Duke. One of these men is genius to the other:
And so of these, which is the naturall man,
And which the spirit? Who deciphers them?
To expand and review our understanding of the word "superencipherment," I shall offer David Kahn's explanation:
"Codewords or code numbers can be subjected to transposition or substitution just like any other group of letters or
numbers -- the transforming processes do not ask that the texts given to them be intelligible. Code that has not yet
undergone such a process -- called super encipherment -- or which has been deciphered from it is called placode , a
shortening of 'plain code.' Code that has been transformed is called encicode , from 'enciphered code' " [@].
Here Kahn is dealing with a code, such as a series of numbers which might indicate a certain numbered word on a
certain numbered line on a certain numbered page in a particular book. Such numbers, usually in five digit code
groups, can afterward be re-enciphered so that they are scrambled according to some agreed-upon key. Then,
conceivably, the result can be converted to letters, readable only with a special alphabet; the alphabet may be one
that has been scrambled again with a key word or phrase, or even all the words in a chapter of a different book. The
superencipherment process can be continued indefinitely. It need not always begin with a code; it might begin with a
Such devious methods are not convenient for the encipherer or the decipherer. The messages take too long to read
and write, especially during tactical military operations in wartime. The possibility for error multiplies with each
successive enciphering or superenciphering. The keys themselves must be inserted somehow in the clear text
message, unless they are already known to the receiver of the communication. And, to prevent the enemy from
reading the mail, the specific, the secondary keys have to be changed frequently, or even the whole general cipher
Kahn defines another word:
"The methods of steganography conceal the very existence of the message. Among them are invisible inks and
microdots and arrangements in which, for example, the first letter of each word in an apparently innocuous text
spells out the real message."
Kahn reveals a reluctance to brook previous attempts to find steganographic cipher in the works of William
Shakespeare, especially those directed toward proof of a different authorship. But he finds merit in some other
"They [those seeking such ciphers] are not entirely without cryptologic warrant. Just as systems of cryptography
have transmitted valid messages despite abuses. . .so systems of steganography have preserved legitimate messages
beneath an innocent camouflage. Among these are steganograms of authorship. In 1897, the eminent philologist
Walter W. Skeat was editing The Testament of Love , which had been attributed to Chaucer in its only known copy,
a printing of 1532, when he noticed that the initial letters of the various chapters were intended to form an acrostic.
With some emendation they spelled out Margarete of Vitrw, have merci on thin[e] Usk -- indicating as some other
scholars had suggested, that the real author was not Chaucer but Thomas Usk."
Kahn recounts another story, "the most famous authorship steganogram":
"The book was Hypnerotomachia Poliphili , published by Aldus Manutius at Venice in 1499 with no author listed. . .
As early as 1512, however, readers discovered that the first letters of the 38 chapters spelled out Poliam frater
Franciscus Columna peramavit [Brother Francesco Colonna passionately loves Polia]. Colonna was a Dominican
monk, still alive when the book was published, and the reason for the secrecy was clear. Polia is still unknown."
There are nearly nine hundred printed pages in the Works of William Shakespeare. To find therein a steganogram is
not so easily done as to notice the skill by which an amusing dedicatory poem was once conceived. Read now the
verse that precedes the text of The English Dictionarieof 1623 [@]:
He whose self love, or too ambitious spirit,
Envies or carpes at this thy Muses action,
Nere let him live, or of a Muse once merit
Regard or fame, but die in his detraction,
Irrevocably plagu'd with Zolian spight,
Ere he once taste of Hellicons delight.
Could I, oh could I quintessence my skill,
Or with Elixir truly alcumize,
Knowledge with learning should instruct my quill
Effectually to praise thy Muses guise,
Refelling all the critical disasters,
Among some captious, yet wise seeming masters,
Made by her curious eye, their owne disasters.
Thus the name of the (alleged) author, Henrie Cokeram, which was missing on the title-page, may be readily
discovered in the initial capital letters of these lines.
This "Dictionarie" was published simultaneously with the 1623 first edition of the Shakespeare Folio. In it, we are
shown an astonishing collection of words which, by a large fraction, had never been used before. They seem to be
made-up words, mostly from Latin. Many were never again stained by printer's ink.
