ice was, alas! again broken; and it did not require much persuasion to induce me to take a hand. I thought of Julia — sighed and hesitated: I looked again at the cards — sighed once more-and seized them with that desperate feeling which we experience when we know we are doing wrong. To be brief, we kept up the play until three o'clock in the morning; and I not only lost every farthing 1 had about me — amounting, with the Jew's money and my own, to nearly three thousand pounds — but six hundred more by note of hand. It was understood that we should meet again on the following evening at another hotel, to settle accounts; and I returned home in that state of mind which suggests suicide!
    "Fortunately my father did not know at what hour I entered; and he therefore suspected nothing. After breakfast I paid a visit to the Jew — but not to repay him his money. My object was to borrow more, which he willingly lent me, as I was enabled to show him the previous evening's Gazette in which my promotion by purchase was recorded. I borrowed the six hundred pounds which I required, and for which I gave a bill to the amount of a thousand. At the appointed hour I repaired to the hotel where I was to meet my friends; but with the firm resolution of not yielding to any inducement to play. How vain was that determination! cards were already on the table when I entered, for I came somewhat late, having dined with my father before-hand. I strove hard to keep my vow — I wrestled powerfully against my inclinations; but a glass of champagne unsettled me — and I fell once more! Another late sitting at the card-table — another severe loss — another visit to the Jew next day!
    "For the three months during which my leave of absence lasted, I pursued the desperate career of a gamester, contriving, however, so well, that my father had not a single suspicion of the fatal truth. I was now in a fearful plight, — owing nearly six thousand pounds to the Jew, and compelled to devote nearly every pound I received from my father on leaving to join my regiment, to the payment of the interest. I remained for about ten months at Chatham, and still continued to play nightly. I was, however, unsuccessful, and quite unable to keep up the [-366-] settlement of the quarterly amounts of interest with the rapacious Jew. What aggravated the mental anguish which I endured, was that my fattier corresponded with Mrs. Vandeleur from time to time, and gave her the most favourable accounts of me. Of this he informed me in his letter, and when I occasionally repaired to town to pass a few days with him.
    "At length — just when the Jew was becoming most pressing for money, and my difficulties were closing in around me with fearful rapidity — I one day received a summons to return home. On my arrival I found my father in high glee; and, after tantalising me a little, he produced a letter which he had received from Mrs. Vandeleur. That excellent lady, moved by my father's representations — touched by the drooping condition of her daughter — and also, perhaps, anxious to relieve Julia from the persecutions 'of a certain Colonel,' as she said in her letter, 'who annoyed her with his addresses,' had consented to our union. I was overwhelmed with joy: all my cares were forgotten — my difficulties seemed to disappear. My father had not been inactive since the receipt of that letter. He had obtained six months' leave of absence for me, and had hired and furnished a house in Russell Square for the reception of myself and Julia. Even the time and place for the celebration of the marriage had been arranged between him and Mrs. Vandeleur. The ceremony was to take place at Portsmouth on the ensuing Monday; and I was to accompany my father thither two days previously.
    "Much as I longed to embrace my dear Julia, I was not sorry to be allowed a few hours' delay in London; for I felt how necessary it was to pacify the Jew. I accordingly called upon him, acquainted him with my approaching marriage, and stated that as it was my father's intention to transfer to my name a considerable sum in the public funds, the monies owing should be paid with all arrears the moment that transfer took place. Goldshig seemed quite satisfied; and I took leave of him with a light heart. But as I was issuing from his dwelling, I ran against Colonel Beaumont-my mortal enemy — who was about to enter the house. He started and was evidently much surprised: I was both surprised and annoyed. Convinced, however, that this meeting was a mere coincidence, and that his presence there had no connexion with my affairs, I was about to pass on with silent contempt, when he laid his hand on my arm — as he had done at the barrack-gate at Portsmouth thirteen months previously — and said, 'You think you will yet possess Julia: you are mistaken! She has repulsed me — but you know that I can avenge an insult!' — I thrust him rudely away from me, smiled contemptuously, and passed on.
