Amusements

Were the Edwardians Cleverer Than Us?

Though the Edwardians found much amusement in things we enjoy today–sports, dancing, dining, theater, et al–one of the primary entertainments of the day involved words. Not only were the Edwardians prodigious letter writers, but most Edwardian parlour games consisted of word puzzles, conversation games, recitations, amateur theatricals, and other linguistic delights were the most popular way to fill up time at house parties, during social gatherings, or after dinner. Many magazines and newspapers also fostered this love of words, and as I perused my April 1915 issue of The Ladies’ Field, I discovered a neat game of double acrostics. If this were April 1915, you could win a few pounds for solving the puzzle, but since this is July 2012, all I can give you is a good cheer if you manage to solve the following double acrostics:

FYI: acrostics – A poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words. Double acrostic – A poem whose stanzas, except the first two, are clues for words. The initial letters of these words, in order, form a word clued by the first stanza; the final letters, the second stanza.

Pen–dagger–epigram–should all have me;
And here I find there’s nothing you can see;
But put together, what I mean to say
Is that I speak quite frankly, come what may.

1. Ago–ah, no–remove it–tho’
Mineral and flower without it go.

2. In a Cymric castle seen,
Erstwhile graced by Spanish Queen.

3. Whose King returned unmarked by wife or friend–
His dog alone was faithful to the end.

4. Phonetically, food untouched, though we
In England journey to reality.

5. Animal and human have it–
Both the light will useful find–
With the beast it goes before him;
Mostly with the man behind.

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3 thoughts on “Were the Edwardians Cleverer Than Us?”

  1. They didn’t have TVs and other electronic devices sucking their brains out from birth, for one thing.

  2. Just wondering if you’d heard aiynhntg about a TV project now being filmed, the BBC/HBO 5-parter Parade’s End , based on a tetralogy by Ford Madox Ford. The book(s) start Before the War, then depict life On The Home Front, Behind The Lines & In The Trenches. There’s social commentary laced with a touch of satire and an intense yet restrained love story to accompany the war stuff; it’s much more than a war story.. If you haven’t read the book, do give it a try; a 900 page modernist masterpiece, it richly repays a bit of effort. If you don’t read it, feel free to ignore most of the write-ups by people who didn’t read it, either. It does not depict a stately Edwardian world with The Quality traipsing about Great Big Houses in a dream until The Great War Changed Everything.But the story has a lot to offer on a less rarefied level. Ford cared about landscapes, how people furnish their rooms & how they dress. (I found this site because one character wore her hair in a bandeau; not the height of fashion, she knew it suited her. What, I wondered, would she look like?) There’s also enough interpersonal drama to sate our taste for Upscale Soap Opera. (Well, my taste!) Tom Stoppard wrote the script, so I trust much of the wit will come through. The excellent cast is led by Benedict Cumberbatch, playing our hero, Christopher Tietjens. Keep a look out! (And I’ll keep dropping by in anticipation of Downton Abbey showing up here in January.)

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