Take a few random examples: Degresse : To unlight from a horse. Adipate : To feed fat. Glaucitate : To cry like a
whelpe. Glocidate : To clocke like a Hen. Macrologie : Long or tedious talke. Oblatration : A barking or rayling.
Palliardize : Whoredom. Popination : An outragious drinking. Sarcinate : To lade a beast, to sow clothes. Sarculate :
To weed. Superfoetate : After the first young to conceive another. Suppenditation : A giving of that which we lacke.
Supperasitate : To flatter one for a meales meat. Susurration : A whispering.
Such susurrations are subsequently seldom seen! But one wonders: has a bag of ripe pork rind been dragged across
the fox's trail?
In my own general reading I have learned that a lot of wartime cryptanalysis was done "by guess and by God."
Inspired guesses seem to have been the most successful in attacking the hardest ciphers, and then often by means of
a "crib." These cribs were readouts of words or phrases from other messages previously sent in the clear; or
sometimes from decryptions of the same strings of letters which had been intercepted while the enemy was
changing its system from an old, already successfully cryptanalyzed, cipher to a new one. We will, to some degree,
depend upon a name -- an outstanding, already mentioned probable name, a "crib" -- in the work to be described.
In concluding his discussion of Elizabethan acrostics, Kahn expresses his scientifically hospitable attitude toward the
unthinkable: "It was thus perfectly possible for Francis Bacon to have used steganography to simultaneously conceal
and reveal his authorship of the Shakespeare works. The question is, Did he?"
Well, of course, I am quite sure that he did. The first two pages of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS contain a
steganogram. That is, they conceal from ordinary suspicion an acrostic cipher. The printed cipher letters have,
however, already been enciphered and cannot be read as words in plain English. The letters are superenciphered,
and may be decrypted only by the use of a key, an abbreviated but otherwise normally ordered Elizabethan
alphabet. The final process of re-encipherment follows the ancient Caesar cipher method, and the plaintext is found
by shifting the alphabet four letters.
The text in which the cipher is contained is a very unusual one; the Dedication to the Sonnets has often drawn to it
the imaginative attention of literary critics. But considering that Shake-speare's name was printed on the just-
preceding title-page, the many oddities of its composition have produced no general outcry from conventional
Once I had determined the general neighborhood of my steganogram, or at least had mightily begun to suspect that
area, I wondered what to do next. My methods wouldn't spell "Bacon" or "Francis" (or even "William") in any orderly
way, no matter what was done with the letters. And that while trying the initial letters of all words, the capital
letters, the letters beginning and ending each line, the penultimate letters in each word, or line, or some other
There was, in fact, no obvious ciphertext to work on.
If any cipher message existed, I thought, it would have to be a short one of the kind that would not respond to an
examination of the letter frequency. In any case I had no already determined letters to analyze in that manner. I
began to look for hints in the text of the Dedication.
Some Stratfordian scholars have stated and are prepared to argue that, if a cipher had been concealed in a
Shakespeare book, the encipherer would never, never have given any clue to its solution. The reason, we are
justified in presuming, is that its composer intended that it never, never be discovered. Airy fabrications of this
nature are the holy pedestals upon which rise the granite pillars of a consensus, a general agreement among the
schoolmen and some of their successors in office that the name of William Shakespeare shall not be taken in vain.
The logic is that of Aristotle, that is, to adopt a theory and then deductively support it with plausible rhetoric.
This way of thinking contrasts with the more recent ability of science to "speak truth to power" by logical induction.
The initial unfounded surmise, based upon the printed name of Shakespeare in the "Works," has been rendered
sacred by the collection of whatever agreeable scraps of "evidence" the nineteenth century dogmatists did, among
themselves, come to regard as credible. I might still tremble at incurring the wrath of such united pedantry, except
that the most quarrelsome defenders of the Shakespearean myth have taken their leaves. They have gone eternally to
whisper and study in the Rare Books Room of that forever-to-be-hoped-for Big Library in the Sky.