    "This circumstance was speedily forgotten by me amidst the bustle and excitement of the preparations for my marriage; and never did I feel more truly happy than when journeying by my father's side, in our travelling-carriage, towards the place where my beloved Julia dwelt. We alighted at the George Hotel at about five o'clock on the Saturday evening; and, as my father felt fatigued, — for he was now nearly sixty-five years of age, — I repaired alone to the cottage near Southsea Common. I shall pass over the joys — the rapturous joys of that meeting. Julia evidently loved me more than ever; and Mrs. Vandeleur received me in a manner which promised an oblivion of the past. And, oh! when I contemplated that charming girl who was so shortly to be my wife, — and when I listened to the kind language of her excellent mother, — I renewed within myself, but in terms of far more awful solemnity, the oath which I had once before taken in that very room!
    "I learnt that Colonel Beaumont had, as Mrs. Vandeleur stated in her letter, persecuted my Julia with his addresses, and implored her to marry him. But her heart remained faithful to me, although circumstances had compelled her mother to explain to her the cause of our separation; and the Colonel was summarily refused.
    "The happy morning dawned; and, in spite of the Colonel's threats, Julia and I were united at St. Peter's Church, Portsmouth. The ceremony was as private as possible; and as we had a long journey before us, the breakfast usually given on such occasions was dispensed with. Accordingly, on leaving the church, the bridal party repaired to the George, where the travelling-carriage and four were ready for starting. My father intended to remain in Portsmouth for a few days, for the benefit of the sea-air; and Mrs. Vandeleur was to visit us in London at the expiration of about a mouth, and then take up her abode with us in Russell Square altogether.
    "While Julia was taking leave of her affectionate parent in a private room, a waiter entered the apartment where I and my father were conversing together, and informed me that a person desired to speak to me below. I followed the waiter to a parlour on the ground-floor; and there-to my ineffable horror-I found Mr. Goldshig. Two suspicious-looking men were standing apart in a corner. I instantly comprehended the truth. I was arrested for the debt owing to the Jew. In vain did I attempt to expostulate with him on the harshness of this proceeding. 'You know very well,' said he, 'that you and your wife are going off to the continent, and I might have whistled for my money if I had not done this. In fact, the person who gave me the information, strongly urged me to arrest you on Saturday evening immediately after your arrival; but there was some delay in getting the writ. However, you are safe in the officer's hands now; and you must go to quad if your father don't give his security.' — I was overwhelmed by this sudden disaster; and I vowed vengeance upon Beaumont, whose malignity I too well recognised as the origin of my present predicament. There was no alternative but to send for my father. His sorrow was immense; and he assured me that in settling the debt, he was moved only by consideration for the feelings of my bride and her mother, whom he would not plunge into affliction by allowing his son's conduct to reach their ears. He accordingly gave his security to the Jew; and I was once more free.
    "Let me pass over the incidents of the year succeeding my marriage, and the close of which saw me blessed with a little girl. During those twelve months my behaviour was as correct as it ought to have been: the idea of gambling was loathsome to me. My father, who had not as yet transferred a single shilling to my name in the Bank, but who had allowed me a handsome monthly income, now experienced confidence in my steadiness; and to encourage me, as well as to mark his approval of my conduct since my marriage, he presented me with twenty thousand pounds the day after the [-367-] birth of my daughter. Poor old man! he did not live long after that! A cold which he caught led to a general breaking up of his constitution; and he died after a short illness. But on his death-bed he implored me not to relapse into those evil courses which had originally caused so much misery; and I vowed in the most solemn manner — by all I deemed sacred, and as I valued the dying blessing of my kind parent, to follow his counsel.
    "I now found myself the possessor of a fortune amounting in ready money to thirty-six thousand pounds. Mrs. Vandeleur resided with us; and, when the mournful impression created by my father's death became softened down, there was not a happier family in the universe than ours. My Julia was all that I had anticipated — amiable, affectionate, and as faultless as a wife as she was excellent as a daughter.
    "Four years rolled away from the date of my father's death; and not once during that period did I touch a card nor even behold a dice-box. I had purchased a Majority, and remained unattached. I was also now the father of three children — one girl and two boys; and every thing seemed to contribute to my felicity. We had a select circle of friends — real friends, and not useless acquaintances; and our domestic economy was such as to enable us to live — considerably within our income.
