My old bones akes : here's a maze trod indeede
Through fovrth rights,&Meanders: by your patience,
I needes must rest me.
--The Tempest (iii, 2, 1)
In the first chapter of this book I promised to show that the name of the real author of the First Folio of
Shakespeare's Plays is concealed in the first spoken word. It stands alone as the first word of dialogue on the first
page of the first printing of the first play in the First Folio,the 1623 first edition of Shakespeare's collected Comedies
Histories and Tragedies . It is a solitary word distinguished by its primal detachment. A cipher method based upon
whole words, rather than designated letters, presents itself.
"The Tempest," as recorded in the First Folio, is the sole authority for the language and printing of that fanciful
drama. It was never printed in quarto; however a play of the same name (but not necessarily of the same text) was
presented in King James' Court on November 1, 1611. It is, according to the critics, neither a comedy, a history nor a
tragedy, although it is printed as the first of Shakespeare's comedies. We will recall that there are twenty plays in the
Folio which were not published during William Shakespeare's lifetime, and this is one of them. It is now regarded as
When "The Tempest" first saw the light of day in 1623, Shakespeare had been dead for seven years while Francis
Bacon remained among the living until 1626. The play is considered by some scholars to be Shakespeare's finest
work and very possibly his last. Because it appears as the first in the collection, the author seems likewise to have
regarded it well.
The first word of dialogue in "The Tempest" is "BOte-swaine." The first letter, "B", is a great capital, the kind of
large ornamental initial that heads the first page of almost all of the plays. The script, after some "scene setting"
instructions which are printed in italics, gives the "Master" the first word to speak:
Botes . Heere Master: What cheere?
Mast . Good: Speake to th'Mariners: fall
too't, yarely, or we run our selves a ground,
And so on. A "Bote-swaine" (a "bosun" in modern navies) was a petty officer charged with the operation of the
ship's rigging, sails and other seagoing paraphernalia. The word appears several times on later pages in the play but
it is not typeset again as "Bote-swaine," as we find it several times on page one. These are all of the spellings as
shown in "The Tempest":
(i, 1, 1, first page): " Boteswaine , BOte-swaine, Boteswaine, Botes-waine, Boson ", and ten times abbreviated as
"Botes ."; (afterward, ii, 2, 48): "Boate-swaine "; (v, 1, 99): "Boat-swaine"; (v, 1, 224): "Boatswaine ", twice abbreviated
"Bot ."; Names of the Actors (last page): "Boate-Swaine."
To apply the Caesar decryption here we must remember that the letter "W" is not included in our key alphabet but
it was often typeset as "VV" in the Folio and in the Sonnets . We shall install "BOTESVVAINE" as the ciphertext and
run our computer program:
B O T E S V V A I N E
C P V F T Y Y B K O F 1
D Q Y G V A A C L P G 2
E R A H Y B B D M Q H 3
F S B I A C C E N R I 4
The plaintext, then, is "f s b i a c c e n r i". It appears on the "FORTH." (+4) line in which "A" = "e". Bacon's 21 letter
alphabet, ending in "T V Y", remains the same. "fs" is Bacon's own abbreviation of his first name while "biaccen" is
yet another phonetic spelling of his surname. For a probabilty and chance proof for BOTE-SWAINE, see this:
For those who still resist such imaginative orthographies I must refer them to R. A. Haldane, The Hidden World ,
St. Martin's Press, New York 1976. In a discussion of thirteenth century Italian cryptography, he writes:
A contemporary of [Leon Battista] Alberti was Cicco Simonetta of Parma, a cryptanalyst of the Sforza at the Court
of Milan. In 1474 he produced a practical guide to the use of ciphers, setting out certain rules of procedure for the
benefit of contemporary diplomatic agents. It was entitled Liber Sifrorum and included frequency tables. The
defences against the cryptanalyst which Simonetta recommended were two: the insertion of an occasional code sign
[as Trithemius suggested a few decades later] and the suppression of frequencies in simple substitution ciphers, that
is, representing the commoner letters by alternates (several letters or symbols), providing a choice of equivalents.
Since the constancy of letter frequencies alone makes cryptanalysis possible, Simonetta's contribution to the advance
of cryptography was a notable one. That his teaching was taken to heart is evident from what we are told by Aloys
Meister who states that, during the fifteenth century, Italian cryptography had been elaborated to the point where
from three to six alternates could be used to represent a letter.
Thus during Elizabethan times, for the spelling of "Bacon" in deciphered plaintext, conceivably almost any vowel or
combination of vowels including "y" might be substituted for the "a" and the "o" in Bacon's name, and a "k" might be
substituted for the "c". Although the principal purpose of this scheme was to defeat cryptanalysis, the form of the
ciphertext often demanded that such substitutions be made to accommodate the plaintext readout. "Bote-swaine" is
a good example.
H. N. Gibson [@] was no friend to those claiming Shakespeare's works for Bacon. Nevertheless, while cheerfully
explaining why the authenticated signatures of William Shakspeare were all spelled differently, he contributed this
agreeable footnote (p. 32): "The variations in spelling, of course, are in accordance with the free and easy custom of
the time and have no significance."
