Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,567 – Araucaria

Posted by Uncle Yap on December 9th, 2008

Uncle Yap.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

John Milton (9 December, 1608 – 8 November, 1674) was an English poet, prose, polemicist and civil servant for the Commonwealth of England. He is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost. It is fitting, therefore, on the 400th anniversary of his birth for the good Reverend John Galbraith Graham MBE to pay homage with this puzzle based on Macaulay’s tribute, first published in the Edinburgh Review in 1826

How the good Reverend managed to fit in so many words which were clued in his usual libertarian style is, to me, a tour de force. I was severely challenged and tested and entertained in the one hour that it took. Bravo, Master!

1 ENGLISH *(his leng)
5 SEISMIC “Mouses” is “mice” … if you understand that, then you can see the wordplay
9 CROWN Cha of crow (bird) N (north pole) I do not know why no friend to our friend
10 STATESMAN Cha of states (American) Man (island)
11 LITERATURE Ins of ITERAT (repeat or iterate minus e) in LURE (trap)
Can you see the mixture of pot and Ecstasy?
14 PHILOSOPHER 23 is Hegel, a philosopher and philosopher’s stone is an imaginary stone or mineral compound, long sought after by alchemists as a means of transforming other metals into gold.
18 HANDCRAFTED *(end hard fact)
21 MOPE 12 is poet whose work is POEM which anagrams to MOPE
22 LIGHT YEARS Ins of GHTYE *(the g y) in LIARS (storytellers)
25 IMPROVING Cha of IMP (monkey) Roving (moving about)
26 LATER French La Ter is the land (across the English Channel)
27 NARAYAN Ins of A Ray (a fish) in NAN (granny) for R.K.Narayan (1906-2001)
28 LIBERTY *(by liter) half of literature, answer to 11

1 EXCELS Roman numeral for 40 is XL. Forties is therefore XL’s which sounds like
2 GROTTO Ins of R (river) in GOT TO
3 INNER SPACE Cha of INN (pub) ER’s pace (Queen’s speed)
5 STAIRFOOT *(at first oo)
6 IBEX I be X mountain goat
7 MAMMOTHS Ins of Ammo (rounds of ammunition) in Maths (school subject) minus a
8 CINCTURE Commander in Chief + *(true)
13 MONDAY CLUB *(balconey mud)  right-wing group of Conservatives formed in 1961, orig holding discussions over Monday lunch.
15 INANITION Ins of NI (Northern Ireland or Ulster) in I (one) Nation
16 CHAMPION Ins of HAM (meat) + PI (pious or good) in CON (Conservative or Tory)
17 ENDPAPER Cha of end Pa (end the life of father, patricide) per (one)
19 MARTYR Marty (?) + R (first letter of Ross) Wonder who his follower by name of Marty? is
20 OSPREY Cha of OS (out size or os) Prey (of this fish-eating bird)
23 HEGEL This clue really tickled me no end; so now my wife’s hair-gel would be called Shegel :-) Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) was a German philosopher
24 LORY I have no idea about the reference to Roses but a lory is certainly a parrot

76 Responses to “Guardian 24,567 – Araucaria”

  1. mb says:

    19 (Ross and Cro)marty

  2. smutchin says:

    Utterly brilliant and quite beyond me. I didn’t get very far with this at all and, Uncle Yap, I’m relieved to hear that even you took longer than usual with this one. 5ac and 23dn are wonderful.

  3. Mort says:

    26A – land in french is ‘La Terre’, so it must be a hidden word in this intermediate answer, I think…

  4. Geoff Moss says:

    9a The ‘no friend to our friend’ is a reference to the fact that John Milton was an official in Oliver Cromwell’s government and therefore disliked by royalty.

  5. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Uncle Yap.

    This was very enjoyable but with several very tough clues. I thought the bottom half was rather easier than the top – I got all but a couple in the bottom half with several guesses, but missed quite a few in the top half. (MONDAY CLUB was guessable from the anagram, but INANITION was too hard for me from either part of the clue.)

    I understand Uncle Yap’s explanation of “Forties cry”, but why “that’s on the up when winning first gold”?

    I thought 24 down might have been COPY from “Parrot”, but I see how the subsidiary would work with either that or LORY.

    19 down is very difficult indeed.

    A small nitpick: in 17d, I think PER is “by” and the definition is “one with binding attachment”.

