The Hartlib Papers

Title:Memo On Trithem'S Work On Cryptography, In Latin & English
Dating:undated
Ref:8/47/1A-2B
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Anno 1500, Iohn Trithem Abbat over the Benedictine Monkes of Spanheim, at the request of Philip Count Palatine of the Rhene etc, wrote 3 bookes of Steganography, that is, as he definde it, Ars per occultam Scripturam animi sui voluntatem absentibus aperiendi certa. In his first booke he teacheth the nature and power of 31 Spirits with the Coniurations that are requisite to make any of them, or their[altered from theire] inferiours come and take Charge of any Secret, or to force them to bewray any Secret comitted to them. In his Second booke he doth the like for 24 other Cheife Spirits. His third Booke is scarce any where to be found perfect, In the beginning of it he sayes his Scope is to make good the Saying of Menastor, that it is possible by art, within the space of 24 houres without wordes, bookes or messengers, most perfectly, fully and Secretly to make knowen our thoughts to our freind though never soe farre absent from vs; He tells vs that to this end we must knowe the 7 Angells of the 7 Planets & the 21 Spirits subiect to them, And all the varieties of the motions of these planets, The riseing, culminating & setting of 700 fixed Starrs & theire distance from one another, as alsoe, How to vse these Angells, soe as that your freind shall by any of them know your intent quantumcunque prolixa fuerit, in the space of 24 houres, and that soe secretly, that without his will or yours, noe third man shall ever perceive it./
   Which things have caused many, to account him a most desperate Coniurer, and made made his bookes (according to mens different dispositions) to be bought by some for good instructers in that blacke art, and to be burned by others aswell Papists as Protestants, yet 1 the holyness of the Authors life, 2 his greate learning & 3 serious protestation in his preface, (that nothing in his bookes had in it any Superstition or the least compact with evill Spirits etc) and 4 the scattering abroad of divers Claves some of which were said to be [another hand?: of] Trithem's owne makeing, prevayled soe farre with many, that they conceiveing better of him, sought dilligently for the best Copies and laboured to vnderstand them./
   Two men especially are herein remarkable, Gustavus Selenus (a Counterfeit name, they say, of Augustus Duke of Luneburg) who wrott a booke called Cryptomenytice, Anno 1624: wherein, he vndertakes amongst many other things to vnlock the most of Trithemius his Charmes & shew his art, The latter is Ioannnes Caramuel professor of Divinitie, a monke of the Cistercian order of Benedictines, who (being spurred on, partly by his owne curiositie & partly by his desire to remove that Staine from his order, that one of theire most noted Abbats was such a detestable and impudent Coniurer, and encouraged, as it seemes, [left margin: P. 20./] by finding some perfecter Manuscripts &, it may be, truer Claves in some monasterie of that order) set himselfe vpon it, and Anno 1635 printed at Cöllen a Commentary vpon Trithems first booke, & promiseth the like vpon the rest; These 2 Interpreters differ exceedingly. Of Selenus some other time./ My purpose, at this time, is breifly to shewe how I. Caramuel vnderstands that Booke./
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     Steganographia is defined by him thus Scribendi methodus Secreta, arcana, obcultaque, nulli mortalium quantumcunque Studioso vel eruditoi patula.
Comment in Prologum./   ([Greek: stego], tego   [Greek: grapho], scribo)
1    - All 31 Spirits are 31 severall waies of hiding your meaning in any discourse, letter, prayer, poem etc though it have noe agreement at all in the matter/
2    The Coniurations, are the severall rules teaching how to hide your meaning, or to finde it out soe hidden, They are penned first in Latine, & then all the letters Confusedly transposed and mingled with many idle letters, and soe turned into Barbarous words as his first rule, (Principium Secreti est dictio determinata L (he writes L for vel) A millesima, L B. decies millesima, LC centesima, LE vltima et ab illâ inclusiuè incipias notare adcentus et per hos literas) is first by transposition turned into Pamersierielnalin eacstemla ilimit [c?] capriaelbut[altered from caprialbut], d mecupeli ibutsi eomireald cersc slaeme idiciel penthlon sielinetra iecims stlsntuoinedai talsastiamt cut. and then by interposition of idle letters made Pamersiel oshurmy delmuson thaflom etc.
