Exploits and Triumphs, in Europe, of Paul Morphy, the Chess Champion

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The Chess Champion;











346 & 348 BROADWAY.


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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859,


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the

Southern District of New York.

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The Members of






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I am much indebted, in the following pages, to the kind assistance of that able writer and veteran chess-player, Mr. George Walker, who has furnished me with most of the very interesting and valuable information contained in the fourth chapter of this work. I am likewise under obligations to Herr Löwenthal for many anecdotes relating to chess celebrities of the past, and other information; and also to Mr. George Medley, Honorary Secretary of the London Chess Club, and Mr. Ries, of the Divan.

The cuts with which this work is embellished have been engraved by the well-known Brothers Dalziel. The portrait of Paul Morphy, copied from a photograph taken shortly after his arrival in London last year, is an excellent likeness.

The portraits of Messrs. Staunton, Boden, Anderssen, and Löwenthal, are copies of photographs,[Pg vi] for which they sat at the Manchester Meeting, in 1857. The originals of Messrs. Saint Amant and Harrwitz are admirably executed lithographs of those gentlemen, taken about four years ago, and that of Mr. Mongredieu is copied from a photograph kindly lent for the purpose.

I am under great obligations to Mr. Lewis, who came to London expressly to sit for his likeness; and I feel assured that my readers will value this "very form and feature" of an amateur who was famous before Labourdonnais was known outside the Régence; and whose works are found in every chess-player's library.

I had considerable difficulty in obtaining the portrait of Mr. George Walker. Photographs, lithographs, etc., of that most popular of all chess writers, did not exist, and many friends prophesied that his likeness would not be in my book. But I importuned him so that he relented, and confided to my care an oil painting, for which he sat five years ago, and which was the only portrait of him in existence.

My readers can judge of the resemblance of the other cuts by the portrait of Paul Morphy. I only wish my story was as good.

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Paul Morphy's father, Judge Morphy, of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, beguiled his leisure hours with the fascinations of Chess, and, finding a precocious aptitude for the game in his son, he taught him the moves and the value of the various pieces. In the language of somebody,—

"To teach the young Paul chess,
His leisure he'd employ;
Until, at last, the old man
Was beaten by the boy."

I have here spoilt a very pretty story. The report in chess circles is, that the young Paul learned the moves[Pg 2] from seeing his father play with his uncle, Mr. Ernest Morphy, long ranking amongst the first players in the Union, and one of the brightest living ornaments of American chess. One evening—so runs the tale—this gentleman awaited the arrival of the Judge, when Master Paul impudently offered to be his antagonist. What was the uncle's astonishment at finding the stripling a match for his deepest combinations, and what the father's surprise on discovering a very Philidor in his son of ten years! Deschapelles became a first-rate player in three days, at the age of something like thirty. Nobody ever believed the statement, not even Deschapelles himself, although his biographer declares he had told the lie so often that he at last forgot the facts of the case. But the story about Morphy beats the Deschapelles story in the proportion of thirty to ten. I sorrowfully confess that my hero's unromantic regard for truth makes him characterize the above statement as a humbug and an impossibility.

Paul's genius for Chess was, very properly, not permitted to interfere with his educational pursuits. At college (in South Carolina) until eighteen years of age, he had but little time for indulgence in his favorite game, nor did he find any one capable of contending with him. When the vacations allowed of his playing against such adepts as his father and uncle, or such well-known paladins as Mr. Ernest Rousseau, of New Orleans, and Judge Meek, of Alabama, he soon showed himself superior to all antagonists. In the[Pg 3] autumn of 1849, Herr Löwenthal, the celebrated Hungarian player, visited the Crescent City, and out of three games against the young Paul, then but twelve years old, he lost two and drew one. It is but reasonable to suppose that the desire of atoning for this defeat had something to do with Herr Löwenthal's challenging his youthful victor, on his arrival last year in Europe.

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A circular was issued by the New York Chess Club, in the month of April, 1857, "for the purpose of ascertaining the feasibility and propriety of a general assemblage of the chess players resident in America." This "met with a hearty and zealous response from the amateurs and clubs of the United States. So favorable was the feeling everywhere manifested, that it was deemed advisable to proceed with the undertaking, and to complete at once the preliminary arrangements."[A] In consideration of the movement having been initiated by the New York Chess Club, it was conceded that the meeting should take place in that city.

Some of the founders of the New York Chess Club still live to do honor to the game. I believe that Mr. James Thompson and Colonel Mead suckled the bantling in times of yore, sometimes forming the entire of the Club without assistance. In that day of small[Pg 5] things, I believe, too, they defeated the Norfolk (Va.) Club, proving themselves just two too many for their opponents. Then they travelled about from house to house, as their members increased, with the arrival of Mr. Charles H. Stanley, Mr. Frederick Perrin, and others. About 1855 or 1856, the Club made the acquisition of two enterprising young players, Mr. Theodore Lichtenhein and Mr. Daniel W. Fiske; and to the latter gentleman is due the credit of first suggesting this Chess Congress, which made known to fame the genius of Paul Morphy.

In the summer of 1857, being then engaged on the New York Herald, I used occasionally to tumble into the basement of an edifice opposite the newspaper office, where a jolly, fat German, with a never-to-be-remembered name, regaled his visitors upon sausages and "lager." Here the members of the Chess Club were wont to congregate; for the landlord had provided chessmen and boards as an inducement to visitors.

One afternoon being engaged in a game with a brother reporter, a gentleman, whom I subsequently learned was Mr. Theodore Lichtenhein, stepped up to us, and put into our hands the prospectus of the approaching Chess Congress, stating his opinion that an event of so much importance merited newspaper publicity. So began my acquaintance with American chess amateurs. Although possessing but little skill as a player, I had a strong liking for the game, and de[Pg 6]termined that every thing in my power should be done to render the meeting successful.

My visits to the saloon, and eventually to the Club, became frequent, and the Committee of Management, finding that I both could and would work, did me the honor of appointing me one of the secretaries.

The Congress was advertised to open on the 6th of October, but players began to arrive some weeks previously. First of all came Judge Meek, of Alabama, a truly imposing specimen of a man. Soon after him followed Mr. Louis Paulsen, from Dubuque, Iowa, whose astonishing blindfold feats out West were the theme of general talk, and almost total disbelief, amongst Eastern players. From Judge Meek we first heard of Paul Morphy's wondrous strength. He told the New York Club that if the youthful Louisianian entered the tournament, he would infallibly wrest the palm of victory from all competition.

We were much afraid, nevertheless, that Mr. Morphy would be unable to quit his legal studies for the purpose of attending the Congress, but when Mr. Fiske announced the receipt of a telegraphic despatch, which stated that he was en route, everybody hailed the news with satisfaction. Mr. Paulsen now came to the support of Judge Meek, and declared that Paul Morphy would carry off the first prize in the tournament; giving, as the grounds of his opinion, some two or three published games of the young Louisianian, which he considered worthy to rank with the finest[Pg 7] master-pieces of chess strategy. Benignant fate brought the young hero safely to New York, some two days before the assembling of the Congress.

Who that was present that evening does not remember Paul Morphy's first appearance at the New York Chess Club? The secretary, Mr. Frederick Perrin, valorously offered to be his first antagonist, and presented about the same resistance as a musquito to an avalanche. Then who should enter the room but the warrior Stanley, tomahawk in one hand and the scalps of Schulten and Rousseau in the other. Loud cries were made for "Stanley! Stanley!" and Mr. Perrin resigned his seat to the new comer, in deference to so general a request. Thus commenced a contest, or rather a succession of contests, in which Mr. Stanley was indeed astonished. "Mate" followed upon "mate," until he arose from his chair in bewildered defeat.

The following day, the assembled delegates and amateurs from the various clubs, organized the Congress by the election of a president, in the person of Judge Meek, with Mr. Fiske as secretary, four assistant secretaries, marshals, treasurer, etc. All these matters of detail, as well as the games played, the laws passed, etc., etc., will eventually appear in the long looked for "Book of the Congress," forthcoming with the completion of the "British Museum Catalogue."

In the absence of the "Book of the Congress," I must give a slight sketch of its proceedings, in order to[Pg 8] trace the career of Paul Morphy ab initio. After taking possession of the magnificent hall which the New York Committee of Management had chosen for the meeting, the sixteen contestants in the Grand Tournament, proceeded to pair themselves off by lot. Never was fate more propitious than on this occasion in coupling the antagonists. It is obvious, that however apparently equal in strength two opponents may be, one will prove stronger than the other. This is an axiom requiring no proof. Out of sixteen, one is better than the rest, and one out of the remaining fifteen is stronger than the fourteen others. The latter player may be drawn in the first round of the tournay with the former, and though he stand incomparably the superior of all but one, he loses every chance of a prize by being put immediately hors du combat.

Amongst the sixteen players who entered the lists, two were unmistakably the strongest, namely, Messrs. Morphy and Paulsen; and much fear was manifested lest they might be drawn together, in the first round. Such, however, was not the case. Mr. Paulsen was coupled with Mr. Dennis Julien, the well-known problem maker, and a gentleman whose hospitality to chess players scarcely requires praise from me. Mr. Julien had allowed his name to be entered in the Grand Tournament in the absence of the representative of Connecticut, Mr. S. R. Calthrop, but the latter player arriving shortly after, Mr. Julien was but too happy to resign in his favor. Mr. Morphy's antagonist was Mr. James[Pg 9] Thompson, of New York, a gentleman who finished his chess education at the Café de la Régence, and the London Chess Divan, noted for the brilliancy and daring of his attack, and his pertinacity in playing the Evans' Gambit wherever he has a chance. If Mr. Thompson had not been pitted against such a terrible opponent, in the first round, he would have tested the powers of some of the other players.

Mr. Morphy's second opponent was Judge Meek. As they took their seats opposite each other, one thought of David and Goliath; not that the Judge gasconaded in any wise after the fashion of the tall Philistine, for modesty adorns all his actions; but there was as much difference in cubic contents between the two antagonists, as between the son of Jesse and the bully of Gath, and in both cases the little one came out biggest. Judge Meek sat down with an evident conviction of the result, and although he assured his youthful opponent, that if he continued mating him without ever allowing him the least chance, he would put him in his pocket, he consoled himself with the reflection that Paul Morphy would serve everybody else as he served him.

Hitherto our hero had won every game. In the third round he encountered the strongest player of the New York Club, Mr. Theodore Lichtenhein, a gentleman who had formerly been President of the Circle des Echecs at Königsburg in Prussia, and an admirable exponent of the Berlin school of play. Mr. Lichten[Pg 10]hein eventually carried off the third prize in the tournament, and although he did not win any game from Mr. Morphy, he succeeded in effecting "a draw," which, against such a terrible enemy, is almost worthy of being esteemed a victory.

Mr. Paulsen had also been successful in the first and second rounds without losing or drawing a single game, and, as if to keep even with his great rival, he, too, had made "a draw" in the third section of the tournament—with Dr. Raphael, of Kentucky. Now was to be decided the championship of the New World, and notwithstanding that the majority anticipated the result, yet many of the spectators thought that the Western knight might prove a hard nut for Morphy to crack. Mr. Paulsen's game is steady and analytical to a nicety. Modelling his operations on profound acquaintance with Philidor, he makes as much out of his Pawns as most others of their Pieces. In reply to Mons. de Rivière, I once heard Morphy say, "Mr. Paulsen never makes an oversight; I sometimes do."

It is only justice to Mr. Paulsen to state, that he never for one moment imagined that he would beat Mr. Morphy. So exalted was his appreciation of the latter's wondrous powers of combination, that he has been frequently heard to declare—"If Anderssen and Staunton were here, they would stand no chance with Paul Morphy; and he would beat Philidor and Labourdonnais too, if they were alive." And when, after the termination of the Congress, Mr. Morphy offered Pawn[Pg 11] and Move to all and every player in America, Mr. Paulsen declared that he could easily give those odds to him. But this invariable confession of inferiority did not at all interfere with his doing the utmost to become victor, although supremacy was only to be decided by one player scoring five games. If I recollect rightly, it was in the third game that Mr. Morphy committed an error, which spoiled one of the finest combinations ever seen on a chess-board. This combination consisted of some eighteen or twenty moves, and its starting point was one of those daring sacrifices which European players dignify with the title "à la Morphy." Certain of the inevitable result, (humanum est erraret almost loses its signification when applied to his combinations,) our hero played rapidly, and misplaced a move. The result was, loss of attack and a piece, and apparently of the game; the most ardent admirer of Paul Morphy believed it was impossible for him to avoid defeat. But though angry with himself for his carelessness, he was not disheartened, but set to work with courage, and effected "a draw." The latter part of this game is a masterpiece of perseverance and strategy. The result of the tournament is well known. Mr. Morphy won five games, drew one, and lost one in the concluding section—only one battle lost during the entire campaign. The annals of chess do not furnish a similar victory.


[A] Prospectus of "The National Chess Congress."

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Arriving in Europe three months before Mr. Morphy, I was in some sort,—not from any consent or knowledge on his part, his avant courier; and the fact of my having been one of the Secretaries at the New York Chess Congress, joined to my acquaintance with him, afforded me the opportunity of conversing frequently with prominent English players in reference to this new meteor in the chess firmament.

Shortly after my arrival in London, I called upon the Secretary of the St. George's Chess Club, Thomas Hampton, Esq., and introduced myself to him. Chess is a bond of brotherhood amongst all lovers of the noble game, as perfect as free masonry. It is a leveller of rank—title, wealth, nationality, politics, religion—all are forgotten across the board. Every chess player recognizes this, and none more so than Mr. Hampton, who gave me the warmest of welcomes. He told me that every Saturday there was a full attendance of members, and kindly invited me to visit the club on[Pg 13] that day, promising to introduce me to Mr. Staunton. I was but too happy to accept this invitation, being desirous of learning how far the prowess of Paul Morphy was appreciated by one so eminent in the chess world.

My acquaintance with the young American was a passport of general interest to all present on the following Saturday. In addition to Mr. Staunton, I met there Herr Falkbeer, Messrs. Barnes, Bird, "Alter," and other luminaries, and many were the questions asked in reference to Mr. Morphy. But I am bound to say that the feeling with which he was regarded in the United States was not participated in by English players. I was told by one gentleman—"Mr. Morphy's games are very pretty, but they will not bear the test of analysis." Another said—and his opinion was universally endorsed—"It is quite possible that Mr. Morphy may arrive at the highest rank, nay, even that he may become a second Labourdonnais, but he cannot have the strength his admiring countrymen wish to believe. Chess requires many long years of attentive study, and frequent play with the best players, and neither of these your friend has had. Depend upon it he will find European amateurs very different opponents from those he has hitherto encountered." This rather nettled me, but it was reasonable and just. Any one possessing the slightest acquaintance with the game knows that it partakes more of hard, laborious application to arrive at first-rate skill, than of mere pastime.[Pg 14] Very few of Morphy's games had been seen in Europe, and his opponents were not, certainly, of a class to rank with the Stauntons, Löwenthals, and Anderssens of the Old World. Was it reasonable to suppose that a youth, just out of his teens, who had devoted but little time to chess, and who was about to meet first-rate players for the first time, should possess the experience and lore of men double his age? At the present time, now that he has unmistakably proved himself the superior of all living players, I feel utterly at a loss to solve the problem of his skill. At college, until eighteen years old, what time could he find there, except out of school hours, for the required practice, and what antagonists worthy of him? From eighteen to twenty, he was engaged in reading for the bar. During that period he was as frequent a visitor at the chess club as circumstances would permit, but certainly not sufficiently so to increase his strength. Who were his antagonists? His father had almost entirely abandoned chess; Mr. Ernest Morphy had settled in "the West," and Mr. Rousseau, absorbed in the sterner duties of life, held the same relation to the game as Mr. Lewis in England. To one and all of his opponents, except these gentlemen, he could give the rook; and playing at odds is somewhat different from contending with even players. He met strong players for the first time at New York. Paulsen, Lichtenhein, Thompson, Montgomery, Marache were all northern players, and new to him, and vastly superior to the an[Pg 15]tagonists he had previously encountered. There is but one way to account for his annihilation of all precedent. His skill is intuitive, and I doubt much whether his prodigious memory has been of assistance to him. In answer to a gentleman in Paris as to whether he had not studied many works on chess, I heard him state that no author had been of much value to him, and that he was astonished at finding various positions and solutions given as novel—certain moves producing certain results, etc., for that he had made the same deductions himself, as necessary consequences. In like manner, Newton demonstrated, in his own mind, the problems of Euclid, the enunciations only being given; and I can think of no more suitable epithet for Morphy than to call him "the Newton of Chess."

But revenons à nos moutons. Morphy's achievements at the Congress in New York induced many to believe that America now possessed a champion capable of contending with the proficients of Europe, and it was proposed that he should be backed by the American Chess Association against any player who would take up the challenge. I am sorry to say that the action of certain prominent men prevented the gauntlet being thrown down. These gentlemen said, "He beats us because he is better versed in the openings, but such players as Löwenthal and Harrwitz will be too strong for him. He wants experience, and were we to make this national challenge, we should appear ridiculous when our champion is defeated, which he[Pg 16] certainly would be." The proposal, however, got noised abroad, and the following paragraph appeared, in consequence, in the Illustrated London News:


"The American Chess Association, it is reported, are about to challenge any player in Europe to contest a match with the young victor in the late passage at arms, for from $2,000 to $5,000 a side, the place of meeting being New York. If the battle-ground were to be London or Paris, there can be little doubt, we apprehend, that a European champion would be found; but the best players in Europe are not chess professionals, but have other and more serious avocations, the interests of which forbid such an expenditure of time as is required for a voyage to the United States and back again."

I would say, by way of parenthesis, that such a being as a professional chess player does not exist in the United States. Paulsen is a tobacco broker, with tendencies to speculating in "corner lots." (Western men know what that means.) Lichtenhein deals in dry-goods, dry wines and Italian opera; Thompson is the proprietor of a magnificent restaurant; Colonel Mead devotes himself to democratic cabals at the New York Hotel; Fiske is an admixture of the Chess Monthly,[Pg 17] the Astor Library and Scandinavian literature; Perrin and Marache are bothered daily with banks, "bears" and "bulls." Chess professionals, indeed! they do not grow in the United States.

Mr. Morphy returned to his native city without any further action having been taken, but the New Orleans Chess Club determined that the challenge should be made, and they addressed the following letter to Mr. Staunton, at the commencement of last year:

New Orleans, February 4, 1858.

Howard Staunton, Esq.,

Sir,—On behalf of the New Orleans Chess Club, and in compliance with the instructions of that body, we, the undersigned committee, have the honor to invite you to visit our city, and there meet Mr. Paul Morphy in a chess match. In transmitting this invitation, permit us to observe, that we are prompted no less by the desire to become personally acquainted with one whom we have so long admired, than by the very natural anxiety to ascertain the strength of our American players by the decisive criterion of actual conflict over the board.

We can see no valid reason why an exercise so intellectual and ennobling as chess, should be excluded from the generous rivalry which exists between the Old and the New World, in all branches of human knowledge and industry. That the spirit of emulation[Pg 18] from which this rivalry arises has not, hitherto, been made to embrace our chivalrous game, may be mainly ascribed to the fact that, although the general attention paid to chess in the United States during the last fifteen years has produced a number of fine players, yet their relative force remained undetermined, and none could assert an indisputable right to pre-eminence. The late Chess Congress has, however, removed this obstacle, by finally settling the claims of the several aspirants to the championship; and it must now be a matter of general desire to fix, by actual contest with the best European amateurs, the rank which American players shall hold in the hierarchy of chess.

For this purpose it was suggested that Mr. Morphy, the winner at the late Congress and the present American champion, should cross the ocean, and boldly encounter the distinguished magnates of the transatlantic chess circles; but it unfortunately happens that serious family reasons forbid Mr. Morphy, for the present, to entertain the thought of visiting Europe. It, therefore, becomes necessary to arrange, if possible, a meeting between the latter and the acknowledged European champion, in regard to whom there can be no scope for choice or hesitation—the common voice of the chess world pronounces your name; and to us it is a subject of congratulation that the sceptre of transatlantic chess is wielded by one who, with respect to regularity of communication between the two countries, and for other reasons, enjoys facilities for accept[Pg 19]ing our invitation possessed by no other European player.

We take the liberty herewith to inclose a series of proposed "terms of the match," which has been drawn up, not for the purpose of imposing conditions, but with a view to obviate the necessity of repeated correspondence. We have been studious to make these terms as equitable as possible, and to include all matters upon which contestation was likely to arise. You are respectfully invited to suggest any alterations which you may deem advisable, not only in the minor points embraced, but also as to the amount of the stakes, the time fixed for the commencement of the match, &c., &c.

Fully subscribing to the wisdom of the proposal made by you in the introduction to the "Book of the Tournament," we beg leave to express our entire willingness to insert a clause providing that "one-half at least" (or even all) "of the games shall be open ones."

In conclusion, Sir, receive the assurance that it will afford us extreme pleasure to welcome among us a gentleman, who is as greatly admired for his powers in play as he is esteemed for his many and valuable contributions to the literature of chess.

Hoping soon to receive a favorable answer, we remain, with distinguished regard, your obedient servants,

E. W. Halsey, Chas. A. Maurian, Jr.,
Francis Michinard, P. E. Bonford,
E. Pandely.  

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1. The amount of the stakes, on each side, to be five thousand dollars, and the winner of the first eleven games to be declared the victor, and entitled to the stakes.

2. The match to be played in the city of New Orleans.

3. Should the English player lose the match, the sum of one thousand dollars (£200) to be paid to him out of the stakes, in reimbursement of the expenses incurred by him in accepting this challenge.

4. The games to be conducted in accordance with the rules laid down in Mr. Staunton's "Chess Player's Handbook."

5. The parties to play with Staunton chessmen of the usual club-size, and on a board of corresponding dimensions.

6. The match to be commenced on or about the first of May, 1858, (or on any other day during the present year most agreeable to Mr. Staunton,) and to be continued at not less than four sittings each week.

7. In order that the stay of the English player in New Orleans be not unnecessarily prolonged, he shall have the right to fix the hours of play at from ten o'clock, A. M., to two, P. M., and from six to ten o'clock, P. M.

8. The time occupied in deliberating on any move, shall not exceed thirty minutes.[Pg 21]

9. The right to publish the games is reserved exclusively to the contestants, subject only to such private arrangements as they may agree upon.

10. The stakes on the part of Mr. Staunton to be deposited prior to the commencement of the match in the hands of ——; and those on the part of Mr. Morphy, in the hands of Eugene Rousseau, Esq., cashier of the Citizen's Bank of Louisiana.

On the 3d of April, Mr. Staunton replied to this very flattering communication as follows, through the "Illustrated London News:"—

"Proposed Chess Match between England and America for One Thousand Pounds a Side.—We have been favored with a copy of the defi which the friends of Mr. Paul Morphy, the chess champion of the United States, have transmitted to Mr. Staunton. The terms of this cartel are distinguished by extreme courtesy, and with one notable exception, by extreme liberality also. The exception in question, however, (we refer to the clause which stipulates that the combat shall take place in New Orleans!) appears to us utterly fatal to the match; and we must confess our astonishment that the intelligent gentlemen who drew up the conditions did not themselves discover this. Could it possibly escape their penetration, that if Mr. Paul Morphy, a young gentleman without family ties or professional[Pg 22] claims upon his attention, finds it inconvenient to anticipate, by a few months, an intended voyage to Europe, his proposed antagonist, who is well known for years to have been compelled, by laborious literary occupation, to abandon the practice of chess beyond the indulgence of an occasional game, must find it not merely inconvenient, but positively impracticable, to cast aside all engagements, and undertake a journey of many thousand miles for the sake of a chess-encounter? Surely the idea of such a sacrifice is not admissible for a single moment. If Mr. Morphy—for whose skill we entertain the liveliest admiration—be desirous to win his spurs among the chess chivalry of Europe, he must take advantage of his purposed visit next year; he will then meet in this country, in France, in Germany, and in Russia, many champions whose names must be as household words to him, ready to test and do honor to his prowess."

Can this mean aught else than, "Come over to England and I will play you?"


[B] Illustrated London News, December 26th, 1857.

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Most of us know how "Box," when called upon by "Cox," to give explanations of the improper attentions he (Box) was paying to C.'s wife, hums and haws and begins, "Towards the close of the sixteenth century;" when Cox very properly cries out, "What the deuce has the sixteenth century to do with my wife?" Many of my readers may, like Cox, want to know what a great deal my book contains has to do with Paul Morphy; all I have to say, in reply, is,—if you don't like it, skip it; more especially the following thirty pages, which, nevertheless, will be interesting to all chess-players.

Chess seems to have first acquired social importance in England during Philidor's residence in that country. Judging from the number of titled names attached to his work as subscribers, the British aristocracy were, in his time, much given to the game, but "nous avons changé tout cela," and the English nobility[Pg 24] nowadays, with but a few notable exceptions, confine their abilities to "Tattersall's" and "Aunt Sally."

"What a fall was there, my countrymen!"

Surely the "King of Games," which has enlisted amongst its votaries such names as that of the victor of Culloden, and his rival, Maréchal Saxe; without enumerating those of all the greatest warriors of many centuries, might still offer inducements to their comparatively unknown descendants. We have thousands of men, composing the British aristocracy, at a loss to get rid of their time; sauntering down to their clubs at mid-day; listlessly turning over the leaves of magazines and reviews, until their dinner-hour arrives. Why, in the name of common sense, do not these men learn something of chess, and thus provide themselves with a pastime which not merely hastens Time's chariot-wheels, but quickens the intellect? One gets tired of billiards, cards, horse-racing, etc., but your chess-player becomes more enamored of his game, the more he knows of it.

It may have been that gentlemen and nobles affixed their names to Philidor's book, out of compliment or charity, but it is doubtful whether their descendants would now do so, even from those considerations. Must we measure the capacity of dukes and lords by that intellectual standard, "Aunt Sally?"

Philidor certainly did much for chess, particularly in England. He possessed peculiar advantages for so doing. In the first place he had true talent; his powers[Pg 25] for playing blindfold excited extraordinary interest at the time, not merely amongst chess players, but especially with the titled crowd. His political antecedents increased the general interest, and, last and best of all, he was a foreigner. If Philidor had been an Englishman he would hardly have sold a copy of his book.

Philidor organized a chess club in London, which met at Parsloe's Coffee House, St. James street. At the present day little is known of that early association, and we cannot even tell whether the members were numerous. After his death, chess seems to have languished; Parsloe's club dragged on its existence during some years, dying from inanition about 1825. The London Chess Club, first organized in 1807, kept alive the sacred fire; but that was the only community in England during the first quarter of this century where the game was publicly played. Some years after the establishment of the London, the Edinburgh Chess Club started into existence. In 1833, a great impetus was given to the game by the commencement of a weekly chess article in the columns of "Bell's Life in London." Amateurs now had an organ which could record their achievements; men hitherto unknown beyond their private circles felt, that the opportunity was afforded them to become famous throughout the country, and provincial clubs started up here and there. Chess players cannot but regard that paper as a very nursing mother for Caïssa, and certainly never hear it mentioned but their thoughts revert to the veteran[Pg 26]—George Walker. I once heard that gentleman relate the following anecdote as a proof of how little was known of chess, in England, previous to the year 1833.

Travelling towards the north somewhere about that period, he put up one night at a hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. Now any man with music or poetry in his soul, would, under such circumstances, wander towards the home of Shakspeare, or to his last resting-place; provided always that fear of rheumatism, or influenza, did not render him regardful of the rain which then fell "like cats and dogs." How to pass the evening was the question. Only one other traveller in the coffee-room, and he as uncommunicative as Englishmen proverbially are. Mr. Walker did not feel like going to bed at seven o'clock in the evening, and the idea of throwing out "a feeler" struck him as interesting. "Did Traveller play chess?" Traveller did. "Would he have a game?" Yes, he would. The waiter is thereupon summoned, and ordered to bring in a set of chessmen. Waiter, strongly suspicious that Mr. Walker means skittles, finally awaked to consciousness, and, with a smile of triumph, produces a backgammon board.

The very idea of an opponent obliterated all fear of the weather in Mr. Walker's breast, and he sallied forth in quest of the desired pieces. Toyshops, libraries, etc., were entered, but the proprietors scarcely understood what was asked of them, and Mr. W. finally returned to the inn to dispatch "Boots" to the solici[Pg 27]tor, doctor, and neighboring gentry—but all to no purpose. Thereupon mine host suggested a note to the parson, but that individual having just rendered himself famous for all time by cutting down Shakspeare's mulberry tree, Mr. Walker replied that such a man could not possibly know anything of the game, and it would be useless to send to him. So the two travellers were forced to console themselves with the intricacies of draughts.

After the death of Philidor, the strongest players were Sarratt, De Bourblanc, Lewis and Parkinson. Sarratt and Mr. Lewis may be looked upon as chess professors. We all know the story of the former's playing with the great Napoleon, and the struggle between pride and courtesy (very silly courtesy, indeed!) finally overcome by Sarratt's drawing every game. This could not have been a satisfactory result to the "Little Corporal," for he never seemed partial to leaving things in statu quo ante bellum. Sarratt was a schoolmaster, Parkinson an architect, and Mr. Lewis commenced life as a merchant's clerk, and eventually embarked in the manufacture of piano fortes. This information has nothing whatever to do with the reputation of the above gentlemen, as successors of Philidor, and I only mention it because chess players, like other men, are not adverse to hearing what does not concern them.

The continental blockade and long wars with Napoleon, isolated England from the rest of the world,[Pg 28] and completed the decay and fall of chess for a time. But the game did not languish in France and Germany. About 1820, the Holy Alliance (of Sovereigns against the people) began playing its pranks: proscribed fugitives, martyrs to liberty—soi disant and otherwise—came over to England in shoals, and amongst them were to be found thorough adepts in the mysteries of chess. These refugees rekindled the fire in Britain. They brought with them new and unknown German and Italian works, and made Englishmen acquainted with far more extended information than could be found in Philidor's meagre work.

