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Vincenzio the Venetian
From Chess & Chess-Players by George Walker, 1850.

Section I.

"And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." -- Job, chap. 1. v. 7.

You ask me, madam, to tell you a story about Chess; I know one which nobody else knows. A true tale, but very shocking. It relates facts which happened -- oh! a very long time ago; before you were born. I know it is true, because I learnt it in a way in which nothing untrue could be communicated; and, when I was in Venice, I saw the very spot where the chief incidents occurred; so, you see it must be true.

Round the giant portals and illuminated entrances of the Buondelmonte palazzo in Venice, during one of the carnival nights of the year 15--, was the throng and pressure of many dark gondolas, from whose cushioned seats a crowd of laughing revellers were rushing up the marble steps of the building, into halls blazing with light and beauty.

All within and above was enchantment. The noblest, the gayest, and the fairest of the city, were mixed in that perfumed and silken throng. Here, the glittering banquet was spread invitingly forth -- there, the dance and song burst joyously abroad. And the women! -- beauty, such as Titian or Giorgione could alone depict, was there in its choicest moulds. Dressed in the costumes of every age, with and without masks; shining in jewels, glittering in the velvets of Genoa, and the gems of Samarcand, in the softest silks, scented with the rarest odours, -- women were not wanting to complete the scene; dazzling, palpitating, glowing, and triumphant in their charms. -- We pass slowly through hall after hall, brilliant with lights, to an inner saloon; where our attention is particularly arrested.

This magnificent apartment is dedicated to play, in all its forms. cards and dice are dealing, rustling and rattling, while the numerous tables of agate, or porphyry, groan beneath the heavy weight of gold and jewels stalked as bets. Little noise is heard, save the deep and sonorous sound of the clashing zecchins, as they poured from velvet sacks upon the board by the attendant pages, or collected in massive piles, to re-enter their temporary place of dwelling. So vast was the display of wealth, that Belial himself would have paused upon the scene. So profuse was the array of treasure, that you would have thought yourself in one of the caverns of Aladdin, or the strong-room of some eastern Sultan -- but you were not there.

At the date of my narrative, Chess was at the height of its zenith in the favor of the princes of the earth; and, as well as games of mere chance, was generally played for heavy sums. Priests were advanced to the mitre, court favourites to the pension list, and officers to the baton, for their skill in this fascinating recreation. Chess was the "shibboleth" of distinction between the peer and the puddle; and a knowledge of its mysteries was as essential then to success in good society, as are now an intimate acquaintance with the red book, and the latest "on dits" of fashionable scandal.

We are Chess-players; and, as devoted lovers of the game, one table, in particular, attracts our attention. On that rare pedestal of silver and ebony, on that massive board of ivory and jasper, stand the mimic warriors, arrayed in fight. The rival players, who conduct the battle, are worthy of a closer examination. Let us look a little at them.

That youth of twenty, who plays the black pieces, is one of the sons of Venice, and stands high on the golden roll of her nobility. His name is Vincenzio di Guadagnaro, distinguished alike for face and form; for varied accomplishments, improvident extravagance, impetuous passions, love of learning and antiquities, wine, women, and chess. During the present sitting, he has already lost gold, houses, and jewels. He has now staked his honour, for having no money left wherewith to wager, he is bound to pay, should he lose, more zecchins by to-morrow's morn than the mighty sum already parted with. Should he fail in redeeming his bond, the scene of life will darken o'er him. From the paleness of his clammy brow, we can fancy him anticipating the only alternative then remaining. If he lose the game now playing -- Vincenzio means to die at sunrise.

But who is the fatal mask who plays against him? A woman : and, judging from her arm and hand -- her bared shoulders, and ivory neck -- one, of a most excellent and lovely appearance. Yes, she is the Princess del Buondelmonte; the owner of the palace; the giver of the fête; the leader of the fashion -- and the queen of beauty in Venice. She appears formed for love and tenderness, but neither of these sentiments rules her mind at present. Revenge the fiercest, hatred the most concentrated, and triumph the most mighty, unite to shake her frame; and cause her fingers to tremble so, she can scarce conduct the chess figures. The feeling is mutual; and either of the two players could drink the very heart's blood of their adversary; with a feeling which Italian souls can alone appreciate or comprehend.

The spectators stand in a crowd around, awed into silence, and absorbed in breathless attention. Among them is a tall majestic figure, wearing the form and garb of the sons of men -- masked, with enfolded arms, leaning against a marble pillar, and carelessly watching the progress of the game, on the side of the lady. That figure is THE FIEND! Not Satan in person, but a sort of inferior demon, like the gnome of the Hartz mountains, but younger, and therefore of less experience. A laughing Mephistopheles-sort of sprite, who has lately set out to make the tour of Europe, and has dropt into Venice to see the carnival. So much to his taste does he find it, he thinks at times he has made a mistake, and stept into heaven!

As the game advanced, the feelings of the players became still more excited. Vincenzio strained his nerves to the utmost, in order to conceal his emotion; but the sweat of death was on his forehead, and his countenance was whiter than Phrygian stone. Still, he compressed his energies manfully to the task -- played a long series of moves in a masterly manner, and shewed himself to be no unworthy opponent, even when matched against her, whose reputation for chess was unrivalled.

The fair Buondelmonte did not like her position. Her enemy's pawns offered a menacing aspect, and the adverse queen captured gratuitously a knight, and threatened a discovered check. The following was the situation, in which, having the White pieces, the princess had to move. She paused long over the board, and despair went to her heart, for she could find no resource, and Vincenzio had again, she feared, eluded her grasp.

White to move

Suddenly the fiend bent over her, and it was afterwards thought, whispered a few words in her ear. The lady started with delight, and in the ecstacy of the moment nearly fainted with joy. She played the correct variation, and gave her adversary check-mate in just ten moves.

Vincenzio spoke not, but rushed from the room. The beautiful Buondelmonte turned eagerly to embrace the stranger. He was no longer there -- though no one recollected having seen him depart.


Two hours later in the night, Vincenzio walked in solitude on the Rialto, with all hell burning in his breast. To die was his least regret, but to lose his revenge! O, saints and martyrs! -- Was he not a beggar? And had she not ruined him? When mutual love had passed away -- when for her sake he had first tasted crime, -- had she not betrayed him -- scorned him! -- forsaken him for another? Had she not brought his father to the block, and his brother to the dungeons of the state? Had he not wrestled with her during the last two years, in hatred? and warred against her, even unto the knife? -- Oh! what a conflict was raging in his brain, ---- when a stranger touched his arm.

