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HOUSEHOLD AMUSEMENTS. - I.
IT is related of one of England's greatest statesmen, that some one calling
to see him unexpectedly on grave political affairs, found him, not absorbed in
state papers and official documents, but on all fours in his nursery, with his
children romping upon and around him. And of another eminent man, the late Earl
of Derby, it has been recorded, in a graceful tribute paid to his memory, that
while at times he would seek recreation from political labours in the
translation of Homer, at others he loved to find it in "Making some wonder
for a happy child."
Many other instances might be quoted to prove that the busiest and greatest men, as well as the humblest, have often found delight and solace in participation in the amusements of youth in their own households. Not, therefore, the young only, but also those in more advanced life, the best among us feel that it is desirable to cultivate the recreations of home, and to be ready at times for frolic and the innocent enjoyment of household pastimes. We shall try, in a series of papers, to guide all who may read this work in the choice of such recreations, by giving a description of many which are familiar, and of others less generally known ; sometimes choosing the simplest in-door games, and at others, commenting on pastimes of a more intricate character, and thus enabling all to select the amusement which is most suited to the tastes and circumstances both of themselves and those around them.
The dark evenings of winter and early spring call into request games for round parties, and we shall devote the present paper to some of these. To commence with a very simple one, we will describe a game of German origin, known as
The Ball of Wool- The party are seated round a table, from which the cloth must be drawn. A little wool is rolled up into the form of a ball, and placed in the middle of the table. The company then commence to blow upon it, each one trying to drive it away from his own direction, and the object of all being to blow it off; so that the person by whose right side it falls may pay a forfeit. The longer the ball is kept on the table by the opposing puffs of the surrounding party, the more amusing the game becomes, as the distended cheeks and zealous exertions of the players afford mirth to lookers-on as well as to themselves.
Similar to this is a game called "Blowing the Feather," in which a small feather set floating in the air answers the same purpose as the ball upon the table. The forfeit falls to the individual whose puff is ineffectual in keeping the feather afloat, or who suffers it to drop when it reaches him.
Of a different character, and still more comic in its results, is a game called
Shadows.- This game, sometimes called "Shadow Buff," is productive of much amusement in a round party. It consists in the detection of the individuals who compose the company by their shadows; but these they are at liberty to disguise as much as possible. The following is the method pursued:-
A white tablecloth or a sheet is suspended on one side of the apartment, and, at a short distance before this sheet, one of the party, chosen for the purpose, is seated upon either the ground or a low stool, with his face directed towards the cloth. Behind him, on the farther side of the apartment, the table is placed, and upon it a lamp or taper, all other lights in the apartment being extinguished. Each of the company in turn passes before the lamp and behind the person who is gazing upon the cloth, which thus receives a strong shadow, If the individual seated can name the person whose shadow is thus thrown, the latter has to pay a forfeit, or to take the place of the guesser, as may be agreed upon. It would be easy, in playing this game, to detect particular individuals if they passed in their natural attitude ; but they arc free to change this as much as lies in their power, by stooping, standing more erect than usual, bending the limbs, or using the arms in any way calculated to obscure the outline of the shadow and render it difficult of detection. An alteration in costume, such as turning up the collar or changing the coat, if a gentleman, and enveloping the head in a hood, in the case of a lady, is also allowable. The game gives rise to a good deal of ingenuity in this fashion, and may often proceed for some time before many forfeits have resulted.
The Messenger.- The party are seated in line, or round the sides of the room, and some one previously appointed enters with the message, "My master sends me to you, madam," or "sir," as the case may be, directed to any individual he may select at his option. " What for?" is the natural inquiry. "To do as I do;" and with this the messenger commences to perform some antic, which the lady or gentleman must imitate - say he wags his head from side to side, or taps with one foot incessantly on the floor. The person whose duty it is to obey commands his neighbour to the right or to the left to "Do as I do," also and so on until the whole company are in motion, when the messenger leaves the room, re-entering it with fresh injunctions. While the messenger is in the room he must see his master's will obeyed, and no one must stop from the movement without suffering a forfeit. The messenger should be some one ingenious in making the antics ludicrous, and yet kept within moderate bounds, and the game will not fail to produce shouts of laughter.
Among the other tricks which may be commended are such as rocking the body to and fro, wiping the eyes with a pocket-handkerchief yawning, whistling, stroking the chin or the beard, and making any grimace.
Another game, of much the same character, is known by the title, "Thus says the Grand Seignor." The chief difference is that the first player is stationed in the centre of the room, and prefaces his movements, which the others must all follow, by the above words. If he varies his command by framing it, "So says the Grand Seignor," the party must remain still, and decline to follow his example. Any one who moves when he begins with "So," or does not follow him when he commences with "Thus," has to pay a forfeit.
Magic Music.- In this game a player is seated at the piano, and one of the others leaves the room, while the company decides what the last-mentioned is to do on his return. When called in, he is given a hint, but only a hint, of what he is expected to do. We will suppose that he is told that he is to "make an offering to a certain lady." He is left to himself as to what the offering may be, but [-128-] he must guess the lady to whom it is to be offered, and offer to each in succession until he discovers the individual selected. The musical part of the performance is this: When he re-enters the room, the person at the piano commences to play some piece, with a moderate degree of vigour. As the guesser approaches the right lady, or the right thing to be done, whatever its nature, the music becomes louder or quicker; but if he appears to be going farther and farther from his appointed task, the music becomes softer and softer, until it is scarcely heard. This gives him a clue as to whether he is on the right scent, or otherwise. If there is no piano in the room, the "magic music" may be of another character, It may consist in the tinkling or clashing together of any articles that wil1 emit either a harmonious or a discordant sound, according to the degree of hilarity or boisterousness to which the age and other circumstances of the company dispose them. But, played with a little tact, the game in any of its forms will be found amusing.
We have had occasion to mention forfeits; and as those form an important element in many in-door games, we shall have something to say about them in our next paper, in which we hope, at the same time, to introduce to the notice of our younger readers several novel amusements, which in the long evenings they may find especially acceptable.
Prussian Exercises. - The players are drawn up in line along one side
of the apartment, and are supposed to represent a regiment. On the extreme right
of the party a corporal is stationed, and the captain, selected for his
knowledge of the game, takes his place in front, It is his duty to give the word
of command for the movements of the line, and he must do this with mock
solemnity, however absurd the antics which he orders to be performed. Thus, he
commences with the ordinary "Attention Eyes right!" at which all are
bound to look straight at the commander ; and he then gives such orders as his
own will and experience may dictate. "Fold arms;" "Extend
arms!" "Slap cheeks!" "Tweak noses!" "Ground
knees!" and similar evolutions, are all to be performed at the same instant
by the whole company, under penalty of a forfeit; and the corporal on the right,
who has had a previous consultation with the captain, sets the example for the
guidance of the rest, where the meaning of the order is not clear. At the word
"March!" the party must move one foot after the other, as in walking,
but without changing position ; at "Right march !" they move the right
leg only, backwards and forwards "Left March !" they do the same with
the left. "Ground knees !" may be varied by "Ground right
knee!" or "left," and in this case the regiment sinks with that
knee to the ground. This is a favourable position for bringing the amusement to
a climax, as follows:- When the party are on one or both knees, the order is
given, "Present arms!" which they do by stretching them straight out
in front. The next command is "Fire!" and the corporal who is in the
secret, then gives his next neighbour a nudge with the shoulder. This causes
him, as he is already kneeling, to lose his equilibrium; and falling sidewise,
he brings down the next person to him, and so on along the whole line, which is
thus "floored" in a moment. When young ladies and gentlemen are
playing together, and it is thought desirable to wind up the exercises in more
polite fashion, the word may be given to "Salute!" The players having
been stationed alternately according to sex, each gentleman then salutes his
neighbour to the right, to the left, or on both sides, as the captain may order.
The Courtiers.-One of the company is selected to be king or queen, and occupies a chair in the centre of the room, the rest being seated round the sides of the apartment. Whatever movement may be made by the monarch must be imitated by the courtiers ; and it is the gist of the game that this should be done without any one losing that assumption of decorous gravity which becomes the scene. The monarch may yawn, sneeze, blow his nose, or wipe his eye, and the courtiers must all do the same ; but if any one of them is so deficient in self-control or so presumptive as to grin or to laugh, he or she must pay the penalty of a forfeit. It is rarely, however, that penalties are few or far between.