Before we enter on the new era of chess, I may add for the benefit of such of my readers as are not "up" in its history, that Lewis was the pupil of Sarratt, and McDonnel the pupil of Lewis. It is difficult, from the paucity of existing data, to judge of the strength of former players as compared with modern examples. Mr. Lewis had been accustomed at one time to give McDonnel pawn and two; but, when these odds became too heavy, he declined playing longer, and may be considered to have retired from the arena. Mr. Walker thinks that, in their best play, Messrs. Sarratt and Lewis were a pawn below Morphy, and he ranks the latter with Labourdonnais and McDonnel, stating his belief that the two latter would have played up to a much higher standard if provoked by defeat. For my own part, I think it is indisputable that the reputation of these two players is, at this day, entirely based[Pg 29] on their eighty published games, and when Herr Löwenthal's much looked-for collection of Morphy's contests is published, we shall then be enabled to judge of the American's strength, as compared with those celebrated masters.

The influx of foreigners into London was introductory to the establishment of numerous chess circles in different coffee houses. Hundreds of "exiled patriots," bearded Poles and Italians, congregated together to smoke and play chess, and soon infused a general passion for the game amongst the Londoners. The first room specially devoted to chess, of which we have any account, was one opened by Mr. Gliddon, and this led to the establishment of the London Chess Divan.


What chess player has not heard of the far-famed resort of the devotees of Caïssa? The Café de la Régence may be the Mecca of chess, but the Divan is indisputably its Medina. Chess Clubs have risen and fallen, and the fortunes of the survivors have waxed or waned; but the Divan flourishes in spring-tide glory, the Forum Romanum for players of every clime and strength. Now my readers must not suppose that I am about to attempt a history of the "Divan in the Strand," as the Cockneys call it; for I should then have to write the history of modern European chess. I merely intend a sketch, from which they will learn[Pg 30] with how much reverence that classic spot is to be regarded.

Somewhere about the year 1820, a tobacconist, named Gliddon, opened a room in the rear of his shop, King Street, Covent Garden, which he fitted up in Oriental style, and supplied with papers, chess periodicals and chess-boards, calling the establishment "Gliddon's Divan." Amongst his patrons was a Mr. Bernhard Ries, who soon perceived that there was room in London for a similar undertaking on a much larger scale. He accordingly opened a grand chess saloon in the building now occupied by the Divan. This was so far back as 1828. It was, at first, on the ground-floor, in the room known as Simpson's Restaurant, but when Mr. Ries gave up the establishment to his brother, the present proprietor, in 1836, that gentleman transferred the Divan to the vast saloon up stairs. In 1838, Mr. Ries (No. 2) found the Westminster Chess Club suffering from paralysis, its sinews (of war) being grievously affected. He purchased the good-will and furniture of the club, giving the members private rooms on the first floor of his house for their exclusive use. The boards and men now in use at the Divan were made expressly for the Westminster Club when first established. The members in their new locale soon found that whilst some twenty boards would be going in the public room, the game languished with them; and in the course of two years the club broke up and became absorbed in the Divan. This will invariably be the[Pg 31] case when a private and exclusive chess association holds its meetings contiguous to a public resort devoted to the same game. During the past year, the Paris Cercle des Echecs, which met in rooms over the Café de la Régence, found that the influence of the arena down stairs was too great for them, and they broke up their meetings, and are now to be found en masse in the public café.

In 1842 Mr. Ries invited Labourdonnais to come over from Paris, and play exclusively at the Divan, which offer that great master accepted. But his constitution was already shattered, and the malady which eventually carried him off interfered with his devoting much time to chess, and no matches of importance were played by him during the period. It was next door to the Divan, at No. 6 Beaufort Buildings, in rooms taken for him by Mr. Ries, that Labourdonnais finally succumbed to that terrible antagonist who, whatever the opening may be, brings the game of life to one inevitable ending—death!

Who, known to fame in chess during the past quarter of a century, has not assisted in making the Divan classic ground? Of bygone palladins we might instance Popard, Fraser, Zenn, Daniels, Alexander, Williams, Perigal, and a host of others, never for a moment forgetting Labourdonnais and Kieseritzky. The veterans Lewis and Walker made it a place of constant resort before they withdrew from the chess arena. In the Divan, Staunton rose from a Knight-player to a[Pg 32] first rate. St. Arnaud, Anderssen, Harrwitz, Hörwitz, Kling,—in fact all the great living celebrities—make it their house of call when in London, whilst the brilliant corps d'élite composing the phalanx of English players—Löwenthal, Boden, Barnes, Bird, Lowe, Falkbeer, Wormald, Campbell, Zytogorsky, Brien, &c., &c., may frequently be found there, ready to meet all antagonists. When Mr. Buckle casts a "longing, lingering look behind" at his first love, he offers homage to Caïssa at the Divan. But we must stop, or we shall fain run through the whole list of living players.

In the room are busts of Lewis, Philidor, Labourdonnais, and other vieux de la vielle, and the library is replete with all the chief works on chess. From noon to midnight, players of every shade of strength are to be met with;—amateurs who learned the moves last week; professors who analyze openings, adepts inventing new defences, and editors who prove satisfactorily that the winner ought to have lost and the vanquished to have gained. [Salām to the Divan! May it live a thousand years!]

The Divan has certainly done much to spread a liking for the game amongst the masses; but, at the same time, it has somewhat interfered with the formation of a flourishing West End Chess Club. There is no city in the world in which so much chess is played as London, and the British metropolis should certainly show, at least, one club numbering from 500 to 1,000[Pg 33] members. Club life is an institution peculiar to Englishmen; divans, even when so well managed as Ries's, partake rather of the Gallic element, being of the genus café. Your aristocratic Briton frequents not the public saloon, preferring the otium cum dignitate of the private club. I am aware that chess in England is not fostered by the upper ranks of society: its amateurs are to be found mainly in the middle classes. Shopmen, clerks, professors of the arts, literary men, &c., form its rank and file. The majority of these, I speak of them as Englishmen, object to a place of public resort from various reasons. Smoking displeases some, and smoking is part and parcel of a divan. The Automaton itself could not get on without its tchibouk. All the advantages and none of the drawbacks of a public hall, are to be obtained at a club; especially when, as at the St. George's, one room is set apart for smoking. Surely the late impulse given to chess by Paul Morphy's European feats, will increase the members of these chess associations, which are incontestably the best schools for progress in the game.

About the year 1824, three or four young gentlemen who had recently learned chess, or rather the mechanical part of it, and had been playing a good deal together, made vain inquiries as to the existence of a Chess Club at the West End of London, being desirous of showing off their abilities to new advantage. The foremost of these ambitious juveniles was Mr. George Walker, the eminent Chess writer, and an author, too,[Pg 34] whose never failing bonhommie is worthy of Lafontaine. Finding that "westward the star of empire" and of chess had not, as yet, begun to "take its way," they resolved to have a Club of their own. Philidor's Club could not be said to exist; the flame was flickering in some obscure corner, and the last member was preparing to leave. But the sacred fire was not to die out:—George Walker and his fellow youngsters built an altar for it at the Percy Coffee-House in Rathbone Place, Oxford Street, and blew the flame into a perfect blaze. Percy's Coffee-House was then a first-rate hotel: Belgravia, Brompton, Pimlico, were corn-fields and market-gardens, and the aristocracy had not emigrated from the neighborhood of Oxford Street. The denizens of that ilk might be supposed to find some leisure for the enjoyment of such a pastime as chess, and Walker and Co. soon enlisted upwards of a score of recruits. Night after night the members played what they in their innocence called chess, finishing the Monday evening with a supper, after which harmony and "the flowing bowl" prevailed. Things went on swimmingly in this Mutual Admiration Society, until one of the members, Mr. Perrier, of the War Office, upset the status quo by bringing into their midst Mr. Murphy, the celebrated ivory miniature painter, and father of Mrs. Jamieson, the authoress. Dire was the result; Mr. Murphy proved a very Trojan horse in this West End Ilium: for, as Mr. Walker says, "he entirely dispelled the illusion of the 'bold Percies' that they had been[Pg 35] playing chess." He gave them one and all a Knight, essayed the Gambit on every occasion, and not one of the young gentlemen could make a stand against him.

As though not sufficiently humiliated, Mr. Murphy introduced Mr. Lewis to them, and the new comer completed their bewilderment by giving them the Rook and sweeping them clean off the board. But with such a master, the Percies, by dint of diligent study and practice, rapidly improved, and it was suggested to Mr. Lewis that he should open a private club at his own house. After a short delay this was accomplished, and nearly all the members joined Mr. Lewis, when he opened subscription rooms in St. Martin's Lane—classic ground surely, for a former Chess Club had lived and died at Slaughter's Coffee-House, hard by.

Mr. Lewis collected quite a number of players around him, and was in fair way to find his enterprise profitable; but the most prominent members demurred to his not playing with them so much as they desired, more especially as Mr. Lewis did not appear to regard the institution as a Free School for the inculcation of Chess. The best of the young amateurs were Messrs. Walker, Brand, Mercier and McDonnell; the last, the best of the lot. McDonnell received from Mr. Lewis the odds of Pawn and Two Moves, but when he had fairly surmounted that advantage and could win every game, his antagonist declined playing on even terms, much to McDonnell's disappointment. This, however, appears to be the usual course with leading chess play[Pg 36]ers,—Deschappelle's conduct in regard to Labourdonnais being a notable example of the fact. There are peculiar idiosyncrasies in chess human nature, as, for instance, the remarkable reserve and "don't-come-nigh-me" feeling with which leading amateurs treat each other. Go into any public or private chess association, and you will find that the superior craft steer clear of each other as a general thing; reserving their antagonism for matches few and far between.

The Club subsequently removed to the bottom of St. Martin's Lane, and shortly broke up, McDonnell and others returning to the London Club, whence they had migrated. A futile attempt was afterwards made to establish a grand aristocratic silk and satin club in Waterloo Place, the door of admission to which could only be opened with a golden key of ten guineas. Here lots of every thing could be found except chess, and no wonder, for the game does not find supporters, to any extent, among the rich, depending mainly upon individuals to whom ten guineas are a consideration. The club expired in twelve months. Caïssa thus lost her last foothold at the West End, and Mr. Lewis henceforth virtually abandoned the practice of chess.

The question has frequently been asked, whether and how Mr. Lewis played Labourdonnais? They played together on three different occasions, in all seven games, of which Labourdonnais won five and lost two. The first time they met was at the house of Mr. Domitt, Hon. Sec. of the London Club, and two All[Pg 37]gaier Gambits were played, each winning one. As they had just done their duty to a very good dinner, and society was then divided into two, three, and four bottle men, Labourdonnais remarked, "The victory is not likely to be gained by the better player, but by him who carries his wine best." This reminds me of a bon mot of Mr. Boden. Somebody remarked in his presence that two amateurs (whose names to mention "decency forbids") were both drunk, though engaged in a match game: he replied—"Then the best player will win."

After the conclusion of the two games, Messrs. Mercier, Bonfil and Domit, particular friends of the English player, challenged Labourdonnais to play Mr. Lewis a match of twenty-five games at £5 a game. This was rather too bad, considering that Labourdonnais, to use his own words, was "without a friend or a shilling in a foreign country;" but he laughed the challenge away as a joke in his own witty manner, by saying that "in such case he must be the best player who could offer to play for the highest stake," a reply which so pleased a gentleman present, Mr. Brand, that he cried out, "Labourdonnais shall play Lewis a match of 25 games at £10 a game, and I will find his stakes." It is stated that Mr. Brand evinced considerable ill-feeling towards Mr. Lewis, at the time, in consequence of the latter's preferring a move recommended by Mr. Mercier in the match then pending between the London and Edinburgh clubs, to one proposed by himself, and perhaps[Pg 38] this was the reason for his offering to back the Frenchman against his own countryman. But Mr. Lewis's friends did not accept the challenge, and the two champions confined their contests to five off-hand games, which were played at the residences of Messrs. Bonfil and Mercier, Lewis winning one and Labourdonnais four, so that the final result was:—

Labourdonnais, 5—Lewis, 2—Drawn, 0.

The above occurrences took place on the occasion of Labourdonnais' first visit to London, many years before his famous encounters with McDonnell.

About the year 1830, a gentleman of great parts and education, named Huttmann, finding his share of this world's loaves and fishes not precisely what he could wish, opened a coffee house in Covent Garden. His patrons belonged to what society calls the "upper classes," for his prices were high and his refreshments first-rate; two considerable attractions to men of means. Amongst the frequenters of the rooms were Mr. Henry Russell, the since celebrated singer; Captain Medwin (Byron's medium), and Mr. Mackay, now Dr. Charles Mackay, the poet. Doctor Mackay was in New York during the chess tournament, and visited the rooms on that occasion, but we were then unaware of his early acquaintance with the game.

At Huttman's Coffee House, the habitués were gentlemen in quest of quietness; men of calm, reflect[Pg 39]ive turn, given to chit-chat in nooks and corners; smoking a genuine "Havana" over a cup of unquestionable "Mocha," and reading that everlasting refuge for an Englishman, "The Times." Just the atmosphere for a chess-board, and two or three were accordingly introduced. Now you can never get chess-boards into any establishment, without the fact becoming immediately known amongst amateurs. Mr. George Walker soon got wind of the arrangement, and forthwith reconnoitred the lines. The result of his observations was that he suggested the formation of a chess club in the first floor rooms, and to this Mr. Huttmann assented. Mr. Walker forthwith began drumming about for recruits; electing himself secretary, pro tem., he drew up a set of rules, and got out printed circulars, and it was not his fault if any person with whom he claimed even bowing acquaintance, escaped from the meshes of the proposed club. Within a few days he had canvassed all his earliest chess friends, and had rallied round the standard of Caïssa between twenty and thirty defenders. It was resolved to style the association


and Captain Medwin was elected the first president.

We are upon classic ground. Who does not remember the feats performed within the walls of this home of the glorious departed? Who shall forget the oft-told wonders of that golden age of chess? Any thing related of the Westminster Club is swallowed[Pg 40] with willing faith by gaping acolytes. Those were glorious days, indeed, the Homeric age of zatrikiological worthies! Amongst the early supporters of the Club were the Rev. Mr. D'Arblay, (son of Madame D'Arblay,) Mr. Skelton, (so well known about town as "Dandy Skelton,") Mr. Nixon, organist of the Bavarian Catholic Church, in Warwick Street, Duncan Forbes, Professor of Oriental languages at University College, and many other celebrated literary characters. The proprietor, Mr. Huttman, followed the enterprise with spirit. Every cigar he sold in the coffee-room was wrapt in a printed problem; and, in addition, he published a periodical penny miscellany on chess. Such extraordinary exertions quickly bore fruit, and, in a short time the Club rose to something like fifty members. The room in which the meetings were held became, in consequence, so hot, that it was deservedly styled "the oven."

Emboldened by success, Mr. Huttman began to look about for new and more commodious quarters; these he eventually found on the opposite side of the street. Certain gamblers had there taken a house, and furnished the principal apartments in sumptuous style, for the sole purpose of decoying thither a young foreign nobleman, who, in one night, is said to have lost there upwards of £30,000. The house having served their diabolical ends, was of no further use to them, and Mr. Huttman rented it. Here the Westminster Club was enshrined. Amongst the chief supporters[Pg 41] were Mr. George Walker, Hon. Sec.; Mr. B. Smith, M. P.; Albany Fonblanque, Esq., of The Examiner; Messrs. Perigal, Slous, Popert, McDonnel, and many others from the London Club. In 1833, Labourdonnais and McDonnel played their different matches at these splendid rooms.

By the continued exertions of Mr. George Walker, the number of members was increased to three hundred. What a glorious muster-roll! Why should the "old days" not live again at the West End? Surely the ranks of chess players are not thinned, nor is their strength diminished. Our Löwenthals, Bodens, Birds, Stauntons, Barneses, Buckles, Wormalds, Falkbeers, Briens, Zytogoroskys, Lowes, Hannahs, etc., etc., etc., are worthy descendants of West End men of the olden time, without even enlisting the support of such city magnates as the Mongredieus, Slouses, Medleys, etc., of the ancient and virile London Club. Many members of the Westminster still make love to the nymph Caïssa; such historical names as Slous and Walker for instance. But, in addition to the above-mentioned general officers, we now possess a constantly-increasing rank and file, recruited from the chess-playing militia of schools and private families. Chess is assuming vast proportions in England and America: scarcely a weekly paper of any circulation but gives a column to the game; and certainly no newspaper editor would do so if he did not find it pay. At the West End of London, there now exist two clubs of impor[Pg 42]tance, the old St. George's and the new St. James's; the Philidorean Rooms in Rathbone Place partaking rather of the divan character. Neither of these clubs require proficiency in the game as a passport for membership; and a gentleman receiving the Queen would be just as eligible as the amateur giving it. Surely the advantages offered for increasing one's strength in this intellectual struggle of mind against mind, should be an inducement for young players to enroll themselves in one or the other of these two associations.

When the Westminster had grown up into a goodly body of three hundred members, Mr. George Walker began to find that the duties of secretary were interfering seriously with his other pursuits, and he therefore resigned the office, and was succeeded by Mr. William Greenwood Walker, to whom the chess world is so much indebted for taking down the games of McDonnel. The Club had arrived at its Augustine era, and, in 1838, its fortunes began to wane; the proprietor getting into pecuniary difficulties. Mr. Huttman could not let well alone. He introduced a daily dinner, on plans so profoundly calculated, that the more persons who dined the more he lost. He got the Club, also, into bad odor, by allowing chess to be played there on Sundays. Musical soirées and other nonsense followed; the main object of the establishment thus became ignored, and, instead of new members joining, the old ones fell off one by one, and the princely mansion in Bedford street was shortly to let. Mr. Hutt[Pg 43]man's pecuniary difficulties perilled the very existence of the Club, notwithstanding that the members handed over to him the reserve fund, amounting to a few hundred pounds. No Club can be said to be in safety without such a fund upon which to fall back in case of emergency, as for instance, retirement of members. Members of chess clubs will retire—prominent ones even—a very frequent cause being marriage; the backsliders, however, often come back eventually.

The Westminster Club being now without house or home, looked about for some benevolent individual who would "take them in and do for them." Such an one they found in Mr. Ries, proprietor of the Divan in the Strand, who offered them private rooms in his establishment; thither the débris of the old Westminster forthwith removed. Each member was provided with a latch-key, with which to let himself in at the private door. Here it was that Mr. Staunton appeared for the first time in chess-circles, although he was never a member of the Westminster Club. In its new quarters the association drew out an existence of twelve months, giving up the ghost in 1840.

About this time, the veteran writer and encyclopædist, Alexandre, made a lamentable fiasco at his Café de l'Echiquiér in Paris; an establishment which he vainly hoped would entice away the habitués of the Cafés de la Régence et de Procope. Coming over to London, he made the acquaintance of Mr. Staunton, and the two players struck hands together, and resolved to open a chess establishment as a partnership[Pg 44] concern. Alexandre put in his little all—the change out of his Paris capital—and he and his coadjutor opened rooms at the Waterloo Chambers. A very good locality, perhaps too good, for rents in that neighborhood are rather high. Some twenty or thirty old players rallied round them, but the attempt was only of short duration. The two camarades took to squabbling and vilifying each other; and, within a year, the Club was formally dissolved at the request of the members.

All connection now being severed between the members and Messrs. Alexandre and Staunton, the amateurs convened a private meeting for the purpose of examining their prospects and taking steps for reorganization. Mr. George Walker advertised for a large room, and was answered by Mr. Beattie, proprietor of Beattie's Hotel, George street, Hanover square. Here, once again, the remains of the "old guard" planted their standard, and in special, solemn convocation, under a full sense of their responsibility, and with all due solemnity, they christened their Club


the name being suggested, in the first place, by the baptismal appellative of their virtual founder and Hon. Sec., Mr. George Walker; and, secondly, because the meeting was in George street, in the parish of St. George's. The Club was exceedingly prosperous during the first year of its existence, much being due to the fostering care of Mr. B. Smith, M. P.[Pg 45] for Norwich, who was assiduous in his attendance, and a capital "whipper-in" of members. The room was large, well proportioned, and well ventilated, cooking first-rate, wines unexceptionable. Wine, by the by, makes your game brilliant, if not sound. Dull, unimaginative Zsen would have been betrayed into an attempt at brilliance and dash, with a couple of bottles of "old crusted" under his belt. But it began to appear as though a West End Club could be nought but an "annual." Mr. Beattie failed in business, and the St. George's were turned out of doors, wanderers for a season, without prospect of refuge. And the devotees of Caïssa were on the town for some weeks, two or three of the leading and most active assiduously on the watch to find a fresh location, but almost in blank despair as to the result.

Mr. B. Smith was a large shareholder in the Polytechnic Institution, Regent street. The managing committee of that estimable establishment were, about this time, endeavoring to form reading-rooms by subscription, in the first floor of their building, facing Cavendish square. It was suggested to the committee that chess and reading might be combined; that one large room facing the square should be set apart for reading exclusively, and two smaller ones be devoted to chess. A meeting was forthwith convened, Mr. Nurse representing the proprietors of the Institution, the chess players present being Mr. B. Smith, Mr. Richard Penn, and the indefatigable and indomitable[Pg 46] George Walker. These three gentlemen guaranteed that one hundred members, paying an annual subscription of three guineas each, should be enrolled in the Chess Club within twelve months; and, once again, the red cross of the St. George's was floating bravely in the air. Forthwith commenced the hunting up of old members of the Westminster and other West End Clubs: touching and tender circulars were issued by Mr. Walker, adjuring the straggling devotees of Caïssa, by all the recollections of their first and early loves, by all their hopes of a glorious hereafter, to rush once more to the rescue. Could such pathetic appeals fall unheeded upon the chess-lover's ear? No. A hundred and fifty members reiterated "no" to the accompaniment of their one hundred and fifty three-guinea subscriptions. "Royal Blue-Book" notabilities enrolled themselves; as, for instance, the present Lord Ravensworth, Dr. Murray, Lord Bishop of Rochester, the Honorable Charles Murray, Mr. Brooke Greville, Mr. Albany Fonblanque, the Messrs. Hampton, Lord Clarence Paget, and a host of other fashionables. So the St. George's flourished for years, and it began to appear that a Chess Club at the West End could, under proper management, become a permanent institution.

It was in this locale that Mr. Staunton played his first match with Saint Amant, and, losing it, took his revenge by winning in his turn at Paris. For some reason or other, the French amateur displayed unac[Pg 47]countable nervousness during the progress of the match in his own capital. The Baronne de L——, who is well known in Parisian salons as an excellent player and firm supporter of the game, assured me but lately that she had no easy task in instilling courage into her countryman, startled as he was by Mr. Staunton's winning game after game from him. Warming up under the merry rebukes of his fair inspirer, Saint Amant began to turn the tables upon his antagonist, and it seemed as if he would anticipate the result of the contest between Löwenthal and Harrwitz. Mr. Staunton, however, eventually won, and the stakes were deposited for the third and deciding match, but Mr. S. was taken ill, and it was never played. It is unfortunate for Mr. Staunton's reputation that the plea of bad health was so frequently used by him when opponents appeared, more especially as he is the first to ridicule such an excuse when coming from others. And it is more than ever unfortunate in this instance, because the French players declared that, judging from the later games of the match in Paris, it was obvious that Mr. Staunton would have succumbed to their champion if the third and deciding heat had not been prevented by the Englishman's indisposition. And many of them even affirm that Mr. S. felt this and acted in consequence.

It may be added that the St. George's Chess Club had been installed at the Polytechnic Institution some years before Mr. Staunton joined them, as an honorary[Pg 48] member, in compliment to his rising reputation. Mr. Staunton was laid under lasting obligations to Mr. George Walker, by the latter's bringing him from obscurity into public notice, not merely by introducing him to the London chess world, but, in addition, by flattering notices of him in his works. He may, in fact, be considered the pupil of Mr. Walker, and the courtesy with which he has always treated his benefactor makes one think of Labourdonnais's delicacy towards his old master Deschappelles.

It would seem as though chess-players, like other men, "get weary in well-doing," and constantly stand in need of fresh stimulus. Nothing could have been more suitable or comfortable than the accommodations of the St. George's at the Polytechnic, and yet they got to yearning after they scarcely knew what. The cry was raised that members ought to be able to dine at their Club, and they forthwith migrated en masse to apartments in Crockford's Club, transmogrified into an eating-house on a splendid scale, and styled "The Wellington." Here they dwindled away, and the St. George's would have finally disappeared from existence had it not been for the kindness of Mr. Thomas Hampton, who offered them apartments at New Palace Club Chambers, in King street, St. James's. Under his fostering care, and the patriotic manner in which he is continually arranging matches and organizing tournaments amongst the members, the St. George's has largely increased its muster-roll of amateurs, and[Pg 49] bids fair to enjoy more halcyon days than ever. In these rooms Paul Morphy played part of his match with Herr Löwenthal, and vanquished the well-known amateur "Alter," in a contest at Pawn and Move. And in dismissing this now prosperous West End Club, I must not forget to mention, for the benefit of those of my readers who are ignorant of the fact, that it was the St. George's which initiated and successfully carried out the Grand International Tournament of 1851, in which the Teutonic element made itself so conspicuous.

Experience seems to teach us that no West End Club can be permanently prosperous, without a recognized professor of the game being constantly, or frequently, in attendance; one whose object is the interest, not of himself, but of chess, willing and ready to play with all comers for the benefit of all. In such a Club as the London, where the members are business men, there is no hollow principle of caste; social democracy exists, and the players play, talk, laugh, and eat together on a perfect equality, be they simple clerks or merchant princes. At the Court End of the town manners are reserved; and such a thing may happen as two members of the same Club waiting several years, before an introduction justifies them in speaking to each other. A professor would bring all these stupid convenances de la société to a speedy end, and, by his recognized position in the Club, arrange contests between members of equal force, and thus further the objects for which they are associated.[Pg 50]


In the very heart of the City of London, under the shadows of the Bank and Royal Exchange, and but a step from Lombard street, the London Chess Club holds its daily sittings. Who would expect to find such an association in such a place? Is the quiet of the chess arena consonant with the hum of busy multitudes, hurrying to and fro in never-failing ardor after the yellow god? Are stocks and scrip and dividends allied to gambits and mates? Shall Lloyd's Capel Court and the Corn Exchange furnish supporters of Caïssa? Come along with me to Cornhill. Stop! This is Purssell's restaurant. We'll walk up stairs. This room on the first floor is devoted to billiards. Above it meets the Cosmopolitan Club, and on the third floor—out of reach of the noise below—is the famous old "London," of which every player of note during the past fifty years has either been a member or visitor.

It is between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, and the rooms of the Club present the usual appearance at that hour. In the right-hand corner we perceive the President, Mr. Mongredieu, engaged in dire conflict with Mr. Maude, to whom he has offered the advantage of Pawn and Move. Readers of the Chess Players' Chronicle, of the Palamède, and La Régence, have known Mr. Mongredieu for long years past, as an amateur of first-rate force, who gets him[Pg 51]self invariably into difficulties at the commencement of a game, by his unvanquishable contempt for book openings, but who comes out all right at last, by his masterly tactics in the middle of the contest. Possessed of a fund of native English humor, and a finished scholar withal, he keeps up a running fire of wit and anecdote throughout the game, in which the lookers-on join. By his side is Mr. George Medley, the Secretary of the Club, whose name is also a "household word" to amateurs; he and Mr. Mongredieu ranking as the strongest players of the association. The latter gentleman has run in for an hour's play from the Corn Exchange, being in fact one of those men who, before the knowledge of Political Economy had become diffused amongst the masses, were styled "the rogues in grain." Mr. Medley has just arrived from the Stock Exchange, where, after "Bearing" or "Bulling" Mr. Slous, George Walker, and Mr. Waite during the morning, he meets them at the Chess Club towards three o'clock, and they become as much absorbed in the mysteries of the game as though it were the business of their lives.

If you wish to see what influence chess can have upon individuals, just analyze the London Club. The members are not "men of straw," but sound, substantial citizens, with balances at their bankers heavy enough to buy up half-a-dozen lords. Does a Rothschild or a Baring negotiate a loan? Here you will find men to take up the greater part, if not the whole of it.[Pg 52] Is capital for a railroad wanted? You need not wander much further. Look around you, and you will recognize many of the foremost of Great Britain's merchant princes; men pushing England's commerce into every bay and inlet of old ocean, carrying the British flag across seas and lakes, and penetrating continents; causing British cannon to thunder at the gates of Pekin, and opening Japan to the commerce of the world. These are the children of the men who first planted foot in Hindostan, descendants of those who established England's colonies. These are the men, the very men, who repealed the Corn Laws in 1846, established the principle of Free Trade, and told a proud, titled aristocracy—"We, the middle class, the merchants, bankers, and manufacturers of Great Britain, are the source of all power in England, as we are the source of her greatness."

An admirable demonstration of these ideas is to be found in the London Chess Club. This association has flourished with never-failing vigor since its establishment in 1807, whilst Clubs have risen, waned, and died at the fashionable end of the town. City men are too patriotic and too proud to allow their Club to languish; and, depend upon it, whilst the old London counts a single member, that one last man will, from his own purse, find funds to keep it alive, inscribe on his colors "Lateat scintillula forsan," and shout with stentorian lungs for recruits.

The London Chess Club organized on the 6th of[Pg 53] April, 1807, Mr. Augustus Hankey being first President, and the committee numbering among its members Sir Astley Cooper, the celebrated surgeon, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, and others of almost equal eminence. The meetings took place at Tom's Coffee House, in Cornhill. Such men as Sarratt, Lewis, Walker, McDonnel, Cochrane, Popert, Perigal, Staunton, Fraser, etc., have either been members of the Club or frequenters of it. A good story is told of Perigal, who, for a long period, officiated as the Honorary Secretary. At the time Deschappelles made his ridiculous challenge to play any English amateur a match at Pawn and Two moves, Mr. Perigal was sent out to Paris to arrange preliminaries with the gasconading Frenchman. Deschappelles soon showed how little he was in earnest, and the ambassador returned without having effected any thing. On being questioned at the "London" as to the appearance, manner, etc., of the French champion, he said, with much gravity—"Mr. Deschappelles is the greatest chess-player in France; Mr. Deschappelles is the greatest whist-player in France; Mr. Deschappelles is the greatest billiard-player in France; Mr. Deschappelles is the greatest pumpkin-grower in France, and Mr. Deschappelles is the greatest liar in France."