    "Such was my position when a friend one day proposed that I should become a member of a Club to which he already belonged. Mrs. Vandeleur and Julia, seeing that I was very much at home, thought that this step would ensure me a little recreation and change of scene, and therefore advocated the propriety of accepting the offer. I was balloted for and elected. My friend was a well-meaning sincere, and excellent man, who had not the slightest idea of placing me in the way of temptation when he made the proposal just mentioned. Neither had my mother-in-law or wife the least suspicion that play ever took place at a Club. I was equally ignorant of the fact until I became initiated; and then I perceived the precipice on which I had suddenly placed myself. But I dared not make any observation to my friend on the subject; for he was totally unaware that gaming had ever been amongst the number of my failings. To be brief, I had not been a member of the Club six weeks, when I was one evening induced to sit down to a rubber of whist with three staid old gentlemen, who only played for amusement. 'There cannot be any harm in doing this,' said I to myself; 'because no money is staked. Moreover, even if there were, I have now acquired such control over myself that I could not possibly forget my solemn vows in this respect.' — Thus endeavouring to soothe my conscience — for I knew that I was doing wrong, but would not admit it even to myself — I sate down. We played for an hour, at the expiration of which one gentleman left and another took his place. The new-comer proposed shilling points, 'just to render the game interesting.' The other two gentlemen agreed: I could not possibly — at least, I thought I could not-seem so churlish or so mean as to refuse to play on those terms.
    "Trifling as the amount either to be won or lost could be, the mere fact of playing for money aroused within me that unnatural excitement which, as I have before informed your Highness, is alone experienced by those who have a confirmed predilection for gambling. And I now discovered — when it was too late — that this predilection on my part had only been lying dormant, and was not crushed. No: for I played that evening with a zest — with an interest — with a real love, which superseded all other considerations; and I did not return home until a late hour. Next day I was ashamed of myself — I was vexed at my weakness — I trembled lest I should again fall. For a fortnight I did not go near the Club: but at the expiration of that period, a dinner took place to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the foundation of the establishment, and I found it difficult to excuse myself. I accordingly went; and in the evening I sate down to a rubber of whist. Afterwards I lounged about a table where ιcartι was being played:-I staked some money — won — and fell once more!
    "I shall not linger upon details. The current of my fatal predilection — dammed up for five years and a half — had now broken through its flood-gates, and rushed on with a fury rendered more violent by the lengthened accumulation of volume and power. Ecartι was my favourite game; and I found several members of the Club willing to play with me on all occasions. For some time I neither gained nor lost to any important amount; but one evening the play ran high, and — hurried along by that singular infatuation which prompts the gamester to exert himself to recover his losses — I staked large sums. Fortune was opposed to me; and I retired a loser of nearly two thousand pounds. The ice being once more completely broken, I plunged headlong into the fatal vortex; and my peace of mind was gone!
    "My habits became entirely changed: instead of passing the greater portion of my time with my family, I was now frequently absent for the entire afternoon and the best part of the night. Julia's cheek grew gradually pale; her manner changed from artless gaiety to pensive melancholy; and though she did not reproach me in words, yet her glances seemed to ask wherefore I remained away from her! Mrs. Vandeleur noticed the depressed spirits of her daughter, but did not altogether comprehend the reason; because, although she observed that I was out a great deal more than I used to be, my angel of a wife never told her that it was sometimes two, three, or even four in the morning ere I returned home. The real truth could not, however, remain very long concealed from Mrs. Vandeleur. She began to be uneasy when I dined at the Club on an average of twice a week: when this number was doubled and I devoted four days to the Club and only three to my family, Mrs. Vandeleur asked me in the kindest way possible if my home were not comfortable, or if Julia ceased to please me. I satisfied her as well as I could; and in a short time I began to devote another day to the Club, and only two to Russell Square. Paler and more pale grew Julia's cheek; the spirits of the children seemed to droop sympathetically; and Mrs. Vandeleur could no longer conceal her uneasiness. She accordingly seized an opportunity to speak to me in private; and she said, 'William, for God's Sake what does this mean? You are killing your poor uncomplaining wife by inches. Either you love another — or you gamble! If it be the latter, may God Almighty have pity upon my daughter!' — And the excellent [-368-] lady burst into tears. I endeavoured to console her: I swore that her suspicions were totally unfounded: — but, alas! no change in my behaviour tended to corroborate my asseverations.