  6. 13eastie says:

    24 “one of the Roses” would be either Lancaster or York, giving L OR Y

  7. Eileen says:

    I had to go out early this morning, so have only just finished this excellent puzzle.

    I did manage to see Ross and Cromarty – with a wry smile: ‘Marty’ is [just] ‘most of Cromarty’ but how many setters would try to get away with it?

    I also got ‘crown’: our friend for the day was certainly no friend of the king, as he wrote a number of tracts in favour of Parliament and Puritanism, including one declaring that subjects may depose and put to death an unworthy king.

    Thanks, 13eastie for ‘lory’ – brilliant! I was completely misled by dimly remembering that there was a lory – and red and white roses – in ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

    I agree with Mort re 26ac, with Mhl re 17dn [and I can't see the second part of 1dn, either.]

    [22ac: we had 'light year' from Rufus just yesterday. The different clues seemed to me to be fairly typical of each setter.]

    I’m sorry to have to quibble but I have a problem with 2dn: how does ‘got to’ = ‘had no choice’? Even ‘has no choice’ would be a stretch.

  8. Tom Hutton says:

    This was do-able but there were some very odd clues. In spite of Uncle Yap’s confidence, I still can’t see the wordplay in 5ac (I’m not saying it isn’t there!). I too can’t see what the second half of 1dn is about and I’m by no means sure that stair foot is one word though I agree that stairheid is so perhaps stairfit would be too. Eileen is right to quibble about 2dn. The fact is with Arucaria that it doesn’t do to think about the clues too much. Just stuff the answers in and enjoy it.

  9. Tom Hutton says:

    Not to mention 24 down. L or Y indeed. Have you ever referred to the top letter of a word?

  10. Geoff Moss says:

    Eileen & Tom
    1d If you add 1 (first) OR (gold) to ‘excels’ you get EXCELSIOR which means ‘higher still’ (on the up).

  11. mhl says:

    Tom Hutton: it took me a while to get 5 across even after seeing the answer, so apologies if this isn’t the bit of the wordplay that you’re wondering about – you have to replace the underscore in the clue with “SE IS MIC” to give “the plural of mouSE IS MICe”.

  12. Eileen says:

    Tom: I’ve no problem at all with 24dn. In a down clue in a crossword, the first letter is at the top.

    Re 2dn: I’m usually one of Araucaria’s stoutest [in a manner of speaking] defenders but it’s not like him to be so ungrammatical.

    Thanks Geoff: another excellent[!] clue to balance things up!

  13. mhl says:

    I meant to ask – can someone explain 4d (HAS IT)?

    Thanks for all the other explanations, everyone. 1d still seems very surprising, though…

  14. Rob says:

    MHL – if a view prevails, or say a debate is won, then “the ayes have it”. I’d guess ” hold a view” and “have it” are synonymous, but it sounds better to my ears in the third person.

    5ac my fave today, wouldn’t have got 1d if I’d stared at it all day

  15. Tom Hutton says:

    Mhl, thank you for your explanation of 5 across. As far as ‘has it’ goes, I rather tend towards the sort of expression ‘as Tom Hutton, an expert on moaning, has it….. ‘ but it still is a little loose. The explanation for 1dn from Geoff Moss is brilliant. Once again, my quibble would be that I reckon that no one would work that out before putting the answer in (or of course in my case, after putting the answer in. Life’s too short.)

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Five (5ac, 1, 15, 5, 6d) I couldn’t get today, and some of the ones I did fill in I couldn’t quite see.

    5ac: I understood that “Mouses” is “mice” and then deleted the next to last letter, and found I couldn’t do anything with “Mie”

    Ah, well.

  17. Dave Ellison says:

    Wouldn’t 10ac “Periodically new American” have sufficed?

  18. cholecyst says:

    1d. The (expanded) answer EXCELSIOR and ‘cries’ evoke a (very) faint echo of Longfellow’s poem of the same name:
    And from the sky,serene and far,
    A voice fell, like a falling star,

    Excelsior is also the motto of NY State.

  19. Ralph G says:

    Marvellous crossword, amazing explanations. Not just a tour de force but great clues as well, too many to list but 1d is superb.
    Further to Geoff’s helpful steer toward’s Waterstone’s “Chambers’ 11th for £17.50″; if your local store isn’t offering this deal, the Chambers’ Reference online website has the new dictionary for £20.75 inc p&p (UK; add £2.00 for Western Europe, further £2.00 for the rest of the world).

