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up all thoughts of war and bloodshed in the real battlefield. One day he thus addressed his wise Minister, 'O Sassa, did I not promise you that I would give you as a boon whatever you would be pleased to ask of me? Now your time to claim your reward. I am a King of my word; for base and contemptible is that Sovereign who dealeth in falsehoods, and who shrinketh from the fulfilment of his promise.'
"The sage Minister replied, O, my Sovereign, may you live a thousand years; I merely ask as my reward that for the first square on the board you give me one silver diram, two for the second square, four for the third, and so on, doubling the number for each square, till the sixty-fourth square is attained.' To the King this demand seemed very insignificant, and thus he spoke, Friend Sassa, I have hitherto looked upon you as a man of wisdom; why will you render me ridiculous by limiting your demand to such a contemptible and trifling sum? You ought to have asked for something worthy at once of my munificence and of your own merit.' The Minister made his obeisance and said, 'Sire, I am quite satisfied with what I have asked, nor would it be becoming in your servant to alter his demand, merely because your Majesty is bountiful and liberal.' Once more the King said, Sassa, have you ever found me backward or niggardly in rewarding the faithful services of my friends? Your wits have altogether forsaken you; ask me at least to make you ruler over one of my kingdoms, or possessor of one of my well-stored treasuries.' To this Sassa replied, 'Sire, I will thus far comply with your commands, that if, after my present demand is settled, you should think that aught further is due to me, I will freely accept the same as a mark of your Majesty's bounty and liberality.'
"To this proposal the King readily agreed. He then
sent for his treasurer, and said to him, "Take with thee the sage Sassa, and pay to him from our treasury the small sum he hath demanded of us.'
'Hereupon the treasurer, together with the accountants and the sage Sassa, went to the Royal Treasury, and betook themselves to the calculation of the gross sum.' At first matters went on smoothly and rapidly, and the accountants indulged in sundry facetious remarks, not overcomplimentary to Sassa, on the score of his worldly wisdom. But by the time they had passed the thirty-second square or so, their mirth was changed into gravity. The treasurer clearly perceived that all the dirams on the face of the earth, if multiplied millions of times over, would not suffice to satisfy Sassa's demand.' This astounding fact was explained to the King; who, after due reflection, said, 'I now perceive the full extent of Sassa's profound wisdom. Verily I know not which I ought most to admire, the ingenuity of the game itself or that of the Minister's demand. It is evident that what he asks is not in my power to give; but all that I possess in the
1 I have a distinct recollection of having calculated the amount of this sum at school. It is merely an affair of patience, requiring no higher degree of science than simple multiplication by two. For the delectation of the curious, I here subjoin the result on the authorities, both of the Arabian writers and of Augustus, Duke of Luneburg, (better known as Gustavus Selenus,) which I have no doubt are quite correct. The whole number of silver dirams then, amounted to 18,446,744,073,709,551,615, (assuming the silver dinar or diram to be equal to our sixpence, the above sum if melted into a solid mass would form a silver cube of nearly fifteen miles for its basis), and supposing the relative value of gold and silver, to have been, then and there, the same as with us, i.e., about 144 to 1, the amount would form a cube of gold, having nearly six miles for its basis; a very pretty nugget truly. Sometimes the reward is said to have been in grains of wheat; in which case I have an impression of having once calculated that the heap of grain thus realised, would suffice to cover the whole of our globe, both sea and land, eight times over. My friend Mr. Bland, in his Essay, quotes a Persian writer, who asserts "that the whole sum amounted to two thousand four hundred times the size of our whole globe in gold!!" Pretty strong that; there must be a very serious mistake somewhere; but whether on the part of the author or on that of the translator, I cannot say, as I have not been able to attain access to the original.
way of territories and treasures I will freely bestow upon him. The whole of my possessions are henceforth his, and in the disposal of them his commands shall be paramount; all I ask is, to be allowed to pass the remainder of my days under his shadow, in the enjoyment of the game of Chess.'
