< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 184 OF 259 ·
|Feb-06-07|| ||capatal: One wonders, did Paul Morphy have an intimate relationship with the opposite sex that was rumored or confirmed by reliable sources, in his life time?|
|Feb-06-07|| ||scrambler: <capatal> One does wonder, Paul was famous,educated,cultured,had money, and was a pretty good looking guy. I find it hard to believe he never had an intimate relationship with some nice lady. |
The newspapers wrote all kind of crappy stuff about him you would think if he was with some girl they would have mentioned it. In his later years when he started losing his mind I could understand why no woman would want to date him. But his early years Paul seemed to be as they say "a keeper".
His family may have tried to fix him up with a nice girl but for whatever reason it just didn't work out, but yeah one does wonder???
|Feb-06-07|| ||Ken MacGillivray: I recollect reading somwhere that there was a girl who Paul fell in love with, but she rejected him and scorned him as a "common chess player" and it was this rejection that prompted his subsequent strange behaviour.|
|Feb-07-07|| ||Plato: <Ken> If I remember correctly, she scorned the idea of marrying a "mere chess player," and he was heartbroken by this. It may just be a legend. But if it's true, and we would need someone like <SBC> to tell us more, it may help explain why he gave up chess and developed an almost spiteful attitude towards it (when he met with Steinitz, for example, it was on the condition that they can talk about anything except chess).|
|Feb-07-07|| ||SBC: |
There are several members here (offhand: such as <lblai>, <calli>, <DrKurtPhart> and <ckr>) who have an equal or better grasp on Morphy than I.
Just as several economists can take the same facts and reach different conclusions, I think each of us might interpret what we know of Morphy in different lights.
I have my own very definite opinion on this topic, but the validity of that opinion relies greatly on acceptance of my own personal interpretations.
I'd rather present some of the evidence and let it go at that.
First, the story of the "mere chess player" is found in Frances Parkinson Keyes' novel, "The Chess Players." She claimed it is based on fact and that she even knew the woman involved. But she followed that claim with the demuring statement that social mores prevent her from revealing the woman's name.
You can read something about Keyes here: http://sbchess.sinfree.net/vieuxcar...
Wilhelm Steinitz' interview with Morphy makes some broad assertions - apparently either based on gossip or partially invented - that touch one this topic:
"Morphy wants to get married. He is perpetually having love affairs. All the people in New-Orleans know it and humor him a little. Mind you, he is the most chivalrous soul alive. He is a thorough gentleman. But if he sees a strange face in the street that pleases him, you will see him lift his hat and give a bow. Sometimes the lady will stop kindly and speak to him or smile and pass on. Then he will follow her at a distance - sometimes for hours - and when she enters her house, take out his note-book and enter the address. He regrets his loss because he wishes to be married, and the cure is, I think, the same as in my own case - to play chess again determinedly."
Léona Queyrouze Barel knew Morphy and spent a good bit of time in Morphy's house especially during his last four years when she was in her 20s and Morphy was in his 40s. Evidence of their closeness lies in the fact that when Paul died, Morphy's mother, Thelcide, gave to Léona Paul's personal chess board and set.
"Although gracious to men and chivalrous to women, he was on intimate terms with nobody, and unlocked the recesses of his soul to neither man nor woman. It is not probable that he was ever in love, and his serenity was certainly never disturbed by any idle amours or wild passion. His temperament was chaste, and his ideal exalted to a degree far above what humanity can give. To live without love seems an anomaly, and is not unusual with genius. It sees things in a different light, and often, experiences dissatisfaction and disgust, where others find enjoyment, if not happiness."
You can read about Léona Queyrouze here:
|Feb-07-07|| ||lblai: A good summary. I think I remember one or two additional items. Wasn't there something about Morphy chatting with women at the opera? Perhaps it was in that pamphlet by Morphy's niece, along with comments about Morphy's appreciation for feminine charms. Also, I think Lawson has a quote about women ridiculing Morphy during the Civil War because of his failure to fight for the South.|
Morphy may have seemed like a keeper at first, but I would think that women would have been concerned about his failure to establish a law practice.