"Off, begone!" was the exclamation of the noble; and then at a glance, remembering in the figure before him, the friend of the Buondelmonte, as if his pent spirit had at last found vent, in one instant of time did his good stiletto flash through the air, and strike home upon his supposed foe. The effect of the blow was to produce a hearty laugh; while Vincenzio, abashed and wondering, was struck with mingled sensations of the deepest awe. He shuddered and clung to the pillars of the adjoining balustrade for support, exclaiming -- "Who are you?"

"Men may call me Azaroth," was the reply. "What harm have I done, that you should give me so rough a welcome? It was not I who won your money. True, 'tis hard, bitter hard! -- You played for life, and for revenge -- and you have lost. A wise man would offer double or quits. Ha! ha! ha! -- All may not yet be irredeemable. I am your friend."

"All -- all -- is lost," sighed Vincenzio, -- "but honour!"

"Honour! I like the term. Oh! these men, with their honour! Hark ye, friend, where was your honour just now, in striking an unarmed man with your dagger?"

"From a Guadagnaro, intruders may expect no other welcome. Why name yourself my friend? -- What would you with me, fearful one, -- say, form of mystery, who evidently holdest life by other tenure than that of human?"

"My purpose is to save you. I like your spirit. Were I the reptile, man, I would be like you."

"Save me! O, never! 'tis now too late. You cannot give me back the past; and without that, the future recks me little."

"I offer all you wish. Wilt have revenge?"

"Revenge! Can you give me revenge? -- revenge on Buondelmonte! -- Can you give me her blood? -- say -- speak -- whate'er thou be! -- Oh! speak to me! but speak!"

Ha! ha! ha! see what the tender passion comes to! -- You loved her once, and now -- --"

"Peace, fiend! -- answer me -- speak, or leave me. May I have revenge?"

"You may, you shall; but hear me patiently: -- all that you wish, I give. Revenge, even to the overflowing of the cup. Health, gold, and lengthened life; all! -- on conditions though! Wilt hear them, youth?"

"No! by my soul I will not! Tell me nothing. For a moment hast thou kindly deluded me from the recollection of my wrongs. Bring me not back to earth directly. Were you in reality -- the -- fiend! -- Oh! then, indeed!" --

"And if I were, would you accept my boon on these conditions?" -- And Azaroth whispered in his ear, words, which but to write were mortal sin. St. John of Venice protect us!

Vincenzio blenched not. For a single instant only did his frame quiver -- and then he shouted, eagerly, and fearfully, --

"I will, I do; so help me heaven and the saints! I agree to all. Once more -- give me revenge!"

"Your noble spirit moves me; my terms of service shall be lightened for you. All shall be given, youth, at morrow's dawn. And now retire to rest, and dream of peace and happiness."

"Do you leave me thus, Oh, Azaroth?"

"Adieu, Vincenzio, for ten long years? Cherish your lady love, the beauteous Buondelmonte! And in remembrance of this interview, let me throw on your shoulders a trifling token of my affection. Adieu!"

Vincenzio felt something in the form of a weighty chain thrown around his neck? It was a carcanet of sparkling sapphires. He raised his head -- he was alone on the Rialto.

Slowly did he pace his way to his couch; but deep was his sleep, and pleasant were his dreams, on that eventful night.


Vincenzio awoke at early morning, and returning recollection flashed across his brain. His first impulse was to feel for the chain which Azaroth had girt around his neck, and which had remained there, when he flung his frame heedlessly upon his night-couch. The chain of sapphires was gone -- but in its place -- O horror! there was the vivid imprint of a chequered line, encircling his throat, like the two outer rows of a chess-board, marked deeply in black and red upon the skin, as if seared with a brand. Vincenzio shuddered, for this assured him of the sealing of the fatal compact. But the Lord di Guadagnaro was of no common mind; and, strange to say, the uppermost feeling at the moment of this discovery, was one of unmixed pleasure. He knew that his revenge was at hand. He started up, and saw before him huge coffers of gold piled to the very ceiling: aye, good, heavy zecchins of the purest Venetian currency; ducats which bore handling, and did not melt (as he almost feared they would do), at the touch. O Pactolus, mighty river; it appeared as if thy waves had flowed across the chamber. Did Vincenzio think of the gold, while he handled it -- while he kissed it -- while he rolled in it? No; his joyous shout was for revenge! He certainly had not got implanted in him that love of his neighbour, which is so much more practised in these latter times!

On the gold lay a parchment, comprising an abstract of the conditions of the dark one; conditions accepted by Vincenzio beforehand, and even now registered elsewhere. The spirit of these conditions may be thus condensed: -- One chance of respite from the last dread penalty was left. Vincenzio was bound to play three games of chess with Azaroth, drawn games not to count, to be played one game at each sitting, at intervals of ten years. In every case, he was to enjoy a hundred years of happy life, inclusive of the twenty summers he had already numbered. Should he win either one of the three games, the bond was thereby to be annulled, and he was to be free from penalty; should he, on the other hand, lose all three games, he was to complete equally his hundred on earth, but then ------! O dire alternative! I am almost afraid to go on. Why did you make me tell you this story?

The full amount of the money due was carried by Vincenzio's pages to the Palazzo del Buondelmonte. Its enchanting and lovely owner was sorely grieved at the sight of the gold, and I regret that I cannot tell you more in detail, of that which subsequently passed between her and Vincenzio. Suffice it to say, that three months afterwards, a body was drawn out of the grand canal by a fisherman, which from its long and heavy tresses, was recognised as the corpse of a woman, even before it saw the surface. it was indeed the body of the Princess del Buondelmonte, so horribly mutilated, that had she not been seen at the festival given by the Doge the previous evening, it might have been supposed she had lain a month in the water, and been half devoured by the fishes of the Lagunes. It is really wonderful what could have befallen her, and who could have been the murderer!

