THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY                                                                                                                                                                                Edge to Fiske




Frederick Milns Edge's letter to Daniel Willard Fiske April 3, 1859

                                                                                     59 Great Peter Street,
                                                    Westminster London S.W.
April 3, 1859  

My Dear Fiske,

Having nothing better to do (excuse this flattering commencement) I sit down to take up my pen for the purpose of beginning a lengthy epistle. As Paul Morphy will very shortly be back again in the
United States receiving the slobberifications of his countrymen, this communication may be looked upon as an introductory act of transfer, instruction of consignment, etc. etc. Do you remember
giving Paul Morphy a note for me when he was leaving New York, together with documents for Preti and others? Well, when we were both in Paris in the month of October last, he asked me to look in
his portmanteau for some thick underlinen, as the weather was becoming cool. I searched as directed, and what should I find but these identical notes; and had it not been for my discovery, they
would not now have been delivered. I mention the circumstances because I wish you to understand that it was simply and purely de mon propre avis that I stuck to him from the moment of his arrival.
Several reasons impelled me to this. Firstly, revenge against the American players who had not recognised my exertions at the Congress. There was only one way in which I would have received
any mark of recognition from them; that was by a vote of thanks of which I should have been proud as long as I lived. I don't care about my duties during the Meeting, altho you are well aware, Fiske, the other secretaries did little or nothing: what I mean is - the publicity which my articles in the Tribune, Frank Leslie's, etc. gave to the proceedings. Secondly, pride. The English players laughed at me when I told them about Morphy, and the St. George's in particular made merry at me, although I did not allow my enthusiasm to get the better of my judgement. When Paul Morphy arrived he, at first, was distant towards me; he thought, no doubt, I was desirous of being his second and deriving eclat from his feats. I soon set that thought to rest. But the greatest incentive of all was the determination that he should beat Staunton. In the presence of the London Chess Club, Mr. Mongredien said to our hero - "You must be very careful, Mr. Morphy, what you say and do with regard to Staunton: he is a wily customer and will find means to back out of this match and throw the onus upon you". I immediately answered right out - "Mr. Morphy, Sir, has come to Europe to beat Mr. Staunton and he will beat him with whatever weapons that gentleman may choose". - I have never acted with so much judgement and energy as in seconding Paul Morphy, and in future years I shall always reflect upon this period of my life with pride. Staunton has lorded it over the English chess world for many long years with the utmost tyranny and where is he now? "Not one
soul to do him reverence". He does not go to the St. George's, and all the members of that club are heart and soul for Morphy. Lord Lyttelton's letter has damned him in history and write or say what
he will, he can never resume his position in the teeth of that epistle. Would you think it possible, Fiske, that Morphy objected to have that letter published, and that I was subsequently obliged to send it off to the papers on my own responsibility, without his knowledge? Ah, I have had a bitter, hard battle to fight with him all through. He objected for a long, long time to having the letter sent to Staunton which commenced the public correspondence between them. When S. sought to entrap him by sending his private reply, Morphy preferred listening to anybody but me, and was about answering
also privately. But, singly and alone, I managed to carry the day at last, by dint of argument, entreaty and almost tears. And when Staunton published M's letter, suppressing that important paragraph, I said that the latter must now address the British Chess Association and claim justice. Morphy laughed in my face, and replied "the matter need go no further". What would you have thought of him and me if the affair had so rested? I immediately sat down, boiling with rage, and penned the letter to Lord Lyttelton. I took it right away and submitted it to Mr. Bryant (Staunton's old Second) who returned to the hotel with me and induced Morphy to sign it. Nor is this all. When Lord L. sent his capital reply, P.M. declared that it should not be published. - Seeing it was vain to hope for his consent, I waited until he was out of the way and then sent it to the London papers. Ask Morphy if all this is not true, and then say, Fiske, if I did not act as the very best of friends. Still further, am I not the sole cause of his remaining in Europe and beating Anderssen, without which he would have returned to
America uncrowned and unacknowledged?

