Returning to “The Royal Game of Bezique,” by Camden — Part VII: The patronage of the Duke of Edinburgh . . .

After basically completing the preceding post, I got to thinking that the thing which brought about my hypothesized popularity of the game in mid-1868 may have been the involvement of the Duke of Edinburgh.

In pondering this a little later, it seems to me that I was influenced at some stage by some information in Notes and Queries, in 1874, wherein a contributor, Cuthbert Bede, made reference to the Goodall rules and the Duke of Edinburgh.

In those references, Bede was quoting from an article in Once a Week, February 13, 1869, which provides some insights on game origins in general, and Bezique in particular.  Here is part of what the article says, and I think it supports the theory I stated in the preceding post:

In the same way (parvis componere magna) eight years ago, in Nov. 1861, a very complete set of instructions and rules for playing the game of Bazique was published in Macmillan’s Magazine; but its hour had not yet struck.  The English public turned a deaf ear to the invitation. Just now, in the year of grace 1869, there has come a sudden run upon it.  Columns of advertisements of elegant boxes containing cards, markers, and directions complete, at 10s., 15s., 21s., 30s., and so forth, appeared simultaneously in all popular newspapers about Christmas time; and now leading articles are written upon the game.  The game has been brought into fashion by the Duke of Edinburgh, under whose patronage Messrs. Goodall & Son publish “The Royal Game” of Bazique, and the royal edition of its rules.  Meantime, the French and the Americans—to whom it was already familiar—have gone on steadily playing the game.

Also, the fact that the article in The Westminster Papers mentions cards being sold in Glasgow at an early date seems to support my theory as well — kind of a “Scottish origin” idea.

But none of my theory is based on anything like exhaustive research, so I could easily be very wrong!

—Tom Sawyer

December 30, 2012

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