THE CHESS AUTOMATON By George Walker, part I

Feb 8, 2009, 11:53 AM |

from Chess and Chess-players By George Walker
pp 1-37



"Doubtless, the pleasure is as great
Of being cheated, as to cheat."—Butler.

Part I

Man may be fairly styled an animal of the class " gullible." From the hour of his birth till the day of his death, never does the organ of credulity cease to bump out his cerebrum. It is a common saying among the legs of the turf, that " there is a flat born every minute." No dictum can be based on better grounds. Man appears to glory in being swindled, upon the same principle that leads Shakspeare's citizen to boast of " having had losses." Man is " done brown" daily; but never gets wholly baked, in the scorching oven of experience. The bumpkin yet gapes at Doncaster for the "little pea" beneath the thimble, with the same intense degree of virility that poor Paddy drops his tinpenny into the big beggarman's hat, in the full belief his copper will return to him hereafter in the form of gold. As was man in the beginning, touching his largeness of swallow, so is he now, and so will he ever be. This quality is part and parcel of his essence; and experience here availeth him not. Almost within our own recollection, did the bottle conjuror draw his hundreds, and the Cock Lane ghost her thousands. Each Scaramuccia fills the benches; whether it be Johanna and her cradle; or Chabot, with his beefsteak stewed in Prussic acid. The mob who have seen the show come away content, lest they be taken for dupes. Robert Macaire bows them forth; and Bertrand, beating the big drum, safely appeals to the verdict of the outgoers, as he calls on the multitude to tread in their path.

These sage reflections, and many more, equally pithy, suggested themselves irresistibly to our mind, while dusting the books in our humble library one sunny morning last week. During this interesting process, a thick tome fell on our head, quite " promiscuously;" and taking it up, on the principle of trying the "sortes Virgilianae," we found it to consist of some half-dozen, or more, learned and voluminous tracts, on the subject of the automaton chessplayer.

The Automaton Chess-player ! Lofty title! magniloquent cognomen! A composition of brass or wood, of ivory or of iron, called forth from the forest or the mine, to do duty, at no notice, for a Philidor, a La Bour- donnais, or a M'Donnell ; and going sententiously through the process of reasoning and calculation—inviting throughout Europe, all comers to break a spear in the tented field, and dealing forth checkmate so liberally from the unaided resources of its own precious block-head—marshalling its forces on the plain, and conducting them faithfully hither and thither, literally without seeing the board—courting the combat with our stoutest paladins, for some sixty or seventy years—and foiling every attempt to discover the whereabouts of the Promethean spark within—upsetting kings and kaisars, knights and castles, honest men and rooks, mitres and Amazons, as the boy knocks down his tiny ninepins—redressing the wrongs of injured queens, and seating them once more on their thrones of ivory or of ebon—conquering Napoleon Bonaparte and Frederick of Prussia in the mimic field of war, and forcing Eugene Beauharnois to cry "ransom"—lording it, in the strong spell of knowledge, over court and cottage, yet every where carrying off the laurel. Seriously do we pronounce the career of the Automaton to have been more gloriously brilliant, and certainly less bloodstained, than that of the greatest warrior who ever founded a kingdom or a dynasty.

The Chess-playing Automaton has never yet received, here, the meed of notoriety so long since fairly won. The British know him chiefly by name, though he has visited their shores, and dived his hand into their pockets. Be it ours, on the present occasion, to elucidate the subject, and place the great Turk on that niche in the temple of Fame, so justly due to his achievements. Alexander the Great had his (Juintus Curtius. The Automaton, like Henri (Juatre, must have his Sully.

We shall deal, however, with King Log, as beseemeth the scribe living among a free people. Great names may not hoodwink our eyes; and if we ever meet with an ass in the lion's skin, we shall make bold to cudgel him out. We can distinguish between real merit and merely ingenious pretension; while we claim a right on all occasions to call things by their proper names—a cat being to us a cat. For three-quarters of a century, the Automaton Chessman has been inscribed on a page of the history of earth, as of a construction and constitution absurdly miraculous; for when before did metal think, or timber calculate ? We shall now examine whether the Automaton is best entitled to be typified as Jupiter Tonans or Jupiter Scapin, as Murat or Mantalini.

Let us here deposit, logically, a rough definition of what properly constitutes an automaton.

