Skip to main content

The wrong key

In 1945, James Martin Feely from Rochester, Maine, produced a slim volume entitled Roger Bacon's Cipher, The Right Key Found. Feely, a lawyer by profession and an amateur cryptologist in his spare time, had become aware of the Voynich manuscript after the posthumous publication of Professor Newbold's notes and spurious decryptions. Working from a photograph of just one page of the manuscript reproduced in Newbold's book, Feely compared the frequencies of the Voynich characters with the frequencies of Latin letters in sample texts known to have been written by Bacon.

Having deduced what he now believed to be the correct equivalents for Voynich characters, Feely produced the following Latin translation: PERHUMMIFT RMIN PODERUMIN POEMIN IN PVESL VEN. PVESIN POEMIN RUMMIN PERUMIN VEST VNEMIN. ISTNC PEMMIN MMVEN IFN MMMIN PRVEDINT PRVESCIS VNEMIN.

NPERMMIN PVERSN IFN RMMIN PFEMIST MMMERMN OPERVT IUT FT PVESN FEMIN.

This, he believed, was a form of abbreviated Latin, which, when expanded into its full and grammatically correct form, would read: Perhumifactum raminat; post-derumpitur minus; post-eminus in prae-vesiculam venit. Pervesiculinatum, post-eminus ruminatur; peruminatum vestitur veneminis. Istinc posteminus movent inferne; mamminas provediunt pervesciculus veneminarum. Inpermmiantur: perversuntur inferne; ruminantur; perfemiscitur mammerminis; operavitur itant fit praevestinntur feminas.

Which seems all well and good, until one translates this into English:

"Well humidified, it ramifies; afterward it is broken down smaller; afterwards, at a distance, into the fore bladder it comes. Then vesselled, it is awhile after ruminated; well humidified it is clothed with veinlets.

Thence after a bit they move down below; tiny teats they provide in the outpimpling of the veinlets. They are impermiated; are thrown down below; they are ruminated; they are feminised with tiny teats. It is operated so that it happens that they are fully vested with femininity."

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you