Take what you have gathered from Coincidence
— Henry Neville — thy sweet self

"It's foolish work," said Maggie, with a toss of her mane, – "tearing things to pieces to sew 'em together again."
The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot

44: What took you so long to get here?
MAX: Well first of all we had to decode that message you left on the porthole.
44: Oh, was it hard?  You know secret messages are one of my specialties.
MAX: I've seen harder.
99: Max figured it out right away.  [Actually 99 did the decoding, but ever loyal she gives the credit to Max.]
44: You did?  Well you wait until next time.  I've got a real humdinger – you'll never get it.
MAX: What are you talking about 44?  What good is a secret message if nobody can understand it?
Get Smart, Ship of Spies

I have two difficulties with the work of Leyland and Goding.  The inventiveness of their discoveries –
If FORTH meant FOURTH, what would SETTING mean?  We propose that SETTINGFORTH is the fourth type-setting, that is, the fourth line.  The first letter of the fourth line is L.  In Roman numerals, the letter L means 50.  Tracing 50 characters forward into the text, the fragment NEV is found running vertically (Figure 6).
– and the extraordinary topological gymnastics the composer would have had to perform to arrange all these interlocking clues.

... we saw that "Mr" could be either one character or two without mis-aligning the text.  If "Mr" is one character, we included the space after "Mr.W.H." If "Mr" is two characters, the space is left out. (LG5)

There are two other possibilities – Mr as two characters plus the space or Mr as a single character without the space.  But these arrangements would have (by some unspecified criterion) "mis-aligned" the text.

A common workplace adage is – "if you have to choose between the possibility of a conspiracy or a stuff-up, go for the stuff-up every time."  Here are a couple of stuff-up explanations for the "Mr W.H."

Some commentators have suggested that the "Mr W. H." should have been "Mr W. S.", the error occurring as a result of the confusion between a script S and a script H.  Others have suggested that the intention was to typeset "Mr W. SH." (apparently there is some justification by way of precedent for this form of abbreviation) and in error the S was omitted.

Here's my variant.  Thorpe sets the type as "Mr W. SH." and gives his work to the apprentice to place in the press.  The apprentice is careless and the S block falls out.  The apprentice, unaware of the loss, slides the H and the . across because the kerning looks wrong, and there you are – the "W. H." and the extra space are both accounted for!

The selection of the 15 column setting was achieved through trial and error.  Although the significance of the number 15 is not yet certain, all commentators agree on the significance of Book XV of Ovid's Metamorphoses as the poetic and philosophical progenitor of the Sonnets.  Moreover, the first line of Sonnet 115 acknowledges a deception, and distinguishes this "lie" from the content of the remainder of the Sonnet.

Those lines that I before have writ doe lie,
Even those that said I could not love you deerer...
     Sonnet 115, lines 1-2 (LG5)

So 115 = 15?  Here's a question – which was first?  Sonnet 115 or the dedication?  Normally, we would expect for such a work the components, that is the sonnets, would have been written and arranged in sequence before the dedication was written.  In this case however we are to understand the sonnet was written and placed in a particular position in order to provide a clue for the decryption of the dedication.  The investigator was to expected say, "Ha, here's a likely sonnet.  Number 115, so it's a grid decryption with 15 columns."

The word ETERNITIE stands out because of its central placement and intersection with HENRY.  Within ETERNITIE, we saw the possibility of a pun on TERNIT (to be understood as TURN IT).  But, what to turn; what is IT?  After many reversals, page-turnings and rotations we were completely stuck.  Until we realised that "it" is IT.(LG6)

Try working through the logic of how Neville would have achieved this.

That HE IS is intentional, is further supported by the unusual spelling of ONLIE.(LG7)

And the "unusual" spelling of ETERNITIE?

Supporting this, we note that the word WISH appears above itself in lines 7 and 8 (Figure 6).  If the instruction TERNIT is more generally interpreted as "reverse the order", then WISH can be read as "W is H" and its inverse "H is W".  Thus, Mr WH is Mr HW.

And more stuff cut from the same cloth.  And then –

The large L can also be viewed as an arrowhead pointer to "I" on the next line. This connection seemed somewhat forced until we recognized that the placement of the letter "I" is in line 10, column 4 - i.e. coordinates (10,4). Sonnet 104 begins:

To me, faire friend, you neuer can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyde
Such seemes your beautie still. Three Winters colde..."

Because of the familiar context (to an engineer with an interest in maps) this claim really appeals – though actually the coordinates of the letter "I" are more conventionally expressed (4, 10).  (As in (x, y) or easting,northing.)  There is not a Sonnet 410, so what alternative interpretation is open to us; perhaps the intention is, "Sonnet 4, line 10 "?

Thou of thyself thy sweet self doth deceive

Thanks Will, an astute observation and excellent implied advice.

It becomes clear that we could have saved our sweet selves a lot of trouble by initially doing a 15 character wide layout (amply endorsed by LG5 and BJ29) with all the characters in the dedication body.  This would result in a grid with the 10th line containing SETTING FORTH independent and unencumbered.  SETTING FORTH is not advising a fresh grid as James proposed (BJ19), nor indicating the fourth line as Leyland and Goding proposed (LG7), but simply directing us to the fourth setting in the Sonnets – sonnet 4.  (Even the metre seems right – "setting forth" – "sonnet fourth".)  And of course, line 10 in the grid indicates line 10 in the sonnet again.

Thou of thyself thy sweet self doth deceive

or colloquially expressed – you are kidding yourself if you expect to find anything here.

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Last update March 16, 2014     Mal Haysom    initial posting 29/03/2009