Thursday, December 22, 2011

Charade No. 19 (with answer in verse)

I had mentioned in an earlier post that it was sometimes the practice to provide an answer to a charade in verse. This was done, for example, in some magazines, where readers submitted their answers in rhyming form, and the magazine published one or more.

Here is one of them. The first comment gives the original rhymed answer.

My first you will be,
    If you're good and upright;
My second you'll see
    In a sharp frosty night.

Together combin'd
    I'm a virtue that's great,
That should govern each mind,
    And preside in each state.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Charade No. 18

A country enrich'd by my first
While peace and prosperity reign,
May yet be reduc'd to the dust,
If pleasure ascendancy gain.

My second has never been seen,
Nor ever by stratagem bound;
But yet in all countries has been,
And only is known by a sound.

There is not a seafaring soul,
That has to the Indies been borne,
But owes to the aid of my whole
His safety and speedy return.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Charade No. 17

My first is a part of the day;
My second at feasts overflows;
In the cottage my whole oft is seen,
To measure old Time as he goes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Charade No. 16

My first's a mean and humble bed,
Where poverty reclines;
You'll find my next on hedges spread,
When Sol in summer shines.
My whole's a pleasant cooling fruit,
And does, I think, most palates suit.

Blog No. 15

My first is nothing but a name;
My second is more small;
My whole is of so little fame,
It has no name at all.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Charade No. 14

My first is a tree which with cedars will vie.
My second's the tenderest part of the eye.
My whole is a fruit which to none will give place, 
For delicate flavor, and exquisite taste.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Charade No. 13

When Nox (night) brings on her midnight hour,
And stillness holds her magic power,
All mortals to my first repair,
And bid adieu to toil and care:
My next's for various ends design'd,
Yet oft my first you there will find.
Within my whole you see repose,
Forgetting life and all its woes.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Charade No. 12

You may lie on my first by the side of a stream,
And my second compose to the nymph you adore,
But if, when you've none of my whole, her esteem
And affection diminish -- think of her no more!

This one is by Jane Austen; it's in the Austen family collection described in the previous post.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Austen family charade collection

The Austen family created a collection of charades; each was written by Jane Austen or someone in her immediate family. The collection was published under the name "Charades &c. Written a hundred years ago by Jane Austen and Her Family" in 1895, long after Jane Austen's lifetime. There is an image of the cover at

One of the charades I posted is from this collection; I will post more of these. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Charade No. 11

My first makes all nature appear with one face,
My second has music, and beauty, and grace;
And if this charade is not easily said,
My whole you deserve to have thrown at your head.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Charade No. 10

My first is equality,
My second inferiority,
And my whole is superiority.

Hint: there are two possible answers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Charade no. 9

My first (most strange!) is always wicked,
Yet ne'er committed sin;
My total for my first is fitted
Compos'd of brass or tin.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Some background

Some background on charades: this type of riddle started in France. When they were introduced in England in 1775 or 1776, critics gave them unfavorable (but funny) reviews. One described them as:

“. . . a wretched species of writing, which certain frivolous females lately imported among other frippery fashions from France. Like most other articles of French manufacture, however, it does not appear adapted to the wear of this country.”

They became highly popular anyway, appearing in letters, magazines, books, and on the folding fans of the period. When a magazine published them, readers often competed to supply the correct answer in rhyming form. If readers are interested, I’ll post an example or two.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Charade no. 8

My first dispels the darksome gloom;
You love my second, 'tis a home;
My third with cheering ray from far
Gives comfort to the wand'ring tar.

Charade no. 7

My first is heat by cold produced;
My second's kin to man;
My whole without a fire gives light,
So strange is nature's plan.

Charade no. 6

My first is a body that's light;
My next a mechanical pow'r;
My whole should be found
Where the bottle goes round,
Which enlivens the sociable hour.

Charade no. 5

Life's purest treasure with my first friend unite,
Cheer the lone walk, and gild the gloom of night;
When ah! my second, Britain's boast and pride,
From the fond bosom tears this pleasing guide;
But space nor climate can my whole destroy,
Di'monds are not so bright, and gold has more alloy.

Charade no. 4

My first those who know it would willingly shun,
As destructive of pleasure, of health, and of peace;
But those who despise it are often undone,
And when we reject it its pow'rs we increase.
My second is by comparison little,
Yet joined to my first has surprising effect;
It subtracts by addition, and forms to a tittle
My whole which from puzzles like this you expect.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Charade No. 3 (from the Austen family)

Here is a charade by Jane Austen's brother, Francis William Austen.

By my first you may travel
      with safety and speed,
Though many dislike
      the conveyance indeed;
My second no woman can well be.
My whole takes a change
      several times in a year;
Hot and cold, wet and dry,
      benignant, severe.
What am I, fair lady, pray tell me?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Charade No. 2

My first is a preposition,
My next is a composition,
And my whole is an acquisition.



Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Charades: Rhyming Riddles from Jane Austen's Time

This blog is about charades, a kind of rhyming riddle that was popular during the Regency period, roughly from 1776 through the 1830s and afterwards (after about 1840, the term started referring to the acting game we are familiar with today). These appeared in magazines, books, and on the fans the ladies carried during this period. Charades started in France, and spread to Great Britain and the United States. They play a role in Jane Austen’s novel Emma.

Here is how they work: each charade is about a word. It gives clues to each part of the word (usually a syllable that is also a word), and a clue about the word itself. Here is an example:

My first is a preposition (for)
My next a composition (tune)
My whole is an acquisition (fortune).

Ready to try one?

My second’s a weapon of war,
My first a vibration.
My whole’s the delight and the pride of the nation.

Remember to set your mind back 200 years as you guess.