  20. Geoff Moss says:

    You can order the 11th Ed online at for £17.50 with free delivery.

  21. Jobseeker says:

    Anyone know where the quotation is from? “We turn for a time from the topics of the day…”, so eas this a speech in the House of Commons? Had a look in my Oxford Dict. of Quotations and not in there. And why precisely is Macauley making the most of his length?
    Fabulous puzzle though. Has you reaching for volumes, and to do what is basically a word game and feel enriched, that you’ve learnt something and yet also humbled (I resorted to the internet to ease my frustration with the 5s). Surely Araucaria ought to be knighted pretty damn soon.

  22. Brian Harris says:

    Very tough today – took us several hours of head-scratching. And there were still a number of clues whose explanation eluded us completely. Thanks to Mhl for explaining 5ac – very ingenious; I’d have never got that, and it was bugging me for hours. I have to admit, “inanition” is a new word for me. (Oh, we didn’t get 1down, that was the only one that totally stumped us by the end).

  23. John says:

    I’m sorry to be a party pooper, and I may be a lone voice, but you’re all far too kind to Araucaria, notwithstanding the esteem in which he is held. This puzzle, while ingenious I suppose, was esoteric in its cluing, with some surfaces and defintions being impenetrable, as even today’s blogger admits, but you all seem to accept inexactitudes and vagueness just because the setter’s who he is. E.g.:
    Inner space = unconscious revelation? Why?
    In 7 dn, “dropping a subject” is not in my view an accurate way of cluing MATHS minus A.
    5 ac makes no sense to me at all. Saying “Mouses” is “mice” … if you understand that, then you can see the wordplay” doesn’t explain anything.
    In the core clue 1 ac, where’s the definition?
    And when simply googling the first few words of the clue provides eight of the answers I cannot join in the veneration I’m afraid.
    Nice idea to celebrate Milton, and there were some other really nice clues, but with due deference to the setter, I found the whole thing rather irritating.

  24. Peter Owen says:

    I fed the string “we turn for a short time from the topics of the day” (without the quotes) into Google and one link was to the quotation in Google Books.

  25. Eileen says:

    Jobseeker: I can’t do links but if you google ‘Macaulay on Milton,you’ll find the full text of the essay in the first post. The quotation is at the end of the eighth paragraph.

    The solution to 1ac is ENGLISH, an anagram of HIS LENG[th]. The definition, John, is in the dashes in the quotation: ‘ the glory of English literature…the martyr of English liberty.’

  26. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Peter: took too long to type my piece and didn’t check before postng it.

    [I forgot to say how I liked the [g]lory!]

  27. Shirley says:

    JobSeeker – according to Uncle Yap’s preamble to his excellent blog, Macaulay was writing in the Edinburgh Review of 1826. I’m sure that this is not in print anywhere nowadays except in the back copies of this publication.

  28. John says:

    Eileen: Yes I arrived at the answer but not from the clue. Is “HIS LENG[th]” really an anagram of “english”. OK “making the most of” I understand, but I regard it as a rather weak anagrind, even for Araucaria, with whose methods I am quite familiar. And did you really pick up from the clue that the dashes in the quotation were the definition? Or did it sink in after you got to the answer by other means? If the former all I can say is you’re way ahead of me.As far as the gLORY answer is concerned, accepting that on the top is fine as an indication of a first letter, it has no part in the solution. “Parrot one of the Roses?” would have done perfectly well.

  29. Eileen says:

    John, I realise that there’s no point in flogging a dead horse but had the clue to ‘lory’ been as you suggest, I think you might then have been [justifiably] complaining that L and Y are not recognised abbreviations of Lancaster and York. I had earlier justified ‘on top of’, then later was commenting on the neat [I think] use of g[lory] in the quotation, which is a separate observation.

    Yes, I looked up the quotation – out of interest, being an admirer of Milton – rather than any intention of ‘cheating’. I still think the cluing of ‘English’ was good.

    As for ‘mouses is mice’, that isn’t what the clue said. I was mystified by the blog, too, but Mhl’s explanation at Comment 11 is perfectly clear, I think.

    We must obviously agree to differ: it’s not blind adulation on my part – I’m atill not at all happy with 2dn! – but this was a very ingenious tribute by Araucaria to two great men and an enjoyable, if at times frustrating puzzle.