3     The turning of your face toward this or that point of the Compasse when [you? blot on MS] Coniure, is to turn the + of the Alphabet to this or that letter and soe to Change your Alphabet diversely./
4     The Characters of the Spirits are the severall directions by which you knowe what sort of involution the writer vsed to make it soe intricate, & by consequence what contrary waies of evolution will extricate it. [catchword: The]
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[line drawn down left margin of first paragraph]
     The art of hiding consists in these, 1. write your minde in any language & characters, but yf you write vsuall Characters, by them vnderstand other sounds as yf you write c for d; t for g, a for o, you will write Cat for the same Sound which we Comonly write dog, 2 Transpose these altered Characters in some other order as cta, act, atc, tca, or tac for dog, 3. Make some kinde of discourse in prose or verse, or take one ready-made, that containes all those letters in it; 4. Beginne in what part of this discourse you please, and from thence after some determined order (forward backward, vpward etc) Set some privy [marke?] distinguishing the letters that serve to your purpose at that time, from them that doe not; 5 Lastly at the end of the discourse or where els you have before agreed, make severall Characters by which he that receives it may knowe, First where to beginne to gather your letters..../ Secondly howe to knowe them from those that are nothing to your purpose, Thirdly which way to proceed in gathering of them, Fourthly when he hath found them all, in what order to sett them, Fiftly being ordered, howe to read them, [another hand?: that is,] By what Alphabet you wrote, For all these being arbitrary, and the number of varieties almost innumerable, the Search would be endles and the findeing Impossible, even to the most Ingenious Searcher, Wherefore, To make as litle labour as may be for your selfe and your freind, First strive to expresse your selfe in noe more words then needs must.
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     Trithem's more particular precepts, as Caramuel understands his first booke.
1 Every chapter hath a peculiar Alphabet, The first 16 have 32 letters, the next 14 have 24 letters a piece, the last hath 25.
He writes [table of characters]
[left of table:] for
[right of table:] Caramuel counsells to leave out + to avoid suspicion [&?] put in [word deleted] in stead of it <sub>9</sub> for us as dat<sub>9</sub> for datus The characters of the 31 Spirits or chapters which Trithem used, were not like these Hebrew letters which Caramuel useth
He writes [second table of characters]
[left of second table:] for
[below second table:] Caramuel addes to these y' y´ 'y´ ÿ for y. z & æ.
[right of second table:] Trithems 31th Alphabet in Chap 31, (whose Character is [symbol]) is this
     i ä í î ì i´ ä´ í´ î´ ì´ i' ä' í' î' ì' ´i ´ä ´í ´î ´ì 'i 'ä 'í 'î 'ì
for a b c d e f g h i k l m n o p q r s t u x y z æ et
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Examples of all these Sorts [third table]
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2    Haueing written his minde by one of these Alphabetts, he eyther determines not to transpose them, and this he calls direct reading & markes it thus -- or 2 else he writes them quite backward as kkdomgni for ingmodkk, R is the [letter deleted?] Signe[altered?] of such retrograd reading, [or?] that the number of his letters be square, as 9. 16. 25. 36. 49. 64. etc he writes them in a square./
          /----------------------------------------¬
          | As yf there were 9 he would   1. 2. 3 |
          | write them then thus ....     4. 5. 6. |
          |                               7. 8 9 |
          ¿----------------------------------------Ÿ
     And reades them eyther -- viz. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6 [deletion?] 7. 8 9. or 9 or R: viz. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. or [symbol], that is downwards thus, 1. 4. 7. 2. 5. 8. 3. 6. 9, or [symbol?], that is vpward thus 9. 6. 3. 8. 5. 2 7. 4. 1. There are many other waies which he speakes not of./
3.   The order of his letters being thus Changed, he makes choyce of some word in the hiding discourse to be his Pylorus (as he calls it) or Porter at which to begin, as the first, the 40th, 51th, 100th, last, etc, or the first word that begins with A or B or C or what he [list? altered?], And these words he some sometimes reckons from the beginning; sometimes from the midle, sometimes from the end of the discourse, Sometimes he [catchword: writes]
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writes the whole discourse in 6 Columnes, and reckons from the bottom of the first Columne as in Cap: 3 or from the bottom of the last Columne as in Cap: 4./
