"by sitting down to whist"
Game of whist
Public DomainGame of whist - Credit: Bertall, La Comédie de notre temps : études au crayon et à la plume

Whist is a classic card game requiring 4 players and a standard 52-card deck. It rapidly gained in popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries.

A great many books were written on the subject, for example Whist, or Bumblepuppy? written in 1883 (after Austen's time). It was described by the London Sunday Times as "one of the most entertaining and at the same time one of the soundest books on whist ever written. Its drollery may blind some readers to the value of its advice: no man who knows any thing about whist, however, will fail to read it with interest, and few will fail to read it with advantage."