This text comes from an old joke book from 1800, called The New Jolly Jester Or Wit's Pocket Companion (page 24). It appears to be some kind of word puzzle, or pun, perhaps along the lines of "URYY4me" ("you are too wise for me"), but I can't make it out at all, except that "I: won: Tu: B: E: C:" might conceivably mean "I want to be easy".

Can anyone decipher this please?

An Epitaph

Transcription follows:

An Epitaph

T: I: W.


K: I: won: Tu: B: E: C.

No os T. H. G: V: oh T: I.

T. I.

We: H: S: S: G. Ni: H: T. L. L


Nat: Se: Ja: Se: Fil.


2 Answers 2


If you read the text


you get:

Life's a jest and all things shew it:
I thovght so once but now I know it.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ This is in fact poet John Gay's "My Own Epitaph" (and it is indeed his own epitaph, on his monument in Westminster Abbey). $\endgroup$
    – Showsni
    Mar 7, 2022 at 16:28

Haven't go all of it, but much is written backwards: WIT noce? but now I thought soon it'll? things shew da? life's a jest AN?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thinking along the same lines. +1. $\endgroup$ Mar 6, 2022 at 11:30

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