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VIDA'S GAME OF CHESS,
AS IT HAS BEEN FOUND TRANSCRIBED IN THE HANDWRITING
NOW FIRST PRINTED FROM THE ORIGINAL MS.
IN THE POSSESSION OF
BOLTON CORNEY, ESQ.
Or the MS. of this translation, Mr. Forster, who has drawn largely and importantly from it, gives the following account: "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 (as at page 29) 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. The triplet is always carefully marked; and though it is seldom found in any other of Goldsmith's poems, I am disposed to regard its frequent recurrence, here, as even helping in some degree to explain the motive which had led him to the trial of an experiment in rhyme comparatively new to him. If we suppose him, half consciously it may be, taking up the manner of the great master of translation, Dryden, who was at all times so much a favourite with him, he would at least be less apt to fall short in so marked a peculiarity, than to err perhaps a little on the side of excess; though I am far from thinking such to be the result in the present instance. The effect of the whole translation is very pleasing to me, and the mock heroic effect I think not a little assisted by the reiterated use of the triplet and Alexandrine. As to any evidences of authorship derivable from the appearance of the manu script, I will only add another word. The lines in the translation have been carefully counted, and the number is marked in Goldsmith's hand at the close of his transcription. Such a fact is, of course, only to be taken in aid of other proof; but a man is not generally at the pains of counting, still less, I should say, in such a case as Goldsmith's, of elaborately transcribing, lines which are not his own."-Forster's Goldsmith, ii. 265.
There had been an earlier translation of the poem by George Jeffreys, (4to. 1736,) but it is very inferior to the translation which Mr. Cornev has now enabled me to reprint. CUNNINGHAM.
VIDA'S GAME OF CHESS.
ARMIES of box that sportively engage,
Ye Serian Nymphs, what ne'er was sung before.
Where youth undaunted bids me force my way.
This studious sport; from Scacchis was its name,
When Jove through Ethiopia's parch'd extent To grace the nuptials of old Ocean went, Each god was there; and mirth and joy around To shores remote diffused their happy sound. Then when their hunger and their thirst no more Claim'd their attention, and the feast was o'er, Ocean, with pastime to divert the thought, Commands a painted table to be brought.
Sixty-four spaces fill the chequer'd square;
White after black; such various stains as those
Then to the Gods that mute and wondering sate,
There might you see two Kings with equal pride
And Elephants, that on their backs sustain
Vast towers of war, and fill and shake the plain.
And now both hosts, preparing for the storm Of adverse battle, their encampments form. In the fourth space, and on the farthest line, Directly opposite the monarchs shine;
The swarthy on white ground, on sable stands
Then the young Archers, two that snowy-white
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.