An automaton is a machine made by human hands, capable of performing sundry movements, gestures, or actions, of itself, upon the setting in motion of certain springs, or forms of power. As long as these means to the end desired are kept up and maintained, so long will the automaton perform ; continuing its operations during the whole time the moving principle remains in a healthy state. Such is an automaton in its most simple shape of existence.

The flying dove of Archytas, mentioned by Aulus Gellius (Noct. At., lib. x. c. 12); as also the wooden eagle of Regiomontanus, which flew from the city to meet the emperor, and, having saluted him, returned back again, if they ever existed at all, may be fairly styled automata ; as was the iron fly, which, at a banquet, flew out of its master's hands, and, first taking a round of the hall, again settled at the starting point (Apol., c. x. sect. 1). The trumpeter of Maelzel, the flute-player of Vaucanson, the Apollonicon of Flight and Robson, the wooden lady playing the pianoforte (her family is tolerably numerous!), and a hundred other similarly curious engines of the same class of automata, are doubtless familiar to the recollections of our readers.

A second class of automata, like the first, may be worked by machinery, chiefly self-acting, upon a fixed principle; possessing, however, at the same time, a communication, not immediately apparent, with human agency ; and hence, changing the regular order and succession of their movements, according to existing circumstances. There is no third class of automata; since that form of automaton depending exclusively on human aid, however disguised, is but a spurious scion of the tree.

Can the Chess-player be ranked among either one of the legitimate species of automata ? The crowd, who look only on the surface, have for seventy years answered this question in the affirmative, and placed Mr. Block in our second class of automata; but have they done so correctly ? Nous verrons. Were we to order a watch of Monsieur Leroy, which, at the word of command, would point its hands to whatsoever part of the dial we directed, the skilful French horologer would reply, that nothing but a living human hand could so shape its power of movement. Are not the two cases strictly on a par ? Which, then, is the correct respondent, Monsieur Leroy or the beast called Legion ? We love a correct definition. The Automaton Chess-player was either a gross piece of humbug, or it was a sentient being, endowed, like man himself, with volition, judgment, and all the rest of it; but in neither case was it an automaton. Most true is it, that whenever Legion cannot readily solve any given problem, he prefers either adopting the cry of " miracle," or gulping down any solution offered, to seeking for himself the key to the mystery, through the medium of patient and laboured investigation.

But we may not further lengthen out our prologue to the farce; so pass we on at once to a glance at the original creation, life, and adventures, of our timber Frankenstein.

The Chess Automaton was the sole invention of Wolfgang de Kempelen, a Hungarian gentleman, Aulic counsellor to the royal chamber of the domains of the emperor in Hungary, and celebrated for great genius in every department of mechanics. From a boy, he had trod in. the path of science, and was incontestably of first-rate capabilities as a mechanician and engineer. Invention was his- hobby, and he rode it furiously, even to the partial impoverishment of his means. M. de Kempelen, being at Vienna in the year 1769, was invited by the Empress Maria Theresa to be present at the representation of certain magnetic games, or experiments, about to be shewn in public at the imperial court by M. Pelletier, a Frenchman. During the exhibition, De Kempelen, being honoured by a long conversation with his sovereign, was induced casually to mention that he thought he could construct a machine, the powers of which should be far more surprising, and the deception more complete, than all the wonders of magnetism just displayed by Pelletier. At this declaration, the curiosity of the empress was naturally excited ; and, with true female eagerness for novelty, she drew from De Kempelen a promise to gratify her wishes, by preparing an early and practical proof of his bold assertion. The artist returned to his modest dwelling at Presburgh, and girded up his loins to the task. He kept his word with his imperial mistress; and in the following year presented himself once more at the court of Vienna, accompanied by the Automaton Chess-player. Need we say that its success was triumphantly complete ?

