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Enigmatical List of Young Ladies in the Borough of West Chester

Love expressed as a series of early 19th-century riddles in the newspaper of a Pennsylvania village.

My mother writes from West Chester, PA:

Dear Paul:

You always said I could put something on Ftrain, but I never thought that would be appropriate. I finally found something to put on. I am sending you this article which appeared in a local paper in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1817, in the interest of St. Valentine's Day. It is a list of riddles. The answer to each is the name of a young lady in town.

An example: I figured out number 8, which was pretty easy. Few (just the F) + air + lamb = “Fairlamb”. I know that Fairlamb's lived here in the 1800's from other research I've done. (Editor's note: number 4 is “Darlington,” Dar + Ling + Ton)

I am guessing that all of the names are last names, which only makes it harder. I am imagining these 19th century boys writing these riddles and sending them to the local paper, and the girls trying to see who is named! Ahhhh, love!

I have no answers. Perhaps your readers can figure these out. If you get answers, I'll try to verify the names in the Chester County Historical Society clippings files. Thanks and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

P.S. Who could that great man in Hoboken be (see number 15)? The one who fell in a duel?

Hope you get a kick out of this.

Love,

Mother

You always said I could put something on Ftrain, but I never thought that would be appropriate. I finally found something to put on. I am sending you this article which appeared in a local paper in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1817, in the interest of St. Valentine's Day. It is a list of riddles. The answer to each is the name of a young lady in town.

An example: I figured out number 8, which was pretty easy. Few (just the F) + air + lamb = “Fairlamb”. I know that Fairlamb's lived here in the 1800's from other research I've done. (Editor's note: number 4 is “Darlington,” Dar + Ling + Ton)

I am guessing that all of the names are last names, which only makes it harder. I am imagining these 19th century boys writing these riddles and sending them to the local paper, and the girls trying to see who is named! Ahhhh, love!

I have no answers. Perhaps your readers can figure these out. If you get answers, I'll try to verify the names in the Chester County Historical Society clippings files. Thanks and HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

P.S. Who could that great man in Hoboken be (see number 15)? The one who fell in a duel?

Hope you get a kick out of this.

Love,

Mother

.  .  .  .  .  

ENIGMATICAL LIST OF YOUNG LADIES IN THE BOROUGH OF WEST CHESTER.

  1. Half of the heaviest of all metals, an interjection, and the beginning of disappointments.
  2. A crooked letter, one third of pretty, a dipthong, and one third of the last end of a yard and a quarter.
  3. Half of the oblique case of we doubled, and the fall of the tide.
  4. Three fifths of Darby, a sea fish, and twenty hundred.
  5. Half of the fourth part of a bushel, two thirds of the vessel in which Noah was preserved, and one fourth of practice.
  6. A circular, and the beginning and end of excess.
  7. The plural of I, an article, and three fourths of a part of speech signifying action or passion.
  8. One third of not many, the atmosphere, and a young sheep.
  9. Four sevenths of a tricking fellow, and the reverse of more.
  10. The right place to put a watch, the beginning of enchantment, and the end of charms.
  11. The two first letters of an ancient republic, famed for its literature, its arts, and its arms -the vowel that has most sounds - the last half of that passion which Walter Scott says "rules the court, the camp, the grove"--that letter without which a woman can neither be sad nor sorrowful, can neither sigh nor scold, which is doubled in passion, madness and bliss, but is never found in anger, rage or love.
  12. A letter which in its sound is the name of a river in Scotland -- a word which signifies to mistake, the first eleventh of the word signifying the natural history of fishes -- the last letter of the fluid with which this is written.
  13. A letter which is expressed by a name of the ocean -- the name of the second note ascending in the gamut--the last half of a word having four letters, which signifies to labour.
  14. The three letters in the card of a compass which direct to the cynosure, the orient and the occident -- the first half of a celebrated fabric of Irish manufacture.
  15. The letter which begins the name of the greatest man America ever knew -- the only vowel in the sir-name of a distinguished gentleman who was a candidate for governor in 1808 & in the sir-name of no governor who has presided in Pennsylvania since the formation of the present constitution, two letters alike without which no person can be well or ill -- the vowel which sounds like the Scottish word for the organ of vision -- the third letter in the sixth word of the first chapter of Genesis -- the last syllable of the name of a great man who fell in a duel at Hoboken.
  16. The three first letters of the name of a shepherd boy who slew a giant and rose to be king in Israel--and an inflection of the verb "to be".

A SOLUTION IS REQUIRED.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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