Story Of London Victorian

Victorian Etiquette XIII: Cards

The London Journal, launched in 1845, was one of the most widely read publications of nineteenth-century Britain. Its weekly appearance ushered in the period when mass-market reading, in a modern sense, was born. Between April 12 and August 30 1845, the Journal carried seventeen articles under the heading “Etiquette for the Millions,” written by G.W.M Reynolds. They were clearly aimed at educating the mass readership (mostly the newly emerging middle-classes) in the behaviour expected of them in public. At times trenchant, the views expressed in the articles describe a view of society that is very, very different from that which we experience today. But, perhaps, one that many sections of modern society hanker after. Here we are introduced to the rules for card playing. Of course ladies never play for money and children should never play at all, even though Cribbage “is very useful in assisting the youthful memory to combine figures, and make rapid calculations.” Our author give us some very rudimentary rules for the games of Whist, Ecarte, Cribbage and Piquet, the four most popular games at the time amongst the genteel classes.

The Card-Room at Bath by Phiz.At an evening party cards may be very properly introduced. If a rubber of whist be proposed, the master or mistress of the house must spread a pack, with the backs upwards, along a cardtable, and the guests will each draw a card. Those who draw the four lowest cards are to form the first rubber. Of these four, the two who have drawn the highest cards are partners; but the deal remains to those who have drawn the two lowest.At the beginning of each new rubber, the players must cut for partners.You must not be too particular in enforcing the rules of the game and enacting penalties, or you will be set down as a gambler who plays for money and not for pleasure.Women should never play for money-unless it be for very trifling sums just to maintain the interest of the game.Quarrelsome or uneven-tempered persons should religiously avoid cards.Cards that are soiled, or have any particular marks upon them, should not be introduced.It is absolutely necessary for persons moving much in society, to be well acquainted with the rules and regulations of the games most in use. Even if you do not like cards, you will sometimes find that you cannot refuse to join in a game without being guilty of rudeness. We shall therefore sketch as concisely as possible, the most important features of the principal games of cards.Whist.The terms used in the game are as following:Finessing is when a certain card is led, and you have the best and third card of that particular suit, you, place the third best on that lead, and stand the chance of your opponent having the second best of the said lead: then, if he has not got it, the trick becomes your own.Forcing is to compel your opponent to trump a suit of which you know he has no card left in his hand.Loose Card means one in hand which is of no value, and which is the most advisable to be thrown away.Points are the gains by aggregate tricks or by honours, five points making the game.Tenace means the possession of the first and third best cards, and, being last player, catching the opponent when that particular suit is played.Terce is the following of any three cards of the same suit.Quart is the following of four,andQuint the following of five, cards of the same suit.Lead usually from the strongest suit in your hand, and do not be anxious to change suits. Lead through the strong suit and up to the weak: this rule does not however apply to trumps, unless you be strong in them. When the game seems against you, lead through an honour. When you have several trumps, and a strong hand besides, you may lead with a trump. When you have the last trump in your hand, besides some winning cards, and only one losing card, lead the losing card.Never return your opponent’s lead, unless unavoidable; but endeavour to return your partner’s lead. Do not lead from an ace, a queen, or a knave, nor lead an ace when you have not got the king. Retain a small card to return your partner’s lead. Only lead a thirteenth card when you know that trumps are out. If you are strong in trumps, do not throw them away by trumping a card; but when you have only a few low trumps, make the tricks when you are able.Should you hold all the trumps that are not yet played, play one and endeavour to give your partner the lead. Be cautious how you force your partner when you yourself are weak in respect to trumps. At the third hand, you may slightly alter the tactics enforced by these rules, in order to suit circumstances, and with a perpetual regard to the score. Thus, when you are in doubt whether to trump a card and win a trick, or not, do the former. Endeavour to retain the turn-up card until the last.Short-Whist is more generally played than Long- Whist. We shall now allude exclusively to the former. Honours are not scored when the point is four. Every player has the right (seldom exercised) of shuffling the cards; but the dealer may always shuffle last. It is not fair to cut a very few cards such as four or five. Should the dealer make any mistake in distributing the cards, he must not rectify it: it is a misdeal. The turn-up, or trump-card, must be left upon the table