Schaccia, Ludus
or The Game of Chess

Marcus hieronymus Vida, BISHOP OF ALBA

Armies of box that sportively engage
And mimic real battles
in their rage,
Pleased I recount; how, smit with glory’s charms,

Two mighty Monarchs met in adverse arms,
Sable and white;
assist me to explore,
Ye Serian Nymphs, what ne’er was sung
No path appears: yet resolute I stray
Where youth
undaunted bids me force my way.
O’er rocks and cliffs while
I the task pursue,
Guide me, ye Nymphs, with your unerring
For you the rise of this diversion know,
You first
were pleased in Italy to show
This studious sport; from Scacchis
was its name,
The pleasing record of your Sister’s fame.

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
Claini’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;
Eight in each rank eight equal limits
Alike their form, but different are their dyes,

They fade alternate, and alternate rise,
White after black;
such various stains as those
The shelving backs of tortoises
Then to the Gods that mute and wondering sate,

You see (says he) the field prepared for fate.
Here will the
little armies please your sight,
With adverse colours hurrying
to the fight:
On which so oft, with silent sweet surprise,

The Nymphs and Nereids used to feast their eyes,
And all
the neighbours of the hoary deep,
When the calm sea, and winds
were lull’d asleep.
But see, the mimic heroes tread the board;

He said, and straightway from an urn he pour’d
The sculptured
box, that neatly seem’d to ape
The graceful figure of a human
Equal the strength and number of each foe,
appear’d like jet, sixteen like snow.
As their shape varies
various is the name,
Different their posts, nor is their strength
the same.
Their might you see two Kings with equal pride

Gird on their arms, their Consorts by their side;
Here the
Foot-warriors glowing after fame,
There prancing Knights and
dexterous Archers came
And Elephants, that on their backs sustain

Vast towers of war, and fill and shake the plain.
now both hosts, preparing for the storm
Of adverse battle,
their encampments form.
In the fourth space, and on the farthest
Directly opposite the Monarchs shine;
The swarthy
on white ground, on sable stands
The silver King; and thence
they send commands.
Nearest to these the Queens exert their
One the left side, and t’other guards the right:

Where each, by her respective armour known,
Chooses the colour
that is like her own.
Then the young Archers, two that snowy-white

Bend the tough yew, and two as black as night;
call’d them Mars’s favourites heretofore,
From their delight
in war, and thirst of gore).
These on each side the Monarch
and his Queen
Surround obedient; next to these are seen

The crested Knights in golden armour gay;
Their steeds by turns
curvet, or snort or neigh.
In either army on each distant wing

Two mighty Elephants their castles bring,
Bulwarks immense!
and then at last combine
Eight of the Foot to form the second
The vanguard to the King and Queen; from far
to open all the fate of war.
So moved the boxen hosts, each
Their different colours floating in the wind:

As if an army of the Gauls should go,
With their white
standards, o’er the Alpine snow
To meet in rigid fight on scorching
The sun-burnt Moors and Memnon’s swarthy bands
Father Ocean thus; you see them here,
Celestial Powers, what
troops, what camps appear.
Learn now the sev’ral orders of the
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.
gen’ral purpose on one scheme is bent,
So to besiege the King
within the tent,
That there remains no place by subtle flight

From danger free; and that decides the fight.
howe’er, the sooner to destroy
Th’ imperial Prince, remorseless
they employ
Their swords in blood; and whosoever dare

Oppose their vengeance, in the ruin share.
Fate thins their
camp; the parti-coloured field
Widens apace, as they o’ercome
or yield,
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.
But neither all rush
on alike to prove
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
With aim oblique, and slanting
pierce his side.
But the great Indian beasts, whose backs sustain