    "I persisted in my fearful course; and, as if I were not already surrounded by elements of ruin sufficiently powerful, I became a member of Crockford's. In saying that, I mention sufficient to convince your Highness that I rushed wilfully and blindly on to the goal of utter destruction. My fortune disappeared rapidly; and when it was gone, I sold my commission, and then applied to Goldshig, who lent me money upon the most exorbitant terms. But let me pass over the incidents of three years. At the expiration of that time how was I situated? What was the condition of my family? Painful as these reminiscences are, I will not conceal the facts from your Highness. In a chamber at the house in Russell Square Mrs. Vandeleur lay upon her deathbed. Julia — pale, with haggard eyes, sunken cheeks, and appearance so care-worn that it would have moved even the heart of an overseer or master of a work-house, — Julia hung, weeping bitterly, over the pillow. In the nursery, a servant was endeavouring to pacify the children, who were crying because they knew that their 'dear grandmamma' was very, very ill. In the kitchen an ill-looking fellow was dozing by the fire: — he was a bailiff's man in possession — for there was an execution levied on my property. And I — where was I? Gone to solicit Goldshig the Jew for a few days' grace, the sale having been advertised to take place next morning! Thus was this once happy home now invaded by misery and distress: — thus was an amiable wife plunged into sorrows so keen, woes so bitter, afflictions so appalling, that it was no wonder if her charming form had wasted away, and the frightful aspect of the demon of despair had chased the roses from her cheeks; — and thus, too, was an excellent lady dying prematurely with that worst of the Destroyer's plagues — a broken heart!
    "It was about five o'clock in the evening when I returned, after vainly waiting six hours to see Goldshig, who was not at home. Wearied and anxious, I left a note for him at his office, and retraced my miserable way to Russell Square. On my entrance Julia hastened to meet me, for she had heard my knock. 'What tidings?' she inquired in a rapid tone. — I informed her of what I had done. Her countenance became even more wretched than it was before. — 'Oh! that they will not molest my dear, dear mother on her death-bed!' she shrieked, clasping her hands franticly together. I turned aside, and shed bitter — burning tears. The children now came rushing into the room. Alas! poor innocents, they knew not of the ruin that was hanging over their heads; and when they took my hands — kissed them — and said, 'Oh! we are so glad that dear papa has come home!' — I thought my heart would break. My God! my God! had all the misery which weighed upon our house been caused by me?
    "I approached my wife — I took her in my arms — I murmured, as I kissed her pale cheek, 'Can you — can you forgive me?' — 'Oh! have I ever reproached you, William?' she asked, endeavouring to smile in gratitude for my caresses. — 'No: never, never, poor dear afflicted creature!' I exclaimed wildly; 'and it is your resignation, your goodness which makes my conduct so black, so very black!' — She wound her arms about my neck, and said in her soft gentle tone, 'Will you not come and see my mother?' — I started back in horror. She comprehended me, and observed, 'Do not fear reproaches but come with me, I conjure you!' — I took the hand which she extended to me: holy God! how thin that hand had become — how skeleton-like had grown the taper fingers. Though it was my own wife's hand I shuddered at the touch. She seemed to read my thoughts; for she pressed my hand affectionately, and then wiped away her tears. A deep sob escaped her bosom — and she hurried me towards the sick-room. The children followed us without opposition on their mother's part, and in a few moments the mournful group approached the bed of death. I had not seen Mrs. Vandeleur for nearly a week; and I was shocked — oh! painfully shocked at the alteration which had taken place in her. From a fine, stout, handsome, healthy woman, she had wasted away to a mere shadow: — Julia was a shadow herself — but her mother seemed to be the shade of a shadow! Merciful heavens! and all this had been wrought by me!
