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 at the Notes for Bibliophiles blog. Or, if you have a better solution, you can leave it in the comments there.

 

 
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Jordan Goffin

Special Collections Librarian Jordan Goffin has been mining the wonders in the Library’s Special Collections since early 2011. If you’d like to stop in and spend some time with the historic and noteworthy books, manuscripts and ephemera at PPL, contact him by email at jgoffin@provlib.org or by phone at 401.455.8021. Also, visit the Notes for Bibliophiles blog (http://pplspcoll.wordpress.com/) to read more about the exciting materials in Special Collections and to keep up with events and announcements.


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