Vast turrets arm’d, when on the redd’ning plain
They join
in all the terror of the fight,
Forward or backward, to the
left or right,
Run furious, and impatient of confine
through the field, and threat the farthest line.
Yet must they
ne’er obliquely aim their blows;
That only manner is allow’d
to those
Whom Mars has favour’d most, who bend the stubborn
These glancing sidewards in a straight career,
each confined to their respective sphere,
Or white or black,
can send th’ unerring dart
Wing’d with swift death to pierce
through ev’ry part.
The fiery steed, regardless of the reins,

Comes prancing on; but sullenly disdains
The path direct,
and boldly wheeling round,
Leaps o’er a double space at ev’ry
And shifts from white or black to diffirent colour’d
But the fierce Queen, whom dangers ne’er dismay,

The strength and terror of the bloody day,
In a straight line
spreads her destruction wide,
To left or right, before, behind,
Yet may she never with a circling course
to the battle like the fretful Horse;
But unconfined may at
her pleasure stray,
If neither friend nor foe block up the
For to o’erleap a warrior, ’tis decreed
Those only
dare who curb the snorting steed.
With greater caution and majestic
The warlike Monarchs in the scene of fate
Direct their
motions, since for these appear
Zealous each hope, and anxious
ev’ry fear.
While the King’s safe, with resolution stern

They clasp their arms; but should a sudden turn
Make him a captive,
instantly they yield,
Resolved to share his fortune in the field.

He moves on slow; with reverence profound
His faithful troops
encompass him around,
And oft, to break some instant fatal scheme,

Rush to their fates, their sov’reign to redeem;
While he, unanxious
where to wound the foe,
Need only shift and guard against a
But none, however, can presume t’ appear
Within his
reach, but must his vengeance fear;
For he on ev’ry side his
terror throws;
But when he changes from his first repose,

Moves but one step, most awfully sedate,
Or idly roving, or
intent on fate.
These are the sev’ral and establish’d laws:

Now see how each maintains his bloody cause.
Here paused the
God, but (since whene’er they wage
War here on earth the Gods
themselves engage
In mutual battle as they hate or love,

And the most stubborn war is oft above),
Almighty Jove commands
the circling train
Of Gods from fav’ring either to abstain,

And let the fight be silently survey’d;
And added solemn threats
if disobey’d.
Then call’d he Phoebus from among the Power,

And subtle Hermes, whom in softer hours
Fair Maia bore:
youth wanton’d in their face;
Both in life’s bloom, both shone
with equal grace
Hermes as yet had never wing’d his feet;

As yet Apollo in his radiant seat
Had never driv’n his chariot
through the air,
Known by his bow alone and golden hair.

These Jove commission’d to attempt the fray,
And rule the sportive
military day;
Bid them agree which party each maintains.

And promised a reward that’s worth their pains.
The greater
took their seats; on either hand
Respectful the less Gods in
order stand,
But careful not to interrupt their play,

By hinting when t’ advance or run away.
Then they examine,
who shall first proceed
To try their courage, and their army
Chance gave it for the White, that he should go

First with a brave defiance to the foe.
Awhile he ponderd which
of all his train
Should bear his first commission o’er the
And then determined to begin the scene
With him
that stood before to guard the Queen.
He took a double step:
with instant care
Does the black Monarch in his turn prepare

The adverse champion, and with stem command
Bid him repel
the charge with equal hand.
There front to front, the midst
of all the field,
With furious threats their shining arms they
Yet vain the conflict, neither can prevail
in one path each other they assail.
On ev’ry side to their
assistance fly
Their fellow soldiers, and with strong supply

Crowd to the battle, but no bloody stain
Tinctures their
armour; sportive in the plain
Mars plays awhile, and in excursion
Harmless they sally forth, or wait the fight.
now the swarthy Foot, that first appear’d
To front the foe,
his pond’rous jav’lin rear’d
Leftward aslant, and a pale warrior
Spurns him aside, and boldly takes his place.
youth, his danger not to spy!
Instant he fell, and triumph’d
but to die.
At this the sable King with prudent care
his station from the middle square,
And slow retiring to the
farthest ground,
There safely lurk’d, with troops entrench’d
Then from each quarter to the war advance
furious Knights, and poise the trembling lance:
By turns they
rush, by turns the victors yield,
Heaps of dead Foot choke
up the crimsond field:
They fall unable to retreat; around

