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[NOTE: These sample chapters are currently just plain text from the work in question. They do not include the formatting, footnotes, or illustrations (where appropriate) of the actual, published books. I hope to get more representative samples up here eventually, but these will have to do for now.]
Yet, Gentlemen, when you shall read this book written faithfully to discover these cozening practices, think I go not about to disprove or disallow the most ancient and honest pastime or recreation of Card-play, for thus much I know by reading: When the City of Thebes was besieged by them of Lacedemonia, being girt within strong fenced walls, and having men enough, and able to rebate the enemy, they found no inconvenience of force to breed their ensuing bane but famine, in that when victuals waxed scant, hunger would make them either yield by a fainting composition, or a miserable death. Whereupon to weary the foe with wintering at the siege, the Thebans devised this policy: they found out the Method of Cards and Dice, and so busied their brains with the pleasantness of that new invention, passing away the time with strange recreations and pastimes, beguiling hunger with the delight of the new sports, and eating but every third day, and playing two, so their frugal sparing of victuals kept them from famine, the City from sacking, and raised the foe from a mortal siege. Thus was the use of Cards and Dice first invented, and since amongst Princes highly esteemed and allowed in all commonwealths, as a necessary recreation for the mind: but as time and malice of man's nature hatches abuse, so good things by ill wits are wrested to the worse, and so in Cards: for from an honest recreation, it is grown to a prejudicial practice, and most high degree of cozenage, as shall be discovered in my Art of Coney-catching, for not only simple swains whose wits is in their hands, but young Gentlemen and Merchants, are all caught like Coneys in the hay, and so led like lambs to their confusion.
The poor man that comes to the Term to try his right, and lays his land to mortgage to get some Crowns in his purse to see his Lawyer, is drawn in by these devilish Coney-catchers that at one cut at Cards loses all his money, by which means, he, his wife and children, are brought to utter ruin and misery. The poor Prentice whose honest mind aims only at his Master's profits, by these pestilent vipers of the common-wealth is smoothly enticed to the hazard of this game at Cards, and robbed of his Master's money, which forces him oft times either to run away, or bankrupt all, to the overthrow of some honest and wealthy Citizen. Seeing then such a dangerous enormity grows by them to the discredit of the estate of England, I would wish the Justices appointed as severe Censors of such fatal mischiefs, to show themselves patres patriae, by weeding out such worms as eat away the sap of the Tree, and rooting this base degree of Cozeners out of so peaceable and prosperous a country, for of all devilish practices this is the most prejudicial.
The high Lawyer that challenges a purse by the high way side, the foist, the nip, the stale, the snap (I mean the pick-pockets and cut-purses), are nothing so dangerous to meet with all, as these Cozening Coney-catchers. The Cheaters that with their false Dice make a hand, & strike in at Hazard or Passage with their Dice of advantage, are nothing so dangerous as these base minded Caterpillars. For they have their vies and their revies upon the poor Coney's back, till they so ferret beat him that they leave him neither hair on his skin, nor hole to harbor in.
There was before this many years ago, a practice put in use by such shifting companions, which was called the Barnard's law, wherein as in the Art of Coney-catching, four persons were required to perform their cozening commodity, the Taker up, the Verser, the Barnard and the Rutter, and the manner of it in deed was thus. The Taker up seems a skillful man in all things, who has by long travail learned without a Book a thousand policies to insinuate himself into a man's acquaintance: Talk of matters in law, he has plenty of Cases at his fingers ends, and he has seen, and tried, and ruled in the King's Courts: Speak of grazing and husbandry, no man knows more shires then he, nor better which way to raise a gainful commodity, and how the abuses and overture of prices might be redressed. Finally, enter into what discourse they list, were it into a Broom-man's faculty, he knows what gains they have for old Boots and Shoes. Yea and it shall scape him hardly, but that ere your talk break off, he will be your Countryman at least, and peradventure either of kin, ally, or some stale sib to you, if your reach far surmount not his. In case he bring to pass that you be glad of his acquaintance, then doth he carry you to the Taverns, and with him goes the Verser, a man of more worship than the Taker up, and he has the countenance of a landed man. As they are set, comes in the Barnard stumbling into your company, like some aged Farmer of the Country, a stranger unto you all, that had been at some market Town thereabouts buying and selling, and there tippled so much Malmsey that he had never a ready word in his mouth, and is so careless of his money, that out he throws some forty Angels on the board's end, and standing somewhat aloof, calls for a pint of wine, and says, "Masters, I am somewhat bold with you, I pray you be not grieved if I drink my drink by you," and thus ministers such idle drunken talk, that the Verser who counterfeits the landed man comes and draws more near to the plain honest dealing man, and prays him to call the Barnard more near to laugh at his folly. Between them two the matter shall be so workmanly conveyed and finely argued, that out comes an old pair of Cards, whereat the Barnard teaches the Verser a new game, that he says cost him for the learning two pots of Ale not two hours ago, the first wager is drink, the next two pence or a groat, and lastly to be brief they use the matter so, that he that were a hundred year old, and never played in his life for a penny, cannot refuse to be the Verser's half, and consequently at one game at Cards, he loses all they play for be it a hundred pound. And if perhaps when the money is lost (to use their word of Art) the poor country man begin to smoke them, then stands the Rutter at the door and draws his sword and picks a quarrel at his own shadow, if he lack an Ostler or a Tapster or some other to brabble with, that while the street and company gather to the fray, as the manner is, the Barnard steals away with all the coin, and gets him to one blind Tavern or other, where the Cozeners had appointed to meet.
Thus, Gentlemen, I have glanced at the Barnard's Law, which though you may perceive it to be a prejudicial insinuating cozenage, yet is the Art of Coney-catching so far beyond it in subtlety, as the devil is more dishonest then the holiest Angel: for so unlikely is it for the poor Coney to lose, that might he pawn his stake to a pound, he would lay it that he cannot be cross-bitten in the cut at Cards, as you shall perceive by my present discovery.
Yet gentlemen, am I sore threatened by the hacksters of that filthy faculty, that if I set their practices in Print, they will cut off that hand that writes the Pamphlet, but how I fear their bravados, you shall perceive by my plain painting out of them. Yea, so little do I esteem such base minded braggarts, that were it not I hope of their amendment, I would in a schedule set down the names of such cozening Coney-catchers.
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