Morphy's Little-Known Speech

Morphy's speeches as a rule aren't well known.  But even among aficionados of Morphy speeches, the following, possibly his warmest and more sincere, is almost unknown or completely ignored:

Morphy's Speech in England
—At the festival given in London by several noble gentlemen on the departure of Morphy from England, he said, in reply to a toast :

           I hardly know, my lord and gentlemen, in what terms to acknowledge the high compliment of which I this day find myself the unworthy object. There are occasions when a language must be spoken of far more difficult utterance than the ordinary speech which obtains among men —moments when the full heart can find no expressions commensurate with the intensity of its feelings —when every word seems cold —when language itself becomes powerless. Of such, I feel, is the present occasion. When I look before and around me, and see gathered in my honor so select an assembly of chess loving gentlemen, I feel that mere words could never adequately express my deep sense of indebtedness. The only return I can make is to tender to each and every gentleman here present my warm, and I would beg you to believe, my heartfelt acknowledgments.
           To those gentlemen with whom I have had the honor to contest a few friendly battles over the checkered board, I would also express my profound obligation. Their kindness, their unvarying courtesy, their demeanor, always marked by the most polite attention.
           I shall not easily forget. Let me hope that they who for a few brief hours were foes in the mimic strife have become warm personal friends. To have conquered their esteem is my proudest boast. And now, gentlemen, after a sojourn of near twelve months in the Old, I must, seek my far home in the New World.
          Gladly would I here remain, in company so congenial, but the call of duty must be obeyed.
           To say that I regret the few months spent in Europe would be saying but little. What may be reserved for me in the future I will not venture to divine; but this I do feel that one of the most delightful episodes of my life is fast vanishing into the past. Come what may— be pleasure or pain my lot hereafter remembrance of the golden days passed in your midst will ever be dearly treasured here. Should fortune smile on my future career, I shall dwell with delight on the auspicious morn that heralded the bright and happy day, and should adversity —as soon as it may —lower around my pathway of life, I shall derive from the remembrance of other and better days a consolation of which nothing shall deprive me.
                        "Let fate do her worst, there are relics of joy
                        Bright dreams of the east that she cannot destroy,
                        That come in the night time of sorrow and care,
                        And bring back the features that joy used to wear.
                        Long,long be myheart with such memories fllled.
                        Like the vase in which roses have once been distilled;
                        You may break, you may shatter the vase If you will,
                        But the scent of the roses will hang round It still."'


This speech, published in the Sacramento Union on  June 10, 1859, was brought to my attention by Jeremy Spinrad.


  • 5 years ago


    Thank you and Jeremy Spinrad!

  • 5 years ago

    NM Petrosianic

    An eloquent and humble speech, thank you for sharing!

  • 5 years ago


    I thought for a moment that he also wrote the poem at the end, but it is from Thomas Moore.

  • 5 years ago


  • 5 years ago


    @minital. I doubt that he came up with his speech on the spot. Toasting and speechmaking was customary and expected on on special occassions in that era and he would have had ample time to reflect on what me might say at the opportune moment. What IS remarkable, in addition to the lovely phrasing and noble sentiments is the utter lack of bitterness over his shabby treatment by Staunton. He really took the hIgh road!
  • 5 years ago

    FM gauranga

    We can all be inspired by this to treat everyone who we come across more kindly.

  • 5 years ago


    How embarrassing, shameful, a cause for profound regret, that we, in this communication saturated age, with it's surfeit of methods for communication, have lost the art of expression, have truncated our vocabulary, have forgone the patient explication of ideas, of sentiments, leaving the mind, indeed the soul, in linguistic poverty, to the cost of life richly known, to the cost of beauty. Wow, gr8, thanx again BG:)
  • 5 years ago


    hmmm... this is so beautiful, and so not what I expected from the clinically insane prodigy.  But then again I guess it must of been an enormous passion for him at his younger years.  One without any of the self abusement he put on himself.

  • 5 years ago


    Wow! How eloquent! 

  • 5 years ago


    Obviously, in spite of his victories, he was not happy in the Old trip

  • 5 years ago


    fmarti, please google "paul morphy".

    he was also a lawyer.

  • 5 years ago


    What's most amazing is you know he just came up with that on the spot. He is pure genius. His speeches should be studied in school.

  • 5 years ago


    Lovely speech, with an obviously heart-felt message.  Tremendous mastery and control of the English language.  But then, that is only to be expected of the man, and his undoubted charisma.

    Great stuff, batgirl, as usual.  Many thanks .  

  • 5 years ago


    Chess player or from politics?

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