The Curse of Oak Island- Season 4, Episode 8: The Mystery of Samuel Ball
The Curse of Oak Island’s Season 4, Episode 8 is out. Let’s have a look.
Rick and Marty Lagina, Craig Tester, Dave Blankenship, Charles Barkhouse, and Jack Begley meet at Borehole C1 with crew members of Irving Equipment Ltd., a contracting company. There, they lower an underwater camera into the shaft in order to get a better look at a the shiny, gold-coloured object located in a cavity at the bottom, the existence of which Oak Island Tours Inc. first learned of in Season 3, Episode 13, upon lowering an underground camera to the bottom of what was, at that time, a narrow drill hole. As the camera makes its descent, the treasure hunters, watching a live stream at the surface, note that the water in Borehole C1 is remarkably clear, especially when compared with that of Borehole 10-X, which Oak Island Tours Inc. explored throughout Seasons 2 and 3. Eventually, the camera reaches the cavity at the bottom of the shaft. There, the treasure hunters observe an angular indentation in the cavity’s wall and speculate on whether or not it is artificial.
After exploring the cavity for some time, the camera picks up a shiny object which Craig Tester suggests is gypsum or anhydrite. Somewhat crestfallen, Marty Lagina remarks, “I hope that wasn’t Dave [Blankenship]’s gold shiny thing.” Charles Barkhouse reminds the crew that the shiny object the camera picked up in Season 3, Episode 13 appeared to have a curved shape, whereupon the camera operator decides to lower the camera deeper into the cavity in order to look for it. At a depth of 177 feet, the camera encounters opaque water saturated with black silt in which visibility is severely limited. The narrator explains that this silt-filled void is about fourteen feet deep, and that Oak Island Tours Inc. “will have to resort to other options if they are ever to find anything like a precious artifact” within it.
The crew members discuss their next course of action, and decide to thoroughly excavate the chamber at the bottom of Borehole C1 with a hammergrab, explore the cavity with a sonar device, and possibly have a diver manually examine the cavity, in that order.
Later, Oak Island historian Charles Barkhouse and metal detection expert Gary Drayton hunt for metallic artifacts on Oak Island’s westerly Lot 24, a lot once owned by Oak Island landowner Samuel Ball. The narrator explains that Samuel Ball was a black South Carolinian slave who escaped his life of bondage by enlisting in the Loyalist Militia during the Revolutionary War. At the end of the war, Ball came to Nova Scotia, where he received a plot of land on Oak Island. Ball farmed his land, and used the profit he made selling his produce to purchase a number of other lots on the island. Some Oak Island researchers have suspected that the former slave’s somewhat mysterious rise to affluence was attributable to a treasure he discovered on his land. The narrator also explains how, in Nova Scotian historian Mather Myles DesBrisay’s 1870 book History of the County of Lunenburg, Samuel Ball is listed as one of the three co-discoverers of the Money Pit instead of John Smith. DesBrisay makes no mention of John Smith- a strange omission considering that DesBrisay likely used information provided to him by his close friend Mary Smith, John Smith’s daughter, as a main source.
While scouring Lot 24 with a metal detector, Barkhouse and Drayton discover a small button, which Drayton labels an 18th Century ‘dandy button’. Shortly thereafter, Drayton discovers a copper coin bearing the head of King George II of Great Britain, whose reign spanned from 1727-1760. After that, he uncovers a lead ingot of the type used by British soldiers for crafting musket balls. Barkhouse remarks that these three discoveries are congruent with late Oak Island treasure hunter Fred Nolan’s theory that Oak Island’s artificial swamp, the Money Pit, and the Smith’s Cove flood tunnel were constructed by the British during the American Revolution, and that the treasure they buried was bullion and specie from the Thirteen Colonies, as well as silver taken from the Spanish during the 1762 Battle of Havana.
Gary and Charles continue to scan Lot 24 for artifacts, and soon discover a small metal plate bearing a faded signature, which Gary suggests likely came from the stock of a musket or grip of a flintlock pistol. Gary explains that this find, coupled with his previous finds- which include five additional copper coins bearing the head of King George II, discovered off camera- leads him to believe that Oak Island’s Lot 24 was the site of some sort of British military encampment some time in the 1700’s. He says as much to Marty Lagina when the treasure hunter joins him and Barkhouse, whereupon Marty commends him for his work.
