Deschapelles was one of the greatest games-players in history. There has been much written about him - usually a mix of conjecture, exaggerations, facts and fancies. Only a few specimens of his play survive so all we really have to go on in determining his actual strength are words.
See also Deschapelles: The Chess-King by George Walker
transcribed by Mark Weeks.
Deschapelles' games at chessgames.com
MEMOIR OF M. DESCHAPELLES.*
from The Chess player's Chronicle 1848
edited by Howard Staunton
*[originally published in Le Palamède, Nov. 1847
The death of the lamented M. Deschapelles, an event long expected by his friends, took place October 27, 1847. He expired in Paris, 29 Rue Poissouiére, after a lingering illness of twenty months, during which he was unable to quit his bed of suffering.
Alexandre Louis Lebreton Deschapelles was born at Ville d'Avray, near Versailles, March 7th, 1780: he died, consequently, in the 68th year of his age. Like all personages who have long occupied public attention, he was generally taken for a man considerably more advanced in life.
In ancient times the truth was proclaimed on the tombs of monarchs, and, as a king, like the Pharaohs of old, we shall speak of our illustrious friend. All men have more or less their great qualities and their foibles, and we see no reason why our record should not be faithful, and written in a spirit of profound impartiality. With a strict regard to truth, keeping within the bounds of propriety, we shall note down nearly all that has come to our knowledge respecting the great master whose loss we deplore. Twenty years of uninterrupted intercourse have initiated us in the eccentricity of one of those exceptional existences that are not met with a second time in the course of one's own life.
Deschapelles, though born of a noble family, embraced with transport the principles of the French Revolution. In 1794, the famous school of Brienne, that had previously sent forth Napoleon, was broken up by violence, and the young Deschapelles, with the rest of his comrades, were forced to return to their homes. Without any other resource than his share of the library, which the pupils had divided amongst themselves on separating, he set out on his journey for Paris. Arrived there, he found none of his family—all had emigrated. In spite of his youth, he entered the military career without hesitation, and joining the 106th demi-brigade, to which he belonged, proceeded to Mayence, to take part in that memorable siege. From thence he passed to the army of the Sambre and Meuse, and found himself at Fleurus.
To none were the verses of the grand Corneille ever more justly applicable than to him :
" Mes pareils à deux fois ne se font pas connaître
Et pour leur coupe d'essai veulent des coups de maître."
All that he undertook, he executed as a master ; from the elements to their highest application he arrived by a single bound.
What would Deschapelles have become as a soldier, had he not been cruelly wounded at the commencement of his career ? But his valour itself closed for him the path of the hero.
No sooner on the battle field of Fleurus, than he determined to distinguish himself among the bravest of the brave. He flung himself upon an Austrian battery, and carried it, but, overpowered by numbers, he was left for dead on the cannons to which he still clung, covered with so many wounds that he was not recognizable. His body was recalled to life, but maimed of the hand that had wielded the glaive so bravely, and for more than half a century, the public, light and indifferent, designated by the sobriquet of Manchot, the glorious and premature martyr of this heroic mutilation.
Thus prevented from serving actively in ths Republican armies, Deschapelles did not on that account leave the military service. A man of his stamp was not to be lost to his country, and a place was found for the young invalid in the military administration ; at first as general guard of the artillery, and afterwards as commissary-deputy of war. In this employment he displayed all the intelligence and activity that the multiplied movements of our armies then required ; but to these qualities he joined a high sentiment of morality, that made him enemies in the Directory—Barras, which was succeeded after the reaction of the 18th Brumaire by apostate republicans, who could not pardon a fidelity to patriotic sentiments that was a real censure of their owtj conduct.
Deschapelles, like General Foy, did not meet with the advancement he merited, and the Consulate and the Empire not only were not lavish of their favours, but not even just with regard to him. He was forgotten, though he shared in most of the triumphs of the grand army. It seemed his fate to be the victim of cowardly misconduct, the most abhorrent to his noble heart ; and the disgraceful capitu'ation of Bayleu delivered him into the hands of England. He was transported on board the pontoons of Cadiz, but there devised a plan of escape worthy of the sublime chess-player that was called to console the world for the loss of Philidor.
