Page images
PDF
EPUB

Lottery System.

have endeavoured, to the best of their judgment; to render their taxes as equal as they could contrive'; as certain as convenient to the contributor, both in the time and the mode of payment and in proportion to the revenue which they brought to the prince as little burdensome. to the people.Wealth of Nations, Book V. chap. ii. p. 262, 3.

Mr. Vansittart's Lottery schemes of finance are wholly at variance with this doctrine. He takes large sumns out of the pockets of the people, and brings little or nothing into the public treasury. The Lottery tax is the most unproductive and unprincipled tax imaginable. Half the sum which is levied on the people only arrives at the Treasury; the remaining half is expended in demoralizing and defrauding the people, and enriching the most unprincipled characters in society.

Summary Reflections.

Following the order we have treated this article, the first, sıbject that demands attention, is the history of the Lottery. At first we have seen, it was a contrivance solely to aid commercial speculation, or promote some work of public utility; and it was not till the Revolution of 1688, that it was resorted to as a source of public revenue. But for many years after its application to this object, it was conducted on principles much less objectionable than the present: the prizes were more numerous, and adventurers gambled at a smaller risk; besides which, the prizes being for life and terminable annuities, the Lottery answered the purpose of a benefit society, and to the successful speculator was a provision for infirmity and old age.

At the commencement of the present reign, various pernicious alterations were introduced by Lord NORTH: but it was not till the profligate administration of Mr. Pitt, especially during the war for social order and religion, that the Lottery attained the climax of mischief and wickedness. From that time to this, it has virtually continued with little improvement. Government, in its various legislative enactments, instead of attacking the principle, appears only, by its endeavours to abolish private Lotteries, to have been wishful to securethe monopoly of the nuisance. It is now continued, after Lotteries by Act of Parliament have been declared "public nuisances,” and the owners of them “rogues and vagabonds.It is continued in defiance of the principles of political economy ; inasmuch as it is an expensive and unproductive tax, bringing into the public treasury only about seven

Lottery System.

shillings for every twenty shillings it takes out of the pockets of the people. Lastly, it is continued contrary to all the principles of morality and bumanity; defrauding and demoralizing the people, and by the basest and inost unjustifiable artifices, taking advantage of the necessities and credulity of the most unfortunate classes of the community.

After the account we have given of the profits of Lottery Contractors, and the revenue raised by Government on every scheme, it is hardly necessary to say any thing farther to prove the folly of any person seeking to ohtain riches in this speculation. Adam Smith makes some very just observations on this subject. He says, “The world never saw, nor ever will see, a perfectly fair Lottery, or one in which the whole gain compensated the whole loss; because the undertaker could make nothing by it. In the State Lotteries, the tickets are really not worth the price which is paid by the original subscribers, and yet commonly sell in the market for twenty, thirty, and sometimes for forty per cent. advance. The vain hope of gaining some of the great prizes is the sole cause of this demand. The soberest people scarcely look upon it as a folly to pay a small sum for the chance of gaining ten or twenty thousand pounds, though they know that even that small sum is ten or twenty per cent. more than the chance is worth. In a Lottery in which no prize exceeded twenty pounds, though in other respects it approached much nearer to a perfectly fair one, than the common State Lottery, there would not be the same demand for tickets. In order to bave a better chance for some of the great prizes, some people purchase several tickets, and others small shares in a still greater number. There is not, however, a MORE CERTAIN PROPOSITION IN MATHEMATICS,

TICKETS YOU ADVENTURE UPON, THE MORE
Adventure upon

all the tickets in the Lottery, and you lose for certain ; and the greater the number of tickets, the nearer you approach to this certainty."-Wealth of Nations, B. I. ch. x. p. 146.

Gambling in the Lottery, like every other vice, increases with indulgence. Persons who have been long engaged in the foolish hope of obtaining a fortune in this way, find some difficulty in abandoning the pursuit. Their losses, instead" of convincing them of their folly, only render them more impatient to try again. Many flatter themselves, after repeated failures, the chances of success are multiplied, and that fortune, or some other imag

ry deity, which these credulous devotees conceive is their enemy, will at length be weary of persecuting them. This; however, is a

THAN THAT THE MORE

LIKELY YOU ARE TO BE A LOSER.

Lottery System.

mistaken notion. Every new adventure is a new speculation. There is no connexion betwixt former losses, and subsequent success. He who adventures for the first time, has an equal chance for a prize, with the person who has made fifty unsuccessfukadventures before him. Against both the chances are equal. The same frightful odds of 200 or 250 to . It is trading with for: tund af a disadvantage of 100 per cent. and voluntarily giving half of our money to support a government we abhor and a race of men we despise.

