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received at the entrance by Earl Moira, and
WAS LAID BY HIS ROYAL HIGHN ESS
And on the reverse:—
ROBERT SMIRKE, ARCHITECT.
Six Masons now spread the cementing mortar upon the lower stone, and the Prince es Grand Master completed it with a gilt trowel, plan of the building by Mr. Smirke, the Archi-presented to him by Earl Moira as acting G. M. tect: he then proceeded to the ceremonial. The stone was raised, and His Royal Highness deposited, in a space cut in the lower stone, a brass box, which contained specimens of all the most recent British coinage, and two medals, one of bronze, which bore a Portrait of the Prince of Wales, and on the reverse the following inscription :
REGIIS INSTAURANDI. AUSPICIIS
SUA MANU. LOCAVIT
The other medal was copper, and deeply engraven with the following Inscription on one side:
UNDER THE AUSPICES OF
HIS MOST SACRED MAJESTY GEORGE III. KING OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND,
THE FOUNDATION-STONE OF THE THEATRE,
descent was hailed by the most animating
During the same day, Mr. Harris received a letter from Colonel M Mahon, stating that he was commanded by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to declare to the proprietors and the Architect his high approbation of the arrangement and regularity of the cere mopy.
HISTORICAL NOTICES RESPECTING THE MOST ANCIENT PASTIMES, [Concluded from Page 131, Vol. V.]
sian schah, or schuch; the modern Latins gire it the name of ludus scachorum; the Italians that of scacchi; and by ourselves it is called the
"My researches have not enabled me to ascertain what name was given to this play in India by its inventor. In Persia it received the appellation of schatreng, or schatrangschi,|| game of chess.” the play of the king. This designation it re- It is not easy to conceive how a man of such tained among the Arabs, of whom the Spani- erudition as Saumaise, could, without preards probably learned it in the middle ages.ducing the slightest proof deduced from Greek The latter still call it aadrang, or with the authors, attribute to the Greeks the invention addition of the Arabic particle, alxadres and of a game in which every thing forcildy reminds aradres. By the Greeks, who in all likelihood us of Oriental manners. All his proofs are learned it of the Arabs at the time of the ca- actually reduced to this simple question :--lifs of Bagdad, it was denominated zatrikion; “ Who does not know that the invention of the French call it le jeu des echecs; the Ger- this game belongs to the Greeks? From them,” mans schachspiel; the first from the Arabic adds he, in an equal positive tone, it was word schek, or sheik, the second from the Per-transferred to the Persians. The Pain
Anna Comnena, who must have been better acquainted with this subject, says exactly the contrary. In her account of the conspiracy formed against her father Alexis, by the four brothers Anemades,' and the weak senator Solomon, she remarks that the Emperor owed the discovery of their plot, and the preservation of his life, to the custom which he had of playing at chess with one of his near relations at night, when he could not sleep; and adds, "This game was invented by the Assyrians, and it is from them that it was introduced among us." It is well known that in her time the Greeks gave the name of Assyrians to the Arabs, who were actually in possession of the ancient empire of the Assyrians and Persians. The Princess, it is true, was not accurately informed respecting the real inventor of the game of chess, but this does not in the least invalidate her authority in regard to the principal question. It is certain that if the game which she calls zatrikion, had been of Greek origin, she would have known something of the matter, and in that case would not have thought of ascribing it to the Assyrians.
We shall not enquire whether the good Bramin, Nassir, actually made princes wiser by the invention of his game of the king; he at least succeeded in one point. Chess has been for many centuries, and still continues, the favourite game of the princes and the great in Asia. An anecdote of the Calif Alamir, the sixth of the Abassides, related by Elinakin, the historian, proves that that prince had an enthusiastic passion for this game. He was playing at it in the interior of his palace with his favourite Cuter, when a messenger came to inform him that it was time to direct his attention to more important affairs, for the "enemy, who had been long besieging Bagdad, were on the point of making themselves masters of the city." "Very well," said the Calif to the officer; "I am coming; only let me make Cuter check-mate."
been pronounced upon him by that iniquitous tribunal. The Elector paused a moment, but without betraying any sign of emotion; he then answered the messenger like a hero and a good father; on which, turning to Duke Eruest, he challenged him to finish the game. He played with his ordinary tranquillity and composure; and having beaten his antagonist, expressed all the satisfaction that is commonly felt on gaining such victories.