That night, the Oak Island crew meet in the War Room with author and investigative journalist Randall Sullivan, who is currently in the process of writing a book on Oak Island. Sullivan explains to the crew that throughout his extensive research on the subject of Oak Island, the “one theory” regarding the history of the Oak Island treasure “that really has connected with [him] is the whole thing involving Francis Bacon.” The narrator explains that Francis Bacon was a 16th/17th Century English scientist, philosopher, and nobleman whose name frequently appears in connection with Oak Island theories. Many researchers, known collectively as ‘Baconians’, have theorized that Francis Bacon was the true author of the Shakespearean works, and that William Shakespeare, the ‘Bard of Avon’, was simply a front man. Some researchers believe that the lost original Shakespearean manuscripts, handwritten by Bacon, lie somewhere beneath Oak Island.
Upon being prompted by Marty Lagina, Sullivan states that Francis Bacon “founded the Rosicrucians”. The narrator then briefly describes how the Rosicrucians, members of a European Renaissance-era secret society, are believed by some to have ties with the medieval monastic military order the Knights Templar, and that the Knights Templar, in turn, are believed by some to have come into the possession of sacred artifacts, including the Holy Grail, the Menorah, and the Ark of the Covenant.
Sullivan explains that one of Francis Bacon’s most famous works, a fiction novel entitled New Atlantis, tells of a futuristic Utopian society on an island in the Pacific Ocean in which “generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendour, piety and public spirit” are widely-practiced virtues. He goes on to explain how a number of theorists have suggested that the island described in New Atlantis is really an allegory for Oak Island.
The crew members consider the plausibility of the Oak Island theory involving Francis Bacon and thank Sullivan for sharing the fruits of his research before ending the meeting.
Days later, the Oak Island crew meets at the Money Pit area with the Irving Equipment Ltd. contractors. They wait in anticipation as the contractors begin excavating the void at the bottom of Borehole C1 with a hammergrab. In one of the first loads the hammergrab brings up from the void, Oak Island historian Charles Barkhouse- the man who prescribed Borehole C1 in the first place- discovers a small, mysterious black object. Barkhouse presents the find to veteran Oak Island treasure hunter Dan Blankenship, who proclaims the object to be “old, decayed wood”.
Another load the hammergrab brings up from the void contains fragments of a strange rock that is not limestone anhydrite, which the bedrock on the eastern end of the island is known to be comprised of. After examining the rock, Dave Blankenship proclaims, “I’ll tell you right now: that rock that you got out don’t belong there…”
The next load the hammergrab brings up contains more fragments of old wood. Encouraged by the finds, the team decides that a sonar scan of the void is in order, and that a manual exploration of the void by a diver might be necessary in the future.
That night, Rick Lagina, Jack Begley, and Charles Barkhouse meet in the War Room. There, they agree that they would like to send a diver into the void at the bottom of Borehole C1, and that John Chatterton is the ideal man for the job. The narrator explains how Chatterton, a celebrity wreck diver, successfully entered and explored the chamber at the bottom of Borehole 10-X, and ultimately determined, to the Oak Island team’s chagrin, that the chamber was naturally formed.
The three treasure hunters proceed to call John Chatterton and his business partner and safety diver Howard Ehrenberg on Skype. The two divers express their willingness to attempt a dive in Borehole C1, and suggest that Oak Island Tours Inc. first conduct a sonar scan of the void at the bottom for safety purposes. The treasure hunters agree to do so and end the call.
The Treasure of Havana
In this episode of The Curse of Oak Island, metal detection expert Gary Drayton discovers a dandy button, a lead ingot used for making musket balls, an identificatory plate from a musket, and six copper coins bearing the image of King George II of Great Britain (who reigned from 1727-1760) on Oak Island’s Lot 24. Oak Island historian Charles Barkhouse, while reflecting upon the discoveries, remarks that they are consistent with the late Oak Island treasure hunter Fred Nolan’s theory that the British were responsible for Oak Island’s underground workings, and that members of the British military buried treasure from the Thirteen Colonies, along with a significant percentage of the spoils of the 1762 Battle of Havana, on Oak Island during the American Revolution.
The Battle of Havana was an engagement between British and Spanish forces fought outside the walls of Havana, Cuba, in 1762. Nearly a decade earlier, British forces attacked French forts on disputed North American territory. This led to an unofficial war between French and English colonists and their respective First Nations allies, known today as the French and Indian War. This North American conflict eventually spilled over into Europe, evolving into what is arguably the first real ‘world war’. European powers allied with Britain- including Prussia and various Germanic states- went to war with nations allied with France- including Austria, Russia, and Sweden. Battles were fought in North America, continental Europe, West Africa, Mughal India, and eventually the Philippines. This global conflict is known as the Seven Years’ War.