His genius opened him the gates of his country, which he always loved with the same ardour, but he would no longer serve what he called the ambition of a liberticide ; it was then he devoted himself to the peaceful cultivation of Chess.
Deschapelles, who had had his part of the sabres of honour in the Republican anuios, by measure of exchange, was comprised in the first distribution of the crosses of honour, at the foundation of that celebrated order. His brevet was signed in the camp of Boulogne, the 12th Prairial, the 12th year of the Republic, and bears the No. 8,436. On one face of the star was the effigy of Napoleon ; on the other, the inscription, " République Française." Napoleon, at a later period, by a logical consequence of significant meaning, substituted the words, " Empire Française," for those of "Republique Française." Deschapelles, indignant at this abandonment of the forms of government, which were the sole object of homage, tore off his cross, and condemned himself never to wear it again.
The Restoration and the government of July, in their turn so lavish of this favour to their creatures, were not likely to make him change his ancient determination. We have never (with the single exception of the 5th of June, 1832,) seen Deschapelles wear either cross or riband, or ever wish to be reminded he was one of the original members of the order. On this subject he had now become irritable and intractable ; a constant and honourable exaggeration of the pure and conscientious sentiments of his youth.
We have never learned that he obtained any pension for his services in the army. Notwithstanding this, he was without fortune, but also without wants, like a veritable citizen of Sparta. It was then he began to frequent the Café de la Regence, and live on chess-play. Without giving himself out as a professional chess player, and running after a trifling remuneration to play with the first comer, Deschapelles had his customers. And his winnings, though modest, daily exceeded his expenses.
In 1812, Maréchal Ney, who had a great affection and esteem for him, gave him the place of superintendent-general of the government monopoly of tobacco, at Otrasburg ; an employment which brought him in from 40,000 to 50,000 francs annually. In 1815, to oppose the second invasion, he organized the corps of partisans of the east, and even received the title of their general from the government of the hundred days.
After the second restoration he returned to Paris, and took to chess again.
From 1815 to 1820, Deschapelles played his finest games against the strongest players, giving them Pawn and two moves —never less, sometimes more. He did not like to give a piece, but of moves, he was by no means chary. This period was, perhaps, the most brilliant for chess in France. And yet all it produced has been buried in oblivion ; games were not then taken down, and what deserved to be engraved were not even chronicled. The theory was almost reduced to the Calabrois for the brilliant, and to Philidor for the solid school. The players who possessed any knowledge of these two masters, passed for erudite and savans, and were not encountered without respect and fear. Nevertheless, what difference between them and those who know the Palamède and the Encyclopédie by heart.
But on the other hand, what perfection did not the practice of the game exhibit, when Deschapelles marched at the head of a phalanx, where twenty players that would be of the first rank at the present day, did battle daily against one another, and against the world. Of this admirable array, we knew only the glorious remnants : Mouret, Boncourt, Vaèle (le Petit Juif) ! These, as professors, practised the art daily against amateurs, of the names of Auzou, Vallécarville d'Arnouville, Воissу d'Anglas, Révoire, Vaucoret, Rogier, and so many others, that we cannot here enumerate their names. From this constellation ot players was to come forth a successor to Deschapelles ; for the apace of two years this illustrious master trained the young La Bourdonnais, and deposed the crown on his brow, when he could no longer continue to give him the Pawn and two moves. What noble pride in this abdication before the decline of age ! Not to continue the contest with his pupil, to expose himself one day to defeat on even terms, to hasten the enthronement. of a successor, to prevent the chagrin of beholding the place wrested from him, which he preferred yielding voluntarily in all its glory.