With regard to a specific love interest of Paul, the evidence is pretty sketchy already. I would say that there is absolutely no justification for the idea that Morphy's strange behaviour was prompted by a rejection. There are signs of Morphy's hostility to chess in the accounts of what he said and did BEFORE returning to New Orleans in 1858.
By the way, it seems unlikely that Steinitz was required to refrain from talking about chess. That seems to be another myth. Steinitz himself described meeting Morphy and his account does not mention any such requirement. If I remember correctly, SBC has a reproduction of the Steinitz account at her site.
|Feb-07-07|| ||SBC: |
I don't think there can be any doubt the Morphy enjoyed the social company of women. In Paris, a place that he loved more than New Orleans, it seemed that he spent most of his time socializing with women. ( http://sbchess.sinfree.net/morphybi... )
In the "Reminiscences of Paul Morphy," George Haven Putnam wrote, "Morphy had refused to join with these old-time associates in the attempt to overthrow the Republic. This brought him into social isolation. The girls were said to have scoffed at him. He ought, of course, to have done what other Southerners, objecting to secession, did. He should have made a home for himself in Paris, or somewhere in England. He remained, however, in New Orleans, boycotted and ill, and the last years of his life brought to him nothing but sadness." ( http://sbchess.sinfree.net/morphybi... )
The Steinitz link is in the posting below, but here it is again: http://sbchess.sinfree.net/Steinitz...
|Feb-08-07|| ||scrambler: His objecting to secession
his failure to establish a law practice and his mental state,these are defintely not pluses if your looking to get married. But I'm quite sure there were some women oppposed to secession as well, my take is that its the strange behaviour Paul exhibited later in life. For example:
<Sometimes the lady will stop kindly and speak to him or smile and pass on. Then he will follow her at a distance - <sometimes for hours> - and when she enters her house, take out his note-book and enter the address.>
If this is true this is a very strange creepy type of behaviour for Paul to be doing,in this day and age this is known as stalking a definite turn off, and whats he going to do once he has the address.If the lady didn't know she was being followed I think thats even worse. Can anybody make sense out of this?
|Feb-08-07|| ||Archives: So Morphy was a good gynecologist, but was he any good at chess?|
|Feb-08-07|| ||SBC: |
I think to explain it, you first have to accept it. The entire idea that Paul wanted to get married seems wrong (to me). While Morphy certainly had some peculiar behaviors, my impression has become that much, even most, from these unsupported stories have been based on gossip and that his peculiarities were less a manifestation of mental illness as form of expression of his individuality and even possibly a display of arrogance on Morphy's part. Morphy suffered from some mental problems that revealed themselves in periodic episodes but these problems seemed to have largely physiological roots. Some people, aware that Morphy had these periodic episodes, associated associated his peculiar behaviors, which have nothing to do with these episodes, with his mental problems. The press, when it deigned to write about Morphy anymore, focused on this gossip. People like Steinitz made copy off their under-informed and gossip-mongering opinions.
Just as with the totally silly notion that Morphy grew to hate chess, his "madness" had been, and has been, completely overblown and, as with the very nature of gossip, stories have been twisted and warped around the truth.
But that's just my opinion.
|Feb-08-07|| ||scrambler: <SBC> If that was just gossip then its the cruelest kind to be dished out to
Morphy who was kind as far as know to every one he came in contact with. |
When you read that his family at one point tried to put him away then one may began to doubt that they are fully gossip at all and that they just might be true or at least partly true. Why would Steinitz of all people say such things or believe them to be true if he had such high regard for Morphy. The whole thing is confusing coming from Steinitz. The only way it makes sense to me is either people knew Morphy was strange but harmless and paid him no mind.