    "Kneeling by the side of the bed, I took the transparent hand that the dying woman tendered me, and pressed it to my lips. My brain seemed to whirl; and all became confusion and bewilderment around me. I remember a low and plaintive voice assuring me that heaven would yet forgive me the broken heart of the mother, if I would only be kind to the daughter: — I have a faint recollection of that dying voice imploring me to quit my evil ways, for the sake of her whom I had sworn to love and protect-for the sake of the children who were sobbing bitterly close by; — and methinks that I reiterated those solemn vows of repentance which I had before so often uttered — but to break! Then I was suddenly aroused from a sort of stupor into which I fell — kneeling as I still was, — aroused, too, by a piercing scream. Starting up, I caught the fainting form of Julia in my arms; — and a glance towards the bed showed me that her mother was no more! Her prophetic words were fulfilled: the widow, who gave me her only treasure, had died of a broken heart!
    "Heaven only knows how I passed the wretched night that followed. I remember that the dawn of a cold March morning, accompanied by a cheerless drizzling rain, found me pacing the parlour in a despairing manner. I do believe I was half mad. And such horrible ideas haunted me! I thought of killing my wife and children, and then blowing out my own brains. Then I resolved to fly — and never see them more. In another minute I wept bitterly when I asked myself, 'But what would become of them?' I writhed in mental agony, as I found no response to this question; and when I pictured to myself all the amiable qualities of my wife — her gentleness — her goodness — her endearments — her unimpaired love, — and then thought of the little innocents with their winning ways, their little tricks, their pretty sayings, and their cherub countenances, — Oh! God, no words can explain how acute my sufferings were!
    "From that painful reverie I was aroused by a loud commanding knock at the front door. There was an ominous insolence in that knock; and the worst fears entered my mind. Alas! they were full soon [-369-]  

confirmed. The broker made his appearance, accompanied by his men; and the house was at the same time invaded by a posse of Jews — the usual buyers at sales effected under instructions from the Sheriff. Hastening the burst of anguish that rose to my lips, I drew the broker aside, acquainted him with the fact of my mother-in-law's death on the previous evening, and implored his forbearance for a week. He quietly took a pinch of snuff, and then observed that he was not the master — that he had no power to interfere — that the advertisements, announcing the sale, had appeared in the papers — and that the business must proceed without delay! Remonstrances — threats — prayers were all useless; the sale commenced; — and I was forced to repair to my wife's room to break the fatal news to her. She uttered no reproach — she even conquered her anguish as much as she could; — and the children were then ordered to be dressed directly. Presently I Julia inquired in a meek and timid tone, if I had money enough to buy in the furniture of the room — she meant where her mother lay. I answered in the affirmative; but it was only to console her — for I had not a guinea — not a friend! In a state of distraction I returned to the parlour where the sale was in progress. Merciful heavens! foremost of the buyers was Beaumont — my mortal enemy — bidding for the most costly articles that were put up. In a moment I felt as if I could fall on him, and tear him to pieces. He saw me; and, although taking no apparent notice of me, I beheld a sardonic smile of triumph upon his lips. I could hear no more; reckless of all — of everything — I rushed from the house.
    "For hours and hours did I wander about like s maniac — walking hastily along, without any defined object — and not even observing the crowds that I passed me. Everything was confused: bells seemed to be ringing in my very brain. It was dark when I thought of returning home; and then I felt shocked at the idea of having deserted my poor wife and helpless children at such a time. My ideas were now more collected; and I hastened to Russell Square. All was quiet in the house, but they were evidently still there — for a faint light gleamed through one of the shutters. I knocked with a trembling hand. The door was immediately opened by Julia. "Oh! thank God that you have come [-370-] back!' she exclaimed, sinking half-fainting into my arms: 'you know not what horrible fears have oppressed me!' — I embraced her tenderly: never — never did she seem more dear to me! The children also flocked around me; and the tender word 'Papa!' wrung from me a flood of tears, which relieved me. I then made certain inquiries, and learnt the most heart-rending particulars. Every thing was sold and removed — even to the children's little beds; — but the worst of all was that the corse of Julia's mother lay upon the floor of the chamber where she had breathed her last!