A match by correspondence was commenced in 1824, between the London and Edinburgh Chess Clubs, and was won by the latter. Two games were commenced simultaneously, the moves being forwarded every night[Pg 54] through the post-office. On one occasion the Londoners sent off three moves at once, half-an-hour in advance of their usual time; and after the letter was posted, it was discovered that the last move was founded on a miscalculation, and might lose the game. Application was immediately made at the office for the letter to be returned, but such a thing was impossible without an order from the Secretary of State. A second letter was thereupon despatched to Edinburgh, retracting the move in question, but the cannie sons of Auld Reekie held them to their first showing, and the London Club lost the game in consequence. Shortly afterwards, the Edinburgh Club made a similar blunder, but they, somehow or other, induced their postmaster to produce the letter, and they corrected the move on the outside. Of course the Londoners wouldn't stand that.

In the spring of 1846, Staunton played and won his match with Harrwitz at the rooms of the Club, and, in the summer of the same year, he there also vanquished Harrwitz, in a contest of seven even, seven pawn and move, and seven pawn and two games. In the latter part of that year, and in the same locality, Harrwitz and Hörwitz played a match, the former scoring eight games to his opponent's seven; and, meeting again subsequently, a similar result was effected. In 1847, the Club entered on a match by correspondence with the Amsterdam Cercle des Echecs, the latter having sent a challenge of £50 to any London club.[Pg 55] One game lasted five years, and was won by the Englishmen, and a second game was drawn. The Londoners scored the third, and this game is considered to be one of the finest and most brilliant contests by correspondence on record. The players selected by the Club to represent them in this celebrated match were Messrs. Mongredieu, Slous, Medley, and Greenaway—a glorious quartet, who are now stronger than ever.

The London Chess Club did not take part in the Tournament of 1851, because the St. George's, under the auspices of Mr. Staunton, wished to assume a position derogatory to their claims; nor was it proper that the oldest and most influential Club in the United Kingdom should play second-fiddle to a much younger association. But they gave a cup of the value of one hundred guineas to be played for by the foreign amateurs then in London, and Anderssen, Szabs, Zsen, Kling, and Harrwitz were amongst the contestants. The cup was won by Herr Anderssen.

In 1852, '53, Harrwitz and Williams played a match at the London Club, the first-named player winning a large majority of the games. And, finally, on Paul Morphy's being challenged last year by Herr Löwenthal, this Club, ever foremost in the interests of chess, doubled the latter's stakes, and offered the combatants battle-ground for half the games in their saloons. Nowhere has Paul Morphy met with a heartier English welcome than from the veterans of this flourishing association.[Pg 56]

Amongst the strongest amateurs now figuring on the muster-roll of the London Chess Club are those "ancients," Messrs. Slous and George Walker, and Messrs. Mongredieu, Medley, Maude, Greenaway, and Brien. "May their shadows never grow less!"


A chess establishment has lately been opened, under the above title, in Rathbone place, Oxford street, partaking of the peculiar character of the Divan, in the Strand. The admission, as in the latter, is either by subscription, or by entrance fee of sixpence, which includes a cup of coffee or cigar.

As the Philidorean is too youthful an undertaking to possess a history, I must confine myself to mentioning some of the principal frequenters, and, considering the size of the rooms and its age, the establishment may well be proud of its supporters. The well-known Austrian amateur, Herr Falkbeer, may be found there daily, with such proficients as Brien, Zytogorsky, Wormald, Kenny, Healey, and the rising star, Campbell, together with many others, scarcely less known to fame. As the Philidorean is centrally situated, in the midst of a very populous and influential neighborhood, and too far from any similar place of resort, it will probably hold its own, and become one of the great temples of Caïssa.

[Pg 57]



It is easy to understand that when a man, and especially a young man, feels his strength in any department of thought or action, he will be desirous of putting his abilities to the severest test, so as to take that rank to which he is entitled. Paul Morphy perceiving that it was a hopeless task endeavoring to induce the chess magnates of the Old World to visit America, resolved to cross the Atlantic himself, and it would be difficult to imagine a more chivalric act in one so young than thus embarking on a voyage of many thousand miles, for the sake of finding new antagonists. The journeyings of Il Puttino from Italy into Spain to battle with Ruy Lopez—the travels of the admirable Crichton through different countries of Europe, are mediocre in comparison with this.

But an obstacle stood in the way of the proposed voyage. Paul Morphy was not yet of age, and it would be necessary to first obtain the consent of his[Pg 58] family. This was difficult, for, in addition to other reasons, objections were made to our hero's entering on so public a career, interfering, too, as it would for a time, with his legal pursuits. A committee was appointed by the Chess Club to wait upon Mr. Morphy's family to request their consent to the much-desired voyage, and this was ultimately granted. Strong hopes were entertained in England that the American champion would assist at the meeting of the British Chess Association in Birmingham, and, for that purpose, the committee had offered to place at his disposal a certain sum to cover his expenses. This was not accepted, Mr. Morphy little wishing to travel as a professional chess-player. At the commencement of the month of June, the following announcement appeared in the Illustrated London News:


It was noticed in our columns last week that this event, the Chess-players' Derby day, was fixed to commence on the 22d of June. The arrangements of the local committee are, of course, not yet complete, but it is whispered that they have succeeded in insuring the presence of the American chess phenomenon, Paul Morphy, an attraction, of itself, sufficient to secure the largest attendance which has been known for years.

The date for the assembling of the Association was ultimately postponed until the latter part of August, it being feared, with reason, that the sitting of Parliament would interfere with the attendance of many who[Pg 59] would otherwise be present. The committee wrote to inform Mr. Morphy of this postponement, and again urging him to visit Europe, but he was already en route before the latter reached New Orleans.

I was both surprised and gratified when I read the announcement of Paul Morphy's arrival in the Illustrated London News. Now, thought I, these men who do not believe in an American chess-master, will be convinced. We'll see if Morphy's games are merely "pretty," and "will not bear the test of analysis;" and whether "he'll find plenty of matches." I wended my way to the St. George's, feeling confident that I should find Morphy there, and, after waiting a short time, I had the pleasure of welcoming him to England. But, having arisen up from a sick bed to travel, joined to the fatigues of a first voyage across the Atlantic, he did not appear in as good fighting trim as when I had last seen him in New York.

On Mr. Staunton's arrival, Paul Morphy asked him if he had any objection to play an off-hand game. Now it is Morphy's almost invariable custom to wait to be asked; the solitary exceptions to this rule (to my knowledge) being in the cases of Messrs. Staunton and Harrwitz. Mr. Staunton declined the offer on the ground of an engagement preventing, and, notwithstanding that they met frequently at the St. George's, he would never consent to a contest of the most friendly description. Doubtless he was desirous of first observing Morphy's capabilities against other players. The well-[Pg 60]known amateur, "Alter," whose games frequently grace the columns of Mr. Staunton's paper, offered himself as a sacrifice. "Alter," however, was not the first to measure skill with the young American, the Secretary of the St. George's, Mr. Hampton, having already played two games with him, on a previous occasion.

Morphy and "Alter" ultimately effected a score of "Alter" 1, and Morphy 4. His next antagonist was Mr. Barnes, and the result of their play was, at first, most surprising. During several successive days they scored alternate games, and the London chess world consequently measured Morphy's powers by this antagonist. Ultimately the former recovered from the effects of his voyage, and the proportion was established of 19 to 7, the last ten or twelve games being scored by Morphy almost without a break.

The first challenge which the young American received in London was from Herr Löwenthal. Morphy says that no one can mention this gentleman's name, without announcing the fact that he was one of the celebrated triumvirate in the match between Pesth and Paris. Herr Löwenthal and the 19th century came arm and arm into the world together, so that he has been contemporary with many who have gone to another sphere. He was led into chess from sheer jealousy, not of woman, but of a man. At a café in Pesth, much frequented by amateurs of the game,—in fact the Magyar Café de la Régence,—he noticed that a crowd[Pg 61] invariably surrounded a certain table after 4 o'clock in the afternoon; and, on further inquiry, he learned that the best chess-player in Hungary took upon himself daily to astonish the natives there. That player was Zsen. Zsen was a clerk in the office of Archives at Pesth, and, when the business of the day was over, he repaired to the above-mentioned spot to play chess for a nominal stake, which never exceeded a zwanziger (sevenpence English). Another peculiarity of his was, that, no matter what the strength of his opponent might be—queen, rook, knight, or pawn player—he never would give any odds. His game was dull, analytical, and sound to a tiresome extent, his only object being to get through the opening and middle, and then winning became a certainty; for all his strength came out in the endings, and a very good place, too, for it to appear in. Zsen went to Paris in 1831, and played some games with Labourdonnais at the odds of Pawn and Move, winning the majority. He then told the great Frenchman that he did not like playing for stakes as a general thing, but that he would propose to him a match of twenty-one even games for 200 francs; but Labourdonnais declined. And who will say he was wrong? for what pleasure could there be in sitting down day after day before the dullest player in Christendom, for the eventuality of 200 francs? Zsen was so frightfully slow, even in ordinary games, that he would have worn out 200 francs' worth of his opponent's pantaloons before the match was half through. He was[Pg 62] an exceedingly nervous man, and this quality particularly evinced itself during the Tournament of '51, to the eminent delight of his London friends. But he was a good-hearted, amiable man, never losing his temper, and ever ready to declare that he hadn't won the game, but his opponent had lost it.

We left Zsen over a move at the Pesth café. Herr Löwenthal observing what interest seemed to be taken in chess, thought he should like to try his hand at it, and forthwith pored over such works on the game as he was informed would initiate him into its mysteries. Obtaining a little knowledge, he soon after began playing daily with Zsen, receiving no odds, because, as before stated, Zsen would not give any, upon principle. During eighteen months, Löwenthal never scored one game. But whilst Zsen was away on his travels at Paris and elsewhere, he made rapid progress, particularly in the openings; and on his antagonist's return, he induced him to give the advantage of Pawn and Move, and Zsen lost every game. Returning to even play, the latter won the large majority; but with constant practice, Löwenthal decreased the distance between them, although he never turned the tables upon his adversary. Herr L. considers that, in their best play, Grimm would win three games to Zsen's seven, and four to his six. Most chess-players finished Grimm some years back, but he still flourishes "down East." After the Hungarian agitation of 1848, he fled into[Pg 63] Turkey, and is now settled in Aleppo, where, as he turned Mussulman, he no doubt revels.

Grimm was a music publisher in Pesth, and, according to Herr Löwenthal, a man of high intelligence, being a celebrated pianist and a thorough proficient in the German, French, Italian, and Latin languages. He was also renowned as a whist-player, and his equal at the billiard-table was not to be found throughout the entire Austrian Empire. His chess was the antithesis of Zsen's, being "brilliant, but not over sound," qualities which find favor with "the gallery," but are dangerous to one's backers in a match. This interesting triumvirate—Zsen, Grimm, Löwenthal—had it all their own way, in Pesth, until July, 1842, when Alexandre came there, and then they had him too. Alexandre brought his Encyclopædia, or the Encyclopædia brought him, and both of them got sold in the Hungarian capital. He thought the idea of anybody there beating him, simply preposterous; but was irresistibly convinced to the contrary when Grimm & Co. did it with so much charming facility, that he told them they were a match for the Paris Cercle des Echecs, and advised them to send a challenge forthwith. The triumvirate were shy at first, then did as they were told, and, to their surprise, the Paris Club accepted their défi by return of post, enclosing the first move. The match consisted of two games, and 1,250 francs a side; the reader can learn, on inquiry at Café de la Régence in Paris, who didn't win it.[Pg 64]

Herr Löwenthal's business led him twice a year to Vienna, and on those occasions he improved his play with the amateurs of the Cercle des Echecs of that capital. In 1846, he won a match of Hampe, beating him nearly 2 to 1. About the same period he visited Breslau, and won a majority of games (off-hand) from Anderssen. He then steered for Berlin, "the city of the seven stars"—Heyderbrandt, Bledow, Bilguer, Hanstein, Mayet, Hörwitz and Mendheim. The first of these paladins was absent from the capital, but Herr L. met him subsequently at Vienna, and Heyderbrandt won a majority of two games. With Hanstein, Löwenthal effected an even result, but got the better of Mayet. In Von der Lasa's absence, Bledow was incontestably the strongest player of the club; but Bledow was jealous of his reputation, and declined opposing the Hungarian, until strongly urged by the members. Herr Löwenthal states that Bledow evinced the greatest generosity. Having a certainly-won game, but not wishing to damp a young reputation by defeat, he said, "Oh, I suppose it can only be a drawn game," and forthwith made a move which allowed his antagonist to escape and draw the contest. Not many Bledows in this world!

In 1849, Herr Löwenthal visited the United States, during the contest between Messrs. Stanley and Turner. With the latter gentleman he played two matches, winning both, and subsequently accompanied him into Kentucky, where he commenced another with Colonel[Pg 65] Dudley, being again successful. Thence he strayed to Cincinnati, where he met his fellow-countryman, Colonel Pragay, and travelled with him to New Orleans, carrying a letter of introduction to Mr. Eugene Rousseau. Immediately on arriving he was taken ill with fever; but on recovery, he called upon that gentleman and heard, for the first time, of Paul Morphy. Our hero, then but twelve years of age, won two games, drew one, and lost none; and although Herr Löwenthal did not imagine that he thus made the acquaintance of a master whom he would eventually rank as the superior of every chess-player that ever lived—Labourdonnais not excepted—yet he felt satisfied that his youthful opponent would rise to equality with the strongest living amateurs. As proof of this, I will give a paragraph from The Era of October 5th, 1856, twelve months before Paul Morphy was known outside of Louisiana. Herr Löwenthal writes as follows:

"Chess in America.—The progress Chess has made in America is almost, if not quite, equal to that which it has achieved in England. This is more than might have been expected; for in a comparatively new country men may be supposed to be busier and more restless than in an old one, and it seems to be rather against probabilities that a game, requiring quiet thought and study, should have been developed to the same extent as more bustling amusements in America. Yet that it is so is proved by the fact that in almost every large town there is a Chess Club, and many of these clubs are in communication, and play games by correspondence. Another proof is also to be found in the number of papers regularly devoting[Pg 66] a part of their space to chess, and giving, as the English chess papers do, well-contested games, with notes, problems, and chess intelligence. Among the first in rank of these is the Albion, the chess column of which is, we believe, edited by Mr. Stanley, and among the latest of the accessions to the chess ranks we observe Frank Leslie's Illustrated Paper. In the first rank of the players in New York (between which and Philadelphia a correspondence match is now going on) we may mention Messrs. Stanley, Sullivan, Thompson, and Perrin. We must pay some attention to chess in America if we mean to keep our laurels green. The men of the New World are not apt to lag behind when they throw themselves into any pursuit, and if we do not take care, we may have the next chess champion from the far west."

Herr Löwenthal, on quitting the Crescent City, returned to Cincinnati, where he was induced to settle. He opened a smoking and chess divan, and was on the high road to fortune, when he received a letter from Mr. Charles H. Stanley, in New York, enclosing one from Mr. Staunton. This communication invited Herr Löwenthal to attend the International Tournament at London, in 1851, and ambition prevailed over cupidity. He, however, got ousted in the first round of the tournay, his antagonist being Mr. Williams, but he turned the tables upon that gentleman soon afterwards, by beating him in a set match.

When the St. George's Chess Club removed to St. James's street, Herr Löwenthal was elected secretary out of one hundred and forty candidates, and officiated in that capacity during four years. "The Era" newspaper commenced a chess column in February, 1854,[Pg 67] and he was selected by the proprietor to conduct it—our readers know with what success. A few months ago, the Illustrated News of the World announced its intention of devoting a column weekly to the game, under the direction of Herr Löwenthal, and he also edits an elementary chess article in the Family Herald. A fair amount of weekly work for one man; especially when his book labors and frequent play at the London, St. George's, and St. James's are taken into consideration. The last-named club is his own child, and promises to become one of the most flourishing in the metropolis.

Herr Löwenthal did not regard his play with Morphy at New Orleans as any test of their respective strength, but it was not at all agreeable to his feelings to have it recorded against him that he was beaten by a boy of twelve. So, on Paul Morphy's arrival in England, he hastened to challenge him, and of course a match was immediately agreed upon. It was at first arranged that the match should be for £50 a side, and the victor he who first scored seven games, but the challenger possessed so many warm friends, all of whom wished to have a share in the stakes, that it was proposed to Morphy to double the amount and increase the number of games to nine. It is lucky that Morphy was not born a woman, for he never says "no" to any proposition, and he did not to this. Half of Herr Löwenthal's stakes were found by the London, and the remainder by members of the St. George's; and it was[Pg 68] stipulated that the games should be played alternately at the rooms of those two clubs.

My readers know the result. According to the opinion, or rather the statements, of numerous London players, Herr Löwenthal played much below his usual strength—one gentleman stating that his combinations were unworthy of a rook-player even. I was used to this, and liked it. The New Yorkers had uttered similar stuff, saying that Morphy only beat them because he knew the openings better, and I can state on authority that all the players in Europe came to a mutual understanding not to play their game when Morphy was their antagonist. But there was also another reason for the latter's success. He frightened his adversaries, not by his strength, but by his personal appearance. This boy of twenty-one, five feet four inches in height, of slim figure, and face like a young girl in her teens, positively appalled the chess warriors of the old world—Narcissus defying the Titans. Herr Löwenthal was the first to give Morphy his due; before the final game in the match was played, he said to me: "I felt chagrined at the result of the first one or two games, because I thought that I ought to have won them; but now I feel no longer dissatisfied, for I am convinced that I am vanquished by superior strength." And he has since told me—"After the first game I went home saying to myself, 'Well, Morphy is not so terrible after all!' The second partie failed to change my opinion; but, in the third, I saw all my[Pg 69] combinations twisted and turned against me, and I felt myself in a grasp against which it was almost vain to struggle." Chess-players will shortly see this noble-minded gentleman's opinion of Morphy fully expressed, in a collection of the latter's games which he has lately been engaged in editing.

The following extract from The Era newspaper thus announces the result of the match to its readers:


The match between Mr. Paul Morphy and Herr Löwenthal came to an end on Saturday the 22d, the American carrying the victory. Although it was universally remarked that Herr Löwenthal's play was far below his usual strength, it must at the same time be admitted that the play of Mr. Morphy marks that gentleman out as one of the finest players in the world. We shall be glad to see him engage with other great European players, in order that it may be proved which is the stronger in the game, the Old World or the New. We believe Mr. Morphy is ready to challenge all comers. There is something exceedingly romantic and chivalrous about this young man's coming over to Europe and throwing down the gauntlet to all our veterans. He is certainly a very admirable Crichton of Chess, and, like the accomplished Scot, he is as courteous and generous as he is brave and skilful.

The Era, August 29th, 1858.

When the above match was only about half through, another was arranged between our hero and "Alter," the former giving the odds of Pawn and Move. In conversation one day with some gentlemen at the St. George's, Paul Morphy had expressed himself dissatis[Pg 70]fied with "Alter's" having won a game from him, stating that he could give him the odds of Pawn and Move. This coming to "Alter's" ears, he stated to Mr. Hampton, the secretary of the Club, that he felt confident Mr. Morphy could do no such thing, and that he would very willingly play a match with him, in a friendly spirit, to convince him to the contrary. Whereupon Mr. Hampton brought the cartel to Morphy, who gladly accepted it, and, the two principals being put face to face, it was agreed that a set of ivory club-size Staunton chessmen should become the property of the winner of the first five games. Now "Alter" had been playing for months past at those odds (P. & M.) with Mr. Staunton, holding his own against that gentleman, and he considered that if he (Mr. S.) could not beat him, certainly Morphy could not. So confident was he of the result, that he told the young American: "Were it not for my position (meaning as a clergyman), I would willingly play you for a thousand pounds." As far as he was concerned, Morphy, too, was confident. Before the contest commenced, he said to me: "'Alter' may win two games, but he will not win more;" and I would here notice his (M.'s) power of estimating an opponent's strength. When the preliminaries were settled with Herr Löwenthal, he stated to me: "If I cared about betting, I would bet that Löwenthal does not win five games. Of course there will be plenty of draws, but he will not get more than four." On our way to Paris, he said: "Well, now I am going to play[Pg 71] Harrwitz, and I would bet the same as I did about Löwenthal;" and when he was preparing to meet Anderssen, he awarded four games to the Prussian champion. In every instance he overrated his opponents, or, perhaps I should rather say, underrated himself.

The preliminaries were soon settled, all ceremony, seconds, &c., being dispensed with; the only condition, that I can recollect, was in regard to smoking. "Alter" observed that gentlemen could use the weed in the room where the match was played, but it must be in moderation, so as not to render the atmosphere insupportable. "Alter" gave a capital example on the first game: he sat down in front of Morphy with an ordinary cigar in his mouth; when that was nearly finished, he ordered the waiter to bring him a full-sized regalia; cutty-pipe and "birdseye" followed the regalia; and then he left the room to fetch an immense meerschaum, from which he blew clouds worthy of Peter Stuyvesant and the Knickerbockers.

"Alter" was thoroughly acquainted with the peculiar nature of the "pawn and move" game; Morphy, on the contrary, was less accustomed to those odds than to any other. In New Orleans, he did not engage even players, or any, in fact, but such as he gave the knight, and much more frequently, the rook. In New York he played a short match at pawn and move with Mr. Stanley, and that may be considered his introduction to such odds; I was therefore as much astonished as any one when I saw him make such short work of[Pg 72] "Alter," who never won a single game, and only succeeded in drawing two. I am afraid that this result seriously interfered with Mr. Staunton's fixing a day for the commencement of the match between himself and Morphy.

It must not be supposed that our hero was devoting all his time to chess, or that the game was always uppermost in his thoughts. A foreigner, and especially an American, feels bound to visit all "the lions" of the English metropolis, and Morphy was no exception to the rule. I was almost constantly with him, and certainly no subject was less frequently referred to than chess. I have been amused with the conduct of gentlemen on similar occasions, who seemed to think that no other subject than that could interest him, and after pertinaciously confining the conversation to the game, took upon themselves to declare that it was the single thought of his life. So that, in England, he is looked upon as a chess automaton. In France they give him the very opposite character, complaining of his aversion for the game.

Precisely the same thing was observable in their references to the peculiar style of his play. In England, they considered him the very beau-ideal of brilliancy, comparing him to McDonnel, and to "Cochrane, without his faults." In Paris, however, they characterized his game as "solide, close, and analytical, not possessing brilliance like Labourdonnais;" although these Frenchmen, one and all, with the ex[Pg 73]ception of De Rivière, forced their close openings upon him.

Since Mr. Staunton's voluntary relinquishment of what he terms "actual play," confining himself to consultation games and "odds," Mr. Boden is admitted to be the best English player. The B's certainly form a strong phalanx amongst London amateurs, numbering such names as Buckle, Boden, Barnes, Brien, Bird; but the first-named gentleman has long since quitted the lists. Mr. Boden was no exception to the rule of English players in their opinion of Morphy, on the latter's arriving in Europe; but he was one of the first to be convinced of the American's superiority, and, with John Bull honesty, immediately avowed it. The admirably-conducted chess column in The Field, is under his supervision; and his remarks therein on Morphy's tactics are too well known to require any comment from me. I have heard him state his conviction that no one could possibly be better adapted for the game, whether physically or mentally; and he, too, like Herr Löwenthal, ranks Morphy above all known players. In the month of January last, he drew my attention to one game in particular, between our hero and Anderssen, stating that he was satisfied "Labourdonnais would have lost it ten times over." Now it requires great courage on the part of any man to place a player beside Labourdonnais, much more above him. Herr Löwenthal says that he does not wonder that the chess world is so backward in giving Morphy the rank to[Pg 74] which he is entitled; "but few players are capable of appreciating his games, and it was only after careful analysis that he could form a proper opinion of them." He assured me that he has frequently been confounded at the depth of Morphy's combinations whilst engaged in their work, expressing his firm conviction that when a collection of his games shall be placed before the public, the chess world will rank Morphy above all players, living or dead.

The proportion in which Morphy had beaten Mr. Boden was so great, namely, five to one, that a prominent member of the St. George's remarked on hearing it, "Well, I did not think any player living could win in such proportion." I remember a similar occurrence in reference to Mr. Perrin, the late secretary of the New York Chess Club, some weeks before the appearance of Paul Morphy in that city. In answer to a friend, this gentleman replied, "That is the same as saying that a player could give any of us a piece," (meaning the principal members of his club, who were considered about on a par with each other.) "Now, I don't think that Labourdonnais, even, could give me the knight." Morphy, nevertheless, after beating him at even, at pawn and move, and pawn and two, offered him the knight, which was accepted "for trial's sake;" and out of five games there was a difference of the odd victory, but my memory fails me as to whether it was won by Morphy or not. Mr. Perrin will not feel displeased at my mentioning this fact, because it is pretty[Pg 75] well conceded now, that where any other player can give pawn and two moves, Morphy can very easily give the knight. European celebrities, in making comparison of the strength of different amateurs, leave Morphy out of the question; and when they compare him at all, it is only with Labourdonnais. And very few of them, too, would scruple at taking odds from him. On the publication of his challenge to Mr. Harrwitz to play a match at pawn and move for 500 francs, Mr. Boden stated in The Field, "There is more than one English player who will be glad to meet Mr. Morphy on these terms."

The majority of his games in London, Morphy played at the Divan. It was a general subject of regret, after he had vanquished the different amateurs in the capital, that Mr. Bird was absent in the North, and that the American might leave before that gentleman could visit London. Mr. Bird is a terrible fellow for attacking right and left; his game was described as the counterpart of Morphy's, it being added that he was just the antagonist our hero required. At last, Mr. Bird arrived, and the result between the two was more startling than ever, Morphy winning ten to one. It is but just to state that Mr. Bird was somewhat out of play, as he himself observed; adding, however, that he never was a match for his antagonist. It gives me much pleasure to relate such instances as these, because, as a general rule, there are no more self-confident mortals than prominent chess-players.[Pg 76]

It would be difficult to remember all the men with whom Morphy played at the Divan; or, rather, with whom he did not play. But I must not forget that merry individual, Mr. Lowe. It was in the Divan that Mr. Staunton played Mr. Lowe that celebrated match at pawn and move, the play in which on both sides, as Mr. S. observed, "was unworthy of second-rate players in a third-rate coffee-room," because Mr. Staunton was beaten. Since that occasion, Mr. Staunton has slighted the Divan, but Mr. Lowe still flourishes there, ever ready to meet all comers, and if not nightly playing somebody, at all events nightly making everybody laugh. Mr. Lowe made trial of Morphy privately, immediately on the latter's arrival, and forthwith ran to the Divan to tell everybody, much to everybody's disgust, that not one of them would have any chance against the American. They all laughed at him, the only reply being, "Oh, Lowe, you're a funny fellow!"

Before the Birmingham meeting, Morphy had met all the leading Metropolitan players, with, of course, the exception of Mr. Staunton. And yet perhaps I should not except that gentleman, for our hero had played in two consultation games with him, Mr. S.'s ally being "Alter," and Morphy's, Mr. Barnes. Messrs. Barnes and "Alter" are well matched. Both of these consultation games were won by Messrs. Barnes and Morphy.

As the latter part of the month of August approached, considerable curiosity was evinced in various[Pg 77] quarters as to whether Paul Morphy would then be a contestant in the tournament. Although not a Yankee, he nevertheless displayed as much "cuteness" under oft-repeated interrogatories as the downiest "down Easter;" feeling what an important bearing his determination would have upon the expected match with Mr. Staunton. In a subsequent chapter will be found his reasons for not entering the lists on that occasion. He was well aware that his decision must necessarily produce considerable disappointment, but he was conscious that a tournament triumph is by no means an accurate test of strength. If chess can ever become a game of chance, it is under such circumstances; and the only sure criterion of the respective strengths of two opponents is by actual hand-to-hand encounter.

But Morphy did not intend disappointing the Birmingham gentry altogether, and felt convinced that if he played six or eight games blindfold before the association, they would pardon his absence at the opening of the meeting. After the tournament had got into the second section, he left London and arrived at Birmingham before the day's proceedings had fully commenced. I had the pleasure of accompanying him, and on our arrival at the College in which the meeting of the British Chess Association was held, we found quite a crowd in the commodious rooms provided by the Committee of Management. The President of the Birmingham Club, Mr. Avery, introduced the young American to the members of the association, and the[Pg 78] cheers with which he was received were such as seldom come from others than Englishmen. Morphy advanced up the room without the slightest embarrassment, although his reception was as unlooked-for as it was flattering. Saint Amant, who was present, wrote a brilliant account of the meeting to the Paris journal Le Sport, and I am only sorry that I have not the article in question by me at the present moment. The style of the article, however, is indelibly fixed in my memory, reminding one of the Lays of the old Troubadours. Saint Amant writes prose in poetry, and he has made of Morphy an epic hero. He tells the Parisians that the young American is no mere pale-faced boy, visiting foreign lands to increase his powers; but "a citizen of the United States, who comes to claim a sceptre in Europe." Then again, "his walk is that of a king, and he advances through the crowd of strangers like a monarch receiving homage from his court." But he does not forget to state that Morphy is innately modest, and that all this admiration has no bad effect upon him; for such has been the theme of every one who has been brought in contact with him.

Most of the principal players in England were assembled at Birmingham, in August, 1858. Amongst them, Staunton, Löwenthal, Boden, Bird, Kipping, Owen, Salmon, Avery, Hampton, the President of the Association, Lord Lyttelton, Falkbeer, Brien, etc. The prominent feature of the meeting was of course the tournament prizes of sixty and twenty guineas, for[Pg 79] which Messrs. Staunton, Löwenthal, St. Amant, Falkbeer, Kipping, Owen, Hughes, Brien, Smith, Ingleby, Bird, Zsabo, Hampton, Brettlestone, and Salmon contended. The sixteenth player was intended to be Morphy, but not appearing in time, he was ruled to have lost all further share in the contest. It was matter for much disappointment that Mr. Boden did not enter the lists, especially after the gallant fight he had made at the previous meeting of the association in Manchester. The final result was that Herr Löwenthal carried off the first prize, and Herr Falkbeer the second; and, so far as the former gentleman was concerned, almost every player was both astonished and gratified at the dénouement. It was only during the week preceding the Birmingham Festival, that the Hungarian had succumbed to his youthful antagonist, and he had consequently entered on a fresh contest with all the disheartening recollections of defeat; a defeat, too, which he expressed his belief had seriously damaged his chess reputation. Prominent London players had criticized his games with Morphy in an inconsiderate spirit, the almost universal statement being that he had not played up to any thing like his usual strength. The criticisms on his moves in the widely circulated columns of the Illustrated London News were cruel to a degree; slighting allusions being made to his "bookish theoric," etc. Yet this old veteran goes down to the field of battle with unshaken courage, wins two games, one after the other, from Mr. Staunton[Pg 80] in the second section of the tournay, and carries off the first prize in the teeth of fourteen able competitors. This result proved one thing beyond a doubt, namely, that Morphy's late triumph was the consequence of his superior strength, and not from mere want of practice and skill on the part of Herr Löwenthal. And it also verified the observation of Mr. George Walker, in Bell's Life, that "Mr. Morphy beat Mr. Löwenthal because Mr. Morphy was stronger than Mr. Löwenthal." Oh, Mr. Walker! Mr. Walker! what a rude way you have of putting naked truths before the public!

