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about one for an organ, says: "I am now in pursuit of getting the finest piece of music that ever was heard; it is a thing that will play eight tunes. Handel and all the great musicians say, that it is beyond anything they can do; and this may be performed by the most ignorant person; and when you are weary of those eight tunes, you may have them changed for any other that you like. This I think much better than going to an Italian opera or an assembly. This performance has been lately put into a lottery, and all the royal family choose to have a great many tickets rather than to buy it, the price being I think ^1000, infinitely a less sum than some bishoprics have been sold for. And a gentleman won it, who I am in hopes will sell it, and if he will, I will buy it, for I cannot live to have another made, and I will carry it into the country with me." As Walpole lived for sixty years after this, he, must have lived to see much more wonderful instruments built, and possibly offered as prizes in lotteries. In June 1743 the price of lottery tickets rose from ^10 to ^11, 10s., the prizes being in no way increased, and a hint to the unwary was published, in which it was shown that adventurers "gamed at 50 per cent, loss; paying at that price 2s. 6d. to play for 5s.; the money played for being only three pound, besides discount and deductions." The practice of giving ^1000 each to the first and last drawn tickets led to a curious difficulty in 1774. On the 5th of January, at the conclusion of drawing the State Lottery at Guildhall, No. 11,053, as the last-drawn ticket, was declared to be entitled to the thousand pounds, and was so printed in the paper of benefits by order of the commissioners. It was, beside, a prize of a hundred pounds. But after the wheels were carried back to Whitehall, and there opened, the ticket No. 72,248 was found sticking in a crevice of the wheel. And, being the next-drawn ticket after all the prizes were drawn, was advertised by the commissioners' order as entitled to the thousand pounds, as the last-drawn ticket; "which affair," we are
told by the Gentleman's Magazine, "made a great deal of noise." The State Lottery of 1751 met with much opposition from the press, and an article in the London Magazine gives the following computation of its chances :—
IN THE LOTTERY 1751 IT IS
69998 to 2 or 34999 to 1 against a^ioooo Prize
69994 to 6 or 11665 to l against a 5000 or upwards
69989 to 11 or 6363 to I against a 3000
69981 to 19 or 3683 to I against a 2000
69961 to 39 or 1794 to 1 against a 1000
69920 to 80 or 874 to I against a 500
69720 to 280 or 249 to 1 against a 100
69300 to 700 or 99 to I against a 50
60000 to 10000 or 6 to I against a 20 or any Prize.
The writer then goes on to say: " I would beg the favour of all gentlemen, tradesmen, and others, to take the pains to explain to such as any way depend upon their judgment, that one must buy no less than seven tickets to have an even chance for any prize at all; that with only one ticket it is six to one, and with half a ticket twelve to one, against any prize; and ninety-nine or a hundred to one that the prize, if it comes, will not be above ^50; and no less than thirty-five thousand to one that the owner of a single ticket will not obtain one of the greatest prizes. No lottery is proper for persons of very small fortunes, to whom the loss of five or six pounds is of great consequence, besides the disturbance of their minds; much less is it advisable or desirable for either poor or rich to contribute to the exorbitant tax of more than two hundred thousand pounds, which the first engrossers of lottery tickets, and the brokers and dealers, strive to raise out of the pockets of the poor chiefly, and the silly rich partly, by artfully enhancing the price of tickets above the original cost." The first price of tickets in this lottery was ten pounds. On their rise a Mr Holland publicly offered in an advertisement to wager four hundred guineas that four hundred tickets when drawn did not amount to nine pounds fifteen shillings on an average, prizes and blanks. As might have been expected, his challenge was never accepted. On the nth of the next month (November) the drawing began, and notwithstanding the public-spirited efforts of individuals, societies, and papers which did not receive any benefit in the way of advertisements, to check the exorbitancy of the ticket-mongers, the price rose steadily and ultimately to sixteen guineas a ticket. All means were tried by the disinterested to cure this infatuation by writing and advertising; and on the first day of drawing, it was publicly averred that near eight thousand tickets were in the South Sea House, and upwards of thirty thousand pawned at bankers, &c, that nine out of ten of the ticket-holders were not able to go to the wheel, and that not one of them durst stand the drawing above six days. These dealers seem to have had an awkward knack of selling the same ticket to two buyers, or disposing of more than the proper fractional parts of one ticket, in the hope of its turning up a blank, thus " going for the gloves " in a style imitated in modern days by votaries of Tattersall's and other betting institutions with much success. This arrangement, with others of a similar nature, led to the establishment of insurances offices, which, at first an ostensible protection by guaranteeing special numbers, and thereby preventing fraud on the part of sellers, became in time greater swindles than those they were supposed to prevent.
