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the Elephant cannot, just then, move. The question is, what was to be done? Was the throw forfeited, as is sometimes the case at backgammon; or was it allowed in such case to move the Elephant's Pawn instead? Again, suppose a player, for his first move, has pushed Elephant's Pawn one square, and on his second move the die turns up two, in which case the Ship ought to move -what is he then to do? The Ship's path is clearly blocked up by the Elephant's Pawn. Perhaps the simplest mode of settling all such contingencies is, to suppose that the throw went for nothing, and passed on to the next player, as happens in backgammon, when " you cannot enter." Another query presents itself thus: What became of the King's Pawn and Ship's Pawn on reaching the opposite extremity of the board? Was their career then finished? or were they allowed a minor sort of promotion, like the farzin, in the Persian game? We have seen that a Pawn reaching the Elephant's square or the Knight's square, became an Elephant or Knight accordingly; and as the book says nothing about the original Elephant or Knight having been previously removed, we are left to infer that they immediately received their promotion; and consequently each of the four players must have been furnished with a spare Elephant and Knight to meet such favourable conjunctures. With regard to the King's Pawn and Ship's Pawn, I think we may venture to infer that they attained the rank of King, but only in those cases where the latter may have been already captured, not otherwise. According to Oriental notions, "two kings in one kingdom are inadmissible ;" and the promoting of the Ship's Pawn into a Ship would be an absurdity as it would have to run on the precise path of a hostile ship. We have seen already that in the case of the situation called Gadhāvați the Pawn was unrestricted
as to the rank it assumed; we may infer then that it became a King, Rook or Knight, according to circumstances.
All these, and some others I might add, are minor points, on which I do not despair of obtaining clear specific information in the course of time, from India, where the game is, no doubt, still cherished among the Brahmans. Radha Kant told Sir William Jones, seventy to eighty years ago, "that the Brahmans of Gaur, or Bengal, were once celebrated for superior skill in this game; and that his father, together with his spiritual preceptor, Jagannath, then living at Tribeni, had instructed two young Brahmans in all the rules of it, and had sent them to Jayanagar, at the request of the late Raja, who had liberally rewarded them." Since the days of Sir William Jones a great change has taken place in India. Many of the higher classes of Hindus are now well versed in English literature; and, by consequence, readers of our new publications. Should these unaided and necessarily imperfect efforts of mine meet the notice of any such, I trust they will kindly communicate to me any further information they may possess on the subject. It is not to be for a moment supposed that the Brahmans of the present day have altogether lost sight of the very ancient and national game of Chaturanga, although our modern European game, at which they are proficients, may have gradually diminished their interest in the former, as the Shatranj, or mediæval game, must have done to a great extent, many centuries previously.
In the preceding chapter I have taken the liberty to point out freely the errors into which Sir William Jones has fallen-errors which arose partly from his imperfect acquaintance at that period with the Sanskrit language,
1 Asiatic Researches, 8vo. London, 1801, p. 161.
but chiefly from his having been very little versed in the history and practice of the game of Chess. Sir William entirely misunderstood the description of the simple and primitive Chaturanga, which, in consequence, he considers to be "more complex and more modern than the simple Chess of the Persians." Above all, he was himself misled by a strange paradox, savouring infinitely more of the poet than the philosopher. He states, in his discourse delivered to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, about 1788, "The beautiful simplicity and extreme perfection of the game, as it is commonly played in Europe and Asia, convince me that it was invented by one effort of some great genius-not completed by gradual improvements; but formed, to use the phrase of Italian critics, by the first intention."
In a paper more recently written on the same subject, in the "Asiatic Researches," vol. vii. page 481, by Captain Hiram Cox, the latter very justly remarks on the above passage:-"But it appears to me, that all he (Sir William Jones) afterwards adduces on the subject is so far from corroborating, that it is in direct contradiction of this opinion; and I trust my further combating it will neither be deemed impertinent nor invidious. The errors of a great mind are, of all others, the most material to be guarded against; and Sir William himself, had he lived to reconsider the subject, I am sure would have been the first to expunge a passage of so unqualified construction. Perfection has been denied us, undoubtedly for wise purposes; and progression is necessary to the happiness of our existence. No human invention is so perfect but it may be improved; and no one is, or has been, so great, but another may be greater."
Sir William Jones's mistake arose simply from the circumstance of his not being aware that the so-called
"beautiful simplicity and extreme perfection" which he so much admired, were not attained till about the beginning of the sixteenth century; and that the game, as played by the Persians and Indians even as late as Sir William's own time, was the same as that described in the Shāhnāma—in other words, the mediæval game of Asia and Europe. Nor do I by any means admit the "simplicity" either of the modern game, or of the mediæval, which, compared with the Chaturanga, are of so profound and complex a nature, that it would be little short of a miracle in any "great human genius" to have invented either species of them " by the first intention." In fact, Sir William has misapplied this pretty simile altogether. We will grant that Raphael and Michael Angelo could each conceive and execute, "by the first intention," a painting at once sublime and beautiful-a master piece destined to excite the admiration of future ages; but then, how many years of painful labour and close study had those eminent men passed before they could have performed such wonders! But it is needless to dwell any longer on this point. We know that Chess, like all other human arts and inventions, arose from rude beginnings, and gradually advanced towards comparative perfection. I have now little more to say on this very ancient game; but ere I conclude I think I am fully justified in subjoining the following plain deductions from what I have advanced in this and the last chapter, viz :—
1st. That the game of Chaturanga is, in all essential respects, the same as the game of Chess; the elements and principles of both being identical, and the minor points of detail in which they differ being the mere result of such slow and gradual improvements as time and circumstances have developed.
2nd. That the Chaturanga was invented by a people
whose language was Sanskrit, is evident on the most unerring etymological grounds, in addition to the direct testimony of the Puranic poems, and also that of all the old writers of Arabia and Persia who have in any way alluded to the subject; consequently, that the invention belongs to the Hindus only.
3rd. That the Chaturanga, whether judged by its own intrinsic nature, or by the testimony of ancient writers, existed long before that modification of it called Shatranj, or the mediæval game.
4th. That the Chaturanga is the most ancient game, not only of Chess, but of anything approaching the nature of Chess, of which any account has been handed down to us. It claims an antiquity of nearly 5,000 years; and, with every allowance for poetic license, there is margin enough left to prove that it was known and practised in India long before it found its way to any other region, not excepting the very ancient empire of China-even on the showing of the Celestials themselves.