The Dumb Orator.- This is a very amusing performance, enacted by two persons for the benefit of the rest of the company. One of the two recites a speech, or any popular piece of declamation- My name is Norval," or the like - keeping all the while perfectly motionless, and without a quiver upon his countenance, while the other, standing silent by his side, gesticulates furiously, according to the emotions called up by the passage recited. Of course, the more closely he follows and burlesques the action natural to the words throughout, the greater the amusement created. There is another way of performing the same oratorical show, namely, by the two players enveloping themselves in the same cloak or wrapper, and the arms of the one - which are all the company are allowed to see of him - keeping up an action suited to the narrative of the other; but this is more awkward in the performance, and less effective than the method first described.
Speaking Buff- At this game, the eyes of one of the players are bandaged, as in "blind man," and he is seated in the centre of the room, the party then taking their places. "Buff" holds a wand or stick in one hand, and, when all are seated, he points with this to one side of the room, or touches one of the players, at the same time uttering three words according to his fancy. The person towards whom he points must then repeat these words; and if "Buff" can discover his or her identity by the tones of the voice, he is released from his position, and the person detected takes his place.
The Shopkeepers- This is a good game to exercise a knowledge of the various productions of nature. Each person in the company represents a shopkeeper or merchant, who has some goods on hand which he wishes to dispose of; but no two persons may choose the same trade. Any one may start the game - say, for instance, the draper - and he commences, we will suppose, by observing to his next neighbour, "I have some silk for sale; is it animal, vegetable, or mineral ?" To this the reply would be, "Animal, for it is the production of the silk-worm." The correct answer having been given - we will assume by the chemist - the latter turns to the person next him, with an inquiry suited to his trade; say, "I have some glycerine for sale; is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?" The rejoinder would be, "Either animal or vegetable, for it may be obtained from either vegetable or animal fat." The merchant, in his turn, may say, "I have some shell-lac for sale; is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?" and should receive the reply, "Animal, for it is obtained from an insect." So the game goes on, the ingenuity of each, as it proceeds, being taxed to mention some article of his stock, the origin of which may not be within the knowledge of the person addressed. A round or two of the game will rarely proceed without some of the company finding that they have added to their store of general knowledge, as well as derived amusement. Any such information as that contained in the series of papers on The Natural History of Commerce," which appears in the "Popular Educator," may be turned to account in sport,. as well as in matters of graver moment. The game may be played, either with forfeits as the penalty of an incorrect reply, or by simply restricting the person who does not answer correctly from disposing of any of his own articles - that is, from putting any question in his turn - during that round.
Twirling the Trencher.- This is a brisk game, requiring activity without ingenuity. A circle is formed in the room, and a good space is left clear in the midst. A trencher or round wooden platter is obtained, or, if such a thing is not available, a small round tray or waiter will best answer the purpose. When all the party are seated, one of the company stands up in the centre and twirls the tray round upon the floor, at the same time calling out the name of any other person present, who must rise and pick up the trencher before it falls to the ground, otherwise he or she pays a forfeit. The person who twirls the trencher returns to his own seat immediately, and the one who picks it up, or has been called upon to do so, has the privilege of making a call afterwards.
[-160-] Proverbs is a game of a more intellectual character. In this, one person volunteers, or is chosen by the company, to leave the room, and in his or her absence a proverb is fixed upon by the remaining party. The person outside is then called in, and the first person whom he addresses with any remark or inquiry, is bound to reply to him with an answer in which the first word of the proverb is introduced. The second person to whom he goes must reply in such a way as to bring in the second word; and so on, until the proverb has been repeated. He is then informed that he need not proceed further, and is left to guess the proverb chosen. If he fails in three attempts, he must again retire, and his ingenuity is tried by the selection and repetition of another proverb. Any one making an answer in which the right word in turn is not introduced, pays the penalty of a forfeit, and the company are, therefore, on the watch to see that each person addressed duly performs the part. The great art of the game is in so wrapping up the word in the course of the reply as to make it difficult to the guesser to discover the proverb which was chosen. Some proverbs are far, more easy of detection than others, from the forcible or peculiar words comprised in them, or the difficulty which the answerers find in concealing the words which fall to them in rotation. "Still waters run deep" may be taken as an example of the class difficult of concealment, for "waters" and " deep" are awkward words to introduce, and will easily connect themselves in the mind of the guesser, who is on the watch for his clue. "Where there's a will there's a way" is more capable of disguise, but "will" and "way" will reveal themselves to a person quick of apprehension. None of the proverbs chosen should consist of very many words, or the guessing may become tedious. When the proverb is detected, the guesser is entitled to claim that some one else shall take his place, and may, if he pleases, select for that purpose the person whose insufficient disguise of the allotted word gave him his first clue. Or he may name any one else in the company for the purpose. If the guesser tries his skill two or three times without success, he may claim relief from his office, and some one else may be appointed. In this, as in all other games, it must be remembered that when weariness on any side commences, amusement is at an end; and where there are symptoms of a game reaching that point, it should be relinquished for another.
IT will have been observed that many of the games already described lead up
to the payment of forfeits, and that some appear to be designed for the express
purpose of extracting as many as possible from the various members of the
company. This is really the case, for "crying the forfeits," as it is
called, often forms the most amusing part of an evening's entertainment, and is,
therefore, usually reserved until the last. It is conducted in the following
Each player who has to pay a forfeit deposits some small article, or trinket, in the hands of one of the company appointed as collector - say a handkerchief, a knife, a pencil-case, or anything which can be readily identified. One article is given for every forfeit incurred, and it is redeemed when the particular task assigned to the owner has been duly performed. It is not desirable that very many forfeits should accumulate before they are [-164-] "cried," as this often takes up a considerable time ; but when an average of one to each member of the party has been reached, if the number is between a dozen and twenty, it is time to stop the collection.
Two persons, chosen from the rest of the company for their knowledge of a good number of suitable and amusing forfeits, and generally ladies, cry the forfeits thus:- One is seated, and the various articles collected are placed in her lap. The other is blindfolded, and kneels down before her companion. The object of the blindfolding is to prevent the recognition of any of the articles as belonging to particular members of the company, and thus to assure something like impartiality in the allotment of the various tasks.
The person seated takes one of the articles from the collection before her, and, holding it up so that the company may recognise the owner, usually cries, "Here is a thing, and a very pretty thing; what shall be done by the owner of this very pretty thing?" This established form of words, which dates farther back than the memory of man, may, however, be reduced to the latter clause alone, if that plan is preferred. The blindfolded lady asks, "Is it fine, or superfine?" or "Is it a lady's or a gentleman's ?" for this much she is allowed to know, that she may name a suitable forfeit. Having received an answer, she declares the task which the owner must perform. The following are examples of the forfeits which may be allotted.
For a Gentleman.-. To kiss every lady in the room Spanish fashion. The person to whom this forfeit is assigned usually imagines that an agreeable task is before him; but he is thus enlightened. A lady rises from her seat to conduct him round the room, and she proceeds to each lady in turn, kisses her, and then wipes the gentleman's mouth with her pocket handkerchief.
2. To make a Grecian Statue. To do this the gentleman must stand upon a chair, and take his pose according to the pleasure of the company. One person may stick his arm out, or bend it into an awkward position; another may do the same by a leg; a third may incline his head backward, with the chin elevated in the air ; and so they may proceed, until his figure is sufficiently removed from the "Grecian" to satisfy the party. He is bound to be as plastic as possible while the statue is moulded.
3. To perform the Dumb Orator. How to do this was described in our last paper. The forfeit may either be allotted to one person, who is to go through the action while either a lady or a gentleman volunteer recites, or two forfeits may be coupled, and both reciter and actor may take their parts as a penalty.
4. Say Half-a-dozen Flattering Things to a Lady, without using the Letter l. This may be done by such phrases as "You are pretty," "You are entertaining, &c.," but such words as graceful, beautiful, and charitable are, of course, inadmissible.
5. To try the Cold Water Cure, the gentleman is first blindfolded, and then a tumbler filled with cold water, and a teaspoon, are produced. Not to be too hard upon him, he is allowed to take a seat. Each member of the company is then privileged to give him a spoonful; but if he can guess at any time the name of the person who is "curing" him, he is at once released from a further infliction of the remedy.
6. To play the Learned Pig. To do this, the gentleman must first put himself as nearly as possible in the attitude of one. He must go on all fours, and he is then to answer questions that may be put to him either by the company or by somebody who may volunteer as his master, to show his attainments. The questions asked are something like the following: "Show us the most agreeable person in the company," or, "the most charming," "the greatest flirt," &c. After each question, the victim is to proceed to any one whom he may select and signify his choice by a grunt. The learning as well as the docility of a pig has its limits, and the game must, therefore, not be prolonged too far.
