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A HEAVY INDICTMENT.

THE ETHICS OF THE TURF.

IJAMKSRU.NTIMAN IN TIIK 'COXTEMI'OKARV.']

( Concluded.) In sum, then, wo have an ixxkr cinci,k of houkmakeks

who take care cither to bet on figures alone, or on perfectly accurate and secret information. We have another circle of sharp owners and backers, who, by meanß of modified (or unmodified) false pretences, succeed at times in beating the bookmakers. We have then an outer circle composed partly of stainless gentlemen who do not bet, and who want no man's money, partly of perfectly honest fellows who have no judgment, no real knowledgo, aud no selfrestraint, and who serve as prey on which the bookmakers falton.

Aud then we have circle on circle showing every shade of vice, baseness, cupidity, and blank folly. First, I may glance—auU only glance—at the unredeemed, hopeless villains who are the immediate hangers-on of the turf. People hardly believe that there are thousands of sturdy, able-bodied men scattered among our great towns and cities who have never worked, and who never mean to work. In their hoggish way they feed well and lie warm—the phrase is their own favorite and they subsist like odious reptiles, fed from mysterious sources. Go to any suburban race meeting (I don't care which you pick), and you will fancy that Hell's millions have got holiday. Whatsoever things are vile, whatsoever things are roguish, bestial, abominable, belong to the racecourse loafers. To call them thieves is to flatter them, for their impudent knavery transcends mere thieving. They have not a virtue ; they are more than dangerous ; and if ever there comes a great social convulsion they will let us know of their presence in an awkward fashion, for they are trained to riot, fraud, bestiality, and theft on the fringe of the racecourse. Then comes the next line of

