תמונות בעמוד

in asserting that to them we are indebted for this mystic source of amusement, and much as we would be inclined to claim the honor of originality for our own quarter of the globe, we must, in justice to truth, admit that our eastern brethren are the originators. The game of chess, nearly the same in its principles as it is now played, was first devised in India, about the beginning of the fifth century: The similarity between the chessmen of the old oriental game and the court or coat cards, suggests the idea that to chess we are indebted for the invention of cards. In the eastern game there were six orders amongst the chessmen, namely, Schach, the king; Pherz, the general ; Phil, the elephant; Aspensuar, the horseman; Ruch, the camel; and Beydel, or Beydak, the footmen or infantry. There was no queen, as it would be contrary to the notions of oriental propriety to introduce a woman into a game in which the stratagems of war were represented, and even after the introduction of chess into Europe, the piece now called the queen retained its eastern name Fierge, though it assumed a feminine character. Fierge became assimilated to the French Vierge, a maid, and finally to Dame the lady. The other pieces have also undergone a change in the European game. Namely, Phil, the elephant, is now the Bishop of the English, and the Fol or Fou of the French; Aspensuar, the horseman, is the French Chevalier, and the English knight; Ruch, the camel, is the English Rook or Castle, and the French Tour; and the Beydel, or Beydak, the footmen, are now the French Pions, and the English Panns.

The same change has taken place as regards the queen in cards as in chess. Amongst the oldest numeral cards that have been discovered no queen is to be found; nor in the Spanish or German at an early period. In the Spanish the court cards of each suit were (Rey) the king,( Cavallo) the knight, and (Sota) the knave or attendant.

In the German, ( König) the king, ( Ober) the chief officer, and (Unter) the subaltern. The Italians merely added the queen, thus having four instead of three, namely, Re, Reina, Cavallo, and Fante. There was another very ancient Indian game, called Chaturaji or the Four Kinys; this game, which represented a mimic battle, was played by four persons, thus shadowing forth our scientific game

of whist. Edward I. played this game. There is mention of certain monies being appropriated for the king's use whilst playing at the Four Kings—at least it has been 80 stated in Mr. Anstis's History of the Garter. The assumption however is, that Edward acquired a knowledge of this game in Syria, having spent several years in that country when Prince of Wales, which is another link to the chain of their oriental origin. Though this game is generally supposed to have been chess, still it but marks the close affinity between cards and chess, as the number four is a distinctive symbol in cards, for instance, the honors are four, as are also the suits, and it is a well-known fact, as authenticated by Mrs. Piozzi, in her Retrospection, published in 1801, and also by a well-known writer in Frazer's Magazine for August, 1844, that cards were generally known by the name of the Books of the Four Kings. The name cards is supposed to have been derived from the word Chatur, which signifies four in the Hindostanee language; some have supposed that it had its origin in the Latin word Chartæ, or paper, but the accredited opinions seem to be in favor of the former, and associate the name with the number.

The name, Naibe, or Naipes, by wbich cards were first designated, both by the Italians and Spanish, is by some authors supposed to be derived from the Arabic; others aver that to Hindostan we must look for its origin, as the word Na-eeb signified in that country a viceroy or governor wbo ruled over a certain district as sovereign, and therefore as the Four Kings was the acknowledged name for chess, it is not at least improbable that the term Naipes was so derived. Be that as it may, it is certain that cards are at the present day well known both to the Hindoos and Moslems. The Hindoo cards bear no resemblance to ours in shape, as they are usually circular, and are evidently peculiar to the country, identified with their habits, customs, &c. The number of suits in some packs is eight, in others ten; they, however, bear a similitude to the earliest known European cards in having no queen, the two court cards being a king and his principal minister.

Whilst claiming for Hindostan the invention of cards, we must, however, premise that in the museum of the East India Company we have no specimen of Hindostanee

cards. In the museum of the Royal Asiatic Society there are, however, three packs, one consisting of ten suits, and the other two of eight suits each. The material of which they are formed appears to be canvass, but so highly varnished as to feel like wood. The figures and marks on these cards appear to be done by the hand, not stencilled or printed. Judging by this, one would suppose card painting an acknowledged profession in Hindostan. For one of those packs an almost fabulous origin is claimed; it consists of eight suits, and from a memorandum by which it is accompanied, the following information may be obtained. They formerly belonged to a Captain D. Cromline Smith, to whom they were presented, about the year 1815, by s Bramin of Southern India, who informed Captain Smith that they were an heir-loom in his family, and were more than a thousand years old ; he was not sure if they were perfect. He also stated that no one at the present day understood them, nor were there any books in existence by which any information regarding them could be gained. They seem, however, to be in such high preservation that the Bramin's story appears almost incredible, and would lead one to imagine it a mere legend as regards the very remote antiquity, and from the costume of the figures and harness of the animals the writer of the memorandum assumes them to be of Hindostanee origin.

