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Author Topic: From a Gentleman to a Lady: A Clever Cryptographic Love Letter from the 1850s  (Read 1709 times)
GCCC
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« on: September 10, 2015, 10:49:05 pm »

A look at a love letter meant to confound the intended's father.

http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/09/01/victorian-cryptographic-love-letter/

Excerpted from the article:

"...The missive was allegedly penned by a resourceful young man courting the daughter of an overbearing and protective father — one imagines a stern Victorian patriarch. Knowing that all of his beloved’s correspondence would have to pass parental decency tests, the young bachelor cleverly engineered his language so that the letter could be read two ways — line by line, as the unsuspecting father would, which renders the text a contemptuous disavowal of romance, or by skipping over all even-numbered lines and reading only the odds, which transmogrifies the message into a passionate declaration of love..."

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Maets
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2015, 02:16:48 am »

Clever, but he had better be sure that the lady was in on the code.
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Hez
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aka Miss Primrose C Leigh


« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2015, 03:07:07 am »

Definitely risky
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Theophania_Elliott
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« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2015, 12:44:14 pm »

And not only because of what the lady might think of him if she didn't know the code.

If I had been the young lady's loving parent, and I'd read that, I'd be going around to explain to the young puppy (by hand, if necessary) all the reasons why he ought to speak to my daughter with respect and courtesy, even if he did not feel romantically inclined...
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GCCC
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« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2015, 02:51:42 pm »

And not only because of what the lady might think of him if she didn't know the code.

If I had been the young lady's loving parent, and I'd read that, I'd be going around to explain to the young puppy (by hand, if necessary) all the reasons why he ought to speak to my daughter with respect and courtesy, even if he did not feel romantically inclined...

That was also my concern. If my father had ever seen such a note addressed to one of his daughters (this was a man who, when a boyfriend of one of my sisters would visit the house and ask to use the lavatory, he directed said fellow to the one that ensured he'd have to walk past the gun case)...I, as well, would at the very least have to find the young man and have a "discussion".

Don't fret for the young lady, however; my memory of the article says that she knew the code beforehand.

Still, very risky letting the father read it as is.
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Theophania_Elliott
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« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2015, 03:32:28 pm »

I don't know whether you've seen Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes:_A_Game_of_Shadows),
but there is a scene in that where the young lady receives a letter written in a similar code - only, in her case, she hasn't been given the key beforehand.

She is rather upset until it's explained to her that if the first letter of the missive is a consonant, what follows should be read as the exact opposite of its literal meaning.

I wonder if the Victorian alternate-lines code is where the writers got the idea?
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GCCC
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« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2015, 03:46:41 pm »

I am also curious about that.
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Clym Angus
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2015, 12:46:51 pm »

All he really needed to do was use text speak and instantly no one would have the slightest plonking bollard what the heck he was talking about.
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SteamFaery
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« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2015, 11:12:46 pm »

I do hope the young couple had a happy ending after the letter was printed, revealing their names. It isn't hard to guess what 'Miss M. W—ms' full name might have been...
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"Let us return to the past; it will be progress." ~ Giuseppe Verdi

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creagmor
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2015, 10:40:53 am »

In Conan Doyle's story of the Gloria Scott (Holmes' very first case) there is a code that is similar to that of the resourceful swain, except that every third word is meaningful. And then there is the Adventure of The Dancing Men. Sadly, if the wife had only taken her husband into her confidence when she first discovered the code, she would have spared herself a considerable amount of grief. But as a wise man once said, "Vee get too zoon odlt, undt too late shmart." (sic)

Were not for my Mycroftian lack of energy I might be tempted to submit a code of my own devising for your consideration.  
            
« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 10:42:42 am by creagmor » Logged

“Love is an emotional thing, and whatever is emotional is opposed to that cold true reason which I place above all things.” Sherlock Holmes, in The Sign of Four.
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