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Title: A Letter to Sir Richard Ford and the other Police Magistrates - upon the prevalancy of Gaming, and the infamous practices of Common Informers
Author: Holloway, Robert
Language: English
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Transcribed from the [1803] Vaughan Griffiths edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org

                      [Picture: Public domain cover]

                            SIR RICHARD FORD,

                              AND THE OTHER

                          _POLICE MAGISTRATES_,

                                 UPON THE

                          PREVALENCY OF GAMING,

                                 AND THE

                           _INFAMOUS PRACTICES_


                            COMMON INFORMERS.

                                * * * * *

                             PATERNOSTER ROW.

                                * * * * *



I HAVE taken the liberty to consume a few minutes of your valuable time,
for the purpose of awakening your attention to an evil, that has lately
encreased to an enormous magnitude; an evil rendered the more
mischievous, inasmuch as it is sanctioned by Magisterial authority.

You, Gentlemen, are not to be taught by me, that the law itself has
marked with peculiar abhorrence, every species of oppression and
injustice, that is perpetrated under its influence; for, dreadful indeed
must be the situation of the subjects of any country, who are told that
their oppressions are authorised by the power of Magistracy.

The mischief I allude to is the alarming depredations committed by a gang
of abandoned wretches, who, by a scene of fraud and perjury, have long
been in the habits of obtaining your warrants, under the fallacious
pretences of prosecuting the keepers of Gaming Houses, Lottery Offices,
Dancing Schools, and other public nuisances; but who, in fact, obtain
those instruments of legal authority, to give countenance and facility to
the most outrageous extortions and robberies: for, instead of causing
such warrants to be executed for the ends of public justice, they
prostitute them to the accomplishment of private plunder, turning them
into terrific engines, to alarm the objects of supposed delinquency into
a compliance with the most exorbitant pecuniary demands.  And thus the
Magistrates, who on all occasions, are anxious to embrace every
opportunity of suppressing a public nuisance, become the dupes of
profligate necessity, and the innocent parricides of that peace, liberty,
and property, which the Police of this country appoint them to preserve
and protect.

It is not my present purpose to enter into any thing like a general
comparison of the morals of the ninth, and the nineteenth century; or to
expatiate on the distinction between those of this country, and such as
pervade the inhabitants of other regions; for, I believe the strictest
scrutiny would end in a conclusion that human nature is much the same, in
whatever part of the world geography can lead us; I will, therefore,
briefly pursue the avowed purpose of this address, which is both local
and temporary, calculated to remedy a species of iniquity, which stalks
with gigantic strides, to the very threshold of the most salutary Police
that human wisdom is capable of establishing.

It is astonishing, and no less so is it lamentable, that the laws of the
wisest legislator, in all ages and countries, never did, or ever will,
wholly subdue the predominant passions inherent in human nature; hence
the wisdom and ingenuity of the laws, both antient and modern, aided by
the intrepidity and vigilance of the Magistrates, have sunk under every
attempt, to conquer the two most destructive vices which afflict
mankind;—it is almost needless to say, that I mean duelling and gaming;
vices that have triumphed over, and bid defiance to, all human
ordinances, from the earliest period of civilization, to the present

But as I have selected the prevalency of gaming and its baneful effects,
for the subject of your consideration, I shall not clog my animadversions
with any extraneous observations.

If the information I mean to convey in this letter, was to reach no
farther than the closets of men as well informed as yourselves, I should
have spared myself the trouble of writing, and relieved you from the task
of reading, at least two thirds of the subject now before you; for to
tell men of erudition and legal knowledge, what were the laws and
customs, vices and virtues, of the most celebrated antients, would be
almost as futile and presumptuous, as to tell Sir Richard Ford, that the
office he presides at, is in the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden; but
as this letter may get into the hands of men of a very opposite
description, to them it may convey both information and admonition, as
salutary to themselves, as beneficial to the community; or at least,
should it fail, I have the satisfaction of a good intention, free from
any apprehension of encountering the disapprobation of men whose good
opinion is worth acquiring or preserving.