Before he had attained his fiftieth year, Deschapelles bade adieu to Chess, not to repose, but to rise superior in another exercise of intelligence. At Whist he speedily became of the first force, and realized an idea which he never was able to do by chess, viz.—to render the game productive, and to draw le positif from combination pushed to a degree surpassing those of his adversaries. For this purpose he wanted an arena less mathematical than chess; a game in which the mixture of chance aud calculation permitted to play for money, in not always justifying calculation, in order that hazard might leave hope to feebleness, and its illusions to mediocrity. Tric-trac, but whist above all, answered his projects marvellously. At whist, Deschapelles was incomparable; he passed the second period of his life in assorting fifty-two cards, and drew from it gold ; while at chess he had with difficulty obtained a slender remuneration. On this new field he accumulated with the intoxication of glory the favours of Plutus, and changed a modest existence for from thirty to forty thousand francs of rent. His superiority, which could not be so justly appreciated as at chess, must have been very great, to enable him to gain so much, at 20 and even 10 francs the fish, and with a drawback from which hardly any player escapes. He had not sufficient self-command to play his money well : when in good vein he did not push the bets and rubbers, and when in bad luck, he played the longer and doubled his bets ; thus his reverses often carried away more than he gained when most successful. But the power of calculation closed over this abyss in which the herd of common players are engulphed, and with equal chances Deschapelles won more, and lost less than any other, and that solely from his superior manner of playing his cards. His whole art, his secret to conquer was there, and triumphed over the imperfection of his character. Towards the end of his career he was in bad vein ; he lost more frequently than he won, and the mediocre martyrs of the game, accustomed to appreciate and judge by results, proclaimed his decline —a complete error !
He passed the last twenty months of his existence on the bed of pain, and died without a murmur, as if long prepared for what he called an eternal adieu.
His malady, strange to say, was that of La Bourdonnais—hydropsy. Yet what difference of constitution! La Bourdonnais, stout, obese, of full habit, and sanguineous. Deschapelles, on the contrary, delicate, spare, thin, and bilious : in the case of the one, intemperance of all sorts, and abuse of a strong organization; in the other, abstinence and general reserve. La Bourdonnais, before he succumbed to dropsy, had apoplectic strokes. In Deschapelles, the dropsy sprung from defective circulation, arising from the ossification of the auricles of the heart. Pursuing contrary routs, these two admirable chess players were doomed to quit the world by the same port, and by the same affection.
In the military service Deschapelles never rose above the rank of deputy- commissary of war. His intractable character often placed him at variance with his superiors. Yet he had the distinguished manners of a perfect gentleman of the old school, but his spirit was imperious, and his character extremely irritable.
He was not without his duels ; known, however, as one of the best swordsmen of the army, though left-handed perforce, his deserved reputation made a man look twice before committing himself with one who never shrunk from an attack.
Within a period of twenty years, we played about thirty games at most with Deschapelles. Success was divided—always, however, playing at Pawn and two moves. It may be proper to add, we never engaged in any serious contest with him. It was only when the whim accidentally seized him, that he would propose a game or two with us ; a favour of the master, which he was not lavish of to others. Within the same time we have seen him play five or six Pawn games with La Bourdonnais, and about the same number with M. le Comte Boissy d'Anglas. At this sort of game, which consists in taking or receiving a certain number of Pawns for the Queen, he was incomparable and beyond anything that can be imagined. In this game, he perfected the Pawn school of Philidor ; giving the Rook, he played before us, from seven to eight games against General Guingret, and at Pawn and two moves we have seen M. Schulten contest gloriously three games against this powerful athlète. These are all we recollect seeing played by M. Deschapelles over the chess board.
But by way of digression, how often have we not discoursed of chess matters with him ? Like La Bourdonnais, we yielded to him in these discussions—not that he was always right, but because some good fruit was always to be gleaned from the confusion even of his paradoxes.
Deschapelles was not what may be called learned in chess ; except some debuts of Philidor, and some stratagems of Greco, he owed all to himself.
His strength was not borrowed but innate. Thus he dared not venture on every opening, and he found himself better on the terrain of the game at Pawn and two moves, which he had played all his life, and with which he was thoroughly acquainted.
