Lab Notebook, “Experiment-11”
It is the object of the writer to give to the readers of Bacon
iana a report of his investigations of the work of DrOwen
U.S.A. who claims to have found the true method
of deciphering various writings by Francis Bacon concealed
in his acknowledged works in the Folio of 1623 and the works of Spenser Marlowe Peele and Green. As a subscriber to Bacon
iana and one intensely interested in whatever may possibly lead to a more extended knowledge on the subject the writer has felt that any publications which claimed so boldly the attention of all students of Shakespeare and Bacon
ought to be carefully and impartially looked into and the results
as impartially stated in Bacon
iana. Therefore the visits to DrOwen
workshop in Detroit
have been more frequent and more prolonged than they would have been for mere personal satisfaction. It is one thing to understand a matter like this and quite another to present it as it should be and tell others what they are to think. As to the latter I make no pretensions but it seems best to present the case just as it is as before an open court and permit every one to be his own judge and draw his own conclusion.
The first volume of Sir Francis Bacon
Cipher Story by DrOwen
appeared in 1893 and has been followed by a number of other volumes. All these DrOwen
claims to have deciphered by the same method
aided by two or three assistants who have been trained by him. The first book created a great deal of interest comparatively few found the book acceptable. Belief confidence faith
were of course enormously overmatched by disbelief incredulity doubt and suspicion. The great majority of readers said nothing probably fearing to be committed. A large number rushed into print to indignantly and scornfully reject the book to name its author as a madman and a swindler desirous of selling his wares in a sensational manner and to warn people against what he had done or might ever do. Much of the correspondence was from avowed Bacon
ian who wished to protect Bacon reputation
from being sullied with publications in his name which they considered in every respect unworthy of him unlike him and in the highest degree improbable. If public attention could have been concentrated on the method
rather than the results
. in the writers opinion it would have been better for DrOwen the discoverer of the cipher
The doctors say that inflammation
and that there is no inflammation
without a cause for it. It was the heat
displayed that attracted the writer attention. Evidently so much inflammation
could not be caused by a splinter. The indications were so numerous and so persistent as to create the conviction that there must be unusual strength either in the book or its author. An absolute humbug would have died easily while in this case opposition and conference were openly invited. Therefore it seemed worth while to read the book and open a correspondence with the author. This led to an invitation to visit his workshop and to see the wheel and the exact method
s employed. Accordingly in February 1893 the writer went to Detroit
made no hesitation in answering questions and in explaining anything that seemed obscure. The writer stated the purpose of his visit namely that having read Yol. 1 he wished to ascertain how much was true or false and if he found it necessary to proclaim the affair a sham he should unhesitatingly do so he wished especially to ask DrOwen
whether it would not have been an evidence of better faith to have made public his cipher method at the start and thus have forestalled criticism
accepted the conditions stating that later on the writer should answer his own question and at once introduced him to the room where stands the wheel. Here three assistants two being typewritists were engaged in deciphering in accordance with DrOwen method
. The wheel and the cipher method key-word
s and their concordents have been explained in Bacon
iana of April 1895. DrOwen
was at that time doing no work beyond criticising results
for two of his assistants had long since become perfectly familiar with the method
. To test the accuracy of the method
relating to the Story of the Spanish Armada afterwards published by DrOwen
was given to the writer who was shown how to proceed.
