.MORPHY'S APPEAL 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,
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,
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
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
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,
Cafe de la Régence, Paris, October, 26, 1858.