A few weeks afterwards, and the Palazzo del Buondelmonte was inhabited by its purchaser, the Lord Vincenzio di Guadagnaro, whose graceful mirth, flowing spirits, open hand, and kind heart, were soon high for praise in the mouths of men. No prince gave such banquets -- no man danced at them with such vivacity. His noble entertainments, united with his courteous bearing and handsome figure, made him the idol of Venice; the chief nobility of Italy crowded round him, and many a tender and timid heart sighed solely to wear his chains. Vincenzio gave not all his time to pleasure, but acted up to the motto of "carpe diem," in every possible way. He loved learning, and delighted in the encouragement of learned men. To the study of Chess he became particularly addicted, and invited its first masters, by proclamation, from every quarter of Europe, to visit his palace. All who came were magnificently received, and, if they played well, every sublunary boon was placed at their command. By dint of genius and practice, Vincenzio became their superior. All went merrily with him, and the whole world seemed to lie at his feet. With the ladies he was perfect; they could find nothing about him to scandalize, nor even to wonder at; except, perhaps, that when the fashion came in of wearing falling bands, and collars of Flemish lace, round the bare throat, Vincenzio adopted not the innovation, but continued to close up his doublet as before. I could wager his reason for this was, to conceal the ugly checquered line which was ever round his neck, as left by Azaroth.

Section II.

Fredrich August Moritz Retzsch
Die Schachspieler

(not 'Retszch', as in the text)

Years fled by, as they now flee -- like days. Time passed, and Vincenzio's life passed with it. He was nearly thirty years of age, and felt something more than a qualm, when he anticipated the arrival of that point of time, which would complete ten years from his interview with Azaroth. It may be supposed by some, perhaps, as matter of wonder, that the demon had shewn himself already so liberal, compared with his general reputation, but there is no accounting for circumstances. As I told you before, Azaroth was only a third-rate devil; mightier spirits could have given him the Pawn and two moves, in guile and craftiness. Perhaps he had, in his composition, sufficient mortality to feel amused by similar adventures; and, besides, who can tell to what extent caprice might work with fiends, as well as men? The latter give ruinously exorbitant prices for a fine dog, a swift horse; and so, by a parity of reasoning, might Azaroth have made his bargain in an extravagant mood. Be this as it may, Vincenzio was no vulgar prize; his was a master mind, and as such, far from now quailing in panic before the coming of his foe, he was nerving himself sternly for the encounter. Young in years, he was old in life; and if his right-hand had been familiar with the wine cup, it had been to the full as intimate with the battle-axe, which he had wielded oft for Christendom, in the wars of Venice with the crescented Turk. The rolls of learning had unfolded at his bidding; and the sages of Arabia and Grenada, hailed in Vincenzio their favourite pupil. Indeed, he had once committed himself with Holy Mother Church, and fallen at Rome under the ban of the Inquisition, for taking part with those who first broached that monstrous heterodoxy, that the earth moves around the sun. But the potency of gold cleansed him of this deadly sin, and he was careful publicly to recant so ridiculous an opinion.

"After all," mused Vincenzio, in reference to the coming storm, -- "there are points about this being, demon or philosopher, Chaldee or magician, be he which he will, -- to be reflected on. He cannot be wholly etherial, or why should my dagger have cut his garments, as it did, and only turned against his cursed skin! No fault of mine it went not home, at any rate. Perhaps, after all, my bargain is a bad one. What was the woman to me? Could I not have left Italy, and thus fled her vengeance? The sun shines brightly on other towns besides Venice. Alas! how differently we see things at different periods of life! But shall my soul be cast down in this extremity? Courage, Vincenzio, if the fiend must be met, let us confront him like the master of evil himself. A game of Chess! Well, throughout Europe, where is my equal in skill? Did I not conquer Bartolomeo of Spain, and Afger the Moor? -- (that splendid player). Have I not exhausted the whole science of Chess: or, is human knowledge here of no avail? This cannot be, for the bargain is null, unless I have the fullest exercise of my faculties. The church, too, can she befriend me? -- I have fought knee-deep in blood for Rome, surely her saints owe me a good turn now? Perhaps this Azaroth may have done the thing as a frolic, -- if a spirit, -- and may have since forgotten me altogether; he must see so much of life and of the world, how can he bear in memory so poor an adventure? Well, let him come, I shall be here, for nought would flight avail in any case. We play; he cannot cheat me. The contract was made as between men, and must be kept by him accordingly. Ha! well thought, Venetian artifice! Who knows how far he may be human at the time of his visit? Some spirits, I have read, are mortal at one period, and only invulnerable at others. The ducats he gives me are corporeal, why may he not be so too? At any rate, no chance shall be on my part thrown away. Even should I fail, it's only the loss of one game out of three, and during the next ten years, I shall have leisure to scheme some craftier plot to foil him, with the help of the experience acquired on the first essay. The field is not yet won, my spiritual friend."

Vincenzio gave his bold page, Montalto, a few private instructions, without revealing his grand secret; and waited calmly for the thunder-burst. It came.

At the Palazzo Buondelmonte, the nobles of Venice were gathered to a banquet, and the revelry had reached its highest pitch. Vincenzio's laugh was ringing in the saloon, when Montalto presented a jewelled token, sent by a stranger, who waited in his study. It was the chain of sapphires seen before. "Be he accursed;" muttered the Guadagnaro, as he courteously apologized to his guests for so abruptly leaving them. "Remember me, Montalto, for the time is come."

"Ha, ha, ha!" shouted Azaroth, as Vincenzio entered the apartment. "I feared you had forgotten the purport of my visit; ten years try many friendships, and break connexions less intimate than ours. Are your chess-men ready? I have to be in India four hours hence, to meet a Brahmin at Delhi."

At a sign from the master, Montalto placed the costly board of silver and ebony, and the fiend sat down to sport with his prey. Vincenzio felt firm; but sad; he had oft faced death, but he had now to cope with the spirit of death. For the first time, he looked in the face of Azaroth, whose features at their former interview had been covered by a mask. The expression of the countenance was haughty, scornful, and overbearing, though mixed with many traits of noble feeling, and even beauty. Round his mouth lurked scorn, wreathed in a thousand smiles of sportive malice. His eyes shown with a brilliancy so withering, Vincenzio could hardly bear their searching gaze; his brow was as the brow of one indented with the blue and burning lightning. Azaroth's age appeared to be that of a man in the prime of life. He offered the Venetian the move, which Vincenzio unhesitatingly accepted, and the game began. What were the odds on Azaroth?

Have you seen, my friend, that celebrated engraving by one of the first men in Europe -- Retszch? I mean the one in which Satan is represented as playing at chess, with man, for his soul. So looked, in some respects, our combatants; and I think they were even the more interesting couple of the two. The man of Retszch's creation is so very good and innocent, hardly worth contending with, even though he have the partial aid of the attending angel. The fiend of Retszch is a philosopher of the school of Diogenes, and not the prince of darkness intended. There wants the animal about the lower features; and we see by the delineation, that Retszch has but little studied Spurzheim and Combe. Pardon this critique, O, mighty draughtsman, thou who with thy magic graver hast so filled our hearts with frequent sensations of mingled joy and fear. Certainly, thy Lady Macbeth has more of the devil about her, than thy Satanic "Schachspieler."