What I noticed is the strange stories connected with women,the tipping the hat and bowing he was supposedly doing this to an imaginary person once, following women for hours, the cirlce of shoes, the mere chessplayer incident always some stupid thing connect to women. So when they say women were always scoffing him, then it begins to make sense.
|Feb-08-07|| ||ckr: <Why would Steinitz of all people say such things or believe them to be true if he had such high regard for Morphy.>|
Steinitz knew more 'of' Morphy than of the man. So, he really did not know Morphy well at all, which leaves his opinions as well ... opinions. IMO
|Feb-08-07|| ||SBC: <scrambler>
<Gossip> is gossip whether the intent is cruel or not. Just like the game where you whisper something into the next person's ear who whispers what he thinks he heard into the next person's ear and so on, what comes out out the end generally bears no semblence to the original... and in the case of gossip, even the original is usually an embellishment. When a "famous" person is the subject of gossip, there's a certain relish in relating how the mighty has fallen. So, people aren't looking for truth so much as they're looking for tittilation.
Morphy's unique situation gave fodder for a lot of gossip. When the papers printed anything about Morphy as he grew older, they focused on his mental condition. The speculation reached such a point that Charles Maurian even felt an obligation to issue clarifications.
A letter from Charles A. Maurian published in the Watertown, N.Y. Re-Union, Dec. 5, 1875:
"An attempt was made to induce him to remain in the 'Louisiana Retreat,' an institution for the treatment of insane persons, but he objected and expounded to all concerned the law that governed his case and drew certain conclusions with such irrefutable logic that his mother thought, and in my opinion very properly, that his case did not demand, such extreme measures as depriving him of his liberty, and took him home."
Charles A .Maurian's letter to the New York Sun, May 2, 1877:
"The Sun of the 24th inst. contains a repetition of the oft-told lie about the insanity of Paul Morphy - that he had not played chess for a long time, and so forth, ad nauseum. Will you have the kindness to publish the following, which contains all of the facts concerning Paul Morphy with which the public have anything to do?
He is now practicing law in this city, and has never been insane, or spoken of in that relation by his family or friends.
As to chess, he is unquestionably to-day the best player in the world, although he does not play often enough to keep himself in thorough practice. He gives odds of a knight to our strongest players, and is seldom beaten, perhaps never when he cares to win."
|Feb-08-07|| ||tamar: I don't think Steinitz intended to spread rumors or subject Morphy to ridicule. His remedy for what he saw as a malaise was for Morphy to
get back into chess.
Steinitz went through a period himself where he lost desire for the game, probably associated with being ill, and saw a simple parallel in their situations.
He might even have been right. It might have helped him. But Morphy early on made up his mind that chess was a mere past-time, and does not even appear to be tempted at any point after 1860 to play tournaments or matches.
|Feb-08-07|| ||SBC: <scrambler>
What "derangements" Morphy suffered were apparently periodic or episodic. These episodes seem to have him exhibiting uncharateristic vehemence and making wild accusations. They were usually coupled with physical distress that required bedrest. During the great majority of the time when Morphy was "normal," he did have eccentric mannerisms. I think people confused the two separate things and attributed his eccentricity to his physically induced mental problems. Since Morphy gradually secluded himself from the general population as a rule, I'm convinced the people who spoke about him really had no clue about him and these were the people Steinitz talked to and from whom he drew his conclusions. To be honest, I feel Morphy, during his brief encounter with Steinitz, pulled a snow job on him... after all, Steinitz' gambit wasn't so good.
As far as George Haven Putnam's reminiscences go - Putman wrote these later in life but was a 19 year old Union soldier when he supposedly observed Morphy (he claimed it was in 1863 and we know Morphy wasn't in the US at all in 1863). I think it's possible that Putnam, a soldier, had a built in distaste for any man at that time who wasn't in the military and that his appraisal of Morphy being scorned by the women in New Orleans reflected his scorn more than that of those he had no way of knowing about. (New Orleans women most likely had much, much greater scorn for a Yankee soldier than for an avowed anti-secessioninst).
