Charades from Emma

The charades from Emma may have baffled Harriet, but here we tell you how to decode them.

Word puzzles, charades and conundrums were popular forms of amusement during the Regency. Several variations of these games take place during Emma including the word scramble played by Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax (blunder) and Mr. Weston's "two letters [which] spell perfection" ("M" and "A"= Emma). Perhaps the most famous use of word puzzles in the novel are, however, the charades collected by Harriet Smith in her book. Here are a few from the novel, along with their answers. To solve the puzzle, remember that "my whole" or "united" is the word to be guessed, "my first" is its first syllable, and "my second" its second syllable. Answers follow at the bottom of the page. The charades from Emma by Jane Austen: A "well-known charade" My first doth affliction denote Which my second is destin'd to feel. And my whole is the best antidote That affliction to soften and heal. Mr. Elton's Mystery Charade My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings, Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease. Another view of man, my second brings, Behold him there, the monarch of the seas! But ah! united, what reverse we have! Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown; Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave, And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone. Thy ready wit the word will soon supply, May its approval beam in that soft eye! Kitty, A Fair but Frozen Maid Kitty, a fair, but frozen maid, Kindled a flame I still deplore; The hood-wink'd* boy I call'd in aid, Much of his near approach afraid, So fatal to my suit before. At length, propitious to my pray'r, The little urchin came; At once he sought the midway air, And soon he clear'd, with dextrous care, The bitter relicks of my flame. To Kitty, Fanny now succeeds, She kindles slow, but lasting fires: With care my appetite she feeds; Each day some willing victim bleeds, To satisfy my strange desires. Say, by what title, or what name, Must I this youth address? Cupid and he are not the same, Tho' both can raise, or quench a flame -- I'll kiss you, if you guess. The Poetical Works of David Garrick, 1785 *The word "hood-wink'd", which we now take to mean tricked, meant blindfolded or blinded, either literally or figuratively.  
          1)In this charade from Emma, "my first" is woe and "my second" is man, so that "my whole" is woe-man = woman. 2) The answer is "courtship" (wooing). 3) The originally-published answer to Kitty, a fair but frozen maid is, "a chimney sweep."




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