David Lawson included this hearsay reference in Paul
Morphy: the Pride and the Sorrow of Chess:
"...in 1874, Paul Morphy, in an offhand conversation (Dubuque Chess
Journal of December 1874), expressed the following opinion of Mr. Staunton
as a chess master:
Mr. Staunton's knowledge of the
theory of the game was no doubt complete; his powers as an analyst were of
the very highest order, his coup d'oeil and judgment of position
and his general experience of the chess board, great; but all these
qualities which are essential to make a GREAT chess player do not
make him a man of GENIUS. These must be supplemented by imagination
and by a certain inventive or creative power, which conceives positions
and brings them about. Of the faculty (he said) he saw no
evidence in the published games of Mr. Staunton.
In a give position, where there is something to be
done, no matter how recondite or difficult the idea, Mr. Staunton will
detect it, and carry out the combination in as finished a style as any
great player that ever lived, but he will have no agency in bringing about
Therefore in his best day, Mr. Staunton in his opinion
could not have make a successful fight against a man who had the same
qualities as himself and who, besides, was possessed of the creative power
above mentioned such as were Anderssen of Germany, M'Donnell of England,
and La Bourdonnais of France.
To all that had been said concerning Mr. Staunton
personally, his brilliant conversational powers, etc. (he said) he
could himself bear witness, as he had the frequent occasions to meet Mr.
Staunton in social intercourse.
As a chess author, he thought, as everybody
does, that Mr. Staunton's ability was of the very highest order, and that
he had done more for the diffusion and propagation of chess than almost
anyone else. As a commenter on games actually played, aside from the
personalities, he was at times too prone to indulge in, he stood
absolutely without a rival.
As a player he was entitled to a very high rank indeed,
and perhaps he was, as is claimed for him, the ablest player of his day;
at the same time he was not prepared to admit that Mr. Staunton
possessed to any great degree GENIUS FOR CHESS as he understands