For a Lady.- To Choose Partners for a Quadrille - In this the lady, after making her choice, is informed that the quadrille must be performed blindfold. The gentlemen selected must be satisfied with that honour, and go through the performance which devolves upon them; but the second lady may be allowed to reclaim her forfeiture, if she has one, as compensation. All stand up, blindfolded as we have said, and go through the first figure of a set, as best they may.
2. To repeat a Proverb Backwards. Any proverb may be chosen by the lady for the purpose.
3. To stand in the Middle of the Room, and spell Opportunity. If, after the lady has spelt the word, a gentleman can reach her before she regains her seat, he may avail himself of the "opportunity" offered, under the mistletoe.
4. To say "Yes" or "No" to Three Questions by the Company. The lady must go out of the room, while the company agree as to each of the questions to be asked. To each of these the lady must give one or other of the plain monosyllables. Ladies of experience say the safe answer is always "no;" but this hint must be reserved to readers of these papers.
FORFEITS (continued from p. 164).
FORFEITS are in such general demand during the season when round and merry
games are in vogue, that we add a few more to the list given in a previous
paper. Before doing so, however, we may be allowed to remind our readers that
the spirit in which forfeit games should be conducted is to extract as much
harmless fun from them as possible, avoiding everything rough and unseemly, or
in which a mind exceptionally sensitive can find a cause of offence. With those
which are simply boisterous in character, or have any element calculated to
cause a feeling of annoyance or pain, we have nothing to do. But at the same
time, all who enter on games of this kind should be prepared to give as well as
to receive amusement.
We will continue first our list of forfeits suited to a gentleman.
1. To go round the Room Blindfolded, and kiss all the Ladies- The company, of course, are seated, but as soon as the gentleman is blindfolded they change positions, with as little commotion as possible. He consequently finds, in his progress, that he as often attempts to kiss one of his own as one of the opposite sex; or a lady may reverse the position of her chair, so that the gentleman kisses the back of her head.
2. To choose One of Three Signs.- To do this, he is to stand with his face to the wall, while any lady present makes three signs behind him - of a kiss, of a pinch, and of a box on the ear. He is then asked whether he chooses the first, the second, or the third, not knowing the order in which they have been made, and receives the corresponding action.
3. To imitate any Animal that may be named. If the company call upon him to imitate a goat, a donkey &c he must do it ; but if the forfeit happens to fall upon any one who, from age or other reasons, may be excused from such performance, "a man" is named as the animal and a bow will suffice.
4. To kiss a Lady through the Back of a Chair He must wait, with his visage inserted in the chair-back until some lady comes to his rescue ; but if the chair be of a fancy pattern, she may dodge him through the framework before giving him his release.
5. To blow the Candle out.-He is blindfolded and the candle held near his face, until he happens to give a puff in the right direction.
6. To perform the Clown's Pantomime - This consists [-203-] in rubbing the forehead with one hand while you strike the breast with the other, standing up in the room for the performance. If correct time is not kept, in the judgment of the company, another forfeit is to be paid.
To the forfeits for a lady given in the previous paper may be added:-
1. To kiss a Gentleman "Rabbit Fashion." - This is usually a source of great amusement to the rest of the party. The lady has the privilege of choosing any gentleman present. A piece is broken off a reel of cotton, and the lady takes one end of the piece in her mouth while the gentleman takes the other in the same way. They then both nibble the cotton until the kiss ensues, as a matter of course. If the gentleman is sufficiently gallant, he will perform the chief part of the "nibbling" process. The company may exercise their discretion as to the length of the cotton.
2. To sing a Song, or play a Piece of Music.-This is given either to elicit the musical capabilities of a lady who may be shy, or to make an agreeable interlude in the round of other forfeits. If the lady called upon can really do neither, another forfeit is allotted to her.
3. Ask a Question to which Yes must be the Answer. - This is a great puzzle to any one who is not in the secret. The unfortunate forfeiter may ask all kinds of questions, without eliciting the answer required for her release. But if she simply inquires, "What does y-e-s spell?" there cannot be any other reply.
4. To kiss the Gentleman you love best in the Company, without any one knowing it.-There is only one way of paying this penalty, and that is, to kiss every gentleman in the room, leaving them to settle the question as to "loving best" amongst them.
5. To put yourself through the Keyhole.- This is one of those quibbles upon words, for which persons called upon to pay forfeits should watch, as they are often in use. We give this as an example. The forfeit is paid by writing "yourself" upon a piece of paper, and passing that through the keyhole.
6. To kiss each Corner of the Room.- When this forfeit is declared, a gentleman stations himself in each corner, and the lady has to pay an unexpected penalty.
7. To spell "Constantinople." - This must be done an the old schoolmistress's fashion- "C-o-n, Con, with a Con, s-t-a-n, stan, with a stan," &c.; but, after the third syllable, the company attempt to embarrass the speller by crying out, "No! No!" as if a mistake had been made. To this, the proper reply is, "Thank you;" the fourth syllable is then spelt, and the fifth completes the task.
8. To form a Rifle Corps.- The lady goes to one end of the room, and calls up a gentleman, who stands opposite to her. The gentleman then calls a lady, who stands at his side; and she in turn names a gentleman, who places himself opposite to her. So the calling goes on, until all present are included. If the number of ladies and of gentlemen present is unequal, the more mirth is created by the last persons called standing opposite one of their own sex. When all are called, the word is given by the first gentleman in the rank, "Present arms." All then join hands with the persons opposite; and the next command is "Salute," which is done in osculatory fashion. We conclude our list of forfeits with a few contrived to include more than one member of the company.
1. Either a lady or a gentleman may be called upon to "sit on the Stool of Repentance." He or she must then sit in the centre of the room, while one of the party goes round to inquire, in a whisper, of each person present, what the repentant individual "looks like." The reply may be "wise," "silly," "pitiable," "beautiful," &c., according to circumstances. The answers are repeated openly to the forfeiter, with the question after each, "Who said that ?" If the right name is guessed, as is often the case, the person who made the particular observation must then sit on the "stool" in turn, and so on until the company are satisfied with the round.
2. A lady is required to "be Postman." She is to go outside the room, and rap on the door, when one of the company inquires, "Who's there?" The answer is, "The postman, with a letter for -," any gentleman she likes to name. "How many seals?" Whatever the answer may be, the gentleman may exact so many kisses; and he in turn remains outside, and declares he has a letter for a lady. So the forfeit proceeds, a lady calling a gentleman, and a gentleman a lady, until the company have all been called, but no person present is bound to answer twice.
3. When the calling of forfeits has been continued long enough, and several remain, which it is desired to clear off together, the forfeiters may be called upon to perform a "Musical Medley." Each one must then sing some verse or stanza of a song, no two choosing the same melody, but all commencing and singing together. The effect is generally so grotesque as to produce shouts of laughter.
AMONG games well suited to a mixed company, and capable of giving rise to
considerable merriment, a place must be accorded to that known as
The Newspaper.—This may be played either as a forfeit game or otherwise. One of the party is appointed to "read the newspaper;" the others, seated before him, assume to be members of different trades and professions- lawyer, doctor, draper, grocer, &c. The reader takes up any paper that may be at hand, and selects some passage for perusal. The peculiarity of the game is, that whenever he pauses and looks at any member of the company, that [-239-] person must make some suitable observation appropriate to his particular trade—the more incongruous to the narrative or dissertation which is being read by the first player, the better. The penalty of a forfeit may be exacted from any person who does not reply when appealed to, or who makes a remark not connected with his own pursuit.
To give our readers a clear idea of the mode of playing the game, we will suppose the reader lights upon a narrative of the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to Calcutta. He proceeds thus-
" A guard of honour composed of " (here he looks, say, at the Oilman)—
Oilman.—" Tallow candles"
"Was drawn up on the quay, and his Royal Highness on landing was received with a round of"—
Butcher.—" Marrow bones."
"Delivered in true British fashion. A salute of twenty-one guns was fired from the"—
"And the ships and forts hoisted their "—
"Every house in the vicinity was decorated with"—
"And the windows were filled with elegantly dressed"—
Surgeon.—" Compound fractures."
"Escorted by the Governor General, his Royal Highness proceeded to the"—
"And gracefully bowed his acknowledgments to the"—
So the reading continues, until each member of the company has responded, or the paragraph is closed, when another extract may be commenced. The passages most suited for perusal are those which possess some degree of gravity in tone, without being too serious to serve as a foundation for the ridiculous interpolations to which the game will naturally give rise.