Although allied with France, Spain remained neutral throughout much of the Seven Years’ War. In 1759, the Spanish King Ferdinand VI died and was succeeded by his ambitious younger brother Charles III. Cognizant of the fact that a British victory over France would alter the European balance of power out of Spain’s favour, Charles III decided to enter the war against Britain. In 1762, Spain and France executed a series of assaults on Portugal, a kingdom allied with Britain. In response, Britain launched a massive attack on Havana, Cuba, the heavily-fortified capital of the Spanish West Indies (Caribbean).
Since the early 1500’s, the port city of Havana- dubbed “The Key to the New World and the Rampart of the West Indies” by the Spanish Crown- was the hub of Spain’s New World colonies. It was also centre of Spain’s three major trans-oceanic trading routes. The riches of the New World- which included Aztec, Maya, and Inca plunder in the early 1500’s, and goods such as silver, gold, emeralds, indigo, cochineal, hardwoods, cow hides, cocoa, tobacco, and vanilla in the ensuing years- first made their way to Havana, where they were loaded into treasure galleons and shipped across the Atlantic to Spain. Spanish goods bound for New World colonies, in turn, were shipped to Havana before being consigned to their respective destinations. And Ming Chinese goods from the Spanish colony of Manila made their way to Spain by way of Havana. As such, Havana was an especially wealthy New World city of utmost importance to the Spanish Crown.
In 1762, Britain launched a 30,000-man assault on Havana, headed by General George Keppel (Earl of Albemarle), Admiral George Pocock, and Major-General George Elliott. Although the city was well fortified and situated in a protected harbour, its 11,000-man garrison was not entirely prepared for the attack; the colonial governor of Cuba, Captain General Juan de Prado, had been unable to properly strengthen Havana’s defenses in time due to a debilitating colony-wide epidemic of yellow fever. British forces, unable to enter the Havana Bay due to a boom chain, laid siege to Castillo del Morro, a stalwart fortress guarding the entrance to the bay. After installing artillery on a nearby hill, they barraged the fortress’ stone walls with mortar and cannon fire. Every night, their destructive work was patched up by the tireless Spanish defenders on the orders of their resourceful commander Luis Vicente Velasco de Isla.
The British besieged El Morro for nearly two months, engaging in occasional minor skirmishes with the Spanish defenders. Although the Spanish were heavily outnumbered, they refused an official invitation to surrender, working furiously to repair and defend their fortress and harrying their British besiegers at every opportunity. So valiant was the Spanish defense effort that the British later erected statues of Velasco, the Spanish commander, in Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. For nearly 150 years following the battle, British ships sailing past Noja, Spain- Velasco’s hometown- would fire a salute in honour of their esteemed enemy.
After the British detonated a mine near one of El Morro’s bastions and stormed the breach, Velasco led his troops to meet them. In the ensuing skirmish, Velasco himself was mortally wounded, recieving a musket ball in the chest. Following the Spanish commander’s demise, the British quickly overtook El Morro, and pushed onwards to the gates of Havana. Less than two weeks later, the city surrendered.
With the capture of Havana, the British had taken the most important harbour in the Spanish Americas. In addition to defensive artillery and a significant portion of the Spanish Navy, which the defenders had neglected to burn, the British appropriated 1,800,000 Spanish pesos and 1,000,000 pesos-worth of treasure from the port city’s coffers and warehouses. This booty was brought back to England by way of Halifax.
According to some Oak Island theorists, British navy men- perhaps rogue British officers loathe to surrender their hard-won plunder to the Crown- buried a portion of their treasure on Oak Island, a short distance from Halifax.
Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, the Rosicrucians, and Petter Amundsen
Note: The following chapter is an excerpt from our book Oak Island, a comprehensive guide to Canada’s greatest treasure hunt. Click the picture below to check out the PDF version of this book.
Some researchers believe that a mysterious post-Renaissance fraternity known as the Rosicrucians might be behind the Oak Island mystery.