The machine being set in motion, excited the admiration of the Empress Maria Theresa, as well as of the most illustrious and scientific individuals in her circle; all of whom were freely permitted to test its extraordinary powers. The fame of the figure spread over the face of Europe, whose newspapers and journals rang with the advent of the newly born prodigy; the performances of which were duly exaggerated, selon les regies, in the detail. Dr. Kempelen, a modest and quiet man, was far from smiling at the celebrity hereby acquired. He would have been glad to achieve greatness, but cared little for it when thus thrust upon him. He was held up as a wizard, a Maugraby, a Michael Scott, premiere qualite; and was almost disgusted at the success of his contrivance. In fact, De Kempelen never hesitated to speak his mind plainly as to the real merits of his engine. " It is," said he to his friends, " a trifle, not without merit as to its mechanism ; but those effects, which to the spectators appear so wonderful, arise merely from the boldness of the original conception, and the fortunate choice of the means employed by me to carry out the illusion." This is the language of a great mind, not choosing prematurely to open the eyes of surrounding dupes, but scorning to take to himself greater reputation than he felt was his due : and these words alone ought to have satisfied men of nous, that the thing was merely a clever hoax; since, had it been in reality that which it appeared to be outwardly, viz. a machine, which by itself, and of itself alone, could conduct a game of chess, then, indeed, instead of its being a " trifle," as denominated by De Kempelen, it might proudly have reared its head, as an emanation from a mind which had discovered some hitherto unheard-of means wherewith to conquer matter. It will be interesting here to describe the " outward man" of the Automaton, as he first appeared, while yet exhibited only in the private circle of its inventor; and we accordingly extract from the work of M. Windisch, one of the earliest believers in De Kempelen's gnome, and one of those who was honoured by seeing the babe, as may be said, in the cradle. (Briefe uber den Schachspieler des Herrn von Kempelen, §c. Basle, 1783. 8 vo.)

" The first idea which occurs on an examination of the Automaton Chess player," says M. de Windisch, " is a suspicion that its movements are under the immediate guidance of some human being. From this error I was not myself exempt, when I saw, for the first time, the inventor draw from a recess his Automaton, fixed to a good- sized chest; and I could not, any more than others, help suspecting that this chest certainly contained a child, which, as I guessed from the dimensions of the case, might be ten or twelve years of age. Many of the visitors were equally convinced of such' being the fact, and did not hesitate already to declare their opinions aloud. But we were all equally confounded on seeing M. de Kempelen turn up the garments of the Automaton, pull forth the drawer, and open all the doors of the chest. Moving it about, thus opened, by means of the castors on which it is placed, he turned it in all directions, and permitted us freely to examine it all over. I was not backward in this scrutiny. I searched into its darkest corners; and finding no possibility of its concealing any object of even the size of my hat, my self-love was terribly mortified at seeing my ingenious conjecture put totally to flight. All the spectators underwent a similar impression ; and on their countenances were visibly depicted signs of extreme surprise. One old lady, above the rest, recollecting, doubtless, the fairy tales of her youth, first crossing herself, with a heavy and devout sigh, went and hid herself in a distant window, that she might no longer remain in a proximity so dangerous as that existing between herself and the demon she now fully believed must occupy the Automaton. I have since viewed the machine frequently, have examined it in every way I could think of, and have played chess against it, and am still reduced to the humiliating avowal that I know nothing about it. Still I am consoled by the reflection that many other persons, though gifted with more profound knowledge and skill in mechanics, have not succeeded better than myself. Out of many thousand persons, of all classes, who have seen it, not one has discovered the secret. The Gordian knot presented to Alexander must have been less difficult to unravel. Is it an illusion ? So be it. But it is, then, an illusion which does honour to the human mind; an illusion more surprising, more inconceivable, than all those which are to be found in the different collections of mathematical recreations.

" The Automaton receives its visitors in M. de Kempelen's study ; in the antechamber of which nothing is to be seen but the tools of a joiner or locksmith, thrown about in most admired confusion. No communication can possibly exist between the Automaton and any adjoining room; as was proved by the figure's being carried for exhibition to the imperial palace. It runs on castors ; and can, therefore, have nothing about it dependant on the construction of the floor. These are important premises.

" The first object which strikes the view, on entering the study, is the Automaton, which is placed opposite the door. The chest to which it is affixed is three feet and a half long, two feet wide, and two feet and a half high; and is, by means of the aforesaid castors, moved with facility from place to place. Behind this chest is seen a figure the size of life, dressed in the Turkish costume, seated upon a wooden chair fastened to the body of the Automaton, and which of course moves with it, when rolled about the apartment. The figure leans its right arm on the table, holding a long Turkish pipe in his left hand, in the attitude of a person who ceases to smoke. It plays with its left hand; which M. de Kempelen informed me was an oversight on his part, not discovered until the work was so far advanced, that to amend the Turk's manners would have required nearly total reconstruction. When the Turk is about to play, M. de Kempelen, as pipe-bearer, takes the pipe from his hand. Before the Automaton is a chess-board, screwed to the table, or upper surface of the chest, on which the eyes of the figure appear to be constantly fixed.

