• Repurpose Experiment One to validate the 1895 deciphering by Elizabeth Wells Gallup of The I.M. Poem, the most unbearable, intentionally-wretched Posie to be found within the First Folio.
  • Decode The I.M. Poem using the Biliteral Cipher to reveal key-words to be consumed by the Word Cipher, the poem’s actual but unacknowledged reason-to-be since 1623.

Experiment Fourteen

The primary goal of the New Gorhambury Project is to use computer-aided methods to decode the secret messages hidden by Sir Francis Bacon within the text of the 1623 First Folio of William Shakespeare.

There was a burst of activity in this unusual field of research in the American Midwest in the 1890’s and very early 1900’s. One center of this work was the Riverbank Research Laboratories in Illinois, the nation’s first privately-funded research institute. A series of six Baconian booklets (or “monographs”) were published, and are freely available from this website.

One of them, Fundamental Principles Of The Baconian Ciphers, is opened below to Page 29. At the bottom appears a grid of text of the same form which has been seen already in Experiment One. [Experiment One is replete with background information, and it is not reiterated here].

As in the previous Experiment, we will use computer-aided methods (described below) to validate the encoding in use here.

The following shows the monograph illustration converted into a spreadsheet file:

The following provides documentation of a simple program which reads the spreadsheet file and processes it to reveal the hidden message.

Details of the technical setup in use are given on the Colophon Page.

The kind of document presented here (a Jupyter Notebook) records both the source code of the program (using the Python computer language), and also the output results produced by one execution of the program.

Lab Notebook, “Experiment-14”

The decoded message reads:

search for keyes the headings of the comedies francis baron of vervlam

What Does It Mean?

The I.M. Poem is one of the “Dedicatory Works” at the beginning of the First Folio (“To the Memorie of M. W. Shake-speare”). It is widely accepted to be of no literary merit whatever. Then why was it included in the First Folio?

As explained in Experiment One, our hypothesis is that Sir Francis (a son of the Ruling Class) created a multi-tier cipher system to conceal what he knew about some awful forbidden secrets of the Royal Sovereigns of his time. Revealing any of these during his lifetime would have cost him his life. So he needed a cipher system which would be robust enough to last until after his passing. His life depended on it.

As time progressed, he saw that no one had yet penetrated into even the shallow layers of his Cryptographic Labyrinth, and with the years passing, he feared his secrets would die with him. So the 1623 First Folio contains the final, progressively urgent clues he was able to provide to Posterity (all of us living today).

The existing text of the Plays of the First Folio was already so riddled with interlocking ciphers that to attempt splicing-in more clues, so late in the game, would have required large scale re-engineering of the whole work. Instead he provided hints and clues in lesser, vapid, brief standalone works such as the Prologues to some of his plays (which were tacked on at the beginning of some works, such as Troilous and Cressida); and also, in such valueless trifles as the dedicatory poem, The I.M, Poem.

For additional discussion, please see Experiment One, which acted as the template for this one.

View more quotes from Sir Francis directed to his future Decipherer

What is meant by, “Headings of the Comedies”?

The First Folio has a Catalogue page divided into three parts, Comedies, Histories and Tragedies:

The Comedies section has a Heading, an ornate uppercase “T” which looks intentionally out of place. The other sections don’t have one, it is awkward in the visual sense, and the Tempest can hardly be considered a Comedy.

It is our hypothesis that this is the Headings of the Comedies that Sir Francis was urgently trying to draw attention to.

Where are the embedded “keye-wordes”?

In Bacon’s era, when an author wished to tease readers that an additional, hidden text existed for them to take an interest in, and perhaps be motivated enough to try to decode, they would provide a ‘Virtual Wink’, which could appear in many forms. An intentional error of some kind is one device, such as a spelling error, especially if there is only one such error on the enclosing page.