It is not easy to reason with dabblers in the Lottery. Gambling of all kinds is more a passion than a rational pursuit; and it is only with the unt derstanding, and not with the feelings, we can argue. Nothing can be more clear than the position of Smith, that the more tickets you purchase in the Lottery, the more you are likely to lose. If you were to purchase the whole Lottery, you would then have all the blanks and all the prizes ; and the loss on such a speculation, according to present schemes, would be about one-half. If you purchase only a ticket, an eighth, or a sixteenth, the loss is in the same proportion, and not less certain.

But then there is the bewildering chance of a £30,000 or £40,000 prize. Smith observes, that if the prizes were smaller, though the Lottery was much fairer, there would not be the same demand for tickets Doubtless this would be the case; but it is extremely irrational on the part of adventurers. Men ought not to stake more for the chance of a £40,000 prize, than the chance is worth. It is folly to risk a pound for the chance of gaining £40,000, if the odds are 80,000 to b against you. This is not the wisdom which governs men in the ordinary affairs of life. Every pursuit, in some measure, is a lottery; and before we embark in it, we generally estimate the value of what we are likely to gain, with what we are likely to losé. We calculate the value of the chance; and this is the principle which ought to determine adventurers in the Lottery. It is not the remote chance of gaining a great prize, but the value of the chance we ought to estimate. Even the chance of winning an empire, might be too dearly purchased by a China orange, if the chances were many millions against you.

Mankind have generally a strange confidence in their own good fortune, and the failure of others seldom operates either as a warning or example. They rush into the army and navy, and all the great Lotteries of life, where the prizes are few, and the blanks almost innumerable. The thousand un. fortunate adventurers who have preceded them, do not in the least abate their arduur, and they obstinately continue the hopeless pursuit, vainly imagining they alove are the favourite objects for whom fortune has reserved

Lottery System.

the glittering prize.

Now all this madness in human nature arises from one principle. Strange as it may appear, mankind still continue little better than Pagans. They still continue the blind worshippers of the goddess of Fortune, and it is to the smiles or frowns of this imaginary divinity they ascribe the disappointment or confirmation of their hopes. Were all belief in the influence of this goddess, and those foolish notions entertained about good and bad fortune destroyed, and were men taught that wisdom and folly, industry and indolence, were the chief causes of the diversities in human affairs, we should have few adventurers in the Lottery, or any other losing and hazardous speculation. But most men have some lurking faith in a good and ill luck, in the business of life, and this induces then to abandon the sure and legitimate road to wealth, to speculate in a pursuit where they know the chances are against them, but where they have an overweening conceit that their own fate will be an exception, and that they will be selected by Fortune-their visionary god, from the crowd of less successful adventurers.

Before we conclude this article, it is hardly necessary to say any thing to the Reformers on the policy of abstaining from gambling in the Lottery. We have seen that the Lottery produces about a million annually, for the support of a system by which they are oppressed and withheld from their rights. About one half this sum flows directly into the Treasury; the remaining half goes to the Lottery Contractors, their agents, and individuals who flourish on the abuses and defects of government.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ONE peculiar feature may be remarked in every branch of our civil and ecclesiastical polity: in each branch there is an entire departure from the original object of its institution. In the ecclesiastical state, no such thing as clerical sinecurists was formerly known; every order had some duties to discharge, for which they received their incomes; but now we find that the episcopal, dignified, and one half the parochial clergy, receive your or FIVE MILLIONS annually, for which it is hard to say any service whatever is rendered to society. The House of Commons, originally intended to represent the property, intelligence, and population of the state, has become the mere organ of the Aristocracy; who, according to the constitution, ought not to have the least influence over its deliberations. The executive exhibits a similar dereliction, from its civil and military duties; and, lastly, in the Aristocracy we find a similar revolution ; the Dukes, Earls, Barons, and different classes of which this order consists, had all formerly, as their names imply, important duties to discharge in the commonwealth.

The object of reform is not to destroy the established church, pull down the two houses of parliament, nor invade the rights of the crown; but to restore, as far as the altered state of society will allow, those different orders to the exercise of their ancient and legitimate authority.

Of the different innovations on the ancient system, there is none more flagrant than that of the Aristocracy: it has swallowed up not only the rights of the people, and the prerogatives of the crown, but also the immunities of the church. At former period of history was the power of the Aristocracy so absolute. During the Norman Kings, and the first Kings of the House of

« PreviousContinue »