Of games which are played chiefly to extract forfeits from the company, a very good one is known as—
The Picnic.—One of the players volunteers to perform the principal part, by giving an account or description of an imaginary picnic. The rest allot among themselves the names of the individuals supposed to be present at this picnic, or the eatables and other articles which are taken thereto. Thus, "Mr. Smith," "the Misses Brown," "Mr. Jones," and "Mrs. Robinson," with as many more names as may conveniently be shared by the company, may figure in the narrative, which becomes the more graphic if "the pie," "the champagne," "the salt," "the spoons," &c., are also represented by different members of the company. Every time mention is made of the name allotted to one of the party, he or she must rise from the chair, turn round, and then resume the seat. At the mention of the word "picnic," however, every one of the party must do the same. Any person failing to rise and turn when mentioned, pays a forfeit.
The narrator need not draw very highly upon his imagination in the recital, for any commonplace story in which the names are brought in, so as to keep the different members of the party moving, and elicit forfeits from some of them, will sufficiently answer the purpose. He may proceed something, in the following fashion. The reader must suppose that the names italicised have all been allotted among the company, and that their representatives rise and turn each time they are mentioned :—
" Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Robinson, having several marriageable daughters, laid their heads together to get up a j5icnic. They took into their confidence Uncle John, Mrs. Jones's brother, and asked him to invite some of his young friends from the Waste Paper Office, such as Mr. Brilliantspark, Mr. Waltzington, and Mr. Softspeeche Ogle. To make the affair look more natural, the Misses Jones invited their friends Miss Simpersweet and Miss Twinkletoe, while there were also present, &c. &c. Mrs. Robinson provided the game pie, Mrs. Jones the custard, and Uncle John brought down the champagne, the knives and forks, the pepper and salt, and so on. A beautiful meadow near the river was chosen as the scene of the picnic, and when the party arrived a dance was proposed and carried unanimously. The partners were (here the names may be called over). All went merry as several marriage bells, and Mrs. Robinson was just remarking to Mrs. Jones that she thought Mr. Brilliantspark was very much taken with her Seraphina, but that Miss Simpersweet really gave Mr. Ogle too much encouragement, when the proceedings were interrupted by a very unwelcome visitor. This was no other than Farmer Beetroot's cow, which had been leisurely surveying the company over a stile, and now, pushing through the hedge, seemed determined to make one of the picnic party. The ladies screamed, and ran towards the other end of the field, while Mr. Waltzington put up his eye-glass and remarked, "What a bo-aw !" " No," cried Uncle John, who was reputed to be a wit, " not a boar, my dear fellow, it's a cow!" " Weally ?" said Softspeeche Ogle. "How vewy wediculous !"
The narrator may continue the narrative in a similar strain, until some of the company, less on the alert than others, have incurred forfeits enough for the time being.
Similar to the Picnic is another game called The Coach, in which the party represent among them the chief parts and appendages of a coach, with the driver, guard, and passengers. Every time either person or thing is mentioned, its representative rises and turns, as in the game last described. The narrator gives an account of the incidents of a coach journey, interspersing it with such episodes as an attack by highwaymen or a toss over in the snow. A third game of a very similar description is known as The Traveller, the story in this case relating to the arrival of a traveller at an inn, and the various orders he gives, with their execution.
Impromptu Romance.—This is a pastime well suited
to "children of a larger growth," and a company of intelligent young
men and women may find it very attractive. The person who commences the game
undertakes to relate a story, or rather, to begin the narrative, for the story
must be taken up and continued by other members of the party. The first narrator
assigns to others different characters in the tale, or objects to be
incidentally mentioned in it ; and whenever one of these characters or objects
is named, the person who represents it must immediately take the narrator's
place and proceed with the relation as best he may, until he can shift the
burden in like manner. If his imagination is not very fertile, or he is
unpractised at the game, he can relieve himself of the task by mentioning, as
soon as possible, an object which has its representative before him ; but
whenever somebody more ready or more experienced is called upon, he will do well
to keep the narrative up for a short time, by some play of his fancy, before
passing it on by the introduction of another name.
Throughout the game some degree of consistency must be preserved by the various impromptu reciters, so that the so-called story may be connected in its various parts, however ludicrous may be some of the turns in the tale during its passage from mouth to mouth.
The rules of the game are, first, that any one who fails to take up the relation immediately the name he has adopted is uttered, incurs a forfeit. Next, that the narrator may at any time pause and point to one of the company to supply him with a word, contrary to the sense of what has gone before, which must be immediately done, under penalty of a forfeit; but the word given must at once be introduced into the narration, and this must go on smoothly notwithstanding, or a forfeit is paid by the narrator. To call for a word is therefore an experiment which should not be tried by an unpractised story-teller, but, in the hands of an expert who has sufficient dexterity to turn an awkward word to good use, adds greatly to the general amusement.
To make our description more clear by illustration, we will suppose one of a company to commence a romance, which he entitles, "The Lovely Pettina; or, the Merchant, the Prince, and the Pirate Chief." He allots some of the characters, assuming to himself, say, the merchant, while the company suggest others, and also objects to be introduced, such as sea, ships, bales, black flag, cutlass, dagger, &c., until every one present is provided with a name, to which he must respond. The first narrator then proceeds in something like the following strain :-
"Once upon a time there dwelt, in the city of Nowhere-in-Particular, a merchant, who traded with all parts of the world, and was renowned for his wealth. Besides heaps of money, he had vast stores of Indian shawls, nose-rings, tomahawks, jews'-harps, guano, and anchovies, with diamonds, rubies,' macadamised flints, and other precious stones. But, above all his possessions, he prized his only daughter, Pettina,"—
Pettina.—" The fame of whose beauty had gone where-ever his ships "—
Ships.—" Had sailed. She was believed to be the loveliest girl in the world. When she walked in the garden the flowers turned their heads to look at her, and drooped their own: afterwards, while the birds admiringly called after her, "Sweet, sweet, sweet !" The merchant"— Merchant.—Loved her even more for her amiable quail-ties than for her beauty, and when he looked at her he felt —(here he nods at some one for a word, and receives "disgusted.") disgusted at the thought that she had attained twenty summers without some sovereign having. offered to share with her his throne., At length ;the newt; came one day across the sea"—
Sea.—" That her fame had reached the court of the Emperor of all the Indies and of several other places besides, and that his eldest son was on his way to seek her for his wife. The name of this prince"—
Prince.—"Was Ramjamjee Howareyournabhoy, and when he heard of her charms he had (looks for a word, and gets "skedaddled") skedaddled as quickly as possible into his father's presence, and, knocking his head twelve times on the floor, according to the custom of the country, humbly asked permission to go and pay court to the beautiful Pettina."—
Pettina.—"The Emperor was in one of his most amiable moods. The merchant"—
Merchant.—" Had just sent him twelve tons of explosive lollipops, of which he was very fond, but they had narrowly escaped falling into the hands of Crossbones, the pirate chief"—
Pirate Chief.—" Waving his sceptre three times round his head, the emperor looked at the prince"—
Prince.—" And, smiling affectionately, pointed to the door with the simple remark, 'Hook it.!' Ramjamjee obeyed, and as he vanished, the emperor, with great dignity, took off his slipper, richly adorned with jewels, and threw it after him, for luck. The prudent lad hastily picked it up, and put it in his pocket to help to pay expenses, for it was his intention to take with him several bales"—
Bales.—"Of Cashmere nightcaps for the giants of Patagonia, where he intended to touch on his way. As soon as possible he started, but not without taking with him a wonderful dagger"—
Dagger.—" Which had been given to him by his grandmother, and which was said to have been fashioned by a great magician. This dagger had the peculiar power of twisting itself up into three knots in the body of a person struck with it, so that it made a very—(looks for a word, and has given him " beautiful ") beautiful case for a doctor, and few people who ran against it washed to try it a second time. Very proud of it was the prince" —
Prince.—" And he had made some verses upon it, which were set to music by a composer, very celebrated in those countries, and known by the name of Oftenbark. He had gone some distance on his journey, and was one evening whistling The Dagger of my Grandmother' on the quarter-deck of his ship,"—
Ship.—"When low on the horizon, there appeared a (nods for a word, and " porcupine " is given him) porcupine-like object, which proved to be the vessel, bristling with masts, of the pirate chief."
Pirate Chief.—"He had heard of the sailing of Ramjamjee Howareyoumabhoy, and had sharpened his cutlass"—
Cutlass.—" Making a solemn vow to take his vessel, kill him, and sell, all his treasures for the improvement of his own model farm. So now, hoisting the black flag," —
Black flag—"He made all sail after his prey, and a terrific combat ensued."