The clang of arms and iron hoofs resound.
But while young
Phoebus pleased himself to view
His furious Knight destroy
the vulgar crew,
Sly Hermes long’d t’attempt with secret aim

Some noble act of more exalted fame.
For this, he inoffensive
pass’d along
Through ranks of Foot, and midst the trembling
Sent his left Horse, that free without confine

Roved o’er the plain, upon some great design
Against the King
himself. At length he stood,
And having fix’d his station as
he would,
Threaten’d at once with instant fate the King

And th’ Indian beast that guarded the right wing.
Apollo sigh’d,
and hast’ning to relieve
The straiten’d Monarch, grieved that
he must leave
His martial Elephant exposed to fate,
view’d with pitying eyes his dang’rous state.
First in his
thoughts however was his care
To save his King, whom to the
neighbouring square
On the right hand, he snatch’d with trembling
At this with fury springs the sable Knight,
his keen sword, and rising to the blow,
Sent the great Indian
brute to shades below.
0 fatal loss! for none except the Queen

Spreads such a terror through the bloody scene.
Yet shall
you ne’er unpunished boast your prize,
The Delian God with
stern resentment cries;
And wedged him round with foot, and
pour’d in fresh supplies.
Thus close besieged trembling he
cast his eye
Around the plain, but saw no shelter nigh,

No way for flight; for here the Queen opposed,
The Foot in
phalanx there the passage closed:
At length he fell; yet not
unpleased with fate,
Since victim to a Queen’s vindictive hate.

With grief and fury bums the whiten’d host,
One of their Tow’rs
thus immaturely lost.
As when a bull has in contention stern

Lost his right horn, with double vengeance bum
His thoughts
for war, with blood he’s cover’d o’er,
And the woods echo to
his dismal roar,
So look’d the flaxen host, when angry fate

O’ertumed the Indian bulwark of their state.
Fired at this great
success, with double rage
Apollo hurries on his troops t’engage,

For blood and havoc wild; and, while he leads
His troops thus
careless, loses both his steeds:
For if some adverse warriors
were o’erthrown,
He little thought what dangers threat his own.

But slyer Hermes with observant eyes
March’d slowly cautious,
and at distance spies
What moves must next succeed, what dangers
next arise.
Often would he, the stately Queen to snare,

The slender Foot to front her arms prepare,
And to conceal his
scheme he sighs and feigns
Such a wrong step would frustrate
all his pains.
Just then an Archer, from the right-hand view,

At the pale Queen his arrow boldly drew,
Unseen by Phoebus,
who, with studious thought,
From the left side a vulgar hero
But tender Venus, with a pitying eye,
the sad destruction that was nigh,
Wink’d upon Phoebus (for
the Goddess sat
By chance directly opposite); at that
in an instant, young Apollo threw
His eyes around the field
his troops to view;
Perceived the danger, and with sudden fright

Withdrew the Foot that he had sent to fight,
And saved
his trembling Queen by seasonable flight.
But Maia’s son with
shouts fill’d all the coast:
The Queen, he cried, the important
Queen is lost.
Phoebus, howe’er, resolving to maintain

What he had done, bespoke the heavenly train.
What mighty harm,
in sportive mimic fight,
Is it to set a little blunder right,

When no preliminary rule debarr’d?
If you henceforward,
Mercury, would guard
Against such practice, let us make the
And whosoe’er shall first to battle draw,
Or white,
or black, remorseless let him go
At all events, and dare the
angry foe.
He said, and this opinion pleased around:
turn’d aside, and on his daughter frown’d,
Unmark’d by Hermes,
who, with strange surprise,
Fretted and foam’d, and roll’d
his ferret eyes,
And but with great reluctance could refrain

From dashing at a blow all off the plain.
Then he resolved
to interweave deceits,
To carry on the war by tricks and cheats.