Francis Bacon himself was not particular about the cacography of his own last name. James Spedding [@ I: 32]
transcribes a "Letter of Attorney" drawn in legal form by Bacon (London, Lambeth Library MSS. 653, folio 113). The
original was written with his own quill and was prepared for the signature of his brother Anthony Bacon. In it,
Francis spelled his brother's name "Anth. Bakon." Walter Begbie (Is it Shakespeare? , p. 284, John Murray, London
1903) quotes a poem found among Anthony Bacon's papers in the same Library. It was written in French to Francis,
about 1595, by Jean de la Jessee, secretary to the Duke of Anjou who was once a suitor of Queen Elizabeth. It
expresses esteem for Francis Bacon in the form of a sonnet and two lines are interesting: Donc (Baccon) s'il advient
que ma Muse l'on vante / Ce n'est pas qu'elle soit ou diserte, ou scavante . Thus we find variants of this surname,
and in addition:
The Oxford English Dictionary makes note of some acceptable spelling of "bacon," from Chaucer into the
Seventeenth Century: "bacoun, bakoun, bacun, bakon, baken, bacon ."
It is worthy of notice that the Bacon family in early times spelt their name "Becon" or "Beacon." Some of them seem
to have written under this name, and there is a work by Thomas Becon, 1563-4 in which, on the title page of the
second volume, his name changes from "Becon" to "Beacon." (Mrs. Henry Pott, Francis Bacon and his Secret Society ,
Bacon sometimes signed his given name as "Fra:" but more often as "Fs". This abbreviation has too frequently been
misread as "Fr", and once even by a former curator of manuscripts (Giles E. Dawson) at the Folger Shakespeare
Library in Washington, D. C. He transcribed a document having the signature "Fs st Alban" as "Fr St Alban",
although each manuscript "s" was in identical lowercase script. For representative drawings of the various forms of
lowercase Elizabethan "secretary" script letters, see pp. 11 and 187-9, Charleton Hamilton, In Search of Shakespeare ,
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York 1985.
The late Anthony G. Petti [@] made the same error but got a better handle on Bacon's handwriting. On p. 98 of his
book he shows a photocopy of a Bacon letter dated 1604. His analysis is that in Bacon's habitual "secretary" hand he
used three forms of the letter "r". Yet ordinarily when Bacon signed his name he used a mixed italic style which does
not correspond to the handwriting in the body of his letters. For the "s" in "Fs", and also for the "s" in "st Alban", he
drew what looks exactly like a lowercase "s" in "running hand" script, much like an inverted "l" in modern
handwriting. I have found facsimiles of his letters which he signed as "Fs Bacon" on July 30, 1593, on Aug. 19, 1595,
on Jan. 22, 1597 and on Sept. 8, 1604."Fs" is not an unusual abbreviation for "Francis"; neither is "Wm" for "William,"
"Hy" for "Henry" nor "Mr" for "Mister" ("Master" in the 17th Century); in all of them the first and last letters are
In 1618 when Bacon became Baron Verulam, he sometimes signed his name as "Fr Verulam", but in 1621 and
afterward, when he was made Viscount St. Alban, he signed as "Fs st Alban". In making the "Fr Verulam" signature
he wrote both of the "r"s alike; those letters are clearly distinguishable from the identical "s's" he drew when signing
as: "Fs st Alban".
The left-over "ri" after Francis Bacon's deciphered name may offend some purists; to them I will say once more that
both Bacon and Trithemius urged the use of nulls in cryptography. It is not easy to encipher a name in this system
without arousing suspicion. And it seems obvious that, in order to force into one ciphertext word a particular name,
a few letters of the decrypted plaintext may, by necessity, become surplusage. Yet if the final two letters were put
there by design, perhaps "ri" stands for "rex ipse," a common, idiomatic and emphatic, Latin expression for "he
The Friedmans in The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined , (supra ) show as a practical example how convoluted a
cipher clerk's plaintext may appear to him. In discussing a ciphertext published in some recent book of
cryptographic puzzles, they quote the plaintext solution: "Jmoud vag, Mhowgipsy, stalk mohr nth time. Mpongwe
gunboy aims nickt khnum. Unfed, knab, jhum, ngapi." This is, they say, the correct answer and these are words
easily to be found in an unabridged English dictionary. They offer one reassuring comment: "If all messages had
texts of this kind, all cryptologists would be in the madhouse by now. . ."
"Ambiguity" is anathema to the Friedmans, yet they acknowledge that changing a secondary key on a given signal
is a lawful procedure; this remains the practice in relatively modern systems. They remark, "If one always used the
same key, it would be easily discovered; if one alternated it with another, discovery would be harder; and so on. .
.Occasional errors may lead to minor differences in the solutions offered by different cryptanalysts working
independently...but the validity of the rest of the text is not affected by a few doubtful letters."