Hints, or keys, are often given in short ciphers according to some prearranged understanding between the writer and
the reader. For example, the editors of The Cryptogram [@], the journal of the American Cryptogram Association,
usually attach a "tip" to each of their cipher problems; these recreational tasks are written in a variety of cipher
systems. The tip itself is enciphered, but in an elementary manner known to all readers, in a Caesar. Without such
insinuations, very few of the problems could be solved; the cipher texts are just too short for letter-frequency
analysis or even other modern, hi-tech cryptanalytic methods. The same is true for most, I shall call them, middle-
level code or cipher systems such as are used commercially; the keys are changed frequently and the messages
made brief. The British, while breaking the German ENIGMA cipher during WWII, called these tips "indicators."
Why wouldn't the man who put a message in a book 380 years ago hope that it be discovered, and include in his
steganogram some veiled inkling to help with the solution? And himself know: that any such brief communication,
deserving of preservation, must have a "tip" attached, both to assist a solution and to confirm it. Conversely, if his
cipher news had to be permanently rendered inscrutable, he could simply have burned the information.
And so I found what might be clues.
The hints were not altogether unambiguous because they had been inserted in the tradition of Trithemius, as I later
discovered. There were homonyms for numbers, for a 2 and maybe a 1, to make 21; then later on appeared a 4th,
whatever that might imply. It struck me that those guarded numerical tips might have something to do with a
variation of the Elizabethan 24 letter alphabet. I began to think that the primary cryptic letter substitution problem
might have a solution, though I still had no particular letters upon which to make tests. (Hit here for solution)
Still guessing, I thought that the number of letters in the suspected alphabet would be not more than 24; a larger
number would be an especially cruel and dirty trick, one beneath contempt; a deed unworthy of the Master; an
endless path leading only to the madhouse.
What if, I speculated, there was some more or less obvious way to key the alphabet according to a likely word or
name? The "probable word" gambit, as described by Friedman? Well, there were a lot of choices, such as Bacon,
Francis, Verulam, or possibly Shake or a combination of such keys. These can be inserted at the beginning of a cipher
alphabet and then the rest of the letters written out afterward in their normal order, except for the omission of those
already used in the key word.
So, I made up a lot of alphabets but I hardly knew what to do with them. I was certain that Bacon was familiar with
the elementary Caesar cipher; maybe, after concealing the sparse and crucial acrostic letters and then subjecting
them to interpretation through one of many possible alphabetical sieves, he might have made the last step easy. Yet
the Caesar itself has as many solutions as there are letters in the selected alphabet, minus one.
A Caesar cipher, with an alphabet in normal sequence, is a piece of cake. Here are two Elizabethan alphabets shifted
four places. The top one is for the ciphertext and the bottom represents the plaintext. These omit J and U as was
customary in the "cross-row" of the times.
E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V W X Y Z A B C D
a b c d e f g h i k l m n o p q r s t v w x y z
To encipher the word "cat," one just writes down the letter above each letter in that word. The result is "G E Y". To
decipher the letters "G E Y", one reverses the process. Of course it is essential to know how many letters the
alphabets have been shifted, or if any letters have been subtracted. (The table above follows the convention of
printing ciphertext letters in capitals and plaintext solution letters in lowercase.).
Caesar actually used almost this exact system; he shifted the bottom series of letters three positions. His alphabet
was in the same order as the Elizabethan one except that G, W, Y and Z were missing, along with J and U; it had 20
If I intended to try Caesar on this problem there were many more possible alphabets to be attempted, other than
ones with name keys. What if Bacon (my "probable name" candidate) had deleted a letter from the normal 17th
century alphabet? What if he had erased more than one letter? Then his antique cross-row would have 23 letters, 22
letters, 21 letters, 20 letters or even (sigh) fewer.
Postulating that my shadowy and theoretical mentor was at least a little familiar with letter frequency in the English
language, he would know that the most uncommonly used letters are K, Q, X, J and Z. Elizabethans didn't recognize
J anyway (or even U), so there were four left.
One other letter to consider was W; my man was a Latin scholar and wrote more than half of his acknowledged
works in that moribund language in which W was unknown. Often, in Elizabethan printing, two V's were substituted
for the letter W. W thus seemed unnecessary; if so, as a corollary, V had to remain.
