תמונות בעמוד

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 the 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 Sken, a tan. 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, if 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 & 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 1393, 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 merely founded on an entry made in the accounts of Charles Poupart, treasurer to Charles the VI., in which mention is made of the purchase of three packs of cards from a painter named Jacquemin Gringonneur, who was the supposed inventor. It is, however, an undoubted fact, that cards were not in general use previous to, or even at that period, and, though permitted in the court circles, and amongst the higher classes in society, they did not become generally known to the working people until about the year 1397, when an edict was issued prohibiting them on working days.


The passion of Gambling, however, so strongly inherent in man's nature, became so powerful at this period, that many, aware of their weakness, and fearing a predilection at all times so fatal, when unrestrainedly indulged, made voluntary pledges to refrain from this vice, and bound themselves to the payinent of certain monies in cases of infraction. The temperance movement of our own day, through the instrumentality of which so wondrous a change has been wrought on the minds and characters of a people labouring under what might be termed a national vice, and in a great degree breaking those bonds by which they were enthralled, by pledges to refrain from a passion as direful in its consequences, and we might add, more debasing in its indulgence than gaming, bears a striking similarity to the system adopted in the fourteenth century. Menestrier records that Amadeus VIII., Duke of Savoy, afterwards Pope Felix V., forbad all kinds of gaming in his territory; cards were permitted only to women, with

whom men might play, provided they only played for pins. This prohibition was issued in the year 1430.

Germany appears to have taken the lead in card making, when pursued as a regular trade, which was early in the fifteenth century. From some records extant, it would appear that women were the earliest card makers and card painters. In an old rate-book of Nuremberg the name of Margret Kartenmalerin is mentioned, year 1438. Nuremberg, Augsburg, and Ulm, appear to have been the chief towns in Germany where cards were manufactured in the fifteenth century. Nor did they confine their sales of these commodities to their own country; they did also a large export trade, and it is supposed that it was against the German card makers that the order was issued in Venice, prohibiting the introduction of foreign cards into the city, under a penalty, as their own manufactures had fallen into desuetude, in consequence of their importation.


Though it has been assumed that wood engraving had its origin in the practice of engraving cards on wood, and was thence extended to sacred and other subjects, this theory is by no means authenticated, as cards bearing date 1440 were evidently stencilled ; and the circumstance alone of so many women card painters employed at Nuremberg between 1433 and 1477, is an irrefragable proof that such is not the fact; they, at least, were not wood engravers. It may however be credited, that at this period the two professions were practised by the same person, something like barber-surgeons.

The precise period in which wood engraving was introduced in Europe, or in what country it was practised, is still doubtful. A wood engraving, bearing date 1418, was said to have been discovered pasted in the inside of an old chest, but as the figures were supposed to have been changed, the genuineness of the date cannot be vouched for. The subject of this cut is the Blessed Virgin, with the infant Jesus in her arms, surrounded by four female saints, namely, St. Catharine, St. Barbara, St. Dorothy and St. Margaret. A facsimile of it is given in the Athenæum, for the 4th of October, 1845.

The St.Christopher in Earl Spencer's collection which bears date 1423, as mentioned by Heineken, was pasted on the inside of the cover of a manuscript volume in the library of Buxheim near Memmingen in Suabia, within fifty miles of Augsburg. On the inside of the cover, Heineken also observed another cut, of the Annunciation, the same size as St. Christopher, and apparently executed about the same time. The volume in which those cuts were pasted was bequeathed to the convent by Anna, Canoness of Buchaw,who was living in 1427. Both those engravings are in Earl Spencer's collection. There is an interesting anecdote in connexion with cards related of St. Bernardin of Sienna: preaching in the year 1424, on the steps in front of the Church of St. Petronius at Bologna, he depicted so forcibly the evils of gaming, particularly card playing, to which the Bolognese were much addicted, that his auditors made & large fire in the public place, and threw their cards into it.

« הקודםהמשך »