LORD LYTTELTON'S REPLY TO MORPHY'S LETTER OF APPEAL
Bodmin, Cornwall, 3rd November.
Dear Sir, — I much regret that I have been unable till
to-day to reply to your letter of October 26, which only reached me on the
1st inst. With regard to the appeal which you have made to the British
Chess Association, I may perhaps be allowed to say, as its President, that
I fear nothing can be done about the matter in question by that body. It
is one of recent and rather imperfect organization; its influence is not
yet fully established. It is practically impossible to procure any
effective meeting of its members at present, and it is doubtful whether it
would take any steps in the matter if it were to meet. I must therefore be
understood as writing in my private character alone, but, at the same
time, you are welcome, should you think it worth while (which I hardly
think it can be), to make further use of this letter, in any manner you
Your letter has but one professed object; that we should
declare that it is not your fault that the match between yourself and Mr.
Staunton has not taken place. To this the reply might be made in two
words. I cannot conceive it possible that any one should impute that
failure to you, nor am I aware that any one has done so. But, in the
circumstances, I shall not perhaps be blamed, if I go somewhat further
into the matter. In the general circumstances of the case, I conceive that
Mr. Staunton was quite justified in declining the match. The fact is
understood, that he has for years been engaged in labours which must,
whatever arrangements might be made, greatly interfere with his entering
into a serious contest with a player of the highest force and in constant
practice, and so far, the failure of the match is the less to be
regretted. Nor can I doubt the correctness of his recent statement, that
the time barely necessary for the match itself could not be spared,
without serious loss and inconvenience both to others and to himself.
But I cannot but think, that in all fairness and
considerate-ness, Mr. Staunton might have told you of this long before he
did. I know no reason why he might not have ascertained it, and informed
you of it in answer to your first letter from America. Instead of this, it
seems to me plain, both as to the interview at which I myself was present,
and as to all the other communications which have passed, that Mr.
Staunton gave you every reason to suppose that he would be ready to play
the match within no long time. I am not aware, indeed (nor do I perceive
that you have said it), that you left America solely with the view of
playing Mr. Staunton. It would, no doubt, make the case stronger, but it
seems to me as unlikely as that you should have come, as has been already
stated (anonymously, and certainly not with Mr. Staunton's concurrence),
in order to attend the Birmingham Tournament. With regard to the
suppressions of part of your last letter, I must observe, that I am not
aware how far Mr. Staunton is responsible for what appears in the
Illustrated London News.
But whoever is responsible for that suppression, I must
say that I cannot see how it is possible to justify or excuse it.
I greatly regret the failure of a contest which would have been of much
interest, and the only one, as I believe, which could have taken place
with you, with any chance of its redounding to the credit of this country.
I still more regret that any annoyance or disappointment should have been
undergone by one, who—as a foreigner—from his age, his ability, and his
conduct and character, is eminently entitled to the utmost consideration
in the European countries which he may visit.
I am, dear sir, yours truly,
Paul Morphy, Esq.