Instant he call’d an Archer from the throng,
And bid him
like the courser wheel along:
Bounding he springs, and threats
the pallid Queen.
The fraud, however, was by Phoebus seen;

He smiled, and, turning to the Gods, he said:
Though, Hermes,
you are perfect in your trade,
And you can trick and cheat
to great surprise,
These little sleights no more shall blind
my eyes;
Correct them if you please, the more you thus disguise.

The circle laugh’d aloud; and Maia’s son
(As if it had
but by mistake been done)
Recall’d his Archer, and with motion
Bid him advance, the combat to renew.
But Phoebus
watch’d him with a jealous eye,
Fearing some trick was ever
lurking nigh,
For he would oft, with sudden sly design,

Send forth at once two combatants to join
His warring troops,
against the law of arms,
Unless the wary foe was ever in alarms.

Now the white Archer with his utmost force
Bent the tough
bow against the sable Horse,
And drove him from the Queen,
where he had stood
Hoping to glut his vengeance with her blood.

Then the right Elephant with martial pride
Roved here
and there, and spread his terrors wide:
Glittering in arms
from far a courser came,
Threaten’d at once the King and Royal
Thought himself safe when he the post had seized,

And with the future spoils his fancy pleased.
Fired at the
danger a young Archer came,
Rush’d on the foe, and levell’d
sure his aim;
(And though a Pawn his sword in vengeance draws,

Gladly he’d lose his life in glory’s cause).
The whistling
arrow to his bowels flew,
And the sharp steel his blood profusely
He drops the reins, he totters to the ground,
his life issued murm’ring through the wound.
Pierced by the
Foot, this Archer bit the plain;
The Foot himself was by another

And with inflamed revenge, the battle burns again.
Archers, Knights, meet on the crimson ground,
And the field
echoes to the martial sound.
Their thoughts are heated, and
their courage fired,
Thick they rush on with double zeal inspired;

Generals and Foot, with different colour’d mien,
warring in the camps are seen,-
Valour and Fortune meet in one promiscuous scene.
Now these victorious, lord it o’er the field;

Now the foe rallies, the triumphant yield:
Just as the tide of battle ebbs or flows.
As when the conflict more tempestuous grows
Between the winds, with strong and boisterous sweep

They plough th’ Ionian or Atlantic deep!
By turns prevails
the mutual blustering roar,
And the big waves alternate lash
the shore.
But in the midst of all the battle raged
The snowy Queen, with troops at once engaged;
She fell’d an Archer
as she sought the plain,-
As she retired an Elephant was slain:

To right and left her fatal spears she sent,
Burst through
the ranks, and triumph’d as she went;
Through arms and blood
she seeks a glorious fate,
Pierces the farthest lines, and
nobly great
Leads on her army with a gallant show,
the battalions, and cuts through the foe.
At length the sable
King his fears betray’d,
And begg’d his military consort’s aid:

With cheerful speed she flew to his relief,
And met in equal
arms the female chief.
Who first, great Queen, and who at last
did bleed?
How many Whites lay gasping on the mead?
dead, and floating in a bloody tide,
Foot, Knights, and Archer
lie on every side.
Who can recount the slaughter of the day?

