ELS DECRYPTION ­ THE CARDANO GRILL
by David L. Roper

A MATHEMATICALLY BASED PROOF SHOWING THAT
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE IS EDWARD DE VERE

"Provided that independent investigation shows an answer to be unique, and to have been reached by valid means, we shall accept it, however much we shock the learned world by doing so."

(William F. Friedman­ Former senior cryptologist for the US government and a Shakespeare Folger Prize Winner)

The learned world will undoubtedly be shocked to discover that the monument to Shakespeare, which adorns the chancel wall inside the Church of the Holy Trinity at Stratford-upon-Avon contains a covert message to posterity, authenticated by none other than Ben Jonson. It asserts quite unambiguously that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford was the real William Shakespeare. The other man associated with that name, and who has become inextricably associated with his birthplace at Stratford-upon-Avon was employed as a secret cover for the scandalous‹some, even say notorious‹ behavior of this Earl. By providing cover, the man known as William Shakespeare helped prevent de Vere's disgrace spreading in public to his family, among whom was Lord Burghley: the most powerful man in England at that time. In return, William Shakespear's name became at that time, and ever since, unavoidably associated with the greatest literature in England, if not the world.


Encoding secrets using Equidistant Letter Sequencing has a long history. It was famously studied by Sir Isaac Newton, and appears to have been invented many centuries earlier by the Cabbalists. Its purpose was to safeguard secrets. The method employed makes use of a seemingly innocuous text, but by composing the wording in a specific way, it is possible to embody at equal intervals letters that when put together reveal a hidden message.

Gerolamo Cardano (1501-1576) "was the most outstanding mathematician of his time. In 1539 he published two books on arithmetic embodying his popular lectures, the more important being Practica arithmetica et mensurandi singularis ('Practice of Mathematics and Individual Measurements"'. His Ars magna (1545) contained the solution of the cubic equation, for which he was indebted to the Venetian mathematician Niccolò Tartaglia, and also the solution of the quartic equation found by Cardano's former servant, Lodovico Ferrari. His Liber de ludo aleae ('Book on Games of Chance') presents the first systematic computations of probabilities, a century before Blaise Pascal and Pierre de Fermat." (Encylopædia Britannica 2001). His own personal achievement, however, was to invent a system of steganography that still bears his name‹"The Cardano Grille". It was first published in 1550.

"The Cardano grille consists of a sheet of stiff material, such as cardboard, parchment, or metal, into which rectangular holes, the height of the line of writing and of varying lengths, are cut at regular intervals." (The Codebreakers, David Kahn: Scribner, 1996 p.144). "The encoder writes his intended message in the openings, removes the grille, and fills in the remaining space with blind text (nulls), preferably meaningful-seeming. . . . An equidistant letter cipher . . . is the equivalent of a 'simple' Cardano Grille." (The Truth Behind The Bible Code, Dr Jeffrey Satinover: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1997 pp. 96-7).

The inscription inset below, and which concerns six lines of English verse appears beneath the bust of William Shakespeare. The monument itself has been set in place on the wall of the chancel in the Church of the Holy Trinity at Stratford-upon-Avon, and was erected in, or perhaps a little before the year 1623.

STAY PASSENGER, WHY GOEST THOV BY SO FAST,
READ IF THOV CANST, WHOM ENVIOVS DEATH HATH PLAST,
WITH IN THIS MONVMENT SHAKSPEARE: WITH  WHOME,
QVICK NATVRE DIDE: WHOSE NAME, DOTH DECK Ys TOMBE,
FAR MORE, THEN COST: SIEH ALL, YT HE HATH WRITT, 
LEAVES LIVING ART, BVT PAGE, TO SERVE HIS WITT.

Decryption, using Equidistant Letter Sequencing can be approached by numbering the letters in the text to be investigated. Thereafter, a search for Arithmetical Progressions whose representative letters also form words, phrases or sentences in grammatical form can be undertaken. Alternatively, a search can be made for "what is regarded today as the second major form of cryptanalytical technique‹the probable word ... " (Kahn, p.140 supra)].

Rigorous conditions govern any sentence or phrase found by these methods, and these are required to conform to the special criteria laid down by William F. Friedman and his wife Elizebeth before being accepted. William Friedman was considered to be a world authority on cryptography during the first half of the last century, and his reputation endures into the present day.