  30. John says:

    Sorry Eileen if I gave you the impression that I thought you were in any way cheating. I was merely wondering whether I was alone in being unable to find a definition within the clue, and having to work backwards from the answer, which I obtained by looking up the quote. I am still of the opinion that setters can sometimes step across the boundary between ingenuity and obscurity, and that this is too often greeted by some bloggers and commentators (not your good self incidentally) with the kind of reverence which should preferably be reserved for the Miltons and Macaulays of the world.

  31. don says:

    Oh, yes, it was brilliant, apart from the fact that:

    Uncle Yap, among me and others, had no idea about the cryptic part of 14 Down; Eileen et al. didn’t understand the second half of 1 Down (which Uncle Yap himself didn’t explain); Mort doesn’t sound too happy about 26 Across, which I thought was pretty feeble even though I got the “see you later” bit; Mhl thinks 19 Down unfair to use half of ‘Cromarty’ to make ‘martyr’ (“how many setters would try to get away with it” – none I should’ve hoped); 2 Down we are told is ungrammatical, but no mention of “I be” as the first person singular in 6 Down; Uncle Yap hasn’t explained 5 Across and Tom couldn’t see it (neither could I); whether 5 Down is one word or two the ‘stair/foot’ is where you land after falling over the balcony and tumbling, like Eileen’s Alice, down the ‘stair well’ – I don’t think they’re the same thing; Mhl has had it as far as 4 Down is concerned (perhaps it’s “the ayes has it” to go with 2 and 6 Down); John echoes my sentiments about 3 and 7 Down and like me begs for the definition of 1 Across, but as Eileen tells us, it’s –, doh!

    Like John, “I cannot join in the veneration, I’m afraid. Nice idea to celebrate Milton, and there were some other really nice clues, but with due deference to the setter, I found the whole thing rather irritating”.

    I though he was taking a 28 Across!

  32. John says:

    I’m pleased I have an ally Don. I wonder how far I might get were I to enter a cluing competition with, say, 26 ac, 2 dn, 3 dn, 7 dn, 24 dn?

  33. don says:

    Don’t forget, John, many of these ‘don’t knows’ are bloggers for 15 x 15.

  34. Ian says:

    Perhaps the hardest Araucaria I have undertaken this year.

    Over three and a half hours and having to move away to the quickie and the Sudoku to attack it in three sessions.

    I’m completely exhausted.

    19d and 1d are/were very difficult to solve

  35. Eileen says:

    John: let’s call a truce. I regretted the ‘cheating’ as soon as I’d posted it – of course I didn’t think you were accusing me of that but I know, from the comments, that there are solvers who don’t look up anything at all until they’ve finished. I’m not one of them. That quotation this morning, right at the beginning of the puzzle, was begging to be researched and yes, sometimes, you do work backwards from the answers but that can often be just as satisfying. Just one example, 11ac [which I knew from the quotation was 'literature]: ‘repeat all but the last letters’: I thought, ‘but it’s only ‘the last letter’ of ‘iterate’ that’s missing’, until the penny dropped that ‘letters’ was the definition -and the connection made between that and 28 ac was brilliant, I thought, especially since they’re both parts of the quotation. I could go on – but I realise I already have!

    Don: ‘Twas I, not Mhl, who commented on ‘Cromarty’ and I certainly didn’t say it was unfair – merely commented that it was typical Araucaria and, I’m not ashamed to admit, I’ve been an Araucaria fan as long as I’ve been doing Guardian crosswords but, as I said earlier, I’m not entirely blinkered! I admit I didn’t see the second half of 1dn but when Geoff explained it I was perfectly happy.

    [Jobseeker:I'm willing to support a campaign for a knighthood. ;-)]

  36. Matt Livermore says:

    Just to add to the questions can someone explain to me why in 15dn “far from that kind of Tory” is ‘I nation’?

    I also found this puzzle a little irritating. Still, never mind, there were some good clues but too many liberties taken as Don said.

  37. Eileen says:

    Matt: One Nation Tories as opposed to the Monday Club [another great clue. if I may say!]

  38. Ralph G says:

    Geoff: #20 above, thanks for re-directing us to Waterstones (on-line), superb bargain.