Here we may leave the story, as the reader will guess how the prince would probably be made, in the course of the narrative, to vanquish the pirate, and to be successful in his suit for the hand of the fair Pettina. We have given no indication of the incidental forfeits, but the game would scarcely proceed so far as this without giving rise to several,. It will be observed, too, that the character of Pettina, for instance, is supposed to have been assigned to a lady with the game, who is there fore anxious, as soon as the narration comes to her turn, to pass it on to some one else. Any degree of humour or gravity may be imported into the pastime, according to the disposition of the company who may, if they please, choose some sentimental, historical, or fairy-tale subject, as that of their "romance."
PLAYING with cards is in many households interdicted, as it is thought to lead to gambling, while in many others it is countenanced as an innocent amusement, greatly promoting sociality.
It is scarcely necessary to point out that playing for money is by no means a necessary adjunct to such pastimes ; if it were, they would find no mention in these pages, for we hold gambling in any of its shapes in as much abhorrence as any of our readers. But there are many card games which possess quite sufficient merit in themselves to afford interest and recreation, without the [-262-] introduction of such an objectionable element in the family circle, and many persons who play—at whist, for instance —would no more think of staking money on the game than they would do so if sitting down to chess.
As it is our endeavour to consult the wishes and the tastes of all readers of the HOUSEHOLD GUIDE, we have determined to give a few papers on card games for the benefit of those who would wish to know something of such amusements, or to have some guide to the established laws to be observed in playing. It is not our purpose to go deeply into these games, or to aim at making anyone a scientific player ; but simply to impart such general knowledge on the subject as may in some cases open up a new field of harmless recreation, and in others enable unpracticed persons to acquit themselves with sufficient dexterity if disposed to take a part when in company where cards are introduced.
Cards are of very great antiquity, and, like chess, were invented in the East, but when, or in what country, is unknown. They are sometimes said to have been introduced into Europe in the fourteenth century, for the diversion of Charles VI. of France ; but they are now proved to have been known before his time. Their use was almost universal in England two centuries ago, and the good old knight, Sir Roger de Coverley, is represented in the Spectator as having made it his practice, every Christmas, to send a string of hogs' puddings and a pack of cards to every poor family in his parish.
Most of our readers know the nature of a modern pack of cards. The number of the cards is fifty-two, divided into four suits, thirteen cards in each. These suits are called respectively hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs; the two former being printed with red, and the latter with black ink. Ten of the cards in each suit have on them figures, from one to ten successively, of a heart or a diamond, &c.; and these cards, with the exception of that which bears a single figure, are known as the two, the three, or the four, and so on, of that suit. The card on which only one heart, &c., is imprinted is known as the ace of the suit, and in most games of cards is the most valuable of the thirteen, having the power to take any of the rest. Three other cards in each suit are known as king, queen, and knave, and bear quaint heraldic figures answering to these names respectively. The queens are easily distinguished from the other figures, but the novice requires to have it pointed out that the kings may be known from the knaves by a crown on the head, the latter wearing only a plain red cap.
THE GAME OF WHIST.
Of all card games Whist is acknowledged to be by far the best. As a combination of chance with skill, and therefore affording the interest found in games of both descriptions, whist has no competitor in the whole round of amusements of this nature. The most unskilful person who knows the game at all, may by ordinary good fortune be placed on a par with a very experienced player, and it has been computed by one authority that the difference between two of the best and two of the worst players is practically no more than five per cent. in favour of the former. To this comparative equalisation of the chances of success the popularity of the game is no doubt largely due.
Whist is said to receive its name from an interjection commanding silence, which is particularly enjoined by the laws of the game ; but this appears doubtful, as " whisk " is one of its oldest titles, and from this " whist " may easily have come.
We shall now give an account of the principles of the game, and afterwards of the laws by which it is regulated.
The usual and perfect game of whist is played by four persons, divided into two opposing sides. The partners on each side are generally determined by each person drawing or " cutting" a card from the pack--the drawers of the two highest and the two lowest cards playing together, and the person who picks the lowest of all being entitled to deal the cards for the first time. In cutting, the ace always counts as the lowest card in the pack.
In taking position round the table the partners sit facing each other, each player being between his two opponents. The cards are taken by the dealer, backs uppermost, and handed to the player sitting next him on the left, to shuffle; that is, keeping their backs towards him, to mix them up promiscuously. They are then again placed on the table, and the player on the dealer's right cuts them, by lifting off a part of the pack and laying it down, when the dealer picks up those cards which were at the bottom of the pack before cutting, places them on the top of the others, and commences to deal.
Each player has a right to shuffle the cards before the deal, if he pleases to do so ; but in practice it is usual, as we have said, for the eldest hand, or player to the left of the dealer, to perform the operation. The dealer may always shuffle the cards again before they are cut, if he thinks proper.
The cards are dealt by placing one face downwards before each of the players successively, commencing on the left hand, until the pack is exhausted. The last card will come to the dealer unless there is a misdeal, which will be treated of when we come to the laws of the game. This card is turned face upward on the table for all the players to see, and is known as the trump card. It determines the suit which is to be of the greatest value during that hand ; if a spade, for instance, is turned up, spades are trumps, and can take a card of any other suit on the table. The word " trump " is supposed to be a corruption of "triumph." The trump suit is, or may be, changed at every deal, according to the card which happens to remain at the bottom of the pack.
When the deal is complete, but not before, each of the players takes up his cards, and, holding them in his hand with the backs towards the other players, inspects the assortment which has fallen to him. The best plan, for a learner at least, is, before playing, to arrange the cards according to the suits and their value, so that he may see at one glance what he has in his hand, and find any card without hesitation. Then, spreading the cards out something like a fan, he is ready to follow the play.
The play commences by the eldest hand laying down a card face uppermost ; the player next him lays down another, then the third person in order, the dealer last. The card highest in value among the four takes them all, and the four collectively are called a trick. The value of the cards is according to the number of the "pips" or figures printed upon them, from the deuce, or two, which is the lowest of a suit, up to the ten ; the next best is the knave, then the queen, then the king, the ace being highest of all. The trick is gathered up by the person who takes it, or by his partner, and placed face downwards on the table, where it remains until the counting takes place at the end of the hand.
Whatever suit may be led by the first player, the others are bound to play a card of the same suit, if they have one. If not, they may play anything they please ; if a trump, it takes the trick, unless a higher one is played by another person. But if a player omits or refuses to follow suit when he is able to do so, his side incurs the penalty for a revoke, and loses three tricks; under the laws to be given hereafter.
No matter how high the cards may be of any ordinary suit, the lowest trump card has the power to take them all. And if a person cannot follow suit, whatever card he may play is taken, unless it be a trump. The ace of trumps is necessarily the highest card in the pack.
Whoever wins a trick becomes first player for the next, the others following from left to right in order; so the [-263-] play continues until all the cards are played, when the number of tricks gained by each side is counted. All made beyond six are scored towards the game—thus, if one party has made seven tricks during that hand, they count one towards game, but the side which has taken the other six count nothing.
The game consists of ten points, made either by tricks or honours. Honours are the four highest trumps—the ace, king, queen, and knave. Each of these counts one to the side which gets it in the deal ; but in practice the players do not score any for honours unless two partners possess either three or four between them. Thus, supposing each side to hold two honours, neither adds anything to the score, because "honours are divided," and neutralise each other. Three honours, by tne same rule, count only two towards game, the one held by the opponents being deducted. But if one side holds all the honours, it is allowed to score four for them, the value towards game being precisely the same as if four tricks had been made. In counting, however, tricks take precedence of honours ; so that if each side stands at eight, and one is entitled to score two by tricks, while the other side has won two by honours, the former, having the privilege of counting first, make up their ten, and so win the game.
When either side has scored nine towards game, it is not allowed to count honours. When the score of either party stands at eight, one of the partners, holding two honours in his hand after a fresh deal, may ask the other, " Have you an honour ?" or " Can you one ?" and if the reply is "Yes," the three honours are exhibited, and that side is allowed to count out at once. But after the first trick has been played the question cannot be asked. The other side, if they can make sufficient tricks, will consequently win the game in spite of their opponents' honours.
The dealer leaves the trump, or turn-up card, face uppermost on the table until the first trick is played to, so as to give every one full opportunity of knowing what is the trump suit. He then withdraws it to his own hand. The dealer thus has the advantage of always holding one trump at least, besides the chance that this one may be an honour.
It is usual at whist to play, not single games only, but rubbers of three games, the conquerors in two out of the three winning, as it is called, " the rub." The game of ten points is known as long whist, and is that usually played where amusement and recreation are the objects. Short whist is an invention of modern days, and consists of five points only. A rubber is consequently much sooner over than when the long game is played, which is a recommendation to some persons. but a disadvantage in the minds of others.
Honours count the same at short as at long whist, but they cannot be scored when the players have reached four points.
