A very apt allegory has been imagined as the origin of Gaming. It is said that the Goddess of Fortune, once sporting near the shady pool of Olympus, was met by the gay and captivating God of War, who soon allured her to his arms. They were united; but the matrimony was not holy, and the result of the union was a misfeatured child named Gaming. From the moment of her birth this wayward thing could only be pleased by cards, dice, or counters.
She was not without fascinations, and many were her admirers. As she grew up she was courted by all the gay and extravagant of both sexes, for she was of neither sex, and yet combining the attractions of each. At length, however, being mostly beset by men of the sword, she formed an unnatural union with one of them, and gave birth to twins—one called DUELLING, and the other a grim and hideous monster named SUICIDE. These became their mother's darlings, nursed by her with constant care and tenderness, and her perpetual companions.
The Goddess Fortune ever had an eye on her promising daughter—Gaming; and endowed her with splendid residences, in the most conspicuous streets, near the palaces of kings. They were magnificently designed and elegantly furnished. Lamps, always burning at the portals, were a sign and a perpetual invitation unto all to enter; and, like the gates of the Inferno, they were ever open to daily and nightly visitants; but, unlike the latter, they permitted EXIT to all who entered—some exulting with golden spoil,—others with their hands in empty pockets,—some led by her half-witted son Duelling,—others escorted by her malignant monster Suicide, and his mate, the demon Despair.
'Religion, morals, virtue, all give way, And conscience dies, the prostitute of play. Eternity ne'er steals one thought between, Till suicide completes the fatal scene.'
Such is the ALLEGORY;(2) and it may serve well enough to represent the thing in accordance with the usages of civilized or modern life; but Gaming is a UNIVERSAL thing—the characteristic of the human biped all the world over.
(2) It appeared originally, I think, in the Harleian Miscellany. I have taken the liberty to re-touch it here and there, with the view to improvement.
The determination of events by 'lot' was a practice frequently resorted to by the Israelites; as, by lot it was determined which of the goats should be offered by Aaron; by lot the land of Canaan was divided; by lot Saul was marked out for the Hebrew kingdom; by lot Jonah was discovered to be the cause of the storm. It was considered an appeal to Heaven to determine the points, and was thought not to depend on blind chance, or that imaginary being called Fortune, who,
'——With malicious joy,
Promotes, degrades, delights in strife,
And makes a LOTTERY of life.'