Chess Player's Chronicle/Paul Morphy A Historical Character

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[The following remarks are extracted from an essay, which was recently written for the perusal of a literary society. The title of the essay was " Paul Morphy a historical character, but not really superior to his predecessors." In the present extract the first portion of the subject is treated.]

THE history of the game of Chess is identical with that of most intellectual pursuits. The inventions of genius, the productions of art, the institutes of sound philosophy, spring from a vigorous epoch in the annals of a great nation. Cradled in India, nursed in Persia, Oriental Chess ripened in the reigns of the most illustrious kings and emperors. Transplanted to Europe, Chess fixed its roots most deeply in the soil so hardly won from Islam, by Christian chivalry. Spanish Chess flowered during the conquests of Ferdinand and Isabella, the victories of Charles the Fifth, the discovery of a new hemisphere, and the acquisition of Portugal. Italy, in the same period in which she supplied Spain with great military and naval commanders, gave birth to her most skilful Chess-players, LEONARDO, PAOLO, and SALVIO. The fire of French Chess was kindled at the altar of the Revolution. English Chess never flourished, until Trafalgar and Waterloo had been won. Germany, after the disastrous battle of Jena, could call forth only a fifth-rate player to meet the French champion, DES CHAPELLES.[1] The Chess of emancipated Germany has been rendered illustrious by a series of able players and writers of treatises upon the game. In the frozen regions of the North, great players began to arise from the time at which the full development of Russian policy exerted its influence upon Europe. The disasters in the Crimea ensued. Blasted as by lightning, Russian Chess was buried in the ruins of Sebastopol. The truth of this historical fact has also been shown in America. For many years the best Chess-players of America, and those not of the highest order, were Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Germans. A change has come over the scene. America incorporates with herself, state after state ; she aspires to the sovereignty of Cuba. It is at this time that a race of native American players arise. It is at this time that PAUL MORPHY appears, a phenomenon to the careless observer, a historical character to those who have deeply considered the parallels to be found amongst other nations.


  1. This is a common mistake, which originated through Des Chapelles' boasting, and was, to our knowledge, never contradicted. There flourished at that time in Vienna two well known Chess-players who could cope with the French champion—the celebrated Allgaier, and his daily opponent Koch, both first-rate players, and the former, in our opinion, equal to Des Chapelles.—Note of the Ed.

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