Miss Seward's Prize Enigma

Anna Seward’s will, was said to have contained a riddle, with instructions to her executors to pay £50 to the first person to provide the correct solution. The enigma ended with the verse:

Now, if your nobler spirit can divine
A corresponding word for every line,
By all these letters clearly shall be shown,
An ancient City of no small renown.

In a compilation of Thomas Sedgwick Whalley’s Journals and Correspondence, there is a letter from Mrs Whalley, to her husband in 1816, enquiring whether he had been told the solution to the rebus by Miss Seward, as someone had managed to make the word ‘Litchfield’ but she had not heard whether the executors had agreed the claim. The editor of the compilation has added a footnote.  He asked a friend to find out more about the enigma. On January 31st 1863, the friend wrote to tell him that “ having been carefully through both the will and the codicils, which are very lengthy….there is nothing in either which in any way refers to “an enigma” which could be so construed”. Reuben Percy claimed the enigma was a shortened copy of a puzzle published in the Gentleman’s Magazine in March 1757, attributed to Lord Chesterfield. A solution offered by Solyman Brown was IEROSOLUMA, which I think is Greek name for Jerusalem.  You can find various versions of the enigma, and the solution, on Google Books. If, as it seems, The Swan of Lichfield’s will did not contain the ‘enigma’, it would be interesting to discover where the story originated.

Sources
Gleanings from the Harvest Fields of Literature – Charles Carroll Bombaugh Relics of Literature – Reuben PercyAn Essay on American Poetry – Solyman Brown
Journals & Correspondence – by Thomas Sedgwick Whalley, ed. Rev Hill Wickham

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