I thought that Y might be a doubtful letter; Y and I were sometimes interchanged in 17th century printing. Q is a
popular letter in Latin; he would not discard such an old friend. G was a problem; it was not in Caesar's Latin
alphabet, but the language had progressed as it passed into Church and Law Latin.
There remained X and Z. S is a good substitute for Z, and the spelling of many words varies that way between
American and British orthographies. X is not much good for anything but Roman numerals; "next" can be spelled
"neckst" -- not gracefully, but if need be.
Nothing seemed certain and the result of my foggy, alphabetical fantasy was this: V, Q and K ought to remain. The
suspects were W, X, Y and Z.
If all four were to be discarded, only one 20 letter alphabet would result. If three were junked, complications would
set in. Which letter of the four should be selected? Suppose two were left out and two retained, for a 22 letter
alphabet? Which two should be kept, and in what order? And what if only one was discarded, which one and what
should be the order of the remaining three? I had to try them all, because the alphabet was one of two unknowns;
the other was the problem of locating the encrypted, steganographic plaintext letters.
As my list of possible alphabets lengthened, more and more permutations and combinations threatened.
Empiricism, cut and try? Mere pragmatism? Are such strategies acceptable in cryptanalysis? Good Heavens, I didn't
I turned again to The Codebreakers . Kahn reassured me:
"Cryptography and cryptanalysis are sometimes called twin or reciprocal sciences, and in function they indeed
mirror one another. What one does the other undoes. Their natures, however, differ fundamentally. Cryptography is
theoretical and abstract. Cryptanalysis is empirical and concrete. . .
"Thus the operations and results of cryptography are as universally and eternally true as those of mathematics.
Within the "suitable algebra" of the ordinary 26-letter Vigenere, it would be as logically impossible to deny that
plaintext b keyed with C yields d as to deny that 1 + 2 = 3. And this holds on Mars in the 25th century as equally as
in France in the 16th. Different ciphers, like different geometries, yield results that are different but equally valid.
'The situation is not at all the same with cryptanalysis. Its methods are those of the physical sciences. They rest, not
upon the unchanging verities of mathematical logic, but upon observable facts of the real world. The cryptanalyst
must obtain these data by experiment, by measurement. Unlike the cryptographer, who can deduce any enciphering
equation in Vigenere from a few initial conditions without recourse to any further experience, the cryptanalyst
cannot tell from any number of statements about English which is its most frequent letter. He has to count the
letters. The facts may be constants, but they are not logical necessities. They depend upon circumstances, upon
reality. . .
"The empirical nature of cryptanalysis appears in its operations. These consist of the four steps of what is commonly
called the "scientific method," which scientists apply in attacking problems in the natural sciences. They are: analysis
(such as counting the letters), hypothesis (X might be e ), prediction (if X is e , then some plaintext possibilities
should emerge), and verification (they do) or refutation (they don't, so X is probably not e ), either case starting a
new chain of reasoning. . ."
While I could not depend upon Kahn's example of finding letter frequencies, his statement of the classical
scientific method seemed adaptable.
First it appeared to be necessary to put the Caesar system into a computer code; "computer cipher" might be
more accurate, but the term hasn't caught on. I knew a little about Microsoft MBASIC, which beginners tend to
use. In a book I found an elementary computer program to print out any selected line of a Caesar cipher, such as
the line readout resulting from moving the alphabets 11 letters apart. Knowing that only a fool reinvents the
wheel while programming, I seized upon that listing. But it was hardly good enough; I wanted to read all of the
possible lines, one for every forward shift. For a 24 letter alphabet there would be 23 possible plaintext lines.
Each line had to be numbered for reference and there had to be an error signal of some kind, in case an illegal
letter (such as J or U, or some discarded letter) was entered, or a comma omitted.