"Here Sassa thus spake :-'Sire, I will have none of your territories and treasures; I am far happier in what I already enjoy—that is, your Majesty's esteem. As to mere worldly wealth, of what use is it to me? Have I not hitherto lived upon your bounty? Your property has at all times been to me as my own; and, should I ever want aught, I will freely ask it of your Majesty, without any fear of disappointment. Sire, you have been pleased to acknowledge that I possess some wisdom; and that is the only wealth I really covet. It is a species of property which no one can take from me by force or fraud; while territories and treasures, and palaces and thrones, are all liable to decay.""
"It is related that once upon a time there reigned in Hind a certain King, whose name was Für. He possessed great wealth, extensive territories, and a numerous army. On his death he was succeeded by an only son, then under age; and the consequence was, that the neighbouring Kings, who had stood in awe of the father, endeavoured to wrest his territories from the youthful and inexperienced son. From all quarters of the kingdom tidings arrived of the approach of enemies from without, and of the insolence of rebels within. In this state of things the elders of the people assembled together and said—'O, Prince, your enemies are collecting their forces, with a view to
wrest from you your kingdom, your treasures, and your life.' The Prince said, 'I am very young, and as yet without experience; I pray of you to advise me as to what you consider best to be done.' They answered, 'It behoveth your father's son to draw the sword, and lead forth our gallant troops against the enemy.' The young Prince replied, 'Assuredly my hand is ready to draw the sword; but, alas! I have never seen war. How, then, can I presume to become the leader of brave men ?' They said, Fear nothing, you shall be surrounded by able and experienced warriors, and by wise counsellors, who will soon instruct you how to conduct your forces in the battle-field. All your faithful subjects will support you with their lives and fortunes. But time presses, and the foe must be encountered before he has had time to enter your territories, to slay your people, and to burn your towns.' Now they say that Sassa, the son of Dāhir was this Prince's Prime Minister and chief counsellor. He abridged the 'Perfect Chess,' as already mentioned, and brought the board and men to the Prince, saying, 'Here you have an exact image of war, which is conducted on principles similar to those which regulate this wonderful game. The same caution in attack, and coolness in defence, which you have to exercise here, you will have occasion to put in practice on the battle-field.' The Prince with eagerness availed himself of Sassa's instructions until he made himself fully acquainted with the principles of the game. He then assembled his army, and went forth in full confidence, to encounter his enemies, whom he utterly defeated at all points. He then returned home in triumph, and ever after he cherished his love for the game of Chess; to a knowledge of which he considered himself indebted for the preservation of his honour, his kingdom, and his life."
In Firdausi's epic poem, the Shāhnāma, it is related, that about the time of Naushīrawān the Just, there reigned in Northern India a King by name Jamhur, whose sway extended from Bust' to the confines of China. On his death he left an infant son whose name was Gau; and as usual in such cases, the people conferred the sovereignty on the late King's younger brother, who, in course of time, married the elder brother's widow, by whom he had a son named Talkhand. In a short time this King also died, and the people then conferred the sovereignty on the widow. This state of things continued till her two sons became of age. As these two Princes were equally ambitious of sovereign power, they one day went to their mother, and said, 'Which of us two do you deem best qualified to become your successor ?' The mother at this question was greatly distressed, for she loved both her sons alike, and she could not name one of them her successor without grieving the other. She, therefore, answered, That one of you shall be my successor, who will prove himself the bravest in battle, the wisest in council, and the most beloved by the people and the army.' At this reply the brothers withdrew, but frequent and angry altercations used to take place between them. Talkhand, the younger, maintained that the sovereignty was his as his father's inheritance. Gau would say in reply, The kingdom was given to your father merely on trust, as my guardian; he was only to act as Regent during my minority. Besides, I am your mother's eldest son; and in every
1 Bust was, of old, a flourishing city in Kabul, situated on the river Helmund, to the westward of Kandahar.