This anecdote reminds me of another related by Seneca of a noble Roman, named Casius Julius, who was put to death by order of Caligula, merely because he possessed a truly Roman spirit. Caligula had sent him word, ten days before hand, that his name was inscribed on the list of death; and on this subject there was no reason to doubt his veracity. At the expiration of the time, the centurion who was directed to conduct the victims to their fate, went to the house of Casius, and found him playing, with great composure, at the game of soldiers (latrunculi). “Follow me,” said he to him, shewing his order. Casius rose, counted his pieces, and addressed his antagonist:-" Boast not," said he, “after my death, that you have beaten me." Then beckoning to the centurion:-"I call you to witness," continued he, "that I have one piece more than my adversary.”
Timur, whom we call Tamerlane, was likewise fond of chess; but the ordinary game appeared to him on too small a scale, he therefore had a board with one hundred and thirtytwo squares, and thirty-two pieces for each player. History has preserved the names of those who were accustomed to play with him. One of them, named Ala-Eddin, or Aladin, was so clever that he always played without taking a moment for reflection, and nevertheless he always vanquished his antagonist. Timur, who never loved to lose at any gaine, Hot even at chess, had however the justice to forgive Aladin this superiority. One day, when the latter, after having long embarrassed him, at length won the game as usual, Timur exclaimed, laughing:-" Aladin, you have won; you are unrivalled among chess-players, as Timur is among kings." On the other hand, the celebrated Sultan Mahmoud, son of Sebucteghin, surnamed Gashni, is said to have been as fertile in military stratagems as invincible at the game of chess, and at the real game of kings, at which he played for territo
A similar anecdote is related of Johu Frederic, the generous Elector of Saxoný; but from the circumstances in which he was placed it does much greater honour to his character. He had been the prisoner of Charles V. ever since the unfortunate battle of Müchlberg; and the Emperor, in contempt of the fundamental laws of the empire, and his own oaths, caused him to be tried by a council of war, composed of Spanish and Italian officers, with the inexorable Duke of Alva for their presi-ries and crowns with the Oriental princes of dent. The Elector was playing at chess with Ernest, Duke of Brunswick, his friend and companion in misfortune, when Charles sent to acquaint him that sentence of death had
his time. Among other testimonies on this head we have that of Onsori, a Persian poet, who, in a distich in honour of Mahmoud, says, that he played at chess with a thousand,
princes, and made each of them check-mate in a different way.
purpose. It was paved with large squares of black and white marble; the figures, which After the princes and knights of the West seemed to be of ivory or ebony, were as large had brought the play of chess with them on as life, and habited with the utmost magnitheir return from their unfortunate expeditions ficence. Their armour was of gold, enamelled to the Holy Sepulchre, this game was long in and enriched, as well as their garments, with vogue among the great in Europe. Hence, pearls and precious stones. The two kings after the example of the Orientals, the Euro-, and the two queens shone with dazzling splen peans sought to do honour to this truly royal dour; the bishops, who were then called pastime, by the richness and exquisite work- standard bearers, were on foot, but they carried manship of the chess-board and its pieces. Of splendid ensigns of two different colours, bearthis numerous proofs are yet to be found in ing two mottos embroidered in pearis and gold; the cabinets of curiosities of kings and princes. lastly, the pawns, armed with battle-axes, were In the East, magnificence in this particular on foot, and by their martial vir seemed quite was carried to such a height that, according impatient for the signal of battle. But what to Medgdi, the historian, the Persian King seemed the most extraordinary was the proCosrou, the son of Perviz, had a chess-board,perty with which these figures were endued the pieces belonging to which were of byacinth | by the enchanter, the rival of Vulcan, who had and emerald; and another monarch possessed one, the smallest piece of which was worth three thousand gold dinars.
