“Riddles for the Post Office”

The following is an exact copy of the direction of a letter mailed a few years ago by a German living in Lancaster County, Pa.:—

Tis is fur old Mr. Willy wot brinds de Baber in Lang Kaster ware ti gal is gist rede him assume as it cums to ti Pushtufous.


This is for old Mr. Willy, what prints the paper in Lancaster, where the jail is. Just read him as soon as it comes to the Post Office.

Inclosed was an essay against public schools.

— Robert Conger Pell, Milledulcia, 1857

Roll Call

A pangrammatic anagrammatic verse composed by Edwin Fitzpatrick — each line contains each of the 20 consonants once and each of the six vowels twice:

Why jog exquisite bulk, fond crazy vamp,
Daft buxom jonquil, zephyr’s gawky vice?
Guy fed by work, quiz Jove’s xanthic lamp —
Zow! Qualms by deja vu gyp fox-kin thrice.

And it rhymes!


M. Ofilius Hilarus, an actor of comedies, after he had highly pleased the people upon his birth-day, kept a feast at home in his own house; and when supper was upon the table, he called for a mess of hot broth, and casting his eye upon the visor he had worn that day in the play, he fitted it again to his face, and taking off the garland which he wore upon his bare head, he set it thereupon: in this posture disguised as he sat, he died, and became cold before any person in the company knew any thing of the matter.

— Nathaniel Wanley, The Wonders of the Little World, 1806

No Such Address


When Gregor MacGregor returned to England from the New World in 1820, he brought auspicious news: He had been created prince of Poyais, a Central American nation of 12,500 square miles.

The Scottish soldier became the toast of London and was soon entertaining dignitaries at elaborate banquets. He published a glowing guidebook, raised a loan of £200,000 for his new government, and began selling land rights to excited settlers.

But when two ships arrived at the described location in 1823, they found nothing but jungle. Lacking shelter and beset by disease, the settlers had to be evacuated to British Honduras, and only 70 of the 250 survived. A warning reached London in time to stop five additional ships from making the voyage.

A furor erupted, but by that time MacGregor had left for France, where he attempted the same hoax. Officials there locked him up, but he was acquitted at trial and brazenly returned to England, where he kept up similar schemes through 1837. He died, blithely, in Venezuela in 1845.