At any rate, I just wanted to show how complicated this can get which is why, all things being equal, I put a lot of trust in Léona Queyrouze.
|Feb-08-07|| ||SBC: <tamar>
Steintiz' intent, whatever it might have been, was never in question. But what he wrote is part of the cloud of confusion that fogs the issue of Morphy's mental state and also of his relation to women in general. So, I think one must look and see if any of what Steinitz wrote on the subject of Morphy has merit.
|Feb-09-07|| ||scrambler: <SBC> Charles A .Maurian & Léona Queyrouze were friends of Morphy my problem with friends is they dont tell everything out of respect for the family or person and tend to reveal only the positive. |
So although people who really didn't know Morphy (They may have only known he was the celebrated chessplayer) are telling what they saw Morphy doing. We know he took long walks on Canal st. maybe someone interpreted one these long walks wrong and we get Morphy sometimes followed women for hours.
This is only one the strange things Morphy is said to have done, when you read that his family was going to have him put away, then I tend to believe some of the "gossip." It's clear to me the family kept things under tight wraps. I believe it was Morphy's own strange behaviours and not chess that ruined his life, his law pratice, his relations with women,and chess itself, he probably avoided chess because he knew he could no longer focus 100% on any game against a strong opponent like Steinitz.
So although he could still spot a bad gambit, in the long run like Rubinstein like Fischer he would most likely have lost.
My point is if only the law practice had succeeded and the family didn't try to have him committed (they had to have some good reasons) then it would been easier for me to conclude that the stories are baseless.
|Feb-09-07|| ||scrambler: From what I understand the Family tricked Paul into thinking he was going for a carriage ride but really they were taking him to an insane aslyum. We they got there Morphy apparently stunned the staff with his legal rights ,they got scared (maybe THEY had something to hide) and didn't take him. So I think every one agrees Paul pulled a snow job on them! So in my mind the staff concluded quietly to themselves yeah this guy is a little bit crazy but he's sane enough to sue us we better not take him. |
Another thing about this story is Pauls Mother was convinced he was not insane and took him home,then why take him there in the first place If it was Maurians idea then why send the papers a letter declaring Paul's not insane, makes no sense.
|Feb-09-07|| ||Archives: <From what I understand the Family tricked Paul into thinking he was going for a carriage ride but really they were taking him to an insane aslyum.>|
Whoah, thats the exact same trick that my parents used when they tried to committ me to an insane asylum.
I got out of there by showing my razor sharp break-dancing moves.
|Feb-09-07|| ||scrambler: "The man in the shack", now that guy's crazy! But I gotta tell ya he's fasinating!!! HINT: He rules the universe!|
|Feb-09-07|| ||JointheArmy: <Whoah, thats the exact same trick that my parents used when they tried to committ me to an insane asylum.>|
Are you kidding? I actually had to be transported to a mental hospital because this pseudo-psychiatrist without a degree tricked these cops into thinking she was going to let me go. I had to spend weeks in a hospital in Vallejo in the adolscent department. This was just 3 months ago too.
|Feb-09-07|| ||scrambler: A letter from Charles A. Maurian published in the Watertown, N.Y. Re-Union, Dec. 5, 1875:|
"An attempt was made to induce him to remain in the 'Louisiana Retreat,' an institution for the treatment of insane persons, but he objected and expounded to all concerned the law that governed his case and drew certain conclusions with such irrefutable logic that< his mother thought, and in my opinion very properly,> that his case did not demand, such extreme measures as depriving him of his liberty, and took him home."
Three days later.
Letter from Charles A. Maurian to Capt. George Mackenzie
106 Espanade Street
New Orleans, Dec. 8, 1875
Captain George Mackenzie
My dear Captain,
<I am extremely sorry to say that the report that Mr. Morphy's mind has been somewhat deranged of late, is true.> The facts, how-ever, have been greatly exaggerated. He believes that he has many enemies who are attempting to drive him from New-Orleans by a system of petty persecutions, etc. This idea has led him to behave on one or two occasions in an extravagant manner, but on all subjects not connected with his particular mania, his mind is apparently as sound as it can be. This leads his family and friends to hope that his case is not so hopeless as the Journals would have us believe. Should you think proper to publish these facts, <I desire particularly that my name should not be mentioned in connection therewith, for my relations with the family are intimate, and although my present object is merely to correct these erroneous impressions created by the reports in the public prints, I am apprehensive that my motives will be wrongly interpreted. I assure you that this misfortune of Morphy's is very painful to me.>
Very truly yours
Charles A. Maurian
|Feb-09-07|| ||ckr: <when you read that his family was going to have him <put away>>|
Is it your belief that they were going to leave him there and forget about him?