    "But let me hurry over these dreadful details. A few trinkets belonging to Julia yet remained; and the sale of those ornaments — presents made to her by me in happier days — enabled us to bury her mother decently, and to remove to a small ready-furnished lodging. Julia supported these sad afflictions and reverses with angelic resignation; and never did a single reproach emanate from her lips. Neither did she neglect the children: on the contrary, her attention to them redoubled, now that she had no longer a servant to aid her. But, alas! her strength was failing visibly: her constitution was undermined by misery and woe! And still it seemed, much though we had already suffered, as if our sorrows had only just begun. For, a few weeks after the sale of my property, and just as I had obtained a clerk's situation in a mercantile house, I was arrested for the balance of the debt due to Goldshig, the auction not having produced enough to liquidate his claims. This blow was terrible indeed, as it paralysed all my energies. I was taken to Whitecross Street prison, the only prospect of obtaining my release being the Insolvents' Court. I was accordingly compelled to apply to a philanthropic association to advance me six pounds for that purpose. The request was complied with; my wife went herself to receive the money; and she brought it to me in the prison. I compelled her to retain a sovereign for the support of herself and children; and I managed to borrow three pounds more from the only one of all my late friends who would even read a letter that came from me-so utterly was I despised by them all!
    "And now — will it be believed that such was my infatuation in respect to play, I actually gambled with my fellow-prisoners — staking the money that had been obtained with so much difficulty to pay a lawyer to conduct my business in the Insolvents' Court! Yes — while my poor wife was sitting up nearly all night to earn a trifle with her needle or in painting maps, — while my children were dependent for their daily bread upon the exertions of their poor dying mother, — I — wretch that I was — lost the very means that were to restore me to them! When the money had all disappeared, I became like a madman, and attempted to lay violent hands upon myself. I was taken to the Infirmary of the prison, where I lay delirious with fever for six weeks. At the expiration of that time I recovered; and the humanity of the governor of the gaol secured the services of a lawyer to file my petition and schedule in the Insolvents' Court. The day of hearing came; and I was discharged. But, alas! I returned to the humble lodging occupied by my family without a hope-without resources. Nevertheless, the angel Julia received me with smiles; and the children also smiled with their sickly, wan, and famished countenances. Then, in the course of a conversation which Julia endeavoured to render as little mournful as possible, I learnt that Colonel Beaumont had been persecuting her with his dishonourable offers, — that he had dogged her in her way to the prison when she went thither to see me, — that he had even intruded himself upon her in her poor dwelling of one back room! Indeed, it was only in consequence of this visit that my wife mentioned the circumstance to me at all; but so pure was her soul, that she could not keep secret from me an occurrence on which, did I hear it from stranger lips, a disagreeable construction might be placed. Ill — weak — dying as she was, she was still sweetly interesting; — and I could well understand how an unprincipled libertine might seek to possess her.
    "Without allowing Julia to comprehend the full extent of the impression made upon me by this information, I vowed within myself a desperate vengeance against that man who seemed to take a delight in persecuting me and mine. But for the present the condition of my family occupied nearly all my thoughts. Poor Julia was killing herself with hard — hard toll at the needle; and the children were only the ghosts of what they were in the days of our prosperity. I was, however, fortunate enough to obtain another situation, with a salary of twenty-eight shillings a week; and for some months we lived in comparative tranquillity — if not in happiness. But Julia always had smiles for — me, — smiles, too, when the worm of an insidious disease was gnawing at her heart's core. And for my part, my lord, whenever I hear the discontented husband or the insolent libertine depreciating the character of Woman, the memory of my own devoted wife instantly renders me Woman's champion; — and lost — low — wretched as I have been, I have never failed — even in the vilest pot-house in which my miseries have compelled me to seek shelter — to vindicate the sex against the aspersions of the malevolent!
    "Six months after my release from prison the small-pox invaded the house in which we lodged; and so virulent was the malady, that within three weeks it carried off two of my children — the girl, who was the eldest, and the younger boy. I need not attempt to describe my own grief nor the anguish of my wife. The blow was too much for her; and she was thrown upon a sick bed. At the same time my employer failed in business; and I accordingly lost my situation. I was returning home one evening, — very miserable after several hours vain search for another place, — when I met a gentleman who had once been a brother-officer in the regiment in which I first served. I made known to him my deplorable situation, assuring him that both my wife and my only remaining child were at that moment lying dangerously ill, and that I was on my way home without a shilling to purchase even the necessaries of life. He said that he had no objection to serve me; and, giving me a guinea for immediate wants, desired me to call on him next day at a particular address in Jermyn Street. I hastened joyfully home, and communicated my good fortune to poor Julia. On the following morning I repaired to Jermyn Street. My friend received me cordially, and then explained his views. To my profound surprise I learnt that he was the proprietor of a common gaming-house; and his proposal was that I should receive three guineas a week for mere [-371-] lounging about the play-rooms of an evening, and acting as a decoy to visitors. My situation was so desperate that I consented; and ten guineas were given me on the spot to fit myself out in a becoming manner. I returned home; and informed Julia that I had obtained the place of a night-clerk in a coach-office. She believed me: a smile played on her sickly countenance; — and she was soon afterwards able to leave her bed.
