« AnteriorContinuar »
Spain, must not be forgotten in our enumeration. A Spanish nobleman having frequently played at chess with the latter monarch, and being a far more skillful player, won continually, and finally perceived that his majesty was much ruffled from chagrin when he rose from play. The lord, when he returned home, said to his family: "My children, we have nothing more to do at court; there we must expect no favor, for the king is offended at my having won of him every game of chess." Philip considered that he ought to suffer no rival, not reflecting that this game depends solely on the genius of the players, and not on the quantity of their possessions.
Olaus Magnus, who flourished in the sixteenth century, informs us that in his time it was "a custom among the most illustrious Goths and Swedes, when they would honestly marry their daughters, to prove the disposition of the suitors that came to them, and to know their passions especially, by playing with them at tables or chess. For at these games their anger, love, peevishness, covetousness, dullness, and many more mad pranks, passions and motives of their minds, and the forces and properties of their fortunes, are used to be seen : as whether the wooer be rudely disposed, that he will indiscreetly rejoice and suddenly triumph when he wins; or whether, when he is wronged, he can patiently endure it, and wisely put it off."
Frederick the Great was a chess player, and occasionally indulged in a game with Marshal Keith, with living pieces, in which he employed the services of his soldiers. So also were Leibnitz, Grimm, Schumacher, Wolff, Euler and Kempelen the mathematicians, and the eccentric Duke of Brunswick. Dr. Robertson, in his “ History of Charles V.," tells another anecdote to show that with some individuals the love of chess has been strong enough to conterbalance the fear of dying. John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, made prisoner at the battle of Muhlberg in 1547 by Charles V., was playing chess with his fellow-captive, Ernest of Brunswick, when he received the news of his condemnation to death. After a few remarks on the irregularity of the emperor's proceedings, he quietly continued his game. On winning it, he expressed his satisfaction, and then retired to prepare for his execution. He did not, however, suffer the death penalty, but was released after five years' imprisonment.
The annals of chess, though furnishing numerous more difficult and tedious problems, contain none more marvellous than the following:
When Charles XII.* was pursued by the victorious Russians after his defeat at the memorable battle of Pultowa, he sought refuge on a small island in the Dniester, in the dominions of the Sultan. Here, near the town of Bender, surrounded by Swedes, Poles and Tartars sent by the Sultan, and by janizaries in his service, he established his camp; till the Turk, fearing longer to offend the Czar, peremptorily ordered the unfortunate king to leave. The latter, notwithstanding that he had but three hundred men at his command, refused, and resolved to remain and die. Meanwhile the enemy, thirty thousand strong, besieged him there, with now and then an occasional shot to warn him of his danger. His constant amusement while in camp was chess, and among his most familiar opponents were the gallant Poniatowski and the brilliant Swede, Christian Grothusen. The Swedish historian Pryxell has recorded his contests with the latter, while the writings of Voltaire tell us of his combats with the former. It was in January, 1713,—not a month before his final capture and transport to Adrianople. The king and his General Grothusen were just at the close of a long and exciting contest, whea Charles announced, “Mate in three moves. The position was as follows: White king on king's bishop's fifth, white rook on king's knight's seventh, white knight on the king's square, and white pawns on king's knight's second and king's rook's second ; black king on king's rook's fourth, bishop on king's bishop's seventh, and pawns on king's rook's third and on king's knight's sixth. Thus:
Among the virtues of this youthful monarch must be enumerated bis aversion of gaming: which he carried so far that he even prohibited any man in his army from indulging in game of chance. Chess, however, was excepted, and the king took snch a delight in it that lie en couraged the study and practice of it among all his courtiers. His playing was peculiar in one respect, viz., that he moved the king more than any other piece, a conduct in which he finds few, if any, imitators, on account of the ruin involved upon all the pieces in case the king
meets with a disaster.
The words were no sooner uttered than a stray bullet, shattering a window-pane, hurled the white knight from the board, but ere his dismayed opponent could replace the piece Charles coolly smiled and said: "I do not need the knight," and declared mate in four moves. At this second announcement a second bullet removed the white rook's pawn. The monarch, with his accustomed composure, remarked to his opponent: "You have our good friends, the Turks, on your side ; I can scarcely contend against thirty thousand heathen-this is the first time I have seen chess played with muskets. But wait,” he added, "I think I can spare this unlucky pawn also," and informed the general that there was a "mate in tive moves”! Those who belong to the school of Caissa can now produce their boards and endeavor to solve this problem.
Don John of Austria is said to have had a chamber in his palace the floor of which was paved with black and white marble like a chessboard, and upon this living men moved under his direction, according to the laws of the game. A duke of Weimar is also recorded to have possessed a similar apartment and utilized his soldiers for chess-men. In 1792, Hunter, in describing the palace of Akbar at Delhi, says that the pavement of one of the courts was "marked out in squares in the manner of the cloth used by the Indians for playing the game called pachess. Here Akbar used to play at the game, the pieces being represented by real persons. On the side of the court is a little square apart, in the center of which stands a pillar supporting a circular chair of stone, at the height of one story. Here the emperor used to sit to direct his moves.':
And now, kind reader, our task is done, and our hope is that those who are not yet initiated into the mysteries and wonderful positions of this delightful recreation will be induced to penetrate them. We have only to add that in our rambles among chess-lore we have discovered the subjoined old quotation, and should be thankful to be informed of the authorship of the same:
THE DIVERSITIE OF MATES.
Dr. Edward Jenner.
Dr. Edward Jenner, the author of this charming poem on weather signs, was born in Gloucestershire, England, May 17, 1749, and passed most of his life in Berkeley, as a regular medical practitioner. He was the discoverer of vaccination, as a preventive of small-pox, and after much opposition and great obloquy from the medical fra
ernity, lived to see his system triumph, and adopted in every part of the globe. Oxford University presented him with a diploma, the Royal Society admitted him to membership, and Parliament voted to him a gratuity of £20,000.
Besides the authorship of several medical works bearing on his great discovery, Dr. Jenner wrote much on Natural History, a subject of which he was very fond.
His poems exhibit the life and spirit of true genius, a close obo servation of nature and a weird and unique style of expression that remind one of the short fragmentary poems of Shakespeare.
He died January 26, 1823, and the poem given below, had a great circulation for a few years subsequent to his death, both in this country and England. It is copied from Leavitt's Farmers' Almanac for the year 1826.
W. H. H. SIGNS OF RAIN.
An excuse for not accepting the invitation of a friend to make an excursion with him.
An Original Poem, by the late Dr. Jenner.
17. Low o'er the grass the swallow wings;
ANNUAL MOURNING OF HASSAN AND Hossein. (Vol. IV. p. 251.) It is related that Hassan and Hossein, Mohammed's grandchildren, on a certain time being both sick, the prophet, among others, visited them, and they wished Ali to make some vow to God for the recovery of his sons; whereupon Ali and Fatema, and Fidda, their maidservant, vowed a fast of three days in case they did well; as it happened they did. This vow was performed with so great strictness, that the first day, having no provisions in the house, Ali was obliged to borrow three measures of barley of one Simeon, a Jew, of Khaibar, one measure of which Fatema ground the same day, and baked five cakes of the meal, and they were set before them to break their fast with after sunset; but a poor man coming to them, they gave all their bread to him, and passed the night without tasting anything except water. The next day Fatema made another measure into bread, for the same purpose; but an orphan begging some food, they chose to let him have it, and passed that night as the first; and the third day they likewise gave their whole provision to a famished captive. Upon this occasion Gabriel descended with ac hapter in the Koran, and told Mohammed that God congratulated him on the virtues of his family.