  39. Geoff Moss says:

    It seems that the Guardian crossword regularly receives adverse comments, but is this fair? If you want strict clueing within clearly defined guidelines then you should only attempt the Times (or similar). If you prefer more variety and entertainment, with the possibility that some clues may be slightly sub-optimal, then the Guardian (amongst others) is a better bet.

    After completion, if I have any misgivings about a crossword, I ask myself the following questions:

    Did I enjoy at least some of the puzzle?
    Did I learn something new eg a fact, a word or another definition for a word I thought I knew?
    Did I find some of the clues ingenious, amusing or simply brilliant?
    Did I have to exercise the ‘grey matter’ sufficiently in order to solve the puzzle?
    Did I have the pleasure of some ‘penny dropping’ moments?
    Was I able to explain the wordplay in most (preferably all) clues?
    Were the majority of the clues fair?
    Did I feel that this crossword was a waste of my time and effort?

    If the answer to most of these questions (apart from the last one) is yes then there is nothing wrong with the crossword (in my opinion).

    We all have different interests, skill-sets, likes and dislikes and so will not have the same view of a particular puzzle. This does not mean that it should be criticised just because we found it difficult, didn’t like/know/understand the thematic content or felt that method of clueing was deficient. Others will have found the same puzzle very enjoyable, albeit with perhaps some minor reservations or quibbles.

    Surely puzzles in one particular organ should be varied to suit a wide range of tastes and interests. For example, I could probably set a crossword using a scientific/engineering theme that would not appeal to those with a ‘classical’ education or a bent towards the arts, whereas I would not necessarily enjoy one based around the works of a modern author.

    We should also remember that setters (along with test solvers, checkers and editors) are human and therefore fallible. Mistakes and errors will creep in and there will be times when something that seems obvious to the setter is obscure to a high percentage of the solvers. But how else do you learn if not faced with something new and how do you improve your solving technique and ability if not presented with a puzzle that is sufficiently challenging?

    I appreciate that setters get paid for their work but they could make life far simpler for themselves, and receive less flak, if they took the easy way out and only set routine, straightforward puzzles with no potentially controversial clues and with no attempt to push the boundaries a little. I for one would soon find that extremely boring!

  40. Eileen says:


  41. John says:

    Geoff: Fair comment, but those of us who find things unsatisfactory are surely as entitled to express an opinion as those who don’t.
    Eileen: I didn’t think we were at war. :)
    When all’s said and done, a lively and entertaining debate, which is as it should be.

  42. Geoff Moss says:

    “Don’t forget, John, many of these ‘don’t knows’ are bloggers for 15 x 15.”

    What’s your point with this remark? Do you expect every blogger to be able to solve and fully explain every clue, no matter how complex it may be?

    I think if you look back through these comments you will find that all queries have been answered by one person or another (who may or may not be a blogger). As in most walks of life, sometimes one head is not enough and it takes several (or even a committee, perish the thought) to resolve a problem or series of problems.

  43. Geoff Moss says:

    “….. but those of us who find things unsatisfactory are surely as entitled to express an opinion as those who don’t.”

    Everyone is entitled to express an opinion, one way or the other. It is the way it is expressed, at times, that I find a little annoying. I don’t like ebullient praise, any more than I like negative criticism, if overall it is unfounded.

    I don’t think a crossword should be judged by one or two good clues or by one or two bad ones. Ideally, a balanced view should be presented, with praise and/or constructive criticism provided where necessary.

    As you say, it is good to have a lively debate but even debating societies have certain rules of acceptable conduct. Yes, even the House of Commons, though you’d be hard pushed to believe it at times! :-)

  44. don says:

    Geoff, you ask: “Do you expect every blogger to be able to solve and fully explain every clue, no matter how complex it may be”. By and large, yes!

    To be asked to write the blog implies that you’ve demonstrated, over a period of time, expertise in solving crosswords, and all the bloggers are excellent and of a far higher standard than I, and probably most others, could hope to achieve. When, therefore, the answers to so large a number of clues (13/20) raise so much doubt and discussion among even these experts, how do you expect us ‘others’ to cope?

    To turn your question on its head, do you expect bloggers to be unable to solve and fully explain any of the clues? But then, the best blog on here was some time ago when the blogger left it to everyone to discuss the answers among themselves.

  45. Testy says:


    “This does not mean that it should be criticised just because we found it difficult, didn’t like/know/understand the thematic content or felt that method of clueing was deficient.”