A few preliminary moves only were played, when the Guadagnaro called for wine, and Montalto presented, in beakers of gold, the bright vintages of Chios and Xeres. Rather to the surprise of Vincenzio, his opponent drained oft the presented cups? Under their influence, apparently, the dark spirit laughed and jested higher and louder; but, alas! for the Venetian, the more Azaroth quaffed, the keener appeared his view on the board. The page slackened in his service, and Azaroth in his turn, demanded "wine."

Montalto was staggered, and crossed his breast devoutly. "What man is this?" said he to himself. "In his first draughts I have given him poison enough to kill a regiment, and yet he asks again for wine! My lord's scheme is nought. His enemy doubtless bears some counter-charm, or sanitary potion. I'll try my own plan."

"This wine is fair," quoth Azaroth, "but not so much to my palate as the other. Have you more of the first vintage, Vincenzio ?"

"How may I answer thee, most potent? evidently thou art not of this earth!" And Vincenzio bent, in something like awe, over the chess-board.

"Ho! ho! ho!" shouted Azaroth.

Vincenzio started. The page had just struck the fiend from behind, a desperate blow on the head with a Turkish axe.

"Why, page, if I were of puny frame, like thy master, that tap would have given me the headache, and how then could I have played at Chess? O men of earth, he had need be proof against fire, steel, and poison, indeed, who communes with you!"

Vincenzio sat in silence, and Montalto crept tremblingly out, vowing I know not how many masses to St. Peter, if he should live till morning's dawn. The game of Chess went on with various changes; Vincenzio's skill was proved to the uttermost, but he made no impression, though Azaroth played, scarcely deigning to glance at the board.

"You are improved," said he, "since the night you played with Buondelmonte. Doubtless your practice has been great. -- (If you move the knight to the square you meditate, he is lost.)"

"I fear I am lost," thought Vincenzio. he found his very thoughts anticipated. A change came over Azaroth. He gave away one or two pieces in succession, and Vincenzio almost dared to hope. Poor fool! The wily fiend was mocking him. He sacrificed half a dozen of his chief pieces in a way which compelled their being taken, and thus fixed all Vincenzio's men out of play. He reserved on the field, but one bishop and two poor pawns, against a mighty force; but Vincenzio then saw to his horror and amaze, that all the preceding train of sacrifices, had been parts of one deep scheme to secure the mate. The following was the position:--

Azaroth had the White men, and forced the checkmate in three moves. O, how I wish he were a member of the London Chess club!

White to move

Vincenzio's sensations were similar to those of a man taken, sleeping, out of his bed, and plunged into a cold bath! "In ten years' time we meet again," cried Azaroth, as he mounted on the wings of the wind. Vincenzio threw himself on the ground, and wept in the bitterness of his despair.

Section III.

Before the age of thirty, man wishes to be older than he is; after that point, he rather desires to stop. To an acute observer, it would have seemed as though Vincenzio del Guadagnaro could do all he wished in earth, except arrest this certain progress of time. Every thing prospered with him -- at least as to the outward man; with his soul's health it went, perhaps, indifferently. But the time for caring about one's soul is decidedly yet to come with worldly men, at thirty years of age! At the period of which I write, the nobles of Venice played the part of general merchants to the whole world; and Vincenzio was among the chief of these nobles. His coffers overflowed with gold; his halls were piled with silks and furs; while the sea was covered with his ships. His books, his antiques, jewels, bronzes, cameos, intaglios, and pictures, were alike unique. He was thirty-five, but had never married. Why should he marry, when the choicest beauties of Italy thought it an honor to see him at their feet? Fashion had set her seal on him (as well as the devil); what more could be said in his favour? Greater than Julius Cæsar, he conquered without having seen, or come; for the fairest signoras of Venice came first to him! Blest with health, temper, good spirits, and good looks, combined with the form of an Antinous, -- all with him was well. Did he play? fortune forsook his adversaries, and their cash was poured into his money-bags. Did he hawk or hunt on the mainland of Italy -- whose hawks, horses, or hounds, were so fair and fleet as those of the gallant Vincenzio? The world, too, could hardly cavil at the golden opinions from all sides showered around him. His was not a carpet life. Foremost in the wars of Venice with the Ottoman, no hand had struck harder at the crescent for the cross. It was really a pity he still had that nasty mark around his throat; but then, no one ever saw it, you know.

The passions of our matured friend continued to rage like a volcano, but the lava's torrent was kept well under command. Ambition opened her portals to his career, and it was said -- (but the virtuous are always the victims of calumny) -- it was whispered that Vincenzio was not too particular, as to the means he adopted in sweeping from the path such insects as would fain oppose his tread. But as this was seldom spoken aloud, what cared he? And what man, above the low vulgar horde of bread-producers, would be uncivilized enough to say aught against a lord so powerful, and so unscrupulous? One man, a simple merchant, it was said, having discovered a certain political intrigue, inimical to the winged lion, working between the Pope and the Lord Vincenzio, substantiated his case by proof; and sent the packet to the Doge, through the ever-yawning lion's mouth. What was the consequence? This stupid merchant was found strangled next night on the sands of the Lido; and on Vincenzio, in return for the calumny was conferred the office of Ambassador to France. So much for luck and money.

This run of fortune continued many years, and Vincenzio was elected of the Council of Ten. At a subsequent period of life, he was proffered the office of Doge, but never having fancied matrimony, declined espousing the state herself, however fond he might be of her daughters. It was odd, that Vincenzio still cultivated chess so earnestly. Every quarter of the world was ransacked, in turn, to procure players worthy of contending with him. One particular gallery in his grand palazzo was fitted up expressly as the "Hall of Chess;" and here playing upon a hundred tables of marble, might be seen the first chess players congregated in friendly warfare. All who could play well, were welcome; but none could beat Vincenzio; and none had ever played for so heavy a stake. The skill of our Venetian surpassed imagination. Openings and Mates, to us unknown, were to him familiar. O that we were in possession of the manuscripts he wrote about chess; what a fund of treasure would they furnish for the student. Vigilant in study, and endowed with a rare and docile patience, he appeared to have exhausted the science of chess; and the wonder was, it did not pall upon his appetite. The world dreamed not of his motives for such strict and constant training. The time of his encounter with Azaroth was again at hand.