After about two weeks and much cursing (true hackers will understand my feelings of frustration), I scraped a
program together. There were still a couple of unnecessary lines; a comma had to be entered after every trial
letter, which was painful; the line numbers turned out to be meaningless except as markers; and the program had
to be substantially altered if the length of the alphabet was changed. But it worked. Without a computer I would
have used a cartload of paper. Without a computer I might have given up after eight or ten years. Without a
computer, KAANBACON would have remained a memory. Thank you, Kaypro, old CP/M pal.
I was, meanwhile, comforted to learn that the National Security Agency and its 10,000 employees in Maryland
were still searching for prime numbers and trying to factor more digits than might fit on this page, or maybe on
Then I had to work out my many trial alphabets. I couldn't take a chance and not at least try some probable key
word programs. Here is a sample:
B A C O N D E F G H I K L M P Q S T V W X Y Z
Here BACON has been placed at the beginning of the alphabet and the unused letters written out in order after
that. Others occurred to me, such as using FRANCIS or perhaps FSBACON, as he sometimes signed his name.
Such keys can be placed at the beginning or the end of the alphabet. I tried both; I tried them reversed and then
with shorter alphabets. Then I began working out the series in normal order, except for the letters after T, and
leaving out some of the questionable ones which were W, X, Y and Z. Here are the last letters of some of the
alphabets that I investigated:
TVW, TWV, TVZ, TZV, TVX, TXV, TVY, TYV, TVXY, TVYZ, TVWY, TVXZ (and a few more).
I also tried reversing the whole alphabet, transposing the first and second halves, reversing every two letters and
some other equally random exercises, and then doing the same within other shortened trial alphabets.
There is some science here, such as the process of inspection and elimination; such expedients were, long ago and
often, used by my favorite scientist, Sherlock Holmes. He once instructed Dr. Watson, "It is an old maxim of
mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Typing in the letters for each program, the letters which might conceal a cipher message, took too much time. I
had to string all the programs together in order that the suspected cipher letters could be typed just once and the
whole thing run off in series. There were so many programs that I had to make them "menu-driven," so I
wouldn't get lost. Still, a separate type of program had to be used for alphabets of different lengths.
Algebra, even the little I knew about that, didn't help. The equation seemed to be P = A + C, where P is the
cipher solution, A is the arrangement of the key alphabet and C is the series of ciphertext letters to be analyzed.
When either A or C is unknown (and, more dismayingly, both), the equation cannot be solved for P, the plaintext.
Cannot, that is, without a little help from the author of a cryptogram whose name is already suspect.
There were twenty-six words in the Dedication and four separate capitalized letters, all connected by periods.
Which letters might contain the cipher? All of them? The initial letters, terminal letters, penultimate letters, letters
from every other word, the second or third letter in each word, or something worse?
Should the title-page be explored? The letters in the Dedication were all capitals (except for the lonely,
superscripted "r" in "Mr.") but they were not printed in that way on the title-page and other choices were
possible. What method, what rule should be applied?
Months passed. More "floppy disks" were filled with programs. My enthusiasm began to dwindle.
I was working with a copy of the 1609 Sonnets ; this was an 1885 reprint done by Charles Praetorius and Thomas
Tyler, a facsimile of the British Museum copy of the Sonnets . Below the two horizontal lines on the title-page
By G. Eld for T.T. and are
to be solde by Iohn Wright , dwelling
at Christ Church gate.
There were other books in my library that I hadn't looked at for many years. Some of these also contained
facsimiles, and several of them were about the Sonnets.
I began reading them again, hoping that someone else had noticed something strange. Bertram Theobald had
written a book about numbers and letters and how they seemed to add up to a Baconian signature, but I doubted
his methods [@]. He analyzed the Dedication and the title-page at tiresome length, according to his theories. He
was not much help.
Until I did notice the strange thing. In his book was a (sort of) facsimile of the Sonnets title-page and it was not
the same as mine . Here is what was printed under the two lines:
By G. Eld for T.T. and are
to be solde by William Aspley.
Not the same colophon, and not the same bookseller at all -- who was this Mr. Aspley that had taken the place of
Mr. Wright? With a sinking illness in my heart it dawned on me that, perhaps, I had been working on the wrong
title page (see photo illustrations of both).
As things turned out, Mr. Wright was Wrong. It was Mr. Aspley who was concealing, in two of the letters of his
name, a vital fraction of the dreadful truth.
