Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Puzzles Again,” Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, March 25, 1840, p. 2, col. 6


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[page 2, column 6:]

PUZZLES AGAIN!

Greenville, Butler county, Ala.

Mr. C. ALEXANDER.

Dear Sir. — As there is great interest taken in your very valuable paper in this part of the country, and especially with regard to the puzzling part of it, I shall be obliged if you will decypher and publish the following. I do not presume it to be more difficult to solve than many others, but sufficiently so, if solved, to satisfy myself and others at this section of the country, of your ability to explain any thing of the kind.

Very respectfully yours,  
JOHN K. HENRY.

It will give us great pleasure to oblige Mr. Henry. His cypher reads thus:

D67ε;002)7.U   )177¿3;007☞*D071☜.*¿0k2]   2☞242,   ,8   2☞.*D-¿7   6*¿wl7   w2¿wU.   lDk4;078   Ul.4 D67   ☜Dk .U4.☞;07·

The translation is thus:

The village of Greenville, Butler county, Alabama, is about one hundred and forty miles from the city of Mobile.

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TO INCOG, of Ithaca, N. Y. Your first cypher is thus translated:

Selected for Alexander’s Messenger.

If that high word which lies beyond

Our own surviving love endures —

If there the cherished hearts be fond

The eye the same except in tears —

How welcome those untrodden spheres!

How sweet this very hour to die!

To soar from earth and find all fears

Lost in thy light, Eternity!

In regard to the second we reply at once — it is not genuine. There is no word in the English language which ends as your word hbjggg terminates — with three similar letters. This point is perfectly conclusive. Incog will, of course, not understand us to say that he intentionally wished to deceive us. We mean only to say that this puzzle, which may be genuine enough in its way, (and which, indeed, we know very well to be so) is not of the kind for which we stipulated, but belongs to Cryptography — as did Mr. K’s, of whom he makes mention. Incog will see at once that we are obliged to keep within some limits. Were we to engage in the solution of every kind of puzzle sent us, we should have our hands full. We said that we could and would solve every cypher, of a stipulated character, which we should receive, and we have kept our pledge more than ten times over. So much for ourselves. In regard to the Cryptography, Incog is altogether mistaken — it is subject, like almost every thing else, to the universal rules of analysis. We can decypher any thing of the kind, or of any other kind. What is said about a key being necessary for the solution is based upon a misconception. It does not follow that, because cyphers are put together by laborious or intricate processes (as many have been which we have received and solved) that we must go through the same intricate process in unriddling them. We assert roundly, and in general terms, that human ingenuity cannot concoct a proper cypher which we cannot resolve.

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Our friends would very much oblige us by acknowledging the solutions we have given, as requested in our last. Not one can say that he has forwarded us a cypher, which we have not fully and accurately translated.

Mr. J. Lucas, of Mount Holly, requests us to state that the answer to an Enigma sent in a cyphy [[cypher]] by him (and of which we gave the translation some weeks since) was not his own name, although that might answer, but was intended for the name of another subscriber, Mr. Jos. P. Wills.

We have not yet found time to look at Hamilton Brown’s cypher, but will attend to it hereafter.

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†††   ||††?||   ,—   ☜,||††]s||   (?)†   ☜,||††]s||   .   ,†(*—   ☜,||††]s||   ¶],(   ☜,||††]s||   ¶]s(||-⊥⊥,—   —||,   ☜☜   ?||   ☜†?—||   ?   )?(   ?(*   †††   ||††?||   ††?—?☜☜   ||†††—†   —   (]   )]   †

OLD POINT COMFORT }

March 16th, 1840. }

Mr. ALEXANDER.

Sir: — Not doubting your capability to solve the above (if we may judge from the many curious specimens of the kind, which have appeared in your valuable paper) rather as a proof of your infallibility to some doubting minds, you would much oblige a number of your subscribers by inserting the above with its solution.

Yours, with respect,  
J. T. G.

With pleasure the translation is thus:

He that is without name, without friends, without coin, without country, is still at least a man, and he that has all these is no more.

 


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Notes:

This item was first attributed to Poe by Clarence S. Brigham in Edgar Allan Poe’s Contributions to Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, 1943, pp. 60-62.

Due to limitations in available character sets, it has been necesssary to make some minor replacements in the crytograms as presented above. In place of a backwards and upside down numeral 3, a Greek epsilon (ε) has been used. In place of inverted daggers, a perpendicular (⊥) symbol has been used. Because these substitutions have been made consistently, and the symbols were not otherwise being used, the integrity of the cryptogram has not be adversely affected.

 

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