Of course Morphy was not allowed to twirl his thumbs in idleness, especially with so energetic a master of the ceremonies as Mr. Avery. This gentleman soon arranged a contest between our hero and Mr. Kipping, the leading Manchester player, and exponent of the Evans' Gambit. Mr. K. had the move, and played the opening he has so much at heart; Morphy accepted, under the impression that he, too, knew something about the Evans'. First game scored by the American, the Manchester amateur thirsting for revenge. Morphy, in his turn, plays the Evans', and Mr. Kipping cries "enough." No other single games were played by Morphy during the meeting, the leading celebrities present being engaged in the tournament, but our hero made up the difference by astonishing the natives with a display of his blindfold powers.

When Morphy declared his intention, in London,[Pg 81] to play eight games without sight of the board, there were very few who believed the thing possible. They knew that Labourdonnais and Philidor had played two or three games simultaneously, and that Kieseritzky and Harrwitz had repeated the performance in later times, but there was a wide leap from three to eight antagonists. Harrwitz had earned a great reputation in Europe by his blindfold prowess, and was regarded without a rival, although many other players, such as Anderssen, De Rivière, etc., had occasionally met two or three antagonists at a time. Here was "a coil;" this young champion of the West, not satisfied with vanquishing all the chess veterans of England over the board, prepares to cast for ever into the shade the most astonishing performances of this and past ages. Well might Saint Amant declare that it was enough to make the bones of Philidor and Labourdonnais rattle in their graves!

I well remember Paul Morphy's first blindfold contest in New York. It was on the occasion of Paulsen's playing against four antagonists without sight of the board. Morphy offered to be one of his adversaries, and to meet him on the same conditions; and somewhere about the twentieth move he announced mate in five, much to Paulsen's astonishment, who did not think the crash was so near, although well aware he was "going to the bad." Mr. Paulsen got such an insight into Morphy's blindfold capabilities, that he subsequently observed to me, "Mr. Morphy can play as[Pg 82] many games, without seeing the board, as I can, only he is so unwilling to lose a game."

It will here be well to mark the difference between the blindfold performances of these two gentlemen. Both of them see the boards in the mind's eye equally well, but there the resemblance stops. Paulsen's contests average fifty moves, whereas Morphy's seldom extend beyond thirty. The former is a balista, the latter, a rifle bullet. What each is over the board, he is with his back turned to it, and there are many even in Europe who maintain that Morphy's blindfold feats are more brilliant than his usual mode of play. Paul Morphy, however, attaches very little importance to these displays, calling them mere tours de force, notwithstanding that they appear so wonderful to the multitude. To quote a favorite expression of his, one frequently used by him in speaking on the subject—"It proves nothing."

A young gentleman has lately appeared somewhere in Germany, who, we are informed, has reproduced Morphy's performances at Birmingham and Paris. In fact he is represented to have precisely re-enacted the American's victory in the French capital, playing against eight strong antagonists, winning from six and drawing from two. There seems some "method" in this; at least I for one cannot help feeling suspicious, especially as the news is heralded to the world in connection with Morphy's name. I have seen one of the games played on the occasion, in which this young[Pg 83] gentleman announces mate in ten or twelve moves—an astonishing announcement, indeed, under the circumstances. The whole affair is beautifully managed throughout, and, whether played blindfolded or over the board, marks the player as an amateur of the very highest order. Was the transaction bona fide? Now I do not wish to depreciate any man for the sake of benefiting another. Palmam qui meruit, ferat. We know that Morphy has played against eight antagonists on two separate and most public occasions, and that the most eminent players in England and France were witnesses of his performance. If Germany does possess a second Morphy, let him step forward and prove his identity, and I, for one, will do him reverence. Cannot that responsible body, the Berlin Chess Club, tell us something tangible about him, and why it is that we never heard any thing about him till now? Perhaps he is a new Deschappelles, and has acquired chess in forty-eight hours, on hearing of Morphy's feats. The Berlin Schackzeitung can surely investigate this affair, and enlighten us on what seems very much like a ruse de guerre—an invention of the enemy.

But let us return to Birmingham. Mr. Avery asked the young American what eight antagonists he would select; when the latter replied that it was immaterial to him, but that he should prefer all strong players. There were then in the room Messrs. Staunton, Saint Amant, Löwenthal, Boden, Falkbeer, Brien, and others of not much inferior strength, and Morphy was in hopes[Pg 84] that many, if not all, of these gentlemen would offer themselves as opponents. But he was mistaken, and great difficulty was experienced by the Committee of Management in making up the required eight, who were, finally, as follows: Lord Lyttelton, President of the British Chess Association, Rev. Mr. Salmon, the strongest Irish player, Messrs. Kipping, Avery, Wills, Rhodes, Carr, and Dr. Freeman. Paul Morphy was put up in a corner at the end of the room, and, every thing being prepared for action, he threw open his portholes and gave the signal, "Pawn to King's Fourth on all the boards."

Of course I am not going to mystify the general reader with the scientific details of the contest. I know that Lord Lyttelton had the first board, and received the deference due to his exalted rank, by being the first put hors du combat, and I remarked, too, that after his lordship had decided on his various moves, he would get up from his seat, walk towards the end of the room, and contemplate Morphy, as though desirous of seeing how he did it. And I know, too, that St. Amant was running from table to table, giving advice to one and the other with his continual "Il va croquer ça," as an intimation that one or the other must look out for a pawn or piece in danger. And then, too, Morphy kept on checking Mr. Avery's king by moving his rook from the seventh square to the eighth, backwards and forwards, until that estimable gentleman declared it was a drawn game, when a bystander horrified him with the[Pg 85] information—"That is only after fifty moves; Morphy will keep you there until he has kiboshed the others, and then he will honor you with his sole attention." But the game was finally declared drawn.

And, at the finish, how everybody applauded when Morphy arose, the vanquisher of six, having only lost the game with Mr. Kipping—through an oversight at the beginning. And how everybody was astonished when he stepped from his seat as fresh as a newly plucked daisy, and Mr. Staunton examined him closely to find traces of fatigue. Then indeed his not playing in the tournament was forgiven and forgotten.

Then there was the soirée, and the capital matter-of-fact address of Lord Lyttelton. His lordship lauded Morphy to the skies, both for his blindfold and other play, and referred to the match with Mr. Staunton, trusting that Morphy would beat every other antagonist but that gentleman. Nothing more now remained to be done in England for some months to come; and Morphy returned to London, to prepare for his campaigns on the Continent.

[Pg 86]



We must anticipate the events of a few months, in order to place the discussion with Mr. Staunton where it properly belongs, viz., with Morphy's achievements in England. I do not think I have omitted a single fact or incident connected with an affair which has now become history, and my readers will agree with me that Mr. Staunton has suffered a far worse defeat by not playing the match than if he had been vanquished, as everybody says he would have been.

In dealing with this most delicate question, I feel desirous of letting facts, as far as possible, speak for themselves; but as it is the province and the duty of historians to seek the causes of events and to criticize the actions of their dramatis personæ, I shall record, in all honesty and kindliness, what I believe to have been the motives at work in this contest. And, in order that nothing may remain unsaid, I shall give all the correspondence on the subject, both pro and con.

Paul Morphy's principal object in coming to Europe[Pg 87] was to play a match with Mr. Staunton. I am well aware that a young gentleman travelling for the first time in foreign countries must have many objects in view; but in this particular case, the pretext for the voyage, the very inducement for his friends to consent to his journey, was to repeat that challenge personally, in England, which Mr. Staunton had declined, on the ground of the place of combat not being in Europe. It is necessary that this point should be understood, because much of the controversy hinges upon it. If we examine the challenge addressed to Mr. Staunton by the New Orleans Chess Club, we find therein two main ideas: 1stly. That Mr. Staunton is a representative of European chess. 2ndly. That American players challenge him to combat with their representative. Mr. Staunton's reply raised but one objection; and that objection led Paul Morphy across the Atlantic, in order to remove the only stumbling-block in the way of the contest.

I was constantly with Morphy after his arrival in London, and a frequent subject of conversation between us was the match with Mr. Staunton. That, too, was the first, the principal topic at all the London Clubs we visited, and every thing but the date was looked upon as decided. Mr. Staunton, however, had not, as yet, stated explicitly that he accepted the challenge, but he did so viva voce shortly after Mr. Morphy's arrival, and subsequently, in the Illustrated London News.[Pg 88]

It seems as if Mr. Staunton had refrained from accepting the défi until a somewhat accurate estimate could be formed of his challenger's strength. Previously to the latter's arrival, Mr. S.'s opinion of him was not at all equal to that entertained by his countrymen in America, nor did any player in England give him the rank which he now holds. There were no means by which to judge of his force. Not a dozen of his games all told had been seen in Europe, and his antagonists were comparatively unknown, with the exception of Mr. Charles H. Stanley. But that gentleman had, for some years, withdrawn from the chess arena, and his play with Morphy did not, certainly, equal his former exploits with Rousseau and Schulten. It was, therefore, absolutely necessary to await the result of his play with some known European antagonist; and I feel confident that the stature of his ability was measured on his first twelve or fifteen games with Mr. Barnes. Judging from these parties, Paul Morphy was little, if any thing, superior to that gentleman, but time had not been allowed him to recover from the fatigues of his voyage, and I have always remarked that travelling, even by rail, seriously deteriorates Morphy's game.

In accepting the challenge, Mr. Staunton postponed the commencement of the match for a month, "in order to brush up his openings and endings." This was too reasonable for Morphy to decline. Subsequently, as will be seen by the latter's correspondence, Mr. Staunton obtained a postponement until after the Birmingham[Pg 89] meeting, in August. In the mean time, the young American had won the match with Herr Löwenthal, beaten "Alter" in a set contest at "pawn and move," and startled the chess community by the imposing manner in which he had triumphed over every opponent. Public opinion had changed in respect to him. This was evinced by the way in which the London players, almost universally, spoke of the proposed match. I have heard gentlemen at the London Chess Club, the Divan, nay, even at the St. George's, declare repeatedly—"Mr. Staunton now knows too well what antagonist he will have to deal with. Depend upon it, he will find means of backing out." This language, repeated at every turn, necessarily caused Paul Morphy some anxiety. On myself, however, I can conscientiously declare it had no effect. I did not believe it possible that any man having so publicly accepted a challenge, would attempt to avoid a contest, and expressed this opinion to Mr. Morphy, "It will be well not to accept all that one hears. Mr. Staunton has numerous enemies; do not allow yourself to be prejudiced by them, but look upon his acceptance of the challenge as a certainty that the match will come off."

With yet unshaken confidence in Mr. Staunton's intention to play, Paul Morphy addressed him a short note, ten days prior to the Birmingham meeting; to this he received a somewhat lengthy reply, the main point in it being that Mr. Staunton still required "a few weeks" for preparation. Morphy responded forthwith,[Pg 90] entirely removing all ground for further excuse by "leaving the terms to himself." Here was an unjustifiable mode of putting an end to diplomacy! Mr. S. could not continue a correspondence with one so overwhelmingly courteous, and he left London for Birmingham without even acknowledging the receipt of the letter.

Much argument has been built up against Paul Morphy on his non-appearance in the tournament, and one writer has endeavored to prove from it that he was afraid to meet Mr. Staunton. Before leaving London, the latter gentleman assured his young opponent that he should not enter the lists, but should confine himself to simple consultation games. Why Mr. S. changed his mind, it is not for me to say; although I might argue that Mr. Staunton sallied forth courageously when he was certain that "Achilles keeps his tent." However, Paul Morphy's first reason for not entering the tournay was that, his main object being to meet Mr. Staunton, and that gentleman having stated his intention of confining himself to a mere consultation game, as in past years, there was no chance of their crossing swords, and, consequently, no use of his spending two or three weeks in a contest which never could be a decisive test of skill. But, when repeated telegrams assured him that the English champion had decided on becoming a contestant, there were still stronger reasons for his continued declination. These reasons were the consequences of Mr. Staunton's own acts,[Pg 91] added to the opinion of nearly every London player, that that gentleman was seeking an opportunity to evade the match. All these occurrences had somewhat shaken Mr. Morphy's faith, and he could not but be suspicious of his antagonist's movements. He therefore declined positively and finally to enter the tournament, under the belief that, whether he won or lost in that contest, it would be equally to the prejudice of the challenge. Mr. Staunton might say, "I have beaten Morphy; what is the use of further contest?" or "He has beaten me, I am consequently out of play. It would be madness to attempt a set match." This, and this only, prevented Paul Morphy from visiting Birmingham at the commencement of the tournament. Had he gone there when requested, every influence would have been brought to bear to induce him to alter his determination, and he merely consulted the interests of the contest he had so much at heart, by keeping out of temptation until the tournament was too far under way to admit of his entering it.

But the meeting of the association afforded an admirable opportunity to obtain from Mr. Staunton the naming of the day on which the match should commence. Part of the proceedings of the anniversary was a public soirée, and Paul Morphy resolved that he would then ask his antagonist, in the face of all present, to fix the date. I had the pleasure of accompanying our hero to Birmingham, and I witnessed the disagreeable contre temps which upset this admirable intention.[Pg 92] Crossing the courtyard of the college on the morning of the soirée, we met Lord Lyttelton, Mr. Staunton, Mr. Avery, and, I think, Mr. Wills. Now I do not know whether Mr. Staunton had got wind of what was to occur, but his action certainly frustrated Morphy's plan, and, for the moment, gave him the advantage. In all such rencontres the man who gets the first word has the attack, and Mr. Staunton instantly availed himself of it. He opened fire by declaring that he was entirely out of play—that he had long been engaged on a great work—that he was under bonds to his publishers accordingly—that he might subject them to a loss of many thousands in playing at the present time, and so forth. But he never stated aught that appeared to intimate the possibility of the match not coming off eventually, his plea being that he required further time, in order to put sufficient matter into the hands of the printers, and to prepare himself subsequently for the contest. It was now Morphy's turn, and the attack changed hands. The question was put: "Mr. Staunton, will you play in October, in November, or December? Choose your own time, but let the arrangement be final." The answer was: "Well, Mr. Morphy, if you will consent to the postponement, I will play you at the beginning of November. I will see my publishers, and let you know the exact date within a few days." The association now looked upon the affair as decided, and Morphy left Birmingham, firmly believing that the match would come off after all.[Pg 93]

On the 28th of August, within a few days of the above conversation, the following extraordinary announcement appeared in the Illustrated London News:


Anti-book.—As you surmise, "knowing the authority," the slang of the sporting paper in question regarding the proposed encounter between Mr. Staunton and the young American is "bunkum." In matches of importance it is the invariable practice in this country, before any thing definite is settled, for each party to be provided with representatives to arrange the terms and money for the stakes. Mr. Morphy has come here unfurnished in both respects; and, although both will no doubt be forthcoming in due time, it is clearly impossible, until they are, that any determinate arrangement can be made. 2. The statement of another contemporary that the reduction in the amount of stakes from £1000 aside to £500 was made at the suggestion of the English amateur is equally devoid of truth; the proposal to reduce the amount having been made by Mr. Morphy.

I was perfectly astonished when I read this statement. "Mr. Morphy had caused the stakes to be reduced from £1000 to £500 a side." Without mentioning Englishmen, there were Americans in London and Paris who asserted that Morphy could be backed against Mr. Staunton for £10,000, and the money be raised within twenty-four hours. I mentioned this fact to a noble lady in Paris, in order to show the confidence in which the young American was held, and she replied, "Oh, as regards that, you may tell Mr. Morphy from me, that for £10,000 against Mr. Staunton or[Pg 94] any player in Europe, he must not go further than my house."

I asked Morphy to demand an immediate retraction of the unblushing statements contained in the above paragraph, but he replied—"When a man resorts to such means as these, he will not stop until he has committed himself irremediably. Let him go on." Shortly after that Mr. Staunton changed his tactics. Let not the reader suppose I am about to represent things otherwise than they appear on the record. Let him take up the files of the Illustrated London News from the time of Morphy's arrival in England to his match with Harrwitz; let him examine the analysis of the games, the notes to the moves in that paper, and he will invariably perceive that the American's antagonists could or might have won, the necessary inference being—"There's nothing so extraordinary about Morphy's play, after all." A change appeared in the criticism on the eight blindfold games at Birmingham, but, then, Morphy stood alone, and interfered with no one's pretensions. When, however, the match with Harrwitz came off, Mr. Staunton's tone was suddenly altered, and this gentleman who, previously, had scarcely a word of commendation for Morphy, now talked of "combinations which would have excited the admiration of Labourdonnais."

"The force of 'language' could no further go."

Mr. Morphy judged from this unexpected change of tone that Mr. Staunton either believed that these[Pg 95] contests with continental players would take up so much of his time in Europe, that he would have to leave without playing him; or that Mr. S. was experimenting on the maxim—"There are more flies caught with honey than with vinegar." He therefore addressed him the following letter, and in order that the public might no longer be under misapprehension as to the case in hand, he sent copies of the communication to those papers which had shown him marked kindness in Europe. At the suggestion of a very shrewd and attached American friend, a copy was also forwarded to the editor-in-chief of the Illustrated London News.

The publication of the letter to Mr. Staunton, in so many journals, was a judicious proceeding. Newspapers are not fond of embarking in a discussion which may probably "draw its slow length along," and terminate angrily. Besides, whatever the feeling might be on the merits of the case, Mr. Staunton was certainly in the position of English champion, and John Bull does not like it to be proclaimed that one of his sons shows the "white feather." But, at the same time, rivalry exists between all journals as to precedence of news, and one paper would not willingly be behind the others in giving Morphy's letter. Accordingly, the following Saturday, Bell's Life, The Era, The Field, and the Sunday Times published it as follows:[Pg 96]


Cafe de la Regence, Paris, Oct. 6, '58.

Howard Staunton, Esq.:

Sir,—On my arrival in England, three months since, I renewed the challenge to you personally which the New Orleans Chess Club had given some months previously. You immediately accepted, but demanded a month's delay in order to prepare yourself for the contest. Subsequently, you proposed that the time should be postponed until after the Birmingham meeting, to which I assented. On the approach of the period you had fixed, I addressed you a communication, requesting that the necessary preliminaries might be immediately settled, but you left London without replying to it. I went to Birmingham for the express purpose of asking you to put a stop to further delay by fixing a date for the opening of our match; but before the opportunity presented itself you came to me, and, in the presence of Lord Lyttelton, Mr. Avery, and other gentlemen, you stated that your time was much occupied in editing a new edition of Shakespeare, and that you were under heavy bonds to your publishers accordingly. But you reiterated your intention to play me, and said that if I would consent to a further postponement until the first week in November, you would, within a few days, communicate with me and fix the exact date. I have not heard further from you, either privately, by letter, or through the columns of the Illustrated London News.

A statement appeared in the chess department of that journal a few weeks since, that "Mr. Morphy had come to Europe unprovided with backers or seconds," the inference being obvious that my want of funds was the reason of our match not taking place. As you are the editor of that department of the Illustrated London News, I felt hurt that a gentleman who had always received me at his club and elsewhere with great kindness and courtesy, should allow so prejudicial a statement to be made in reference to me—one, too, which is not strictly in accordance with fact.[Pg 97]

Permit me to repeat what I have invariably declared in every chess community I have had the honor of entering, that I am not a professional player—that I never wished to make any skill I possess the means of pecuniary advancement—and that my earnest desire is never to play for any stake but honor. My friends in New Orleans, however, subscribed a certain sum, without any countenance from me, and that sum has been ready for you to meet a considerable time past. Since my arrival in Paris I have been assured by numerous gentlemen that the value of those stakes can be immediately increased to any amount; but, for myself personally, reputation is the only incentive I recognize.

The matter of seconds cannot, certainly, offer any difficulty. I had the pleasure of being first received in London by the St. George's Chess Club, of which you are so distinguished a member; and of those gentlemen I request the honor of appointing my seconds, to whom I give full authority in settling all preliminaries.

In conclusion, I beg leave to state that I have addressed a copy of this letter to the editors of the Illustrated London News, Bell's Life in London, The Era, The Field, and The Sunday Times, being desirous that our true position should no longer be misunderstood by the community at large. Again requesting you to fix the date for our commencing the match,

I have the honor to remain, sir,

Your very humble servant,

Paul Morphy.


At the same time Mr. Morphy forwarded the following communication to the Secretary of the St. George's, requesting the Club to appoint his seconds in the match:[Pg 98]


T. Hampton, Esq.,

Secretary of the St. George's Chess Club:

Sir,—I beg respectfully to inform you that the New Orleans Chess Club has deposited £500 at the Banking House of Messrs. Heywood & Co., London: that sum being my proportion of the stakes in the approaching match with Mr. Staunton.

I shall esteem it a great honor if the St. George's Chess Club will do me the favor of appointing my seconds in that contest. To such gentlemen as they may appoint I leave the settling of all preliminaries.

May I request you to lay this communication before the members of the Club, and to oblige me with an early answer?

I have the honor to remain, Sir,

Your very humble and obed't serv't,

Paul Morphy.

Cafe de la Regence, Paris, Oct. 8th, 1858.

It would be difficult to imagine a more respectful and kindly letter than that to Mr. Staunton. Since Morphy's arrival in Europe he had considered himself ill-used by that gentleman. His games had been annotated in an inferentially depreciatory manner, his victories accounted for, and his antagonists excused. He had been placed in a ridiculous light before the public by the utterly false assertion that he had come to Europe to challenge Mr. Staunton or any one else—without a groat in his purse. And yet he never charges Mr. Staunton with being the author of the falsehood, although Mr. S. is the known editor of the chess column of the Illustrated London News. He positively invites explanation in the most charitable[Pg 99] and Christian-like manner; never even calling the statement in question, as he might have done, a positive untruth, but politely characterizing it as "not strictly in accordance with fact."

The Illustrated London News did not immediately publish the letter, or make any remark upon it, as did the other papers; but at the commencement of the week, Paul Morphy received a private communication from Mr. Staunton, as follows:—


London, October 9th, 1858.

Sir,—In reply to your letter, I have to observe that you must be perfectly conscious that the difficulty in the way of my engaging in a chess-match is one over which I have no control. You were distinctly apprised, in answer to the extraordinary proposal of your friends that I should leave my home, family, and avocations, to proceed to New Orleans for the purpose of playing chess with you, that a long and arduous contest, even in London, would be an undertaking too formidable for me to embark in without ample opportunity for the recovery of my old strength in play, together with such arrangements as would prevent the sacrifice of my professional engagements. Upon your unexpected arrival here, the same thing was repeated to you, and my acceptance of your challenge was entirely conditional on my being able to gain time for practice.

The experience, however, of some weeks, during which I have labored unceasingly, to the serious injury of my health, shows that not only is it impracticable for me to save time for that purpose, but that by no means short of giving up a great work on which I am engaged, subjecting the publishers to the loss of thousands, and myself to an action for breach of contract, could I obtain time even for the match itself. Such a sacrifice[Pg 100] is, of course, out of all question. A match at chess or cricket (proh pudor! why don't he say, "or skittles"?) may be a good thing in its way, but none but a madman would for either forfeit his engagements and imperil his professional reputation. Under these circumstances, I waited only the termination of your late struggle (with Mr. Harrwitz) to explain that, fettered as I am at this moment, it is impossible for me to undertake any enterprise which would have the effect of withdrawing me from duties I am pledged to fulfil.

The result is not, perhaps, what either you or I desired, as it will occasion disappointment to many; but it is unavoidable, and the less to be regretted, since a contest, wherein one of the combatants must fight under disadvantages so manifest as those I should have to contend against, after many years' retirement from practical chess, with my attention absorbed and my brain overtaxed by more important pursuits, could never be accounted a fair trial of skill.

I have the honor to be,

Yours, &c.,

H. Staunton.

Paul Morphy, Esq.

P. S.—I may add that, although denied the satisfaction of a set encounter with you at this period, I shall have much pleasure, if you will again become my guest, in playing you a few games sans façon.

Now the sending of this private communication was a strange course for Mr. Staunton to adopt. It seemed to be a bait for Morphy, in order that Mr. S. might use his reply in the forthcoming article in the Illustrated London News. The young American resolved that all the correspondence should be public and above-board, and did not even acknowledge the receipt of the letter. The Saturday following, Mr. Staunton gave as excuse for not publishing Morphy's missive, the length of M.'s[Pg 101] games, but promised it and his own response "next week."

On Saturday the 24th of October, the two following effusions graced the columns of Bell's Life. They had also been sent to The Era, The Field, and The Sunday Times; but, being anonymous, and inclosing no name or address, were refused admittance.


Trinity College, Cambridge, Oct. 9.

Mr. Editor: If you enter any chess circle just now, the questions sure to be asked are, "How about the Staunton and Morphy match? Will it come off? Suspect Staunton wants to shirk it?" Now to these questions it is not always easy to give an answer, and yet they ought to be answered, so as to allow of no possible misconstruction amongst either friends or foes. There is one insinuation which may be very briefly disposed of, namely, that Mr. Staunton wishes to avoid playing. Every one who knows him is perfectly aware that he is only too ready to play at all times, and that at every disadvantage, rather than incur even the faintest suspicion of showing the white feather. For the benefit of those who have not the pleasure of knowing him, or whose memories are not over tenacious, I may cite as an example that in 1844, after vanquishing St. Amant, upon a hint in the French papers that his opponent had expressed a wish to have his revenge, Mr. S. at once started for Paris once more, and challenged him to the field; that from 1840 to 1848 Mr. S. played with every antagonist, foreign and English, that could be brought against him; and at the Chess Congress, in 1851, he rose superior to all personal considerations, and did not shrink from risking his hardly-earned reputation, when the state of his health was such that he felt he could not do himself justice; and all this solely that the tournament might not want the éclat which his presence could confer upon it. But, sir, I would submit that this is not sim[Pg 102]ply a question between Mr. Staunton and Mr. Morphy. We are all interested in it. Mr. Staunton is the representative of English chess, and must not be allowed to risk the national honor in an unequal contest, to gratify either the promptings of his own chivalrous disposition or the vanity of an antagonist. "Oh! then you admit that Morphy is the better player?" No such thing. The question is, not as to which is the better player, but whether, if they meet now, they can do so on equal terms. Now, I call it an unequal contest when one player, in tiptop practice, with nothing to distract his attention, engages another who is quite out of play, and whose mind is harassed by the unceasing pressure of other and more important avocations. This is precisely Mr. Staunton's case. He is engaged, in addition to his customary occupations, upon a literary work of great responsibility and magnitude, which leaves him scarcely a moment for any other pursuit; certainly not for chess practice. Indeed, were it merely a question of time it would be almost impossible for Mr. Staunton to play a match at the present moment; but this is a matter of small importance compared with the mental strain which accompanies such incessant labor. There is nothing which requires more concentration of thought than chess. One moment of relaxed attention, and the fruits of the most profound combination are scattered to the winds. Real chess between two great players is no mere recreation, but a severe study, and should never be attempted when there is any thing else to claim the least share of that attention which alone can insure success. If Mr. Staunton can steal a few months from business, and devote himself wholly to chess, by all means let him do so, and then meet Mr. Morphy when and where he pleases, and I for one should have no fear for the result. If he cannot do this, I trust he will have moral courage to say "No." If not, his friends should say it for him. He is at least "Pawn and two" below his force of ten years back; and I repeat that he owes it to the English chess world, whose representative he is, not to meet Mr. Morphy at such odds, when he has every thing to lose and nothing to gain. In the present instance, moreover he is under not the slightest[Pg 103] obligation to play, as Mr. Morphy gave him no intimation that he was coming over at this particular time, and I believe Mr. Staunton was not aware of his intention of so doing till he was actually en route; and it is certainly rather a heavy price to pay for the position which Mr. Staunton justly occupies if he is to be held bound to enter the lists with every young adventurer who has nothing else to do, and who happens to envy him the laurels so fairly won in many hundreds of encounters with nearly all the greatest players of the day. The result of any match which he might now play with Mr. Morphy would prove literally nothing as to their relative chess powers, and I am very unwilling to believe that the American would at all value a victory snatched under such circumstances.

Yours obediently, M. A.