I didn't have to start over completely; I still had the computer programs to test the new, possible ciphertext
letters. Let us re-examine the Sonnets Dedication and title-page (William Aspley's this time):
Neuer before Imprinted.
By G. Eld for T.T. and are
to be solde by William Aspley .
I must explain that I had not confined my work entirely to the title and Dedication pages. There are 154 Sonnets
following them in which there are all manner of odd references to numbers. These looked interesting, as did the
154 great capitals which began each verse. Sometimes the "W"s were typeset as two "V"s; sometimes italics were
used in place of the large Roman caps; sometimes a smaller font was inserted. I ran these notions through my
sieve of abbreviated alphabet computer programs, but with no success. More weeks had passed and the winter
was almost over. My winter, thus far, of much discontent.
Evenings, when the work at my law office was done, I would return to the weary cryptographical scene of my
previous failures; to my place in those initial two leaves of the Sonnets . But I had a new, untested title-page to
work on -- I was rid of the perfidious John Wright. I began running more alphabet-soup through the computer
grinder. Screen after countless screen, line after countless green line trod past; sometimes the letters seemed to
blur together so that I had to wipe my eyes and run the program again. But every series of letters spelled
garbage -- nothing sensible whatever. Should I desert this faith, this creature of my own fanciful intuition? No.
Dan Beard, the clean-shaven founder of The Boy Scouts of America, has written in his Handbook, "God hates a
quitter." I could not, with good conscience, deny that Eleventh Commandment. Obstinately I stumbled on.
Then, late one cold and bleak March afternoon, my luck changed. I had been running a series of 21 letter
alphabets arranged in their normal order but with three letters missing. In one of them the letters "W X Z" had
been expurgated. I had also begun including in the ciphertext the four numbers, those in the date, "1609". Those
digits, I thought, might have to be converted to letters of the alphabet and retained within the series of potential
cipher letters. 16 might be the 16th letter, "Q"; the zero might be an "O"; and the 9 an "I" -- perhaps "Q O I". Or,
more simply, "A F O I". Or if the zero was a null then "A F I", corresponding to the first, sixth and ninth letters of
the Elizabethan alphabet, might be the solution. I ran them all in, using in conjunction the last letters of each
capitalized word (or capitalized initial) in the title-page and in the Dedication.
And after a while I saw something new. I saw new characters added before "K A A N B A C O N," those letters
that had haunted me for so many years. I saw "B E K A A N B A C O N". And just before those letters, I saw a
new word -- an incredible and decisive term.
What, praytell, is the most unlikely word, coupled with a name twice repeated, to be found by an inexpert
dabbler in antique cryptanalysis? What is the word that even the most abject idolater of Francis Bacon would
despair to find, and to be the most unexpected? What is the word, once uttered on a computer screen, that must
cause doubt and consternation and a search for a bug in the program? What is the awful word, the one most sure
to strike terror into the stony heartland of academia?
The word is this: "CYPPHRS". "Cyphers," or "ciphers," as the word is spelled in dictionaries published 380 years
later. "Cyphras," as it was once spelt in Latin by Sir Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban and Baron Verulam.
I went back and "listed" the program; sometimes computer disks get scratched and spoil the information
magnetically engraved on their surfaces. The coded lines still read as they were written. I re-entered the cipher
letters and the converted numbers ("A F I" as I had done before) and held my breath as the lines and letters
marched by. To the "FORTH." line again.
