Napoleon Bonaparte did not say, “Able was ns ere I experienced Elba,” although the expression is frequently attributed come him. This renowned palindrome – a indigenous or phrase that reads the very same backward and also forward – first appeared in 1848, 27 year after napoleon’s death. Someone called “J.T.R.” come up through the Elba line, in addition to “Snug & raw was i ere i saw war & guns.” (1)


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Napoleon on Elba through Horace Vernet


According to a periodical published in 1821, the year Napoleon died, there was at the time just one recognized palindrome phrase in English. Even that to be “only procured by a quaintness of order in one word, and also the substitution the a number for another: Lewd did ns live, & evil i did dwel.” (2)

Anagrams were an ext common. These room words or phrases developed by rearranging the letter of an additional word or phrase. In centuries past, anagrams were occasionally thought to have mystical significance. By the 19th century, castle were mostly a form of word play. Together folklorist H.B. Wheatley wrote, “though anagrams and also all kinds of beat upon words are in us trivial, over there is no doubt that, on the presumption that recreation being essential in a life that toil, the mind will certainly at times uncover amusement and also delight in trifles….” (3)

Georgians and also Victorians specifically enjoyed cognate anagrams, in which the anagram is associated in some means to the original word or phrase.

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Napoleonic anagrams

A variety of anagrams were made from renowned names that the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleon Bonaparte – Bona rapta pone leno (Robber lay under thy stolen goods)

Napoleon Bonaparte, sera-t-il consul à vie? (Will he be consul for life?) – Le peuple bon reconnaissant votera oui (Recognizing good, the human being will poll yes.)

Napoleon, Empereur des Français – Un pape serf a sacré le noir demon (A serf pope has actually crowned the black color demon.)

Arthur Wellesley, fight it out of Wellington – Let well foil’d Gaul secure thy renown

Arthur Wellesley – truly he’ll view war

Field Marshal the fight it out – The fight it out shall eight the field

His elegant the battle each other of Wellington – well fought, K! No disgrace in thee

Horatio Nelson – respect est a Nilo (Honour is indigenous the Nile)

Prince Regent – G.R. In pretence

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales – P.C., her august race is lost! O, deadly news

Patriotism – O, ’tis a Mr. Pit (William Pitt the Younger to be a British prime Minister throughout the Napoleonic Wars)

Opposition – O toxicity Pit

French revolution – Violence run forth

“If we take the letter of words veto (which was the precursor of the revolution) from La transformation Française, us shall discover that the continuing to be letters, when transposed, will type the sentence Un corse la finira.” (A Corsican will finish it)

La Sainte Alliance (the holy Alliance) – La Sainte Canaille (the divine Rabble) (4)

Other 19th-century anagrams

Alterations – neat tailors

Astronomers – Moon-starers, or no an ext stars

Breakfast – Fat bakers

Catalogues – acquired as a clue

Charades – tough case

Constitution – It cut onion last

Democratical – Comical trade

Determination – I average to rend it

Elegant – succinct leg

Gallantries – all great sins

Hysterics – His set cry

Ireland – Erin lad

Lawyers – cracked ware

Masquerade – Queer as mad

Matrimony – right into my arm

Melodrama – made moral

Midshipman – mental his map

Misanthrope – spare him not

Mourning – O, grim nun

Old England – golden Land

Paradise lost – gain sad toils

Paradise regained – Dead respire again

Parishioners – ns hire parsons

Parliament – Partial men

Penitentiary – Nay, i repent it

Potentates – Ten tea pots

Prerogative – Rover eat pig

Punishment – nine thumps

Soldiers – Lo! ns dress

Solemnity – Yes, Milton

Sovereignty – ’Tis ye govern

Sweetheart – There we sat

Telegraph – great help

Understanding – Red nuts and also gin (5)

Napoleon’s puns

Napoleon no much offered to indigenous play, though he did enjoy naming Claude Victor Perrin (“beau soleil”) the duke of Belluno. Among Napoleon’s companions in exile on St. Helena associated the following anecdote.

It was declared by among our human being that the owner of one of the houses…on the island…said, ‘It is reported the you complain increase yonder and also consider yourselves dissatisfied (he speak of Longwood), but we room at a lose to do it out; for it is said that you have actually beef every day, while we cannot obtain it but three or 4 times a year, and even then us pay for it in ~ the price of fifteen or twenty pence a pound.’ The Emperor, who laughed heartily…observed, ‘You chandelier to have assured him the it expense us numerous crowns.’ Crowns in English, and in several languages the the continent, way also a item of money.

I observed latterly the it to be the only pun I had actually till climate heard native the Emperor’s mouth, yet the person to whom i made the remark claimed he had heard of his having actually made a similar one, and also on the exact same subject in the isle the Elba. A mason work in some buildings which to be to be built by the Emperor’s order had actually fallen and also hurt himself; the Emperor wishing to encourage the assured him that it would certainly be of no consequence. ‘I have had,’ stated he, ‘a much worse autumn than yours; but look at me, ns am on mine legs, and in an excellent health.’ (6)

This resilience stands him in an excellent stead in Napoleon in America.

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The Gazette the the Union, gold Rule and also Odd-Fellows’ household Companion, Vol. IX (New York, 1848), p. 30.“On Palindromes,” The new Monthly Magazine and also Literary Journal, Vol. II (London, 1821), pp. 171-172.H. B. Wheatley, Of Anagrams (London, 1862), p. 142.Ibid., pp. 86, 96-97, 135-137.

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Ibid., pp. 140-141.Emmanuel-Auguste-Dieudonné ras Cases, The Life, Exile and Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon, Vol. II (London, 1835), pp. 164-165.