    Then just what would be cause for criticism? Should we be happy to accept any old tosh (and by that I don’t mean this particular puzzle but in general)?

    I certainly don’t subscribe to the “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” school. I agree that there is no need for rudeness but that doesn’t mean we can’t voice any negative opinons.

  46. Eileen says:

    Don: ‘“Do you expect every blogger to be able to solve and fully explain every clue, no matter how complex it may be”. By and large, yes!’

    If I’d read that comment of yours at the time that it was suggested I might blog, I would never have agreed – as it was, I was petrified!The fifteensquared guidance is [see website]:

    “If you’re interested in getting involved as a blogger … you don’t need to be a fast solver but you should be able to complete a cryptic crossword more often than not.”

    Now that I’m retired and have more time in the morning to devote to the crossword [and I often feel very sorry for later contributors to the blog, who still have to work and can't immediately join in ] I see blogging as merely kicking off the fun and being able to appeal for help if necessary. If I thought I was expected to be regarded as The Oracle, I would give up now.

    I began blogging less than three months ago [it's still quite nerve-racking but immensely enjoyable] and it seems to me that in that time there have been a number of new commenters who would be an asset to the team. Why not give it a try?

  47. don says:

    “I began blogging less than three months ago” and I’m not surprised you were asked, Eileen. You obviously have a great expertise in solving crosswords and make enlightening comments on subjects that, to me, are all Greek! As does Uncle Yap and others; I do, however, dislike the ‘I-did-it-in-3.9261-minutes’ comments. Mia Donna tells me to take my time and get full enjoyment – it keeps me out of her way.

    My gripe is not with the bloggers, nor even the setter in general (I, like others, admire his crosswords), but with this particular one. To many people, who obviously have a similar expertise to you, there were obscurities and perhaps inaccuracies and I don’t think it was a fair crossword for Jo Bloggs, as opposed to A. N. Y. Bloggers.

  48. aferick says:

    Paradoxically, I agree with both John and Geoff (and, obviously, Eileen). Now, That’s Entertainment!

  49. John says:

    Re: Everyone is entitled to express an opinion, one way or the other. It is the way it is expressed, at times, that I find a little annoying. I don’t like ebullient praise, any more than I like negative criticism, if overall it is unfounded……As you say, it is good to have a lively debate but even debating societies have certain rules of acceptable conduct.
    When criticising I am questioning the fairness of the challenge set.
    If I have been guilty of “negative criticism” or “unacceptable conduct” I would like to know what it is.

  50. John says:

    P.S. I also am annoyed by those who brag about their solving time, and mentioning it can be nothing else but bragging in my opinion. I have never seen one less than 10 minutes as far as I can remember.

  51. Dave Ellison says:

    At the risk of being accused of being a philistine, can anyone explain what is so great about Milton? I have tried several times to read his stuff but I find it so boring; what’s the secret to getting to understand and revere it? My first brush was trying to write an essay on Liberty when I was 15, and my teacher recommended Areopagitica as a starting point; it was a finishing point. Recently I have tried bed time reading of Paradises, and nod off forthwith. I am hoping the upcoming readings on Radio 3 will help.

    Give me Eddington’s “The Mathematical Theory of Relativity” anyday; perhaps a compiler will set us a Xword on that?

  52. Ralph G says:

    John (#23!): I’m not sure that your question about INNER SPACE was answered; apologies if it was. I was misled into looking for ‘unconscious revelation’ and settled on the solution before consulting Chambers (10th ed.) and finding ‘inner space’ defined as ‘the unconscious human mind’. Then I realised that ‘unconscious’ was the definition and ‘revelation of etc’ went together, which I thought was quite witty. It was much the same with most of the clues in the top half including several where enlightenment came from reading the blog.
    For those who didn’t get on with this puzzle I can sympathise. I nearly gave up the Guardian crossword some time ago after several failures either to complete or to enjoy Paul’s crosswords. I just missed his puzzles out for a time and tried one later. Now I like them. I hope that those disgruntled with this puzzle may have a similar experience.

  53. mhl says:

    An Eddington or relativity themed crossword sounds like an excellent challenge for a setter. (Your remark also happily reminded me of “The Einstein and the Eddington”, which I hadn’t read for quite some time.)

