Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

“Playing at chess is the most ancient and universal game known among men ; for its original is beyond the memory of history, and it has for numberless ages, been the amusement of all the civilized nations of Asia--the Persians, the Indians, and the Chinese. Europe has had it above a thousand years; the Spaniards have spread it over their part of America, and it begins to make its appearance in these States. It is so interesting in itself as not to need the view of gain to induce engaging in it; and thence it is never played for money. Those, therefore, who have leisure for such diversions, cannot find one that is more innocent; and the following piece, written with a view to correct, (among a few young friends) some little improprieties in the practice of it,--shows at the same time that it may, in its effects on the mind, be not merely innocent but advantageous to the vanquished as well as the victor.

“The game of chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions. For life is a kind of chess, in which we have points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effects of prudence or the want of it.

"1. Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, considers the consequences that may attend an action ; for it is continually occurring to the player—'If I move this piece, what will be the advantage of my new situation? What use can my adversary make of it to annoy me? What other moves can I make to support it, and to defend ryself against

his attacks?

2. Circumspection, which surveys the whole chess-board, or scene of action, the relations of the several pieces and situations, the dangers we are respectively exposed to, the several possibilities of their aiding each other, the probabilities that the adversary may take this or that move, and attack this or the other piece, and what different means can be used to avoid his stroke, or turn its consequences against him.

“3. Caution, not to make our moves too hastily. This habit is best acquired by observing strictly the rules of the game, such as-- If you touch a piece, you must move it some where ; if you set it down, you must let it stand ; and it is therefore best that these rules should be observed, as the game more becomes the image of human life, and particularly of war; in which, if you have incautiously put yourself into a bad and dangerous position, you cannot obtain your enemy's leave to withdraw your troops and place them more securely, but you must abide all the consequences of your rashness.

And lastly, we learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, the habit of hoping for a favourable change, and that of persevering in the search of resources. The game is so full of events, there is such variety of turns in it, the fortune of it is so subject to sudden vicissitudes, and one so frequently, after long contemplation, discovers the means of extricating one's self from a supposed insurmountable difficulty, that one is encouraged to continue the contest to the last, in hope of victory by our own skill, or at least of giving a stale-mate, by the negligence of our adversary. And whoever considers,—what in chess he often sees instances of, that particular pieces of success are apt to produce presumption, and its consequent inattention, by which the loss may be recovered, will learn not to be too much discouraged by the present success of his adversary, nor to despair of final good fortune upon every little check he receives in the pursuit of it.

“That we may, therefore, be induced more frequently to choose this beneficial amusement in preference to others, which are not attended with the same advantages, every circunstance which may increase the pleasure of it should be regarded ; and every action or word that is unfair, disrespectful, or that in any way may give upeasiness should be avoided, as contrary to the immediate intention of both players, which is to pass the time agreeably..

" Therefore, first, if it is agreed to play according to the strict rules, then those rules are to be exactly observed by both parties, and should

66

not be insisted on by one side while deviated from by the other; for this is not equitable.

“Secondly.--If it is agreed not to observe the rules exactly, but one party demands indulgences, he should then be as willing to allow them to the other.

Thirdly.--No false move should ever be made to extricate yourself out of a difficulty, or to gain an advantage. There can be no pleasure in playing with a person once detected in such unfair practices.

Fourthly.--If your adversary is long in playing you ought not to hurry him, or to express any uneasiness at his delay. You should not sing, nor whistle, nor look at your watch, nor take up a book to read, nor make a tapping with your feet on the floor, or with your fingers on the table, nor do anything that may disturb his attention. For all these things displease; and they do not show your skill in playing, but your craftiness or your rudeness.

“Fifthly. You ought not to endeavour to amuse or deceive your adversary by pretending to have made bad moves, and saying you have now lost the game, in order to make him secure, and careless, and inattentive to your schemes; for this is fraud and deceit, not skill in the game.

Sixthly.--You must not, when you have gained a victory, use any triumphing or insulting expression, nor show too much pleasure ; but endeavour to console your adversary, and make him less dissatisfied with himself by every kind of civil expression that may be used with truth :-You understand the game better than I, but you are a little inattentive;'or, such as you play too fast;' or, ' you had the best of the game, but something happened to divert your thoughts, and that turned it in my favour.'

“Seventhly._If you are a spectator while others play, observe the most perfect silence. For if you give advice you offend both parties ; him against whom you give it, because it may cause the loss of the game; and him in whose favour you give it, because, though it be good, and he follows it, he loses the pleasure he might have had if you had permitted him to think until it had occurred to himself. Even after a move or moves, you must not, by replacing the pieces, show how they might have been placed better; for that displeases and may occasion disputes and doubts about their true situation. All talking to the players lessens or diverts their attention, and it is therefore unpleasing. Nor should you give the least hint to either party by any kind of noise or motion.

If you do, you are unworthy to be a spectator. If you have a mind to exercise or show your judgment, do it in playing your own game when you have an opportunity, -not in criticising or meddling with, or counselling the play of others.

“ Lastly-If the game is not to be played rigorously according to the rules above mentioned, then moderate your desire of victory over your adversary, and be pleased with one over yourself. Snatch not eagerly at every advantage offered by his unskilfulness or inattention, but point out to himn kindly, that in such a move he places or leaves a piece in danger or unsupported; that by another he will put his king in perilous situation, &c. By this generous civility (so opposite to the unfairness above forbidden), you may indeed, happen to lose the game to your opponent, but you will win what is better,--his esteem, his respect, and his affection; together with the silent approbation and good will of impartial spectators.”

“ Morais of Chess," was one of those papers, called Bagatelles by the author himself. They were chiefly written by Dr. Franklin for the amusement of his intimate society in London and Paris; and were actually collected in a small portfolio, endorsed as now stated. Several of the pieces were either originally written in French, or afterwards translated by him into that language, by way of exercises. 66 The Whistle" foris another of the same class of pieces which he sent to Madame Brillon in a letter dated Passy, 10th November, 1779. Of this correspondent Franklin thus speaks :-" She is a lady of most respectable character and pleasing conversation, mistress of an amiable family in the neighbourhood of Passy, with which I spend an evening twice in each week. She has, among other elegant accomplishments, that of an excellent inusician ; and, with her daughters, who sing prettily, and some friends who play, she kindly entertains me and my grandson with little concerts, a cup of tea, and game of chess. The following is the letter, with its bagatelle :

“ I received my dear friend's two letters, one for Wednesday, and one for Saturday. This is again Wednesday. I do not deserve one for today, because I have not answered the former. But indolent as I am, and averse to writing, the fear of having no more of your pleasing epistles, if I do not contribute to the correspondence, obliges me to take up. my pen ; and as Mr. B. bao kindly sent me word, that he sets out to morrow to see you, instead of spending this Wednesday evening, as I have done its namesakes, in your company, I sit down to spend it in

thinking of you, in writing to you, and in reading over and over again your letters.

“I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there, and I approve much of your conclusion, that in the meantime we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion, we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would but take care not to give too much for whistles. For to me it seems, that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by the neglect of that caution.

“You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

[graphic][subsumed]

“When I was a child, at seven years old, my friends on a holiday, filled my pockets with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered him all my inoney for one. I then came home, aud went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the

« ZurückWeiter »