One proof of what we have here advanced which might appear strange is, besides the opinion of La Bourdonnais, a long and animated contest between Deschapelles and Mr. Cochrane. This celebrated English player came to Paris in 1820 and 1821, to measure his strength against Deschapelles, and La Bourdonnais. The partie was organized in form of the poule. Deschapelles gave Pawn and two moves to La Bourdonnais and Mr. Cochrane ; these two played even. La Bourdonnais was the greatest winner, and Mr. Cochrane the greatest loser. M. Deschapelles' advantages over Mr. Cochrane were counterbalanced by his losses against La Bourdonnais Mr. Cochrane, tired of playing at Pawn and two moves with Deschapelles, proposed to play him even, betting one to two. Deschapelles did not consent to this arrangement, before intimating to Mr. Cochrane he would not perhaps gain a single game. Cochrane, admirable in the Gambits, perfectly at home in the Giuoco Piano, and possessing besides a vast and complete knowledge of all the best authors who have written on the openings, won more than a ihird, and consequently recovered a part of the money he had lost at Pawn and two moves. Fifteen years afterwards M. Deschapelles still naively recounted to us "For the first twenty moves I had always a bad game, and I only won games that were considered desperate." It was the explicit avowal of his ignorance of all that theoretic science has done for the openings. But to compensate this, what solidity, what precision in the longest calculations! None ever saw so far as Deschapelles in the middle of the game, and none was ever a better judge of position. He was as if absorbed in the composition of a plan, and if his adversary played the correct moves, it was then his triumph was only the more secure by the depth and solidity of his conceptions, which he followed majestically without being turned aside by secondary incidents. To comprehend all the profoundity of the decisive coup, it was necessary to go far back, and follow the links of the plan conceived in his brain, and which he only unfolded afterwards on the chess board.
But to portray the full extent of this fine Chess player's genius were a task above my strength, and my presumption must here pause.
Unfortunately, what we possess of this great master is very little—three games at pawn and move, against Mr. Lewis, are all, worthy of notice, that he has bequeathed us, and even these he would never positively acknowledge, though he did not precisely disavow them.
We have mentioned his conversational paradoxes. Twenty living witnesses could furnish abundance of them, and the following are known to many who can attest the exactness of our account.
"Every man organized for Chess, ought, in a few days, to become a first- rate player. Three sittings were all I required to learn the march of the game, to defend myself, and then beat the strongest players." In support of this, we have heard him repeat a hundred times this story, which we never ventured to publish in his lifetime, though it had long been written and was taken down almost under his eyes.
"In 1798, during a Congé which I came to pass in Paris, I was taking my walk in the Palais Royal, undecided how I should dispose of the evening. I observed a place but indifferently lighted (the Cafe Morillon *), where several persons, most of them aged, appeared deeply engaged in some absorbing occupation. I had never before seen a Chess board, and my curiosity was excited. I entered the Café, and asked a sort of waiter at the door what they were about within, and if a stranger could be admitted ? He answered, ' they were playing Chess, and it was a private Society, where one could be admitted only by subscribing twelve sous monthly, and writing his name in the book.'
" I threw down an ecu of six livres—my subscription for ten months— and not wishing to give my name, on account of my family being still emigrants, I wrote in the register ' Philiam', the name of the little dog I had with me. The word was mispronounced, for it was under the appellation of 'William' that I was introduced. I passed for a long time by this name, and made no objection to it, being very indifferent to the glory of moving better than another a few little wooden puppets.
" The lion of the place being pointed out, I took my seat by his side, and for two hours followed his game attentively. Its secrets, at first impenetrable, were rapidly unveiled, and had the hour not been too far advanced, I believe I should have had the temerity to attack, at once, M. Bernard, whom I had come to see play. I had not yet uttered a syllable, and my first words (which made a sort of sensation), were to ask M. Bernard if he would do me the honour of accepting me as his adversary? 'To-morrow, my young citizen, if it is agreeable to you.' 'At what hour and place?' ' Here, to-morrow, at seven.' 'I shall not keep you waiting, Sir.'
" A sort of murmur in the room seemed to promise us a numerous galerie for our next day's combat. I bowed, and retired. To my shame, I confess, I did not for a single moment think of the engagement I had made, till the appointed hour arrived. I was, however, exact, and found the same persons in animated discussion. They ceased the mi me»t I took my place opposite M. Bernard, who had already seated himself at the chess-board. He took two pawns of different colours in his hands to draw for the move, and asked me if ' I wished odds ? ' 'Why odds ?' said I. ' As you please,' replied he. 'What stake?' 'Yours, sir.' ' Our usual stake is twenty-four sous.' 'Very well, sir.' I pointed to his left hand, and he dropped a white pawn, which was the colour of the piece before him.