The game of whist should be played in silence. Any remarks by a player as to the nature of the cards which have fallen to him, &c., are contrary to the spirit of the game, and, although not forbidden expressly by its laws, are considered irregular and objectionable, where the game is played with strictness.
The following are recognised as exceptions to this rule. At any time, while a hand is being played, the question may be asked, " What are trumps ?" And when a player, either through momentary inattention, or through the rest having followed each other very quickly in their play, is in doubt as to what card was played by his partner, he may say, before playing, " Draw your card, partner," which the latter does by placing his hand upon it. Further, any one before a trick is lifted—i.e., taken up and turned upon the table—may demand that the cards shall be "placed," each before the person who played it. And, lastly, any one may demand to see the last trick played—that is, to have the cards comprising it shown to him ; but he is not then entitled to inquire who played them.
THE GAME OF WHIST (continued from p. 263).
WE have at present described the mere routine of whist — the apportionment
of the cards, the order in which they are played, and the ultimate object of the
game, namely, to score a certain number of points before your opponents. This
object, it will have been seen by those who have followed us attentively, maybe
gained either by chance or by skill, or by both combined. It maybe gained by
chance, when an extraordinary number of good cards fall to one player, or to one
side, in the course of a deal, so that if the partners on that side know
anything at all of the game, they must win, be their opponents as skilful as
they may. For instance, we have twice, in actual play, seen all the honours and
the two next best cards fall to a single player, enabling him, apart from any
help by his partner, or from any assistance derived from his seven other cards,
to secure six tricks to a certainty, and to count four towards game by honours
after tricks were reckoned, but such an incident is rare. On the whole, the
cards fall to each side with tolerable equality, and skill as a rule gets the
best of the game.
Skill at whist may be reduced to two primary principles — judgment, when to play out and when to keep in such cards as you may have in your hand, and memory, of what cards have already been played, and by whom; more or less of the latter quality being indispensable for the direction of the former. Other faculties, such as quick observation, and the power to draw from what is played a correct inference as to the object and the resources of the player, have also an important part to perform ; making whist, to those who study it for its own sake, a highly intellectual exercise, and profitable in its place, as a means of drawing out and quickening the mental powers.
As regards the inferences to be drawn, there are certain rules, hereafter to be mentioned, the knowledge of which will greatly assist the most inexperienced. As to judgment and memory, a player must learn to cultivate his own natural gifts by practice. Some persons have been knowr. to recollect, at any part of a hand, every card that was played, and who played it; and to be able to tell by inference, before the last trick is played, who holds each of the remaining cards. But we do not recommend anyone to attempt to perform such feats of intellectual gymnastics. Whist, we hold, like all other games, should be kept in its proper place as a recreation, and not made to absorb an amount of time and study which is better devoted to other purposes.
We will now give a few instructions as to playing out the cards in a hand, according to the learner's position at the table.
First Player.—The first player, at the commencement of the hand, having what is called the "original lead," should lead a card from his strongest suit ; namely, that in which he finds the most or the highest cards. If he has a sequence of high cards ; that is, a succession of ace, king, queen, &c., he should lead from it, beginning with the highest. If he holds several small ones he should begin with the lowest. If he has ace, and four or more small cards of a suit, he should play the ace, for that will probably make the trick ; but if he reserves it, the suit may be trumped in the second round, and his ace will be useless. The lead of the first player is understood to be an indication to his partner as to where his strength lies ; and his partner, if an experienced player, will consequently return the lead ; that is, play a card of the same suit when he gets the opportunity. The same rule holds good as to leads later in the game: always lead to your partner's hand when your own strength is doubtful or exhausted. Do not return the leads of your opponents, and do not change the suit with which you or your partner commenced until compelled to do so. If you have ace and queen in your hand, do not lead from that suit if you can avoid it. The reason is that, in the course of the play, you may be able to take a trick with the queen, and afterwards play the ace, or to capture the opponents' king with your ace, and then play the queen ; but if you have ace, queen, knave, you may lead the ace and afterwards the queen. If your opponents have trumped your strong suit or your partner's, lead trumps, if you have four or more. Do not lead the last card left of a suit until all the trumps are played.
Second Player.—The second plays his lowest card of the suit led, unless he possesses strength which it is desirable to utilise at once. Thus, if he hold king and queen, or ace and queen, he should play the queen ; but if he possesses one only of those cards, he should retain it and leave the chance of taking the trick to his partner. If he hold a sequence of two or more winning cards in the suit led, he should play the lowest. This is of consequence, as his partner will thereby be able to infer that lie possesses a higher, and play accordingly; whereas, if the second played his highest, there would he no clue as to where the next highest might be. To make this-the more clear, we will suppose A, the eldest hand, to have played a. low diamond ; B, second player, having king and queen, plays the queen. C may have the ace, and if he plays it on the queen, he still leaves B in possession of the winning card for the next round of that suit. But D may have the ace, and in that case he withholds it, as his partner will already have won the trick with the queen. In any case D sees that the king cannot be in the hand of C, or he would have played it ; and hence he infers positively that it must be with his partner B, or he would not have played out his queen so early. Considerations like these are important, making all the difference between skill in the game and the want of it. If you cannot follow the suit led, throw out one of your worst cards in another suit, unless you have reason to believe that your partner cannot take the trick, when you will do well to play a trump.
Third Player.—The general rule for the third player is to play his highest card, unless a higher is played before him. Thus he not only stands a good chance of winning the trick, but also assists his partner in his game, for he makes known to him where the strength of the suit lies. An exception to this rule is when the third hand holds ace and queen, or king and knave after ace has been played. He may then, if he think proper, finesse — that is, put on the lower of the two, risking the possibility of the trick being taken by the last player, as the chances are that the intermediate card is not in his but in one of the other hands.
Fourth Player.— Of him little need be said, for his task is easy. If his partner has already secured the trick he can play a worthless card, if not, he wins it if he can, and by the lowest card that will suffice for the purpose. The case that gives frequent room for doubt in the mind of the fourth player is when he has none of the suit left, the trick being against him, and hesitates to sacrifice a good trump to win the trick before him ; or when a high trump has been played by an opponent, and he must play a still higher one to take it ; for he may desire to retain his trumps in order to bring in a strong suit, or may hold one or two —such as ace and king—which he knows will secure tricks at any period of the game. In such a case, as well as in many others which occur at whist, the old rule of Hoyle is the best guide—"When in doubt, win the trick;" and this rule should be observed at any period of the game.
The following are other general rules for the guidance of the player, whatever his position, in playing to a trick:—
General Rules.—When you have only two or three small trumps in your hand, make them as soon as you can get the opportunity—that is, if your opponents lead a suit which you cannot follow, play one of your small trumps [-279-] upon it ; but be very careful not to trump your partner's trick—i.e., not to play a trump upon it when he has already secured it, or when he has played the best remaining card of a suit. When you "discard," or throw out a worthless card upon a suit which you cannot follow, let it be the lowest of its suit, or you will mislead your partner. But if you have only the second best card of a suit and one small one, do not discard the latter, but keep it to protect your second best in case the best should be played. If you have five trumps, lead one as soon as you can ; if four, keep them in for a time, to establish your strong suit. Narrowly watch the fall of trumps—who plays them, what cards they are, and how many have been played—so that you may be able to use your own to the best advantage. Do not play out your high cards of a suit in which your adversaries have shown strength; but of any suit in which your partner appears strong, play them at the first opportunity. Secure the odd trick—that is, the seventh—if you possibly can, for it makes a difference of two to the score. It puts you forward one point, and keeps your opponents one back. Consequently, when you have the chance of gaining it by playing a winning trump, do so without hesitation. But if your side has made six tricks, and you hold the ace of trumps, you are secure of the odd trick at any time, and consequently need not play it out until other considerations render it advisable to do.
Inferences.—Now as to some of the inferences which you have to draw in the progress of the game. The rules we have just given must be taken as the foundation of them, for you must suppose that your partner, if anything of a player, observes these, and plays accordingly. If, for instance, having an original lead, he plays trumps, you have a right to presume that he is very strong in them; and the same if he leads trumps early in the game. You must also conclude that when he takes a trick he does so with the lowest card he holds that will suffice for the purpose ; and thus, if he takes knave with ace, he can have neither queen nor king. It is most important thus to watch the play of your partner, and to play to his hand, as if yours and his were one. The chief feature of modern practice in whist, which distinguishes it from old-fashioned modes of playing the game, is that it aims to establish a code of signals between partner and partner, so that each may have a clue, in the play, to what the other holds, and play to help him ; the advantage thus gained being considered to more than counterbalance the disadvantage of your opponents judging, by the same rules, what is held between you. Hence the importance of playing according to strict rule, so that your partner may infer correctly. The rules which lead you to inferences as to what your partner has in his hand will, of course, guide you in guessing what is held by your opponents.
