Text: Edgar Allan Poe, “Cyphers,” Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, April 29, 1840, page 2, col. 4


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[page 2, column 4:]

CYPHERS.

We have just received the following.

New Carlisle, Pa., April 9th, 1840.

C. ALEXANDER. — Dear Sir — As you have in your Weekly Messenger defied the world to puzzle you by substituting arbitrary signs, figures, etc., for the different letters of the alphabet, I have resolved to try my utmost to corner you and your system together, and have manufactured the two odd looking subjects which accompany this as avant couriers. If you solve the last one, please to state in your paper how you applied your system to it. Your success in solving the ugly and odd-looking puzzles which have been showered upon you, has surprised all your subscribers in this vicinity, and your system is so unique, and, at first glance, so improbable, that some have rather doubted the genuineness of your communications. If you succeed in solving the accompanying, I will, of course, as you request, acknowledge it publicly to my friends.

With respect, I am,  
Sincerely your friend,  
SCHUYLER COLFAX.

We have only time, this week, to look at the first and longest cypher — the unriddling of which, however, will no doubt fully satisfy Mr. Colfax that we have not been playing possum with our readers. It runs thus:

8n()h58td w!O bt!x6ntz

k65!nz k65,81tn bhx 8ndhPxd!zw8x 6k n6

?6w — tud!x86n; x=tOzt55!zt x=t w8nz

8n 8xd 62n tdXttw!nz k65?t 8x x6

5t36 t5 8xd Pt?tP b3 5t?tUst.

() hn8hd.

And is thus decyphered —

“Injuries may be atoned for and forgiven, but insults admit of no compensation; they degrade the mind in its own esteem, and force it to recover its level by revenge.” 

JUNIUS

By some accident we have mislaid a letter, from Austinburg we think, and signed with two names. It contained a very simple cypher which we were requested to unravel. If the writers will take the trouble to forward another, or the same, we shall be happy to convince them of our ability in this way. It will be but fair, however, to comply with our conditions. The words in the cypher sent were not properly separated from each other.

 


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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. 75-76.


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