until the dealer has played: the dealer must then take it up in his band, and no one has the right to claim a sight of it.If a person utters any observation which is calculated to inform his partner that he can win the game, or give his partner a hint, the opponents can compel him to lay his cards on the table to be called. In cases of revoke, three tricks may he taken from the revoking side; or three tricks may be added to those of the other side. It is most dishonest to attempt to score an honour unless you really had it.Do not hesitate too long before you playa card; and be particularly cautious never to deceive your partner in respect to his own or your leads. If you cannot win the game yourself, remember that you may help to save it to your partner.Ecarte.This is a game which is frequently played; because, although only two persons can play at it, the nature of it may interest an entire company, by means of small wagers, backing either side, etc. Then, the loser always makes way for another of the company; and all persons betting have a right to advise the player whom they back. Players are not however to follow this advice unless they consider it sound. More hesitation and a longer interval for pondering with respect to the card to be played, are allowed at this game than at Whist.The game of Ecarte consists of five points. This is played with thirty-two cards, the twenty lowest cards being thrown out of the pack. The ace reckons below the knave. In cutting, the one who has the higher card deals. The dealer gives his adversary three cards first, then himself three cards; and then deals two to his opponent and two to himself, each having five cards. The trump-card lies upon the table throughout the game, merely as a guide.If any card be faced in the pack, during the deal, the deal is void. The opponent has a right to shuffle before the deal; but the dealer may shuffle last. The king, when turned up as the trump, or held as a trump-card in the hand, marks one point. In general respects, you follow suit, and play on the same principle as at whist. Indeed, Ecarte is a miniature two-handed whist.The King, held as a trump in the hand, must be declared and marked, before playing a single card out of that hand.The Elder Hand is considered to be the one who has to play first: the younger hand is the dealer. The Elder Hand may propose, if he choose – that is, he may solicit cards, instead of any which he wishes to throw away. The dealer may refuse; but in this case, should the Elder Hand gain the point he marks two. But should the Elder Hand play without proposing, and lose the point, hit opponent scores two.No revoking is allowed at Ecarte, the playaer must win the trick if he can.Cribbage.This game is very useful in assisting the youthful memory to combine figures, and make rapid calculations. We do not, however recommend card-playing, in any case to young people.Cribbage may be played by two, three, or four persons. They may use five, six, or even eight cards. They play with a board having sixty-one holes, constituting the number of points which make the game. The lowest card at cutting indicates the dealer. The dealer may turn up his own cards, if he choose, but not those of his opponents. No one must touch his cards, after dealing, until the time for cutting for the turn-up card. No player must meddle with the pegs that denote the points, save when he is about to mark.At five-card cribbage, the person who does not deal, may score three points at the beginning; this is not the case at six or eight card cribbage.Flushes are reckoned when several cards of a suit (not less than three) are played consecutively, the player scoring according to the number of sequent cards so played.Piquet.This is a pleasant game, and frequently played in society.In cutting for deal, the lowest card is the best. The ace is before the king. The Elder Hand must lay out one card at the least; if he take one of his opponent’s cards, he forfeits the game. Should thirteen cards be dealt to either one, the Elder Hand may claim a fresh deal; in which case, however, he must place three cards in the stock. Should either touch the stock, be may not then change his discard.Carte Blanche is superior to all scores. If the Elder Hand places the cards he takes in with his discard, those cards must remain there, and he must continue to play with seven cards only. If the Younger Hand looks at the cards which he leaves, the Elder is entitled to look also at them; he must, however, first state what suit he intends to lead.The point must always be called and reckoned first; and after the Younger Hand has answered “good” or “not good” to the call, no error in its amount can be remedied. If the player should forget to show his carte blanche, point, or sequence, and to call his quatorze, he is not allowed to reckon them when once he has played. Any card that has once touched the board, must be considered played, save when its being played would cause a revoke. Should either hand name one suit, and then play another, his opponent is privileged to call a suit. When the Elder Hand leaves cards he must state the number. Should the Elder Hand, after calling, neglect to show his points, the Younger Hand is entitled to show and reckon his point.G.W.M. Reynolds.
The London Journal,
For the week ending July 12, 1845.