Rather quite possible and more likely, the thought was was to check him in so he could receive some professional help. From Paul's reaction second thoughts were considered and the conclusion was that it may be a bit extreme.
|Feb-09-07|| ||DrKurtPhart: "Carriage ride anybody? ...Paul?"
Perhaps it was Morphy's mother that actually needed the professional help.
After all, it was she who drove the father Alonzo into the voluntary seclusion of his room most evenings, to escape the "musical inferno" as he liked to put it, created by the 30 or 40 musicians that regularly visited 4 or 5 nights a week to play and rehearse one of her new operas and savour the quality wines and exotic foods on offer, and jam on into the night bro'.
Almost enough for him to gladly take that Last Great carriage ride in the sky. He had also long since tired of being trounced at the chess table by babytots Paul and apparently found some measure of peace of mind away from it all in his room...perhaps dreaming of that carriage-ride... to peace and tranquility.
Being one of the most powerful and richest men in Louisiana, but a non-entity at home must have weighed heavily on him, especially as he had also 'retired' from his favorite pastime, Chess, for his own private reasons. (see above.)
(cue:Beach Boys 'In My Room') http://www.musicsonglyrics.com/B/be...
Paul's mother, Mrs. Morphy, more familiarly known as Thelcide, or just 'Mother' (Order of the Carriage), developed a bit of a reputation as a musician and composer, capable of creating "musical infernos" on both the piano and the harp. She was also considered to be a fine mezzo-soprano. So she was an artist, and therefore had no time to spare to be a mother to Paul, and anyway, Tara the servant looked after Paul as a tot, and she was his surrogate 'mammy'.
"Paul, you come up here or I'll tell your father when he gets home."
He spent his time as a baby in skirts at chess and hide-and-seek, both a waste of time in mom Thelcide's book, and although he excelled at Chess as no-one else in history, he nevertheless received no encouragement from her or anything.
Paul himself had a facility for music and after hearing an opera but one time, he could hum or whistle the entire score. But she kept him out of music too, it being also an unsuitable career (sex, drugs and librettos) for a young Creolean gentleman. ditto Chess. (party tricks)
Perhaps she feared Paul would potentially overshadow her as a composer and that would never do, as she obviously believed the universe as she knew it revolved around her. Paul was just a little satellite in her universe, orbiting aimlessly between chessgames.com and parlour pastimes. Utterly wasting time and a potential bringer of shame to 'Da Familie' in spite of him being a prodigy and new Mozart of Chess.
Where was Freud when he, or she, needed him? All this was sad enough, but that Maurian, Paul's life-long friend and confidante, was 'in' on the 'carriage ride caper', not 'letting on' to Paul about it and all, must have left him feeling utterly betrayed and alone in a world where he was in reality so far ahead of his time that he could've taken a jetplane to Paris or London, if they had been invented in 1858.
|Feb-09-07|| ||SBC: <scrambler>
You've made some very valid points.
One item worth noting, and something <BishopBerkely> and I had discussed in passing not too long ago, is the sometime different connotations applied to words in the 19th century compared to modern usages. The word, "derangement" used today conjures up visions of a wild, uncontrolable madman. That doesn't seem to have been the earlier meaning of the word, which likely connoted it's definition - which is a state of confusion or of loss of coherency. When they spoke of Morphy being deranged, it seems they meant he wasn't acting totally rationally.
A word on Léona Queyrouze Barel in response to <Charles A .Maurian & Léona Queyrouze were friends.... and tend to reveal only the positive.>
Why do you say that Queyrouze only revealed the positive? I found that she gave a hauntingly stark portrayal of Morphy, both graphic and unpretentious.
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