With pencil in hand he copied about one hundred lines from various parts of the wheel following the key-word
s and then put these disconnected sentences and parts of sentences together in such a way as to make an intelligible statement
without adding a word. Having finished he was about to read aloud the result when DrOwen
stopped him and taking from a drawer a type-written manuscript the existence of which the writer did not know read it also aloud. The two copies corresponded almost exactly and the differences proved to be slight errors in copying on the part of the writer. Other shorter tests were made and the writer soon after left reserving his opinion until he had time to think it over and had found opportunity to investigate independently as to whether some new law of rhetoric were not involved. The thing was at all events extremely puzzling and if a fraud there were at least six persons living up to an ingenious and elaborate lie and committed to this attitude for some time to come. That any considerable number of reputable people should be party to so gigantic a lie is almost beyond belief assuming that DrOwen could as he of course stoutly maintains prove the existence of his method to any impartial mind beyond a doubt
Vol. 1 made it plain that one of two things was true either DrOwen
invented the matter contained in that book and then proceeded to hunt for scattered sentences all through the Folio Bacon
acknowledged works Spenser Peele Green and Marlowe laboriously fitting these sentences together so as to make continuous sense which sense must also conform to the plot of the book he was inventing or else he had a method
which enabled him in some mechanical way to find these sentences and put them together. Either fact was of sufficient importance to bring down showers of applications for more light. Hitherto DrOwen
had explained his method
s to but a few trusted friends and to his co-workers being satisfied beyond a doubt he would have run a great risk that of having some other decipherer using the disclosed method bring out rival books
. So little being generally known there always has been a plentiful lack of faith
of course Most people disbelieve in DrOwen method
Since his first visit the writer has devoted much time to cipher
s has investigated DrOwen method
in a number of directions and notwithstanding the fact that DrOwen results
are in some degrees astounding and unconformable with history there still remains no escape from the above conclusion. Every candid reader however great his indignation at statement
s controverting history or preconceived notions of his own must admit that one of the two above statement
s is a statement
of facts. There is no middle course.
With this in mind and having explained the result of the first visit to a number of friends who impatiently reviled the whole affair to others who refrained from doing so from motives of politeness and to a few who followed DrOwen
the writer determined about two years after his first visit to make another trip to DrOwen
workshop. During these two years DrOwen
had been constantly under fire the newspapers gave great prominence to the fact that they did not accept his discoveries. Some frequently expressed their opinion that though his method
s were not capable of being readily explained they could not be disposed of with a word—yet that his published books seemed in many ways ridiculous. Some few people who were denied access immediately became violently antagonistic.
The first impulse in almost every case in the writer experience has been to disbelieve in DrOwen results
so thoroughly as to give their words and manners every appearance of personality. Much in the same way rabid and bigoted Shakespearians answer a Bacon
ian arguments by calling him a lunatic. It was to be expected that some people would without enquiry regard DrOwen
whole career with adamant suspicion but many thoughtful readers will be more fairminded.
In spite of abuse and of the fact that merely from a financial aspect the difficulty of carrying on the work was stupendous DrOwen
kept on with it. This task of constantly defending himself while spending many hours at the workshop was a tremendous strain and his health gave out under it. Finally he was obliged to give up work and to go to Colorado to recruit his health. He was absent from his workshop for several months and after his return to Detroit
did not revisit it or superintend the work oftener than once or twice during several months but his assistants went on deciphering without consulting him.
This fact is so startling that it deserves further attention. It is therefore proper for the writer to say that he was in a position to know when and how long DrOwen
was in Colorado. On the writer third visit to Detroit
December 1895 he was at once admitted to the workshop and spent several hours there before DrOwen
made his appearance. During that time he was permitted to see anything that he asked to see all questions that he asked were answered freely and explanations made. He satisfied himself from the testimony of the clerks and the members of the publishing firm as well as from the testimony of individuals in Detroit
personally known to him and familiar with DrOwen
movements that formally months DrOwen
had nothing whatever to do with the deciphering which was going on in his absence but that this work was actually done by two and sometimes three of his assistants one of whom had been with him from the beginning and two others who had been taught later. From all this it follows that DrOwen method
is capable of being readily explained to others and it does not require that they should be familiar as DrOwen
is with Shakespeare plays or Bacon
A part of the work upon which DrOwen
assistants were engaged at the time of the writer last visit was the deciphering of the translation of the Iliad from the wheel. The writer has always been since his university days familiar with Homer both in the original and translation and it required but a few moments to find out that DrOwen
assistants were none of them in the least conversant with the Iliad. Upon examining a large pile containing about 2000 sheets of large foolscap covered with extracts made from the various works above mentioned the writer became satisfied much to his surprise that these notes contained many passages from the Iliad some obscure and not to be recognized by any one unfamiliar with the Iliad from beginning to end unless that person had some guide like a key-word
to go by. The writer readily satisfied himself that DrOwen
assistants were not capable from their own knowledge of picking out these different quotations or extracts from the Iliad and in point of fact it is improbable that there are many people in the world who could take up Bacon
works and the folio of 1G23 and run a pencil around extracts from the Iliad often or wherever they appear. The knowledge necessary for such a task is obviously far above that of the average reader.