In criticizing a cryptanalysis of the lettering on Shakespeare's grave-stone attempted by Ib Melchior in 1954, the
Friedmans say, ". . .a short message of this kind, using two alphabets, cannot be solved with absolute certainty. One
would require external corroboration of the validity of the decipherment, such as the finding of other messages
which could be deciphered by the same method . . ." (emphasis supplied).
If my demonstration of Bacon's cipher structure has not been validated often enough, "corroboration" has again
been shown in this word, "Bote-swaine," and in its cipher solution. Now we shall also witness a remarkable
corroboration of Bacon's devious way of signaling the presence of his enciphered name, and in this very word.
"One does not put something in a secret hiding-place and then put up a sign saying 'Notice: Secret hiding-place'," as
the Friedmans once wrote. However, Bacon (and his teacher Trithemius) did not subscribe to this view. For instance,
two different versions were typeset and printed as the first page of "The Tempest" in the First Folio. In both of them
"Bote-swaine" appears as the first word, but something noteworthy happened to one of the initial great capital "B"s
(preceding "ote-swaine") on at least one of this play's journeys to the press.
In 1963, after fifteen years of labor at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., Charleton Hinman [@]
published a two volume bibliography of the First Folio. This was an expert's study of the typesetting, proof-reading,
spelling, ruling and composition of the book. Two of Hinman's photographic illustrations were taken from the first
page of "The Tempest." One (Folger copy no. 24) shows the large ornamental initial "B" in "Bote-swaine" to have
been, by accident or design, imprinted upside down .
Hinman theorized that this conspicuous error must have immediately been seen and corrected by Jaggard the
printer, thereby implying that the Folger copy 24 was unique; nonetheless this aberrant first page of "The Tempest"
was printed and bound into one of the seventy-nine copies of the Folio owned by the Folger, although it was a proof.
An earlier expert, W. W. Greg [@], thought that one thousand volumes were printed while Hinman estimated the
size of the issue to be twelve hundred. Consequently the latter's speculation about the singularity of copy number 24
is open to considerable doubt. Hinman examined only the seventy-nine Folger copies plus two other examples that
had been reprinted in facsimile by Sidney Lee and by Yale University, the total being only 6.75% of his estimate of
the whole issue. Sidney Lee believed that only one hundred and eighty reasonably complete examples of the First
Folio have survived, so the frequency of incidence of the inverted "B" variants on the first page of "The Tempest"
may never be known. It may have appeared in several copies.
Hinman also pointed out that the "signature" capital letter, which appears as an "A" on most of the Folio recto
pages, was mistakenly printed as a "B" on the first page of copy No. 24. These letters were used by the men in
Jaggard's "machine room" to identify the proper order of the pages while collating a quire of paper. The "B" should
have been an "A" to indicate folio page A1. This particular back-room bungle appears in five of the Folger Folios. The
very same error appears in at least three existing copies of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS : at the bottom of the first
(recto) page of verses is the capital letter "B". There is no "signature" "A" in the book. Francis Fearon, writing in the
Journal of the Bacon Society, (I, 57, 1887) said, "In 1623, Bacon writes to Sir Tobie Matthew about putting the
'alphabet in a frame'; if this was their cipher, the frame was the 1623 Folio. Such enigmatical talk between two friends
is evidence that they were both interested in some secret which they would not openly refer to." Printers then locked
up their type in a "frame" and old-fashioned ones still do.
We should keep in mind the typographical oddities that adorned the Dedication of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS ,
the decimal points (or periods or full stops, if you will). Like pointers, these signals attracted our attention to that
page so as to merit a suspicion that a cipher was concealed in the text. Here again in "The Tempest" such an absurd,
capsized great capital "B" deserves the same respect; the use of such signals is confirmed by the discovery that
Francis Bacon's ciphered name is to be found, and is entirely contained, within that word "Bote-swaine." It is the
word that begins with this freakishly printed letter "B".
There has been some discussion in this treatise of the application of mathematics to the probability that Francis
Bacon's name, and his own guarded signals and brief instructions, have been intentionally inserted into the first few
pages of the Sonnets and of the Folio. I must confess that statistical guesses are beyond my field. But I have my own
elementary guide to the chance intrusion of "Bote-swaine," deciphered as "fsbiaccenri," at the outset of the very
lengthy text of Shakespeare's collection of the plays. There are, according to my rough extrapolated count, almost
900,000 words in Shakespeare's Folio of 1623. What are the odds, against one, that the very first word of dialogue
printed in this book of thirty-six plays should contain (in restored plaintext) the name of the author--the name of the
man that has so often appeared as the solution to our previous cipher problems? For a probabilty and chance proof
for BOTE-SWAINE, see this:
To mathematicians, with expertise in the statistics of cryptanalysis, I leave these ten characters to conjure with; the
odds against may be 21 to the 10th power (1 trillion, 668 million ) to one that they should occur as the letters of the
initial spoken word in the First Folio of 1623.
