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That I found humour in a pye-bald vest,
Or ever thought that jumping was a jest. [Takes off his mask.
Ay, 'twas but a dream, for now there's no retreating, 25 If I cease Harlequin, I cease from eating.
'Twas thus that Esop's stag, a creature blameless,
Yet something vain, like one that shall be nameless,
And cavill'd at his image in the flood:
"The deuce confound," he cries, "these drumstick shanks They never have my gratitude nor thanks;
They're perfectly disgraceful! strike me dead!
But for a head, yes, yes, I have a head :
How piercing is that eye! how sleek that brow!
My horns! I'm told horns are the fashion now."
Whilst thus he spoke, astonish'd, to his view,
He quits the woods, and tries the beaten ways;
1 Rosin'd lightning stage lightning.-BOLTON CORNEY.
He starts, he pants, he takes the circling maze :
[Taking a jump through the stage door.
VIDA'S GAME OF CHESS,
AS IT HAS BEEN FOUND TRANSCRIBED IN THE HANDWRITING OF
[The MS. of the following translation in the handwriting of Goldsmith was one of the literary treasures of Mr. Bolton Corney, and the publishers have to thank him for permission to reprint it. Mr. Corney did not become possessed of it until after he had published his own edition of the Poems, and he first gave printed publicity to this before quite unknown work through Mr. Cunningham's edition, 1854. Mr. Forster, to whom Mr. B. Corney also lent the MS., concurs in believing it to be the work of Goldsmith. He describes the MS. as follows ('Life of Goldsmith,' 1854, v. ii., p. 265):-"It is a small quarto manuscript of thirty-four pages, containing 679 lines, to which a fly-leaf is appended, in which Goldsmith notes the differences of nomenclature between Vida's chessmen and our own. It has occasional interlineations and corrections, but rather such as would occur in transcription, than in a first or original copy. Sometimes, indeed, choice appears to have been made between two words equally suitable to the sense and verse, as 'to' for 'toward;' but the insertions and erasures refer almost wholly to words or lines accidentally omitted and replaced." From the evidences of extra care which the MS. discloses, as well as from the apparent effort at "taking up" (as Mr. Forster says) "the manner of the great master of translation, Dryden," the work may be viewed as belonging to the middle-period of Goldsmith's career, that is, to the time immediately subsequent to the publication of the Traveller,' 1765.
Marco Vida (b. about 1480; d. 1567), the Italian poet whom Clement VII. made Bishop of Alba, was but little known in England till Alexander Pope praised his work in his juvenile Essay on Criticism' (1709), thus:
"Immortal Vida! on whose honoured brow
Essay on Criticism, 11. 705-8.
Later, viz., in 1736, an English translation of the Scacchiæ Ludus ' (Game of Chess) was published by one George Jeffreys. It was Vida's Scacchiæ Ludus' which procured for its author the patronage of Pope Leo X., and subsequently advanced him in the Church and otherwise. He afterwards published the 'Christiad' and other works.-ED.]
ARMIES of box that sportively engage
Pleased I recount; how, smit with glory's charms,
Ye Serian Nymphs, what ne'er was sung before.
This studious sport; from Scacchis was its name,
When Jove through Ethiopia's parch'd extent
To grace the nuptials of old Ocean went,
White after black; such various stains as those
Then to the Gods, that mute and wondering sate,
You see (says he) the field prepared for fate.
With adverse colours hurrying to the fight:
On which so oft, with silent sweet surprise,
The Nymphs and Nereids used to feast their eyes,
When calm the sea, and winds were lull'd asleep.
Different their posts, nor is their strength the same.
There prancing Knights and dexterous Archers came,
And Elephants that on their backs sustain
Vast towers of war, and fill and shake the plain.
Of adverse battle, their encampments form.
Their steeds by turns curvet, or snort, or neigh.
Two mighty Elephants their castles bring,
1 Goldsmith notes in the MS. that he adheres to Vida's chess terms and other arrangements in the mimic war thus-" Archers are what we call Bishops; Horse are what we call Knights; Elephants are what we call Towers, Castles, or Rooks. Apollo has the White men, Mercury the Black."-ED.
Eight of the Foot to form the second line,
The vanguard to the King and Queen; from far
So moved the boxen hosts, each double-lined,
With their white standards, o'er the Alpine snow
The sun-burnt Moors and Memnon's swarthy bands.
For ev'n these arms their stated laws obey.
To lead the fight, the Kings from all their bands
Choose whom they please to bear their great commands. Should a black hero first to battle go,
Instant a white one guards against the blow;
But only one at once can charge or shun the foe.
Their gen'ral purpose on one scheme is bent,
So to besiege the King within the tent,
But the proud victor takes the captive's post;
There fronts the fury of th' avenging host
One single shock; and (should he ward the blow),
May then retire at pleasure from the foe.
The Foot alone (so their harsh laws ordain)
When they proceed can ne'er return again.
The terror of their arms: the Foot must move
Directly on, and but a single square;
Yet may these heroes, when they first prepare
To mix in combat on the bloody mead,
Double their sally, and two steps proceed;
But when they wound, their swords they subtly guide