TREDATOKV ANIMALS, who suck the blood of the dupes. If you look at one of the daily sporting papers you will see, on tho most important page,_ a number of flaming announcements which will make very comic reading for you if you have any sense of humor at all. Gentlemen, who usually take the names of well-known jockeys or trainers, offer to make your fortune on the most ridiculously easy terms. You forward a guinea or half a guinea, and an obliging prophet will Bhow you how to ruin the bookmakers. Old Tom Tompkins has a " glorious success " every week ; Joe, and Bill, and Harry, and a good score more are always ready to prove that they named tho winner of any given race. One of these fellows advertises under at least a dozen different names, and he is able to live in great stylo and keep a couple of secretaries, although he cannot write a letter or composo a circular. The ' Sporting Times' will not allow one of these vermin to advertise in its columns, and it has exposed all their dodges in the most conclusive and trenchant set of articles that I ever saw; but other journals admit the advertisements at prices which seem well-nigh prohibitive, and they aro content to draw from Lls to L2O per day by blazoning forth false pretences. 1 have hsd much fun out of these " tipsters," for they ni'c dcliciously impudent blackguards. A fellow will send you the names of six horses—all losers. In two days lih will advertise : my patrons. This week I was in great form on the whole, and on Thursday I sent all six winners. A thousand pounds will bo paid to anyone who can disprove this statement." Considering that tho sage sent you six losers on Thursday, you naturally feel little surprised at his tempestuously confident challenge. All tho seers are alike ; they pick names at haphazard from tho columns of the newspapers, and then they pretend to be in possession of the darkest stable seoreta. If they are wrong—and they usually are—they advertito their own infallibility the more brazenly. 1 do not exactly know what getting money under false pretences may bo if the proceedings which I have described do not come under that heading, and I wonder what the police think of the business. They very soon catch a poor Romany wench who tells fortunes, ard she goes to gaol for three months. But 1 suppose that the Romany rawncc docs not contribute to the support of influential newspapers. A sharp detective ought to secure clear cases against at least a dozen of these parasites in a single fortnight, for they are really stupid Li essentials. Ono of the brotherhood always seta forth his infallible prophecies from a dark little public-house bar near Fountain Court. I have seen him when I came off a journey, trying to steady his hand at seven in tho morning; his twisted, tortured fingers ,?ould hardly hold the pencil,and he was fit fornothingbuttosit in tho stinking dusky den and soak whisky : but no doubt many of his dupes imagined that he sat iu a palatial office and received myriads of messages from his übiquitous corps of spies. He was a poor, diseased, cunning rogue. I f jund him amusing, but I do not think that his patrons always saw the fun of him. THE OUTER CIKCLK. And last there comes the broad outer circle, whereof the thought makes me sad. On that circle are scattered the meu who should be England's backbone, but they are all suffering by reason of the germs wafted from the centre of contagion. Mr Matthew Arnold often gave me a good deal of advice. I wish I could sometimes have given him a little. I should hove told him that all his dainty jeers about middle-class denseness were beside the mark ; all tho complacent mockery concerning the deceased wife's sister and the rest was of no use. If you see a man walking right into a deadly quicksand, yon do not content yourself with informing him that a bit of fluff has stuck to his coat. Mr Arnold should havo gone among the lower middle-class a trifle more instead of trusting to his superfine imagination, and then he might have got to know whither our poor, stupid folks are tending. I have just ended an unpleasantly long spell which I passed among various centres where middle-class leisure is spent, and I would not care to repeat the experience for any money. Any given town will suit a competent observer, for I found scarcely any vital differences in passing from place to place. It is tragical and heartrending to see scores of fine lads and men, full of excellent faculties and latent goodness—and all under the spell of tho dreary Circe of the Turf, I have been for a year, on and off, among a large circle of fellows whom I really liked ; and what was their staple talk ? Nothing but betting. The paralysis at once of intellect and of the sense of humor which attacks the man who begins flirting witii the gambling enchantress Btruck me with a sense of helplessness. Amongst these bewitched unfortunates, the life of the soul seems to die away. Onco I said to a nice lad : " Do none of your set ever read anything ?" and he made answer: " I don't think any of them read very much except the 'Sportsman.'" That was true —very true and rather shocking. Tho 'Sportsman' is bright enough and good enough in its way, and I read it constantly ; but to limit your literature to the ' Sportsman' alone—well, it must be cramping. But that is what our fine young men are mostly doing nowadays; the eager, intellectual life of young Scotchmen and of the better sort of Englishmen is unknown ; you may wait for a year and you will never hear a word of talk which is essentially above the intelligence of a hog, and a man of whom you are fond, purely because of his kindliness, may bore you in the deadliest manner by drawling on by the hour about names and weights, tho shifting of tho odds, and the changes of luck. The country fairly swarms with clubs where betting goes on all day, and sometimes all night. The dospicable dupes are drawn in one after another, and they fall into manifold varieties of mischief. Agonised parents pray for help, employers chafe at the carelessness and preoccupation of their servants; the dupes sink to ruin unpitied, and still the crowd steps onward to the gulf of doom. To think that by merely setting certain noble creatures to exhibit their speed and staunchness we should have ended by establishing in our midst a veritable Inferno! Our faith, our honor, our manhood, our future as a nation, arc being sacrificed, and all because. Circe has read her spell over our best and most promising souls. And our legislators amuse themselves, with recriminations! We foster a

horde of bloodsuckers who rear their strength on our weakness and our vices. Why should a drink-seller be kept in check by his having to pay for a license, while the ruin-seller needs no license, and is not even required to pay income tux ? If licenses to bet were issued at very high prices, and if a crushing fine were inflicted ou any man who made a book without holding a license, we might stamp out the villainous small fry who work in corners at all events. But authority is supreme : the peer aud the plutocrat go on unharmed, while the poor met) who copy follies which do not hurt the rich go 1 ight on to the death of the soul.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890622.2.36.8

Bibliographic details

A HEAVY INDICTMENT., Evening Star, Issue 7940, 22 June 1889, Supplement

Word Count
1,595

A HEAVY INDICTMENT. Evening Star, Issue 7940, 22 June 1889, Supplement

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