The prejudice of vulgar errors over the minds of Englishmen perhaps is
more prevalent than in any other people, the major part of whom have as
little idea that gaming exists in any other country as that _roast beef_
can be met with in France or Italy.

To enter into an accurate history of the unbounded passion for gaming in
all ages, and in all countries, and to recount the severity of those laws
which have from time to time been enacted to restrain the evil, would be
a work of more labour and time than I wish to devote to the subject, or
indeed, than is necessary on the present occasion.

It is clear that the ruinous rage for gaming is not confined to this
country, for history affords us too many proofs to establish a contrary

The vice is not even confined to Europeans; for such is the unquenchable
thirst for gaming in China, and such its melancholy effects, that they
not only play for all the property they possess, but afterwards stake
their wives and children, which are detained by the winner till they are
redeemed.  Their games are much the same as the Europeans, Hazard,
Pas-dice, &c. &c.

With respect to the Italians, from the highest to the lowest, historians
inform us they all manifest an inordinate passion for every species of
gaming, and when they lose all they have, will stake themselves against
so many dollars as the market goes at, for the price of slaves; and if
they lose, are sold by the winner to the Gallies, and spend their lives
at the oar, under a rigorous and cruel discipline, without a murmur.

The late excellent Judge Blackstone, and indeed many other authors, tell
us that the antient Germans would also stake their persons against
certain sums of money, and if they lost, would think it a disgrace not to
become the slaves of the winner.

The Greeks and Romans were incurably addicted to gambling, the nature of
which seems to have borne great similarity to that in most general use in
this country, especially the games with dice thrown out of a box, the
same as is practised at the Hazard tables with us.

Notwithstanding the severity of the Roman laws forbidding the use of
dice, they paid little or no attention to the prohibition; nor indeed did
they confine themselves to the rules of probity and fairness in the
games, inasmuch that the art of cogging the die appears to be a laudable
exertion of skill.  Thus Dryden makes a Roman gamester exclaim:

    “But then my study was to cog the dice,
    And dext’rously to throw the lucky size;
    To shun the ace that swept my stakes away,
    And watch the box, for fear they should convey
    False bones, and put upon me in the play.”

From which it appears that the art of introducing false dice was not
unknown, but practised by the Romans; nor did the passion for gaming
cease with the imbecility of age, for when they were passed all manual
exercise they constantly indulged themselves with dice, a custom which
Dryden has also satyrised in the following lines:

    “If gaming does an aged sire entice,
    Then my young master swiftly learns the vice,
    And shakes in hanging sleeves the little box and dice.”

A variety of authors seem to agree, that the Romans were in habits of
play from their infancy at games most adapted to their age, particularly
at the game of Par-and-impar or even and odd: indeed such an ungovernable
passion for play prevailed, that even the lawgivers themselves practised
it without moderation.  The Emperors were, many of them, professed
admirers of gaming.  CLAUDIUS had gained so much experience in the
chances of the dice, that he composed a book upon the subject; and
AUGUSTUS himself was equally infatuated.  Indeed to such a pitch of
extravagance was the passion of CLAUDIUS for this vice, that it is
related, Seneca, in his sarcastic apotheosis upon that emperor, after
bringing him to hell, makes the Infernal Judges condemn him to play
continually at dice with a box that had the bottom out.

NERO, among the rest of his prodigalities and profusion, was addicted to
gaming; and that he might act like himself, at once made a stake of
400,000 sesterces: nor indeed are we without examples of Englishmen, when
abroad, falling in with this frantic rage for excessive gaming; for we
are told in Fuller’s Worthies that Henry Chenney, Baron of Teddington,
when in France, had the honor of playing with the King of the country, of
whom he won a diamond of considerable value; and the monarch asking him
how he could have paid if he had lost?  His lordship replied, with an air
of confidence, “_I have as many sheep in Kent_, _as the tails_, _and
__wool being sold_, _would purchase a much better diamond_.”

The state of gaming in England, embraces one feature of mischief we do
not read of in other countries, for here the rage has affected women with
all the ruinous consequences that attach to the men, notwithstanding the
laws prohibit the practice with an almost unparalleled severity;—laws
armed with penalties sufficient to deter any reasonable being from
encountering their perils; pronouncing degradations, corporal punishment,
and retribution in every line.

