Kings and Princes at the Gaming Table
Few, if any, nationalities, and still fewer classes of society, are exempt from the gambling mania. The demon of chance sways men of all sorts and conditions in all sorts of climes. The bootblack in the street will at any time risk his hard-earned pennies on "craps"; the millionaire in his so-called palace not infrequently stakes what would be a competence for the ordinary man on the turn of a single card. And so the fever goes— from hovel to palace and through all the intermediate stations in life.
If there is any one class of mortals particularly stricken with the gambling fever it is royalty. The possession of substantially unlimited wealth, the constant adulation and semi-worship of their subjects, and the other environments and conditions peculiar to the crowned heads and their cousins and aunts and so on, predispose the kingly race to more often rapid life. One feature of this rapid life is devotion to dice and cards. ln all Europe there is scarcely a royal family which has not one or more members famous, or notorious, as you please, for his gambling propensities. In court circles everybody gambles, I may almost say.
The princelets and dukelets aud kinglets gamble in order to while away the monotony of life, and incidentally to acquire possession of as many pounds or francs or marks of their faithful courtiers as possible; the blue-blooded gentry and wealthy parvenus who encourage this same enviable desire of their supposed superiors gamble that they may have the honor of allowing said superiors to win their cash.
What are a few paltry hundreds or thousands in comparison with the honor of having stacked it against His Royal Highness, the Prince of This-That-or-the-Other, with three or four kings against his royal highness' three or four aces? This is the way those people look at it, and thus it is that royalty's high-minded desire to gamble is soothed and sustained. But for this soothing and sustaining on the part of royalty's courtiers and admirors royal gambling would soon die out, simply because it would not have anything to feed upon.
Royal I.O.U.s are very pretty things to put in a frame or paste in the family records, but as a rule the "I.O.U". part does not add much to their value. "The King can do no wrong, you know. That being the case, what is the use of a King's redeeming his I.O.U.'s like any common, ordinary plebeian?"—Sacramento Daily Union, 1893
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