Lasker's Chess Magazine

Vol. 4 No. 1, May 1906

San Francisco earthquake & fire; 5:12 am, April 18, 1906

From San Francisco by W. E. Nevill

A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his material possessions; and sorrow at the loss of them must not be suffered to increase by indulgence, but must give way ultimately to social duties and the common avocation of life. In the reaction, after the uncommon exertion of strength and perseverance of labor, we passed through a dangerous interval of languor. We were cast down. Like the children of Israel we wept when we remembered Zion - San Francisco.

But the pure, free, stimulating ozone rolls upon us from the Western sea.

It makes us hope and work. Labor omnia vineit. But all work and no pleasure would make Jack San Francisco a dull boy. Pleasure and recreation of one kind or other are absolutely necessary to relieve our minds and bodies from too constant attention to labor.

The question of pleasure is capital. Staid people generally neglect it as a frivolity; utilitarians as a costly superfluity. Those whom we designate as "pleasure-seekers" forage in this delicate domain like wild bears in a garden. No one seems to doubt the immense human interest attached to joy. It is a sacred flame the must be fed, that throws a splendid radiance over life. He, who takes pains to foster it, accomplishes a work as profitable for humanity, as he who builds houses and bridges, pierces tunnels or cultivates the ground. So to order one's life as to keep, amid toil and suffering, the faculty of happiness, and be able to propagate it in a sort of salutary contagion among one's fellow men, is to do a work of fraternity in the noblest sense. To give a trifling pleasure, smooth an anxious brow, bring a little light into dark paths - what a truly Devine office in the midst of this poor humanity.

Let us sometimes live - be it only for an hour, and though we must lay all else aside - to make others smile.

Therefore, again I plead for chess. Chess is more than mere play - an idle pastime - pass-time. Play is adapted to infants. Chess is a game, and game implies concentration and direction. The term comprehends the exercise of the art, and the perfection which is attained in the art is the end and source of pleasure.

I hope soon to be able to report for the new and greater San Francisco an increasing interest in "The Royal Game."

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