Our Puzzles — Again!

Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, February 19, 1840, p. 2, cols. 2-3  


Our Puzzles — Again!

An article on the subject of our late puzzles, in which we make a full reply to all correspondents, is crowded out this week, on account of its length, but will appear in our next.

The letter of Philom, of Limerick, is just received, and, as we are about going to press, we can only make an extract from it. He says:

Come, be a philanthropist, and dispel the mystery that shrouds your magic wand, and don’t “stonish the natives” any longer. You suggested in a late number that the “method” which enters into “enigma guessing,” would afford a subject for a “most capital magazine article.” Agreed. And furthermore, we think you are just the man to write it, and the Messenger just the periodical to spread it all over the world. Our folks think the number that should contain such an article would be sought with even more avidity than your “double sheet, with splendid engravings;” and that is not talking small, we assure you. Forty subscribers, with the needful to match, you say, will buy the whole set of rules by which you are enabled to read pot-hooks, pitch-forks, and paradoxes. Now, we’ll tell you what we will do — if you will reel off the yarn in good shape, we will “pledge ourselves” to send you one quarter of it in a few months, and we’ll do all we can towards sending the whole. And won’t your Ohio correspondent do the same? — Noticing the good humor and urbanity with which you have treated all your correspondents who have appeared before you in the ugliest characters possible, and hoping that you are still in “laughing mood,” and will look upon us with the same scrutinizing indulgence, we have ventured to salute you in as comical a set of trappings as we could procure. We cannot, however, repress an ominous presentiment of never seeing this more. We greatly fear you will get suspended on this, and we be none the wiser. We shall see. Don’t let its great length exclude it. If we are any judge of the genius of putting words together, this has some merit over and above its fantastic dress.

Yours, truly,


Philom seems bent upon puzzling us, and for this purpose has employed no less than seven distinct alphabets in the concoction of his cypher; which, we confess, is the most outrageous looking piece of composition we ever beheld. Seven alphabets! — and not a single letter in all like anything human or divine! One alphabet was what we stipulated for — not seven. But then, Philom says he will send us forty subscribers. We will, therefore, strain a point in his favor. His puzzle is nothing more than the well-known acrostic called “The Siege of Belgrade,” beginning thus:

An Austrian army, awfully arrayed,

Boldly, by battery, besieged Belgrade;

Cossack commanders cannonading come,

Dealing destruction’s desolating doom.

Every endeavor engineers essay,

For fame, for fortune, fighting furious fray;

Generals ‘gainst generals grapple — gracious God!

How honors Heaven heroic hardihood!

&c. &c. &c.

In our next, we will oblige Philom with our method of solution.