It is possible, nay, very probable, that thousands in the habit of
excessive gaming, and who experience all its concomitant horrors, may be
wholly ignorant of those laws so penal in their operation: I will,
therefore, state them in regular succession, in a manner so unembarrassed
and simplified, as will level them to the comprehension of the most
ignorant offender.

To restrain this pernicious vice among the inferior class of people, the
Statute of 33 Hen. VIII. c. 9, was made, which prohibits all but
gentlemen, the games of tennis, tables, cards, dice, bowls, and other
unlawful diversions, under pecuniary pains and imprisonment.

By Stat. 16 Car. II. c. 7, if any person by playing or betting, shall
lose more than 100l. at one time, he shall not be compellable to pay the
same; and the winner shall forfeit treble the value, one moiety to the
King, the other to the informer.

The Stat. 9 Ann, c. 14, enacts that all bonds and other securities given
for money won at play, or money lent at the time to play withal, shall be
utterly void, that all mortgages and incumbrances of lands made upon the
same consideration shall be, and enure to the heir of the mortgager:
that, if any person at one time loses 10l. at play, he may sue the
winner, and recover it back by action of debt at law, and in case the
loser does not, any other person may sue the winner for treble the sum so
lost, and the plaintiff in either case, may examine the defendant himself
upon oath; and that in any of these suits no privilege of parliament
shall be allowed: the Stat, further enacts, that if any person cheats at
play, and at one time wins more than 10l. or any valuable thing, he may
be indicted thereupon, and shall forfeit five times the value, shall be
deemed infamous, and suffer such corporal punishment as in case of wilful

By several Stats. of George II, all private lotteries by tickets, cards,
or dice, (and particularly the games of faro, basset, ace of hearts,
hazard, rolly polly, pas dice, and all games with dice, except
backgammon) are prohibited under a penalty of 200l. for him that shall
erect such lotteries, and 50l. a time for the players.  Public lotteries
unless by authority of Parliament, and all manner of ingenious devices
which in the end are equivalent to lotteries, were before prohibited by a
great variety of statutes, under heavy pecuniary penalties.

The Stat. 13 George II. c. 19, to prevent the multiplicity of horse
races, another fund of gaming, directs that no plates, or matches, under
50l. value each, shall be run, upon penalty of 200l. to be paid by the
owner of each horse running, and 100l. by such as advertise the plate.

By Stat. 18 George II. c. 34, the Stat. 9 Ann is further enforced, and
some deficiencies supplied:—the forfeiture of that act may now be
recovered in a court of equity; and moreover, if any man be convicted
upon information or indictment of winning or losing at any sitting, 10l.
or 20l. within twenty-four hours, he shall forfeit five times the sum.
Thus careful has the legislator been to prevent this destructive vice.

And in order to prevent the dreadful consequences, such as Duelling and
other outrages, on account of money won at play, the party who shall
provoke to fight, or commit any assault, for the purpose of compelling
the payment of any money so won, shall forfeit all his personal property
to the king, and suffer two years imprisonment in the county goal where
the offence was committed.  A prosecution under this act is attended with
little more difficulty than proving a common assault.  Upon this statute
Hill Darley, of Bond-street, was very lately convicted, and compromised
the pecuniary part with the High Bailiff of Westminster for 1000l. and
obtained a remission of some part of his imprisonment in Horsham gaol.

About 20 years ago the late James Armstrong, Sheriff’s officer, indicted
two gentlemen upon this statute; one of whom was a clergyman, and who to
avoid the consequences of their temerity retired to the continent, where
they remained some years, and at length were reduced to the humiliating
situation of soliciting the pardon of a fellow whose company they would
have thought a disgrace upon any other occasion.  Armstrong at length
consented to drop the prosecution upon their giving one hundred pounds to
the poor of the parish where the offence was committed.  Such are the
disgraceful, and I may say, ignominious terms upon which men indulge
themselves in this favourite vice, a vice so fascinating, that if the
pursuit of it was made felony, it might somewhat diminish it, but would
never wholly subdue it; for when the human passions come in contact with
human reason, the former will ever be the strongest.

