Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Royal Game of Goose


'It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But they forget the other proposition, that it must be lived forwards.' (Kierkegaard, Journals)

It was games night last night.  After a round of Pictionary we moved to reacquaint ourselves with The Royal Game of Goose.  The game board comprises 63 coded boxes arranged in a spiral. It is a race between players with rewards going to those who land on a goose and penalties for those occupying the other pictures. Stakes are won or lost until the player who first reaches the end wins everything.
Apparently, the first mention of the game comes from Francesco dei Medici, Grand Duke of Florence in Italy in the 1500s. He sent a copy to King Philip II of Spain where it caused great excitement at the court, and the adult gambling game spread rapidly to other parts of Europe.  It reached England by 1597, when John Wolfe entered "the newe and most pleasant game of the Goose" in the Stationers' Register.  According to the letters of Horace Walpole, it was played by Duchess of Norfolk in 1758. 

We picked ours up at a garage sale.

~ Oliver Goldsmith, Anglo-Irish writer, poet and physician (1728-74)

The Red Lion flaring o'er the way,
Invites each passing stranger that can pay;
Where Calvert's butt, and Parsons' black champagne,
Regale the drabs and bloods of Drury-lane.
There in a lonely room, from bailiffs snug,
The Muse found Scroggen stretch'd beneath a rug;
A window, patch'd with paper, lent a ray,
That dimly show'd the state in which he lay.
The sanded floor that grits beneath the tread;
The humid wall with paltry pictures spread.
The royal game of goose was there in view,
And the twelve rules the royal martyr drew;
The seasons, fram'd with listing, found a place,
And brave prince William show'd his lamp-black face:
The morn was cold, he views with keen desire
The rusty grate unconscious of a fire;
With beer and milk arrears the frieze was scor'd,
And five crack'd teacups dress'd the chimney board;
A nightcap deck'd his brows instead of bay,
A cap by night--a stocking all the day!


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