M. Robert-Houdin got all this precious information from a
gamester named Raymond. It appears that the first meeting
between him and this man was at a subscription-ball, where the
sharper managed to fleece him and others to a considerable
amount, contriving a dexterous escape when detected. Houdin
afterwards fell in with him at Spa, where he found him in the
greatest poverty, and lent him a small sum--to practise his grand
theories as just explained--but which he lost--whereupon Houdin
advised him 'to take up a less dangerous occupation.' He then
appears to have revealed to Houdin the entertaining particulars
which form the bulk of his book, so dramatically written. A year
afterwards Houdin unexpectedly fell in with him again; but this
time the fellow was transformed into what he called 'a demi-
millionnaire,' having succeeded to a large fortune by the death
of his brother, who died intestate. According to Houdin the
following was the man's declaration at the auspicious meeting:--
'I have,' said Raymond, 'completely renounced gaming. I am rich
enough, and care no longer for fortune. And yet,' he added
proudly, 'if I now cared for the thing, how I could BREAK those
bloated banks in their pride, and what a glorious vengeance I
could take of BAD LUCK and its inflexible agents! But my heart
is too full of my happiness to allow the smallest place for the
desire of vengeance.'
A very proper speech, unquestionably, and rendered still more
edifying by M. Houdin's assurance that Raymond, at his death
three years after, bequeathed the whole of his fortune to various
charitable institutions at Paris.
With regard to the man's gaming theories, however, it may be just
as well to consider the fact, that very many clever people, after
contriving fine systems and schemes for ruining gaming banks,
have, as M. Houdin reminds us, only succeeded in ruining
themselves and those who conformed to their precepts.
Et s'il est un joueur qui vive de son pain, On en voit tous les
jours mille mourir de faim.
'If ONE player there be that can live by his gain, There are
thousands that starve and strive ever in vain!'