This demonstration is a difficult one to deal with from the standpoint of any one disinclined to accept the existence of such a cipher method
but a change of mind may perhaps come from the consideration of the facts here presented as they appeared to the writer who endeavoured to conduct the investigation as impartially as possible.
In this particular portion of the investigation there is no question of partiality or impartiality but merely of facts.
There seems no escape from the conclusion that DrOwen
has discovered a method
of deciphering which in the case of the translation of the Iliad at all events is producing something which can be compared with an accepted work and which therefore will bring the question upon a higher plane. Thus far the world has been asked to accept as a demonstration of his method
books or decipherings which conflict with history with public prejudices and which were for most people absolutely beyond possible acceptance. If however DrOwen
is able later as he expects to be to make a translation of the Iliad in which as marginal notes he proposes to give the source of every quotation naming the chapter and page or the act and scene he will then have placed in the hands of all readers a demonstration which each may investigate in his own way. It is expected that this work will appear some time during the present year. An example of it all that the writer could obtain permission to publish is given in the following translation and along side of it other translations of a similar portion of the poem * —
* The references to tho lines in the various plays are not given by Mr. Millet. We have traced the following
No sooner lmd god Phoebus’ bright some beams Begun to dive within the western seas
And darksome Nox had spread about the earth Her blackish mantle but a drowsy sleep
Did take possession of the Grecian youths Greene
And all the night in silver sleep they spent. Spenser But all so soon as the all cheering sun
Should in the farthest East begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora bed Romeo and Juliet The Greeks have wind at will the waters rise Pcclc
For has not the divine Apollo said Winter’s Talc
‘ Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast Henry IV. The sails of sandal spread unto the wind Greene
I promise you calm seas auspicious gales
And sail so expeditious that shall catch Your royal fleet far off.* Tempest
But Peleus* valiant son the great Archilles Peele The ornament of great Jove progeny Spenser Wrath kindled in the furnace of his breast Marlowe That now no more of arms this warrior would Peele Nor this so noble and so fair assembly
Of noble heroes frequent. Shakespeare
translation according to DrOwen
If the reader will compare this with half a dozen accepted translations he will find that they all differ very largely in the degree of freedom. The use of the word frequent will be found in but one other case namely Buckley translation—which we give.
“That day was held divine…
And spent in peans to the Sun who heard with pleased ear
When whose bright chariot stoop’d to sea and twilight held the clear
All soundly on their cables slept even till the night was worn
And when the lady of the light the rosy finger’d morn
Rose from the hills all fresh arose and to the camp retired
Apollo with a fore-right wind their swelling bark inspired.
The topmast hoisted milk-white sails on his round breast they put
. . That day was held divine
And spent in peans to the Sun who heard with pleased ear
Line 6. Fairy Queen vi. Canto is. Stanza 22.
„ 7—9. Rom. Jul. i. 1 139— 141.
Lino 14—16. The Tempest v. 1 314— 316.
„ 10. . 11. „ 12.
The Talc of Troy. p. 554. Winter’s Talc v. 1 37.
2 Hen. IV. iii. 118.
„ 28. „ 21. „ 22.
Part2. Tamburlaine . 1.
Talc of Trot/.
Hen. VIILi. 4 67. All’s Welli\. 139.
The mizens strooted with the gale the ship her course did cut
So swiftly that the parted waves against her ribs did rore.
* * * * *
But Pelcurs’ son swift-footed Achilles at his swift ships sate
Burning in wrath nor ever came to councils of estate
That men make honor
’d never trod the fierce embattail’d field.
—Chapman translation 1598.
But when the sun had set and darkness came on then they slept
near the hawsers of their ships. But when the mother of dawn rosy- fingered morning appeared straightway then they set sail for the spacious camp of the Aehmans and to them far-darting Apollo sent a favourable gale. But they erected the mast and expanded the white sails. . . . But the Jove-sprung son of Pilcus swift-footed Achilles continued his wrath setting at his swift ships nor ever did he frequent the assembly of noble heroes nor the fight.
-—Literal translation by Theodore Alois Buckley.