"All that art could do, I tried before," sighed Vincenzio, one summer's night as he skimmed the blue waves in his gondola. "Human skill may not avail against that which is superhuman," -- and he sighed again. Were those sighs for repentance? No; he breathed them but in regret. Under the same circumstances, he would have ratified the same compact over again. Let us not be too confident in our own strength. Without the holy help of the saints, you, yourself, Madame, might perhaps have fallen under similar temptation. The greatest have been entrapt in slighter snares.

"Azaroth has certainly behaved with honour; all my wishes are anticipated, with just sufficient difficulties to make the task of victory a pleasure. What could be his motive for the bargain? At the rate I live, I was, and am his own, without it. Inscrutable mystery! Suppose I leave the country -- would he follow me? O yes; too late for thought of flight, the bond once ratified. His omnipotence has been proved to me; and I must once more clothe my features for the meeting, with the courage of despair."

"I call on you to-morrow," whispered a soft voice in his ear, and the tones went like hot iron through the frame. Vincenzio started as if galvanized, but he was alone in his gondola, and nought besides was visible on those blue waters.

And morning came, and with that morn came Azaroth. Twenty years had not changed his countenance, nor added a single wrinkle to his brow. The same withering frown hung over the malicious smile. The senator Vincenzio was forty years of age; his figure was now full, and his raven locks were slightly sprinkled, as it were, with snow. And oh! the depth -- the unfathomable depth -- the unquenchable spirit of the wicked. Vincenzio faced with a brow as haughty as his own, and scorned to own his inferiority. In the absence of the moment, he grasped the hand of Azaroth, and was surprised to find it felt as flesh and blood; but his own hand afterwards looked for a time, as though he had pressed live embers.

"I should love to see your Hall of Chess," said Azaroth, "we will play there, if you object not to so public a performance." Vincenzio courteously bowed, and in silence led the way. "It shall never be said," thought he, "that demon or angel could outbrave the potent lord Vincenzio. No; I yield not this advantage, though the grave yawn beneath my feet."

Numerous gazers came around them as they entered the gallery; and when they seated themselves to play, the chief chess players of the company left their games, allured they knew not why, to look on this. The crowd felt that Vincenzio had met with his match; and with that brotherly love for their friends and countrymen, which all good chess players entertain, were delighted in their hearts, at the most distant prospect of seeing their superior conquered. They could not, however, have accounted for the impulse which forced them so irresistibly from their seats.

"Can any of these idlers play?" said Azaroth, sneeringly.

"Peace, I entreat you," replied Vincenzio, who feared anything which might lead to a scene. In how many cases, alas! do we see the fear of being found out, is comparatively greater than the fear of crime.

"Take the first move, my lord," said Azaroth.

"No, we play the strict game. Draw lots."

This was done and the struggle commenced. The spectators drew nearer, and there were not wanting some who offered bets on Vincenzio's giving mate in twenty moves; for it was observed, with wonder, that he yielded no odds in advantage. but there was a certain something about Azaroth, which prevented similar wagers from being accepted; much as some of the bystanders wished to flatter their patron, by this oft-seen species of pocket adulation. As the game went on, a solemn awe crept imperceptibly over the minds of all present. Every eye was riveted on Azaroth, as the bird is fascinated before the blighting glance of the rattle-snake. All felt uncomfortable, and wished the stranger at the antipodes, though none durst say so. Meanwhile, the Guadagnaro talked and smiled in bravado; while Azaroth chatted for ten, and laughed for twenty.

"Curse the impudence of the fellow," whispered the young Alonzo di Ortegano, to his brother in arms, Lucentio di Razzoli; "I should like to pitch him into the canal yonder. Who is he?"

"The devil!" I think, was the quick reply.

"Ha! ha! ho! ho!" screamed Azaroth, grinning like an Arabian goule!


And so went the game for many moves. Vincenzio played his best, but felt assured, that play as he might, he must eventually lose. The chess of Azaroth was wonderful; he never made an error when it was important to be correct. His combinations, instead of taking in half a dozen moves, involved twenty or thirty. Vincenzio afterwards was of opinion, that Azaroth could have given the odds of a piece, to any man who ever lived. The despair of Vincenzio was proportionate; but his courage rose with the emergency. He was fighting for his life, both here and elsewhere. He set his back against the wall, and and battled like himself.

More and more moves were played, and the posture of affairs waxed on both sides critical, as the situation became entangled. It struck Vincenzio with a feeling of melancholy this time, to see that, judging as mortals judge, from outward appearance, his game was decidedly stronger than that of Azaroth. I say he was grieved, for he knew he was the mock of the fiend. Vincenzio felt like the poor muse, permitted by the ruthless cat almost to gain its hole, to be suddenly torn back from health and safety. Azaroth had lost in numerical force, and having the white pieces, had to play in the annexed situation.

White to move

"My new gondola against five hundred zecchins of gold, that the 'padrone' beats his man," whispered the youth Alonzo to his friend.

"I wager not. It look well, but White has some checks, both with Queen and Bishop."

"Out upon his checks," cried Alonzo, "the King, when checked, will retire behind his Pawns, and there laugh his impotent adversary to scorn."

"Ho! ho! ho!" interrupted Azaroth, with a moth like that of Vathek's Afrit. "Depend on it," resumed Alonzo, "Vincenzio has force enough to eat him. What the thick-headed ass has been about, to lose his pieces so in succession, I can't imagine. Have you observed how he has played lately? I verily think that for the last half-dozen moves, he has put something 'en prise' every time: and, moreover, has thrust his men so offensively forward, that Vincenzio has been compelled to see their defenceless state, and to capture them also. Oh! of a certainty, this intruder's a mere swaggerer. The next time he plays with our prince of the chess kingdom, the peerless Vincenzio, let the oaf take the Rook." Azaroth at a glance took in the group, and his loud laugh again struck on the ear of his opponent, like the knell of death.

"I shall mate you, my dear Vincenzio, -- if you play well, -- in seven moves!" And sure enough he did so.

O this Azaroth! what a fine practitioner he must have been! I should never have discovered the "coup". Do you think, lady, you should? Do you see the forced mate in seven moves?