Terrific as these acts may appear upon paper, they are rendered very
difficult in the prosecution, particularly the 9 Ann, which, indeed, is
the principal one, as it applies to the higher order of people, for the
mischiefs that become the objects of that act, are frequently done at
races and public places of resort, at a great distance from the
metropolis; actions upon penal statutes being local, an offence committed
at York must be tried by a jury of that county, though all the parties
necessary to the suit reside in London; and no reason, however weighty,
is sufficient to change the venue to Westminster Hall.

A variety of other defects prove a considerable check upon the operation
of the other statutes, and render their imbecility obvious to the courts
of Law, as well as magistrates; this evil might be easily remedied by
making one efficient act, embracing all salutary purposes, and omitting
the futile parts, which would shut out many inconveniences, expence, and
that system of iniquity, so conspicuous in prosecuting or defending the
objects of punishment.

With respect to the laws for preventing illegal transactions in the
lotteries, or at least those passed since Thomas Wood was appointed
Inspector, seem calculated for no possible purpose but that of spreading
the evil, and filling the pockets of a worthless individual; for while
there is a lottery authorised by parliament, daily experience evinces the
impossibility of subduing its evil consequences; and if gaming tables
have a tendency to promote idleness, theft, and debauchery among the
lower class, the same pernicious consequences may justly be attributed to
the universal spirit for insuring in the lottery, with a train of
additional calamities, of fraud, perjury and inevitable beggary; for so
long as the infatuated devotees to their own ruin can find money, the
invention of sharpers will find means to evade the laws, which only hunt
them from one device to another, and render knavish ingenuity swifter
than the means of punishment.

The appointment of Mr. Wood to the office of Inspector of Lotteries, was
an event that created the astonishment of every man who knew his previous
character; but his continuing the situation after all that has appeared
before the magistrates, that has been exhibited in the courts of law,
before the commissioners of the stamp office, together with all that is
within the knowledge of every person concerned in lottery transactions,
is certainly one of those extraordinary events which confounds the
understanding, benumbs the explanatory faculties, and soars above the
reach of reason to explain, or philosophy to reconcile to any principle
of public advantage: however, there has been so much written and said
upon this man’s conduct, that I shall for the present enter no further
into his probity and praise-worthy service, than recalling to the
recollection of the Magistrates at Bow-street, the amiable portrait I
drew of him in their presence, in November last, some faint likeness of
which appeared in the public prints of the day: the Magistrates upon that
occasion, as well as a great number of other persons present, must do me
the justice to say that the ground of my accusation was not the effect of
a distempered brain or malignant invention; for every syllable I uttered
respecting him or his friend, Mr. Holland, of “Little-Go,” notoriety has
been legally substantiated upon the clearest of all evidences, and now
remains matter of woeful record, at least to Mr. Holland, who has had six
months leisure to ruminate on its efficacy in Cold-Bath-Fields Prison.
In fine, every seeming effort that has sprung out of Mr. Wood’s fertile
brain to suppress the ruinous practice of insuring in lotteries, has
augmented the calamity to a preposterous magnitude, and instead of curing
the evils we already felt, raised up innumerable others we knew not of.
However, I must check my inclination to furnish matter for a volume, and
confine myself to the brevity of a letter; and, from what I have stated,
few men will suspect me to be a favourer of any species of gaming;
perhaps, less so, when I protest, my abhorrence of it has ever been such,
that in my existence I never won or lost £5. at any description of game.

Having expressed my disapprobation of gaming in such corrosive terms, I
also feel impelled by candour and justice to make some remarks upon the
system of play at public tables, especially those at the fashionable end
of the town, where it is impossible that any foul play, fraud, or
deception, can be practised; nor indeed is a man however sottishly drunk
or, stupid, permitted to make a bet against the known chances of the
game; at such tables, little skill or penetration is required, for games
of chance are matter of mathematical consideration, and afford equal
advantage to the inexperienced novice, and the most accomplished
gamester; for it is a notorious fact, that many men play almost every
night for ten years together, without any material loss or gain; it is in
private play that the mischief is done, and I feel myself competent to
assert, that more serious losses happen at Brighton, Bath, and the
various races, where private parties are formed at taverns, or at the
lodging of a sharper, in one year, than at the public gaming houses in
London, in ten times that period.