The Rosicrucian fraternity, also known as the Fraternity of the Rose Cross and the Order of the Rosy Cross, is a secret society which is said to have been founded in Germany during the late medieval period. It is believed that members were keepers of ancient philosophical and scientific wisdom which had been passed down to them by Arabian wise men and Maghrebian Moors. For 120 years after their founding, the Rosicrucians purportedly kept their knowledge secret, fearing that the intellectual climate in Europe was not ready for it. Then, in 1614, they published the first of what have been come known as the Rosicrucian manifestos- documents revealing their secret history and general philosophy. The Rosicrucian doctrine quickly spread throughout Europe, engendering a 17th Century furor which has been termed by Renaissance historian Dame Francis Yates the “Rosicrucian Enlightenment”.
Although no one has openly admitted to being a member of the Fraternity of the Rose Cross, a number of European intellectuals have championed the secret society’s philosophies in their writings. Some have long been suspected of having some involvement with Rosicrucian fraternity. These potential members include prominent artists and scientists such as William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon, Dr. John Dee, and Fernando Pessoa.
One of the most difficult problems with the theory that the Order of the Rosy Cross might have some connection with the Oak Island mystery is the fact that no one is really sure that the society actually existed at all. The only real evidence we have supporting its existence are the Rosicrucian manifestos.
The first manifesto, Fama Fraternitatis, was published in Kassel, Germany, in 1614. It tells the story of the Order’s founder, a man named “Father C.R.” The manifesto explains how Father C.R., while still a young man, set off on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On the way, he stopped in Damascus, where he learned medicine and mathematics from the so-called “Wise Men of Damasco”. After three years, he left Damascus and travelled to Egypt by ship before sailing further east along the southern coast of the Mediterranean Sea to the city of Fez, in North Africa. There, he learned science, alchemy, and philosophy from the city’s co-called “Elementary Inhabitants.” He spent two years in Fez before sailing to Spain, where he tried to impart all he had learned in his travels to the Spanish scholars. The scholars were proud, however, and, unwilling to admit that their knowledge was lacking, they rejected the teachings of Father C.R. The German continued to travel throughout Europe, trying to share the wisdom he had learned with whomever would listen, but was similarly rejected by the academic authorities of the day. Finally, he settled in Germany, where he and seven others formed a secret brotherhood known as the Fraternity of the Rosie Cross. The Brothers agreed to spread themselves throughout Europe so that they could, as a whole, better understand the areas in which European knowledge was lacking. They also agreed to cure the sick free of charge, convene with each other once a year, find worthy successors for themselves, and keep their Fraternity secret for one hundred years. The manifesto goes on to tell of how the Rosicrucian brotherhood, many years after their founding, discovered the tomb of Father C.R. in a seven-sided vault. When they opened the casket, they found Father C.R.’s body “whole and unconsumed,” holding an important parchment book which, next to the Bible, was the Rosicrucians’ greatest treasure.
Many believe Fama Fraternitatis was not meant to be taken literally, but is rather an allegory laced with symbolic meaning. Others believe that the manifesto was a hoax carried out in the hopes that it might popularize the notion of spreading knowledge among Europe’s lower classes. Some, however, believe that the document is the first piece of evidence proving the existence of the Rosicrucians.
If the latter is truly the case, the second piece of evidence was published a year later, once again in Kassel, Germany. The second Rosicrucian manifesto, the 1615 Confessio Fraternitatis, addresses a number of misgivings people have had about the Fraternity of the Rosie Cross following the publication of Fama Fraternitatis, asserting that the brotherhood is not heretical and that its members “acknowledge [themselves] truly and sincerely to profess Christ.” It also invites the “Learned of Europe” to be open-minded to new knowledge and philosophies, and implies that the Rosicrucians were preparing to reform the prevailing intellectual status quo in Europe.
The Rosicrucian manifestos were hugely popular at the time of their publication, as many intellectuals at the time found the notion of an impending cultural revolution, compounded with the apparent existence of secret society privy to esoteric knowledge, to be very exciting. In the years following the publication of the manifestos, academics all over Europe attempted to get in touch with the Rosicrucians, most of them apparently without success.
In 1616, a pamphlet entitled the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz was published anonymously in Germany. Some considered it to be the third of the Rosicrucian manifestos. However, as it was dissimilar in style and content to the previous manifestos, some rejected the idea that it was truly Rosicrucian. The Chymical Wedding tells the story of a man named Christian Rosenkreutz, who is identified as the Father C.R. from Fama Fraternitatis. The story is an allegoric romance chock-full of alchemic symbolism which tells of how Rosenkreutz was invited to a magical castle in order to assist with the wedding of a king and queen.