4    Haveing determined 1 what letters to vse, 2 In what order. 3 what discourse to hide them in, 4 where in that discourse to begin, 5 In what order to proceed from thence, 6 He begins to marke those letters that are for his purpose diversely, For in the first 16 Chapters [three dots in left margin] to signifie a vowel he sets ^ a Circumflect vpon it, to signifie a Consonant he eyther sets an ' acute vpon the vowel ymeadiately goeing before, or a ´ grave vpon the vowel following after, as - Párve nêc invídeo sîne me liber ibis in vrbem; [Hei?] mihi quôd etc for redibo; Soe in that example Pag. 10. he begins to set downe + sbhc + ukx etc at the 100th word of that prayer, viz: at deinceps, for setting an acute vpon e (as some Grammarians will have it) he sets + immediately[altered in another hand] after it thus dé+inceps, next he lookes for s & finding it in the same word he sets a ´ grave vpon the first letter of the next word, which points to the last letter of deinceps; b is next, and that he findes not till 18 words after, There in áb he sets a' upon a to point to b; h is next, which he findes in hominem the 41th word after etc, Soe that we see a little matter may require a long discourse to hide it in. [four dots in left margin] But from the 17 Chapter to the end, he markes those vowels that are fitt for him with tittles, accents, or Spirits as the Alphabet requires, all the rest whether vowels or Consonants are but hiders, as à frátre nihil omninò áccipit Nicolâus [symbol] -- that is fàciam./
5    When he hath done, he sets 3 Characters at the end, by which you may knowe howe he wrought; Wherefore[altered?] on the other side, to read any thing written according to Trithems first Booke, 1 Consider the Characters at the end of the discourse that is sent you, 2 Then turning to his last Chapter, the Hebrew Character will shewe by what Chapter that was written 3 turne to that chap: & there looke what number belongs to the Character of the Pylorus which you found at the end of the discourse, This will teach you at which word to beginne 4 Then seeke in the Chapter which way you ought to reade & gather vp the signifying letters, 5. next gather them and set them downe in that order, 6 then set them in such order, as the other Character Councells. Lastly turne them into vsuall letters by the Alphabet belonging to that Chapter./
   As Suppose it were subscribed [Hebrew character?] -- c.1 by [Hebrew character?] I knowe it was written by the first Chapter, then turneing to it, I see that A is 1000, B 10000. C 100. D the last, therefore 2 I must begin at the hundredth word from the beginning, and 3 gathering all the marked letters I set them downe, and seeing -- signifies direct I knowe 4 they are not transposed, but only Changed by the first Alphabet therefore 5 I rechange them writing a for +, b for a etc
 (2) suppose it were subscribed [Hebrew character?] -- [Hebrew character?] or [Hebrew character?] -- [Hebrew character?], 1 [Hebrew character?] sends me to the third, [Hebrew character?] to the Fourth Chapter, 2 I turne to them, &[altered] finde that I must write the whole discourse in 6. Columnes, 3 I see that [Hebrew character?] in the third and [Hebrew character?] in the fourth Chapter signifie 51, and according to the precepts of the third Chapter, I begin at the bottom of the first Columne, I Continue reckoning vp ward from the bottom of the next Columne till I finde the 51th word, There is my secret entrance, thence I goe on, as the Chapter willeth me./
     The same reason holds in all the rest, for the irregular varietie of his Pylori/ will not be brought to any more generall rule. For he makes [Hebrew character?] in Chap. 3. to Signifie 51; in cap. 4. 1051; in cap. 5. 100. In 6to 0 etc But in Cap. 15 his Pylori are eyther single as [Hebrew character?] 1000. Q. 551. or double as QX5.R.X10 etc And in Cap. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20 They are all expressed with 2 letters, whereof the Former points out 1 which of the numbers to take in the Columne of [catchword: the]
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the latter & 2 how much of it, whether the halfe or all, or double as in Cap. 16. WH is 600/2 that is 300, but RH is 600 and MH is 2 * 600 that is 1200, Soe VG is 40 but ZG is 20 and PG is 80.. In Cap: 28. There are some that multiply the designed number by 3 & by 4. [letter deleted] In Cap. 30 yf the second letter be T. V. or X. The Pylorus is the first word that begins with that letter which stands in the Comon angle of the 2 dirigents./
    Note. In all these, yf the Character of the Pylorus have [symbol] Ioyned to it it signifies that you must take but halfe soe greate a numbe as other wise you must have done, Pag. 28. and Pag. 38 etc/
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This is the summe of that, which Caramuel teacheth vs in his Comentary vpon that first booke which is noe way comparable to the following bookes as it seemeth by these passages.
   Alios etiam steganographiæ Libros, quos vltimus perficit calamus, amice candido communes faciam, Pag. 158. Admirabilia magis et rara videbis in Secundo Libro etc Pag. 120.
    Tertium remittam tibi (domine Abbas) ante publicationem, dignissimum, vt a Regibus Principibusque dignoscatur. Pag. 131
    Lectorem præscire velim, Librum Secundum Steganographiæ esse occultissimé rarum et admirabilem, Sed tertium omnium excellentissimum, quia quantâ perfectione Secundus primum, tantâ tertius Secundum etiam Superat. ibidem./
    Arcana Moysaica qui credere noluerit esse penè infinita, Legat meam Cabalam, in quâ ea per tomos XX totidem aut pluribus elaboratos annis prosequor et cum Satis abunde in ibi omnia quæ pertinent ad obcultam Scripturam <explicemus> non est cur etc Comment in prologum Trithem.
It may be in some of these bookes he will take notice of that other manner of interpretation that G. Selenus hath used; et so shew how it comes to passe that these bookes of Trithemius are capable of divers interpretations If not, I shall at more convenient leisure shew what I conceive to be the cause of it.