Returning to “The Royal Game of Bezique,” by Camden — Part VI: I think the game was “introduced” after the “W.P.” article, and before Goodall and Reynolds became involved . . .

One of the things I do not “get” about the article discussed in the previous post is the concept of who “introduced the game [of Bezique] to this country” —  “this country” presumably being England.  According to The Whist Reference Book, page 70, William Pole wrote an article that was published in Macmillan’s Magazine, December 1861.  The article was signed W.P., and I guess that is the W.P. to whom the article in the previous post refers.

The item in the previous post, then, seems to suggest that the mere appearance of the W.P. article (“Games at Cards for the Coming Winter”) was not sufficient to constitute “introducing” Bezique to England.  That would make quite a bit of sense to me, at least in the absence of a clearer meaning for the words used.  The Pole article might, however, have been the first description of the game in the English language, or the first description published in England.

It would seem to me that unless the game “caught on” to some degree, it would be unrealistic to speak of some action as having introduced the game.

An article (“Concerning Bezique”) in Once a Week, March 14, 1869, (which is mentioned in an unquoted part of the article in The Westminster Papers) has the author saying, “[. . .] I have played Bezique for many years in different parts of the world [. . .].”

Huh?

Is it supposing too much to figure that one of those parts of the world was England?

My own theory is that the game was introduced into England at some time that will never be determined.  It may have experienced fits and starts, and it even may have died off altogether, only to be reintroduced.  But — and again, this is my theory — somehow it caught on big time in mid-1868, and both Goodall and Reynolds caught on to this, and issued their games or booklets or both, in an effort to meet a demand that already existed.

—Tom Sawyer

December 30, 2012

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