After all, what can be said, but that the aggregate of human wisdom has
in all ages, and in all countries, been exerted in vain to conquer the
evil, and it is some consolation that in England, it is seldom attended
with the tragical consequences which the melancholy histories of gambling
transactions of other countries relate.  With respect to gambling in
lotteries, the attention of the legislator seems to have been directed to
the welfare of the lower order of people; but experience teaches us that
their annual efforts, assisted by all the _vigilance_, _integrity_,
_morality_, and _impartiality_ of Mr. T. Wood, like the ordinance of the
Koran, destroys the soul to indulge the appetites of the body; hence the
pernicious increase of “Little Go’s,” a species of lottery which ravages
and preys upon the vitals of the poor, almost without the possibility of
a temporary alleviation, which in their very nature cannot be productive
of any advantage, even by accident, except to Pawnbrokers, the Lottery
Inspector, and his amiable friend, the conscientious J. Holland, whose
nefarious system of plunder exhibited a scene of iniquity unparalleled in
the history of gambling enormities; for it appeared to the Magistrates in
Bow-street, who fortunately possessed themselves of this dreadful
fellow’s books, that the chances against the deluded wretches who were
caught in his fool trap, stood thus, that in receiving a thousand pounds
he had to return about forty, supposing he had been honest enough to have
paid it—and in receiving one hundred and fifty, he had one guinea to
return, and so on, day by day, for months together; and this precious
system of plunder was unfolded and spread out in the presence of the
cherub-cheek Mr. Wood.  Thus much, however, must be said for adventurers
in the established lottery, for though they play a guinea to eighteen
shillings, their chance of winning is fair, and the receipt of the money,
when they do win, certain; notwithstanding the advantages are infinitely
on the side of the Insurer, yet there are not wanting many instances
where the Insured have acquired sums of money that have laid the
foundation of their future welfare.

But not to detain you with the relation of circumstances so familiar to
daily experience, I will trespass upon your time no longer than is
necessary to make some observations upon that more immoral and dangerous
species of iniquity, daily practised, under pretence of putting the laws
in force against offenders of the foregoing description: in doing which,
I must enter into an history of fraud, perjury, subornation, extortion,
and robbery of the most hideous description, wherein I shall be assisted
not only by matters of fact, but by additional credit from some
outrageous acts of delinquency, lately unfolded by the injured parties,
to the Magistrates in Bow-street; from which it appeared, that a man of
the name of JOHN BELL, who assumed the consequence of a country gentleman
residing at Peckham, with a degree of audacity, the necessary concomitant
of designing knavery, imposed himself upon a Magistrate as a man
outrageously offended with the immorality of gaming houses, and with an
unbounded anxiety to suppress the evil, obtained a warrant to appease the
perturbed state of his conscience, and apprehend the keepers: with this
instrument he marched, at the head of about a dozen constables, to an
house in Pall Mall, between eleven and twelve o’clock-at night, and
there, with all the insolence of an Arabian freebooter, domineered, and
terrified the mistress, children, and guests, whom he conveyed to a watch
house, where they remained till five o’clock in the morning, when this
Algerine demagogue, condescended to take what he impudently called bail
for their appearance, and thus the night scene ended; upon which there is
but one circumstance creative of surprise, and that is, that no one man
out of the twenty-four whose liberty he sported with, had spirit enough
to cut off one of his ears, as a token of his imposture; for it must be
remembered he was not a peace officer, or armed with any authority, but
such as an highwayman assumes the moment he is cocking his pistol.

