Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Cyphers,” Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, February 26, 1840, p. 4, col. 3-5 and p. 2, col 4


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[page 2, column 2:]

CYPHERS.

We have on hand one or two letters from enigmatical friend to which we cannot attend, this week, owing to a press of business. In our next they shall hear from us in full. Incog. is over-hasty, and must read what we said again. We meant no offence in t world, and thought we were sufficiently careful in so wording our article as not to give any.

 

 

[page 2, column 3:]

CYPHERS AGAIN.

A press of business has prevented us, for one or two weeks past, from paying attention to our enigmatical correspondents — favors from several of whom we have on hand. We now proceed to square all accounts by a full solution of every thing received.

The first cypher we take up runs as follows:

2.9.14.7.8.1.13.20.15.14 2 18.15.15 13 5. 3 15.

21.14.20 25. 1.16 189.12 1st 1840. 6.18. 15.13.

25 15 21.18.6.18 25.14.4. 8 5 14.18.25

The translation is. — Binghampton, Broome county, N. Y. — your friend, Henry.

We are happy in having it in our power to oblige our friend at Terre Coupee. His cypher is thus read:

The wind blows hard, the thunder rolls,

Among the trees the lightnings gleam,

The rain in torrents sweep along,

The God of storms now reigns supreme.

The wind is hushed, the air is sweet,

Now Sol resumes his wonted splendor —

This Messenger’s a handsome sheet;

Its boss must be a son of Endor.

Our patriot fathers bravely fought,

Our rights preserved, our freedom won,

Their sons will guard the sacred gift —

Decipher this, and I am done.

We now come to a letter from Kalida, Ohio, written in characters for which we have no type in the office, but of which the translation is thus:

Sir, Sometime since I forwarded to you the money for eleven copies of the “Weekly Messenger,” for the last three weeks, but only ten copies have been received at this office. Yours,

F. RISLEY.

 

We have attended to the matter.

 

Another communication is dated from Philadelphia, and is as follows:

Dear Sir: — I have seen for some time with astonishment, and I must say with doubt, your wonderful solutions of hieroglyphical writing; and so great has been my skepticism, that I have determined to test your powers with the above articles, both original. If you succeed in solving them I shall certainly suggest the propriety of employing you to read all the despatches, written in cypher, that may be intercepted during the course of the Bloodhound War. Respectfully yours,

HAMILTON BROWN.

 

For the first we have no type — but we presume one will satisfy Mr. Brown.

C’WW WPB VKI WPYKIY UN BI VKONJ

C’WW NZV BI W VKI XIEB DZCNJ

PFL WPJI BI YVPEV

IPNK AUWWB YKPWW EINIOXI MB YVCFL

IPNK UCNI ZFW MB AIIV CWW GECFL

PFL MPJI CV YMPEV.

of which the meaning is —

I’ll lay the lash on ye thick,

I’ll cut ye to the very quick,

And make ye start,

Each folly shall receive my sting,

Each vice unto my feet I’ll bring.

And make it smart.

To INCOG, we reply, that we must decline, for the present, a full explanation of our method of solution, but will speak upon the subject hereafter in a way which will convince him that he has only partially understood the matter. We say again deliberately that human ingenuity cannot concoct a cypher which human ingenuity cannot resolve.

Lafayette, Ind., April 9, 1840.

MR. C. ALEXANDER.

Dear Sir. — Having ever since I commenced taking your interesting and valuable paper, noticed a disposition with you to oblige your subscribers, permit me to take advantage of that disposition, and respectfully request of you the solution of the following puzzle, which will, no doubt, satisfy a few of your subscribers in this place that you solve them honestly, of which I have no doubt. Very respectfully

Yours, &c.,  
“LITTLE RICH.”

The translation is —

The battle field of Tippecanoe has become classic ground. The American traveller pauses there to contemplate a scene which has become hallowed by victory. The people of Indiana contemplate with pride the battle ground on which their militia won imperishable honor, and their infant State became enrolled in the ranks of patriotism.

At the bottom of the cypher we find the three mysterious words “I recon not” — spelling as we give it.

 


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Notes:

These notices were first attributed to Poe by Clarence S. Brigham in Edgar Allan Poe’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, 1943, pp. 68 and 70-73.


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[S:0 - AWM, 1840] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc. - Cyphers