" ' My move,' said he, with an air of satisfaction, which I shared also, for I fancied I should be less embarrassed in the defence. I avow the first moves did not appear easy. I took up a bad position without doubt, and my game was lost in a very short time. I demanded my revenge, and M. Bernard, as the conqueror, took the move again, according to the rules that then prevailed : but this time I corrected what had seemed to me defective in the former game, and the contest was long and animated. I lost, however, and felt the blood rush to my face—my confusion was great in spite of the compliments of the spectators. I should have passed the night in taking my revenge, but M. Bernard drew out his watch gravely, and told me it was half past ten and time to retire. I laid on the board a petit écu, and received my twelve sous exchange, which I gave to the waiter at the door.
* [The Café de la Regence, in consequence of the revolutionary
troubles, had the unfortunate idea to renounce its specialite,
and proscribe chess. The players had to look about for a new
locality, and the Café Morillon, a miserable establishment in an
obscure passage of the Palais Royal, where the fine colonnade
of the Galerie de Nemours now rises, offered, generously, a
cheap asylum to the exiled votaries of the noble game, of whom
few indeed still survive.]
" An appointment was made for the next day at the same hour. I arrived determined to win, and in quite a different mood from the day before. I was silly enough to be ashamed of the figure I had made.
" My revenge was brilliant—with the exception of one draw, M. Bernard lost every game. I could give him the pawn and two moves. Since that epoch, I have made no progress in chess, and could make none. At three sittings at most, I judge from my own case, one may know all he can learn and become at chess.* To devote more time to it would be puerile. There are persons who think differently ; I shall never discuss the matter with them. 1 have no mission to rectify their judgment ; but my own opinion is not susceptible of any modification. If a man has not the qualifications necessary to"-play chess well, why lose at it time that might be more usefully employed in something else ? Besides, I find nearly every one plays well enough, and in my life, 1 have met with a hundred good players for one that had no notion of the game. A shade so feeble separates the one from the other, that it may be said we are all of the same strength."
However incredible the whole of this may appear to those who never knew Deschapelles, it is so exact, that we have not a word to change. But to have a complete idea of it, one must have seen his cold, calm, severe, and conscientious air —it was the last conversation of Socrates with his disciples for the reverence and submission with which it was listened to. The least word —the slightest observation, he paused, and did not continue till silence was re-established. In general there was no discussion with Deschapelles, he would infallibly have lost his temper. Those who knew him conformed themselves : strangers, however, were not always so complaisant. What happened ? Deschapelles broke off and withdrew. We have heard him reply to one of our best players, who had permitted himself to hazard a simple question—" Enough, Sir, you and I do not read in the same dictionary."
When, therefore, he was in the humour, one must either listen or avoid him, or else interrupt his discourse, and thus deprive the auditory of the pleasure of hearing him. To render him silent was to impose a great privation, for his language was not that of a common-place kind. It abounded in original traits and hardy thoughts, of which, after all, one was at liberty to accept but what he deemed good. He spake as an authority with assurance, but he gave to every man his due, reserving to himself the lion's share. He was not fond of entering into conversation with every one ; when he knew little of the person by whom he was addressed, or did not like him, he would not open his mouth. We saw him once in the Jardin du Palais Royal, assailed by the entrepreneur of the Club d'Echecs des Panoramas, with whom he was by no means satisfied. In vain the poor fellow strove to explain to him his position in every tone, with all softness and humility ; each time they arrived at the end of the alley, at the moment of turning, Deschapelles bowed slightly, and said with a cold and haughty air, "I have the honour, Sir, to wish you a good morning." These words repeated during ten turns of the promenade, were the sole expressions that escaped him, and always in the same key.
* [To Chess players, it is needless to say that all this is ridiculous
rhodomontade. No human penetration would enable a person,
by simply looking over others playing, even for months, to
comprehend the powers of the Pieces, much less their infinite
combinations. Let any person utterly ignorant of the game,
attempt merely to learn the moves, witltout any further assistance
or explanation titan he can pick up as a silent spectator of two
persons playing, and tell us at the end, not of two hours, but six
months, what he knows. To say nothing of such complicated
manœuvres as Castling, on the King's side in one manner, and on
the Queen's in another; of the rule which governs the taking of a
Pawn in passing; of the Queening a Pawn; of the giving cheek to
the lung; of the covering a check; or taking the checking Piece ;
or of moving the King out of check ; of stalemate, and checkmate;
all of which must be explained to render them intelligible; we
doubt if months of looking on only, would suffice to teach any one
the powers, single and combined, of a Queen, Rook, Bishop, and
Knight.—(Ed. of C. P. C.) vol. IX.]
