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No. 060 [from The Spectator]
by [?]

There is another near Relation of the Anagrams and Acrosticks, which is commonly [called [6]] a Chronogram. This kind of Wit appears very often on many modern Medals, especially those of Germany, [7] when they represent in the Inscription the Year in which they were coined. Thus we see on a Medal of Gustavus Adolphus the following Words, CHRISTVS DUX ERGO TRIVMPHVS. If you take the pains to pick the Figures out of the several Words, and range them in their proper Order, you will find they amount to MDCXVVVII, or 1627, the Year in which the Medal was stamped: For as some of the Letters distinguish themselves from the rest, and overtop their Fellows, they are to be considered in a double Capacity, both as Letters and as Figures. Your laborious German Wits will turn over a whole Dictionary for one of these ingenious Devices. A Man would think they were searching after an apt classical Term, but instead of that they are looking out a Word that has an L, and M, or a D in it. When therefore we meet with any of these Inscriptions, we are not so much to look in ’em for the Thought, as for the Year of the Lord.

The Boutz Rimez [8] were the Favourites of the French Nation for a whole Age together, and that at a Time when it abounded in Wit and Learning. They were a List of Words that rhyme to one another, drawn up by another Hand, and given to a Poet, who was to make a Poem to the Rhymes in the same Order that they were placed upon the List: The more uncommon the Rhymes were, the more extraordinary was the Genius of the Poet that could accommodate his Verses to them. I do not know any greater Instance of the Decay of Wit and Learning among the French (which generally follows the Declension of Empire) than the endeavouring to restore this foolish Kind of Wit. If the Reader will be at the trouble to see Examples of it, let him look into the new Mercure Galant; where the Author every Month gives a List of Rhymes to be filled up by the Ingenious, in order to be communicated to the Publick in the Mercure for the succeeding Month. That for the Month of November [last], which now lies before me, is as follows.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – Lauriers
– – – – – – – – – – – – Guerriers
– – – – – – – – – – – – – Musette
– – – – – – – – – – – – – Lisette
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – Cesars
– – – – – – – – – – – – – Etendars
– – – – – – – – – – – – – Houlette
– – – – – – – – – – – – – -Folette

One would be amazed to see so learned a Man as Menage talking seriously on this Kind of Trifle in the following Passage.

Monsieur de la Chambre has told me that he never knew what he was going to write when he took his Pen into his Hand; but that one Sentence always produced another. For my own part, I never knew what I should write next when I was making Verses. In the first place I got all my Rhymes together, and was afterwards perhaps three or four Months in filling them up. I one Day shewed Monsieur Gombaud a Composition of this Nature, in which among others I had made use of the four following Rhymes, Amaryllis, Phillis, Marne, Arne, desiring him to give me his Opinion of it. He told me immediately, that my Verses were good for nothing. And upon my asking his Reason, he said, Because the Rhymes are too common; and for that Reason easy to be put into Verse. Marry, says I, if it be so, I am very well rewarded for all the Pains I have been at. But by Monsieur Gombaud’s Leave, notwithstanding the Severity of the Criticism, the Verses were good.