" M. de Kempelen opens the front doors of the chest, and pulls out the drawer which is underneath. The chest is partitioned off into two equal parts, of which the left is narrower than the right The left side, indeed, occupies scarcely one-third part of the length of the chest, and is filled with wheels, levers, cylinders, and other pieces of clockwork. In the division to the right are seen some wheels, some spring barrels, and a couple of horizontal quadrants. The remainder is filled with a casket, a cushion, and a small board, n which are traced certain letters in gold. At a subsequent point f time, and prior to the Automaton's commencing play, the inventor takes out this casket, and places it on a side table. He does the same by the board with letters ; which is finally placed on the chessboard after the game is placed, to enable the Automaton by these means to answer questions to be put to him.

" In the drawer of the chest above-mentioned are found chess-men, of red and white ivory, on a board, with which they are taken out to be placed on the side of the chess-board. There is likewise a small box. rather long in its form, containing six pygmy chess-boards, each of which presents an ending of a game. Such situations are set up in detail on the Automaton's own board; and he undertakes to win each and every such game by force, whether he play with the white or red pieces.

" I had forgotten also to observe, that M. de Kempelen not only opens the front door of the chest, but also those behind; by which means all the wheels are clearly seen, so as to give the most perfect conviction that no living being could be hidden therein. To render this expose even more complete, the constructor usually places a lighted taper in the interior of the chest; thus throwing light into its remotest corners.

" Finally, he lifts up the robe of the Automaton, and throws it over his head, in such a manner as completely to shew the structure of the interior, where are also seen only wheels and levers ; which so entirely occupy the body of the Automaton, that room is not left to hide even a cat. The very trousers of the Turk are furnished with a small door, likewise flung open, to remove the remotest shadow of a doubt.

" But do not imagine, good reader, that the inventor shuts one door as he opens another. The entire Automaton is teen at the same time uncovered; the garments being also turned up, and the drawer opened, as well as all the drawers of the chest. In fact, it is in this state he rolls it from place to place, around the room, courting the inspection of the curious."

We may here state that Maelzel, the last proprietor of the Automaton, adopted a very similar description of routine in the way he shewed the figure; and was equally successful in making the spectators believe, like Windisch, that they saw the whole of the interior at once. Maelzel varied some of the details, doing away with its brazen- head-like capacity of answering questions, under a just impression that this part of its black art approximated a little too closely to the feats of the learned pig, Toby. But the Automaton is all this time uncovered; and we resume Windisch's narrative, quickly, to prevent the poor thing from taking cold.

" After having allowed time for sufficient investigation of its anatomy," proceeds our eye-witness, " M. de Kempelen shuts all the doors of the chest, and places it behind a balustrade, made for the purpose of preventing the spectators from shaking the machine, by touching or leaning upon it when the Automaton plays; and also to keep clear for the inventor a rather spacious place, in which he occasionally walks, approaching the chest at times, on the right or left side, but without touching it, until it is time to wind up the springs. Finally, he passes his hand into the interior of the Automaton, to arrange the movements in their suitable order; and finishes all, by placing a cushion under the playing arm of the Turk.

" It must be stated, with regard to the casket, that M. de Kempelen places it on a little table near the machine, without, however, there being any apparent communication between the Automaton, and the table, or the casket; to which the inventor has frequent recourse during the playing of the game by the Automaton; for he opens it from time to time, to look at the inside, which is kept hidden from the spectators.

" It is generally assumed that this casket is simply a device to attract attention; still M. de Kempelen assures his visitors that without it the Automaton could not play. The letters traced in gold on the board, to which allusion has already been made, serve as a new recreation when chess is closed. It is then placed on the chessboard ; and the Automaton answers the questions of the audience, by pointing with his finger successively to the letters necessary to convey a reply. To prepare for this latter recreation, the fabricator arrange* certain movements in the interior of the machine."

