The Harrisse Correspondence
Philip W. Sergeant's Morphy Gleanings, page 85
" The letters which follow are not,
except in one case, Morphy's, but they all intimately relate to Morphy and
his chess-play, and therefore seem to me worthy of inclusion in this book.
They came to light in a curious way. Years ago my
friend Lewis C. Ingram picked up an old copy of the German "Handbuch,"
which had once belonged to Ernest Falkbeer, the Hungarian master, and
found in a pocket in the binding some letters, of which all but one were
addressed to Henry Harrisse, an American born in Paris in 1830, and author
of biographical and geographical works on the discovery of America.
Harrisse was interested in chess, and was Louis Paulsen's manager at his
blindfold exhibitions in Chicago in 1858-60
In "The British Chess Magazine" for June, 1928, I
published these letters, but not quite fully. Below they will be found
almost in full, the omissions being only of such matter as is not
concerned with Morphy.
The bulk of the correspondence may be summed up as a
history of Paulsen's attempt to get Morphy to play him a match on level
terms and of Morphy's refusal to play Paulsen except at odds of Pawn and
move. Apart from this there are interesting comments by Paulsen on
Morphy's play against some of his match opponents."
From Louis Paulsen of Dubuque, Iowa to Henry Harrisse:
November 7, 1858
I have seen in the London News Morphy's likeness and my
own. Morphy has grown much stouter in Europe. The Morphy and Harrwitz
match has not generated games of such interest as has been anticipated.
This, however, is solely owing to Harrwitz's pertinacity in removing all
the beauty from Chess. Being fully aware of Morphy's brilliancy and
strength in combinations, he constantly tried to exchange all the pieces
on the board early in the game. Morphy, feeling a dislike for such
play, declined in the second game to the exchange of Queens, by which he
lost several moves, and was finally beaten But in the succeeding
games, seeing that Harrwitz did not change his tactics, he not [sic]
more declined the exchange of pieces and proved in a masterly style that
even in Pawn play he is much superior to Harrwitz. Although
believing that Morphy will beat Anderssen more speedily, yet I trust their
match will create games of the highest interest, and be still more
brilliant than the games contested between Mc Donnell and de la
April 29, 1859
. . . next December, when I intend to visit Morphy
at New Orleans, provided he agree to play me a match on even terms. If I
should beat Morphy I will write a complete work on openings.
June 11, 1859
I don't think it necessary myself to have a tourney with
Morphy soon, as other folks are trying very hard to bring it about.
Whether they will succeed or not is a question which time will determine.
My intention has always been not to encounter Morphy too soon. The
club at St. Louis has already invited me three weeks ago to visit their
city for the purpose of meeting Paul Morphy, and offered to pay all my
expenses arising from such a trip. The time when Morphy is expected
and how long he will stay at St, Louis is not yet fixed. You must
not suppose that it is only my intention to make a good show against the
Champion, but to beat him in a long, fair trial of skill . . .
Morphy will probably not accept Kennicott's
P.S. How delighted would Morphy be by taking a
ride to K's farm on a milk wagon.
August 11, 1859
I hope to be ready for a
chess-match with Paul Morphy next month, and in consequence of this, I
shall probably go to New York after four or five weeks from now, provided
M. does not leave N. Y. . . .
I read to-day that Morphy beat Lichtenhein at odds of QKt six games to four which, however, in my opinion, rather proves L.'s
weakness than M.'s strength.
October 2, 1859
As soon as I received your letter
I commenced analyzing the pawn and move game. I have not yet finished my
work. Should the result prove that in the pawn and move game the
advantage is really on the side of the player who receives the odds, I
will play a match with Morphy at these odds; and should I beat him he will
be obliged to play a match on even terms . . .
When you write to me again I would be much
pleased to receive some particulars of your conversation with Morphy.
July 4, 1860
As you are doubtless aware, by
this time, that Mr. Morphy is already on his way to Paris, which he
intends to make his future home (he was expected in New York last week), I
think it is needless to discuss the 'Pawn and move question,' since I
should hardly be able to go to Paris even if I intended to do so
. . .
My brother [Wilfried] in Germany writes to me
that both Anderssen and Kolisch intend to defeat Morphy soon
after his arrival in Europe. Morphy has promised to visit Germany
also. Be assured the most interesting chess match will take place in the
course of another year.
August 25, 1860
Provided Morphy does not leave
New York, I shall start from here on the 14th of September. To my
great surprise I see that there is no chess-column n the last number of
the N. Y. Ledger. I therefore imagine that Bonner has dispensed with
Morphy's services as chess editor. This would be a matter of regret since
it might induce Morphy to return at once to New Orleans.
Louis Paulsen to Paul Morphy - New York:
October 3, 1860
Dear Sir:--In the hope of promoting the cause of chess,
permit me to invite you to a friendly contest over the board on the
A match even, consisting
only of open games, or, to make it more definite, a match of six
Evans Gambits, each player to conduct three times the attack and three
times the defence; and of twelve Gambits on the kings side, attack and
defence to be played alternately by each player throughout the match.
I am aware that you have declined playing with our most prominent chess
players, except at odds of pawn and move. Allow me to reply to express the
opinion that the odds of the pawn and the move are a doubtful advantage,
while it invariably and necessarily results in a kind of mongrel game,
never advancing the cause of Chess and rarely proving interesting to the
great majority of amateurs.
If your high and justly acquired reputation as a
Chess-player makes it a matter of necessity on your part never to meet an
adversary without imposing the condition of receiving odds, I beg leave to
suggest an advantage which, without marring the beauties of our noble
game, may still prove acceptable to you, viz.:
I shall receive as many games out of the match as in
your opinion would make the chances of winning the match perfectly even,
or yield your opponent an advantage equal to pawn and move.
In sincere hope that you will accept my invitation and
favor me with a reply,
Very respectfully yours,
October 6, 1860
David Lawson added
to what Philip Sergeant began (p.260, Lawson)
Morphy received the following letter from Harrisse pertaining to the
51 Exchange Place, October 6, 1860
At the request of Mr. Paulsen, I tried to see you twice on Friday
and Wednesday last, at your residence, and not being able to find
you left with the clerk a letter from Mr. Paulsen to be handed to
The object of this note is to ascertain whether the above
communication duly came into your hands.
In the hope of a reply, I remain, Dear Sir,
Morphy replied to Harrisse as
New York, Oct. 6th 1860
have received Paulsenís letter, and am quite astonished that he
should ask me to play a match with him on even terms, after my
repeated declarations that I had not come North to play chess, and
would only encounter him, if at all, at odds, and in an occasional
game or two at the club. I am getting heartedly tired of the
subject, and would request you, should you see him before I do (I
went to the club yesterday but did not meet him there) to inform
him of the resolution I have taken.
Regretting that I was not at the Fifth Avenue Hotel when you
called, I remain, Truly yours,
As it happened, Morphy and Paulsen
never encountered each other during this time (nor ever again),
although both visited the New York