The spectators were inconceivably aghast! They wondered Vincenzio did not propose a second game, and clamorously intreated the stranger, whom they now felt almost inclined to worship, to come again on the morrow: Vincenzio did not join in the invitation; he knew his conqueror would return quite soon enough: Azaroth bowed, and with a grace that would have done honour to Talma, or Taglioni, left the hall. Alonzo followed him to see which way he went; determined, if possible, to make his acquaintance. But when the youth reached the great water stairs of the palazzo, Azaroth was no longer in sight. He certainly must have worn seven-leagued boots!

The friends of the Guadagnaro gathered round, to condole on the unwonted circumstances of his defeat. Strange to say, Vincenzio seemed to care very little about the matter; at least, such was the face he chose to put upon his thoughts; and, indeed, insomuch as certainty of any kind is better at all times than uncertainty, he felt glad it was over. I say, it seemed to Vincenzio's throbbing brain, that when Azaroth relieved him of his presence, sun and stars smiled upon him, and the deadly gates of darkness closed for a time.

Next day, Vincenzio di Guadagnaro caused his servants to build a mighty pile of fuel, on which he deposited chess men, chess boards, chess books, and manuscripts, whether of parchment or papyrus; the bad and the good, the clever and the worthless. Chess pieces, framed of pearls and emeralds from Persia, others studded with the most costly gems of the east. Many precious relics were there, which, if now preserved, would be worth a king's ransom. All, I know, were heaped by the vexed Venetian into a mighty pile, more fragrant to the followers of our mystic art, than that of Sardanapalus. The pile, complete, was fired by the hand of Vincenzio, and thus consumed to dust impalpable. The Hall of Chess was abandoned and dismantled. The professors and lovers of the "chess" were dispersed with munificent presents, and sought their own homes sorrowing.

Shortly after, Vincenzio made a high and solemn banquet, to which were bidden all the chief men of Venice. Then and there, in a short speech, replete with expressions of the most intense urbanity, did he declare to them solemnly, that if henceforward, any living being whatsoever, of any rank or station, should ask him, the Lord Vincenzio, to play a game of chess, he should reluctantly feel bound to consider it as tantamount to a mortal affront, to be expiated only in death; and he should expect that every such cartel be instantly made good on the spot; with sharp sword, lance, and dagger.

And his friends, hereupon, knowing Vincenzio to be a man very likely to keep his word upon the occasion, acted prudently, and played chess thenceforth without him.

I really find myself, throughout, giving the very words in which this tale was narrated to me, by that worthy monk; Fra Scipione, of the Augustine order, at Venice.

Section IV.

O time! time! time! Once more I cry "out upon thy speed!" Generations pass away, centuries revolve; but years, and thousands of years, are but as moments to thee, O time! Like the bubble on the river, is the life of man, and even while he thinks he lives, he dies. When we look forward in anticipation, thirty or forty years seem a little eternity; when we retrace their recollection in our mind, they are but as an hour. That, which gazed on from the distance, was a mountain of Alpine height, is changed, on retrospection, to the merest molehill. Happy the man, who, on thus glancing back, can say, "no matter, I have expended the past years in works of mercy and charity; they will not, therefore, be thought to have been utterly wasted hereafter." I do not think Vincenzio could have said this conscientiously. Do you fair reader?


Yes, the hour is almost come, when, for the last time Vincenzio and Azaroth must fight in chess. When the Venetian must stake down that drop, the most precious in the cup of life -- the last hope. O help him, holy saints and virgins, when he has to enter the lists with so mighty an adversary, to combat under odds so fearful. Should he lose the last gale, nothing remains. He must pass the remainder of the promised century of little years, grovelling on earth, "weeping and gnashing" his teeth, like a doomed criminal under sentence of death. Yes; since the last coming of Azaroth, nine years and nine months have already rolled away; let us see how it has gone the while with our Vincenzio. "I almost begin to pity him," whispers the gentle voice of merciful woman.

In the outward man, but little change is perceptible, beyond the silvery hue assumed by his curling locks, and the myriads of deep small lines indented on his forehead. Vincenzio's muscular force is not less developed; but, on the contrary, the Antinous has almost become a Hercules. The brow of our Italian is the index of a mind replete with knowledge of the deepest mysteries within our mortal comprehension. Vincenzio bears the outward imprint of a soul within, able almost to grasp the live lightning as it flashes, and mould it to his will. Talent and virtue, you would have said, must be entwined in that man, in everlasting union. To me, who know him better, he seems like a fallen angel, but the thunderbolt has failed to sear the crest it struck. Is all within as it should be? Who can say? His thoughts are impenetrably hidden, and the chequered line is still twined, snake like, round his throat.

Upwards and upwards has Vincenzio never ceased to climb the ladder of rank and fame. Him do men cite, when they wish to point out to their children a model of the rarest worth. The name of the Lord di Guadagnaro is coupled in teachers' mouths with the names of the just -- with Pericles or Aristides? Clad in the robes of judgment and enthroned on one of its proudest seats in Venice, he shines, earth's emblem of the Almighty. The ducal coronet is on his head -- a much more comfortable ornament than his necklace.

After the last dire visitation, the first revulsion of feeling was dreadful. Vincenzio went forth in the depths of night, and crawled on the earth like a worm. He rolled himself amid the tombs, and said, "O that I could be as these dry bones." He sailed upon the Adriatic, and cursed his good ship for floating, though he knew that had he plunged bodily into the deep, he could never gain oblivion. The elements had no power over Vincenzio the doomed! Deep, deep, had the arrow entered into his heart -- the heavy iron of rage and agony. Under its burden, he withered like a green leaf in fire; and the gay, the majestic presence of Vincenzio, was fearful even as the form of the gaunt vampire of the night; terribly and unutterably, and fearfully accursed.

A change came over Vincenzio, and his feelings subsided, curiously enough, into stern and indifferent stoicism. Prometheus like, he felt that the foul bird was gnawing his liver; but he folded his arms, and bade him welcome to the banquet. His form was once more portly, his front serene. His heart hardened like steel in the furnace. It seemed as though he had striven with his enemy, and come forth a victor from the struggle. Like the glittering May fly, he basked in the sun, and awaited the arrival of the foe with bitter indifference. O he was a precious specimen of the stuff out of which men are made.


It was on the eve of St. Januario, and hundreds of gondolas were skimming over the water. Nobles and peasants in picturesque costume, mingled in the throng. The sky was clear and deeply blue; the wavelets still, and the balmy air breathed perfect harmony and love. Among the throng, parading the place of St. Mark, was Vincenzio, the gazed on of all beholders. He was magnificently attired, but his spirit was sad on that fair eve.