To suppose that this man of straight-laced morality would stray from his
hovel at Peckham, to hunt gamblers at midnight in Pall-Mall, from motives
of public justice, is as ridiculous a supposition, as that he could
produce any circumstance of his life, that procured him an honest
shilling.  The warrant having thus operated to the accomplishment of
every purpose for which it was obtained, the negociation commenced
relative to its future progress, but ended as fifty others had done
before; one hundred pounds was demanded to satisfy the voracious appetite
of offended decorum; a sum so trifling, that if it was not immediately
paid, a similar visit was threatened for the next night:—however, the sum
of 60l. was at length acceded to, and 60l. was paid, of course all
hostilities ceased.  This pecuniary anodyne assuaged the moral-wrought
grief of Mr. Bell; but there was yet left unmolested, three houses more
in the same neighbourhood, that furnished Mr. Bell with _suspicions_,
that similar instruments against them might prove equally productive to
his pocket; he instantly tried the experiment, and with the use of little
more rhetoric than accompanies a dark-lanthorn and knife in the hands of
a midnight ruffian, demanded 35l. each, as the conditions of a short
cessation from a like outrage: these respective sums being also paid,
silence was proclaimed, and the blast of offended justice no longer
heard; here perhaps, the business would have ended, and the robberies
sunk into an oblivion, criminal as the impunity with which they were
committed, had Mr. Bell given himself time to recollect, that one extreme
generally begets another; the extremity of vice being frequently the
beginning of folly; for within a month subsequent to this transaction,
the different parties received a further demand of 10l. each: however, a
little expostulation upon the rapidity of their collections, procured
them a respite of some days for the payment of this second subsidy; in
the interim the nefarious transactions came to the knowledge of some of
the magistrates at Bow Street, who to their eternal honour, sent for the
objects of Mr. Bell’s plunder, from whom they received an ample detail of
all the circumstances; from that period the spirit of self-defence was
roused, and the injured parties determined to seek protection from the
laws of the country: with the advice of three eminent council at a
consultation, they have preferred bills of indictment against Mr. Bell
and his Attorney, who appears so implicated in the business, that no
legal distinction in point of turpitude can possibly exist; therefore,
they are indicted for a conspiracy; other bills were prepared, the
presenting of which was delayed by an accident till next sessions.

In stating this transaction, I wish it to be understood, as a mere sample
of the virtuous conduct of Mr. Bell upon a variety of occasions, too
numerous for any thing like a detailed accuracy, which, however, bids
fair to undergo an ample discussion at the next Surry assizes, if he has
audacity enough to pursue the action, there to be tried, and if what is
stated in the defendant’s brief is true, it exhibits a catalogue of
outrageous atrocity unparalleled in the history of human turpitude.