Again we must interrupt the Herrn von Windisch, to note particularly the care of De Kempelen lest his figure should be too rudely jostled by the audience. The grave assertion of our Austrian Archimedes, that the secret lay within the casket, must have been difficult for him to bring out without laughing. Windisch resumes :—

"The Automaton, when about to move at chess, slowly raises his arm, and directs it towards the piece he intends to play. He suspends his hand over the piece, spreads his fingers to grasp it, places it in its destined situation, draws back his arm, and again rests it on the cushion. If he have occasion to capture a man, the same process is used. At each move he makes, a slow sound of wheels and clock' work is heard. This noise ceases when the move is made. The Automaton always claims the first move. When his adversary plays, the figure lifts his head and overlooks the board. He courteously warns the queen of being attacked, by bowing his head twice ; and equally notifies check to the king by three bows. Should a false move be played, he indignantly shakes his head ; but not confining himself to tacit disapprobation, instantly confiscates the offending piece, following up his capture by playing himself; and thus depriving his opponent not only of his piece, but of his move also. This divertissement happens not unfrequently; spectators wishing to test the figure's powers of discrimination. The advantage hereby gained contributes to the Turk's chance of winning; but the law being known beforehand, is equally fair for both parties: though the Auto - maton never commits an illegality.

"M. de Kempelen requests those chess-players who confront his warrior to place the chess-men strictly in the centre of the squares ; this precaution being necessary, in order that the Automaton, in grasping a piece, may not be exposed to damaging its fingers, by coming imperfectly in collision therewith. The rules of the game are rigidly observed.

"The machine can play but ten or twelve moves without being wound up, but it is clear such winding up can produce no other effect than to maintain its moving power, without having any connexion with its directing power, or rather with its faculty of acting as required by circumstances. In such faculty, doubtless consists the chief merit of the engine, and here lies the mystery. During the time of play M. de Kempelen never touches it, except for the purposes aforesaid of winding up, once in ten or a dozen moves."

Mathematicians and mechanists of all countries have examined the Automaton with the most scrupulous attention, without being able to discover any trace of the secret. I have frequently seen the Automaton playing, surrounded by twenty or thirty persons, who kept their eyes incessantly fixed on the inventor. We have invariably observed him keeping at a distance of three or four paces from the figure, doing nothing, but occasionally looking in the casket before- mentioned, and never betraying himself by any movement which might indicate that he was even remotely in communication with the Automaton. To destroy the impression that magnetism is the principal of action, M. de Kempelen permits the most powerful magnet to be placed on the machine. thoroughly exposed to view, removed all idea of a human person being concealed therein. Indeed, in the words of "Windisch, we find that it was agreed by the spectators there was not space even for the temporary lodging of "a cat." De Kempelen's gravely walking about the room with his casket, reminds one of Friar Bacon with his learned head, or Merlin and his wand. After a few moves are played, he kindly treats the Automaton to the refreshment of winding up, to recruit its fainting energies, as one would hand a man a glass of sherry. De Kempelen frequently turned his back, moreover, on his progeny during three or four moves, conversing meanwhile with the spectators. The feat of moving the knight over the sixty-four squares in as many moves, is, it must be admitted, not quite so prodigious as represented by Windisch. There are many printed plans for performing this; and it is obvious that any one of these would do for De Kempelen's purpose, provided it be a re-entering series of moves; that is to say, the knight, when he leaps to the sixty-fourth square, must be just a knight's move from the square on which he originally started. We do not speak here of the difficulty of causing the machine to perform this, but would merely remind the reader that any person, when he has once acquired by heart the knight's move over the board, in a re-entering series, has but to apply the same chain of moves in every case, whatsoever square of the board the knight may choose to make the first link of that circular chain.

There could be hardly more than four forms of hypothesis broached by the spectators of the Automaton ; and by this time we find they were all equally admitted to be fallacious. A concealed man or boy,—confederacy with a person in another chamber,—dependency on the floor or ceiling—magnetism or electricity; doubtless each of these theories had its votaries, and each of them was analysed in vain. But much time was not given in this stage of the performance to the exercise of the thinking faculty on the part of Germany.

Torn to pieces by the crowd, who eagerly rushed to view the phenomenon, De Kempelen found it was easier to raise a spirit than to lay him again. Pestered with letters demanding explanation, from all the savants of Europe; annoyed at the absurdities dealt forth anent the matter by the public press; and called upon, morning, noon, and night, to set up " his motion " for the gratification of some man with a handle or a tail to his name,—poor M. de Kempelen began to find out that fame, however glittering, has its drawbacks. Many years of time, and the greater part of his fortune, had he lavished in improving the science of hydraulics. These efforts were before the public ; but, although deservedly of merit, his improved fire- engines and water-pumps were altogether pushed into the shade, in favour of his Automaton Chess-player! So situated, it is highly creditable to his memory that he refused the offer of large sums of money from several persons who wished to purchase the Automaton by way of speculation. For a long time, his nice sense of honour prevented him from stooping to coin cash, from metal so intrinsically base, as he felt the ore in question really to be. De Kempelen declined suffering the Automaton to be made a public exhibition; and, as the only means in his power of getting rid of the burden he had placed on his shoulders, actually took the figure partially to pieces, stowed it away, and gave out that it had been damaged by the frequent removals it had undergone from place to place. M. Kempelen was again a free man, and once more devoted himself arduously to his really scientific discoveries in mechanics. His fame as a magician died away, and his friends shook him by the hand without fearing to be brimstone- marked in the contact.

