By Jessica Richard
Playing permeated the day-by-day lives of eighteenth-century Britons of all sessions. This booklet explicates the connection between the rampant playing in eighteenth-century England, the recent types of gambling-inspired capitalism that reworked British society, and novels that interrogate the hot socio-economy of lengthy odds and fortunate breaks.
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Extra resources for The Romance of Gambling in the Eighteenth-Century British Novel
From the Restoration until 1699, however, private lotteries were extremely popular. “Within a few weeks of Charles II’s arrival in London,” adventurers began petitioning the King to grant them permission to hold lotteries to raise money to support indigent and/or injured Loyalist military officers, to develop a new Thames waterworks, and to build up the English fishery (Ewen 93–96). At the same time as these money-raising ventures were being promoted, many games of chance that had no charitable or civic purpose were advanced under the name “lottery,” often by the “numerous foreign gamesters” who had attached themselves to Charles’s circle in the Interregnum and followed him back to London (Ewen 95).
In this climate of economic opportunity and expansion, Thomas Neale (1641–99), projector and Groom-Porter to Charles II and William, floated several successful private lotteries while also fulfilling his duties in the royal household. As Groom-Porter, Neale oversaw all gambling in the royal residences, which were supposed to be the only legal venues for gambling, according to the statute of Henry VIII banning all games outside of the royal residences, except during the 12 days of Christmas (Viner 4).
I will discuss women’s use of gambling in sexual exchanges in detail in Chapter 4, but it is important to note here that in The City Jilt, as in Moll Flanders, gambling is not represented as significantly different from other capitalist acts, especially from those of the Royal Exchange and its environs. Like Moll’s, Glicera’s gambling does not invoke the typical tension between chance and control; she is in perfect control of 34 The Romance of Gambling in the Eighteenth-Century British Novel her game with the foolish Grubguard, and winning the game gives her further control over her former lover, Melladore.