As Petter Amundssen so brilliantly pointed out, the virtual wink could be an anomalous repetition of word occurrence: there is a place in the First Folio where the word ‘Mercy’ is repeated five times in a cluster, and positioned on the pages in such an ultra-precise way that an arc of one certain circle could be drawn though the exact centers of all of them. But that in turn points to the word pointed to by the pointy end of the drawing Compass. And the Compass is one of the two holy instruments of the secret society, the Freemasons (of which Bacon was Grand Master). And this particular cascade continues, becoming, perhaps, the most mind-bending of any yet discovered, since at some point it starts incorporating knowledge of the constellations in the nighttime sky to point to some specific location on Earth across the ocean…

Thus there can be a cascade of hints and clues which use a series of different media types in turn — maybe the text leads to a geometric figure, which in turn leads to a number, which is a page number, and the cascade continues after turning to that page.

The Hermeticist Dennis William Hauck explains how in ancient times, initiates-to-be to secret societies would have to prove themselves worthy by solving some deep riddle, and the subterranean layers of the First Folio would appear to be an extremely complex instance of that.

So our hypothesis is that some exceptionally important “keye-wordes” are embedded somehow into the ornate Catalogue ‘T’. But how?

There may be a precedent, The Initial ‘B’ of the text of the Tempest.

One of the most popular ‘Virtual Wink’ devices is using the very first element in a book or other document as the immediate focus, it’s there that the search for these winks will gain the best results. The ‘very first thing’ could be text or an image (copperplate engraving), or something else, cunning in its being so mundane as to pass by unnoticed.

The ornate upper case B in question is the first letter of the first word of the first line of the first page of the First Folio. It uses an anomalous spelling of an archaic nautical term whose first letter is also the first letter of Bacon’s name. Petter Amundssen describes additional dimensions to this already-exotic initial letter.

Maybe it’s special?

The name “Francis Bacon” concealed in the scrollwork

from: sirbacon.org

In 1931 an American woman presented this possible interpretation of two embedded key words, ‘Francis Bacon’.

And best of all, it’s been concealed in plain sight for 400 years, it’s easy to imagine Sir Francis having a good laugh at the expense of everyone in the Future. It was “over the heads” of the many, but only noticed by the most intensely curious among generations in the future.

What is meant by, “Key Words”?

Bacon’s Cipher Autobiography is implemented by two cipher-methods of his own invention, the Biliteral Cipher (today, the “Binary Code”) and his Word Cipher. Experiment Eleven is a work-in-progress which attempts to synthesize the pathetically sparse tidbits available about the Word Cipher into a reverse-engineering of it.

Dr. Orville Owen discovered in the 1890’s that within the Word Cipher, global Guide Words point to Key Words which in turn delimit unencrypted snippets of text, which as a final step are concatenated into the decoded Secret Message.

Throughout, clusters of word repetitions, Key Words, are used to wrap around public, unencrypted text snippets. There are four global Guide Words:

  • Fortune
  • Reputation
  • Honour
  • Nature, alternately Natura or Pan (god of Nature).

The Guide Words are supposedly in global use across cipher methods, that is, in both Biliteral and Word ciphers.

Fortune is in some way first among the Guide Words. This might possibly mean, Begin hunting in the Play which has the largest anomalous cluster of the word ‘Fortune’.

Ongoing is development of programs for Cluster Detection. An existing application is from shakespearewords.com, notice here the frequency of the single word Fortune. Though a more complete view comes from opensourceshakespeare.org, which documents where it occurs in associated word families.

Isn’t this an unlikely superabundance of this one word within the 900+ pages?

What’s the frequency of this word in comparable written works of the period, such as scripts of non-Baconian stage plays? What if there is a drastic difference?


View the Jupyter Notebook: the experimental commands used here, and the results recorded.

View and download the Python source code from Github.

Independently run this experiment on Google Colab, or create a clone of it to run on a Colab account of your own.

How’s this for Transparency and Repeatability?

Notes for this page:

Copyright © 2023 New Gorhambury

The Tudor Rose

Respectfully dedicated to A. Phoenix, whoever you are

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