Patrick Spedding is, among other things, the bibliographer of the 18th century novelist Eliza Haywood. On his blog, he shared some contemporary reviews of Haywood's The Wife and The Husband (both 1756) and more. Those posts made me realize that I had a number of contemporary reviews of gaming literature, but never put them together in one place. I do so here, but first, a quick update...
The Scottish Miniature
One of my favorite Hoyles is the miniature published in Dundee in 1806 that I wrote about in "The Scottish Hoyles (part 2)." I noted there that the "Canadian" copy was on its way to the National Library of Scotland. It has arrived and is noted in the "important acquisitions" section of their web site. Click here and search for "Hoyle."
Reviews of Gaming Literature
There were a number of 18th century periodicals that published reviews or notices of nearly everything published in London. The two best know are The Monthly Review (1749-1844) and The Critical Review (1756-1817). They both started after Hoyle began writing, but both reviewed some books on gaming that I have discussed in this blog and one that I have not. These reviews are hugely important as they provide contemporary evidence of book publication and of book reception.
- The Humours of Whist
The polite gamester; or, the humours of whist. A dramatic satire, as acted every day at White's, and other coffee-houses and assemblies. 8vo. 6d. Cooper.
This is a new edition of a pamphlet published a few years ago; it is intended as a satire upon Hoyle, author of the treatises on whist, and other games; and also upon gaming in general.The review did not discuss Humours as a satire of piracy. Perhaps the piracy was out of mind by 1753.
- Calculations, Cautions and Observations, by E. Hoyle Jun.
The Critical Review for August 1761 is rather scathing:
Calculations Cautions, and Observations; relating to the various Games played with Cards: Addressed to the Ladies. By E. Hoyle Jun. 8vo. Pr 1s Griffiths
Had not the younger Mr Hoyle made frequent unsuccessful awkward attempts to be witty and humorous we should pass over his hackney'd admonitions to the ladies, as the well meant counsel of stupidity; but affectation merits serious reprehension. We must therefore acquaint our author, that we can calculate the duration of bis literary existence, with as much certainty as ever his predecessor could calculate a game of chances; and we venture to predict as a proof of our infallibility, that he may live just till he happens to be read and no longer. (p159)Cavendish discusses the book in his article "Historical Notes on our Nation Card Game. Chapter 1" in London Society for January 1866:
A few years later another Hoyle begotten pamphlet made its appearance. It was a moral paper, dissuading from play. It is only interesting on account of its title, which is ingeniously framed so as to obtain admission for the pamphlet into card circles. It was entitled 'Calculations, Cautions, and Observations relating to various Games played with Cards. By Edmond Hoyle, jun.' The writer, under this pseudonym (which was, of course adopted to catch the eye), professed to be Hoyle's nephew. (volume 9, p65)Similar comments were made by Julian Marshall in "Books on Gaming" in Notes and Queries for February 22, 1890:
At this point I must briefly mention a book which appeared with the following title : "Calculations, | Cautions, | and | Observations ; | Relating to | the various Games | played with | Cards: | Addressed to the Ladies. | By Edmond Hoyle, Jun.," 12mo., London, 1761, pp. 47, including subtitle and title. (B.M. and G.C.) In this there is nothing of our author's writing. It is a pamphlet in which the writer, who professes to be Hoyle's nephew, seeks to dissuade his readers from indulging in play. Of course, it is possible that Hoyle left a nephew...Much more probably "E. Hoyle, Jun." is a pseudonym, adopted with the idea that it would draw attention, as it doubtless did, to this pamphlet, which would have otherwise passed unnoticed. (7th ser. IX, p143)The abbreviations B.M. and G.C. indicate that Marshall had seen the now-lost copy at the British Museum (now the British Library) and that in the collection of George Clulow. The United States Playing Card Company bought the Clulow collection in about 1900. Hargrave lists the Clulow copy on page 395 of her book A History of Playing Cards. Unfortunately, the UPSCC collection is not open to the public.
Bibliographer Jessel had clearly seen a copy as he writes in his bibliography:
Probably a pseudonym. The author professes to be a nephew of Hoyles. The book contains a long extract from a Poem on Piquet, which I have been unable to trace. (p150)Within gaming literature, there is a sub-genre dealing with the morality of gaming. (See "The Nature of Gaming Literature (part 2)"). Hoyle never addressed the question and it is ironic that someone should exploit his name in doing so.
Although the book is unavailable, we are fortunate to have some much detail about it.
- A New Treatise upon Real Quadrille
A new Treatise upon real Quadrille, translated into English from the original French of Mons Martin...Small 8vo. 2s. 6d. sewed. Burnet.
The learned Author of this important treatise sets forth, as his motive for offering it to the public, that 'Quadrille, as it is played in England, is so little known in foreign countries, that an Englishman who goes abroad, is entirely ignorant of this game, except it be the value of the cards, their rank and order, and he cannot play it in any other country, so much has it been changed and augmented; from being tedious and languid, it has been rendered lively and amusing, by the additions and improvements it has received. Those who sit down only for amusement, will receive as much pleasure as those who play for profit and advantage.
'As the same taste cannot prevail for any length of time, it is requisite there should be as much variety in our amusements as in our dress. Quadrille fixes its reign in England; it occupies the attention of the Nobility, as well as the subordinate class of Gentry.' It is therefore to satisfy both, that I offer this treatise, which is written for those only who are acquainted with Quadrille after the English manner, who know the fort and foible of the game, and for these it will be necessary for me to enter into such disquisitions as they are unacquainted with; Beginners may have recourse to Mr. Hoyle's principles, I shall only rectify such mistakes as he has fallen into; add what he has omitted; stipulate the payments; being basted; the voles; the different changes the game at Quadrille may undergo; adding to each chapter, hands for and against; that is to say, the manner in which they should be played, either to win or lose them. It would be impossible to describe all the various turns which this game is susceptible of, a volume in folio would not be sufficient to compass such a design. I shall therefore only enter into the most material parts, and practice will render perfect such as would make themselves compleat masters.'
There is no doubt but this treatise will meet with all the encouragement which a work of so much consequence to the sons and daughters of Dissipation deserves; and the ingenious Author may, possibly, in time, become as great a man as the great Mr. Hoyle. To render it still the more fashionable, and the more universally acceptable and useful, it is printed in French and English;â€”perhaps too, with a particular view of introducing it, as a school-book, into the principal boarding-schools, those especially for the education of young Ladies.
The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts,
And wins, O shameful chance! the Queen of Hearts.
- Whist, A Poem in Twelve Cantos
The author of this poem is not destitute of talents, for versifying; and truly he needs them all, when he undertakes to berhime the laws and maxims of the game of whist. The poem opens with an invocation to the spirit of Hoyle, and observations on the invention of cards, in which the writer describes, with some humour, the benefits which mankind have received from it. An agreeable tale of young Moody and his aunts, by whom the game of whist was first invented and practised, prepares the way for a full detail of the laws of whist ; and a long course of rules is laid down respecting memory, judgment, and temper. The poem, when it becomes didactic, is tedious; but it is occasionally enlivened with pleasing fiction, and with reflections, in which the writer, not unsuccessfully, indulges a vein of ironical humour.The review quotes some 90+ lines from the poem, then concludes:.
After the amusement this poem has afforded us, we feel ourselves not disinclined to admit the author's own judgment upon his work, when towards the close he lays,Conclusion
I paused, and what was done with joy reviewed,
And thought it (if I here the truth may tell)
Hit off, upon the whole, exceeding well.
I wish that the reviews were in existence in the early 1740s when Hoyle was producing most of his books. It would have been interesting to see how they were received.