A History of Science: In Five Volumes - Vol. 5

A History of Science: In Five Volumes - Vol. 5

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A History of Science: In Five Volumes - Vol. 5

A History of Science: In Five Volumes - Vol. 5

Read FREE!

Excerpt

IN the year 1753 a remarkable lottery drawing took place in London. It was authorized, through Parliament, by "his gracious Majesty" King George the Second. Such notables as the archbishop of Canterbury and the lord chancellor of the realm took official interest in its success. It was advertised far and wide--as advertising went in those days--in the Gazette , and it found a host of subscribers. Of the fifty thousand tickets--each costing three pounds -- more than four thousand were to be of the class which the act of Parliament naïvely describes as "fortunate tickets." The prizes aggregated a hundred thousand pounds.

To be sure, state lotteries were no unique feature in the England of that day. They formed as common a method of raising revenue in the island realm of King George II. as they still do in the alleged continental portion of his realm, France, and in the land of his nativity, Germany. Indeed, the particular lottery in question was to be officered by the standing committee on lotteries, whose official business was to "secure two and a half million pounds for his Majesty" by this means. But the great lottery of 1754 had interest far beyond the common run, for it aimed to meet a national need of an anomalous kind--a purely intellectual . . .

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