Church Porch: Gambling: The Civil Gunpowder

[Take Your Chances]George Herbert: "The Church-porch"

Day 18: Morning


If yet thou love game at so deere a rate,

Learn this, that hath old gamesters deerely cost:

Dost lose? rise up; dost winne? rise in that state.

Who strive to sit out losing hands, are lost.

    Game is a civil gunpowder, in peace

    Blowing up houses with their whole increase.

          If you still love gambling at so expensive a price, learn this, that cost old gamblers dearly: Do you lose? rise up; do you win? rise with your winnings. Who struggle to sit out losing hands are lost. Gambling is a polite gunpowder, in peace, blowing up houses with their whole increase.

          Gambling is an opportunity for the poor and a sport for the rich. As times become hard on the poor, they hope for relief that fortune could give them. The poor look to lotteries as a way to better themselves. The more widespread the hardships the more people look to gambling as a way out. For the well-off gambling offers excitement that peace can not give. They fight for prizes over the gaming tables and take home the spoils.

          There are two dangers of gambling: losing and winning. Losing we all know and understand. But winning is also a danger. "Blowing up houses with their whole increase." Winners hazard their families and friends. The change unsettles the status of the home, the direction and emphasis changes. What was intended to pay debts becomes the controlling force. If you have read the results of lottery winners, you know that some destroy themselves with excess. They never learned to manage themselves or their money; the winning magnifies their deficit. Others become alienated from their families, who expect to be given some of the winnings. Winning or losing may not get you what you want.

© 1997 J. R. Arner

Go To Next Stanza

Go Back To the Index:

By Day

By Subject

Go To George Herbert: "The Church-porch", Introduction

Go To George Herbert & The Temple Home Page