  54. Eileen says:

    Dave: I just [just!] remember my A Level English study of ‘Lycidas’, which I thought was wonderful:’to sport with Amaryllis in the shade’ and ‘tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new’; [why is it so easy to remember such things from decades ago and not the name of someone I met last week?!] As has been said so often, each to his own. I hope I don’t get to blog the kind of puzzle you’re talking about. ;-)

    John: it’s nice to end on a note of complete accord with you: I said in my bio that I never record solving times: as I’ve said earlier today, I very easily get distracted in my research and I’m always slightly disappointed to finish a puzzle too quickly. You need time to savour those penny-dropping moments.

  55. Eileen says:

    PS: is this [already] a record for the number of comments in a day?

  56. Geoff Moss says:

    “Geoff, you ask: “Do you expect every blogger to be able to solve and fully explain every clue, no matter how complex it may be”. By and large, yes!”

    Then, forgive me for saying this but, you are living in cloud cuckoo land. No one can be expected to solve every clue in every crossword.

    ” But then, the best blog on here was some time ago when the blogger left it to everyone to discuss the answers among themselves.”

    I think you must be referring to the Guardian blog where the scheduled blogger was unable to turn up because of IT problems and I offered the wordplay and left it up to regular Guardian solvers to add comments. I’m pleased that you found it the ‘best blog’.

  57. Geoff Moss says:

    Don & John

    Why raise the question of fast times for solving in this debate? Unless it is a straw man. Uncle Yap has already said that it took him an hour, and no one else has mentioned a time at all.

  58. Geoff says:

    This one has really set the blog on fire!

    I didn’t get round to looking at today’s crossword until late this evening. Definitely the most Araucarian of Araucaria’s puzzles for ages – most of his recent ones have been quasi-Ximenean. I completed it without recourse to any external help, apart from 1dn, which eluded me. And yes, it took me longer than usual, but I saw the wordplay – eventually – for all except 24dn, where I spotted that LORY was a parrot and saw the gLORY link with 1ac, but missed the L or Y charade.

    “…the plural of mouSE IS MICe” is priceless.

    Obviously, this type of puzzle is not to everyone’s taste, and even I wouldn’t want such a highly spiced and slightly indigestible plateful every day, but I relish the occasional challenge. The world would be a sadder and greyer place without the stimulating variety that the Guardian’s rainbow collection of splendid compilers so richly provide. (You see, I like yours as well, Don!)

  59. Roger Murray says:

    I was glad that I couldn’t find the quote on line, as it meant that ,for a change with some of these themed crosswords, I solved all the clues from the word play(albeit with much of the confusion mentioned above). Didn’t get 1dn, spotted the word but didn’t put it in because I just could not make it work. I must admit that it was with relief rather than certainty that I found my answers corresponding to those of the blog, which suggests a degree of non Ximeian cluing but what the hey I had fun with this and it made my brain hurt, which is a good thing. Speaking of Ximenes, I picked up a copy of Don Manly’s Chambers Crossword Guide at Oxfam today and it includes a photo of the great man. Looks like a fun book.

  60. smutchin says:

    Could well be, Eileen. I had a feeling there would be a few more comments after my early contribution, which is why I checked back in so late. Wasn’t expecting so many though!

    I gave up on this puzzle fairly early on, having made very little progress – not only because it’s a very difficult one but also because I know little about Milton and because I’m mentally exhausted from a difficult period at work.

    But I’ve still found pleasure in this puzzle from reading Uncle Yap’s blog and having the ingenuity of some of the clues explained. And the subsequent comments have been enlightening and entertaining also.

    On that recent BBC4 programme, Colin Dexter compared crosswords to detective stories, and while I don’t get the satisfaction of solving this puzzle myself, I can admire the cleverness of those who have solved it in the same way that I can admire Sherlock Holmes for cracking a seemingly insoluble mystery.

    Ultimately, the puzzle is clearly do-able, if only by accomplished solvers, which makes it “fair” (or maybe “fair enough”) in my book.

  61. smutchin says:

    …which perhaps makes Araucaria the Moriarty of the cruciverbal world.

  62. smutchin says:

    …while I am a mere Inspector Lestrade.

  63. Dave Ellison says:

    mhl: The Einstein and the Eddington – great! a definite meeting of the two cultures, probably. I hadn’t seen this before. Reminds me of the sort of item you would find in the books, A Random Walk in Science

  64. Stan says:

    Ye Gods, what a struggle. All perfectly fair (though 1d maybe a bit below the cincture)

    The quotation wasn’t known to me, but as Milton wrote “The superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity and many deeds of the past, in order to strengthen his character thereby.”

