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Continent, nearly all their youth being spent in conventual pensions, the minds of the fair pensionnaires cannot be tainted by the reading of unattainable works. Again, while here at home, merchants' or shopkeepers' daughters are paying visits, or attending morning concerts, or adorning their persons, or shopping, their sisters in the French cities are sitting in glass hives in their fathers' counting houses, and making entries in curious folios bound in rough calf. Again, looking on the myriads of Lelias, Arthurs, Martins, Delphines, and Jeannes, lying on our booksellers' tables in their bright tinted paper wrappers, and sold at the low price of ls. or thereabouts, to any young lady or gentleman 'desirous of a dose of intoxi. cating poison, we cannot conscientiously say that the youth of our upper and middle ranks are so much better off than the corresponding classes beyond the strait of Calais. And how fare our folk of grimy faces and hardened palms, when the week's hire and the day of rest arrive? Have they not translations of the worst French romances ? Have they not the edifying memoirs of that darling George IV., and have they not penny sheets poisoned to the core with the rabies of unprincipled scribblers, who, striving after the power and wickedness of their French brothers in evil, have only succeeded in securing the bad quality.
And when tavern keepers who furnish ardent spirits to customers already intoxicated, when those who keep dens for the destruction of the health, the innocence, and the spiritual life of our youth, or those who sell poison, knowing that it is to be applied for the extinction of human life, —when any or all of these worthies go calmly about their daily occupations, and enjoy life without feeling the sting of conscience, then, but not till then may the writers, the publishers, and the vendors of evil books, think they are leading the lives of Christians, and of honest useful members of the great social family.*
We subjoin the names of some works lately come under our notice, and as harmless as the ordinary run of English novels. Un Mariage en Province, par Mme. Léonie Aunet, La Fin du Procès, par A. de Pontmartin, Belle Rose, par Amedee Achard (this last on a friend's report), Adeline Protat, par Henri Murger, as before mentioned, La Duchesse d'Hanspar, and Amour et Finance, par Edmond Texier, Tolla, Les Mariages de Paris, Germaine, and Le Roi des Montagnes, par Edmond About. We hope some day for the pleasure of presenting to our readers, a few specimens from the fictions of this most genial, humorous, and healthy-minded writer.
ART. II.—THE BOOKS OF THE FOUR KINGS.
The Hand-Book of Games, foc., fc. Written or Compiled by Professors and Amateurs. Edited by Henry G. Bohn. London: Bohn, 1850.
Man is at heart a gambler; such has been the opinion of many deep thinkers, who have made human nature their study, and it matters not whether cards, dice, or the thousand-and-one other modes of gambling which exist, from the royal game of chess, played in the princely court, to the thimble-rig and trick-of-the-loop at the rural fair, all, and each in their turn, are gamblers. Nay, is not our every day traffic, at best, a species of gambling, or, if you prefer the term, a speculation.
The most wily diplomatist, whilst intriguing with foreign or domestic courts; the ablest general, marshalling his troops and leading his men to victory ; the judge, on his judicial bench; the pleader, advocating his client's cause ; the doctor, whilst holding in bis hands the life or death of bis patient; all are, more or less, the creatures of circumstance, and guided by chance, are merely gambling for the liberties, properties, or lives of their respective adherents.
Thus, whilst man's nobler nature is inherently speculative, can we feel surprised at the almost natural tendency to gambling in our social relations, when recreation coinbines with emolument, and the nobleman on the turf, or the whist-player at his club, feels a pleasurable excitement in the chances and changes of a game, though it may be his all depends on the issue. Nor is gambling confined to the higher circles, or to the middle classes ; the rustic at the hedge side has his well-thumbed pack of cards, and stakes kis all with as true a spirit of gambling as the highest noble in the land, aye, or the king on his throne. And now, that we have shown how strong in our nature is the love of play, it may not be uninteresting to give a few details of these talismanic bits of pasteboard-Cards.
Many and various have been the notions conceived, and the opinions given as to the origin of cards, some claiming them as a European, others as an Eastern invention ; Germany, Spain, France, and England have each their adherents 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 Kings; this game, which represented a mimic battle, was played by four persons, thus shadowing forth our scientific game 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 froin 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 a 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 pulling or eradicating his beard.
There 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 k'uropean cards, which are about the fifteenth century, we find a similarity between