The crowd thickened, and like the waves of the sea, were tossed about in almost tumult. An aged monk, in striving to extricate himself from the pressure, would have been borne to earth, but for Vincenzio's saving arm, which restrained the multitude, and supported the footsteps of tottering age to a remote piazza.

"Blessed be thou, my son," uttered the poor old man, in a feeble tone. The words went, somehow, home to Vincenzio's heart. He started!

"O mockery," muttered he, "can I be blessed, -- never." Then, checking the full gush of feeling, which, under an almost irresistible impression, was about to pour forth from his lips, he answered, "Thanks, father; the blessings of the good are as water to the drooping plant."

"Thou sayest well," said the monk, who was evidently a stranger to Venice. "The prayers and blessings of the righteous man avail much. Religion can draw that barbed weapon from the bosom, which has mocked the art of inferior mediciners."

"What meanest thou? Dost know me, monk?"

"I know thee not, kind sir. For fifty years I have wandered among Saracens, seeking to save souls. Many strange sights have I seen, many sore trials have I encountered."

"Didst ever encounter Satan in person, good father? Ha, ha, ha!"

"Jest not on such a subject. The fiend has not been backward to oppose my calling; but I have smitten him in all his forms, and will smite him again. Many times has he fled before me bodily!" And the monk uttered a short prayer, and crossed himself, with his eyes upturned to Heaven; while his long silvery locks streamed in the wind. He was the prototype of Abraham, as painted by Raffaelle. A sudden thought struck Vincenzio, as he gazed on the patriarchal form before him. He took the arm of the monk, and led him to the palace. They entered by a private stair, and in Vincenzio's study did he pour forth his whole sad story to the listening priest.


Vincenzio clasped the monk to his bosom, and shouted, fearfully and loudly, "I am saved!"

And here I would fain conceal one trifling circumstance in my narration. That monk was never seen on earth again. Whether he fell among thieves, and was slain for the sake of the treasure with which Vincenzio doubtless loaded him, or whether he died lest Vincenzio's secret should be jeopardized by being in his keeping, can never now be known. No man ever saw him leave the Guadagnaro palace, but then he might have passed from thence at night. And even if he were really disposed of by Vincenzio, the act becomes a deed of virtue, on being properly considered. For, of course, Vincenzio could only be jealous of his reputation, for the sake of Venice, on whose golden roll his name was emblazoned. And if Vincenzio chose to take this sin upon his soul, for the sake of the welfare of the state, was not his conduct rather praiseworthy than otherwise? If that was not virtue, I should like to know what you would call it? There might be certainly one man less in the world, but the earth is very large, and could do without him.

Joy! joy! joy! Vincenzio is saved. How, as yet, you know not, but I know, and I say he is saved. His soul is relieved from its cruel burden, and all is joy and happiness. Secure in the secret of the monk, 'tis thus Vincenzio now soliloquizes:-

"There wanted but this, to fill up the measure; to cheat the fiend! and this is granted me. He has read me a hard lesson, I'll teach him one in return. His day on earth is past, let him go back to his darksome caves. Capital joke! I too can laugh now -- and heartily. Vincenzio laughs at Azaroth."

It is a matter of regret that I am forced to hurry over many interesting points of the narrative, as originally told me. Let these be supplied and imagined as they may. I pass on to the denouement.

At the time appointed, Azaroth came, and felt great surprise at the courteous reception afforded by his entertainer. Far from quailing from the infernal one, Vincenzio stood erect in his presence, -- bade him heartily welcome -- and told him the time had seemed long since they met last.

"Oh!" replied Azaroth, "the day will soon come, when we shall be more together."

Vincenzio produced the chess-board and men (prepared for the occasion), and readily arranged them in battle array. Azaroth was surprised at his coolness.

"One thing, man, I shall ever say for thee, that for constancy of purpose, boldness of bearing, and calm resolve, I never saw thy fellow. Patiently have I waited, and much trouble have thy caprices cost me, but I cannot begrudge it in thy cause."

"You flatter, Azaroth! By the by, you really look younger and handsomer yourself, every time I see you. Move first if you like." Each player pushed his King's Pawn two squares, and to it, in earnest, they went.

"We meet so rarely," said Vincenzio, "I should like to take this opportunity of getting a little information -- check to your King -- respecting a few mysteries, of which I fain would know something. Science has ever been my idol, as you doubtless know, from your power of reading man's thoughts."

"Of your thoughts, Vincenzio, I am precluded from knowing as much as I could, were we on other terms. When any little arrangement, similar to ours, has been entered upon, between me and one of you mortals, that very compact screens you, for the time, from all such powers as I still exercise, over such as are now independent of my sway."

"O, you mean to say -- par exemple -- that you have no power then, however vexed, to do me bodily harm."

"My dear fellow! how can you ask such a question?"

"Oh! because I intend giving you checkmate presently," cried the Guadagnaro laughingly, "and I should wish to know beforehand whether I dare to do so with impunity. That's all. I am a man of peace, but little given to quarreling, and shouldn't therefore like the chess-board knocked about my head, if you should fall in a passion, my friend!"

"Don't mention such absurdities. Ridiculous! The bargain's a bargain; and I can no more annul it, than you can. Let the game go as it may, you will live out your promised number of years, and none of your enjoyments can be curtailed in any way. Checkmate me! A good joke! Ho! ho! ho!"

"He laughs best, who laughs last, as they say in England," responded Vincenzio, with a slight sneer. ---- The fact is, he began to hold the poor devil in contempt, for having suffered himself to be gulled. And I assure you, upon my word, Vincenzio was even beginning to meditate upon the prosperity of presently kicking his friend down stairs!


My pen is sketching a grave fact, and teaching a great moral lesson, but must not spin it out to a novel. Were I a Victor Hugo, or a Dumas, -- why, perhaps, I might not let you off so easily. Vincenzio was, I declare, tremendous. He was splendid! He had hooked his fish, gave him lots of line, and played him to perfection. Let me tell you, there are few men who could have found nerve to steer so close to the rocks. The game went on, as the other games had proceeded, and the Venetian felt quite amused at observing how little chance the deepest schemes of man avail in Chess, against the cunning of Monsieur Diabolus. "It serves him right," thought Vincenzio, "for playing with me originally. Had he given me the Rook, as I see he could have done, I should have scorned taking this shabby advantage. Upon my soul! it wouldn't be bad, afterwards, to propose playing at the odds of the Rook, for the gain of another hundred years! He said something to me once about double or quits. It were but fair to give him the chance. But perhaps I had better let well alone."