It is amusing to contemplate in our imaginations the scene as the curtain rises for the first act of a faithful
production of "The Tempest." According to Shakespeare's own stage directions, "A tempestuous noise of Thunder
and Lightning heard: Enter a Ship-master and a Boteswaine ."
What is the first word that the "Master" shouts above the din?
Not really "Bote-swaine," but the name of the author, Francis Bacon --that extraordinary man of astonishing
equivocacy, that man who could never pass by a jest.
The exact form of the inscription on Shakespeare's gravestone, which lies flat on the floor in Holy Trinity Church in
Stratford, has been the subject of some controversy.
In 1656 Sir William Dugdale published The Antiquities of Warwickshire ; included was an engraving showing the
lettering on the stone as he, or someone in his employ, had recorded it:
Good freind for Iesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust inclosed here
Blest be the man that spares these stones
And curst be he that moues my bones
The poem itself is a source of embarrassment to most conventional scholars because, according to an ancient rumor
often granted credence by literary historians, it was authored by the Bard himself. This verse can only be
characterized as four lines of doggerel ostensibly composed to cast a mighty curse on sextons tempted to disturb his
sacred remains. The poet has been excused for this vulgarity in the footnotes of knowing writers; they advise us that
within this church, behind a door just to the left of his monument , was a vast charnel-house to which the bones of
slumbering forgettables were often hastily removed.
The verse on Shakespeare's grave marker has been curiously provocative. M. H. Spielmann, writing in the Studies (
supra ), tells us that there was agitation in the 1880's to exhume the poet's body. By then much doubt had been cast
upon the image depicted by Droeshout in the First Folio engraving and the art critics wanted to find out what the
poet really looked like. "And yet," wrote Spielmann sympathetically, "the proposal was not by any means a novel
one." King Edward I, Schiller, Charles I and others had all been disinterred and found to be in a fine state of
preservation, especially when the soil was damp as it is around Stratford. But because of the curse on "He that
moves my bones," willing sextons were impossible to find. Then someone suggested, ingeniously, that women
should undertake the task, but still no volunteers came forward. In this Stratford church wives were often buried
with their husbands but Shakespeare's daughters feared the imprecation and buried their mother a respectful
It will be worthwhile for us to step back and regard carefully all of the words on this mortuary stone. A thoughtful
glance should make us morbidly skeptical because the famous name of the deceased has been omitted .
Nevertheless, we may be reassured by the experts who tell us that the inscription perfectly resembles Shakespeare's
jingling style when warning away bone-foragers.
T. D. Bokenham, writing in Baconiana in 1968, discusses an early alteration of the Shakespeare monument in the
Stratford Holy Trinity Church. About 1749 "repairs" were made to the bust and apparently the other statuary
surrounding it. The present wall-mounted monument hardly resembles the one depicted by Dugdale in 1656 or that
published by Nicholas Rowe in 1709; however critics have questioned Dugdale's accuracy in drawing other
monuments and it has been suggested that Rowe copied from him. (No one has yet dared to claim that these
engravings were humorously intended as cartoons of the famous malt-dealer, clutching a bag of that commodity to
his groin). Rowland Lewis in 1941 published an exhaustive survey [@] of the history of this tomb and monument. He
describes at length four later (post 1709) transcripted versions of the gravestone. These differ from one another in
minor respects, and seem to reflect the transcribers' own preferences for capitalization of both verbs and nouns.
Lewis' documentation suggests that some of them were drawn from memory and these contain obvious mistakes,
such as changing the first two words to "Reader." Lewis even supplies an all-too-forgivable error of his own to his
transcription of the 1656 Dugdale lettering: he adds an extra "e" to "he" in the last line. Lewis quotes James
The latter gravestone had, by the middle of the last century  sunk below the level of the floor, and, about
ninety years ago, had become so much decayed as to suggest a vandalic order for its removal, and, in its stead, to
place a new slab, one which marks certainly the locality of Shakespeare's grave. . .
Thus Halliwell-Phillips does not declare that the gravestone was replaced; he thinks that it may have "become so
much decayed" that it should have been supplanted, but not necessarily that it was. No proof of such a replacement
exists. Lewis also presents a photocopy of a plumbago rubbing of the present inscription which reads:
GOOD FREND FORIESVS SAKE FORBEARE,
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE!
BLESE BE Ye MAN Yt SPARES THES STONES,
AND CVRST BE HE Yt MOVES MY BONES.
The rubbing itself shows that some of the letters are joined; these are the "T" and "H" in "THE" and in the same way
in "THES". It is possible that the stone shows a "T" joined to the last "E" in "Blese," which would convert the word to
"Bleste". Dugdale shows this as "Blest". However these features are not relevant to a cryptanalysis of the text.
Lewis also quotes the inscription as recorded by a Rev. Joseph Greene, Master of the Stratford Grammar School in
1748. This agrees with the current epitaph except that other words are unnecessarily capitalized. Greene is quoted as
writing that everything was left nearly as it had been after the restoration had been completed.