P. S. Since writing the above my attention has been drawn to a letter in Bell's Life addressed to Mr. Staunton by Mr. Morphy, in which the latter tries to assume the character of a much-injured and ill-used man. Now, how stands the case. From the time when he made his sudden appearance here to the present moment Mr. Morphy has been fully aware that the delay in the proposed contest did not depend upon Mr. Staunton, who, so far as he is personally concerned, was, and is, prepared to play; though it does not speak much for that man's sense of honor who would ever think of forcing on a contest when the inequality is so immense as it is between Mr. Morphy's position and that of Mr. Staunton—the one with literally nothing to do but to go where he lists to play chess, the other with scarcely time for sleep and meals, with his brain in a constant whirl with the strain upon it; the one in the very zenith of his skill, after ten years of incessant practice, the other utterly out of practice for that very period. Now, let any one read the reply of Mr. Staunton to the preposterous proposal on the part of Mr. Morphy's friends, that he (Mr. S.) should go over to New Orleans, and then say whether Mr. Morphy, after publicly announcing in the American papers his inability, from family engagements, to visit England before[Pg 104] 1859, and then choosing to come over without a moment's warning, has anybody but himself to blame if he finds there is considerable difficulty in inducing a man with family cares, and immersed in professional engagements, to sacrifice all for the sake of engaging, upon the most unfair and unequal terms, in a match at chess? If Mr. Morphy does not see the force of what I have advanced, perhaps the following analogous case may bring conviction home to him. Let us suppose some ten or fifteen years have elapsed, and that Mr. Morphy, no longer a chess knight-errant, eager to do battle against all comers, has settled down into a steady-going professional man, (the bar, I believe, is his destination,) and with bewildered brain is endeavoring to unravel the intricacies of some half-dozen lawsuits put into his hands by clients, each of whom, in virtue of his fee, is profoundly impressed with the belief that Mr. Morphy belongs, body and soul, to him. Presently comes a rap at the door, and in walks a young man, fresh from school or college, and at once proceeds to explain the object of his visit, with:—"Mr. Morphy, I come to challenge you to a match at chess. I am aware that you are quite out of practice, while I am in full swing. I freely admit that you may have forgotten more than I am ever likely to know; that you have a reputation to lose, while I have one to gain; that you have not a moment you can call your own, whilst I have just now nothing in the world to occupy my attention but chess. N'importe. Every dog has his day. I expect you to play me at all costs. My seconds will wait upon you at once; and if you decline I shall placard you a craven through the length and breadth of the Union." How would Mr. Morphy reply to such a challenge? Very much, I suspect, as Mr. Staunton now replies to his:—"I have no apprehension of your skill; I am quite willing to meet you when I can, but I must choose my own time. I cannot put aside my professional engagements, to say nothing of the loss of emolument entailed by such a course, and risk my reputation as a chess-player at a moment's notice, just to gratify your ambition." In giving such an answer Mr. Morphy would do perfectly right, and this is precisely the answer which Mr.[Pg 105] Staunton now gives to him. And why Mr. Morphy should feel himself aggrieved I cannot possibly imagine. There is one other point which I think deserves mention, namely that four years ago, on the occasion of his being challenged in a similar manner, Mr. Staunton put forth a final proposal to play any player in the world, and to pay his expenses for coming to England. This defi remained open for six months, and he announced that if not taken up in that time he should hold himself exonerated in refusing any future challenges. I now leave the question in the hands of the public, who will, I doubt not, arrive at a correct appreciation of its merits.


To the Editor of Bell's Life:

Mr. Editor,—It is a pity chess-players will not "wash their dirty linen at home." Among a few frivolous noodles to whom chess forms the staple of life, Mr. Morphy's jeremiads may assume an air of importance, but to sensible men they sound ineffably absurd, while to those who take the trouble of looking a little below the surface they appear something worse. For what are the plain facts of the case? Mr. Morphy started for England, not to play a match with Mr. Staunton, for he was told that that gentleman was too deeply immersed in business to undertake one, but to take part in a general tourney to be held in Birmingham. Upon arriving here he duly inscribed his name on the list of combatants, and paid his entrance fee. On hearing this, Mr. Staunton, in a spirit of what some may call chivalry, but which, looking at his utterly unprepared state for an encounter of this kind, ought more properly to be termed Quixotism, entered his name also. Well, what happened? On the mustering of the belligerents, Mr. Morphy, who had come six thousand miles to run a tilt in this tournament, was not present. In his place came a note to say particular business prevented his attendance. A message was despatched, intimating that his absence would be a great disappointment, &c., &c. His reply was, that, understanding nei[Pg 106]ther Mr. S. nor any other of the leading players would take the field, he declined to do so. A second message was forwarded, to the effect that Mr. Staunton was then in Birmingham expressly to meet Mr. Morphy, and that he and several of the best players were awaiting Mr. M.'s arrival to begin the combats. To this came a final answer, to the effect that the length of time that the tourney would last prevented Mr. Morphy from joining in it, but he would run down in two or three days. Passing over the exquisite taste of this proceeding, and the disappointment and murmurs it occasioned, I would simply ask, if Mr. Morphy thought himself justified in withdrawing from a contest which he had come thousands of miles to take part in, and to which he was in a manner pledged, upon pretences so vague and flimsy, what right has he to complain if the English player choose to withdraw from one to which he is in no respect bound, and against which he may be enabled to offer the most solid and unanswerable objections? In asking this, I beg to disclaim all intention of provoking a chess-players' controversy, a thing in which the public take not the slightest interest, and for which I individually entertain supreme contempt. I am moved to it only by the spirit of

Fair Play.


To these communications the editor appended the following remarks:—

[We print the above two letters, being all the communications we have received from Mr. Staunton's party relative to Morphy's letter in our last. We regret these lucubrations are anonymous, as not showing how far they really represent the opinions of Mr. Staunton himself and his friends on the subject. Regarding their style and phraseology Mr. Staunton may perhaps ask to be saved from his friends, but that is matter of taste. We shall feel bound to print brief replies from Paul Morphy's side. Inferiority once admitted, no matter from what cause, if Mr. Staunton takes the ground indicated in the above epistles, Mr. Morphy has but cheerfully and quietly to[Pg 107] drop the subject, and will certainly as a gentleman never challenge Mr. Staunton again. Morphy's friends may still reasonably inquire why all this was not said in June last, instead of giving apparent acceptance to the young American's challenge.

Editor Bell's Life.]

The reader will observe that Mr. Staunton (or his friends) is the first to commence a newspaper war, probably under the impression that lengthy protocoling would sink the real question at issue, or induce Paul Morphy to reply, and commit himself. But the latter saw too clearly what eventualities might arise, and resolved that, in spite of all attacks, he would never be drawn into discussion. In his letter to Mr. Staunton, no point was raised on which to build dispute; Mr. S. was merely required to say what date he fixed for the match. The most sensitive mind could not be hurt with any thing in the letter, and yet "Fair Play" talks of "Mr. Morphy's jeremiads appearing something worse than ineffably absurd." "M. A.'s" lucubration did not obtain admittance into any other paper, but "Fair Play's" shone resplendently in the columns of the Illustrated London News. I have not learned who "Fair Play" is; nor do I wish to know.

When a man's course is straightforward and courageous, he will always find defenders, and sometimes, ardent partisans. Morphy's unassuming modesty had made him friends in every chess community, men who were ready to battle for him as though it were their own quarrel. Hitherto, not a word had been said by,[Pg 108] or for, Morphy in the press, and he was determined not to seek succor from that source. The ensuing Saturday the following letters appeared in Bell's Life, the first being from a friend of our hero, well acquainted with the circumstances of the case; and the others from prominent members of the metropolitan chess circles.


To the Editor of Bell's Life in London:

Sir,—Two letters appeared in your paper of last Sunday, one with the signature of "M. A.," the other of "Fair Play." In justice to fact, those communications must not remain unanswered, as the misstatements they contain might perchance mislead some as to the good faith of Mr. Morphy. It is in no improper spirit that I appear before your readers under my own name, but simply because, as I intend replying to your anonymous correspondents with facts, not with hypotheses, I think I am bound in honor to hold myself responsible for what I advance. The chess players of London and Birmingham are not ignorant of the intimacy with which Mr. Morphy has honored me during his visit to Europe, and they will permit me to state, that no one is better conversant with the facts bearing on the case in point than your subscriber. Were it not that Paul Morphy positively refuses to reply to any attack upon himself, preferring that his actions should be the sole witness to his faith, I should not have troubled you or the public with this communication.

On the 4th of last February, the New Orleans Chess Club challenged Mr. Staunton to visit the Crescent City, "to meet Mr. Paul Morphy in a chess match." On the 3d of April the former gentleman replied to this defi in the Illustrated London News, in the following language:—"The terms of this cartel are distinguished by extreme courtesy, and, with one notable exception, by extreme liberality also. The exception in ques[Pg 109]tion, however, (we refer to the clause which stipulates that the combat shall take place in New Orleans!) appears to us utterly fatal to the match; and we must confess our astonishment that the intelligent gentlemen who drew up the conditions did not themselves discover this. Could it possibly escape their penetration, that if Mr. Paul Morphy, a young gentleman without family ties or professional claims upon his attention, finds it inconvenient to anticipate by a few months an intended visit to Europe, his proposed antagonist, who is well known for years to have been compelled, by laborious literary occupation, to abandon the practice of chess beyond the indulgence of an occasional game, must find it not merely inconvenient, but positively impracticable, to cast aside all engagements, and undertake a journey of many thousand miles for the sake of a chess encounter. Surely the idea of such a sacrifice is not admissible for a single moment. If Mr. Morphy—for whose skill we entertain the liveliest admiration—be desirous to win his spurs among the chess chivalry of Europe, he must take advantage of his proposed visit next year; he will then meet in this country, in France, in Germany, and in Russia, many champions whose names must be as household words to him, ready to test and do honor to his prowess."

No one would regard the above observations as tantamount to aught else than "If you will come to Europe I will play you;" but we are relieved from the difficulty of discovering Mr. Staunton's real meaning by his reiterated declarations that he would play Mr. Morphy. Within a few days of the latter's arrival in London, the English player stated his intention of accepting the match, but postponed the commencement of it for a month, on the plea of requiring preparation. In the month of July the acceptance of the challenge was announced in the Illustrated London News. Before the expiration of the time demanded in the first instance, Mr. Staunton requested that the contest should not take place until after the Birmingham meeting. At Birmingham he again declared his intention of playing the match, and fixed the date for the first week in November, in the presence of numerous witnesses. Mr.[Pg 110] Morphy may have erred in believing that his antagonist intended to act as his words led him to suppose, but it was an error shared in common by every one then present, and particularly by Lord Lyttelton, the President of the British Chess Association, who recognized the true position of the case in his speech to the association, stating that he "wished him (Mr. Morphy) most cordially success in his encounters with the celebrated players of Europe, whom he had gallantly left home to meet; he should be pleased to hear that he vanquished all—except one; but that one—Mr. Staunton—he must forgive him, as an Englishman, for saying he hoped he would conquer him."—(Report of Birmingham meeting, Illustrated London News, Sept. 18, 1858.

So firmly convinced were the members of Mr. S.'s own club, the St. George's, that he had accepted the challenge, that a committee was formed, and funds raised to back him. What those gentlemen must now think of Mr. Staunton's evasion of the match can easily be understood; but so strong was the conviction in other chess circles that he would not play, that large odds were offered to that effect.

"M. A.'s" reasons for not playing, or "M. A.'s" reasons for Mr. Staunton's not playing—a distinction without a difference, as we shall hereafter show—is that "he is engaged upon a literary work of great responsibility and magnitude." Did not this reason exist prior to Mr. Morphy's arrival in June? and if so, why were Mr. Morphy, the English public, and the chess community generally, led into the belief that the challenge was accepted? And what did Mr. Staunton mean by stating at Birmingham, in the presence of Lord Lyttelton, Mr. Avery, and myself, that if the delay until November were granted him, he could in the mean while supply his publishers with sufficient matter, so as to devote himself subsequently to the match?

Mr. Staunton's (I mean "M. A.'s") remark in the letter under review, "I (Staunton or 'M. A.' indifferently) have no apprehension of your skill," is hardly consonant with the previous observation, that "he (Staunton) is at least pawn[Pg 111] and two below his force," unless the "English-chess-world-representative" wishes it to be understood that he could offer those odds to Paul Morphy. Nor is it consonant with the fact that he has never consented to play Mr. Morphy a single game, though asked to do so, and when frequently meeting him at St. George's. Of course the two consultation games played by him, in alliance with "Alter," against Messrs. Barnes and Morphy count for nothing, as they were gained by the latter; a result due, doubtless, to "Alter" alone.

Mr. Morphy, in the eyes of the chess world, can have nothing to gain from a contest with this gentleman. When Mr. Staunton has met even players such as Anderssen, Heyderbrandt, and Löwenthal, he has succumbed; whilst his youthful antagonist can cite a roll of victories unparalleled since Labourdonnais. And herein is the true reason for "M. A.'s" saying, "Staunton must not be allowed to risk the national honor (?) in an unequal contest."

In wishing "M. A." adieu, I would state that his style of composition is so like Mr. Staunton's that no one could detect the difference. And no one but Mr. Staunton himself would ever set up such a defence as "M. A.'s"—that of inferiority, "Pawn and two below his strength," &c. &c. And no one but Mr. Staunton could have such intimate knowledge of his own thoughts as we find in the following verbatim quotations from "M. A.'s" letter: "The state of his health was such that he felt he could not do himself justice"—"his mind harassed"—"the other (Staunton) with scarcely time for sleep and meals, with his brain in a constant whirl with the strain upon it." In the language of Holy Writ: "No man can know the spirit of man, but the spirit of man which is in him."

Served up in a mass of foul language, the letter signed "Fair Play," contains an obviously untrue assertion, namely, "Mr. Morphy started for Europe, not to play a match with Mr. Staunton." This is rather outrageous in the face of the challenge from the New Orleans Chess Club, and with Mr. S.'s reply in the Illustrated London News of April 3d. So much was it Mr. Morphy's desire to play him, and so little his[Pg 112] intention to engage in the Birmingham Tournament, that he informed the secretary he did not regard such a contest as any true test of skill.

To sum up the whole matter, I will state the naked facts.

1. Mr. Morphy came to Europe to play Mr. Staunton.

2. Mr. Staunton made everybody believe he had accepted the challenge from Mr. Morphy.

3. Mr. Staunton allowed the St. George's Chess Club to raise the money to back him.

4. Mr. Staunton asked for a delay of one month, in order to brush up his openings and endings.

5. Mr. Staunton requested a postponement until after the Birmingham meeting.

6. Mr. Staunton fixed the beginning of November for the commencement of the match.

If all this do not mean "I will play," then is there no meaning in language. I beg to subscribe myself, Mr. Editor, most respectfully yours,

Frederick Milns Edge.

Hotel Breteuil, Paris, Oct. 20, 1858.

The next epistle is from the pen of a former colleague of Mr. Staunton,—a gentleman whose literary articles in the Chess Players' Chronicle have earned world-wide notoriety. In the case under examination, he dissects Mr. Staunton's procedures with the skill of an able anatomist.


To the Editor of Bell's Life:—

Sir,—In the few remarks that you have appended to the letters respecting Mr. Morphy's proposed match with Mr. Staunton you have dealt satisfactorily with the whole matter. The letters may be considered under two heads, one of which[Pg 113] does not refer to, the other is written upon, the actual subject. That a few lines should be devoted not to the merits of the case will not surprise your readers, when they remember that, prejudice being created against, or in favor of, a particular chess-player, questions are not viewed in their true light; still less will they be surprised when I take this opportunity of doing justice to Anderssen, who is indirectly alluded to in one of the letters. Your Cambridge correspondent ridicules the notion of any evasion of play on the part of Mr. Staunton. His virtue, even approaching a fault, has been the continual search after a match. He resought St. Amant after defeating him, he exposed himself to every one for eight years, and thus earned two characters, one that of the chivalrous paladin, the other that of the representative of English chess. I wonder that an intelligent writer, such as your correspondent is, should not have traced the distinction between resuming play against antagonists already beaten, or likely to be beaten, and commencing matches with really powerful combatants. I wonder, also, that he did not inform your readers that at the time at which St. Amant played with Mr. Staunton, the former, excellent as he was, received odds from Des Chapelles, who was out of play; I wonder that, as if with perfect knowledge, he could write upon such a chess match without alluding to Des Chapelles' celebrated criticism on the Staunton-St. Amant games, a criticism which, published in the Berliner Schachzeitung of 1848, puts both players in their true places. I wonder, again, that he should not have summed up Mr. S.'s subsequent victories in two contests, one with Hörwitz, the other with Harrwitz. I wonder that he should not have told us that Hörwitz publicly announced his inferiority to Der Lasa and Hanstein, and that Harrwitz at the time mentioned received P and two moves, but in the same year defeated Hörwitz, the very player upon whose defeat, on even terms, Mr. S.'s reputation mainly depended after his match with St. Amant. Another instance of Mr. Staunton's chivalry is, says your correspondent, an offer to "play any player in the world, and to pay his expenses for coming to England." The best[Pg 114] answer to this is to quote the actual conditions of the challenge propounded by Sir G. Stephen on Mr. S.'s behalf in 1853: "1. If the acceptor of the challenge be resident abroad, the stake on each side shall not be less than £250. 2. If the challenge is taken up by a player resident in this country, the amount of stake shall be from £100 to £150. 3. That the match be played at a private hotel," etc. After the proposal, Mr. Staunton gave it meaning in a public speech (Chess Players' Chronicle, 1853)—"The challenge was intended for Anderssen's acceptance. The £250 was to cover travelling expenses in a foreign country." Now I wish to ask your correspondent is there here any offer to pay a competitor's expenses? Or will he read it as others do? "I name £100 for men whom I do not fear, but £250 for Anderssen, whom, as he beat me in 1851, I wish to play with. Nominally, the larger sum will cover his expenses, but as I intend to win, he will practically have to find £250, his expenses, and the bill at a private hotel, simply to give me, the chivalrous Bayard, my revenge?" After this I trust that we shall not hear of chivalry in offering to pay the expenses of a competitor. "M. A.," as a Cambridge man, may be asked whether Mr. S.'s engagement "on a work of great magnitude" (I quote his own words) is equal to Anderssen's mathematical and philological labors? But Mr. S. is the representative of English chess. By whose election is he "divinæ particula auræ?" Des Chapelles was then irreverent, and I am an iconoclast. Is he self-elected? Then away with parliaments and associations of chess, and their self-elected speaker, "Fairplay." I never yet heard of a man calling himself the representative of any thing English, if he will not carry out his representation. I have heard of champions of the river retiring. I have seen them row, and take a beating manfully. I know that Lewis, Fraser, Slous, Walker, etc., gave up difficult chess. I never yet heard of half and half play. Either a man pretends to represent English chess, or he does not. If he makes his claim, whether self-elected or not, he must play (a representative, however ignorant, gives his vote in the House of Commons), if not, he may retire into private life.[Pg 115] Morphy may reply to your correspondent and to his coryphæus at the same time—"I have played for ten years. I am not 21, but am prepared to play the best European masters now. If I am challenged when I have taken up another pursuit I will not do one thing. I will not accept a challenge, and months after not carry out my acceptance. I will not, after long delay, name even the day for commencing the match, and then have no idea of playing. True it is that you may not fairly represent English chess. Two British players separated Anderssen from you in 1851, but, Williams being dead, Mr. Wyvill not playing matches, and you still claiming priority in Anglo-Saxon chess, I, an Anglo-Saxon, on behalf of the race that speaks the same language, ask you, will you maintain or resign your claim?" This is true reasoning. The contest, "M. A." assures us, would be unequal. Mr. S. is P and two moves below his strength, yet he represents English play. Where, then, are the even players, where the P and move men? Is the fragrance of the P and two moves so refreshing, that the P and move must not be classed amongst our British roses? Des Chapelles tells us that Philidor classed Legalle as a player on even terms, Verdoni as one to receive pawn for the move, Bernard, Carlier, etc., as P and move players. I think better of English chess players than to claim, with "M. A.," our representative in a P and two moves player. Your Cambridge correspondent will pardon me for attempting to refute his positions. From the style of his letter I am convinced that, had he equal experience, he would write much the same as I have done. "Fairplay's" letter may soon be dismissed; his argument is, that Mr. Morphy came to Europe not to play Mr. Staunton (who had previously refused, F. P. should have added, "to play in America," not in England), but to take part in the tournament held by the Chess Association at Birmingham; that he did not play there, sending different answers for his non-appearance; and, assuming this to be a fault, that therefore any one may commit the same fault, if he can give better reasons for the commission. In answer to this, Mr. Morphy did not come to Europe to play at Birmingham, but[Pg 116] to test his strength with the cis-Atlantic players. It reads almost like a joke, when a man writes seriously from Birmingham to inform us that Morphy came 6000 miles to play the first two or first three games, especially when every one in London has known for more than three months that he came to play long set matches. What was Mr. M.'s behavior? He came to England in June, and visited Birmingham directly. He had been offered £70 as a retaining fee on account of the distance travelled by him (similarly Anderssen, Staunton, etc., received retaining fees in 1857), but refused the offer, making, with characteristic generosity, such excuses as "he had not received the Birmingham letters," and that "the meeting was adjourned for two months." In other words, Mr. Morphy, giving up all pecuniary claim, practically paid nearly seven-eighths of the prizes offered to public competition. Hence he did not take part in the little contests at Birmingham. He civilly assented to the alteration of time—he civilly left Löwenthal, whom he had beaten in a set match, a chance of gaining the first prize—he civilly gave answers to telegraphic messages, answers—I regret here that they were more polite than exact—that meant the same thing, "I leave the contest to others." If these replies did not—as short telegraphic messages cannot—express Mr. M.'s meaning, it does not become those who profited by his chivalry to write in the style of "Fairplay;" and I am sure that the Birmingham local committee would be the first to gainsay the latter's statement. He must be satisfied, at all events, as Löwenthal, just beaten by Morphy, met Mr. Staunton, whom he was anxious to see pitted against the young American, and won, thereby saving criticism as to "What was, might be, or could be." What "will be," we shall see. Mr. M. went to Birmingham simply to get Mr. S. to name, in the presence of others, a day for commencing the proposed match. Then and there Mr. S. named the 1st of November. A representative of Englishmen should give either a bona fide acceptance or a refusal. Morphy's motto is "Play, not talk." He comes and goes to foreign countries to seek play. He is the "Il Puttino" of the New World. At the risk,[Pg 117] then, sir, of being called a "frivolous noodle" by your very elegant correspondent "Fairplay," I shall take the liberty of believing what an honest man like Morphy says. I shall not hold Staunton to be the representative of English chess, but shall look to younger and more consistent players as far more likely to maintain what your correspondents call the national honor, and am, sir, your obedient servant,

An English Chess Player.

East Sheen, Oct. 21, 1858.

The next two letters, also to the editor of Bell's Life in London, do not profess to argue the question, but are merely argumenta ad hominum. They serve to show how warm a feeling in his favor Mr. Morphy had evoked amongst the fellow-countrymen of Mr. Staunton.

To the Editor of Bell's Life:

Mr. Editor: The general opinion of English chess players is simply that Staunton is afraid of Morphy. If, as his friends say, he is out of condition, let him train, or give up the championship like a man. No one would blame him, at his age and with his avocation, for declining severe matches; but in that case he must resign the belt into fresher hands. The champion ceases to be the champion when he is no longer able or willing to take up whatever gauntlet is flung down. Let the chivalrous boy who has crossed the Atlantic to challenge the chess of the Old World have fair play at the hands of Englishmen. If we cannot beat him fairly, let us not seek to put him off with shabby dodges.

Yours, &c.

The Ex-President of Provincial Chess Club.

Oct. 20th.

This is sound, straightforward, English common sense.[Pg 118]

To the Editor of Bell's Life:—

Mr. Editor: Mr. Staunton either is, or is not, the chess champion of England, ready to defend his "belt" against all comers. If he be the champion, he has no right to plead "want of practice," "literary avocations," or such like excuses, for "semper paratus" must be a "champion's" motto. If he be not the champion, why then did he hold himself out as such by inviting or accepting Mr. Morphy's challenge? Why did he not say at the first, "I was the champion of England some years ago, but (solve senescentem) I am not so now; I am only a private gentleman, engaged in literary pursuits, and so forth." His true position would then have been clearly understood, and I am sure Mr. Morphy would never have sought to disturb his retirement. But will the English chess-playing public allow Mr. Staunton to put in this plea after all that has passed, and after all his declarations of willingness to play? I trust, sir, that, if such an excuse be allowed, at least we shall have the candor to acknowledge ourselves fairly vanquished, and not pretend that we have escaped defeat because we have "prudently" declined the contest. We must be on our guard for the future how we proclaim as our "champion" a gentleman who "retires into private life" the moment a formidable rival appears.

Yours, &c.,


The week following the publication of the above letters, Mr. Staunton published in the Illustrated London News PART of Mr. Morphy's communication, with the private answer sent a fortnight before. The paragraph in the former, relating to Mr. S.'s iniquitous statement of Morphy's arriving in Europe without funds, was entirely ignored, and that, too, in the face of its having been given in extenso two weeks previously by four weekly London papers, and a copy sent[Pg 119] to his editor-in-chief. Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat was never more thoroughly exemplified, and the course pursued proves incontestably that Mr. Staunton possesses a certain kind of courage which does not stick at trifles. Was it presumable that a man of his experience would dare to commit such an unwarrantable act, or did he think that Mr. Morphy would pass over, in silence, such a suppression?

The animus was now evident. Mr. Staunton had never awarded that praise to the young American's contests which every other chess editor and player in England and Europe had invariably bestowed: still, no action could be taken on this. Mr. Staunton had continually postponed the commencement of the match: no handle to take hold of was offered here, since he had, as continually, asserted his desire to play. Mr. Staunton had announced that the stakes were reduced from £1,000 a side to £500 at Mr. Morphy's request; his antagonist was still silent. Mr. Staunton had published a knowingly untrue statement, and, when the sufferer complains in such manner as to afford him the utmost latitude for explanation and apology, he cancels the paragraph, and does not even deign to refer to it in his reply. Mr. Staunton caps the climax by declining finally to play the match. Thus Mr. Staunton's response to the New Orleans Chess Club, so far as he was concerned, meant nothing. His acceptance of Morphy's challenge in London, and the statement in his paper that the match would come off, meant nothing.[Pg 120] His postponements meant nothing. His declarations before Lord Lyttelton and other gentlemen, at Birmingham, meant nothing.

Thus there was apparently an end to the whole matter. But an eventuality presented itself:—Mr. Staunton had shown himself capable of perverting facts to his own benefit, and might he not assert ultimately that Mr. Morphy was the cause of the match not taking place? Could he not, too, at the moment our hero was quitting Europe, declare his readiness to play, knowing that Morphy must be off? He had so acted towards Herr Anderssen after the tournament in 1851, declaring that "the German saw fit to leave," although he was well aware that the Professor's collegiate duties at Breslau rendered it impossible for him to stay in England and play the proposed match. Paul Morphy therefore closed up every avenue of eventual misrepresentation, by the following address to Lord Lyttelton, in his official quality of President of the National Association of English Chess-players:


To the Right Hon. Lord Lyttelton, President of the British Chess Association:

My Lord,—On the 4th of last February the Chess Club of New Orleans gave a challenge to your countryman, Mr. Howard Staunton, to visit that city and engage in a match at chess with me. On the 3d of April Mr. Staunton replied to this défi in the Illustrated London News, characterizing the terms of the cartel as "being distinguished by extreme courtesy," but objecting to so long a journey for such a purpose, and engaging[Pg 121] me "to anticipate by a few months an intended voyage to Europe." Believing that "a journey of many thousand miles" was the only obstacle in the way of our meeting, I made immediate preparation, and, within two months, I had the pleasure of repeating the challenge personally in the rooms of the St. George's Chess Club. I need scarcely assure you, my lord, that Mr. Staunton enjoys a reputation in the United States unsurpassed by that of any player in Europe since the death of Labourdonnais, and I felt highly honored when he accepted my challenge, merely requesting a lapse of one month for the purpose of preparing himself for the encounter. Within a short period subsequently, Mr. Staunton obtained my consent to a postponement until after the annual meeting of the British Chess Association. A week prior to that event I addressed him in the following terms:—

"Dear Sir,—As we are now approaching the Birmingham meeting, at the termination of which you have fixed our match to commence, I think it would be advisable to settle the preliminaries during this week. Would you be good enough to state some early period when your seconds can meet mine, so that a contest which I have so much at heart, and which from your eminent position excites so much interest in the chess world, may be looked upon as a fait accompli.—I am, dear sir, yours very respectfully,

Paul Morphy."

Not receiving a satisfactory reply to this communication, I again wrote Mr. Staunton as follows:—

"Dear Sir,—I must first apologise for not replying to your previous communication. As you observe, my numerous contests must be the excuse for my remissness.

"It is certainly a high compliment to so young a player as myself that you, whose reputation in the chess arena has been unapproached during so many long years, should require any preparation for our match. Immediately on my arrival in England, some two months since, I spoke to you in reference to our contest, and, in accepting the challenge, you stated that you should require some time to prepare, and you proposed a period for commencing, which I accepted.[Pg 122]

"I am well aware that your many engagements in the literary world must put you to some inconvenience in meeting me, and I am therefore desirous to consult your wishes in every respect. Would you please state the earliest opportunity when those engagements will permit the match coming off, such time being consistent with your previous preparation?

"The 'few weeks' referred to in your favor seem to be rather vague, and I shall feel highly gratified by your fixing a definite period for the contest. I leave the terms entirely to yourself.—I remain, dear sir, yours very respectfully,

"Paul Morphy."

Mr. Staunton left London for Birmingham without deigning to reply.

I attended the annual meeting of the Association for the express purpose of requesting a definite period for commencing the match. In the presence of your lordship and other gentlemen, Mr. Staunton fixed that commencement for the forepart of November, promising that he would inform me of the precise date within a few days. I heard nothing further from him on the subject. Your lordship will have remarked from the above that Mr. Staunton has thus obtained three separate and distinct postponements.

The approach of November induced me to again address Mr. Staunton, which I did on the 6th of the present month. As my letter was published in numerous London journals, and was also sent to the editor-in-chief of the Illustrated London News, I had a right to expect a public answer, particularly as I had complained of a false and damaging statement in the chess department of that paper. On the 16th Mr. Staunton stated editorially that—

"Mr. Morphy's games this week exclude both his letter and Mr. Staunton's reply. If we can spare space for them they shall be given in the next number."

On the 9th inst., within a short time of receiving my letter, Mr. Staunton replied to me privately. As my communication was a public one, I was somewhat surprised at the course pursued by a gentleman holding such a position as Mr. Staunton,[Pg 123] and did not, therefore, even acknowledge receipt, fearing that I might thereby be induced unintentionally to commit myself. Having promised my letter and his reply, Mr. Staunton published what he represents as such in the Illustrated London News of the 23d inst. He has thereby transferred the question from the chess arena to the bar of public opinion, and as a stranger in a foreign land—a land which has ever been the foremost in hospitality—I claim justice from Englishmen.

The most important portion of my letter Mr. Staunton has dared to suppress. I refer to the following paragraph, published by various journals, but omitted by the Illustrated London News, although sent to the editor of that paper as well as to Mr. Staunton himself:—

"A statement appeared in the chess department of that journal a few weeks since, that 'Mr. Morphy had come to Europe unprovided with backers or seconds,' the inference being obvious—that my want of funds was the reason of our match not taking place. As you are the editor of that department of the Illustrated London News, I felt hurt that a gentleman who had always received me at his club and elsewhere with great kindness and courtesy, should allow so prejudicial a statement to be made in reference to me; one, too, which is not strictly in accordance with fact."