In regard to DrOwen
personally the writer has entire confidence in his honesty and in his earnestness. Opportunity was taken during his first visit to Detroit
in 1893 to meet unknown to him a number of his friends and acquaintances and to ascertain what was his reputation
with people not his friends. This was done for the reason that a number of persons in the East writing for newspapers had openly asserted that lie was a charlatan and an impostor aud it therefore seemed proper that the writer should inform himself. It was found without exception that the highest character of honesty and probity was given to DrOwen
by all who had had any dealings with him the only thing said against him was that he was a Bacon
ian and therefore a crank.
In closing the writer would ask the reader to refer once more to the two facts which every investigator will ultimately have to face namely either DrOwen
is inventing these books making up out of his own head the plans of them or else he has found a cypher method
. If the reader wishes to assume that all that the writer has ascertained is a mistake that the writer is not for any reason capable of investigating and making an impartial and intelligent report such a reader may be assured that the writer will not quarrel with his conclusion but will in turn request such a reader to take up the only remaining conclusion namely that DrOwen
invented these various books. A few moments spent on that proposition with two or three of DrOwen
decipherings on the table will satisfy the reader that any man who can construct these books by putting together disconnected sentences from the various works named is indeed a marvel.
That he could also teach his assistants to do this would be still more
marvellous. That lie could teach them for example to quickly select in any one of about 800 references to honor
in the concordance of the Folio of 1623 that particular one which will exactly fit into the sentence then being constructed would be certainly very extraordinary. The further the reader investigates this proposition the more he will be amazed for if it be true DrOwen
is to be credited with intellectual powers so remarkable as to amount to genius and he should be accredited accordingly and judged by the same standard as other geniuses. One critic who had been particularly severe was invited to Detroit
with expenses paid and he was challenged to expose the fraud. He declined the challenge not wishing to travel so far with so little confidence he should however
in fairness have taken it
When the writer is asked whether he accepts all DrOwen
has written he says unhesitatingly that he does not. He furthermore is of the opinion that it is not necessary that these decipherings should be accurate statement
s of fact as it is possible that the decipherings should contain a double meaning which when found would be the main statement
of fact. This was the common way. The writer does however feel as sure as it is possible for anyone to feel in a matter of this land that DrOwen
has discovered a method
which can be taught to his assistants and which is so mechanical that they although ignorant of the Iliad are enabled to pencil extracts from it the moment they see them in the works above mentioned.
It will be remembered that the Omnia per Omnia cipher invented by Francis Bacon
was made up entirely of the use of two letters a and b. It was a very laborious task to write a long letter by this method
because five letters were used to indicate one letter of the alphabet. DrOwen
cipher depending entirely upon key-word
s or concordents and key-word
s growing out of them is such a method
as can be readily conceived Francis Bacon
would naturally have invented as a sequel to the Omnia per Omnia.
It grows out of it. The practicability of this method
has been very thoroughly illustrat
ed by the work of several amateurs in Detroit
who in response to a prize offered by a Detroit
newspaper wrote a series of live stories in which was concealed
a sixth and this sixth story was to he found by the use of DrOwen
. It was required of the successful competitor to write out the sixth story without any assistance and a number were able to do so thus demonstrating that without altering the sense without changing the construction or without hampering himself in any way apparent to the reader the author of these five stories was able to conceal in them a sixth readily deciphered after the method
was known but entirely different in construction and meaning. In this particular case the sixth or hidden story was a poem of some length.
signed J.B. Millett
Note.—In the preceding article the writer has concealed
in which he gives his opinion as to the course which Dr. Owen should have followed when he made his first announcement. This statement
is enclosed in accordance with the method
which Dr. Owen claims to have discovered, and by which he is producing his decipherings as above narrated. It has been impossible to present anything but a very simple and rigid illustrat
ion of the method
—and imperfect at that. The desire to illustrat
e only the very foundation of the method
has made the task difficult, and the results
not altogether satis factory to the writer. But, in any event, it illustrat
es how easily this cipher method
may be concealed
and with what security. The key words are plainly given and relate (as they should) distinctly to the subject itself and the attitude of the public mind toward it. It is only necessary to find the key-word
s, copy a word or two which precede, and all that follows in each case, and then fit such fragments together so as to make a continuous statement
. The key-word
s may be omitted or exchanged in making the concealed statement
. The solution will be given in the next number of Bacon