The maxim, however, that every rule has its exceptions holds good with regard to whist. There are periods and crises in the play in which a player may be justified in disregarding recognised rules, for an exceptional hand or an exceptional case may obviously warrant play that is not countenanced by general law. To those who wish to understand what may be these exceptions, or to go more fully than we have space to do into the proper play of the game as applicable to various chances, we must commend the perusal of some of the modern treatises on whist, as it is played in the London clubs. We will now give a. concise summary of the principal recognised
LAWS OF THE GAME.
Dealing .—The dealer must not shuffle the cards after
the pack is cut ; if he does, he loses the deal. If a card be faced—i.e.,
turned up on its face—during the deal, a new deal (by the same person) may be
demanded. If the dealer look at the trump card before it is properly dealt, a
new deal may be requested. The dealer forfeits his deal (which passes to the
player on the left) under the following circumstances :-1. If the last card does
not fall to the dealer ; unless it be found that the pack is imperfect. 2.
Should one player have fourteen cards and another twelve. 3. Should the dealer
place the trump-card face downwards on the table. 4. Should he deal two cards to
one player and then a third to the next ; but if i.e discovers the first error,
he is allowed to alter it, by giving the two cards to the persons to whom they
would properly have fallen.
The Last or Trump Card—The dealer must allow this to remain on the table, face upward, until he is called on to play to the first trick, when he should remove it to his own hand. No one may afterwards ask what was the turn-up card, but any one may inquire what is the trump suit.
Exposed Cards.—A card dropped on the table, or exhibited, out of the order of play, is liable to be called • that is, the adversaries may demand that it shall be played at any period of the game when it would not cause the holder to "revoke." If two cards are played instead M one, the adversaries may demand which they please to be played to that trick, and afterwards call for the other. If a player throw down his cards face upwards, they may all be called by his opponents. If a player lead out of his turn, the card thus exposed may be called for when it is his right turn to play ; or the adversaries may, instead, demand that either he or his partner, when it is his turn to lead, shall lead a particular suit.
THE GAME OF WHIST (continued from p. 279)
Playing out of Turn.—If he third
player play before the second, the fourth is entitled also to play before his
partner. If the fourth play before the second, the latter may be called on by
his adversaries either to win or to lose the trick, as they may deem advisable.
Revoking.—A revoke is committed whenever a player does not follow a suit, although he holds a card of it in-his hand. The penalty for every revoke is the loss of three tricks, which the opponents may take either—1, by adding three to their own score; 2, by deducting three from the score of the revoking side ; or 3, by taking three tricks from the revoking player and adding them to their own. In the latter case, the penalty may sometimes amount to even more than the loss of three. For instance, if the revoking party have made the odd trick, their opponents, by taking three tricks and adding them to their own six, count three themselves towards game, and make the others lose one, thus making a difference to the score of four in all. This is a point on which misunderstanding prevails, even among practised players ; but the law is as we have here stated it. The penalty for a revoke is counted before either tricks or honours. A revoke may be recalled before the revoking player has played to the following trick, but not after ; and a player is allowed to ask his partner if he is sure he has not a card of that suit. The tricks played during a hand may be searched, on its completion, to establish evidence of the revoke ; but the penalty cannot be claimed after the cards are cut for the next deal.
Here we must end our abstract of the laws, which we believe will be found sufficient for the family circle; but persons requiring further information as to nice points which occasionally arise, and the code by which they are to be met, will find it in the authorities before alluded to.
SINGLE AND DOUBLE DUMMY.
The game of "dummy" is an invention for the benefit of persons
who desire to play whist, but cannot make up the requisite party of four
persons. Single dummy is played by three, and double dummy by two. The cards in
each case are dealt out as in the regular game, and the same
rules are observed ; but in single dummy one hand is usually exposed upon the table, the players cutting to decide who shall first take "dummy" as his partner and play his cards ; and in double dummy, each of the two players has thus to conduct the game of a suppositious partner as well as his own. The game of "dummy," in either case, is inferior to that of whist in its usual form ; but it is considered useful practice, and single dummy especially affords much interest and amusement.
This is a game which can be made a source of considerable
merriment and amusement by a party of young people who have some skill, however
slight, in drawing. It is not known under any especial name, and it is played in
the following way :— Those engaged in it sit round the table, and each is
supplied with a piece of writing-paper folded into three parts, and a lead
pencil. In the first place each sketches a head and neck—that of a man or woman,
or that of some inferior
animal, taking care that his neighbour does not see what he has done. Then each re-folds the paper, so as to hide his or her sketch ; but leaves indications of where the neck is on the blank part of the paper which is folded over it. The papers then change hands all round, and each proceeds to sketch a body for the head he has not seen. When this has been accomplished, the papers are again re-folded as before ; another change takes place ; and all proceed to supply legs for the bodies they have not seen, just as before they supplied bodies for the heads they had not seen. When all this has been done, another change of papers takes place, and then each writes the name supposed to belong to the figure thus curiously compounded, after which the papers are unfolded, and the result is usually successive bursts of laughter at the oddness or absurdity of the combinations. For instance, A draws the head (1), B the body (2), C the legs (3) ; the result Of which, when unfolded, may be some such absurdity as is shown in Fig.I
Acted charades, in which syllables and words
are re-presented by short dramatic scenes or tableaux, are a modern invention,
and rank among the most attractive of in-door amusements. They require no great
art in the performance, and a little practice will enable any family circle to
get them up, when they know how to set about it. A word is chosen, of two or
more syllables, each of which has a distinct meaning ; these syllables are then
represented, in their order, by action, either with or without dialogue, and
afterwards the entire word is expressed in the same way, the spectators being
expected to guess what each scene has represented.
The company should properly be divided into two parties, each side in turn performing a charade, or tasking its penetration to detect the word on which the performance of the other side was founded. But if there be many persons present, the better plan is to select a few from the company to form sides, and each will thus relieve the other in contributing actively to the general
amusement. All persons, old or young, may be brought into the performance of particular scenes, if they are disposed to enter into the pastime.
The first thing necessary is the apartment in which the charades are to be enacted. The ordinary pair of rooms with folding doors, or a pair which may be separated by a screen or curtain, is well adapted to the purpose. The larger should be devoted to the general company or audience ; the smaller being the arena in which the performances take place. During the preparation of the charade, and between its different scenes, the doors are closed ; and, in order to prevent the spectators feeling the intervals irksome, it is well for some one to volunteer a little performance on the piano, or for ordinary conversation to go on as if nothing were expected.
The performers, retiring, agree among themselves as to the word which shall be the subject of the charade. As a rule, words of two syllables are best ; for these, requiring three scenes in all for their expression, are found quite long enough both by the performers and by the spectators who have to guess their meaning. As we have intimated, each syllable of the word chosen should be complete in itself, and capable of complete expression in the little drama or pantomime which has to be represented. Far-fetched puns and distortions of language are generally inadmissible, as not affording a fair chance to the opposite side, or to the company who comprise the audience, to guess the word which the scenes are designed to convey ; but the simple doubling of a consonant, as where "in" is expressed by the representation of an "inn," or the occasional addition of a vowel which does not affect the sound, as in "pi(e)lots," is perfectly allowable ; and this hint will furnish our readers with a key to the solution of many charades which at first may appear very puzzling.
As examples of words, mostly of two syllables, from which a selection may be made, we will give the following :—
Almshouse Altar (all-tar) Artful Backgammon Bagpipe Bandage Bandbox Bargain Beefeater Bellman Birthday Blacksmith Blackstone Blockhead Blunderbuss Boatswain Bondage Bootjack Bracelet Breakfast Brickbat Bridecake Bridegroom Bridewell Cabbage Cand(y)date Carmine Carpet Catcall Caterpillar Chairman Checkmate Childhood Cornice Cottage Counterpane Counterpart Courtship Coxcomb Crosspatch Cutlass Dewdrop Donkey Earwig Eyeglass Falsehood Farewell Fireworks Footpad Gooseberry Gunpowder Hamlet Hammook Handcuff Helpmate Honeymoon Hornpipe Hostage Idol Innkeeper Jew's-harp Jovial Keyhole Luggage Madcap Magpie Messmate Milksop Mis(s)take Muffin(n) Nosegay Outfit Pancake Patchwork Patriot Pilgrim Pi(e)lot Postboy Rest-oration Ringlets Saucebox Shamrock Snuffbox Spinster Sweetheart Telltale Timepiece Toi(y)let Upshot Wardrobe Watchman Welcome
ACTED CHARADES (continued from p. 320).