Samuel Ireland used even more imagination when he published Picturesque Views on the Upper, or Warwickshire,
Avon in 1795 and engraved his version of the stone. He was the father of the infamous teenage forger of
Shakespeare autographs, documents and plays, William Henry Ireland. Among other odd variations in Samuel's
representation of the gravestone he substituted lower-case letters for most of the small capitals, thus indicating that
he probably copied in part from Dugdale's engraving. In a novel (The Tombstone Cipher , Ib Melchior, Bantam
Books, New York 1983) the author includes a drawing of his own version of the inscription. He says that the
tombstone was recarved in 1831 and "somewhat changed." He offers a drawing similar to the typographical version
shown by Samuel Ireland in 1795, but with the two "g"s in "digg" raised to be tall upper-case letters. Perhaps he
never saw the Ireland engraving and was not aware that it preexisted the changes that he thought were made in 1831.
Rowland Lewis does not completely accept the transcriptions as published by Dugdale in 1656 and by Rowe in
1709 because they contain neither the abbreviated carvings for "the" and "that" nor the several connected letters.
Dugdale spelled out all such words, but to do so does not for cryptanalysis impair the existing text. Lewis notes that
the present grave-stone's inscription was not as professionally cut as it was on the nearby monument. It may have
been made by an amateur's hand while using a blunt tool, as he suggests.
[Shakespeare's Monument inscription]
But in 1941 Rowland Lewis reached the following final conclusion (Vol. 2, p. 529):
It is reasonably certain that the present inscription is the original one--and this despite the fact that in 1619, in 1649
and in 1748 the chancel or the monument received some attention because of its "ruinous" condition.
However Lewis does not satisfactorily explain the existence of the Dugdale drawing, published 1656, and the
similar Rowe engraving, published 1709. In both of these we have the poet clutching a bag of grain to his groin,
rather than a pillow on which he is writing with a quill pen.
On the left we have the Stratford Bust, as shown in Dugdale's Warwickshire in 1656. On the right is the Bust as
published by Nicholas Rowe in 1709.This was Shakespeare's Monument, erected shortly before the publication of the
1623 Folio; thus it remained for many years.
In cryptanalyzing texts with which Shakespeare is connected we have learned to look for peculiarities. Here are the
unabbreviated lines of the poem as now existing; they agree generally with Dugdale's 1656 version, and particularly
with the indentation of the second line:
Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
to digg the dvst encloased heare!
Blese be the man that spares thes stones,
and cvrst be he that moves my bones.
First we notice that there are three capitalized words: "Good," "Iesvs" and "Blese". Interposed is the initial word "to"
in the second line; it does not begin with a capital, but this is the only word and line that is indented and that line
ends with an exclamation point. The obvious accent is on these four words, "Good Iesvs to Blese ." Let us string
them together and write them into the first, the ciphertext line of our computer program:
G O O D I E S V S T O B L E S E
H P P E K F T Y T V P C M F T F 1
I Q Q F L G V A V Y Q D N G V G 2
K R R G M H Y B Y A R E O H Y H 3
L S S H N I A C A B S F P I A I 4
We should have found our plaintext on the last, the "+4," the "FORTH." line of this Caesar printout, but we can only
view it with dismay. That line doesn't look much better than lines 1, 2 or 3, while we were hoping for a readable
cipher solution on the fourth. Yet Francis Bacon had more than one way of skinning a departed thespian. His facility
in steganography and in superencipherment is to be demonstrated again. Bacon's last step in composing this
terminal cryptogram was to employ the oldest trick in the business. He simply reversed the ciphertext letters. Here
is the readout which results from doing so:
E S E L B O T S V S E I D O O G
F T F M C P V T Y T F K E P P H 1
G V G N D Q Y V A V G L F Q Q I 2
H Y H O E R A Y B Y H M G R R K 3
I A I P F S B A C A I N H S S L 4
Yes, there are a number of nulls. But no, we are not disappointed in our search for the author's name. "There he
goes again," as political candidates have been known to say. The plaintext for the author's name is:
f s b a c a i n
Once more we find both of his names represented on the "FORTH." line, the one in which "A" = "e". We have used
again his truncated 21 letter alphabet. Bacon has again abbreviated "Francis" as "fs," as he often signed it.
I am sorely tempted to further decipher the two letters following this name. "H.S." is a Latin inscription often found
on Roman and later tombs; it is an abbreviation of "Hic Sepultus [Est]," meaning "in this place is buried. . ." Not
Francis Bacon himself, we may suspect, but is it possible that a few of his telltale relics lie interred seventeen feet
below? That is the level where Shakespeare is supposed to be buried if we are to countenance another
gravely-regarded local legend. The four letters just preceding Bacon's name I humbly offer to the reader's own
Bacon's secondary cipher methods were singular; rarely did they duplicate and they were contrived with extreme
subtlety. This is especially true of his signals, his devices to attract attention to a particular set of ciphertext letters.
A long, long time ago I noticed the multiple references to numbers in the Sonnets. Because ciphers involve
arithmetic I made a search for unusual occurrences of such digits in the verses. Sonnet 11 contains a remarkable
fortuity: the sixtieth word is "threescore." The sixtieth before that is "to." The sixtieth after "threescore" is "count."
