[Ads-l] Able Was I Ere I Saw Elba

Pete Morris mr_peter_morris at OUTLOOK.COM
Tue Apr 6 05:47:28 UTC 2021

It's arguably the most famous palindrome in English. It is
certainly the first one I  ever heard. When my father introduced
me to the concept at a young age, this is the example he used.

According to wikiquote:  (Section on Napoleon)

<<<         The earliest publication yet located of this famous  
  is in the "Witty and Whimsical" section of The Saturday Reader, Vol. 
No. 30 (31 March 1866), p. 64:

         It is said that Napoleon, when asked by Dr. O'Meara if he really
thought he could have invaded England at the time he  threatened to
do so, replied in the following ingenious anagram [sic]: — "Able was I
ere I saw Elba." The reader will Observe that it reads the same backward
  or forward.

Here's an earlier citation from July 8 1848, which credits the person
who may have created it, and another  ingenious example.


Their friend J.T.R. of Baltimore draws their attention to the following
created by the "Water poet Taylor",which had drawn considerable 

"Lewd did I live & evil I did dwell"    [shame about the extra l ]

J.T.R. responded with two of his own:

"Snug & raw was I ere I saw war & guns"
"Able was I ere I saw Elba"

The editors are slightly critical of his use of & instead of 'and', but
find his second effort to be near perfection.

Perhaps some further study of back issues might reveal the full names
of Taylor and J.T.R.

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