You have, by this time, read my book. Have I sought my own glory or avenged myself for any supposed wrong? Private feelings have nothing to do with my admiration for his genius; and besides, there is a sweet satisfaction in working heart and soul for a man who is unjust and ungrateful to you. Fiske, how Christian-like one feels when his motives are misjudged and his disinterested acts
supposed to cover an arriere pensee, and this is just my position. Through chess in New York and working for your Congress, I lost a good situation on the Herald. Through Morphy I lost an autumnal
tour in Russia, the confidence of my father, the affection of my family; nearly broke my poor wife's heart by forsaking her for him, and to cap the climax am now hated and maligned by himself. And
now, how stands the case? I see him safely out of Europe with the greatest reputation that ever chess-player possessed, and I write a work which will live as long as the game lives and will make him more famous than anything he has ever done. And all for what? To be treated as Alexander served Parmenio.

The main reason for Morphy's treatment is this: You know that any laborer in the South is regarded as a slave: he has come so to think of me. I made the proposition to him to accompany him to Paris as his secretary, etc., if he would pay my expenses, which I would pay at some future day. He ultimately got to think me a nigger, actually telling me one day, "you will write, you must write, you are paid to write". No other man but myself would have forgiven him that. I did for he had not yet beaten Anderssen and I was resolved he should. And now that he is at home, I shall still guard his fame here
in Europe and woe be to him who dares say aught against Paul Morphy.

In anything I do for Morphy, I am admirably seconded by Lowenthal who downright worships him. I am writing to you Fiske, purely confidentially, and will therefore tell you a secret, which for Heaven's sake keep to yourself. Staunton has got himself into such bad odour with his countrymen that there is but one club throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom which is favorable to him - viz, the Cambridge University C.C. S. wants to right himself. He cannot get any games for the Ill. Lon. News
except those he copies second hand from other papers, and he does not show himself anywhere in chess circles. Besides, he knows that the British Association must, at its next meeting, take action upon Morphy's appeal to its President, and he is now working to get the meeting held at Cambridge. Lowenthal and I are watching him and we have discovered that he is endeavouring to induce the
Worcester Club to give up its claims until next year and it is probable they will. We shall then get the meeting in London and Staunton will be outvoted 20 to 1. Lowenthal is very popular with all the London clubs, and I have now some influence with the leading members and shall have much more when my book is  published. Besides, Walker, Boden and Falkbeer are under obligations to me and I can use their columns when I wish. Depend upon it, Staunton won't make anything by Morphy's departure, and wherever the association may meet, I shall be present and face to face with the portly Howard. He has been no match for me in diplomacy and correspondence and he will be still less in

April 15th 1859

Morphy leaves for Liverpool today on his way to New York. Before you receive this, you will have seen him and no doubt will have heard his reasons for so acting towards me. Now Fiske, I ask you, what reasons have I, or had I, for sticking to him? I was no chessplayer or American. I could hope to gain nothing by friendship for him. I do not wish to prejudice you against Morphy: if one must suffer, let it be me, for he is your countryman, your co-editor and your friend. All I ask of you is - do not wrong me also. I have done him naught but good, I have served him as a Christian should his God. Judge me by my conduct since his arrival in New York in '57 - and as I love and esteem you Fiske, show me some generosity - which I have not received from your countrymen. Morphy is gone. I must now devote my years to business. My father's affairs call me constantly into the different great cities of Europe. I shall make a point of visiting the chess clubs in my journeyings and you may rely upon receiving occasional readable articles from me for the Monthly.

Hoping you are well and that you will receive Morphy as he really ought to be received for the glory he has cast upon his country.

I remain, my dear Fiske,
Most Sincerely Yours     
Fred'k Edge                   

P.S. - You ought to have the announcement of Morphy's being on board in the Extras. I wrote to the Captain of the steamer to ask him to do so.