To appreciate the discovery, let me share some background. The earliest known translation of Hoyle was thought to be a Portuguese edition dated 1753, a book I wrote about here. A German translation of 1754 was thought to be second. The first translation into French was thought to be 1761. Well, you can see where this essay is heading.
|1751 French Translation|
There is a great deal of interest:
(1) Nowhere does the book mention Hoyle, although the title page notes that it is translated from English.
(2) The translation was commissioned by the generosity "d’un seigneur des plus distingués de ce pays," a most distinguished lord of Belgium, someone who will be difficult to identify.
(3) The translator is P. B. M. Malebranche. Thierry has done a great deal of biographical research and identified the translator as Pierre Baltasar Maximilien Malebranche. He was born in 1695, traveled to England in the 1720s attending Oxford and Cambridge and settled in Brussels around 1730. He published a number of books and died in in Liège in 1789 at the age of 94.
|24 laws of whist|
|Error corrected in 4th edition|
(6) Thierry has looked at all of the early French translations of Hoyle's Whist and concluded that there are five completely independent translations of the book (plus another two that are closely related to one of them). I find that curious.
|Rules of Whist|
Philippe has found a rare and interesting gem. I find it astonishing that it has not previously been noted in any library catalogue or in any research on gaming literature. Much thanks to Philippe for the photographs and to Philippe and Thierry for their research. From their many emails, I sense a note of pride that Hoyle's translation into French is now known to predate the Portuguese and German translations!