His first requirement was that "the plain-text solution— [i.e., the secret message]— must make sense, in whatever language it is supposed to have been written; it must be grammatical ('Hearts green slow mud' would not do) and it must mean something ('Pain is a brown Sunday' would not do either)." (The Shakespearean Ciphers Examined, William F. and Elizebeth S. Friedman: Cambridge U.P. 1957 p.20).

Secondly, he stated: "that for a solution to be valid it must be possible to show that it is the only solution." (Friedman, supra p.24).

Within the space of less than four hours, using just pen and paper—no calculating device, but employing a mathematical technique especially devised to decrypt transposition ciphers, the inscription made to commemorate Shakespeare revealed a secret: a Cardano Grille with a quite sensational message that declared Shakespeare was really Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. It is therefore particularly noteworthy that the letter sequence of 34 is twice 17, the number of Oxford's earldom. It is also the 'key' to deciphering the inscription; viz: "To decipher a message [of this type], the recipient must either have a grille identical to the sender's, or must know the spacing rule that created it, if it conforms to a rule. An equidistant letter cipher, . . . is the equivalent of a 'simple' Cardano Grille." (Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, The Truth Behind the Bible Code, p.97; (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1997).

The following grid of thirty-four columns reveals the steganogram—i.e.,—the "Cardano Grille" — and its embedded statement. This can be read vertically from left to right in the conventional manner, or alternatively, by commencing with the numerical order of each leading cell; cluster by cluster, lengthwise.

Ben Jonson's       Cardano Grille

S

T

A

Y

P

A

S

S

E

N

G

E

R

W

H

Y

G

O

E

S

T

T

H

O

V

B

Y

S

O

F

A

S

T

R

E

A

D

I

F

T

H

O

V

C

A

N

S

T

W

H

O

M

E

N

V

I

O

V

S

D

E

A

T

H

H

A

T

H

P

L

A

S

T

W

I

T

H

I

N

T

H

I

S

M

O

N

V

M

E

N

T

S

H

A

K

S

P

E

A

R

E

W

I

T

H

W

H

O

M

E

Q

V

I

C

K

N

A

T

V

R

E

D

I

D

E

W

H

O

S

E

N

A

M

E

D

O

T

H

D

E

C

K

Y

S

T

O

M

B

E

F

A

R

M

O

R

E

T

H

E

N

C

O

S

T

S

I

E

H

A

L

L

Y

T

H

E

H

A

T

H

W

R

I

T

T

L

E

A

V

E

S

L

I

V

I

N

G

A

R

T

B

V

T

P

A

G

E

T

O

S

E

R

V

E

H

I

S

W

I

T

T

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HIM  SO  TEST,  HE  I  VOW  IS  E.  DE  VERE  AS  HE,  SHAKSPEARE:  NAME  I. B. 

Or  

SO  TEST  HIM,   I  VOW  HE  IS  E.  DE  VERE  AS  HE,  SHAKSPEARE:  NAME,  B. I.


"The method's chief defect, of course, is that awkwardness in phrasing may betray the very secret that that phrasing should guard: the existence of a hidden message." (Kahn, supra pp.144-45). The task Jonson set himself was therefore a difficult one, and to accomplish it he was forced to make certain alterations with the spelling of words; sometimes, also abbreviating them, and on one occasion even reversing the word order. The following is a list of the anomalies that occur in the cover text, each of which is essential to complete the message.

  • First to be considered is the word 'WHOM', which the originator later repeated as 'WHOME'. The reason for the added 'E' is so that this can be used for the word 'TEST'. However, by first dropping the 'E', it allows the first letter of 'Envious' to provide the initial 'E' for Edward, this being de Vere's forename. At the same time, it allows the 'A' in 'As' and the 'H' in 'He' to fall correctly into place.

  • Secondly, the word 'THIS' has initially been written in full, but afterwards repeated in the abbreviated form of 'YS'. Again, there is good reason for doing so, because the abbreviation provides the letter 'S' in the word 'TEST'.
  • Next, there is the unnecessary inversion of Shakspeare and Monvment. Not only does this inversion allow the 'V' in 'VERE' to become part of the hidden information, but most importantly, it then allows the name of Shakspeare to join up with the next part of the message.
  • In the sixth line, the encoder returns to the practice of abbreviating words, this time it is 'YT' which replaces 'That'. By shortening this word from four letters to two, it has allowed the letters 'T,H,W, and I', to fall correctly into place.
  • Finally, the alignment in this penultimate line has been further served by the encoder writing the word 'WRIT' as 'WRITT'. The extra 'T' thus ensures that the 'E' in VERE, and the initial 'B' will fall correctly into place.

