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view of the case I am the rightful heir to the throne.' The mother, on hearing of these disputes, was sadly perplexed, for she was really desirous of retaining the love and affections of both her sons, which now appeared to be altogether impossible. She therefore proposed that the people and the army should be appealed to for their decision, a measure to which the Princes agreed. Unfortunately the people and the army were divided in their sentiments; some declared for the elder brother and some for the younger; so that at last the matter terminated in a civil war. The elder brother, being the more humane and intelligent of the two, used every exertion in his power in order to restore peace and reconciliation. He said to the younger, Let our mother's kingdom, in the first place, be divided into two equal parts, then you shall choose for yourself that half which may best please you.' To this fair and generous proposal the younger brother would by no means listen; for he attributed the elder's forbearance and moderation solely to his timidity and cowardice. In short, Talkhand openly took the field with such forces as he could assemble; and Gau, however peacefully inclined, was compelled to go to war with his own brother in selfdefence. In the In the very first engagement Talkhand's forces were totally defeated, and he himself, mounted on a superb white elephant, was hurried from the field in the midst of the flight. The victorious army, mounted on swift horses, gave instant pursuit, with strict orders to make Talkhand prisoner, but not to hurt one hair of his head. At last the victors completely surrounded the young Prince, conspicuous from the white Elephant which he rode. The sagacious animal stood motionless as a statue, and as they began to assist the Prince to alight, they found that his heart had been broken and his spirit had departed. Thus died Talkhand, without any wound
from his adversaries, but solely because he had too much pride to survive the utter ruin of his army, the triumph of his conquerors, and the humiliation he must have to undergo in the presence of his brother.
"When the mournful tidings reached the Queenmother, she became inconsolable for the loss of her younger son. She even upbraided the survivor, Gau, as the cause of his brother's death. In vain did the Prince assert his innocence, and offered to prove, by numberless witnesses, that he was in no ways accountable for the death of his brother. The mother disbelieved them all, and refused to be comforted; nor would she even suffer her surviving son to appear in her sight. On this occasion it was that Sassa, the son of Dahir, modified the ancient Game of Chess, as we have already stated in our ‘first account.' He brought the board and pieces into the presence of the Queen, both as the means of distracting her sorrow, and with a view to explain to her how the battle had been conducted on both sides. He showed her how the two forces stood on the field, and how at length Talkhand, surrounded by his opponents, died of a broken heart, on which occasion those around him exclaimed 'Shāh mand," which signifies The Prince is reduced to the last extremity.' The Queen felt a mournful interest in this rare game, which she daily played with Sassa, and at length she became convinced of her surviving son's veracity and innocence."
In concluding this chapter, I may briefly state that Sassa and Dahir were real personages, both having figured in history as Princes of the Brahman dynasty that reigned
1 Shāh-mand," is the genuine old Persian term, which the Arabs changed into "Shah Māt," "the King is dead." The latter expression is less correct, for in reality the King at Chess is not killed; however, from the term Shah Māt, as used by the Arabs, comes, by various corruptions, our "Check-Mate."
in Sind about the commencement of the Muhammadan era. In fact Sassa was the first Indian Prince with whom the Arabs came in contact, when, in order to propagate their newly-adopted religion, they carried their victorious arms towards the banks of the Indus.
Hence, without much examination, they conferred on Sassa the honour of having invented Chess, or (as our anonymous scribe will have it) of having modified the older game. It so happens, also, as we know from Indian histories, that Sassa was the older, and Dähir the son, or nephew; though this point is of very little importance, as both of them lived nearly a century after Naushirawān. The three accounts of the invention of Chess given by our anonymous author are fair samples of the traditions on the subject current among the Arabs and Persians; always excepting the conclusion, where he says that "Sassa the son of Dahir simplified the ancient game," which idea is entirely his own, and not mentioned by any other writer. He repeatedly asserts that Sassa was not the inventor, but merely the improver of an older game of the kind; nor is he very scrupulous on the score of perverting his authorities in order to suit his own purpose. For instance, in the third account-which, as he states, he has abridged from the poet Firdausi-he, with the coolest effrontery, falsifies that eminent author's statement. The great poet says not a word about Sassa, nor of the game of the Greeks. He merely states that Gau summoned into his presence all the wise men of his kingdom, and desired them to draw up a plan of the battle, that it might be shown to his mother the Queen. The wise men sat in deliberation for a day and a night, and the result was the invention of the game of Chess. He mentions no name in particular, as he attributes the invention to the collective wisdom of the Indian sages. The story of Sassa is a more
recent legend of the Arabs, devised merely to give the invention a sort of "a local habitation and a name."
I believe, however, with the anonymous author, that what the writers of Western Asia considered as the original invention of Chess, really meant the change of the Chaturanga into the Shatranj. The existence of the game of Hermes, the Grecian sage, played by Alexander the Great, his officers and soldiers, is really too absurd to deserve a moment's consideration, as every one conversant with Greek literature and the game of Chess will readily admit. To those not so qualified to judge, one story is just as good as another; so I make them heartily welcome to their own opinions. At the same time, I think it is not altogether impossible to account for the anonymous author's perversions and falsehoods. He apparently lived at Timur's Court; for in his book he has given eighteen problems or positions that occurred in actual play to 'Ali-Shatranji—the finest player of that period, and probably one of the best that ever lived. He not only gives the problems, but a great number of minute particulars respecting them, such as the odds given, the party who was the opponent, and whether 'Ali played with or without seeing the board-all of which particulars could have been noticed only by one who was present, or one who lived not long after the event. Well, the Great Timur was partial to the "Perfect Chess" (as our author calls it), that is, the board of eleven squares by ten-of which more hereafter. Timur detested the Hindus because they were idolators, and despised them, both Hindū and Muslim, because they had allowed him to overrun their country. Hence our author, in order to gratify his patron's humour, gives out that the Great Chess was the original, and patronised by Alexander, the Macedonian, who introduced it into India; and that, after all, the
Hindus were "too stupid to comprehend it," till Sassa simplified it so as to make it square with their weak capacities. Such a gross fabrication would easily pass current with Timur, who was more conversant with arms than with books; and the obsequious courtiers would readily subscribe to such doctrines as appeared to gratify their Sovereign.1
1 Timur invaded India in the year of grace, 1398, simply for the very vulgar purpose of plunder. His panegyrists say that his object was to propagate the true faith among the heathen, which he did in the good old way, by causing at least a million of those same harmless heathen to be slaughtered. Having loaded himself and his army with booty, he quietly returned home in the course of six months. Ferishta, an accurate Indian historian, speaks of this invasion as follows. "The historians (of Tīmūr's invasion) have gone into some details, of the amount of the silver, the gold, and the jewels captured on this occasion, particularly rubies and diamonds; but their account so far exceeds all belief, that I have refrained from mentioning it!"