Four more words follow in the same way; I shall leave it to the reader to find them. Francis Bacon's practices, in
arousing curiosity and goading his students on, remains as a useful educational expedient. The only words we
require now are to threescore count .
Count what? The pages in Shakespeare's book of sonnets were not numbered, but the verses were. It dawned on
me to look forward to Sonnet 60 and see what might happen after that.
Each of the Sonnets begins with a great capital, the first letter of the first word. The six great capitals which follow
Sonnet 60 are: "I S A VV S T". Reversing their order and taking the same corresponding fourth letter forward in
Bacon's Caesar system we read:
T S V V A S I
V T Y Y B T K 1
Y V A A C V L 2
A Y B B D Y M 3
B A C C E A N 4
At the end of "The Tragedie of Cymbeline," the last play in Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio, the very last page is
misnumbered as 993. The page before that is 398. These typographical errors, the numbers nine, nine, three, total 21
and had this page been properly numbered as 399 (993 reversed) the total would have been the same. This happens
to be the number of the letters in our key cipher alphabet and it is for errors of this kind that we have learned to be
watchful. The page number should have been 389, not 399, because by error the page following 378 was numbered
389 and the series continued. Two consecutive printer's mistakes like this should try our patience, except that we
have become wary, or even fond, of them.
At the end of "Cymbeline," at the end of this book there is printed a ruler line, then "FINIS", a ruler line, a printer's
ornament, another ruler line and lastly the colophon.
[First Folio colophon]
The colophon reads like this:
Printed at the Charges of W.Jaggard,Ed.Blount,I.Smithweeke,
and W.Aspley, 1623.
Previously Francis Bacon had enciphered his name in the first dialogue word of the first play in the 1623 Folio, "The
Tempest," as "Botes-waine." Because of this we might suspect that he would be tempted to sign his name at the end
of this volume, at the end of this last play, at the bottom of this, the last page of the Folio.
Upon this colophon I began a cryptographic experiment using only the first letter of each capitalized word or
capitalized initial. Here is the computer printout with the possible ciphertext letters entered on the first line ("W" =
P C V V I E B I S V V A
Q D Y Y K F C I T Y Y B 1
R E A A L G D L V A A C 2
S F B B M H E M Y B B D 3
T G C C N I F N A C C E 4
Line 4 of this Caesar solution was not encouraging so I again tried reversing the ciphertext letters:
A V V S I B E I V V C P
B Y Y T K C F K Y Y D Q 1
C A A V L D G L A A E R 2
D B B Y M E H M B B F S 3
E C C A N F I N C C G T 4
Line 4 of the reversed, plaintext readout now looked a little better but Bacon seemed to have forgotten to include
the first letter of his name. There were no letters in the ciphertext after "W. Aspley", only the numbers "1623." If he
had intended to add his signature to this book it appeared to me that he had forgotten the critical ciphertext letter for
"b"; a "T" was needed. The numbers "1623" were just numbers and did not seem to be helpful in this case.
About this time my daughter came home for a visit. She is a trial lawyer in an eastern city and deserves to have her
name put here in this book: Shawn Pennell Leary (now Shawn Considine).
Though I had decided that there was no answer to this new cipher problem, and told her so, I explained it and
showed her how to run the computer program. She punched the keys and frowned for a while and then proudly
announced the solution. She was not dismayed by the numbers; after all, she observed, we do not in conversation
speak of numbers in Arabic symbols but in familiar words. Such figures are actually ideograms which must be
translated into the language of the particular writer. Her fresh imagination had converted the arithmetical characters
in the date to English words in this manner:
Printed at the Charges of W.Jaggard,Ed.Blount,I.Smithweeke,
and W.Aspley, Sixteen Twenty-three.
Then she ran the computer program, using again the first letters of all the capitalized words and initials of the
names, and the initial letters of the words in the newly Anglicized date. It read as follows:
P C V V I E B I S V V A S T
Q D Y Y K F C K T Y Y B T V 1
R E A A L G D L V A A C V Y 2
S F B B M H E M Y B B D Y A 3
T G C C N I F N A C C E A B 4
Reversing the ciphertext letters, as we have done before, we find the plaintext on the fourth line:
T S A V V S I B E I V V C P
V T B Y Y T K C F K Y Y D Q 1
Y V C A A V L D G L A A E R 2
A Y D B B Y M E H M B B F S 3
B A E C C A N F I N C C G T 4
This conversion of numbers to letters may displease some critics but they must be reminded that Bacon openly did
the opposite. When he dated a letter on October 18, 1623 he wrote "18 of 8 bre 1623." This was written at about the
same time that the First Folio press run was, according to Charleton Hinman, being completed.
Thus at the conclusion of Shakespeare's First Folio Francis Bacon, who had lived for two years in France, wrote his
name again as "baeccan" and followed it by the letters "fin". "fin" is a word that often appears at the end of books
written in the French language. It compares to the Latin word "FINIS" which is printed at the end of this last play,
"Cymbeline." The meaning, of course, is "The End."
