Solving the Riddle

Thanks to some helpful transcribers, we can now offer at least a rough transcription of the riddle presented last week. Here’s the text:

In the Creation I was made
And bound by cord, into my bed
And in it I’m oblig’d to keep
While I have life awake or asleep
Yet I can [run?] tho I am bound
In half a minute five miles [round?]
And all the time can keep my bed
Prehaps not more my cover Red [?]
Which when I sleep doth cover me
But when I wake I naked be
In [so tender?] under evr’y touch
Tho n’er so gentle hurts me [such?]
Which is the heaven I’m well [us’d?]
And I scarce by any [arm?] [abus’d?]
Tho’ I have for my masters all
Both man & beast both great & small
Of different colours I pertake
But call’d most beautiful when black
And many crimes are charged on me
Pride coveting and adultery
And many more I have to bear
Tho I am deaf & cannot hear
And I am dumb ’tis known full well
And I can neither taste nor smell
Sometimes, I do water make
Tho never I single drop I take
I all my life did never think
That I should ever want to drink
I am a servant all agree
Yet I have some waiters two or three
I never taste their drink nor meat
But always live by what they eat
My appetite is never satisfied
To eat & drink I am denied
Yet I am always plump & round
as any thing that may be found
I live with all it is well known
And yet I die with every one
And now you may surprised be
With this description had of me
The [best?] thing after what is said
Is to tell what use of me is made
But half the use I shall not tell
For it would many volumes fill
But if it had not been for me
The Merchant ne’er would trade to sea
Nor farmers that live on the land
Their farming business understand
No [curious] work had ever been done
In brass or [on?] wood or stone
No liberal art had been professet
If man by me had not been blest
The sun would ne’er appear in sight
Nor moon be seen in fairest night
All this more had not been done
If I never had been known
And now ’tis time for to pass on
And tell the things I’ve seen and done
For tho in bed I’m bound to stay
I travel much by land and sea

I was with Adam at the time
When Mother Eve was brought to him
And when the serpent did beguile
I was in the garden all the while
After they ate forbidden fruits
I help’d them make [?]
I am I now must [surely] own
Something the cause of what was done
I was in Cain and Abel’s day
And I saw Cain his brother slay
I also saw the old world drown’d
And in the [?] was found
But I [forbear] to enumerate
I find the truth will be too great
And I your patience shall intrude
If I don’t hasten to conclude
I’ll only say I’ve witness been
Of many things none else have seen
When you this riddle do unfold
You’ll own the truth of all that’s told.

And we even have a potential answer: The Eye. If that does, or doesn’t, sound right to you, you can vote on it:

Or, if you have a better solution, you can leave it in the comments.


A 200-Year-Old Riddle Is Waiting for You

I came across this interesting item a little while back (click for large image):

It’s a manuscript riddle, apparently written at Mount Vernon (maybe) to commemorate a celebration of American Independence. It’s probably from sometime around 1812, since the riddle is written on the verso of a published anti-War-of-1812 resolution of the Providence Federal Republicans dated 8 April 1812:

It’s easy to imagine the riddle’s author grabbing a nearby scrap of paper, essentially a piece of political ephemera that you wouldn’t have thought twice about recycling at the time, and penning the riddle on the back.

As far as I know, this is a riddle that hasn’t been read—or solved—in a very long time, which is where you come in. If you’d like to contribute to the transcription, just visit: and click on the “edit” link next to “Current Page Transcription.” I got the first few lines started, beginning with the information at the top and then the first few lines of the riddle:

In the Creation I was made
And bound by cord, into my bed

You can use some basic html formatting, for instance to create horizontal rules (<hr />) or strike through a line (<del>). Uncertain or illegible portions can go in brackets, with a guess or just a question mark ([?]). When you’re finished adding and correcting the transcription, just click the “Edit transcription” button. And if you have any difficulty with the page, you can just contact me.

I’m looking forward to finding out what the riddle says, and, even better, what the solution is. And there might even be a prize for the first person to solve it.