On my first arriving in England, I informed Mr. Staunton that my stakes would be forthcoming the moment he desired, and I was therefore utterly at a loss to account for so unwarrantable a statement being made in reference to me, unless with the intention of compromising my position before the public. And I would ask your lordship's attention to the terms of the suppressed paragraph, couched in such language as to avoid all insinuation of animus, and affording Mr. Staunton the amplest opportunity for explaining away the difficulty. The course pursued by that gentleman cannot do otherwise than justify me in ascribing to him the very worst of motives in publishing what he knew to be incorrect, in denying me common justice, and in giving as the whole of my letter what he knew to be only a part of it.[Pg 124]

From Mr. Staunton I now appeal to the great body of English chess players, I appeal to the British Chess Association, I appeal to yourself, my lord, as the Mæcenas of English chess; and, as I visited your country for the purpose of challenging Mr. Staunton, which challenge he has repeatedly accepted, I now demand of you that you shall declare to the world it is through no fault of mine that this match has not taken place.—I have the honor to remain, my lord, yours very respectfully,

Paul Morphy.

Cafe de la Regence, Paris, October 26, 1858.

To this appeal, Lord Lyttelton made the following admirable reply, which covers the whole ground:—


Bodmin, Cornwall, 3d November.

Dear Sir:—I much regret that I have been unable till to-day to reply to your letter of the 26th October, 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 could take any step 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 can 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[Pg 125] 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 labors 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 considerateness, 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[Pg 126] 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.

Mr. Morphy could not do otherwise than avail himself of the permission accorded him by Lord Lyttelton, to publish so full a justification. He thus put himself right on the record, and prevented any further misrepresentation. Numerous clubs in the United Kingdom took action upon the letter, and the following resolution of the Manchester Chess Club—one of the most influential in the country—shows what was the general feeling upon the subject.


At a special meeting, called in compliance with a requisition numerously signed, it was resolved—

"That this meeting, while recognizing Mr. Staunton's right to decline any chess challenge which he might find inconvenient and incompatible with his other engagements, deems it proper (inasmuch as Lord Lyttelton has only felt himself at liberty to answer, in his private capacity, Mr. Morphy's appeal to him as President of the British Chess Association) to declare its full concurrence in the opinion expressed by Lord Lyttelton in his letter to Mr. Morphy, of the 3d inst., that in all fairness and considerateness Mr. Staunton should have told Mr. Morphy, long before he did, that he declined the proposed match.

"That copies of this resolution be sent to Mr. Morphy, Mr. Staunton, and the editor of the Illustrated London News."

17th November, 1858.

[Pg 127]

Mr. Staunton was able to cite but one instance of an association sufficiently hardy to oppose its opinion to the verdict of Lord Lyttelton. A select circle of Mr. S.'s friends, the close-borough Cambridge University Chess Club, ventured the following resolutions, which were forwarded for publication to several journals, as a would-be antidote to that of the Manchester Club.


At a meeting of the Cambridge University Chess Club, held November 26, 1858, the following resolutions were passed unanimously:

"That the Cambridge University Chess Club, recognizing the important services rendered by Mr. Staunton to the cause of chess, and seeing with regret the ungenerous attacks which have for some time past been directed against him by a certain section of the press, notorious for its anti-English tendencies, are of opinion

"1. That under the peculiar circumstances in which Mr. Staunton found himself placed, it was scarcely possible for him to do otherwise than decline the proposed match with Mr. Morphy.

"2. That his allowing the challenge to remain open so long as there appeared the slightest hope of his being able to play, was, beyond all question, the proper course to be adopted by one really anxious for the encounter."

I cannot do better than give the remarks upon the above resolutions by the "Era" newspaper; they make mince-meat of the Cantabs' reasonings. The "Era" answers thus:[Pg 128]


"It will be seen that the Cambridge University Chess Club constitutes itself the champion of Mr. Staunton against "ungenerous attacks directed against him by a section of the press, notorious for its anti-English tendencies." We wish the Cambridge gentlemen had pointed out the section they refer to. We were not aware that chess was of any country, or that there were any anti-English tendencies in connection with it. The fact is, that the section of the metropolitan chess press, conducted by foreigners who have made their homes in England, has hitherto refrained from expressing any judgment in the dispute, contenting itself with giving the letters ungarbled and unmutilated; but in chess columns, conducted by Englishmen, have appeared the remarks pointed at by the Cambridge Club; so here we have the anomaly of anti-English Englishmen. With regard to the resolutions which follow the preamble, it is impossible to cavil at. (1.) There is no doubt that under what are delicately called "the peculiar circumstances," Mr. Staunton was right in not playing Mr. Morphy. If a man feels he would have no chance, it would be foolish for him to venture on a contest. Resolution (2) is not so impervious to criticism. Coming from so learned a quarter as Cambridge, we are rather disappointed at the looseness of its wording. The intention, of course, was to justify Mr. Staunton in taking the course he has adopted, but it does not do so. It says he was right in "allowing the challenge to remain open" till the last moment. If, indeed, Mr. Staunton had kept the challenge open as long as possible no one would have blamed him, but that was precisely what he did not do. He accepted the challenge, and thereby closed with it, and his friends subscribed funds for the stakes. What Mr. Staunton did allow to remain open was the day; and, after repeated promises to name it, that has been postponed to—never. This is what is complained of in Mr. Staunton's conduct, and Lord Lyttelton was right, and expressed the judgment of the great majority of English chess players, when he wrote that Mr. Staunton might and ought, at an earlier date,[Pg 129] to have informed Mr. Morphy of his inability to play. We say nothing of the paragraphs which have appeared in the journal of which Mr. Staunton is the chess editor, insinuating that Mr. Morphy's money was not ready, because he (Mr. Staunton) may not be answerable for them, but confine ourselves, in conformity with our English tendencies, to an expression of our concurrence in the views of an English nobleman, the whole of the members of the Metropolitan Chess circle, and those of the provincial clubs who have communicated with us on the subject."

Mr. Staunton's short-sighted policy with regard to Paul Morphy, had not only caused him to be condemned vis-à-vis of that gentleman, but his former career was also dragged into discussion and severely commented upon. The following letter appeared in the "Field" a week after the appeal to Lord Lyttelton; and, as will be seen, it is from the pen of a once warm friend of Mr. Staunton:—


Sir,—I am desirous, with your permission, of saying a few words upon the relative position now occupied by Messrs. Staunton and Morphy, whose proposed encounter has been brought to such an unfortunate, though not unforeseen, termination. Now I am well acquainted with Mr. Staunton. I have been concerned on his behalf in the arrangement of one of his (proposed) matches, with a player whom he has never ceased to vituperate since that period when I endeavored so strenuously to bring them together. I have fought Mr. Staunton's battles for him by pen and by word of mouth on sundry occasions. I wish, indeed, I could do so now; for, as a chess player, and as a laborer in the field of chess literature, I place him on the very highest pinnacle. Since the time of M'Donnell, I be[Pg 130]lieve that no player in this country—not to say Europe—has ever reached so high a standard as was attained by our English champion when he did battle with St. Amant. Since that time he has been the rather concerned in editorial duties, and in intimating to real or imaginary correspondents in the Chess Players' Chronicle, (now defunct,) and in the Illustrated London News, (full of vitality,) what he could do on the chequered field, if those who dreamed of approaching him could but muster sufficient money to meet his terms, or what other and peculiar restrictions (owing to delicate health and "nervous irritability") he should impose upon any adversary with whom he engaged himself.

From what I have seen of Mr. Staunton, I should think the term "delicate" thoroughly inapplicable to his condition, but that he is highly irritable, and nervously susceptible of all antagonistic impressions, no one who knows him can for a moment doubt.

How easy 'tis, when destiny proves kind,
With full-spread sails to run before the wind.

So sings the poet. Destiny did prove kind to Mr. Staunton when he played his match in Paris with St. Amant. The Englishman made the most of it, and achieved a splendid triumph. At the great Chess Tournament in 1851 destiny was not quite so obliging. The champion from whom we expected so much had a head-wind against him, and he was beaten. I saw much of Mr. Staunton at that time. I believe—in all justice let it be said—that he was thoroughly unnerved, that he was utterly unequal to an arduous contest, and that his great merits ought not to be gauged by his play upon the occasion alluded to. He deserved (he did not receive, for he had never given the same to others) every sympathy under circumstances which were intensely mortifying to himself personally, and to us nationally.

Since 1851 it has been pretty generally understood that Mr. Staunton's irritability has not diminished, and that his literary responsibilities have the rather multiplied. Consequently we had no right to expect, nationally, that he would again be[Pg 131] our champion, and contend with the young American, whose reputation ran before him to Europe, and has accompanied him ever since his arrival from the United States. We had no right, I say, to expect this, but for one reason. That reason is to be found in the chess department of the Illustrated London News, of which Mr. S. is the acknowledged editor. It has been there constantly implied—nay, it has been over and over again unequivocally stated—during the last eight years, that the vanquisher of St. Amant is still the English champion; that as such he has a right to dictate his own terms, and that if any one is prepared to accede to those terms, he (Mr. Staunton) is prepared for the encounter. It matters not whether the correspondents to whom these implications are made are real or (as is generally supposed) imaginary. It is sufficient that certain statements are made with the intention of conveying a false impression to the public as regards Mr. Staunton's desire to play and capability of playing. This is where he is so greatly to blame; this is the point on which he has alienated from himself during the last few years so many of his warmest friends. No one blames Mr. Staunton for not playing with Mr. Morphy; but every one has a right to blame Mr. Staunton if, week after week, he implies in his own organ that there is a chance of a match, if all that time he knows that there is no chance of a match whatever. This, I affirm deliberately, and with great pain, is what Mr. Staunton has done. It has been done times out of number, and this in ways which have been hardly noticed. If the editor of the chess department of the Illustrated London News merely states as a piece of news that Mr. Morphy is coming to England from America to arrange a match at chess with Mr. Staunton, and Mr. Staunton (being that editor himself, and being burdened with literary responsibilities which he knows to be so great as to prevent his playing an arduous contest) fails to append to such statement another, to the effect that he has given up public chess, and has no intention of again renewing it, he is not acting in a straightforward and honorable manner. But much more than this has[Pg 132] been effected. So solicitous has Mr. Staunton been to trade as long as possible upon his past reputation, that it has been written in the Illustrated London News since Mr. Morphy's arrival in this country, that he (Mr. M.) is not prepared with the necessary stakes for an encounter with Mr. Staunton. What truth there was in such averment may be gathered from the admirable letter in your impression of last Saturday from the young American to Lord Lyttelton. Why is not Mr. Staunton content to say (what those who like him best would be glad to be authorized to say for him): "I have done much for the cause of chess, but I am not equal to what I once was; and I am hampered by engagements which do not admit of my playing matches now. I cannot risk my reputation under such manifest disadvantages as would surround me in a contest with Mr. Morphy." The public at large would then respect Mr. Staunton's candor, and have a larger appreciation than they now have of his great merits. It is true that Mr. Staunton has said this at last; but he has been forced to say with a bad grace what ought long ago to have been said voluntarily with a good one.

These unpleasant (not to use a harsher term) circumstances are the more to be deplored at present because of the frank, courteous, and unassuming conduct of Mr. Morphy upon every occasion since he set foot in Europe. I have seen him play in London and in Paris; and I have noted those obliging and unobtrusive manners which secure to him the good-will of everybody, and surround him by troops of friends. How is it that Mr. Staunton is not surrounded by troops of friends likewise? Is he not a scholar and a gentleman? Has he not many qualifications for the distinguished literary position he now fills? Undoubtedly he has. But he has never been able to merge the personal in the general—to regard his own individuality as other than the first consideration. Brought into contact many years ago with players who were not refined gentlemen, an antagonism was immediately established between the two parties. Unhappily for the chess world, literary opportunities were[Pg 133] afforded in the columns of rival newspapers for the indulgence of malevolent feelings on both sides. To this warfare there has never been a cessation. So notorious is the fact of its existence that it is impossible to rely, in one paper, upon any statement having reference to the London Chess Club; it is equally impossible to rely, in the other, upon any statement affecting the St. George's Club. Ladies who are devoted to "Caissa," and write to the Illustrated London News, are not aware of these things. Imaginary correspondents, of course, are utterly ignorant of them. But we who live in and about London, who have been behind the scenes at both theatres, know how much reliance is to be placed upon a certain kind of chess intelligence with which two rival journals regale their correspondents and the general public every week. Look even at the Illustrated London News of last Saturday, and you will see a letter professing to come from Birmingham, (I think it is a misprint for Billingsgate,) which is absolutely disgraceful. Why should Mr. Staunton try to bolster up his reputation (which is European) with sentiments and language of a purely (I mean impurely) local character? Why is one player always to be cried up at the expense of another? Why are ungenerous and ungentlemanly insinuations to be made against a youth whose conduct has been characterized by so much unobtrusiveness and so much good feeling as that of Mr. Morphy? Why is Mr. Harrwitz always to be run down in the Illustrated London News? Why are Mr. Löwenthal and Mr. Brien, quondam editorial protégés, now never spoken of but in terms of disparagement? Why should Mr. Staunton call upon the cercle at Paris to insist upon Mr. Harrwitz progressing with his match with Mr. Morphy at a more rapid pace, when the German had pleaded ill health as the cause of the delay? Who has drawn so largely upon the patience of the British public, on the score of ill health and "palpitations of the heart," et hoc genus omne, as the generous and sympathizing writer who thus stabs a rival player when he is down? It is time, sir, that these things should cease. We are all weary of them. What[Pg 134] better opportunity for crying a truce to these mean and petty warfares of the pen than the one which now presents itself? Mr. Staunton is our champion no longer. We must turn to some one else to uphold the national flag upon that field where Labourdonnais and M'Donnell fought and struggled. So anxious am I that good feeling should be restored, and that we should be united as I see chess players united in other countries, that I have put together hurriedly these reflections, which, however imperfect they may be, are true and just. And because I have observed that the chess department of The Field, which you so ably edit, is peculiarly free from personalities and remarkably authentic in its information, I ask you to help me in the good cause by giving publicity to this letter. I am not ashamed of what I have written, nor do I desire to shrink from the responsibility of revealing my name, if it is necessary. I enclose my card, as a guarantee, and prefer, if it meets your views, to appear only under the name of—


It is difficult in any country, and quite impossible in England, to struggle successfully against public opinion. Mr. Staunton had kept silence as long as possible, but there was but one course for him to pursue, namely, in one way or another to own that he was wrong. The chess circles in which he was once the most welcome of all comers, now turned on him the cold shoulder; the first clubs in the kingdom, and amongst them the St. George's, were signifying their desire to offer Paul Morphy public dinners; such eminent players as Captain Kennedy volunteered subscriptions towards a national testimonial for the young American, not more as an evidence of their admiration for him as a master in the game, than as marking their[Pg 135] esteem for him as a man.[C] Mr. Staunton could no longer resist such a pressure, and besides, he owed some apology to his paper for the suppression of the famous paragraph; he therefore addressed the following communication to his chief, the editor of the Illustrated London News:


To the Editor of the Illustrated London News:

Sir,—My attention has this moment been directed to a passage in a letter of Lord Lyttelton to Mr. Morphy, wherein allusion is made to the "suppression" of a portion of Mr. Morphy's letter to me, which you published, together with my answer, in your paper for Oct. 23. I have not seen the epistle to which Lord Lyttelton's is a reply; but I plead guilty at once to having omitted, when sending you Mr. Morphy's jeremiade and my answer, a couple of paragraphs from the former. My reasons for omitting them were, in the first[Pg 136] place, because they appeared to me to be irrelevant to the main point between Mr. Morphy and me; secondly, because I know if the letters extended very much beyond the limited space you apportion to chess, they were pretty certain of being omitted, or, as Mr. Morphy phrases it, "suppressed" altogether; and, thirdly, because I had already written to a friend in Paris with whom, through my introduction, Mr. M. was living upon intimate terms, an explanation touching the notice Mr. Morphy professes to be so concerned at; and from my friend's reply, which intimated that Mr. M. was about to write to me in an amicable spirit, I of course supposed there was an end of the matter, and that I should be permitted to pursue my work, and this young gentleman his play, without further misunderstanding. That, after this, and in the face of my endeavors through your Journal to set his blindfold and other chess exploits before the public in the most advantageous light—in the face of every civility which to the extent of my opportunities, I have endeavored to show him from the first moment of his arrival in this country—he could reconcile it to his sense of honor and honesty, to impute to me a wilful suppression of any portion of his letter, does, indeed, amaze me, and I can only account for it, by supposing he is under the influence of very ill advisers, or that his idea of what is honorable and honest, is very different from what I had hoped and believed it to be.

I am, sir, yours, &c.,

H. Staunton.

November 15.

P. S. That you may judge with what likelihood and with what propriety Mr. Morphy attributes the omission of the excerpta to sinister motives, I enclose them, and shall be obliged by your giving them the additional publicity he craves, as soon as your space permits:—

"A statement appeared in the chess department of that Journal, (The Illustrated London News) a few weeks since, that 'Mr. Morphy had come to Europe unprovided with backers or seconds'—the inference being obvious, that my want of funds was the reason of our match not taking place. As you[Pg 137] are the editor of that department of the Illustrated London News, I felt much hurt that a gentleman who had always received me at his club and elsewhere, with great kindness and courtesy should allow so prejudicial a statement to be made in reference to me; one, too, which is not strictly consonant with fact."

"In conclusion, I beg leave to state, that I have addressed a copy of this letter to the editors of the Illustrated London News, Bell's Life in London, The Era, The Field, and The Sunday Times; being most desirous that our true position should no longer be misunderstood by the community at large. I again request you to fix the date for our commencing the match."

Mr. Morphy was not desirous of prolonging the discussion, after so full and entire an indorsement from Mr. Staunton's fellow-countrymen, or he could easily have driven that gentleman further into the mire. But Mr. S. made two statements in the above letter, which Paul Morphy could not allow to pass unrebuked, and he accordingly denied, publicly, that he had received any introduction whatever from that gentleman, or that he had even hinted his intention of writing Mr. Staunton, amicably or otherwise.

The latter part of the letter is in questionable taste. As though Mr. S. had acquired any right to misrepresent facts, publish misstatements, and deny reparation, on account of "having set his (M.'s) blindfold and other chess-exploits before the public in the most advantageous light."

By so doing, Mr. Staunton merely fulfilled his editorial duty; for the entire chess world was on the qui[Pg 138] vive after Morphy's exploits. His games were being published throughout Europe, to the exclusion of nearly all others, and surely Mr. S. could not allow his paper to be behind other journals. But he knew full well that, after the first fortnight or three weeks, Mr. Morphy never gave him a single partie, being hurt at the ungenerous treatment evinced towards him in the notes. Mr. Staunton was using the columns of an influential journal to crush a dangerous opponent, and, at the time he penned the above letter, he well knew that Paul Morphy resented from the first such unfairness, and had positively forbidden any of his games to be sent to him.

Mr. Staunton makes reference, in conclusion, to "very ill advisers." I suppose I must take this mainly to myself, more particularly as it is not the first time of his using the expression during the discussion. Without attempting to defend myself, I would say to Mr. Staunton: "I can reconcile it with my sense of honor and honesty, to impute to you a wilful suppression of the paragraph so frequently referred to. Had you given that paragraph, you would, per force, have been obliged to give your reasons for the assertion therein contained. And I would remind you, sir, that, in all this discussion, you have never touched the real point at issue—never apologized for the misstatement of which Mr. Morphy complains with so much cause. Paul Morphy is acquainted with the reason for that misstatement, but he has never evinced a desire to force you to state it publicly. He can afford to be generous."[Pg 139]

It may be cause of regret to some that the match between these two athletæ did not take place. Such a contest would not have afforded any test of comparison, inasmuch as Mr. Staunton is not now the player he was eight or ten years ago. But an infallible test exists by which to judge of their respective merits—viz. their games. "By their fruits ye shall know them."


Mr. Staunton's weakness was want of sufficient courage to say, "He is stronger than I." Löwenthal said it before his match with Morphy was finished; Mr. Boden openly avowed his inferiority, as also Mr. Bird, and many other eminent players. And Saint Amant, in Paris, led the young hero up the steps of the throne, and seated him beside Labourdonnais, proclaiming, "Voiçi notre maitre à nous tous." Had Mr. Staunton so done, he would merely have anticipated the verdict of posterity, and honored himself in the eyes of his countrymen and the world.



To the Editor of the Era:

Sir,—As I understand that Mr. Morphy contemplates another visit to England before his return to America, will you permit me, through your columns, respectfully to suggest to the chess community of this country the propriety of offering him a public entertainment, together with some adequate testimonial which may serve to mark our sense of his transcendent ability as a chess player; and also our appreciation of him as a chivalrous, high-spirited, and honorable man—a character which I hope Englishmen know how to value far more than even any amount of skill at chess.

Should this proposal take any definite shape, I shall be happy to be allowed to contribute £5 towards its accomplishment.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

A. A. Kennedy.

Bath, Jan. 1, 1859.

[Captain Kennedy, we feel sure, in this communication, expresses the feeling of a large majority of English chess players, and we have little doubt but that his suggestion will be entertained and carried out. For ourselves we shall be happy to aid to the utmost in any plan that is formed for the purpose.]

[Pg 140]



On the last day of last August, I awakened Paul Morphy at an early hour. The Folkestone train left London Bridge at 9 55 A. M., and there was some twenty minutes of hard driving to get to the railway station; but Morphy came down to breakfast with admirable sang froid, took his own time at the meal, laughed at my fears of being too late, and got into a cab at least ten minutes later than we ought to have done. We arrived at the depot in time to see the doors shut in our faces. Now this was not agreeable, inasmuch as there was no other train for Paris, by that line, during the day. I therefore proposed to Morphy that we should stroll about until half-past one o'clock in the afternoon, and then take the route through Dover and Calais, to which he assented.

The trip across the Straits of Dover is neither long nor pleasant, and Mr. Morphy was dreadfully sea-sick; but his mind was preoccupied with his forthcoming campaigns in la Belle France, and he observed to me,[Pg 141] "Well, now I am going to meet Harrwitz! I shall beat him in the same proportion as I beat Löwenthal, although he is a better match-player than Löwenthal. But I shall play better with Harrwitz." Some of my readers may object to such an observation; but those who know Morphy, know that he speaks from thorough acquaintance with his opponents' capabilities, and conviction of his own superiority—not from any improper feeling of pride.

People suffering from sea-sickness generally recognize the truth of the maxim, "It is better to give than to receive:" you have much difficulty in getting them to take any thing, even fat pork; but if you watch your opportunity, when the will is stronger than the deed, and induce them to worry down a modicum of champagne well up, you infuse new life into them. So I requested the steward to make us acquainted with his Silléry Mousseux, and Morphy and I toasted each other on the deck of the steamboat. On my asking him immediately afterwards how he felt, he allowed that he was better; adding, however, that he believed it was nothing but imagination which worked the cure.

It was but a short run to the pier of Calais, and the sea-sickness was forgotten when our feet again touched terra firma. On landing, we got into a slight difficulty. Morphy speaks the French language with the purest Gallic accent, and the officials would not at first consent to his travelling with a United States passport. This our hero soon cleared up by reading the gens d'armes[Pg 142] a précis of the settlement, manners, customs, &c., of the State of Louisiana, and his own antecedents; whereupon that official restored him his papier règlé, but confiscated a quantity of underlinen. They told us that was Customary.

Eight o'clock in the evening; and if we took the train forthwith, we should arrive in Paris next morning at six. Morphy proposed that we should sleep there that night, and take an early train the following day, which course would enable us to see the town of Calais. So we repaired to the Hotel Dessin, attended to our inner and outer man, and then prepared for a stroll. As the result of our observations, we agreed Calais must have been a magnificent town before the discovery of the principles of architecture. After diligent inquiry, we could not learn that any one knew when the last house was built, and Morphy gave it as his opinion that, were William the Conqueror to revisit Calais, he would find it unchanged, except in being dirtier. When I reminded him that the town possessed peculiar interest for me as an Englishman, he coolly set me down, by observing that he had a very poor opinion of my ancestors for wishing to keep such a place.

The next morning we got into the train at a quarter to eight o'clock, and commenced the long, dreary ride of ten mortal hours to Paris. But there was no way out of the difficulty, and, what with yawning and dozing between the stations, and grumbling at the tedious regulation speed of the French railways, we ulti[Pg 143]mately arrived at the capital. Now every traveller, on getting to this point, thinks he is bound to paint the various emotions arising in his breast on entering the city of the Seine. My own sensations were of strong Anglican bias. I wanted to dine. Morphy is never betrayed into rhapsody, and what he felt he didn't speak.

Having again submitted our baggage to the inspection of numerous officials, we thanked our stars for seeing the last of the Chemin de Fer du Nord,—drove off to Meurice's, where they gave us rooms about the fifteenth story,—started for the Restaurant des Trois Frères Provençaux, and got a capital dinner, and then addressed ourselves to the duties of flaneurs. I knew the French capital like a gamin de Paris; and, without saying a word to Morphy of my intention, I led him quietly down the Palais Royal, past the Théâtre Français, and right into the Café de la Régence.

[Pg 144]



Were I called upon to name the central spot in this whirling sphere, the point round which all other points revolve, I should say—The Café de la Régence.

Probably many of my readers will not think so, but that does not alter the fact. I name that café, not as a chess player, but from more general reasons. Take a bowl of water or any other liquid—punch will do—and, prior to drinking, experiment upon it. Turn it round and round until the liquid revolves quickly, and mark: there is one spot in the centre, a bubble, or mass of foam, which appears stationary, and all the other bubbles are circling and converging spirally towards it. So with my café.

In Paris, every other house is a café. The inhabitants are divided into two classes:—waiters at the café, and—frequenters of the café. Paris never existed until coffee was introduced. Paris is merely a big café, and is a product of the Mocha berry.

Every café has its speciality. At Paul Niquet's,[Pg 145] for instance, the chiffoniers congregate, and at Tortoni's, speculators and politicians. Not one of these establishments, throughout the city, but has its mark, by which to distinguish it from its fellows, in the same way as an ugly woman consoles herself with the belief that she has one quality at least which will captivate admirers. But the Café de la Régence stands out peculiar from the rest; it is what they are, and more too. It is an epitome of all.

Now the reader must not suppose I am going to enter on a lengthy history of this far-famed trysting spot of men of all countries, more particularly as Mr. George Walker anticipated me many years ago. Everybody knows that the Café de la Régence and the Café Procope are the two oldest in Paris; that the former is so named after the famous Regent Duke of Orleans; that Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Duke of Richelieu, Marshall Saxe, Franklin, Robespierre, Napoleon, etc., etc., etc., made it their place of frequent resort for the purpose of playing at chess. I am about to give a daguerreotype of the Régence as Morphy and I found it, and as any one will find it at the present day.

The first thing we caught sight of, on entering, was a dense cloud of tobacco smoke, the product of tabac de Caporal and cigars de la Régie. The second object was a massive individual, with Titanic shoulders, whom we afterwards learned was Monsieur Morel, or, as they call him there, "Le père Morel," and "The Rhinoce[Pg 146]ros." Having turned the flank of this gentleman, and our eyes becoming used to the peculiar atmosphere, we observed that tables were placed as close to each other as would admit of one's passing between them, and that chess was being played on some, draughts, cards, and dominoes on others. In a second room, two billiard-tables were in full action, surrounded by still other chess and card parties, whilst the unceasing hubbub arising from the throng seemed to render mental abstraction an impossibility. At a table in the first room, a small crowd was watching the contest between two amateurs of "ye noble game of chesse playe," and Morphy's attention was immediately arrested. I stepped up to the dame du comptoir and made inquiries as to who was then in the room, and learned from her that one of the two players Morphy was watching was Monsieur Journoud, "un de nos plus forts," the lady added, as though aware I was a stranger. She informed me that Mr. Harrwitz was then at Valenciennes, but intended to return to Paris at the end of the week, in order to meet Mr. Morphy. On my not expressing any surprise at the mention of the latter's name, she volunteered the information that Mr. Morphy was a celebrated American player, who had beaten everybody he had played with, and that they expected him yesterday. The lady was pleasingly voluble, and I encouraged her; this induced her to add that Monsieur Arnoux de Rivière had just received a letter from a friend in London, apprising him that our[Pg 147] hero had left the English capital, and was en route for Paris.

Having learned as much as the dame du comptoir was able to communicate, I rejoined Morphy, and we took a second look round the room. Sounds of all European languages saluted our ears, and types of different races our eyes. In one corner, a knot of Italians talked, amicably no doubt, in their rapid, quarrelsome manner. At one of the billiard tables, a party of Russians were having it their own way, without fear of listeners; Americans and English, Germans, Danes, Swedes, Greeks, Spaniards, etc., jabbered together regardless of bystanders, making the café a very Babel. Scores of journals were lying here and there—the leading newspapers, in fact, throughout Europe—so that every visitor, no matter what his nationality, could obtain news of home.

The crowd seemed, as it always does, to represent every rank of society. There were military men, from colonels to privates; one or two priests, who seemed somewhat out of their element; well-dressed, aristocratic-looking individuals, who kept together in knots in different corners; and the invariable pillier de café, who passes half his existence in such establishments, and the other half in bed. The Café de la Régence opens at eight o'clock in the morning, but little or nothing is done until noon, barring the daily visit of some three or four patrons who drink their coffee in silence, and are not seen again until early next day.[Pg 148] But at noon men begin to drop in quickly, and, by two o'clock, the room is as full as it can conveniently hold, and so continues until midnight.

The Café de la Régence has only existed on its present site for a few years; in fact, since Louis Napoleon has made the many magnificent alterations in the French capital. Previously, it was next door, in a locale not half so convenient as the present one. The café is separated into two rooms on the Rue St. Honoré; in the larger one, which we have already described, smoking is permitted to a frightful extent; in the other, it is strictly forbidden. The latter chamber is well fitted up, and the ceiling, which is massive, contains four shields in the cornices, bearing the names of Philidor, Deschappelles, and Labourdonnais. The fourth bears the date of the café's foundation, and the proprietor has stated his intention of placing therein the name Morphy. Perhaps it is already done.

