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?