I have often wondered whether someone other than Francis Bacon had a working knowledge of his cipher methods
and was so bold as to include that name in one of his own writings. Consider this verse by William Basse:
On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare
he dyed in Aprill 1616.
Renowned Spencer, lye a thought more nye
To learned Chaucer, and rare Beaumont lye
A little neerer Spenser to make roome
For Shakespeare in your threefold fowerfold Tombe.
To lodge all fowre in one bed make a shift
Vntill Doomesdaye, for hardly will a fift
Betwixt this day and that by Fate be slayne
For whom your Curtaines may be drawn againe.
If your precedency in death doth barre
A fourth place in your sacred sepulcher,
Vnder this carued marble of thine owne
Sleepe rare Tragoedian Shakespeare, sleep alone.
Thy vnmolested peace, vnshared Caue,
Possesse as Lord not Tenant of thy Graue,
That vnto us and others it may be
Honor hereafter to be layde by thee.
This poem, as quoted by Sir Edmund Chambers, is to be found as Lansdowne MS. 777, f. 67v, and was written at
some time between 1616 and 1623. Basse (c. 1583-1653) was an Oxford student and a retainer of Lord Wenman of
Thame. Webster's Biographical Dictionary identifies him as an English poet, writer of Sword and Buckler (1602) and
best known for his Epitaph on Shakespeare (as above transcribed); he is also remembered as the author of the
Angler's Song as quoted by Izaac Walton.
It now appears that William Basse dared to spell Bacon's name in his elegy for Shakespeare. We shall take the initial
letters of each of the five capitalized words which just precede Shakespeare's name, in the twelfth line of Basse's
poem, and enter them in reverse order as ciphertext letters:
T S V A I
V T Y B K 1
Y V A C L 2
A Y B D M 3
B A C E N 4
Basse's poem is redundant with interesting numbers such as, "For, fowerfold, fowre, For, fourth." Emphasis is
made on this number by these five repetitions; here again are our signals and instructions and we find again Bacon's
signature. This time it is shown as a vanguard of capital letters leading to Shakespeare's opentext name, and they
spell once more an identification of the real author: "BACEN."
Bacon seems to have toyed with another cipher described by Trithemius. We will recall from an earlier chapter that
Trithemius suggested a method in which every other letter of the words in a message were to be read. The words
themselves were invented to suit the cipher. To avoid suspicion they had to be brought into the text as a conjurors
incantation; otherwise they were meaningless. The first and last words were nulls and the plaintext gave the key for
the decryption of a following cipher. Here is how Professor Shumaker illustrated it:
PAMERSIEL ANOYR MADRISEL EBRASOTH EAN ABRULGES
ITRASBIEL NADRES ORMENUITULES RABLON HAMORPHIEL.
Let us consider an italicized poem from "The Tempest" which begins on line 185, Act II, Scene ii. Caliban, "a savage
and deformed slave" sings it "drunkenly":
Cal. No more dams I'le make for fish,
Nor fetch in firing, at requiring,
Nor scrape trenchering, nor wash dish,
Has a new Master, get a new Man
There is a purpose to this silliness, as we shall see. We will take all the capitalized words, beginning on the third
line, and string them together:
N O R B A N B A N C A C A L Y B A N H A S M A S T E R M A N
O P S C B O C B O D B D B M A C B O I B T N B T V F S N B O 1
P Q T D C P D C P E C E C N B D C P K C V O C V Y G T O C P 2
Q R V E D Q E D Q F D F D O C E D Q L D Y P D Y A H V P D Q 3
R S Y F E R F E R G E G E P D F E R M E A Q E A B I Y Q E R 4
On the fourth line we find the word "syfer", and when we transcribe every other letter, beginning at the first, we
R Y E F R E E D E M A E B Y E
"RYE" is not particularly helpful, but "FREEDEM" confirms the existence of this "syfer."
Surprisingly enough, the lines just after Caliban's song are as follows:
Sing it again, Cal.
The discovery just described was not without inspiration. My son, Brian Leary, had read a rough draft of my
manuscript and asked for representative title-page facsimiles of other books printed about the time that
SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS were published. I sent him a few and one of them was from a 1609 book by "Francisci
Baconi" which was written in Latin. It reads as follows:
CUNDI, JACOBI REGIS
Ad Inclytam Academiam
The title is "De Sapientia Vetervm Liber," but that was printed seven lines down on the title-page. Just below the
name of the author, printed entirely in capitals, is "EQVITIS AVRATI," alone on the third line. This phrase describes
the author as a knight in golden armor. Such a claim deserves further inspection:
E Q V I T I S A V R A T I
F R Y K V K T B Y S B V K 1
G S A L Y L V C A T C Y L 2
H T B M A M Y D B V D A M 3
I V C N B N A E C Y E B N 4
Reversing the letters in line 4, we notice:
N B E Y C E A N B N C V I
Or, taking the original, unreversed line 4 and writing down every other letter, beginning with the first, the name
I C B A C E N
Yes, Sir Francis, our golden knight, we see. And my own gladiator, Sir Brian, saw it first.