Fallen from his throne ; bruised and battered, limbless, and motionless, lay the turbaned soldan, during an interval of many years ; smothered with dust, buried in darkness, and forgotten in its fall from greatness, by the shouting sycophants who had so loudly hailed the rising star. But its avatur was to come; and it was written in the book of fate, that, like a true Turkish sovereign, it should yet be dragged from the prison in which it pined, to march once more to the triumph of the battle-field, and the throne of talent over gullibility.

The Grand Duke Paul, of Russia, came with his consort under the travelling style and titles of the Count and Countess du Nord, to visit the Emperor Joseph II., at the court of Vienna. Every device which human talent could suggest was resorted to, in order to give due entertainment to guests so illustrious ; and, after a certain period, when the first eatings, drinkings, and dancings, were over, Joseph bethought him of De Kempelen and the Automaton. The royal wishes were conveyed to our philosopher, that he would oblige his sovereign by exhibiting his chess-playing figure once again, and De Kempelen cheerfully complied with the request. To the half-bred savages of the north, composing the suite of the royal visitors, the exhibition could not fail to be striking; and the Emperor Joseph, doubtless, slept that night to the tune of " How we shall astonish the Browns !"

De Kempelen employed himself with so much zeal and activity in the furbishing up of his invention, that in five weeks' time the Automaton chess hero once more made his bow at court with entirely new "dresses, properties, feid decorations." As before, its success was complete; the grand duke and his spouse, as well as the Emperor Joseph, were equally delighted and astonished by its feats. De Kempelen was handsomely rewarded, and the whole court joined in an earnest recommendation to him, for the sake cf his family, no longer to resist the making an exhibition if his Automaton a matter of personal emolument. Grown worldly wise from experience, De Kempelen now considered that he should do wrong, longer to neglect this opportunity of restoring his broken fortunes. He felt, too, more assured of the merit of his secret, and determined to suffer no false delicacy for the future to prevent his reaping the harvest of his ingenious mystification. The emperor granted him a two years' leave of absence from the duties of iris office, during which time his salary was equally to go on; and the Aulic counsellor prepared to travel through Germany, France, and England, in company with the wonderful figure whose fame had already diffused itself throughout civilized Europe.

It was in the year 1783 that De Kempelen and the Automaton first came to Paris. They were received with a hearty welcome, and the plaudits of la grande nation knew no bounds. The Automaton, however, L, a player, was beaten by the great professors at the Cafe de la Re- gence, then the resort of the elite. But whether one's nerves are strung on wood or bone, one need not be ashamed at being vanquished by first-raters; and the merit of the figure, of course, did not depend upon its in variably winning. It is worthy of observation, that De Kempelen himself was very inferior to his Automaton as a chess-man; since in playing in the ordinary manner, a first-rate practitioner could give him the rook ; but there was much less difference between the best flesh-and-blood players and their wooden opponent. The first Frerch artists were foiled in their attempts to dive into the mystery, and many and elaborate were the theories set ip on the occasion, all of which broke down as before, on being put to the test. De Kempelen found his speculftion a capital hit; and, leaving Paris for a time, crosses Dover Straits with the Automaton, to levy contributions on the pockets of John Bull.

Chess was at that period exclusively played :h England by the aristocracy, and among that class waf extremely fashionable, owing to Philidor (honour to his mighty shade !) This renowned player spent the greater part of his time in London, and thus gave an impesus to the cultivation of the game. Whether he personally played with the Automaton, we know not, and it matters little; he had formed a school of chess here, of greater extent than was ever seen before or after. To this cause ma/ be attributed the high fee of admission to a sight of oar Automaton, fixed by M. de K. at five shillings! Hundreds and thousands of persons nocked to the show; and the silver crowns rained down on the ingenious inventor, till he was almost knee-deep in the argent stream. An improvement had been made, too, in the really mechanical part of his figure, which now pronounced from its mouth something intended for echec, in giving check to the king.