Although I belong to the despised fraternity called gamblers, I have always made it a rule to advise young men to avoid the gaming table that they might avoid the rock upon which I split; and I will now offer, through your paper, some suggestions to the heads of families on the subject of social card playing.
I was twenty years of age and had lived some months in New York before I even knew the names of the ordinary playing cards. But the importance of a thorough education in the science of games was soon made apparent to me – and from a quarter where I had least expected it.
Boarding on Broadway, I made the acquaintance of a number of highly respectable families. By one of these, I was invited to attend a social party. The heads of this family I knew to be members of an Evangelical church. And you will readily judge of my surprise when I made my entrée into the parlor to behold most of the company – and my pious friends – deeply engaged at play!
Not the plays of innocence! But the plays of depraved gamblers! The father of the family was engaged at chess, whilst his wife presided at a card table! Their children were among the whist players and others of the company were engaged at backgammon, dominoes and checkers!
The wine circulated freely and all seemed happy but myself, who in such a party was a barbarian. I could do nothing but look on and confess my ignorance, or occasionally engage in conversation with some old lady, whilst
“The young and gay
Were all engaged at play.”
I was not long therefore, in mastering the mysteries of High, Low Jack, and The Game, and Whist – and a slight knowledge let to a desire for further information, until at last, I was adept at a variety of games and a favorite partner wherever I went.
I was exceedingly fond of cards as they were introduced into every social circle I was in. And the fondness ripened into a passion which clings to me even in this hour.
No better illustration of the dangers of social card playing can be given than my own history. In the parlors of respectable families I acquired a taste for play which became an all-consuming passion knowing no bounds and rapidly hurrying me down the road to ruin, desolation and hell.
But my case is not a solitary one; thousands of gamblers have been made in the same way, and tens of thousands have fallen before this terrible vice, in consequence of a taste for play formed in the family circle!
The Biblical Recorder, Raleigh, North Carolina, September 8, 1849