A stranger one day arrived at the Cafe de la Regence, and inquired of the master of the establishment, Masson, if M. Deschapelles would consent to play a game with him—" I shall ask him," the officious limonadier replied. " What is his stake ? " demanded Deschapelles. " Ah ! tell him my religion forbids me to play for money." " Mine forbids me to be absurd," replied Deschapelles, brusquely. We need hardly add, the partie did not take place. If any one said before him, Chess was not a game to be played for money, he would heap heresy upon heresy, to prove the contrary. Unfortunately,he had somewhat the spirit of contradiction, more from the love of domination, than from a bad heart. He was just the man of whom Moliere wrote,
" Et ses vrais sentimens sont combattus par lui.
Aussitôt qu'il les voit dans la bouche d'autrui."
All great men love their flatterers and courtisans. Deschappelles had his also ; I have seen the parasites of his table, so copiously served, take up some thesis he had discussed a few days before, express the same sentiments he had then announced, and receive a rude rebuke from him, as uttering opinions that were absurd and untenable. He was not, one can see, a man affable and always agreeable, but there was a way of being on good terms with him without meanness or flattery ; it was to see him seldom, to never be under an obligation to him, and to maintain a dignified reserve. He loved the strong, and paid due respect to the powerful in fortune, intellect, or position, when they testified their esteem and affection for him. * The little in mind or fortune, were not so happy in then- intercourse with him, and yet he was grand, liberal, and noble with ostentation. But he threw rather than bestowed what he gave, and did not enhance its value by the form.
In his opulence, he had a sort of villa, in the Faubourg du Temple, before you arrive at the Barriere de Belleville. It was there he liked to receive his friends, and there his table was loaded at eleven, with veritable dejéuners de Gargantua. Ah ! La Bourdonnais was superb, fork in hand.
Deschapelles' orchard was "also a passion of his. His predilection was for the melon, and at one time his melon beds were the most splendid and complete in Paris. He served up at table ten different sorts of melons, and all that was most exquisite and succulent. At one period also he devoted himself to the culture of pines, in the hot house, and had bis aviary of pheasants.
Between this sort of country house, in the most popular and working quarter of Paris, and his partie of whist, his life was divided. He went out daily at two o'clock, to the Cercle du Cinq Cents, boulevart Montmartre, or that of l'Union, rue de Grammont. He played till six, and then took his walk to the hour, when "le honnête gens" dine: at eight or nine he returned to whist and continued to play till two o'clock in the morning. He then returned home to recommence the same life the following day.
* [ Soyez fort et je vous soutiendrai.—С.]
At one time he began the evening by a game of billiards. This may appear extraordinary to those who believe two arms necessary for a good player at this game. Deschappelles, with the stump of his right arm, pushed his cue exceedmgly well, and passed for a very strong player, compliments apart. What characterized his game, was the calculation of combination to put his adversary in a bad position. This was his forte, but the improvement of cues, and the method of using them, which permits canonbal in any position, ruined his combinations, and disgusted him with billiards. At Trictrac, he was first rate, though not such a master of the calculation of probabilities, as some others. Hence his game passed as capricious, somewhat original, and even fantastic.
One circumstance of our intercourse connected with his challenge to the Chess Players of England, offering them Pawn and two moves, caused me much regret. He had done me the honour, at first, of associating me with La Bourdonnais, to accompany him to England. Though I considered the partie at Pawn and two, rather hazardous, I thought him frankly and seriously engaged, and took upon myself the charge of bearing the conditions to the English. The difficulties without number, which were afterwards raised, have always left doubts in my mind, whether he really meant to undertake this difficult task. However this may be, going with entire good faith, I engaged him, not more than I ought, but more than he wished, and he almost disavowed me—happily, the word died on his lips. We were nearly two years without seeing one another, and at a later period—for having solely recalled this unfortunate challenge, rather than from any divergency of opinion on the subject of a match by correspondence—a coolness ensued again, and lasted for a long time. Resignation to these separations was necessary, if one would not always yield to him. *
It will be recollected, the occasion of his challenge to the English related to his visit to Berlin, after the battle of Jena. He had beaten the strongest Prussian players, giving the odds of the Rook : this was published in the Palamède, and the English papers declared the thing impossible. Nothing, however, was more certain ; but we must acknowledge the Berlin players of that epoch were but dwarfs compared with what they have since become.
