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Full text of "Political Science Of The State"

434                              POLITICAL SCIENCE.
gambling debts unlawful; it allowed the recovery of money
paid to another for this purpose within fifty years. Only at
the time of the Saturnalia, and in the case of certain kinds of
games which exercised courage and skill, was the law relaxed.
(Comp.  35.) The English law in the time of Blackstonc
may be found in his commentaries.' (iv., 171, 172.) With
us, also, gaming contracts are void, and money lost at gam-
ing may be recovered (in some of the tlnited States, at least),
by the loser. The reason for these prohibitions, where a
right of another may not be injured, lies evidently in the idle-
ness, theft, and debauchery that are apt to attend on gam-
bling, especially among the lower classes, and in the character
formed by giving way to a gambling spirit. In other words,
it is for moral reasons that the laws are enacted. Whether
speculations in stocks, when they have assumed the nature of
gambling, cannot be brought under the same laws, may be
reasonably asked ; but there are difficulties attending on the
execution of such laws, as, indeed, " debts of honor" gener-
ally escape the notice of criminal prosecution. It is not diffi-
cult, however, to bring within the meshes of the law the
keepers and servants in gambling-houses.
6. Laws restraining luxury, or sumptuary laws. To these
we have already referred as having been enacted in various
small states, but with very little success. The motive is a
moral and social one, and is to be commended in itself; for
nothing leads more directly to fraud and various immoralities
than the expensiveness of dress, entertainments, equipage,
and furniture. When the means of persons in a high social
position increase, they raise their style of living ; this leads
others, in a country where a general equality prevails, to imi-
tate them, even if they must do so by living beyond their
means ; soon commercial disaster and habits of expense take1
away the power of supporting the style by honest means, and
multitudes, rather than endure the shame of falling below
their rank, resort to various kinds of dishonesty. But sump-
tuary laws are not the way to cure this evil, as the experience
of Rome showed, and as the nature of the case makes appar-