How many leaders threw their lives away?
The chequer’d plain
is fill’d with dying box,
Havoc ensues, and with tumultuous
The different colour’d ranks in blood engage,
Foot and Horse promiscuously rage.
With nobler courage and superior
The dreadful Amazons sustain the fight.
Resolved alike
to mix in glorious strife,
Till to imperious fate they yield
their life.
Meanwhile each Monarch, in a neighbouring cell,

Confined the warriors that in battle fell,
There watch’d the
captives with a jealous eye,
Lest, slipping out again, to arms
they fly.
But Thracian Mars, in steadfast friendship join’d

To Hermes, as near Phoebus he reclined,
Observed each chance,
how all their motions bend,
Resolved if possible to serve his
He a Foot-soldier and a Knight purloin’d
Out from
the prison that the dead confined;
And slyly push’d ’em forward
on the plain;
Th’ enliven’d combatants their arms regain,

Mix in the bloody scene, and boldly war again.
So the foul
hag, in screaming wild alarms
O’er a dead carcase muttering
her charms,
(And with her frequent and tremendous yell

Forcing great Hecate from out of hell)
Shoots in the corpse
a new fictitious soul;
With instant glare the supple eyeballs
Again it moves and speaks, and life informs the whole

Vulcan alone discern’d the subtle cheat;
And wisely scorning
such a base deceit,
Call’d out to Phoebus. Grief and rage assail

Phoebus by turns; detected Mars turns pale.
Then awful
Jove with sullen eye reproved
Mars, and the captives order’d
to be moved
To their dark caves; bid each fictitious spear

Be straight recall’d, and all be as they were.
And now
both Monarchs with redoubled rage
Led on their Queens, the
mutual war to wage.
O’er all the field their thirsty spears
they send,
Then front to front their Monarchs they defend.

But lo! the female White rush’d in unseen,
And slew with
fatal haste the swarthy Queen;
Yet soon, alas! resign’d her
royal spoils,
Snatch’d by a shaft from her successful toils.

Struck at the sight, both hosts in wild surprise
forth their tears, and fill’d the air with cries;
They wept
and sigh’d, as pass’d the fun’ral train,
As if both armies
had at once been slain.
And now each troop surrounds its mourning
To guard his person, or assuage his grief.
One is
their common fear; one stormy blast
Has equally made havoc
as it pass’d.
Not all, however, of their youth are slain;

Some champions yet the vig’rous war maintain. ,
Three Foot,
an Archer, and a stately Tower,
For Phoebus still exert their
utmost power.
Just the same number Mercury can boast,
the Tower, who lately in his post
Unarm’d inglorious fell,
in peace profound,
Pierced by an Archer with a distant wound;

But his right Horse retain’d its mettled pride,-
The rest
were swept away by war’s strong tide.
But fretful Hermes, with
despairing moan.
Grieved that so many champions were o’erthrown,

Yet reassumes the fight; and summons round
The little
straggling army that he found,
All that had ‘scaped from fierce
Apollo’s rage,
Resolved with greater caution to engage

In future strife, by subtle wiles (if fate
Should give him
leave) to save his sinking state.
The sable troops advance
with prudence slow.
Bent on all hazards to distress the foe.

More cheerful Phoebus, with unequal pace,
Rallies his
arms to lessen his disgrace.
But what strange havoc everywhere
has been!
A straggling champion here and there is seen;

And many are the tents, yet few are left within.
Th’ afflicted
Kings bewail their consorts dead,
And loathe the thoughts of
a deserted bed;
And though each monarch studies to improve

The tender mem’ry of his former love,
Their state requires
a second nuptial tie.
Hence the pale ruler with a love-sick
Surveys th’ attendants of his former wife,
And offers
one of them a royal life.
These, when their martial mistress
had been slain,
Weak and despairing tried their arms in vain;

Willing, howe’er, amidst the Black to go,
They thirst
for speedy vengeance on the foe.
Then he resolves to see who
merits best,
By strength and courage, the imperial vest;

Points out the foe, bids each with bold design
Pierce through
the ranks, and reach the deepest line:
For none must hope with
monarchs to repose
But who can first, through thick surrounding
Through arms and wiles, with hazardous essay,
to the farthest quarters force their way.
Fired at the thought,
with sudden, joyful pace
They hurry on; but first of all the
Runs the third right-hand warrior for the prize,-

The glitt’ring crown already charms her eyes.
Her dear associates
cheerfully give o’er
The nuptial chase; and swift she flies
And Glory lent her wings, and the reward in store.

