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1867: Riddle and Solution from The People's Magazine

The following enigma and solution, published in 1867 in the The People's Magazine, became the basis for the book The Marvellous House twelve years later wherin the poem below is attributed directly to Bishop Wilberforce... which does not agree with the following introduction!


 It is believed that the original of the following Enigma was written in prose by the Bishop of Oxford. It has been very cleverly turned into verse by one of our correspondents, who has added six particulars not in the prose version; and also favoured us with an answer not less ingeniously rhymed than the puzzle itself.

Your boasted invention and wonderful skill
Can almost accomplish whatever you will;
But all your achievements, though splendid they be,
Quite fail to construct a machine such as me.
Examine me well. I've a box to inclose
My choicest possessions; but if you suppose
Two lids that I have must be fastened to this,
I tell you at once you are judging amiss.
Two caps, for one moment I cease not to wear,
And two standard measures I constantly bear;
Two musical instruments always unite
My duluess to cheer on the left and the right.
Look well, and you'll see that I'm found not to lack
Many implements found in the carpenter's sack.
Two fishes that pass through the depths of the sea
Depart not by evening or morning from me;
And others, though varied, yet fishes no less,
In greater abundance I always possess.
I've two foreign trees that are verdant and high,
And constantly ready my wants to supply;
Fair floufrets, the fairest of all that are grown,
Are ranked with the beautiful things that I own.
fine fruits I possess, often moistened with showers.
Indigenous both to this island of ours;
I've two playful animals; but the amount
Of the lesser ones never I ventured to count.
Two halls of devotion I gratefully own,
Both polished like marble, but built not of stone;
And made for a purpose more noble by far
Than slaughter. I always have weapons of war.
I've weathercocks countless; and always with me
The steps of a tavern you clearly may see.
If you've been in the House when the speaker arose
The stormy discussion to bring to a close,
There can be no doubt, that distinctly and clear,
Two features of mine you would certainly hear.
I've always two scholars, twin brothers they are,
And each is as bright and as fair as a star;
And then (for I live in magnificent state),
I've ten Spanish nobles upon me to wait.
Not yet is exhausted my wonderful store,
Though much has been mentioned, yet still I have more;
Yes, treasures and wonders, so hid in disguise,
As to battle the ken of episcopal eyes.
I've spices that come from the far distant east.
Though not with their fragrance to garnish my feast;
While spheres that are fixed in their orbit to shine.
Belong to my system, and always are mine.
And though never used to torment and oppress,
Yet scourges abundant I always possess.
I am not a monarch, no sceptre 1 bear,
But the badge of true royalty always I wear;
I've one graceful animal, gentle and fleet,
And always assign it the principal seat.
Tis true that not largely, but still I produce
Wild fruits that the chemist compounds with his juice.
Say what is my whole: and be sure in your answer.
Each component part to unfold, if you can, sir.


The solution was published in the following issue of The People's Magazine, one month later:


The wonderful structure, when closely survey'd,
So fair in itself, and so fearfully made,
If rightly your famous Enigma I scan,
Ingenious propounder, is certainly MAN.
How vainly all human invention must strive,
A frame of such exquisite parts to contrive;
The box, like a cabinet, quickly is guess'd.
And this I must surely pronounce is the Chest.
Two lids we should certainly see with surprise
On the chest, but we know there are twoon the eyes.
I look for the caps, and I find them with ease,
Though not on the head, yet they're both on the Knees;
The musical instruments, plainly and clear,
At once I discern in the Drums of the ear.
In the measures so true, without fraud or deceit,
I certainly count twenty Nails and two Feet;
While a glance at the carpenter's box never fails
To find in abundance all sizes of Nails.
I sought for the fishes, and easily found
Them both in the Soles of my feet on the ground;
And soon as the risible Muscles were caught,
Found fishes within me far more than I thought.
The trees that for service so gracefully stand.
Are both of them PALMS: I have one on each haad;
And each of the beautiful flowers that I seek,
I find in the ROSES that bloom on the cheek.
The fruits that we English so thoroughly prize,
I know to be APPLES, the two of the eyes;
The two playful animals, what can be these
But the Calves? yes, tie two on your legs if you please;
And the lesser ones, those that are countless, you say,
Are Hares, whether sandy, or black, brown, or gray.
For the halls of devotion I paused, till I said,
Exactly, the Temples! I've two on my head;
And weapons of war, though not made for alarms,
At once I discern'd, and pronounced to be ARMS.
The weathercocks, all as they move in their place,
In the VEINS that run through me I clearly can trace ;
T'was long ere the steps of the tavern I found,
Till I came to the Inn-steps, So close to the ground.
And what, when debates are appointed to close,
Says the Speaker, but sharply, the Ayes and the Noes?
The scholars, when stripp'd of their transient disguise,
Are found to be Pupils; yes, those of the eyes.
And then M to waiters, those Spanish grandees,
There can be no question, the Tendons are these.
For the spicy production that certainly comes
From the east, I undoubtedly fix on the Gums.
The spheres in their orbs, though contracted in size,
I see with a glance are the BALLS of the eyes;
And the scourges so light, like inflictions of love,
Are eye-LASHES, fixed both below and above.
The badge of true royalty clearly I see,
What else but the Crown on the head can it be?
A nd what is the animal, graceful and fleet,
But the Heart, to be kept in the inmost retreat?
Wild fruits that the chemist his jalap supplies,
Are Hips, both the two that are joined to the thighs.
Now'solved is the problem; and told in full measure
Each component part of its wonderful treasure.