    "I entered on my new employment; and all that fatal thirst for gaming which had plunged me into such depths of misery, was immediately revived. The proprietor of the hell would not of course permit his 'decoys' to play legitimately on their own account; but we were allowed to make bets with strangers in the rooms. This I did; and as the passion gained upon me, I visited other gambling-houses when my services were not required at the one where I was engaged. Thus I again plunged into that dreadful course; and my poor wife soon suspected the fatal truth. Our little girl died — thank God! — at this period. Start not when I express my gratitude to heaven that it was so; for what could have become of her during the period of utter destitution which soon after supervened? Yes, my lord: scarcely a year had passed, when I was hurled into the very depths of want and misery. I was accused of cheating my employer at the gaming-house: the imputation was as false as ever villanous lie could be; — and from that moment forth the door of every hell was closed against me. I was also unable to obtain an honest situation; and after Julia and myself had parted with all our wearing apparel, save the few things upon our backs, we were one night thrust forth into the streets — house- less beggars!
    "It was in the middle of winter: the snow lay upon the ground; and the cold was intense. My poor wife-in the last stage of consumption, and with only a thin gown and a miserable rag of a shawl to cover her-clung to my arm, and even then attempted to console me. Oh! God — what an angel was that woman! We roved through the streets — for we dared not sit down on a door-step, through fear of being frozen to death! What my feelings were, it is impossible to explain. Morning — the cold wintry morning — found us dragging our weary forms along the Dover Road. We had no object in proceeding that way; but with tacit consent we seemed bent upon leaving a city where we had endured so much. At length Julia murmured in a faint tone, 'William, dearest, I cannot move a step farther!' And she sank, half fainting, upon a bank covered with snow.
    "I was nearly distracted; but still she smiled — smiled, and pressed my hand tenderly, even while the ice-cold finger of Death touched her heart. I raised her in my arms: — my God I she was as light as a child — so emaciated in person and so thinly clad was she! I bore her to a neighbouring cottage, which was fortunately tenanted by kind and hospitable people, who immediately received the dying woman into their abode. The good mistress of the house gave up her bed to Julia, while her husband hastened to Blackheath for a doctor. And I, kneeling by the side of my poor wife, implored her forgiveness for all the miseries she had endured through me. 'Do not speak in that manner, my dearest William,' she said, in a faint tone, as she drew me towards her; 'for I have always loved you, and I am sure you have loved me in return. Alas! my adored husband, what is to become of you? I am going to a better world, where I shall meet our departed children: but, ah! to what sorrows, do I leave you? Oh! this is the pang which I feel upon my death-bed; and it is more than I can bear. For I love you, William, as never woman yet loved; and when I am no more, do not remember any little sufferings which you may imagine that you have caused me; for if there be any thing to forgive, God knows how sincerely I do forgive you! Think of me sometimes, William — and remember that as I have ever loved you, so would I continue to love you were I spared. But — '
    "Her voice had gradually been growing fainter, and her articulation more difficult, as she uttered those loving words which Death rudely cut short. The medical man came: it was too late — all was over! Then did I throw myself upon that senseless form, and accuse myself of having broken the heart of the best of women. Oh! I thought, if I could only recall the past: if the last few years of my life could be spent over again — if my beloved wife, my little ones, and my fortune were still left to me-how different would my conduct be! But repentance was too late: the work was done-and the consummation of the task of ruin, sorrow, and death was accomplished! Wretch — wretch that I was!