Nor would the sable King her hope~ prevent,
For he himself
was on a Queen intent,
Alternate, therefore, through the field
they go.
Hermes led on, but by a step too slow,
His fourth
left Pawn: and now th’ advent’rous
White Had march’d through
all, and gain’d the wish’d for site.
Then the pleased King gives
orders to prepare
The crown, the sceptre, and the royal chair,

And owns her for his Queen: around exult
The snowy troops, and
o’er the Black insult.
Hermes burst into tears,-with fretful
Fill’d the wide air, and his gay vesture tore.
swarthy Foot had only to advance
One single step; but oh! malignant
A tower’d Elephant, with fatal aim,
Stood ready
to destroy her when she came:
He keeps a watchful eye upon the
Threatens her entrance, and protects the goal.
the royal new-created bride,
Pleased with her pomp, spread death
and terror wide;
Like lightning through the sable troops she
Clashes her arms, and seems to threat the skies.

The sable troops are sunk in wild affright,
And wish th’ earth
op’ning snatch’d ’em from her sight.
In burst the Queen, with
vast impetuous swing:
The trembling foes come swarming round
the King,
Where in the midst he stood, and form a valiant ring.

So the poor cows, straggling o’er pasture land,
When they perceive
the prowling wolf at hand,
Crowd close together in a circle full,
And beg the succour of the lordly bull;
They clash
their horns, they low with dreadful sound,
And the remotest
groves re-echo round.
But the bold Queen, victorious, from behind

Pierces the foe; yet chiefly she design’d

Against the King himself some fatal aim,
And full of war
to his pavilion came.
Now here she rush’d, now there; and had
she been
But duly prudent, she had slipp’d between,
course oblique, into the fourth white square,
And the long
toil of war had ended there,
The King had fallen, and all his
sable state;
And vanquish’d Hermes cursed his partial fate.

For thence with ease the championess might go,
the King, and none could ward the blow,
With silence, Hermes,
and with panting heart,
Perceived the danger, but with subtle
(Lest he should see the place) spurs on the foe,

Confounds his thoughts, and blames his being slow.
For shame!
move on; would you for ever stay?
What sloth is this, what
strange perverse delay?-
How could you e’er my little pausing
What! you would wait till night shall end the game?

Phoebus, thus nettled, with imprudence slew
A vulgar Pawn,
but lost his nobler view.
Young Hermes leap’d, with sudden
joy elate;
And then, to save the monarch from his fate,

Led on his martial Knight, who stepp’d between,
Pleased that
his charge was to oppose the Queen-
Then, pondering how the
Indian beast to slay,
That stopp’d the Foot from making farther
From being made a Queen; with slanting aim
An archer
struck him; down the monster came,
And dying shook the earth:
while Phoebus tries
Without success the monarch to surprise.

The Foot, then uncontroll’d with instant pride,
Seized the
last spot, and moved a royal bride.
And now with equal strength
both war again,
And bring their second wives upon the plain;

Then, though with equal views each hop’d and fear’d,
as if every doubt had disappear’d,
As if he had the palm, young
Hermes flies
Into excess of joy; with deep disguise,
his own Black troops, with frequent spite
And with invective
taunts disdains the White.
Whom Phoebus thus reproved with
quick return-
As yet we cannot the decision learn
Of this
dispute, and do you triumph now?
Then your big words and vauntings
I’ll allow,
When you the battle shall completely gain;

At present I shall make your boasting vain.
He said, and forward
led the daring Queen;
Instant the fury of the bloody scene

Rises tumultuous, swift the warriors fly
From either side
to conquer or to die.
They front the storm of war: around ’em
Terror, and Death, perpetually appear.
All meet
in arms, and man to man oppose,
Each from their camp attempts
to drive their foes;
Each tries by turns to force the hostile
Chance and impatience blast their best designs.