In the absence of any one of these anomalies, there would be no hidden message, or one so full of exceptions as to be doubted.

As a final demonstration that Jonson's transposition cipher is genuine, and consistent with the scientifically derived probability of it occurring outside the range of chance, the following odds are open to examination. The statistic that any one letter will occur by chance in a piece of written text has been quantified in a paper by Beker and Piper (Simon Singh, The Code Book The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography, p.19: London: Fourth Estate, 1999). Based upon their research, the following probabilities for each word in the monument's hidden declaration can be calculated to one significant figure: So (0·005); Test (0·00007); Him (0·0001); I Vow (0·000001); He (0.008); Is (0.004); E Vere (0·000001); De (0·005); As (0·005); He (0·008); I.B. or B.I (0·002). The probability of obtaining all these words and initials together, in any order, by chance alone is equivalent to just one in two­trillion­trillion­trillion trials. This number increases still further when one takes into account the 11! (39,916,800 ) different ways in which separate sentences can be formed from the words and groupings in Jonson's avowal. In other words, notwithstanding the astronomical odds against these words occurring by chance, there is still a further probability to be considered of almost one in forty million that these words will also come together in a grammatical order that conforms to intelligent design. All things considered, and against such unimaginably vast odds, there can be no plausible doubt that the message on the Cardano Grille is anything other than completely genuine.

In this respect, consider the case of an accused person brought to trial, and found guilty upon evidence that his/her DNA was found at the scene of the crime. Yet the probability of a DNA sample being identical to that of another person has been put at approximately 1,000 000 to 1: forty times less that the words in the Cardano Grille have of coming together in the precise order they have, and a mere fraction of the probability that they would occur at all.
Consequently, the proposition that Shakespeare was in truth, Edward de Vere is placed well beyond all reasonable doubt. A court of law would be bound to find in his favor. It therefore remains only to re-interpret and question more thoroughly the documentary evidence so far put together to suggest otherwise.

Long before the calculation of probabilities had attained its present level of development, the avoidance of coincidence in a decrypted message could be accomplished by repeating its central message, but in a different format. Hence, the curious, if not clumsy term, 'Quick Nature', which forms a bridge uniting Edward de Vere's name with Jonson¹s avowal serves the purpose of adding still further to the information imparted by the transposition cipher.

Importantly, a syllabic code operates similar to Equidistant Letter Sequencing, but instead of taking the first letter of specific words, it is the first syllables that are chosen. When these are joined together in a chain, they spell out a secret message. Jonson, it would seem has employed this strategy, but concealed his intention under the cover of Latin. To understand this subtlety, one must translate 'Quick Nature' into 'Summa Velocium Rerum'. Then, taking only the first syllables, while allowing the rest to fade away; i.e., 'die', — indeed, the inscription has confirmed 'qvick natvre dide' — the statement in Latin emerges: sum vere: in English, (I Am Vere). By repeating de Vere's name at this critical point on the grid, not only by bridging two clusters, but more specifically by preceding 'Quick Nature' with 'ME', this declaration can be extended to read 'Me, I am Vere'. Jonson; i.e., I. B. has therefore confirmed his earlier avowal that de Vere was the writer known as Shakespeare, and then predicated it with the rejoinder: 'him SO TEST, he I VOW IS E. DE VERE AS HE SHAKSPEARE'.

Belief, therefore, that William Shakespeare, born into an illiterate family, with illiterate children of his own, and with little evidence of any but the most basic schooling, then rose to outperform the greatest talents in literature is, and can only be a fairy tale. But it is a lucrative fairy tale to anyone subscribing to it, as may be witnessed by the many books that pour from the presses annually, each one adding to the myth of Shakespeare.


Grateful acknowledgement is given to Rae West for his suggestion relating to the Sonnets address, and to Professor A. W. Burgstahler and John Ruggero for their helpful advice in presenting the decrypted evidence on the Monument to greater effect.

N.B. "Summa rerum ­ the totality of created things, also the totality of atoms, the universe". (Oxford Latin Dictionary). Velox ­ quick, (i) rapid in action or operation; (ii) Of human beings, animals plants, inanimate things. E.g. quickly working (Horace: Epod. 17. 61) &c Cicero, Quintilian, Tacitus, Pliny.


All rights reserved under copyright © D. L. Roper 2000, 2003, 2005.


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