constructed this wonderful chess-board. The player had only to touch with a small wand the figure which he wished to move, and it One of those old romance-writers, whose instantly went and occupied the place which imagination always far surpassed what they he intended. The lady of the castle taught had before their eyes, has given us a descrip- the Knight to play at chess in this equally tion of a game of chess, and a manner of play-, convenient and astonishing manner; and then ing it which would not make a bad figure in a proposed a game, on condition that if he won, poem on chivalry. It is to be found in the the cless-room, the castle, and the lady should account of the adventures which belel the four belong to him; but that if he lost, he should brothers, Gauvain, Agravain, Gueret, and be her slave for life. The young Knight was Galleret, when they went in quest of Lancelot. at first somewhat alarmed at this proposal, "Galleret, the youngest and most courteous but he soon recovered, and declared that be of these four brothers, one day on leaving a was ready to accept the challenge, flattering forest perceived a magnificent castle, situated himself, with ail the assurance too common to on a hill at a small distance. While he was youth, that he could not fail of success, and viewing it with admiration, a lady, mounted that he would soon become master of the chesson a palfrey, rode up and invited him in the room, the castle, and the lady. The game name of her mistress, the lady of the castle, to began; the lady gave the Knight a white stick, take some refreshment there, and afterwards and took a black one herself. The figures, as to play a game at chess; for, added she, a soon as they were touched, seemed perfectly knight of your appearance mast have received || animated, raised their battle-axe, lance, standtoo good an education to be ignorant of that ard, or sword; marched in a warlike attitude game. Galleret replied, with all the courtesy to the place assigned them, as if to meet an of a Knight of the Round Table, that he was enemy, but did not strike each other till the not a great adept at chess, though he had often moment when, according to the rules of the seen it played at the court of King Arthur, game, one piece was to take another. This where that game was the usual pastime of the manner of playing highly delighted Galleret; King, of the Queen Genevre, of Lancelot, his whole heart was in the game, but it soon Gauvain, and the other Knights; but, at any took a turn which did more honour to his rate, he was ready to follow the lady whither- courage than to his dexterity. In a word, he soever she pleased to conduct him. She took found himself check-mate at the very moment him to the castle, where he was received in a when he least expected it, and he had no other very friendly manner by the fairy Floribelle, a resource left than to demand his game in relady of great beauty and vivacity. After the turn of Floribelle. The lady complied, at the repast Floribelle conducted him to a magni- same time declaring that she could play no ficent saloon, saying he would there find every || longer than till sun-set, or at most but three thing necessary for the game of chess. Gal games. Besides,' added she, we have a law leret was struck with astonishment on enter- by which he who loses a game at the fourth ing, for never had he yet beheld such a chess- move, is precluded from asking revenge.' board; the whole saloon was designed for the || Galleret admitted what she said, paid all the
attention of which he was capable to the game, and won the second, but lost the third, which decided his fate. He was obliged to suffer himself to be disarmed and conducted to a prison, where he had at least the consolation to find a great number of other Knights who had lost their liberty in the same way. There he remained till his brother Gauvain had the good fortune to make the fairy check-mate at the fourth move, and thus put young Galleret in possession of the charming Floribelle, her chess-room, and castle."
If it were possible to give the least credit, in an historical point of view, to the romances of chivalry, and the tales of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the antiquity of the game of chess, in Europe, would be much higher than the period at which, in conformity with the opinion of Freret, we have fixed its jutroduction. But these romance-writers were so accustomed to commit the most egregious blunders in chronology, in geography, and in history, that it gave them no more trouble to make the Knights of King Arthur play at chess than to transport Babylon into Egypt, to metamorphose the emirs of the Arabs into admirals, and to suppose that Charlemagne had assumed the cross preparatory to an expedition to the Holy Laud. At their time the game of chess was common at the coarts of the great lords of France. Skill in playing this game was considered as one of the perfections befitting an accomplished Knight; this was sufficient to make them ascribe it to the Knights of the Round Table, whom they represented as models of all the virtues and || perfections of their condition.
We should find a much stronger proof against the opinion of Freret, in the chessboard with large ivory figures and Arabic characters, which formed part of the treasure of the Abbey of St. Dennis, if it were true as it was asserted, that it belonged to Charlemagne, and that he received it from Asia, doubtless among the presents of the Calif Harun Alraschid. But what prevents the Arabic characters from giving any weight to this tradition is, that the pieces have nothing of the Oriental costume, and are made in the European style. The latter circumstance, and the name of the maker, would rather lead us to suspect it to be the work of some modern Greek. If Charlemagne had known, or been fond of chess, we should find some notice of it in Eginhard, who entered into such circum. stantial details respecting the domestic life of his master.
We ought to pay still less attention to the anecdote related by the celebrated Augustus,
Duke of Lüneburg, under the name of Gustavus Sclenus, in his detailed description of the game of chess. It refers to the son of a Duke Occar of Bavaria, who lived in France at the court of King Pepin, and was killed with a blow from a chess-board, by a young prince, who could not brook being beaten by the Bavarian. The Duke quotes two manuscript chronicles which mention this fact; but they not only disagree with history, but differ from each other respecting the principal circumstances of that event.