I wondered if Francis Bacon ever again registered his enciphered name upon the pages of his own acknowledged
works. My second edition (1628) of his SYLVA SYLVARVM seemed like a good place to look for it. Bound in at the
end of this volume was his science-fiction essay entitled:
A VVorke vnfinished.
VVritten by the Right Honourable, FRANCIS
Lord Verulam, Viscount St. Alban .
Below these words on the title-page is a very peculiar "emblem." Emblems and books of emblems were common at
that time; these graphic allegories usually consisted of a drawing with a verse, motto or epigram attached. In this
case the drawing shows an anthropomorphic, composite and naked figure. From the waist down this creature has
the attributes of the Greek god Pan; like Pan, he has the shaggy short tail, legs and cloven hooves of a goat, but on
his shoulders sprout wings. The head is human and aged; from the chin dangles a long beard. In his right hand he
holds the scythe of Father Time and he straddles an hour-glass. He stands upon boulders in front of a cave which are
jumbled in a pile; these must have previously blocked the entrance.
Emerging from the cave is an unclothed maiden wearing a crown of bays or laurels. Pan is assisting her; with his
left hand he grips her left wrist. This circular emblem is surrounded by a Latin epigram which reads "OCCVLTA
VERITAS. TEMPORE PATET". Between the second and third word are the intials "RS" with a scroll dividing them.
The translation of the Latin is "Hidden truth comes to light by time."
The maiden must be "Echo," a nymph beloved by Pan in Greek mythology. For some reason she was dismembered
by angry shepherds and her fragments buried, but forever after she could be heard singing underground and
imitating the voices of other vocalists.
In mythology Pan had many characteristics. He was the son of Hermes (the messenger of the gods) and was
worshipped by shepherds as representing the fertility of their flocks. He had the gift of prophecy and was known as
an avenger of wrongs; near Athens there was a cave-shrine for him. In the middle ages he became the patron god of
So here in Bacon's odd emblem we see the central figure of Pan conjoined with Father Time; he has wings because
"time flies." ("Only I carry winged time / Post on the lame feet of my rhyme": Pericles, IV, Gower, 47). He is righting
a wrong by liberating from a cave the maiden Echo who also symbolizes, according to the first two words of the
circumscripted epigram, hidden truth. Might this engraving, so densely filled with ideographic classical allusions, be
another of Francis Bacon's place markers, another of his signals?
There is an apparently meaningless and unnecessary period after the first two words of the Latin maxim, a second
obvious marker. "OCCULTA VERITAS."? "Hidden truth"? Just one more time, let us retranslate these two Latin
ciphertext words. They are found on the page opposite the last leaf of the Baron Verulam's book, his magnificent
contribution to the experimental sciences, his thousand observations of Nature, his SYLVA SYLVARVM :
O C C V L T A V E R I T A S.
P D D Y M V B Y F S K V B T 1
Q E E A N Y C A G T L Y C V 2
R F F B O A D B H V M A D Y 3
S G G C P B E C I Y N B E A 4
Bacon finished SYLVA SYLVARVM in 1624 and it is believed to be his last (avowed) work. In the hundred years
following the first publication in 1627 it went through eleven editions. The New Atlantis was properly bound in at
the end because it was Bacon's fable of the future, the promised Utopia of his scientific philosophy where, on an
uncharted island, men lived in peace. They were relieved of hunger and tormented physical labor through inventions
made possible by scientific induction, experiment and discovery. Between these two works Bacon inserted this
allegorical emblem of Pan-Time and around the edge he engraved in metaphor his signature:
B E C I Y N
Perhaps for the last time he whispered his name. Though his parts lie scattered and figuratively underground, we
can yet hear the poet's voice singing. It is to remind us that Shakespeare only echoed his words and lyrics. Verbatim.
I must add a footnote to the discussion on p. 181 of the curiously inverted capital "B" in "Bote-swaine," the first
word of dialogue in that anomalous 1623 Folio. In 1632 a second edition was issued; it was nearly a replica of the
But the printer, or someone, tampered with the original "B." It was replaced by a different ornamental initial, in this
[Second Edition Initial
Who is that little man hiding behind this letter? Did he light those lamps to help us to read this word? Why does
the smoke rise in the form of two question marks, one reversed? Why are there three toes with claws hanging above
his head? Does his turban suggest an east Indian fakir? Was the original "B" replaced with this abstruse uncial
adornment, half again larger, to draw our attention to something-- perhaps to a concealed name?
It may also be worthwhile to behold the curious emblem shown on the title page of this book. A similar logotype
appeared in the same place in most of the quarto editions of Shakespeare's plays. Notice that the two letter "A"s are
drawn in three dimensions . One "A" can be read forward while the other can be read backward.
Reflect upon that.
[AA Quarto device]