Britain to America: a satiric puzzle

In the Book Division of the Clements Library of the University of Michigan is a mock letter written from mother Britain to her daughter America. Published in 1778 by Matthew Darly, Britain asks America to put aside her recent French alliance: “So be a good girl, discharge your soldiers and ships of war and do not rebel against your mother. Rely upon me and do not consort to what that French rascal shall tell you.” The letter was written as a rebus, a puzzle in which pictures are used to represent words or parts of words. See what you can make of it. Reading “toe” as “to” and “eye” as “i” helps.

If you are stumped, here is a transcription provided by the book Rebellion and Reconciliation: Satirical Prints on the Revolution at Williamsburg.

(Britannia) (toe) Amer(eye)ca.
My (deer) Daughter (eye) (can)(knot) (bee)hold w(eye)thout (grate) pa(eye)n (ewer) (head)strong (back)-(ward)ness (toe) ret(urn) (toe) (ewer) Duty in (knot) op(posy)ing (awl) the good (eye) long (eye)ntended for (ewer) (sole) Hap(pie)ness & (bee)ing told t(hat) (eye) have g(eye)v’n (ewer) (hand) (toe) a (base) & (double-faced) (Frenchman) (Eye) have sent (yew) 5 over/wise (men) the (grate)est of (awl) my (child)ren (toe) put (yew) (toe) r(eye)ghts & (hope) (yew) w(eye)[ll] l(eye)s(ten) (toe) them & m(eye)nd w(hat) they say (toe) (yew) they have (eye)nstr(yew)et(eye)ons [instructions] (toe) g(eye)ve (yew) t(hose) th(eye)ngs (yew) (form)erly required. so (bee a good (girl) d(eye)scharge (ewer) (soldiers) & (ships) of war & (doe) (knot) re(bell) aga(eye)nst (ewer) (moth)er rely upon me & (doe)(knot) (console)t [consort] to w(hat) t(hat) french R(ass)c(awl) sh(awl) tell (yew) IC he w(ants) (toe) b(ring) on an enm(eye)ty (toe) (awl) (union) (bee)tween (yew) & (eye) (but) l(eye)s(ten) (knot) (toe) h(eye)m (awl) the (world) takes (knot)(eye)ce [notice) of h(eye)[s] (doubleface). I’ll send h(eye)m such MessaGG [messages] from my (grate) (gun)s as s[h](awl) make h(eye)s (heart) repent & know t(hat) (one) good or (eye)ll t(urn) mer(eye)ts a (knot)her.
NB let (knot) (eighty) [hate] take (two) much hold of (ewer) (heart).
(Eye) am (ewer) fr(eye)end & (moth)er.

The Clements Library of the University of Michigan produces a blog called Clements Library Chronicles. The rebus can be found on the December 11, 2012 POST.

posted February 28th, 2013 by Janet, CATEGORIES: France, Independence, Resistance to British


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