One of the greatest torments of Deschapelles' life, was the almost forced application of the highest and finest intellect to things frivolous, and without any serious aim. Inimitable Chess Player ; first-rate at Whist, were titles that flattered his vanity for the moment, but could not satisfy his proud ambition. He wished for power in serious and political life ; he believed himself called to command men, and legislate for them : by superiority of intelligence he judged himself destined to become all and everything from day to day. He had no idea of commencing in the political world at the base ; he believed for a moment, one night was sufficient to scale all the steps and arrive at the summit. Ab his sole means, he had joined himself to the most discontented with the result of the revolution of July, and he supported their efforts with his purse and voice. But he never shewed himself ostensibly; always behind the curtain, till the revolution being accomplished, they should come to pray him to mount the dictatorship or the consulate. Among others, he was united with Carrel, whose noble heart beat only with the thought of being useful to his country : their harmony was not to be of long duration.
His political delusions, when he believed in the possibility of his playing the first rôle, compromised him in the erneute of the 5th and 6th of June, 1832. He took no active part in it, but he had the folly to imagine, that in the event of success, those who had risked their lives in the combat, would have come to seck him, in order to place him at their head, the day after the victory. Strange blindness—singular illusion of an inordinate ambition !
The day after the victory once arrived, Deschapelles, disabused by his friends of the preceding day, must have conspired anew with other malcontents to overthrow them. He never could have arrived at the object of his ambition, for this reason, that it was impossible ; being himself a perfect stranger to the masses, enjoying no popularity, and possessing none of the prestige that inspires it, or facilitates its acquisition. What had he done then to flatter himself? Attended merely certain obscure meetings with men energetic and compromised, whose Cashier he was. It was too much for his repose, and far too little for success.
It happened, that after the occurrences of the 5th and 6th of June, on the reports of the police, under whose surveillance his house had been placed, he was arrested and thrown into the Conciergerie, as implicated in rebellion. Confined in secret, he supported pitifully this first proof of political martyrdom ; he requested to speak, was heard, and said too much ; a month after, he was set at liberty, much lessened in the eyes of his political friends. He had taken the step of writing to the King himself, to represent to him that being old, infirm, and innocent, he prayed for bis liberty by his august interposition. When he again made his appearance at the Club of the Cinq Cents, he was informed that M. Montalivet, the Minister of the Interior, and member of the Club, had been indiscreet enough to expose his letter to the King to ill-natured comments; at which his enemies were greatly delighted. Deschapelles, in consequence, was violently irritated, and sent two friends to M. Montalivet, who had, besides, dared to assert that M. Deschapelles lived by play. M. Montalivet, as Minister of the King, refused to enter on any explanation for the moment. Notwithstanding this, Carrel, one of M. Deschapelles1 seconds, declared that he ought to be satisfied.
All this threw discouragement into] the soul of the Dictator. Having no longer any chance and hope of arriving at the executive power, he turned towards the legislative part, and aimed at the glory of Numa or the Abbé Sieyès. He made constitutions, which he sought, by the aid of certain refugees, to introduce in Italy, in Spain, or in Portugal, and even in the New World, in the midst of the Republic of South America, which assuredly would not have been more profoundly agitated by the constitutions—Deschapelles, than they are with their local institutions. All this proving abortive, he was forced to reserve for his ungrateful country, his famous "Loi du Peuple," which we have often heard without comprehending an iota of it, in spite of his very remarkable commentaries ; certes, we much prefer his " Theorie du Whist," of which ho was by no means so communicative.
* [ To our knowledge, he had only two friends always devoted
to him—one the companion of his childhood and perils,
during the modern Iliad, of the name of Colson, who
preceded him to the tomb ; the second suffered for him
during our political storms, and up to the last moment,
gave him all the consolations of a frank and sincere
friendship ; he survives him, the faithful depository of his
inmost thoughts and sentiments.]