Page:010 Once a week Volume X Dec 1863 to Jun 64.pdf/370

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The church abounds with fine monuments, in good preservation ; but, sad to say, so much care is taken that one good brass had become highly polished, and was ordered to be kept bright, an attention which could be very well dispensed with.

Should the visitor have time, Penshurst Castle is well worth seeing, the old hall with its open roof instead of modern chimney furniture as used by Queen Elizabeth, good specimens of matchlocks and calivers, and much of interest to the public generally, and of course, it is a special treat to an antiquarian. Altogether the village and neighbourhood of Penshurst offer much to induce those enjoying a quiet day in the country to consult the time-table, and start early for a long day there.

This paper should not, however, be closed without mentioning that the dinner, ordered at Tunbridge, was ready on our return; and my friend Mr. Harding often referred to the happy and pleasurable day we spent going down to the Old House at Pound’s Bridge.

OBSOLETE CARD-GAMES.

There is no authentic record of card-playing in Europe earlier than the end of the fourteenth century, though it is probable that cards were known to some few persons as early as 1350. It seems strange that it has never been satisfactorily ascertained when the most fascinating species of gambling ever invented was first introduced; strange, that it should still be doubtful whether card-playing was engrafted from some other quarter of the world, or whether it was a European invention. It is true that there are traditions of the existence of playing-cards from time immemorial in Hindostan, where the Brahmins claim to have invented them. There is also a legend that playing-cards were invented in China, for the amusement of Seun-ho’s numerous concubines, in the year 1120. There is a third hypothesis, which delivers over to the gipsies the invention of cards at a remote epoch. But, granting that there is some foundation for all these theories, still the fact remains that, even if cards did exist earlier than the middle of the fourteenth century, the mode of playing with them has not survived.

The game of primero, prime, or primavista, is allowed by most authorities to be the oldest known card game. Sir John Harrington, in his punning epigram “ On the games that have been in request at the Court,” has the following :—

The first game was the best, when free from crime The courtly gamesters all were in their prime.

According to Nares, primero resembled a more modern game called l’ambigu, but Seymour, in The “ Court Gamester,” published early in the eighteenth century, gives a different version. Speaking of ombre (quadrille), he says, “ It is an improvement of a game called primero, formerly in great vogue among the Spaniards. Primero is played with six cards, ombre with nine,—that being the material difference. As to the terms, they are mostly the same.”[1] He who holds cinquo primero (which is a sequence of five of the best cards and a good trump) is sure to be successful over his adversary. Hence the game takes its denomination.” Minshew, in his “Guide into Tongues," says that primero means first, and primavista first seen ; and that the game is so called “because he that can show such an order of cards first, wins.”

It can hardly be doubted that primero was
  1. Seymour is mistaken on this point.