With respect to Mr. Bell’s cotemporaries in the traffic of similar
extortions, they are about twenty-five in number, but as many of the
magistrates are, and the rest soon will be, furnished with a complete
list of their names and descriptions, and as they are perfectly known to
the generality of my readers, it is unnecessary to enlarge upon their
conduct, the more especially as there is great probability that from the
example indignant justice calls for, upon the heads of these selected for
prosecution, the rest may benefit by their fate, and substitute some
other means of existence, more particularly that portion of the catalogue
composed of attornies, of whom I shall say no more at present than that
the profession will suffer no material indignity whenever an halter or
any other accident sweeps from its bosom, those _superfluous ornaments_
of the roll.  I shall, therefore, content myself with personifying a
gentleman who may fairly be called the prolific parent of perjury, or
nest-egg of iniquity; if I am right in his name, and I think I need not
guess twice, to nick it once, it is John Barnes Hart; (next in order for
prosecution) this reptilised miscreant has, perhaps, trained more
wretches to eminence in infamy than any other man that makes plunder a
science; it is true that he cannot swear himself, for upon the evidence
of the pillory about 20 years ago, an act of divorce passed between his
lips and the Holy Evangelists; he now pays his religious salutations to
the new testament by proxy.  This wretch has been drummed out of all the
courts of law, and from the presence of the magistrates to the beat of
the “Rogue’s March.”  He now contents himself with leading his
instruments of infamy to the doors of Justice, where, like a brutal
butcher, he turns in Towzer to the bloody work, waiting without to
receive a report of the success of his pious instructions, the effects of
which generally end in obtaining a warrant from the Magistrate, to
accomplish some disastrous scene of corruption.  If any thing can
mitigate the attrocious conduct of this man, it is the melancholy
consideration that many others imitate it.  But to draw to a conclusion,
what will Magistrates say?—what will mankind at large say?—and what will
be their execrations of the transactions I have here stated, when they
are told, that out of at least 100 indictments and process by
Magistrate’s warrants, within these ten years past, not more than half a
dozen have been prosecuted with effect, at the instance of common
Informers.  On the other hand, I cannot fall in with the doctrine that is
propagated by vulgar prejudice of censuring every man who becomes
plaintiff in a Qui Tam action, nor can I countenance the absurdity of
making laws to punish offences, and deeming it infamous to put those laws
in execution; but then let them be put in force according to the spirit
of that law, and consonant with the rules of public justice.  Proceedings
conducted upon such principles ought to receive the protection of
Magistracy:—but to put the instruments of terror into the hands of
ruffians, for the mere purpose of plundering even the worst offenders, is
monstrous, and ought not to be endured, for neither innocence or common
fortitude can repel the ravages committed by such means; with Mr. Barnes
Hart, and many others, whose views and principles are of the same
complexion, little regard is paid to the difference between guilt and
innocence; witness the many poor wretches that have been committed to
Bridewell upon the oaths of reptiles, under the Lottery Act, who never
took a number, or had any transactions in the Lottery; the charge of the
offence is first made to try the depth of unfortunate people’s pockets;
if no one comes forward with an appropriate sum, Bridewell is the certain
doom of the victim,—for those gentlemen see danger in retracting from the
affidavit they have made.  To authenticate these assertions many
instances might be produced; and here I cannot omit a circumstance to the
honour of Mr. Harvey Coombe, when Lord Mayor, before whom a man of the
name of Paulett was brought, charged as a vagrant, for taking illegal
insurances in the Lottery, and committed to the counter for a rehearing
the next day; but in the intermediate time, 100l. had been paid: of
course not even the ghost of an informer appeared to make good the
charge; his lordship saw through the infamy, and conjured Paulett to tell
him what sum he had given, who replied 100l. but as the money was paid
out of the jurisdiction of the city, his Lordship lamented the
circumstance, declaring he intended to prosecute the offender.

I believe there is not a magistrate in the kingdom, or a man that
pretends to legal knowledge, but will agree, that the property and
liberty of a reputed offender is protected by the laws of the land with
the same degree that watches over the most unimpeached character: a
common prostitute is in a condition to prosecute for a rape, equally with
the most virtuous woman; the delinquency of one man cannot justify the
robbery of another; I do, therefore, insist that Samuel Butcher, the
wholesale brothel keeper, and Edward Barnet, the rapacious petty fogger,
must be permitted the use of their silver spoons, (no matter how they got
them) and that, too, in defiance of summary retribution, or any species,
of anti-legal retaliation; it, therefore, only remains for Magistrates
who stretch forth one hand to crush a nuisance, to employ the other to
the laudable ends of checking a more daring system of rapacity; to effect
which nothing more is required than a degree of circumspection in issuing
your warrants, under circumstances pregnant with suspicion of their being
converted to the perpetration of such disgraceful extortions; the voice
of impartial justice calls upon you, and I will not offer so much
violence to virtue, as to doubt your exertions in rectifying so alarming
an abuse of your process.

                             I am, Gentlemen,

                                                   With unfeigned respect,

                      Your obedient humble servant,

                                                              R. HOLLOWAY.

P.S.  A complete list of the wretches alluded to, having been delivered
to the Magistrates at Bow Street, perhaps it may be thought necessary to
stick up the map of monstrosity in all the public offices, as a guide for
the clerks to avoid future impositions.

                                * * * * *

                                * * * * *

              V. Griffiths, Printer, No. 1, Paternoster-row.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Letter to Sir Richard Ford and the other Police Magistrates - upon the prevalancy of Gaming, and the infamous practices of Common Informers" ***

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