There is a tradition regarding the origin of the Hindostanee cards, namely, that they were invented by a favorite sultana, to wean her husband from a habit he had acquired of pnlling or eradicating his beard.

l'here is a marked similarity between the oldest European cards, preserved either in public libraries or private collections, and those of Hindostan. As the marks of the European suits, cups, or chalices, swords, money, and clubs have been supposed to represent the four principal classes in the European state, that is, churchmen, swordsmen, monied men or merchants, and club men or labourers ; in like manner are the four great historical castes of the Hindoos represented, thus, Bramins, priests ; Chetryas, soldiers ; Vaisyas, tradesmen and artificers; and Sudras, slaves and the lowest class of labourers.

In the oldest stencilled or printed Luropean cards, which are about the fifteenth century, we find a similarity between

the marks of the suits and the Hindostanee cards; the former were bells, hearts, leaves, and acorns, each of those have marks in common with the eastern cards but the hearts, and no where can we perceive any corresponding symbol to identify the hearts as being derived from them. The diamond of our own time is supposed to have had its origin from the Castrala or mystic diamond, worn on tho breast of Vichnou, or held in the palm of his hand.

Playing cards appear to have been known from a very early date in China, they were supposed to have been invented in the reign of Seum-ho, in 1120, for the amusement of his mistresses. They were called Che-pae, or paper tickets, though the name of a single card was Shen, a fan. Though very unlike the cards of other countries, yet the form of the diamond is nearly the same as that on the European card; the Chinese cards are much narrower than ours.

The introduction of cards into Europe is still involved in mystery; there is, however, a well-grounded supposition that they were known early in the fourteenth century, it not anterior to that period, as many aver. It is, however, authenticated that about the year 1393, Charles Poupart, treasurer of the household of Charles VI., of France, made an entry, in his book of accounts, of a Jeux de Cartes, the name still retained in France for a pack of cards. Some authors assert that cards were known in the eleventh century, though John of Salisbury, who was born in the early part of the twelfth, makes no mention in his work, " De Nugis Curialium,” on the trifling of courtiers, which might lead one to suppose they were in use at that period, though the fifth chapter of the first book is devoted to the use and abuse of gaming. The canon of the Council of Worcester, held in 1240, interdicts clergymen from participating in games, such as dice, king and queen, &c.; the latter may have been the game of cards. The entry in the wardrobe accounts of Edward I., we have recorded before ; he had acquired a knowledge of chess, or the game of the four kings, in the east ; this was, however, merely an assumption of the Hon. Daines Barrington, in his remarks on Mr. Anstis's “ History of the Garter;” but might not Edward have learnt the game from his wife, Eleanor of Castile, and thus give to Spain the honor of introducing

them into England. This would be a justification of the Abbé Rive's theory, that cards were invented in Spain, and were known there early in the fourteenth century. The authority, however, from which he has derived his information is rather apocryphal, being a French translation, by Gutery, of “Guevara's Epistles," who, it is supposed, interpolated his version, and assumed that a general prohibition of gaming must, of necessity, include cards. We may, therefore, suppose that many of the earlier accounts of the use of playing cards that have been transmitted to us, are merely the interpolations of the several translators or compilers who made them in good faith, neither for the purpose of deceiving, or claiming for them a fabulous antiquity; but merely from a desire to supply what they considered an omission. Be it what it may, it furnishes a proof that cards were not in frequent use, at all events either in France or Spain, at the period in which they wrote. In the “ Magasin Pittoresque," for April, 1836, an illustration is given said to be an exact copy from a miniature in a MSS. of the Cité de Dieu translated from St. Augustine, by Raoul de Presle ; the translation assumes the miniature to represent persons of distinction playing at cards in the reign of Charles V. There is no evidence, however, in proof of the date, and the costume represented appears to be more like that worn in the reign of Charles VI. No deduction can be drawn from the kind of cards they are represented as playing with, as there is no definite description of the cards used in France at that period.

That cards were introduced into Germany in the year 1300, has been averred by some authors. Heneiken,quoting from the Güldin Spil, assumes it to be a fact, though there is no evidence of their being in general use for at least a century later.

Now, that we have given the opinions of doubtful authorities, it is but fair to present a resumé of what may be depended on as a correct history of cards from 1893, when they became more generally used, a period to which popular belief has even attributed their origin. They were supposed to have been invented to amuse Charles VI. of France during his lucid intervals, he having become deranged from the effects of a sun-stroke, in 1392. But this, it appears, is only a popular fallacy, its authenticity being

« הקודםהמשך »