Fun with Baconian Ciphers
For the moment we’ll leave significant page numbers so we can focus on the number 111 for a time. Thus far I’ve only mentioned it three times, first in relation to the word “Free”, then in the last column word count on the last page of Hamlet and later in relation to “Francis Sea-coale”.
35) It appears to be used in a Bacon cipher on pages 124-125 (of the Comedies) of the play Loves Labour’s Lost, beginning near the bottom of the second column, where we have the following exchange of dialogue:
Boy. I will praise an Eele with the same praise.Brag. What ? that an Eele is ingenuous.
Boy. That an Eeele is quicke.
Brag. I doe say thou art quicke in answeres. Thou heat’st my bloud.
Boy. I am answer’d sir.
Brag. I love not to be crost. [crossed].
Boy. He speakes the meere contrary, crosses love not him.
Br. I have promis’d to study iij [iii=3] yeres [years]with the Duke.
Boy. You may doe it in an houre sir.
Boy. How many is one thrice told?
Bra. I am ill at reckoning, it fits the spirit of a Tapster.
Boy. You are a gentleman and a gamester sir.
Brag. I confesse both, they are both the varnish of a compleat man.
Boy. Then I am sure you know how much the grosse summe of dues-ace amounts to.
Brag. It doth amount to one more then two.
Boy. Which the base vulgar call three.
Boy. Why sir is this such a peece of study?
Now here’s three studied, ere you’ll thrice wink, & how
easie it is to put yeres to the word three, and study three
yeeres in two words, the dancing horse will tell you.
First, we grant that at the surface level of the play the word “Eele” refers to the slippery and quick fish. On another level there is some speculation that the dialogue also refers to what is called the Harvey-Nash Quarrel. But then looking at it from the cryptographic level, that a “gamester” may employ, we can see why this word was given extra emphasis.
The word “Eele” can be pronounced, or at least signal, the letter “L”. And there are three of them in quick succession giving LLL or in small case lll. Each ‘L’ in both the simple and Kay cipher has a value of ‘11’. So together they sum to ‘33’or ‘Bacon’. A short bit later we have the question “How many is one thrice told?” This can be “3” but the line isn’t talking about summing up three ones. Rather it emphasizes a repeated one “thrice told”. This is more likely to mean “111”, the Kay value for “Bacon”. The next line is “I am ill at reckoning, it fits the spirit of a Tapster.” If you recall, in Henry IV, part one, the tapster’s name was “Francis” and this tapster’s “spirit” shows up now and then around coded numbers for his name.
Then is asked “How much the grosse summe of dues-ace amounts to” giving ‘3’. This sets up the line “Now here’s three studied, ere you’ll thrice wink” which can be meant to connect the two three’s and have “33”, and again suggest the Simple value for “Bacon”. The following line also has the number three mentioned twice. And this with what could be the number 111 represented twice. It may just be fortuitous this time that the number 33 can combine with the page number 124 to connect to the significant number 157.
Again, the suspicion may be that this is all a bit involved and hard to believe that it is a contrived hidden signature. However, part of what seems to be Bacon’s intent is to both display his wit while also providing clues to discovery. But if you've read this whole paper from the beginning it should all seem rational to you by now. And now look at the very next lines on the following page (125). They are:
Brag. A most fine Figure.Boy. To prove you a Cypher.
or if that link is balky, you can try this one. Just click on the magnifying icon (if necessary) for a better read:
The word play on letters and numbers in this play doesn’t end there.