At the time of our arrival in Paris, the Cercle des Echecs, or in other words, the Chess Club, met in rooms over the café. The association had three rooms set apart for chess, and one for billiards, and Saint Amant, Devinck, Guibert, Préti, Doazan, Delannoy, Seguin and Lecrivain were amongst the members. But the great room down stairs prevented their receiving any accession of numbers, and the rent being very high, and funds very low, they gave up their quarters at the end of last year, and are now to be found in the café below.[Pg 149]

Morphy would not announce his arrival on his first visit, preferring to postpone it until the following day. When it was known that the so much looked-for player was in Paris, the excitement was great; Frenchmen live for excitement. M. de Rivière had not been there lately, but we found Messrs. Lecrivain, Journoud, Guibert, and numbers of knight and rook-players. The first-named gentleman, by general request, offered himself as the initiatory sacrifice, accepting the odds of pawn and two moves, and managed to score some two games to Morphy's six or seven. Then M. de Rivière arrived, and getting the move, played the Ruy Lopez, which eventuated in "a draw;" and he was subsequently followed by M. Journoud, who, though one of the best French players, failed to score a victory. Morphy had made his mark, and everybody looked forward to the arrival of Herr Harrwitz, when they hoped to see fun.

[Pg 150]



Saturday came, and so did Harrwitz. We found him a little man, of about forty, with finely-developed head, and large, piercing black eyes. In conversation, he is exceedingly witty and "cool," and many are the good things told of him. Some of my readers will remember the rebuke he gave Mr. Staunton, when playing his celebrated match with that gentleman. Harrwitz had made a move which caused much reflection to his opponent, who rolled about on his chair and stroked his forehead energetically, as only Mr. Staunton can do, giving spectators the impression that his brain was in an agony of labor. He examined the position, and re-examined it; but, the more he looked, the less he liked it. Savage at being balked, he exclaimed—"Well, I've lost a move," and thereupon played a piece. Harrwitz coolly rises from his seat, rings the bell frantically, and gives the following order: "Waiter, look about for a move; Mr. Staunton has lost one."


There is probably no man living who plays so much[Pg 151] chess as Herr Harrwitz. All great chess players I know of, are great lie-a'beds, and he is no exception to the rule. His night-gear and he part company many hours after sunrise, and he starts forthwith for the Café de la Régence, where he plays, with only a slight intermission for dinner, until he goes home to bed again. His opponents are generally visitors to the café, not the habitués; for these last have taken great dislike to his very offensive manner, and will not contend with him. They say, too, that he evinces an improper desire to win, and, in consequence, will only give the odds of pawn and move, when he could well afford pawn and two, and the knight instead of the rook. In my character of historian, I am bound to state that the feeling was very intense at the Régence in favor of Morphy, and many the prayers (French prayers) that Harrwitz might succumb to him.

The two celebrities shook hands together, and Morphy immediately asked if he would consent to play a match. The fact is, the young Paul meant mischief. Everybody in England was loud in praise of Harrwitz's skill, and prophesied a tough encounter. There was reason in this; for the Prussian player has given himself up, body and soul, to the game. Staunton's literary avocations now permit him but an hour or two weekly for chess, although formerly he lived in the London Divan, as Harrwitz in the Régence, and was so rabid about Caïssa, that he actually wore shirts with kings, rooks, pawns, etc., printed over the bosoms and[Pg 152] tails. Saint Amant was never a professional chess player, merely regarding it as a pastime. Löwenthal's duties as chess editor and analyst, prevent his giving much time to play, and, although he devotes a certain period weekly to the contests at the London, St. George's, and St. James's Clubs, he seldom contends for any stake. Anderssen is absorbed in mathematics at the Breslau Gymnasium; Heyderbrandt's diplomatic career engages nearly his entire attention; Buckle has forgotten his former love; Boden, Bird, Medley, Walker, Mongredieu, Slous, Kipping, De Rivière, Laroche, are engaged in mercantile pursuits; Lowe is getting rich with his hotel; Hörwitz is painting; Kling is a professor of music; and so on with nearly all European players. Harrwitz is the only man I know of who seems to live for chess, and we can, therefore, easily understand why Morphy was so desirous of playing him.

To our hero's question, Harrwitz gave a reply so non-committal, that Morphy said, aside, to me, "He won't play a match." A crowd had collected around us, and the Prussian, thinking it an admirable opportunity for display, asked Morphy whether he had any objection to an off-hand game. Of course he had not. Harrwitz had the move, and played an Allgaier Gambit, which, after a hard fight, he won. Morphy was somewhat excited, made a mistake in the opening, by which he lost three pawns for nothing at all, and yet fought the battle with such determination, that the number of moves was not far short of a hundred. His antagonist[Pg 153] was delighted with his victory, thought he was sure of Morphy, and engaged to settle the preliminaries of a match on the following day.

The next morning Harrwitz arrived at his usual hour—noon. He informed Morphy that his friends were desirous of backing him, but that the stakes were not made up yet. Morphy replied that that would be no objection, as he would accept any bets that might be offered during the match, and they could therefore begin at once. But another difficulty stood in the way. Morphy, in pursuance of a settled plan, had chosen his seconds from the enemy's camp, and had requested De Rivière and Journoud to act as his friends in this contest. Harrwitz chose to regard these gentlemen with feelings of enmity, and stated that, "if there were any seconds, there would be no match." Morphy was thus placed in a very equivocal position. Without being aware of any dispute existing between his future antagonist and the gentlemen in question, he had chosen them as his representatives: how could he now ask them to back out, because Mr. Harrwitz demanded it? However, on my representing the case to them, Messrs. De Rivière and Journoud resigned their office in the most kindly and willing manner, so desirous were they of seeing the match come off.

Shortly afterwards Monsieur Lequesne arrived. This gentleman, the pupil and worthy successor of Pradier, is now the first of living French sculptors, and the peer of Marochetti, Crawford, and Gibson. He is also[Pg 154] a strong chess player, and the most active man in France for arranging matches, tournaments, &c. He immediately adjourned with Harrwitz, Morphy, and myself to a private room, to settle preliminaries, and, if I recollect rightly, Dr. Grosboulogne was of the party. Harrwitz expressed his dislike to any thing like ceremony, and objected to their being seconds or umpires in the affair; sorry were Morphy, Lequesne, and H.'s own backers, afterwards, that he carried the day on that point. The only arrangements made were, that Morphy was to accept all bets offered, that the winner of the first seven games should be esteemed the victor, and that the play should take place on four days in the week; and, finally, at Harrwitz's express stipulation, the match was to be played in the public café.

All this being agreed upon, the two champions came forth, and went at it. On drawing for the move, Harrwitz was again successful, and played, as he always does in matches, pawn to queen's fourth. This opening, and Philidor in defence, as second player, you could no more drive him away from, than you could induce Great Britain to give up Gibraltar. Pawn to queen's fourth served Harrwitz's turn once, and so did Philidor in defence, but only once, and I do not think it would then, if Morphy had been in good condition.

The night before the commencement of the match, Morphy had been sight-seeing until a very late hour; and we only got into bed between two and three o'clock in the morning. He laughed at me for remind[Pg 155]ing him of his approaching contest, and the necessity for mens sana in corpore sano, which I said would be seriously interfered with by his not taking sufficient rest. The next day his appearance verified my prognostics, and he failed to show that impassibility which ordinarily characterizes him. He says, however, that Harrwitz beat him because he (H.) played the best moves; and he would not admit to me that want of rest at all interfered with his own play.

Throughout the first game, Harrwitz displayed the most rollicking contempt for his antagonist, and, at the conclusion, when Morphy resigned, he rose from his seat, stretched across the table, and taking the latter by the hand, he felt his pulse and declared to the crowd—"Well, it is astonishing! His pulse does not beat any faster than if he had won the game." Everybody was disgusted at such a contemptuous proceeding, but Morphy took it all as quietly as though it were a part of the match.

Our hero passed that evening with some friends. Towards eleven o'clock I said to him, "Now, Morphy, you really must not have a second edition of last night; let us get home in good time;" but he replied, "Oh, don't be frightened, I've got the move to-morrow;" and, in spite of all I could say or do, we did not get to bed until nearly four o'clock. Well, what was the consequence? After getting a magnificent position in the second game of the match, bodily fatigue came upon him, and Harrwitz was again victor. The Prussian[Pg 156] came out in greater glory than ever, rolling about in his seat, talking loudly to persons about the board, and smiling sardonically at his opponent, as much as to say, "Oh, it takes very little trouble to beat this fellow." Many leading players in the café, especially De Rivière and Journoud, were very savage at such conduct, but I told them—"Mark my words, Mr. Harrwitz will be quiet as a lamb before the end of next week."

The result of the play with Harrwitz had shaken the faith of the French players in Morphy. But as we left the café, he said laughingly to me, "How astonished all these men will be if Harrwitz does not get another game." And he did not. At dinner, I reasoned the matter with him, saying that the first requisite for any man engaged in a chess match, was rest for the brain; and that he ought, by this time, to be convinced of the absolute necessity of keeping early hours. And I wound up by exacting a promise from him that he would never be out of bed after midnight, during the match.

In the evening we went to the Opera Comique, and witnessed a very unsatisfactory performance of "La Part du Diable." Morphy has a great love for music, and his memory for any air he has once heard is astonishing. Mrs. Morphy is renowned in the salons of New Orleans as a brilliant pianist and musician, and her son, without ever having studied music, has a similar aptitude for it, and it is believed that he would have become as famous therein as in chess, had he given[Pg 157] his attention to it. "La Part du Diable" was a new opera, and Morphy, after leaving the theatre, hummed over many of the airs to me, which he had just heard for the first time, with astonishing precision.

The next day we took a long drive among the "lions," and, in the evening, dined at the residence of that chess veteran and friend of Deschappelles and Labourdonnais, Monsieur Doazan. Harrwitz was of the company, and, for the nonce, acted Jupiter Triumphans in superb style. I felt indignant at such conduct towards a man so inoffensive and modest as Mr. Morphy, and I observed: "I am sorry, Mr. Harrwitz, you have not yet found Mr. Morphy in good fighting trim. The fact is, he has been preparing to meet you by not going to bed until common men are about to rise, but he has promised to retire early in future, and you will then find in him a very different antagonist." It was merely a hint, but the gentle Harrwitz did not like it. The following morning, Morphy said to me at breakfast, "If I beat Harrwitz to-day, you will say it is because I went to bed at eleven o'clock;" to which I replied, "Perhaps; but I do say that you lost the first two games because you went to bed at four."

The third and fourth games Morphy scored in beautiful style. The latter, Staunton declared, "would have excited the admiration of Labourdonnais," and the effect upon Harrwitz was interesting. During its progress, his conduct was quite gentlemanly, with the exception of a violent shaking consequent upon nervous[Pg 158] excitement. There was cause for this. On the other side of the board sat Morphy, looking, in his peculiar way, like a block of impassible, living marble, the very embodiment of penetration and decision. No hesitancy or excitement there, but all cool, calm action, knowing where it must end; and, as he rose from his seat, everybody congratulated him on the score now standing two to two, and assured him they were confident what would be the result. We laughed heartily at these men who, but a few days previous, had looked woefully chopfallen, fearing that Harrwitz was too strong for Morphy.

The fifth game was played on the following Monday, and the Prussian lost it, although he had the move. Harrwitz felt uncomfortable, plainly feeling that his present antagonist was, as he expressed himself to a friend, "very much stronger than any he had ever met." We now had several days' intermission from play, the plea being "ill health;" and, finally, Morphy received a letter from his opponent, asking for a respite of a week or ten days, to which a reply was returned granting the request, on condition that, when the match was resumed, a game should be played daily, Sundays alone excepted. At the termination of ten days, Harrwitz lost the sixth game, so that the score now stood—Morphy, four; Harrwitz, two; drawn, none. And the latter, in spite of the agreement, was again absent from the battle-field for some days.[Pg 159]



Awaiting the return of his antagonist, Paul Morphy announced his intention of playing eight blindfold games, simultaneously, in the public café. It is needless to assure my readers that the mere announcement produced the greatest excitement; the newspapers heralded the fact throughout the city, and crowds of strangers came pouring into the Régence, and asking particulars of the habitués in relation to the approaching performance. Harrwitz had already asked Morphy to join him in a public display of the same description, to which the admission was to be five francs, and Morphy felt embarrassed in answering him; but the good offices of Mr. Lequesne arranged the difficulty, without hurting any one's amour propre, and the proposed exhibition was set on one side. Morphy has an intense dislike to money-fingering in connection with chess; and he made it a sine qua non that, if he played blindfold at all, the Café de la Régence should be open to any one who chose to walk in. The proprietor, Monsieur Delaunay,[Pg 160] was only too glad to accede to this; not merely foreseeing that the exhibition would attract crowds to his establishment, and be an admirable advertisement, but also from a friendly feeling for our hero. The frequenters of the place used to say that Delaunay would give Morphy half his café, if he asked him for it.

The blindfold struggle was publicly announced to commence at noon; but, at an early hour, the crowd was already considerable. The billiard-tables in the further room were sacrificed to the exigencies of the occasion; I requested the waiters to put a thick cord round them, so as to rail off a space for Morphy, and a large easy-chair, placed in the enceinte, made the whole arrangements as comfortable for him as could be wished. He, however, was not up to the mark, as regards bodily health. Morphy is a water-drinker, and Paris water would cure any Maine Liquor Law bigot of Teetotalism in a week. Since the outset of the match with Harrwitz, he had been ailing, but he preferred playing to making excuses. His own expression was, "Je ne suis pas homme aux excuses"—(I am no man to make excuses,) and he was always ready for Harrwitz, although obliged to ride to the café. Nothing proves so satisfactorily to me Morphy's wondrous powers in chess, as his contests in France, laboring, as he constantly did, under positive bodily suffering. A man's brain will often be more than ordinarily active and clear when the body is weak from late illness; but it is not so when there is pain existing. At breakfast, on the morning[Pg 161] fixed for this blindfold exhibition, he said to me, "I don't know how I shall get through my work to-day. I am afraid I shall be obliged to leave the room, and some evil-minded persons may think I am examining positions outside." Yet, in spite of this, he sits down, and, during ten long hours, creates combinations which have never been surpassed on the chess-board, although his opponents were men of recognized strength, and, as a collective body, Pawn and Two Moves stronger than the Birmingham eight.

The boards for Morphy's antagonists were arranged in the principal room of the café, numbered as follows:—

No. 1.Baucher,

Nearly all these gentlemen are well known in contemporaneous chess, and formed such a phalanx that many persons asked whether Morphy knew whom he was going to play against. Monsieur Arnoux de Rivière called the moves for the first four, and Monsieur Journoud for the others; and, all being prepared, Morphy began as usual with "Pawn to King's Fourth on all the boards."

Things went on swimmingly and amusingly. It was as good as a volume of Punch or the Charivari to hear the remarks made by the excited spectators; more especially when the "openings" were past, and the[Pg 162] science of the combatants came out, in the middle of the game. There was the huge "Père Morel," hands in his pockets, blowing clouds from an immense pipe like smoke from Vesuvius, threading his way between the boards and actually getting fierce when anybody asked him what he thought of it. Seeing him seated at the end of the room towards evening, and looking as though dumbfoundered at the performance, I said to him,—"Well, Mr. Morel, do you believe now that Morphy can play against eight such antagonists?" He looked at me in an imploring manner and replied,—"Oh, don't talk to me; Mr. Morphy makes my head ache." It is related of Pitt that, making a speech in Parliament on a certain occasion, whilst under the influence of sundry bottles of Port, the doorkeeper of the House of Commons declared that the son of the great Chatham made his head ache, so violent was his language, and so loud his tone. This coming to Pitt's ears, he said—"Nothing could be better; I drink the wine, and the doorkeeper gets the headache." Monsieur Potier rises from his table to show on another board how Morphy had actually seen seven moves in advance; and Signor Préti gets quite nervous and agitated as our hero puts shot after shot into his bull's-eye; and I had much difficulty in assuring him that no absolute necessity existed for his playing on, until Morphy mated him; but that when he found his game was irretrievably lost, he would be justified in resigning. Monsieur Baucher was the first to give in, although one of the very strongest[Pg 163] of the contestants; Morphy's combinations against this gentleman were so astonishing, and the finale so brilliant, that Mr. Walker declared in Bell's Life—"This game is worthy of being inscribed in letters of gold, on the walls of the London Club." Bornemann and Préti soon followed, and then Potier and Bierwirth; Messrs. Lequesne and Guibert effecting drawn battles; Monsieur Seguin alone was left. It was but natural that he should be the last, as he was the strongest of the eight combatants, and, truth to tell, he did not believe it possible for any one to beat him without seeing the board; but this Morphy finally effected in some beautiful pawn play, which would have tickled Philidor himself.

Forthwith commenced such a scene as I scarcely hope again to witness. Morphy stepped from the arm-chair in which he had been almost immovable for ten consecutive hours, without having tasted a morsel of any thing, even water, during the whole of the period; yet as fresh, apparently, as when he sat down. The English and Americans, of whom there were scores present, set up stentorian Anglo-Saxon cheers, and the French joined in as the whole crowd made a simultaneous rush at our hero. The waiters of the Café had formed a conspiracy to carry Morphy in triumph on their shoulders, but the multitude was so compact, they could not get near him, and finally, had to abandon the attempt. Great bearded fellows grasped his hands, and almost shook his arms out of the sockets, and it was[Pg 164] nearly half an hour before we could get out of the Café. A well-known citizen of New York, Thomas Bryan, Esq., got on one side of him and M. de Rivière on the other, and "Le Père Morel,"—body and soul for our hero—fought a passage through the crowd by main strength, and we finally got into the street. There the scene was repeated; the multitude was greater out of doors than in the café, and the shouting, if possible, more deafening. Morphy, Messrs. Bryan and De Rivière and myself, made for the Palais Royal, but the crowd still followed us, and when we got to the guardhouse of the Imperial Guard, sergeants de ville and soldiers came running out to see whether a new revolution was on the tapis. We rushed into the Restaurant Foy, up stairs, and into a private room; whilst, as we subsequently learned, the landlord made anxious inquiries as to the cause of all this excitement. Having done our duty to a capital supper, we got off by a back street, and thus avoided the crowd, who, we were informed, awaited our reappearance in the quadrangle of the Palais Royal.

Next morning, Morphy actually awakened me at seven o'clock, and told me, if I would get up, he would dictate to me the moves of yesterday's games. I never saw him in better spirits, or less fatigued, than on that occasion, as he showed me, for two long hours, the hundreds of variations depending on the play of the previous day, with such rapidity that I found it hard work to follow the thread of his combinations.[Pg 165]

Harrwitz was in the café for about an hour during blindfold play, and he actually had the assurance to say to me, "You can tell Mr. Morphy, that I will continue the match to-morrow." I replied: "I feel satisfied that Mr. Morphy will be willing to do so, but I shall most certainly object, and all that lies in my power will be done to prevent his seeing a chess-board until he has had at least twenty-four hours' rest." And I added: "You had better not let it be known that you have made the proposition, or you will be badly received in the café, depend upon it."

The evening after his blindfold feat, Morphy very inconsiderately took a nap in his sitting-room, with the window open. On my arrival I awoke him, and he complained of feeling cold. Next morning he was feverish, and in any thing but a fit state to meet Harrwitz. Nevertheless I could not induce him to keep his room; he said to me: "I would sooner lose the game, than that anybody should think I had exhausted myself by a tour de force, as some will do if I am absent at the proper hour." And he rode to the Régence in a state only fit for a hot bath and sweating powder. Well might Saint Amant call him the "chivalrous Bayard of Chess."

[Pg 166]



Morphy was at the Régence to the minute, but Harrwitz was not forthcoming. At last we received a message from him that he objected to play any longer in the public café, and requested Morphy to come up stairs into the rooms of the Chess Club. It would be difficult to describe the excitement caused by this announcement. Harrwitz's backers, of whom there were eight or ten, were very angry; more especially as it was at his own particular desire that the match was played in the café. The pretext was, that the warm atmosphere and noise of the crowd interfered with his game; the real fact, because everybody, even the aforementioned backers, were favorable to Morphy. What was to be done? Our hero, with his clear reasoning, soon found the correct reply, and he sent back word that "The Chess Club being a private association, it would be an impertinence on his part to use their apartments without their permission." Harrwitz would not show himself, and the entire affair was near being[Pg 167] put a stop to, when certain members of the Cercle kindly opened the doors of their Club, and Morphy went up stairs.

The two principals being again face to face, Harrwitz commenced with his "same old two-and-sixpence" pawn to queen's fourth, and before he had got past the twentieth move, Morphy had the attack, position, and every thing. But, in process of administering the coup de grace, Morphy's feverish state told upon him, and he committed an oversight which lost him a rook, when within a move or two of winning. It was so stupid a mistake, that he immediately burst out laughing at himself. Harrwitz picked off the unfortunate rook with the utmost nonchalance, as though it were the result of his own combinations, and actually told me afterwards, "Oh, the game was a drawn one throughout." Morphy got a perpetual check upon him, and it was the only "draw" in the contest.

What does the American Chess Monthly mean by calling this palpable oversight "an imperfect combination?"

Again we had to wait some time for Mr. Harrwitz. It must not be supposed that this gentleman used his frequent "leaves of absence" for the purpose of recruiting that health which he represented as so bad. No, he came daily to the Régence at the usual hour, and played with anybody, but Morphy, until past midnight. He sat down now, in front of his adversary, for the eighth and last time, apparently in his ordinary health,[Pg 168] and fought as tough a battle as any in the contest. The game lasted to the fifty-ninth move, and then Harrwitz resigned.

The score now stood, Morphy 5; Harrwitz 2; drawn 1. Next day Morphy received a verbal message that "Mr. Harrwitz resigns the match, on account of ill health." There was something like a row at the Café de la Régence when this was known, for the Prussian amateur had not even deigned to consult his backers, or even to inform them of his intention. Mr. Lequesne, his stake-holder, was requested by him to hand over the collected amount, two hundred and ninety francs, to our hero, and that gentleman forthwith called on Morphy at his hotel. Of course we got the fullest particulars from Mr. Lequesne. He informed us that Harrwitz's backers were furious, and that they, like himself, were confident that their principal was merely indisposed in the morale, not at all physically. Morphy replied that it never was his desire to play for stakes under any circumstances; and, taking into consideration the peculiar facts of the case, he would certainly decline receiving the money.

Some time afterwards, Mr. Lequesne returned, and stated that not merely were the different subscribers to the stakes desirous that Paul Morphy should receive what had been won by him, but that Mr. Harrwitz would, for the sake of appeasing his backers, play out the remainder of the match. Morphy immediately returned answer, that "Mr. H. having resigned the[Pg 169] contest, there was an end of the matter, but that he (Morphy) was ready to commence a second match immediately." Harrwitz had had enough of beating, and he unhesitatingly declined this proposition.

But a difficulty arose in consequence of Morphy's refusal to receive the stakes. Letters poured in from all quarters, complaining that bets on the result of the contest were influenced by the decision, and Morphy finally took the two hundred and ninety francs from Mr. Lequesne. He then caused it to be announced publicly, that the money was deposited with the proprietor of the Café de la Régence, that any of the subscribers to the amount were at perfect liberty to withdraw their subscriptions, and that the remainder should go towards defraying Herr Anderssen's expenses to Paris. And so the money was eventually used.

Will any of my readers think it possible that Mr. Harrwitz could, after all this, publish that "he had not lost the match, but that Mr. Morphy had consented to its being annulled?"

[Pg 170]



All the Paris newspapers soon took to writing about our hero, from the Moniteur to the Charivari. The latter, the oldest and most famous of all comic papers, gave cut after cut and article after article upon him; in fact, Morphy was its standing joke for a long period. One day there was a picture representing "Britannia, astonished at the checks she was receiving in India, requesting the young American to get her out of the difficulty." Another represented an individual who declined entering the Café de la Régence in company with his wife, "because there was inside a certain Mr. Morphy who would capture his queen from him." After the blindfold exhibition, the famous Taxile Delord wrote as follows:

"Well, let us have a game of chess. Shall I give you the rook? Sit down here, and I will place myself in this arm-chair."

"Oh, no! Now-a-days, no man who respects himself, thinks of playing with the board in front of him."[Pg 171]

Upon this imaginary conversation, Delord lets loose a volley of fun, ending in this manner:

"I can understand Ecarté, I can appreciate Picquet, I can even rise to the grandeur of Tric Trac, but don't talk to me of Chess. That game will bring us back to tragedy."

What with the illustrated papers giving Morphy's portraits, no two of which were ever alike, and the innumerable articles in the "dailies," he began to be notorious. Saint Amant wrote that he supplied a want which Paris had felt for a long time—the want of a hero. Monsieur Lequesne requested him to sit for his bust, and threw so much labor of love into the work, that he produced a chef d'œuvre which all Paris went to criticize and to praise. All these various occurrences could not but cause excitement in the salons, and invitations began to pour in from the Faubourgs St. Honoré and St. Germain. The first came from the Duchess de T——. My readers must forgive me for not mentioning names where a lady is concerned. The Duchess stated that she had played at chess since a child, and that she was desirous of becoming acquainted with a gentleman whom fame heralded as so superior to all amateurs; but that she had no hope of proving an antagonist worthy of him. Well, Morphy waited on his fair challenger, and out of five games each won two, and one was drawn! Then the Princess M—— expressed a desire to play our hero, and other great dames followed; and knowing, as I do, the result, I[Pg 172] solemnly declare that, in spite of my confidence in Morphy's powers of combination, I never would bet a cent upon him when his opponent is a lady.

I am not bound to silence when gentlemen are concerned, and I am glad to mention amongst chess amateurs, such names as the Duke of Brunswick and Counts Casabianca, Isouard, and Bastorot. These gentlemen are thorough veterans in the noble game, and chess works and periodicals are no strangers to their contests. Count Casabianca was "at home" every Friday night, and, whilst some of the company were at whist, ecarté, or other games de la société, he would always be in a corner with the Duke of Brunswick, Count Isouard, Signor Préti, and other chess amateurs. Morphy played against the Duke and the Counts in consultation, and, although he almost invariably won, it was no easy matter.

H. R. H. the Duke of Brunswick is a thorough devotee to Caïssa; we never saw him but he was playing chess with some one or other. We were frequent visitors to his box at the Italian Opera; he had got a chess-board even there, and played throughout the performance. On our first visit "Norma" was performed. The Duke's box is right on the stage; so close, indeed, that you might kiss the prima donna without any trouble. Morphy sat with his back to the stage, and the Duke and Count Isouard facing him. Now it must not be supposed that he was comfortable. Decidedly otherwise; for I have already stated that he is passion[Pg 173]ately fond of music, and, under the circumstances, wished chess at Pluto. The game began and went on: his antagonists had heard Norma so often that they could, probably, sing it through without prompting; they did not even listen to most of it, but went on disputing with each other as to their next move. Then Madame Penco, who represented the Druidical priestess, kept looking towards the box, wondering what was the cause of the excitement inside; little dreaming that Caïssa was the only Casta Diva the inmates cared about. And those tremendous fellows, the "supes," who "did" the Druids, how they marched down the stage, chaunting fire and bloodshed against the Roman host, who, they appeared to think, were inside the Duke's box.

Some of the pleasantest hours passed by Paul Morphy in the French capital were spent at the Baronne de L.'s. This lady, who has long ranked as one of the great beauties of Parisian society, is renowned as a patroness of the arts. Her friendship for the lamented Pradier has passed into history, and her salons are the weekly resort of the most celebrated sculptors, painters, and authors of France. And no wonder, for the Baronne is gloriously merry and witty, a true child of the sunny South. A Creole, from the French West Indies, she immediately took a liking to Morphy, "Because," said she, "he is another lazy Creole like myself;" and she invited all her acquaintances to come and see him. She would get Morphy opposite her, and St. Amant or[Pg 174] Lequesne by her side to stop her when she was about making too serious a mistake, and would play game after game, making us all laugh the whole time with her charming anecdotes and jeux d'esprit. How she would amuse us when she declared that parties and late hours were killing her, and that they did kill her last season, and yet she was always as fresh as a newly plucked rose. When she found how fond Morphy was of music, the principal singers from the opera would be present. I remember one night she asked that finest of living baritones, "the honey-voiced" Graziani, to play our hero at the odds of the Queen. Signor Graziani had caught the general enthusiasm, and was applying his leisure moments to chess with the energy of a Standigl, and had lately been taking lessons from Préti. He at first objected to play, from modesty, but the Baronne had determined he should, and she told him that, if he would play a game, Morphy would sing a duo with him afterwards. This was a sparkle of her fun, of course; but Graziani played, not one, but three games, and he then said: "If anybody asks me if I understand chess, I shall say, 'Oh, yes; I play sometimes with Mr. Morphy.'"

The United States minister, the Hon. Mr. Mason, took a warm interest in his young countryman, occasionally sitting at the board when Morphy was at play. The Judge is acquainted with the "Mystery of Chesse," and asked many pointed questions after the conclusion of the game, as to the why and the where[Pg 175]fore of different moves. It were scarcely right for the United States government to appoint a minister to the Court of the Tuileries who is ignorant of chess; it would be an insult to the memory of Franklin.

[Pg 176]



Morphy's arrival in Paris, and his doings at the Café de la Régence, soon began to make him much sought after. The way in which some folks get lionized in the French capital is remarkable, and Morphy had to submit to it, not merely at the café, but even in his hotel. We soon found that continued residence at the Hotel Meurice would be inconvenient, for many reasons; and within a day or two of our arrival, had located ourselves in the Hotel Breteuil, at the corner of the Rues de Rivoli and du Dauphine, where we had a magnificent view of the palace and gardens of the Tuileries, and were within a stone's throw of the best quarters of Paris and the Régence. What was our surprise to learn, subsequently, that Harrwitz was residing next door to us; and that Saint Amant had, formerly, occupied the very apartments in which we had installed ourselves. We had not been long in our new abode before Morphy received a visit from the grandson of Philidor. They had a lengthy colloquy together, and[Pg 177] of course Morphy asked his visitor if he played at chess. He replied, that he once gave some attention to the game, but found that he possessed little aptitude for it, and therefore relinquished all further study; not thinking it right that any one bearing the name of Philidor should be looked upon as a mazette.