I turned and gazed out the window at some leftover patches of grey snow in the yard. The wind was blowing old
leaves in hollow whirlpools and it was beginning to get dark. The dogs came in and nudged me with evening
hunger. Marian was at some board meeting. There was no one home to tell. No matter, time had been used but
there was time left to tell. I wondered if anyone would believe it; maybe Sam Clemens would -- can you hear me,
So there were two printings of the Sonnets ; one with the name of John Wright on the title page, the other with
the name of William Aspley. In the latter, using the title page and the Dedication and a 21 letter alphabet, I found
a message containing 25 letters. Bacon's abbreviated key cipher alphabet was found to be this:
A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V Y
Here are the ciphertext letters again:
S S R D T N Y G D T T M Y A F I O E E R F E G S R
Here is the -4 table (using the "FORTH." letter back) for decipherment:
Ciphertext alphabet: E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V Y A B C D
Plaintext alphabet: a b c d e f g h i k l m n o p q r s t v y
It has been said that the solution to any cryptogram, once found, looks easy. Here is the easy solution:
o o n y p i r c y p p h r s b e k a a n b a c o n
The ciphertext letters are selected by using the last letter of each capitalized word (and a capitalized letter
standing alone is to be recognized as the last letter of a capitalized word) beginning with SHAKE-SPEARES on
the title page and ending with the lower case, superscripted "r" in "Mr." in the Dedication. When you come to the
date, "1609", enter the letters "A F I" because these numbers represent the elementary, numerically corresponding
letters of the Elizabethan alphabet (there is no letter equivalent to the number zero).
Therefore you will enter:
| (from title-page) |date |(from Dedication)|
| |1 6 9| |
|S S R D T N Y G D T T M Y|A F I|O E E R F E G S R|
The first four possible plaintext lines of the -4 (fourth letter back) computer readout look like this:
S S R D T N Y G D T T M Y A F I O E E R F E G S R
R R Q C S M V F C S S L V Y E H N D D Q E D F R Q 1
Q Q P B R L T E B R R K T V D G M C C P D C E Q P 2
P P O A Q K S D A Q Q I S T C F L B B O C B D P O 3
O O N Y P I R C Y P P H R S B E K A A N B A C O N 4
The solution appears as the fourth numbered line. A computer is not, of course, necessary. At this stage, the
decryption may easily be done by hand.
Let us review the title-page and the first three lines of the Dedication. In the following, each of the ciphertext
letters are printed as bold:
Neuer before Imprinted.
By G. Eld for T.T. and are
to be solde by William Aspley .
[Dedication, first 3 lines:]
The first two characters, which appear as letter "O"s, represent two zeros; "NYPIR" refers to John Napier who
found an indispensable use for decimals while he was perfecting the mathematical theory of logarithms, as has
been related. The spelling of his name here should not trouble us. According to the "Handbook" for the 1914
Napier Tercentenary Celebration, ". . .we do not know the correct spelling of Napier's name, since many forms of
the word are found, such as Napeir, Nepair, Nepeir, Neper, Napare, Napar, Naipper. Apparently the forms
Jhone Neper and Jhone Nepair are the most usual with John Napier; the form Napier is comparatively modern"
We may observe that the periods separating each word in the Dedication can, with very little imagination, also be
interpreted as the decimal points that Napier employed during the 20 years of his calculation of the log tables.
"CYPPHRS" is a version of the Latin word "CIPHRAS," as Bacon spelled it in De Augmentis Scientarium and, as
we have seen, there were then many other ways to spell "ciphers." BEKAAN is a paragram, a phonetic or
punning spelling of Bacon's name; this form, it has been said, reflects an almost identical Elizabethan
pronunciation of "Bacon.""Beacon" is still used as a verb, meaning "to signal." In its 17th century sense, it also
meant "to give light and guidance to." And, research has shown, that antecedent members of Francis Bacon's
family had spelled the name as "Becon" or as "Beacon." Benjamein Disraeli, made First Earl of Beaconsfield by
Queen Victoria in 1876, pronounced his name as "Beckonsfield".
And, of course, BACON is the name of the author of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS . He was Sir Francis Bacon,
later to become Chancellor of England, Baron Verulam and Viscount St. Alban.
There are arithmetical instructions contained in the Dedication. The words "TO" and "ONLIE" represent the
letters 2 and 1, or 21; this is the number of letters in the abbreviated, keyed alphabet required to be used to form
Bacon's Caesar cipher table. The word "FORTH." in the last line is an instruction to count either backward or
forward four letters in order to read the cipher message. There are also four blank lines in the spacing of the
Decication itself. In other words, our subtle instructions explain that this superenciphered, steganographic
message may be deciphered by the use of a twenty-one letter Caesar cipher with the plaintext alphabet shifted