OPINIONS differ as to whether the syllable or word which is
represented should be uttered during the scene. Some, in practice, express it
only by action ; others think it best that it should be mentioned in the course
of the dialogue, but so introduced that it is disguised, or withheld from all
prominence. This, however, is a matter on which the performers should be left to
their own taste or judgment ; but there should be an understanding among both
themselves and the spectators, as to which rule is to be observed.
The next thing is to represent the syllables agreed upon. Where the company are not generally expert, some one who has had experience in charade-playing should, if possible, be selected as the leader and director of each party, and plan the various parts to be taken by all, giving hints or instructions as to the details of the performance. As much humour as possible should be thrown into it, and clumsiness or blunders should be taken as of no account, the object being simply amusement. An awkward but good-humoured performer is often able to excite as much harmless mirth as any of the rest.
The various characters in the scene to be represented should dress themselves up, according to the means at hand, for their respective parts ; but the most "rough and ready" articles of costume are as good for the real purpose as any other. It is enough, for instance, that the principal figure in a scene representing "age" should wear a grey wig, or a slouched hat and spectacles, or hobble along with a stick, doing the pantomime of deafness, &c. Those who have the means as well as the inclination for the adoption of an elaborate costume in the performance of acting charades can, of course, gratify their taste; but this is by no means necessary to the thorough enjoyment of the pastime either by actors or spectators ; the resources which any one may find immediately to hand often creating the most amusement.
The following are examples of the "makeshift" expedients which may be resorted to in the performance of various characters in the scenes of a charade.
Baby.—May be either a real one or a dummy; the former preferable when mamma gives consent to its introduction.
Bride. — Wreath made like a boy's kite-tail ; antimacassar fastened to the hair to represent the bridal veil ; white paper bows pinned to dress; white kid gloves; and bouquet.
Cabman.—Wideawake hat, handkerchief round the neck, two great coats, walking-stick with a string tied to it, tart-dish for a badge.
Child.—Any juvenile, "fractious " or otherwise, will answer the purpose.
Counsel.—Wig made of cotton wool, paper collar with bibs, long dressing-gown, roll of paper in the hand.
Countrygirl.—Gipsy hat with streamers, dress pinned up at four points, rouge generally requisite.
Countryman.—Hat brushed the wrong way, paper collars with the corners sticking well up, silk neckerchief, and showy waistcoat.
Doctor.—White neck-cloth and black coat, walking-stick with a knob, which is frequently applied to the lips during consultation.
Housemaid.—Short apron, bouquet paper with or without ribbons as cap.
Judge.—Lady's victorine across the head, dressing-gown robes, spectacles, desk, and pen.
Military Officer.—Turn-up collar, cocked hat, sash, moustache, and cane.
Naval Officer.—Buttoned coat, gold paper epaulettes, boy's cap with gilt band.
Old Man.—Hair combed off the forehead, which is marked by a few lines drawn with raw umber ; little cotton wool to represent white whiskers, spectacles, and a thick stick.
Policeman.—Coat closely buttoned, collar turned up, and marked in chalk with a number ; hair brushed up to the top of the head before putting on the hat.
Prisoner.—Hair short and rough, no shirt-collar or front, spotted handkerchief round the neck, charcoal beard, and black eye, if required.
Sailor.—Coat tails pinned up behind for jacket, no waistcoat, black neckerchief with ends loose, turn-down collar, yachting-hat.
Tax-gatherer.—Buttoned coat, hat over eyebrows, spectacles, book, and pen behind the ear.
Workman.—Square paper cap, shirt sleeves, and white apron.
We will now give an example of the dialogue-charade, founded on a word of two syllables.
Characters, Mr. and Mrs. Turtledove, Miss Julia
Mayfair their cousin, Parlour-maid. Scene, the drawing-room of a country
cottage ; the Turtledoves seated, in easy morning costume ; Mrs. T. at
fancy-work, her spouse looking over the paper.
Mrs. T.—Dear me! How I long to see town again. So many months since we were there; and really one seems to be almost out of the world here, although it is so beautiful in summer. Don't you think so, Charles?
Mr. T.—Well, my love, perhaps it is a little—ah, ahem —secluded ; but one can always see what is going on by the papers ; and then you know you detest town formalities.
Mrs. T.—True ; but, my dear, one can't see the shops by the papers, and I should so much like to do so now and then. But there, Julia is coming to-day, and she will be able to tell me all the latest styles and the fashions.
Mr. T.—Yes; (aside) and to exhibit a few of them in her own person, I'll warrant.
Mrs. T.—Hark, Charles! I'm sure that must be Julia. (Rising.) Pray run to receive her. (Charles yawns, and moves leisurely towards the door.)
Enter Parlour-maid.—If you please, m'm, Miss Julia Mayfair.
Enter MISS JULIA (in walking costume, but dressed in extravagant imitation of the latest styles.)— My dearest Louisa! (embraces her.) How charmed I am to see you in such rural simplicity! How do, Charles? (Shakes hands.) What a pretty cottage! What a delightful retreat! (Aside.) What an outlandish place! (Takes a seat.)
Mrs. T.—You can't think, my love, how I have longed for this visit. You are truly kind to come to see us. But how you have altered! I should scarcely have recognised you!
Miss Julia.—Altered! Pray don't say so. You don't think I am looking any older, I hope! But town life is extremely fatiguing, I must admit, though I should expire without it!
Mrs. T.—Older! Oh dear no! But your complexion, my dear—your (glances at her hair)—in fact, you seem so much fairer than you were.
Miss Julia.—Oh yes, my dear. Quite the rage, I assure you. The Auricomous Fluid. Nobody would be seen without it now—that is (with emphasis), nobody who is in the world.
Mrs; T.—Well, my love, I can't say I appreciate it at present; but, of course, if it's the fashion, that must be my want of taste.
Miss Julia.—Quite so, my dear. But you will get used to it in time, and when the fashion comes down into these parts, I am sure it will suit you admirably.
Mr. T. (advancing towards the audience, and speaking aside.) What! Louisa make herself such an object! Whatever Miss Mayfair may think of herself, I consider her a perfect Guy.
Scene, supposed to be a ball-room. When the curtain is withdrawn, two ladies are seen seated; two gentlemen advance, and, either in the ordinary way, or by pantomime, invite them to become their partners. They do so, and, some one volunteering on the piano, the four perform a waltz, or a redowa, &c., according to taste.
Scene, the rooms of Mr. Fitzsquander, in St.
Swithin's College. Curtain withdrawn discloses Mr. F. seated at a table, with a
letter in his hand and his fingers in his hair.
FITZSQUANDER (rising).—Well, I am in a fix! Snap-child and Co. down upon me at last, and Shentpershent says "his friend" can't wait any longer for his money—the old thief. And the governor wrote last time he wouldn't stand it again. I'm up a tree now and no mistake. What's to be done? I must have some advice—don't see my way out of it at all.
Enter TOM TWISTEM.—Mornin', Fitz. How are you, old boy? (Shakes hands heartily.) Why, what's the matter? You look scared.
Fitzsquander.—Scared! Well I may be. You're just in the nick of time, Tom—the very man I want. Look here! (Shows him the letter.)
Tom (reading it).—Whew! That's just like 'em, old fellow. Told you you were not downy enough to have dealings with Snapchild. Wish you had taken my advice.
Fitz.—Well, I want it now. What's to be done? You're used to this sort of thing, I know.
Tom.—Done? Why, go to the governor, of course.
Fitz.—No good, Tom. Cut up rusty last time. I know the old boy—you don't.
Tom.—Well, then, go to the Mum—write to the Mamma, and ask her to get round the governor for you.
Fitz.—The Mum! Bravo, Tom! Capital idea. Haven't tried it on for months. She'll do it—she knows how. The governor can't stand her arguments.
Tom.—Yes; and tell her you've been neglecting business affairs to get up for your little-go, and had no time to think of accounts. That's how I did it (Aside.) Wish I could do it again; but same game won't do twice.
Fitz.—Thanks, my boy—much. I see my way now, I think. There's nothing like having an experienced guide in these matters, and you are such an old stager. (Fraternal demonstrations to each other.)
The company now have to guess the word, which is GUIDANCE (Guy-dance).
Acted charades, as we have already hinted, may be performed entirely in pantomime, and many prefer this method of playing the game, as it is easier than starting impromptu dialogue. All that is necessary is for the characters to dispose themselves in successive groups in which the various syllables of the word are more or less clearly expressed. The meaning should not be too palpable, but afford a little room to the spectators to task their ingenuity in guessing the word represented.
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