The sable Queen spread terror as she went
Through the mid ranks:
with more reserved intent
The adverse dame declined the open
And to the King in private stole away:
Then took
the royal guard, and bursting in,
With fatal menace close besieged
the King.
Alarm’d at this, the swarthy Queen, in haste,

From all her havoc and destructive waste
Broke off, and her
contempt of death to show,
Leap’d in between the monarch and
the foe,
To save the King and state from this impending blow.

But Phoebus met a worse misfortune here:
For Hermes now led
forward, void of fear,
His furious Horse into the open plain,

That onward chafed, and pranced, and pawed amain.
Nor ceased
from his attempts until he stood
On the long-wished-for spot,
from whence he could
Slay King or Queen. O’erwhelm’d with sudden
Apollo saw, and could not keep from tears.
Now all
seem’d ready to be overthrown;
His strength was wither’d, ev’ry
hope was flown.
Hermes, exulting at this great surprise,

Shouted for joy, and fill’d the air with cries;
Instant he sent
the Queen to shades below,
And of her spoils made a triumphant
But in return, and in his mid career,
Fell his brave
Knight, beneath the Monarch’s spear.
Phoebus, however, did not
yet despair,
But still fought on with courage and with care.

He had but two poor common men to show,
And Mar’s favourite
with his iv’ry bow.
The thoughts of ruin made ’em dare their
To save their King, so fatally distress’d.
But the
sad hour required not such an aid;
And Hermes breathed revenge
where’er he stray’d.
Fierce comes the sable Queen with fatal
Surrounds the monarch in his royal seat;
here and there, nor rested till she slew
The last remainder
of the whiten’d crew.
Sole stood the King, the midst of all
the plain,
Weak and defenceless, his companions slain.

As when the ruddy morn ascending high
Has chased the twinkling
stars from all the sky,
Your star, fair Venus, still retains
its light,
And, loveliest, goes the latest out of sight.

No safety’s left, no gleams of hope remain;
Yet did he not
as vanquish’d quit the plain,
But tried to shut himself between
the foe,-
Unhurt through swords and spears he hoped to go,

Until no room was left to shun the fatal blow.
For if none
threaten’d his immediate fate,
And his next move must ruin
all his state,
All their past toil and labour is in vain,

Follow’d him close, but left room to fly.
Then when he saw
him take the farthest line,
He sent the Queen his motions to
And guard the second rank, that he could go
farther now than to that distant row.
The sable monarch then
with cheerful mien
Approach’d, but always with one space between.

But as the King stood o’er against him there,
forlorn, and sunk in his despair,
The martial Queen her lucky
moment knew,
Seized on the farthest seat with fatal view,

Nor left th’ unhappy King a place to flee unto.
At length in
vengeance her keen sword she draws,
Slew him, and ended thus
the bloody cause:
And all the gods around approved it with
The victor could not from his insults keep,

But laugh’d and sneer’d to see Apollo weep.
Jove call’d him
near, and gave him in his hand
The powerful, happy, and mysterious
By which the Shades are call’d to purer day,
penal fire has purged their sins away;
By which the guilty
are condemn’d to dwell
In the dark mansions of the deepest
By which he gives us sleep, or sleep denies,
closes at the last the dying eyes.
Soon after this, the heavenly
victor brought
The game on earth, and first th’ Italians taught.

For (as they say) fair Scacchis he espied
Feeding her
cygnets in the silver tide,
(Scacchis, the loveliest Seriad
of the place)
And as she stray’d, took her to his embrace.

Then, to reward her for her virtue lost,
Gave her the
men and chequer’d board emboss’d
With gold and silver curiously
And taught her how the game was to be play’d.

Ev’n now ’tis honour’d with her happy name;
And Rome and all
the world admire the game.
All which the Seriads told me heretofore,

When my boy-notes amused the Serian shore.