    Thanks for the lesson, Reverend.

  65. Ralph G says:

    Far enough down the batting order for some DIY etymology?
    Favourite threesome: cincture, shingles and precinct (esp. the pre-, Eileen).

  66. KevinP says:

    “smutchin Says:
    …which perhaps makes Araucaria the Moriarty of the cruciverbal world.”

    Shouldn’t that be the Cromoriarty?

  67. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Still can’t see the definition in 10ac. How does statesman equate to periodically?

  68. Geoff Moss says:

    Paul (Not Paul)
    The New Statesman is a periodical, so ‘statesman’ is ‘periodically new’.

  69. Paul B says:

    Well, I thought Milton was pretty cool. It takes a fine poet to say *that* much about the missed chance of the English Revolution (thank you Christopher Hill) without anyone apparently noticing until literary theory armed itself with sufficiently powerful weapons of detection in the 70s and 80s. So there: fall of man, my ears (anag).

    As to this puzzle – which must shhhhhhurely now hold the record for contributions – I admit I did feel a bead of sweat or two drop groundwards as I laboured. Hell, A gave work to this crossword! And felt not quite as rewarded as I sometimes have with this other great John, a revolutionary if ever there were. One.

  70. C & J says:

    Thank you Araucaria for a challenging, ingenious and most enjoyable puzzle, which left one, having successfully finished it, (without quite understanding all of our answers) with a real sense of achievement, and provided many chuckles during the process.

  71. Matt Livermore says:

    So the ‘plural of mouse is mice’ clue was a type of printer’s devilry clue I suppose. Is that a first for a daily crossword?

  72. mhl says:

    I suppose it’s a similar idea, but it’s not quite a PD clue since the devilled version (i.e. the clue as it’s written) doesn’t make sense…

  73. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    I don’t do many Guardians these days but tackled this after hearing about it elsewhere. I certainly found it very difficult, but I could see the wordplay for all but 6 clues – 1A, 5A (both of which I think I’d have seen had I spent more time), 9, 1D, 19, 24.

    On the subject of times and “bragging”: over at the Times for the Times blog, where this started (or was borrowed from the US solving blogs), the idea was that if you get times quoted from sufficient people (initially the same person every day), you can get a good measure of the difficulty of the puzzle. To that end, this puzzle took me at least an hour, possibly about 90 minutes, with dictionary confirmation for CINCTURE.

    Overall verdict: satisfying to work out the quote, and some clues were good, but irritating to be baffled by so many of them even when knowing the answer, and disappointing to see so many weak surface readings.

  74. Alan O'Brien says:

    Dave Ellison said, “At the risk of being accused of being a philistine, can anyone explain what is so great about Milton?”

    I am not going to be Milton’s Samson against the philistines; reading him is like watching a disk defragment. He is like Alexander Pope without the rhymes and the humour,

    Crosswords did, however, get me involved in reading Edmund Spenser, who was better than I previously me bethought.

  75. KG says:

    Heavens – it almost took longer to read these comments than do the puzzle (only joking!). But what a testament to Araucaria and the affection we have for him.

    My knowledge of Milton and Macaulay is more quizzer than scholar, so I enjoyed the detection aspect of putting the quote together. All was done (except 1dn & 5dn) but for 19dn. I had _a_t_r, and couldn’t get ‘master’ out of my head – which seemed to make no sense. Asking me how I was getting on, Carol looked at the clue and said ‘martyr’.

    Don’t you just love it when someone does that!

  76. Mitnageek says:

    Gosh. Well, I feel so amateur.

    As vox pop and as a below-par solver for this bandwidth, may I offer a humble opinion?

    When I couldn’t do them at all, I used to turn from these puzzles entirely. Then, with experience, to try them and love the rare successes.

    Now, with a little more experience, I enjoy them often.

    Had it not been for the chance discovery of this blog, however, my enjoyment of this particular puzzle would have been halved (or more).

    The few of the more outlandish clues that I solved left me on top of the world but it was only the artistry and humour of the full explanations of the full answer set that actually had me laughing aloud. The debate too. You are *all* so right, it’s wonderful.

    It’s good to get a buzz like that from a word game. Thank you all for sharing.

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