Our hero's installation at the Café de la Régence waked up all the slumbering embers of French chess, and men who had not been seen for years past came back to their early love. The well-known Polish amateur, Budzinsky, was amongst these, and Laroche, contemporary of Labourdonnais and Deschappelles. Then we found there such players as Mr. Eugene Rousseau, of New Orleans, on a visit to his family in Paris, and who had been so much "at home" in the café in other years. How proud he was of the fame and feats of his young fellow-townsman amidst the Gallic paladins! and how desirous he was that Morphy should encounter Monsieur Laroche, whose game he characterized as sound to a terrible extent, characterizing that gentleman as "un rude gaillard." It was only after Mr. Rousseau's departure that Laroche and Morphy met, when we found that the former was "sound," but the latter "sounder." Mr. L. had not been seen at the Régence for a long period; some told us that he was settled in Bayonne, others that he had given up chess altogether: but the appearance in the chess heavens of this Star of the West, brought him back to the old battle-field, and no one could make even games with[Pg 178] him but De Rivière and Harrwitz, the Prussian amateur merely winning a small majority.

Monsieur Journoud, one of the best known and strongest of French players, and a member of the Paris Committee of Co-operation on the International Tournament of 1851, played upwards of a dozen games at different times with Morphy; but though he came very near winning on one or two occasions, our hero always wriggled out at last at the right end of the horn. Journoud once described his opponent's game as "disgustingly correct;" Boden speaks of Morphy's "diabolical steadiness," which means pretty near the same thing.

De Rivière certainly made the best show against Morphy of all the players in Paris, having scored one game in good style, and having lost at least one which he ought to have gained. He had got his opponent into a position which might be termed "putting it to him," and Morphy, like the wolf, was—

"Dying in silence, biting hard,"

when he made a move "to please the gallery." Now Morphy never allows liberties to be taken with so serious a matter as check mate; he goes straight to the finish himself without fuss or nonsense, and expects others to do the same; he, therefore, worked clear out of his difficulties and forced his opponent ultimately to resign. De Rivière was mortified at the result, and[Pg 179] states that he went home very angry with himself in consequence.

This gentleman is incontestably the most rising of the French players, and will make some amateurs tremble for their chess reputation ere long. In 1851, he did not know a move in the game, so that his progress has been rapid; and as he has not yet reached his thirtieth year, it is only probable that he will become much stronger; that is, if he will keep up his practice, which is not certain, inasmuch as he has lately become "mated" in a manner most agreeable to his feelings, and we have heard of ladies who object to their lords and masters making love to other nymphs—even though that nymph be Caïssa. Let us hope that, in this instance, pater familias, whose "intentions are strictly honorable," may be allowed an occasional respite from the cradle and perambulator, and that "curtain lectures" will not deter him from hot pursuit after other men's queens.

It was soon found useless for any one to play Morphy even, as he scored almost every game. Meeting Monsieur Laroche at the café one morning, that gentleman asked me why our hero did not offer odds to everybody. I replied that no doubt many gentlemen would feel hurt at such a proposition being made to them, and I asked him—"Would you play Morphy at pawn and move?" to which he unhesitatingly replied "Yes." M. Journoud was sitting beside him, and he expressed himself in like manner. On informing Paul[Pg 180] Morphy of this conversation, he requested me to inform the proprietor of the café that, in future, he should play no one without giving odds; excepting, however, Herr Harrwitz. He was most desirous of again meeting the Prussian amateur, the latter having made some rather peculiar observations with regard to their match; as, for instance, that he had not lost the affair, Morphy having consented to annul it: that he was not a match player, and played much stronger off-hand: that Morphy did not beat him by combination, but by sitting him out, and so forth. But Harrwitz always took care to keep out of harm's way, and although Morphy came day after day to the café, with the avowed intention of meeting him, Herr H. had always got one or the other reason for not playing.

Laroche, Budzinsky, Devinck, and other leading amateurs tried their luck at pawn and move, with no better result than contending even. Others tried at pawn and two, as, for instance, Lequesne, Guibert, Lecrivain, and Delaunay. Who of my chess readers does not know this brilliant writer in the Palamède, who has kept everybody on the broad grin throughout his numerous articles? He is always full of fun and sparkling wit, and merrily did he display it with Morphy. The first time they played, Delaunay sacrificed piece after piece, in a way to terrify anybody but his young antagonist, and certainly seemed to occupy a position dangerous to Morphy's peace of mind. The latter made one of his peculiar moves, when Delaunay observed,[Pg 181] eyeing the board with one eye, and the spectators with the other—"Voila un coup du bon Dieu," and then making his reply, which set our hero reflecting, he added—"Et, en voila un du diable." But it was all of no use, and Morphy soon turned the tables upon him. M. Delaunay styles himself "un casse échiquier," for he plays as though driving spike nails. At the London Divan some months since he astonished the spectators by breaking one of the pawns, when he immediately cried out—"Oh, that's nothing; I break the rooks in Paris."

Morphy was easily approached by anybody, no matter what their strength, and I doubt much whether there is any frequenter of the Régence who did not play one or more games with him. As he invariably refused to play for any stake, this pleased them the more, and set them making comparisons between him and certain others, not at all complimentary to the latter. But what pleased them most of all was the quiet unobtrusiveness of his behavior, and the courtesy with which he treated everybody. Where his skill gained one admirer, his manner made ten warm friends.

Some of my readers may complain that I am "laying it on rather thick," and ask "Why shouldn't he be quiet and unobtrusive?" I reply that I am not to be deterred from writing what I know to be the fact (having been a witness thereof for several months) by any accusation of toadyism. I write what George Walker, Saint Amant, Löwenthal, and all the chess[Pg 182] editors Morphy has met, have written before me; and they wrote as I now write, because the circumstance is rather extraordinary. Chess players, generally, are a class vain and imperious; and young players, like the young of all classes, are apt to be carried away by success. How few eminent amateurs are there who do not give themselves certain airs when winning—aye, and losing too—lolling back in their seats, sticking their thumbs in their arm-holes, and regarding the spectators with a self-satisfied air, as much as to say—"There, my boys, what d'ye think of that?" One gentleman at the Régence had long bullied the gallery and his antagonists in this manner; no wonder, therefore, that Morphy made warm friends of those who were that man's enemies.

[Pg 183]



A few weeks after the resignation of the match by Herr Harrwitz, the amateurs of the Régence invited Herr Anderssen to visit Paris for the purpose of playing a match with Paul Morphy. Our hero originally intended making a visit to the principal chess clubs of Germany, and especially to Berlin, but having been an invalid since his arrival in the French capital, he feared to undertake the long journey by rail, and it was in consequence of this that the aforesaid invitation was sent. Herr Anderssen immediately replied, that his duties as mathematical professor at Breslau presented an insurmountable objection to his leaving, but that the Christmas vacation would enable him to meet the American player in Paris.

Morphy said, thereupon, that he should be deprived of the pleasure of crossing swords with the victor in the International Tournament, inasmuch as he must be at home before Christmas. On hearing this, I began to talk the matter over quietly with him, asserting that[Pg 184] his voyage to Europe was useless, if he did not play Anderssen. All was of no effect. Morphy did not appear to have the slightest ambition, say what I would to him. He must be at home in December; he had promised to be there, and home he would go. Very well; Morphy and I were at daggers drawn and we began our fight. He said he would go, and I said he shouldn't. He wanted to know how I could prevent him; I told him that all the clubs in Europe would stop him. "Very well," answered he, "I'll be stronger than all Europe." "Bravo," says I, "that's spirited, at all events." Says he—says I—says I—says he—and Morphy went to sleep and I to work.

Without saying a word to anybody, I set to writing letters to all the leading Chess Clubs on the Continent and in England, informing them of the bad move Morphy was about to make, and requesting those in the interests of chess to induce him to remain, until at all events he had met Herr Anderssen. Now, the mere fact of Morphy staying, as the simple individual, was nothing; but it was something to make sure beyond all dispute that he was infallibly the best living player; and, in addition, to add many games to the finest pages of chess literature. I am happy to state that the different clubs thought as I did; so the result will prove.

After a week or two, Morphy began receiving letters from Amsterdam, Leipsic, Brussels, Berlin, Breslau, etc.; from the London and St. George's Chess Clubs; requisitions signed by the amateurs of the Café[Pg 185] and Cercle de la Régence, expressing the earnest wish of all that he would remain throughout the winter. Herr Anderssen wrote him a lengthy epistle, in which he assured him he did not think it possible he could leave Europe without playing him, and adding his voice to the general cry.

Morphy thought he must go. Then the society in which our hero was so frequent a visitor began to declare that he really must remain, and it is hard work for any man to refuse when a request is backed by such sweet glances as make requests almost commands.

Our hero was now wavering, and the game was in my hands, he not at all sorry if I could win it. I had one final resource: a pretty little check-mate with a medical man and a certificate. The doctor, calling on our patient one day, learned from him that he was about returning home, whereupon he informed him that in the then state of his health a winter voyage across the Atlantic was not precisely beneficial, and wrote his opinion accordingly. This I took, and inclosed with other matter to his friends in New Orleans, and Morphy seeing no way out of the difficulty, ultimately surrendered, and I had the satisfaction of hearing him declare that he should pass the winter in Paris. There was only one person dissatisfied with this. Meeting Harrwitz shortly after, I informed him with a benignant smile, "You will be happy to hear that Morphy has decided to pass a few months longer here." Harrwitz replied, with a smile that was not benignant, "Then Mr. Morphy is not a man of his word."

[Pg 186]



The first week in December, Monsieur de Rivière received a communication from Herr Anderssen, announcing his approaching arrival in Paris. A week prior to this Morphy had been laid up in bed with a severe illness. The rigors of a first winter in northern climates had told upon him, and I feared much for the result. He was leeched, and lost a great quantity of blood—I told him three or four pints; to which he replied, "Then there's only a quart left." He was kept very low during a fortnight, and having to lift him out of bed only four days before the match with the great Prussian master, I found him too weak to stand upon his legs, although in bed he did not feel so helpless. For two months he had had an antipathy to chess, and I had experienced the greatest difficulty in inducing him to go to the Régence at all. When I would ask him at breakfast what he was going to do with himself during the day, his immediate reply would be, "I am not going to the Régence," and he declined invitations if he thought he should be obliged to play chess.[Pg 187]

When I brought him the news that Anderssen had left Breslau, Herr Mayet having written me to that effect, Morphy said to me, "I have a positive chess fever coming over me. Give me the board and pieces, and I'll show you some of Anderssen's games." And with his astounding memory, he gave me battle after battle with different adversaries, variations and all. How he dilated on a certain game between him and Dufresne, in which, though under the mate, he first of all sacrifices his Queen, and after seven or eight moves forces his opponent to resign. "There," said Morphy, "that shows the master."

What wonderment he has caused with his omnipotent memory! I have seen him sit for hours at the Divan and the Régence, playing over, not merely his own battles, but the contests of others, till the spectators could scarcely believe their senses. It will be remembered by many of my readers, that when Mr. Staunton published the eight blindfold games played at Birmingham, he omitted some twenty or thirty of the concluding moves in the game with the Rev. Mr. Salmon. When we had been two months in Paris, Herr Löwenthal wrote me to request that I would forward him the remaining moves, as there was a desire to have the partie complete. It was nearly midnight, and Morphy had gone into his bedroom after dictating me some games played during the day, and, mindful of Herr L.'s request, I called to him, asking whether he was coming back, when he replied that he was already[Pg 188] in bed. I said I should be obliged if he would let me bring him a board and light, in order that he might dictate me the required moves, when he answered "There's no necessity for that: read me over what Staunton published, and I'll give you the remainder." He called over the omitted moves as fast as I could write them down.

Going into Morphy's bedroom one morning at ten o'clock, whom should I find sitting there but Herr Anderssen? He had arrived by a late train the night previous, and his first visit was to his young challenger, whom he was indeed sorry to find ill in bed, especially as his absence from Breslau was limited to two weeks. Morphy assured him that he should be well enough to play the following week; but Anderssen replied that he should not like to commence a match until Morphy was in a fit state to undergo the fatigue. They then agreed that the match should consist of thirteen games; in other words, he should be victor who first scored seven; and, as neither of them desired any stake but honor, the preliminaries were quickly arranged. From that we got to talking on various subjects, and Anderssen informed us, greatly to our surprise, that the German papers had published a statement to this effect: "Mr. Morphy has finally decided on remaining in Europe until spring, in consequence of the pressing solicitations of his friend, Herr Harrwitz." How we roared!

This was Anderssen's first visit to the French me[Pg 189]tropolis, and I immediately offered to show him some of the lions. So forth we sallied. He was desirous of going to the Régence; but two hours would elapse before anybody would be there, and in the mean time he could see a few public buildings. The first place I took him to was, of course, the Louvre, and, as it had rained copiously the night before, I walked him across the Place du Carrousel, in order to soil his boots with the mud. Most of his attention was taken up with keeping that portion of his attire clean; but, when that had become no longer possible, his leisure was entirely devoted to sight-seeing. Of course, we could not altogether avoid talking about the main object of his visit; he told me he had only seen a few of Morphy's games, and asked me what was the opinion of the Régence in reference to his style of play. I replied that it was the opposite of what they thought in England and America, characterizing it as sound rather than brilliant; but that there was a reason for this, inasmuch as the French players persisted in playing close openings. He replied, "No wonder; no man would willingly expose himself to Morphy's thundering attacks," [attaques foudroyantes.]

On returning to the Régence, we found Harrwitz, who, by-the-bye, is a fellow-townsman of Anderssen, and they were at the same school together. The latter knew that Harrwitz stated that he beat him the majority of games, and he was most desirous of proving the fallacy of the assertion, and immediately proposed an[Pg 190] encounter. This was accepted, and out of six games, played on five different occasions, Anderssen won three, Harrwitz one, and two were drawn. After that, little doubt existed as to which was the stronger player, and when, just before leaving Paris, Anderssen was complimented on this result, he said, "Oh, there is but one Morphy in the world."

On the day of Anderssen's arrival, Morphy told his medical adviser that he must get him well enough to commence the match on the following Monday. The doctor said it all depended upon his feeling sufficiently strong to undergo the fatigue, when his patient replied, that what he feared was a hard battle exhausting him too much to continue the struggle next day. On the doctor's advice, he consented to play the match in the hotel, so as not to undergo the fatigue of moving, and it was arranged that only such as were specially invited should be present, but that the moves should be forwarded every half-hour to the Régence.

The Saturday before the commencement of the match, Harrwitz performed his feat of playing eight blindfold games simultaneously at the rooms of the Cercle, only subscribers of five francs or upwards being admitted. Herr Harrwitz had fixed upon seven o'clock in the evening as the time for commencing; and I, like many others, had advised him to choose an earlier hour, or he would not get through till long past midnight. He replied that he should finish in from four to five hours; "he knew this positively because he had been rehearsing[Pg 191] for the occasion;" but the result proved how much he was mistaken, as he did not get through till near sunrise. His antagonists were mainly rook or rook and knight players, Signor Préti, the weakest of Morphy's blindfold opponents, being incomparably the strongest. Herr Anderssen, who was present, assured me that many of the players left pieces en prise, as though designedly, and that, beyond the fact of seeing the boards in his mind's eye, Harrwitz proved nothing by his exertions. The strangest affair in connection with this display is, that although Harrwitz edited a chess column in the Monde Illustré he never gave a single one of his blindfold games, nor would he permit any to be made public.

Mr. Harrwitz was perfectly in his right mind when endeavoring to emulate Paul Morphy. But the folks at the Régence ridiculed what they called aping his superior, and many were the squibs got off at his expense. One, the most popular of all, was as follows:—

"Tu veux singer Morphy, joueur phénoménal;
Jeune imprudent, tu forces ta nature.
En vain tu te poses en original,
Tu n'en es que la caricature."

In plain English prose—"You wish to ape Morphy, the phenomenon; imprudent young man, you strain yourself. It is useless to put yourself forward as an original; you are merely a caricature."—Not complimentary, certainly.

On Monday morning, I got Morphy out of bed for[Pg 192] the first time since his illness, and, at noon, assisted him into the room where the match was to come off. No time was lost in getting to work, and, within five minutes of his entering, as many moves had been played. Our hero had first move, and ventured the Evans' gambit, which he lost after seven hours' fighting, and upwards of seventy moves. I noticed that he was restless throughout the contest, which was only to be expected after having been so long in bed, and without nourishment.

Morphy was charmed with Anderssen's defence throughout, and has frequently cited it as an admirably conducted strategy. It proved to him that the Evans' is indubitably a lost game for the first player, if the defence be carefully played; inasmuch as the former can never recover the gambit pawn, and the position supposed to be acquired at the outset, cannot be maintained.

He did not appear much fatigued after his exertions, and next morning he had visibly improved in appearance. Anderssen, now having the move, played out his king's pawn and knight, and Morphy supposed he too was going to have a turn at the Evans'. No such thing; he played that disgusting arrangement, the Ruy Lopez; but it only came to a drawn game, our hero believing he himself could have won it, had he played properly at the end. The third day, Morphy looked himself again, his complexion being clear, and his eyes sparkling with all their Creole brilliancy. He[Pg 193] thought he should like to have a turn at the Ruy Lopez also, and dashed away at such a furious rate, that Anderssen resigned in a few minutes over the hour, some twenty-one moves having been played. Anderssen immediately asked if he would commence another game forthwith, and Morphy consented; this fourth contest being also a Ruy Lopez, but ending likewise in the discomfiture of the Prussian champion. And this partie was the last we saw of R. L. during the struggle.

Morphy now scored the fifth, sixth, and seventh games, thus having won five consecutively. The eighth was a draw; the ninth he carried off in seventeen moves; the tenth, played immediately after, Anderssen marked in seventy-seven. As the Professor was leaving, he said to me in his quiet, funny way, "Mr. Morphy wins his games in Seventeen moves, and I in Seventy. But that is only natural." The eleventh partie Morphy scored, thus winning the match; having only lost two games and drawn two.

Immediately after each day's play, Herr Anderssen would walk straight to the Régence for the purpose of expediting reports of the same to his friends in Leipsic and Berlin. There were always crowds to meet him, and to assure him he could have won, and ought not to have lost; but the Professor smiled at them incredulously. I have heard him tell them, "Dites cela à M. Morphy," (Tell that to Mr. Morphy,) over and over again. One individual, who from the beginning, had questioned Morphy's superiority,—though he had been[Pg 194] beaten by him in the proportion of 7 to 1—told the Professor in the presence of a crowd of amateurs: "You are not playing any thing like as well as with Dufresne."—"No," replied Anderssen, "Morphy won't let me;" and he added, "It is no use struggling against him; he is like a piece of machinery which is sure to come to a certain conclusion." On another occasion he said: "Mr. Morphy always plays, not merely the best, but the very best move, and if we play the move only approximatively correct, we are sure to lose. Nobody can hope to gain more than a game, now and then, from him." And, in reply to a question of Monsieur de Rivière, he said in my hearing: "It is impossible to play chess better than Mr. Morphy; if there be any difference in strength between him and Labourdonnais, it is in his favor."

I have never seen a nobler-hearted gentleman than Herr Anderssen. He would sit at the board, examining the frightful positions into which Morphy had forced him, until his whole face was radiant with admiration of his antagonist's strategy, and, positively laughing outright, he would commence resetting the pieces for another game, without a remark. I never heard him make a single observation to Morphy complimentary of his skill; but, to others, he was loud in admiration of the young American.

After the match was over, the two antagonists played six off-hand games, all gambits, Anderssen winning one, and Morphy five. These also came off at the[Pg 195] Hotel Breteuil, and were rattled away inside of three hours.

The gallery of spectators who witnessed this great contest between the champions of the Old World and the New, was select, if not numerous. There were present, almost constantly, Saint Amant, De Rivière, Journoud, Carlini, Préti, Grosboulogne, Lequesne, and one or two others, and amongst the occasional visitors were Counts Casabianca and Bastorot, M. Devinck, the Paris correspondent of the N. Y. Times, and any of our hero's countrymen who desired to be present. One night, after the day's battle was over, Morphy and I were sitting in our room, chatting together, when an immense stranger appeared and announced himself as follows: "I am Prince Galitzin; I wish to see Mr. Morphy." Morphy looked up from a fauteuil in which he was buried, and replied, "I am he." The Prince answered, "It is not possible! you're too young;" and then he seated himself by Morphy's side and told him, "I first heard of your wonderful deeds on the frontiers of Siberia. One of my suite had a copy of the chess paper published in Berlin, the Schachzeitung, and ever since that time I have been wanting to see you." And he told our hero that he must pay a visit to St. Petersburg; for the chess club in the Imperial Palace would receive him with enthusiasm. I did not hear Morphy promise to go, however.

But to return to Anderssen. The Professor came and went away in a hurry, his vacations only lasting[Pg 196] two weeks. As he wished us good-bye, he said slyly to Morphy, "They won't be pleased with me at Berlin, but I shall tell them, 'Mr. Morphy will come here.'"

After the conclusion of the match, I pointed out to Herr Anderssen certain remarks on his play in the Illustrated London News, in which the writer observed, "This is not the play of the victor of the Tournament of '51." He replied—"Oh, we know Mr. Staunton; in 1851 his opinions of my play were not very high, and he lost not by my skill, but because he was ill. Mr. Staunton always has two meanings, one which he writes, and one which he keeps to himself."


[Pg 197]



After Anderssen's departure, Paul Morphy declared he would play no more even matches, and, certainly, his resolve was justified by the unheard-of manner in which he had walked over all opponents. There are but two players who do not confess the inutility of contending against him on even terms—Messrs. Staunton and Harrwitz—but then the former would not fight, and the latter fought and ran away, so that their opinions, with regard to themselves and Morphy, are somewhat damaged by circumstances. The opinions of these two gentlemen are, in fact, peculiar one towards the other; Mr. Harrwitz declaring that he can give Mr. Staunton the odds of pawn and move; and Mr. S., that he also can afford the same advantage to the Prussian player. But no man in his senses believes either of them.

Morphy now determined to offer the pawn and move to Herr Harrwitz, and forthwith challenged him to the contest, but the latter respectfully declined, on[Pg 198] the grounds that he considered himself quite as good a player as his challenger. Modest, was it not? especially just after their late match, and the sauve qui peut manner in which the Prussian had shown his heels before its conclusion? Morphy felt so much desire to play this proposed match, that he even offered to find stakes to back his antagonist, but all to no purpose. One or two croakers expressed their opinion that Morphy would scarcely get a game if the affair came off, when our hero replied—"If I do not beat him, he will at all events have to work hard for the odd game."

Harrwitz having declined all further risk, there now remained little to be accomplished, and Morphy forsook the Régence and seemed to have taken a positive aversion to chess. There was, however, one more adversary to be overcome; one, who, like Anderssen, sought out our hero in the French capital, and threw down his gauntlet, which was immediately taken up. Mr. Mongredieu, the President of the London Chess Club, made the journey to Paris expressly to remind Paul Morphy that before his departure from England, he had promised to play a match with him, and he now announced himself as ready for the encounter. Mr. Mongredieu had no idea of vanquishing his youthful foe, but in addition to the pleasure of a tilt with him, he was desirous of seeing by how much Morphy could beat him.

The contest came off at Mr. Mongredieu's rooms in the Hotel du Louvre, Messrs. St. Amant and De[Pg 199] Rivière being the only strangers present. The first game admirably played by Mr. M. resulted in a draw, and then Morphy scored seven parties one after the other, which constituted him victor. The third game, beautifully managed throughout by Mr. Mongredieu, slipped from his grasp after nine or ten hours' struggle; because of his not playing the very best move, Morphy stepped in at the lucky moment and the day was his. I can easily understand that Mr. Mongredieu was exhausted after so many hours' intense application; Morphy never tires, and no amount of continuous sitting will ever influence his play. I have seen him sit down, in New York, at 9 A. M., and beat one antagonist after another until past midnight, for many successive days, yet without weakening his play in the least; and when Paulsen would take half an hour on a move, an hour over the succeeding one, and on a certain occasion reached the unparalleled limit of two hours, Morphy sat calmly looking on, without the slightest evidence of impatience. Before Mr. Staunton declined Morphy's challenge, I was frequently amused by gentlemen who knew the former well, but knew little of the latter, expressing the opinion that the English player would tire out his youthful challenger, and win by playing "a waiting game." I laughed heartily at their fears, for I knew Morphy could sit out Staunton and the late Mr. Williams one after the other. And I think my readers must also be satisfied of this, remembering Morphy's ten hours' blindfold play at Paris, without taking even a glass of water, and in bodily pain, too.

[Pg 200]



And now that the battles are over, and the campaigns of this "Attila the destroyer" concluded, let us count the killed and wounded.


Match Games (Even.)

Morphy, 9. Löwenthal, 3. Drawn, 3.

Pawn and Move.

Morphy, 5. Rev. J. Owen (Alter), 0. Drawn, 2.

Off-hand Games.

Morphy,19,Barnes, 7,Drawn,0
"10,Bird, 1,"1
"5,Boden, 1,"3
"2,Hampton, 0,"0
"2,Kipping, 0,"0
"6,Lowe, 0,"0
"3,Medley, 0,"0
"2,Mongredieu, 0,"0
"4,Owen, 1,"0

[Pg 201]

Consultation Games.

Staunton and Owen, 0. Morphy and Barnes, 2. Drawn, 0.

Löwenthal and Medley, 0. Morphy and Mongredieu, 0. Drawn, 1.

Löwenthal, Mongredieu, and Medley, 0. Morphy, Walker Greenaway, 0. Drawn, 1.

Eight Games Blindfold at Birmingham.

Morphy beat Lord Lyttelton, Doctors Salmon and Freeman, Messrs. Rhodes, Wills and Carr; drew against Mr. Avery, and lost the game with Mr. Kipping.

In addition to the above score there were many contests at odds, which it is unnecessary to mention; Morphy being almost invariably successful.


Match Games.

Morphy,7,Anderssen, 2,Drawn,2
"5,Harrwitz, 2,"1
"7,Mongredieu, 0,"1

Off-hand Games (Even).

Morphy,5,Anderssen, 1,Drawn,0
"2,Bancker, 0,"0
"7,Budzinsky, 0,"0
"0,Harrwitz, 1,"0
"12,Journoud, 0,"0
"5,Laroche, 0,"2
"6,Rivière, 1,"1

Odds of Pawn and Move.

Morphy,5,Budzinsky, 1,Drawn,1
"2,Devinck, 0,"2
"1,Guibert, 0,"0
"3,Laroche, 0,"3

[Pg 202]

Odds of the Pawn and two Moves.

Morphy,4,Delaunay, 0,Drawn,0
"5,Lecrivain, 2,"0
"3,Lequesne, 0,"1

Consultation Games.

Morphy,2,Saint Amant and Lequesne, 0,Drawn,2
"0,De Rivière and Journoud, 1,"0
"5,Duke of Brunswick, Counts Casabianca and Isouard, 0,"1
"5,Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard, 0,"0

Blindfold Games.

Morphy beat Messrs. Bancker, Bierwirth, Bornemann, Potier, Préti, and Seguin, and drew the games with Messrs. Guibert and Lequesne.

At Versailles, Morphy, playing blindfolded, won against Monsieur Chamouillet and the Versailles Chess Club playing together against him, in consultation.

I should like to say something on the above score, but feel quite incompetent to the task. I can merely state that no player who ever lived, (of whom we know any thing,) can produce such a catalogue of victories. Surely, it is not too much to declare, on the authority of so much proof, that

Morphy can give Pawn and Move to every living Player.

[Pg 203]


Paul Morphy has vanquished the paladins of the Old and New Worlds, and vaulted into the very throne of Labourdonnais and Philidor.

Is not this indeed a victory for him,—a triumph for his countrymen? Shall not this youth be esteemed worthy of all honor, who, without experience, has, by his own marvellous genius, eclipsed the brightness of those stars which have flashed in the chess firmament before him?

Chess may be but a game, a pastime, a relaxation; but Chess has at times absorbed the faculties of the intellectual in every clime; it numbers amongst its amateurs the greatest names of battle-fields and thrones; it tells of warriors, poets, painters, sculptors, statesmen and divines; it possesses a literature and language of its own; it makes enemies friends, and finds a temple on the ocean, in the fortress, and by the peaceful fireside.

And long as Chess shall last, Paul Morphy's name will be as a "Household Word," and his deeds be held in lasting memory.


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The Physiology of Common Life. By George Henry Lewes, Author of "Seaside Studies," "Life of Goethe," etc. No. 1. Just Ready. Price 10 cents.


No scientific subject can be so important to Man as that of his own Life. No knowledge can be so incessantly appealed to by the incidents of every day, as the knowledge of the processes by which he lives and acts. At every moment he is in danger of disobeying laws which, when disobeyed, may bring years of suffering, decline of powers, premature decay. Sanitary reformers preach in vain, because they preach to a public which does not understand the laws of life—laws as rigorous as those of Gravitation or Motion. Even the sad experience of others yields us no lessons, unless we understand the principles involved. If one Man is seen to suffer from vitiated air, another is seen to endure it without apparent harm; a third concludes that "it is all chance," and trusts to that chance. Had he understood the principle involved, he would not have been left to chance—his first lesson in swimming would not have been a shipwreck.

The work will be illustrated with from 20 to 25 woodcuts, to assist the exposition. It will be published in monthly numbers, uniform with Johnston's "Chemistry of Common Life."


Page 7. musquito as in original

Pages 16, 20. Variable hyphenation of master-pieces, masterpiece as in original

Page 31. palladins as in original

Page 98. depreciatory as in original

Page 115. coryphoeus corrected to coryphaeus

Page 135. In the signature, Keneedy changed to Kennedy

Page 152. Algaier corrected to Allgaier

Illustration caption before page 197. MONGREDIEN standardised to MONGREDIEU (this may be incorrect and a reference to Augustus Mongredien).

General. The following words have variable accenting but have been left as in the original as they are used in quotations: Café, Caïssa, défi, Régence. Other accents have been standardised.

General. Variable spelling of McDonnel/McDonnell as in original

General. Variable spelling of Deschapelles/Deschappelles as in original

General. Variable spelling of Huttman/Huttmann as in original

General. Variable spelling of Zytogorsky/Zytogorosky as in original

General. Variable spelling of tournay/tourney as in original

General. Variable capitalisation of Street/street in street names as in original

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