    "The poor people at whose cottage my wife thus breathed her last, were very kind to me, They endeavoured to solace my affliction, and insisted that I should remain with them at least until after the funeral. And if my poor Julia's remains received decent interment, — if she were spared the last ignominy of a parish funeral, which would have crowned all the sad memories that remained to me in respect to her, — it was through the benevolence of those poor people and the surgeon who had been called in.
    "When I had followed the corpse of my poor wife to the grave, I returned to London; and, assuming another name, procured a humble employment in the City. Would you believe, my lord, that one who had held the rank of a Field Officer became the follower of a bailiff — a catchpole — a sort of vampire feeding itself upon the vitals of the poor and unfortunate? Yet such was my case: and even in that detestable capacity I experienced one day of unfeigned pleasure — one day of ineffable satisfaction; and that was upon being employed to arrest and convey to Whitecross Street prison my mortal enemy — Colonel Beaumont. Yes: he also was ruined by play, and overwhelmed with difficulties. And at whose suit was he captured? At that of Goldshig, the Jew! The Colonel was playing at hide-and-seek; but I tracked him out. Night and day did. I pursue my inquiries until I learnt that he occupied a miserable lodging in the Old Bailey: and there was he taken. He languished for six months in prison — deserted by his friends — and compelled to receive the City allowance. Every Sunday during that period did I visit the gaol to gloat upon his miseries. At length he died in the infirmary, and was buried as a pauper!
    "Shortly after that event, I lost my place, through having shown some kindness to a poor family in whose house I was placed in possession under an execution; and from that time, until yesterday, my life has been a series of such miseries — such priva-[-372-]tions — such maddening afflictions, that it is most marvellous how I ever could have surmounted them. Indeed, I am astonished that suicide has not long ago terminated my wretched career. Your Highness saw how I was spurned from the door of that temple of infamy, which had absorbed a considerable part of my once ample means; — but that was not the first — no, nor the fiftieth time that, when driven to desperation, I have vainly implored succour of those who had formerly profited by my follies-my vices. In conclusion, permit me to assure your Highness that if the most heart-felt gratitude on the part of a wretch like me, be in any way a recompense for that bounty which has relieved me from the most woeful state of destitution and want, — then that reward is yours — for I am grateful — oh! God only knows how deeply grateful!"
    "Say no more upon that subject," exclaimed Richard, who was profoundly affected by the history which he had just heard. "From this day forth you shall never experience want again — provided you adhere to your resolves to abandon those temples of ruin in which fortune, reputation, and happiness — yes, and the happiness of others — are all engulphed. But for the present we have both a duty to perform. Last night, at the door of Crockford's Club, I observed a young man in the society of two villains, whom I have, alas! ample cause to remember [sic] This young man of whom I speak, drew forth his purse to assist you at the moment when I Interfered."
    "Yes-I saw him, and I know who he is, my lord," replied the Major. "His name is Egerton — he lives in Stratton Street — and his fortune is rapidly passing into the pockets of swindlers and blacklegs. It was my intention to call upon him and warn him of the frightful precipice upon which he stands; but, alas! too well do I know that such is the infatuation which possesses the gamester — "
    "Enough!" interrupted Richard. "That idea must not deter me from performing what I conceive to be a duty. And you must aid me in the task."
    "If your Highness will show me how I can be instrumental in rescuing that young man from the jaws of destruction," exclaimed Major Anderson, "gladly — most gladly will I lend my humble aid."
    "You speak as one who is anxious to atone for the misdeeds of the past," said the Prince; "and so long as such be your feelings, you will find a sincere friend in me. In respect to this foolish young man, who is rushing headlong to ruin, caution must be used; or else those arch-profligates, Chichester and Harborough, will frustrate my designs. It is for you to seek an interview with Mr. Egerton, and inform him that the Prince of Montoni is desirous to see him upon business of a most serious and of altogether a private nature."
    "The wishes of your Highness shall be attended to," replied Major Anderson. "It is useless to attempt to find Egerton alone at this time of the day; but to-morrow morning I will call on him at an early hour."
    The Prince was satisfied with this arrangement, and took his departure from the lodging of the ruined gamester.
    Reader! there is no vice which is so fertile in the various elements of misery as Gambling!    

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