THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY                                                                                                                                                              Letter to the British Chess Association




To the Right Hon. Lord Lyttleton,  President of the British Chess Association.

My Lord, — On the 4th of last February the Chess Club of New Orleans gave a challenge to your countryman, Mr. Howard Staunton, to visit that city, and engage in a match at Chess with me. On the 3rd of April Mr. Staunton replied to this defi in the Illustrated London News, characterizing the terms of the cartel as " being distinguished by extreme courtesy," but objecting to so long a journey for such a purpose, and engaging me " to anticipate by a few months an intended voyage to Europe." Believing that " a journey of many thousand miles " was the only obstacle in the way of our meeting, I made immediate preparation, and, within two months, I had the pleasure of repeating the challenge personally in the rooms of the St. George's Chess Club. I need scarcely assure you, my lord, that Mr. Staunton enjoys a reputation in the United States unsurpassed by that of any player in Europe since the death of Labourdonnais, and I felt highly honoured when he accepted my challenge, merely requesting a lapse of one month for the purpose of preparing himself for the encounter. Within a short period, subsequently, Mr. Staunton obtained my consent to a postponement, until after the annual meeting of the British Chess Association. A week prior to that event, I addressed him in the following terms : —

Dear Sir,—As we are now approaching the Birmingham meeting, at the termination of which you have fixed our match to commence, I think it would be advisable to settle the preliminaries during this week. Would you be good enough to state some early period when your seconds can meet mine, so that a contest which I have so much at heart, and which, from your eminent position, excites so much interest in the Chess world, may be looked upon as a fait accompli. — I am, dear air, yours very respectfully,
                                                                                       Paul Morphy.

Not receiving a satisfactory reply to this communication, I again wrote to Mr. Staunton as follows: —

 Dear Sir,—I must first apologize for not replying to your previous communication. As you observe, my numerous contests must be the excuse for my remissness.
 It is certainly a high compliment to so young a player as myself, that you, whose reputation in the Chess arena has been unapproached during so many long years, should require any preparation for our match. Immediately on my arrival in England, some two months since, I spoke to you in reference to our contest, and, in accepting the challenge, you stated that you should require some time to prepare, and you proposed a period for commencing, which I accepted.
I am well aware that your many engagements in the literary world must put you to some inconvenience in meeting me, and I am therefore desirous to consult your wishes in every respect. Would you please state the earliest opportunity when those engagements will permit the match coming off, such time being consistent with your previous preparation?
The  "few weeks" referred to in your favour, seem to be rather vague, and I shall feel highly gratified by your fixing a definite period for the contest. I leave the terms entirely to yourself.
                                            I remain, dear sir, yours very respectfully,
                                                                                      Paul Morphy.

Mr. Staunton left London for Birmingham without deigning to reply.
I attended the annual meeting of the Association for the express purpose of requesting a definite period for commencing the match. In the presence of your lordship and other gentlemen, Mr. Staunton fixed that commencement for the forepart of November, promising that he would inform me of the precise date within a few days. I heard nothing further from him on the subject. Your lordship will have remarked from the above, that Mr. Staunton has thus obtained three separate and distinct postponements.
The approach of November induced me to again address

Mr. Staunton, which I did on the 6th of the present month. As my letter was published in numerous London journals, and was also sent to the editor-in-chief of the Illustrated London News, I had a right to expect a public answer, particularly as I had complained of a false and damaging statement in the Chess department of that paper. On the 16th Mr. Staunton stated editorially that: —

Mr. Morphy's games this week exclude both his letter and Mr. Staunton's reply. If we can spare space for them they shall be given in the next number.

On the 9th inst., within a short time of receiving my letter, Mr. Staunton replied to me privately. As my communication was a public one, I was somewhat surprised at the course pursued by a gentleman holding such a position as Mr. Staunton, and did not, therefore, even acknowledge receipt, fearing that I might thereby be induced, unintentionally, to commit myself. Having promised my letter and his reply, Mr. Staunton published what he represents as such in the Illustrated London News of the 23rd inst. He has thereby transferred the question from the Chess arena to the bar of public opinion, and as a stranger in a foreign land—a land which has ever been the foremost in hospitality—I claim justice from Englishmen.
The most important portion of my letter Mr. Staunton has dared to suppress. I refer to the following paragraph, published by various journals, but omitted by the Illustrated London News, although sent to the editor of that paper as well as to Mr. Staunton himself: —

A statement appeared in the Chess department of that journal a few weeks since, that 'Mr. Morphy had come to Europe unprovided with backers or seconds,' the inference being obvious — that my want of funds was the reason of our match not taking place. As you are the editor of that department of the Illustrated London News, I felt hurt that a gentleman who had always received me at his club and elsewhere with great kindness and courtesy, should allow so prejudicial a statement to be made in reference to me; one, too, which is not strictly in accordance with fact.

On my first arrival in England, I informed Mr. Staunton that my stakes would be forthcoming the moment he desired, and I was therefore utterly at a loss to account for so unwarrantable a statement being made in reference to me, unless with the intention of compromising my position before the public. And I would ask your lordship's attention to the terms of the suppressed paragraph, couched in such language as to avoid all insinuation of animus, and affording Mr. Staunton the amplest opportunity for explaining away the difficulty. The course pursued by that gentleman cannot do otherwise than justify me in ascribing to him the very worst of motives in publishing what he knew to be incorrect, in denying me common justice, and in giving as the whole of my letter what he knew to be only a part of it.
From Mr. Staunton I now appeal to the great body of English Chess players, I appeal to the British Chess Association, I appeal to yourself, my lord, as the Maecenas of English Chess; and, as I visited your country for the purpose of challenging Mr. Staunton, which challenge he has repeatedly accepted, 1 now demand of you that you shall declare to the world it is through no fault of mine that this match has not taken place.—I have the honour to remain, my lord, yours very respectfully,

Paul Morphy.
Cafe de la Régence, Paris, October, 26, 1858.