This anecdote may, therefore, be considered as fictitious, and it proves no more in favour of the antiquity of the game of chess in Europe, than that which we meet with in the historyof the four sons of the Duke Aymon. We there find Renaud de Montauban playing at chess with a nephew of Charlemagne: they quarrel; the prince throws the chess board at the head of Renaud, who is so far from relishing the joke, that he hurls it back at the prince, who is struck ou the forehead, and dreps down dead on the spot. There is doubtless a good deal of truth in these ancient popular romances and traditions; but as it is seldom possible to separate the truth from the falsehood which they contain, no induction can be drawn from them either for or against the facts whose historical certainty is doubtful. Supposing, then, that an event which actually occurred at Pepin's court gave rise to the anecdote related of the Duke of Lüneburg, why might not the game over which the two princes quarrelled have been the game of soldiers, the ludus latrunculorum of the ancient Romans? Might it not have been transmitted by them to the Gauls, and by the Gauls to the Franks. The latter might by degrees have lost their taste for their amusement; the introduction of chess into Europe might have occasioned its total suppression; and in the sequel ignorant writers may have mistaken the one for the other. This supposition, at least, appears extremely natural.
Before we conclude these observations on a game that has perhaps been more widely dif fused than any other, it may be necessary to mention that in a paper presented to the Royal Irish Academy, Mr. Eyles Irwin ascribes its origin to the Chinese, and fixes the date of its invention two hundred years antecedent to the Christian era The honour of it is assigned to a general, who contrived this game to appease his discontented troops, to silence their murmurs, to employ their vacant hours in lessons on the military art, and to cherish the spirit of conquest in the bosom of winterquarters. It must, however, be observed that
the new opinion started by Mr. Irwin rests only upon an extract from the Chinese annals which he received from a mandarin, a friend of his, and consequently upon the good faith alone of that mandarin; and, besides, that he was a stranger to the manner in which the game of chess is related to have been invented
in India; for he says that it was designed by a Bramin to cure the melancholy of the danghter of a rajah. This origin he justly thinks highly improbable; but he would scarely have said the same of the account given in the preceding part of this article.
PUBLIC AMSEMENTS FOR JANUARY.
On Friday, January 6, the season of Operas commenced. The theatre has been refitted with great care; the boxes new papered and painted, and the benches as well as chairs renewed.
A new Comic Opera, intitled La Cappricciosa Pentito, by Fioravanti, introduced the new Prima Buffa, Siguora Collini. After a singer and actress of such excellence as Catalani, the task was uncommonly arduous, and demanded no small degree of indulgence from the public. Madame Collini seemed to feel the difficulty she had to encounter, and her manners powerfully influenced the spectators in her favour. The first impression was soon ripened into favour, for she displayed very superior powers both of voice and action. In her features she resembles the captivating Grassini, and her tone is also of the same quality. She sang with ease, clearness, and taste. The music is a promising specimen of the master, and was very much applauded. Naldi was received with the warm welcome which he deserves. His Comedy is a high treat to the connoiseur.
A new Divertisement and Ballet displayed the strength of the corps of Dancers. We have had no such uniou of talents for many years. Young Vestris sprang forward, with all the power and activity which his father possessed seventeen years ago; and the same astonishing talent seemed to be revived. The house was in a paroxysm of vociferation in the pas de deux of Vestris and his partner, Mademoiselle Angiolini. She is extremely elegant in her figure; petite, but finely formed, and she has acquired the manner of Vestris. Her equilibrium is perfect. She finishes the most difficult movement with truth, and her posture has great strength. Certainly since the first year of Des Hayes, when we had also Didelot and Rose, we have had no such Corps de Ballet in regard to principals as were exhibited this sight.
It seems the affairs of the Opera this season will be conducted with much better harmony. Amongst the latest and best arrangements of the Managers, they have thought proper to cause the Composers of the Opera to assist at the piano-forte. So that the celebrated Maestro Punitta, already in London, and likewise Maestro Griglielmi, who is expected from Portugal (both celebrated on the Continent), will aid and assist, alternately, at the piano; which will, no doubt, give the public that pleasure and satisfaction so necessary in the Italian Opera. Naldi, who is re-engaged and made director of the Operas, we hail as a happy omen; and congratulate the proprietors in placing so great a singer in such a difficult and honourable situation.