THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY                                                                                                Lord Lyttleton's Reply to Morphy's Letter to the British Chess Association





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 may wish.

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.