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Of Anagrams And Echo Verses
by [?]

A similar contrivance, that of ECHO VERSES, may here be noticed. I have given a specimen of these in a modern French writer, whose sportive pen has thrown out so much wit and humour in his ECHOES.[4] Nothing ought to be contemned which, in the hands of a man of genius, is converted into a medium of his talents. No verses have been considered more contemptible than these, which, with all their kindred, have been anathematised by Butler, in his exquisite character of “a small poet” in his “Remains,” whom he describes as “tumbling through the hoop of an anagram” and “all those gambols of wit.” The philosophical critic will be more tolerant than was the orthodox church wit of that day, who was, indeed, alarmed at the fantastical heresies which were then prevailing. I say not a word in favour of unmeaning ACROSTICS; but ANAGRAMS and ECHO VERSES may be shown capable of reflecting the ingenuity of their makers. I preserve a copy of ECHO VERSES, which exhibit a curious picture of the state of our religious fanatics, the Roundheads of Charles I., as an evidence, that in the hands of a wit even such things can be converted into the instruments of wit.

At the end of a comedy presented at the entertainment of the prince, by the scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge, in March, 1641, printed for James Calvin, 1642, the author, Francis Cole, holds in a print a paper in one hand, and a round hat in the other. At the end of all is this humorous little poem.


Now, Echo, on what’s religion grounded?
Whose its professors most considerable?
How do these prove themselves to be the godly?
But they in life are known to be the holy,
O lie!
Who are these preachers, men or women-common?
Come they from any universitie?
Do they not learning from their doctrine sever?
Yet they pretend that they do edifie:
O fie!
What do you call it then, to fructify?
What church have they, and what pulpits?
But now in chambers the Conventicle;
The godly sisters shrewdly are belied.
The godly number then will soon transcend.
As for the temples, they with zeal embrace them.
Rase them!
What do they make of bishop’s hierarchy?
Archie! [5]
Are crosses, images, ornaments their scandall?
Nor will they leave us many ceremonies.
Must even religion down for satisfaction?
How stand they affected to the government civil?
But to the king they say they are most loyal.
Lye all!
Then God keep King and State from these same men.
Amen !

[Footnote 1:
Southey, in his “Doctor,” has a whimsical chapter on Anagrams, which, he says, “are not likely ever again to hold so high a place among the prevalent pursuits of literature as they did in the seventeenth century, when Louis XIII. appointed the Provencal, Thomas Billen, to be his royal anagrammatist, and granted him a salary of 12,000 livres.” ]

[Footnote 2:
Two of the luckiest hits which anagrammatists have made, were on the Attorney-General William Noy–“I moyl in law;” and Sir Edmundbury Godfrey–“I find murdered by rogues.” But of unfitting anagrams, none were ever more curiously unfit than those which were discovered in Marguerite de Valois, the profligate Queen of Navarre–“Salve, Virgo Mater Dei; ou, de vertu royal image.”–Southey’s Doctor. ]

[Footnote 3:
Drummond of Hawthornden speaks of anagrams as “most idle study; you may of one and the same name make both good and evil. So did my uncle find in Anna Regina, ‘Ingannare,’ as well of Anna Britannorum Regina, ‘Anna regnantium arbor;’ as he who in Charles de Valois found ‘Chasse la dure loy,” and after the massacre found ‘Chasseur desloyal.’ Often they are most false, as Henri de Bourbon‘Bonheur de Biron.’ Of all the anagrammatists, and with least pain, he was the best who out of his own name, being Jaques de la Chamber, found ‘La Chamber de Jaques,’ and rested there: and next to him, here at home, a gentleman whose mistress’s name being Anna Grame, he found it an ‘Anagrame’ already.” ]

[Footnote 4:
See ante, LITERARY FOLLIES, what is said on Pannard. ]

[Footnote 5:
An allusion probably to Archibald Armstrong, the fool or privileged jester of Charles I., usually called Archy, who had a quarrel with Archbishop Laud, and of whom many arch things are on record. There is a little jest-book, very high priced, and of little worth, which bears the title of Archie’s Jests. ]