Here’s an extract from ‘The Temptation; or, Satan in the Country’ by Elizabeth Moody:

The verdant table Satan spy’d,
And took his seat by Lydia’s side;
Soon as he hovers o’er her hand,
Lydia finds aces at command;
From one known shuffle amply pours
Sans prendre games and matadores.
Then perching next on Cosmo’s sword,
Two fish were pilfer’d from the board.

Elizabeth Moody (1798). Poetic Trifles, p. 152–3. London: Baldwin.

What game are they playing? What are “sans prendre games”, “matadores”, and “fish”? Why is the shuffle “known”? What is the significance, if any, of Cosmo’s sword?

1 Answer 1


Quadrille, as named in the last line of the poem, is the game. (This web page has lots of details and further references.) I don't know exactly what "known shuffle" means here. "Sword" seems to mean "spadille", the ace of spades. I assume Cosmo is the name of one of the players.

Check out, eg, A Brief and Necessary Supplement to All Former Treatises on Quadrille: Consisting of Hints, Questions, Explanations, References, Suppositions, &c. for the Benefit of the Unlearned by "No Adept", of 1764. (See this online copy.) An excerpt (with modernized capitalization) from page 3:

Wherefore, without further introduction, as the difference between a Sans prendre and a Vole, seems not sufficiently attended to by young players, I shall begin with the following illustration of it.

Suppose, for instance, two fish on the board, and eight remaining in the pool, a Sans prendre without matadores is one fish better than a vole without matadores : and with matadores, it is two fish better than a vole with matadores. Without matadores it is a matadore better than a vole with matadores and with matadores two fish and a half better than a vole without matadores.

I can almost imagine Moody writing with "No Adept's" handbook open in front of her.


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