Vincenzio glanced his eye towards a time-piece, which stood on an adjoining tripod, -- "We must play quicker," said he, "for I dine out to-day; and shall hardly have time to dress."

"O, bravest of Venetians! you shall dine WITH ME some day. Say, is there aught else I do for thee, ere I leave? To my very heart do I admire thee!"

"Why, since you're so polite, there is a trifling matter you could do, if you would. Take away this cursed black and white line, you have stamped around my neck."

"O, certainly, with all my heart. It is gone even while I speak. The shepherd knows his sheep without marking, after the first time of handling them. -- It is your move. If you take my Queen, you will be Mated, my dear Vincenzio, in fifty-seven moves."

"Very true; but I shall not take the Queen." Vincenzio made this move, and many other moves, warily, watching that he did not commit himself, and carry the joke too far.

"You have not played so much chess lately as heretofore," resumed Azaroth. "What is the reason of that?"

"I got tired of it. We get tired of every thing in this world, by turns. Do you know, Azaroth, I'm almost tired of you!"

"Ho! ho!" sneered the fiend!

"Yes; I gave up chess. I was vexed at finding I could not beat you. I am older now, and think differently. I can thrash you, and at your own weapons."

"Admirable! -- And how does the world use you?"

"Oh! tolerably. The men are, entre nous, for the most part, rogues; shabby, miserable, sneaking, wretches!"

"You may say that," quoth Azaroth; "some of them are so truly contemptible, I give them up. They're not worth trapping."

"But then you catch a prey worth the trouble --"

"Why then it's pleasant," answered Azaroth.

"Hum," thought Vincenzio to himself, "I wish you may find it so!"

And now I must again call in the assistance of a crayon, to pourtray the situation of the Chess-men, while this conversation passed. They stood as follows, and Azaroth, having as usual the White pieces, had to move.

White to move

You see, Vincenzio had the advantage of a clear Rook; but position they say, is more than numbers, in Chess. Well, in this very position, Azaroth suddenly exclaimed, "It's all over. I am about to mate you in four moves."

And the fiend accordingly played the first of these four moves.

Vincenzio calmly examined the situation, and saw, indeed, that mate was inevitable in the number of moves specified. At the same time he could not but admire that superb talent for chess, which by a series of magnificently forced moves, had thus involved him. The Venetian's heart beat high, and he turned pale with excitement. The sensation was delicious. Revenge never filled a sweeter cup. He glanced over the board, and remained still.

"You see I'm right. Play on."

"Are you in a hurry, my good friend?" asked Vincenzio.

"O! by no manner of means. But it does not matter how you take your next move. Come, play."

Said Vincenzio, in reply, -- (now mark!)

"My very obliging friend, and particularly kind patron! Man or devil, be what you may, moderate your impatience, or you'll certainly fall ill! Listen to me -- a poor, humble mortal. I believe we play according to the strict rules of Chess. Now by those laws, my right of full time to examine the move is quite conceded. -- Pray, don't fidget about in your chair so much; you shall speak when I've done. -- My next move is rather difficult, that's all. You talk about giving me Mate. You may do so, if you can. When we played before, I lost, through being seduced into moving too quick -- a common error with young players. Into this error I shall not fall again. The position requires immense consideration. I shall look till I find the correct move by which I can frustrate your coup. Till then I shall not play. I intend to dwell on my next move, perhaps twenty or thirty years: so if you will now retire, and do me the favor to visit me again, at the expiration of about that period, I may then probably have the pleasure of answering your last move. Or, if you prefer finishing the game by correspondence, I'll send my move, when I've made up my mind, per post, if you leave your address. Meanwhile, I wish you every imaginable happiness. Excuse my rising. I dine out, and cannot offer to take you with me, for you look so cross, you'd really sour the wine!"

While Vincenzio finished this long, and somewhat flippant, tirade, he rose from his seat, and smilingly bowed to his diabolical visitor; waving his hand at the same time towards the door.

The fiend could not articulate a single word. He was struck dumb with the man's impudence. At length Azaroth stammered out --

"Scoundrel and villain! are you in earnest? What do you mean? -- Play directly, or ----"

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed Vincenzio. "In earnest do you ask? Remember my adage, he laughs longest, who laughs last. Don't call names; you have owned you've no power over me. I confess myself under great obligations to you, and if it ever lies in my way, shall be too happy to repay them in kind. Meanwhile, demon!" (and Vincenzio drew himself up to his full proud height) -- "liar! and father of lies! I know thou art scorned, and conquered at thy own weapons, by a man! I spit at thee, and defy thee!"

Azaroth turned black in the face with rage. -- "Monster of ingratitude!" formed he.

"I am a man!" was Vincenzio's reply.

Pen cannot write the description of the scene that followed. Azaroth forgot his breeding, and scolded like a fish-woman. At length he took himself off in a thunder-blast, which shook Venice to the depths of its watery foundations.

"After all!" sighed Vincenzio, "I have really not behaved well to him!"


Vincenzio never saw Azaroth again. Our noble Venetian passed on to extreme old age, enjoying to the last all the finest qualities of youth, together with the varied endowments gained by his unearthly compact. He returned to the practice of Chess, and was fonder of it than ever. This is not to be wondered at. Had it not been his saviour and protector? Chess afforded him the chiefest solace in age, when his iron frame began to yield to time, and in him did Chess-players again hail their master and their patron. And when he knew and felt, that his last days were at hand, -- when his appetites were palled -- his senses dimmed -- and his limbs palsied; -- THEN, I say, being ninety and nine years of age, and sinking into death, he received the consolations of the church -- was anointed with the holy oil of unction -- and expired, as his confessor thus beautifully expressed it, in his funeral sermon: -- "in the assured hope of sharing endless felicity, with persons of similar rank and respectability."


And now that I've finished this little story, which I have scribbled, my fair friend, merely because you told me it was impossible to twist Chess into a romance, if you ask me to point out the moral of it, I reply thus: -- It is a Chess-story, and it is, therefore, rather relative to the morals of Chess, than to the morals of you or me, that its tendency ought to be applicable. And the chess moral hereby enforced is this: -- "Take proper time for the consideration of your moves."

And if you are not satisfied with this moral, Madam, I must beg of you to find a better.


The positions introduced throughout this story, are chess problems by my friend, Mr. William Bone. The solutions are purposely omitted. White is always moving up the board.

[From Chess & Chess-Players : Consisting of Original Stories and Sketches by George Walker (London, 1850).]