To prevent the monopoly of tickets in the State" Lottery, and the consequent upheaval of rates, it had been enacted that persons charged with the delivery of tickets should not sell more than twenty to one person. This provision was evaded by the use of pretended lists, which defeated the object of Parliament, and injured public credit, insomuch that in 1754 more tickets were subscribed for than the holders of the lists had cash to purchase, and there was a deficiency in the first payment. The mischief and notoriety of these practices occasioned the House of Commons to prosecute an inquiry into the circumstances, which, though opposed by a scandalous cabal that endeavoured to screen the delinquents, ended in a report, by the committee, that Peter Leheup, Esq., had privately disposed of a great number of tickets before the office was opened to which the public were directed by advertisement to apply; that he also delivered great numbers to particular persons, upon lists of names which he knew to be fictitious; and that, in particular, Sampson Gideon became proprietor of more than six thousand, which he sold at a premium. Upon report of these and other illegal acts, the House resolved that Leheup was guilty of a violation of the Act and a breach of trust, and presented an address to his Majesty praying that he would direct the Attorney-General to prosecute him in the most effectual manner for his offences. An information was accordingly filed, and, on a trial at bar in the Court of King's Bench, Leheup, as one of the receivers of the last lottery of three hundred thousand pounds, was found guilty (i) of receiving subscriptions before the day and hour advertised; (2) of permitting the subscribers to use different names to cover an excess of twenty tickets; and (3) of disposing of the tickets which had been bespoke, and not claimed, or were double charged, instead of returning them to the managers. In Trinity Term, Leheup was brought up for judgment, and fined a thousand pounds, which was at once paid. This was one of the grossest miscarriages of justice known with regard to the lottery frauds, as in the course of the evidence given it was discovered that the defendant had amassed by his trickery over forty thousand pounds for his own share. Another instance of the horrible effect these instruments of gambling had on the public mind is found in the madness of many successful speculators, as well as in the continuous suicides of the unsuccessful. On November 5, 1757, Mr Keys, a clerk, tvho had absented himself from business
ever since the 7th of October, on which day was drawn the ten-thousand-pound prize, supposed to be his property, •was found in trie streets raving mad, having been robbed of his pocket-book and ticket.
The very small parts into which shares were divided more than a hundred years ago is shown by the following advertisement, published in several papers of November 1766 :—
T~VAME FORTUNE presents her Respects to the Public, and assures them that she has fixed her Residence for the Present at CORBETT'S State Lottery Office, opposite St. Dunstan's Church, Fleet Street ; and, to enable many Families to partake of her Favours, she has ordered not only the Tickets to be sold at the lowest Prices, but also that they be divided into Shares at the following low Rates,— viz.:—
£ s. d.
A Sixty-fourth . . . . o 4 o ^
Sixteenth o 15 o
An Eighth 1 10 o
A Fourth 300
A Half 600
By which may be gained from upwards of one hundred and fifty to upwards of five thousand Guineas, at her said Office No. 30.
As another instance of the superstition prevalent during the lottery mania we will give the following anecdote, which though old will bear repetition. A gentlewoman whose husband had presented her with a ticket, put up prayers in the church, the day before drawing, in the following manner: "The prayers of the congregation are desired for the success of a person engaged in a new undertaking." Lottery tickets were often presented by gentlemen to ladies, and it is recorded that a lady falling in love with an actor, finding that the many letters of passionate admiration she sent him passed unnoticed, accompanied one of them with a gift of four lottery tickets. Whether they were successful, either as regards moving his obdurate heart or providing him with