Over the years, many academics have theorized that the Rosicrucians were the predecessors of the Freemasons, members of a fraternity which was formed in Scotland in the early 1700’s. Some have even suggested that the Order of the Rosy Cross was a descendant of the medieval Christian military order the Knights Templar. Others suspect that the Order of the Rosy Cross was never a real fraternity at all, and that the Rosicrucian manifestos were nothing more than well-intentioned hoaxes perpetrated by anonymous pioneers of the Age of Enlightenment. Perhaps we will never know for sure.
For years, various academics and scholars have argued that the Rosicrucians likely had something to do with the Oak Island mystery. There have been a number of books written on the subject, many of which have evolved into conspiracy theories.
One of the most recent and well-researched arguments supporting the Rosicrucian theory is the one presented by Norwegian organist, amateur cryptographer, and Freemason Petter Amundsen. Amundsen, who resides in Oslo, Norway, claims that he has uncovered hidden messages in several 17th Century publications, including the First Folio (the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare’s plays), which suggest that: a) the plays and sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare were, in fact, authored by the English nobleman, scientist, and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon; b) the Shakespearean works were a Rosicrucian project; c) the Rosicrucians buried a treasure of historic and religious value in Oak Island’s swamp. Amundsen presents his incredible theory, along with reams of evidence which he claims supports it, in several books and films.
Amundsen’s quest began while he was reading The Tunnel Thru the Air, a 1927 science fiction novel written by William Delbert Gann. Gann was a finance trader who, in the early 1900’s, developed unorthodox technical analysis tools with which he claimed he could forecast the stock market. Eerily, many of Gann’s predictions- even some not related to the stock market- appear to have come true. Some believe that Gann concealed some of his most valuable trading secrets inside The Tunnel Thru the Air through the use of codes and cyphers. According to the book’s forward, “The ‘Tunnel Thru the Air’ is mysterious and contains a valuable secret, clothed in veiled language.” Amundsen, who dabbled in the stock market himself, hoped to uncover this ‘valuable secret’ and apply it to stock trading.
On page 126 of the book, Amundsen came across a sentence which made him pause and scratch his head. The sentence read: “Lord Bacon, the literary genius and philosopher lifted the Bible one day above his head and said: There God speaks.”
The ‘Lord Bacon’ the sentence refers to is the English Renaissance man Sir Francis Bacon. Francis Bacon was an English philosopher, parliamentarian, scientist, legal expert and writer who lived from 1561-1626. Many consider Bacon to be the father of the scientific method (the formulation of a hypothesis through observation, measurement, and experimentation) and the Napoleonic Code (a civil code established by French dictator Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804). Bacon also played an instrumental role in the colonization of the British colonies in North America.
What caused Amundsen to take a second look at this particular sentence were the facts that: a) although Francis Bacon was certainly a prolific writer, he is not typically considered to be a ‘literary genius’; and b) to the best of his knowledge, there were no records of Bacon lifting a Bible above his head and saying, “There God speaks.”
Amundsen suspected that this strange sentence might be a clue that would help him unravel the mystery of Gann’s book. Steganographers- people who conceal hidden messages in larger, otherwise normal-looking messages- often make intentional mistakes in the larger, innocuous message in order to indicate that there is more to it than meets the eye. In order to verify to himself that the sentence in Gann’s book might indeed be one such intentional error, Amundsen read up on Francis Bacon to see if there were any references to him raising a Bible above his head and saying, “There God speaks.”
While researching Francis Bacon, Amundsen learned that the English Renaissance man was the inventor of a binary alphabet which could be used to conceal messages within text. In this alphabet, every letter of the Latin alphabet (i.e. the alphabet we use today; ex. A,B,C,D,E, etc.) is replaced with a five-character string in which each character is either an ‘a’ or a ‘b’. For example, the letter ‘A’ becomes ‘aaaaa’; the letter ‘B’ becomes ‘aaaab’; the letter ‘C’ becomes ‘aaaba’; etc. The following picture, a reproduction of an excerpt from Francis Bacon’s 1640 book The Advancement of Learning, shows this binary alphabet which Bacon developed:
If a steganographer wanted to conceal a smaller code in a larger one using this alphabet, he or she would have to find a way to make two distinct categories of letters. One of the letter categories would represent ‘a’, while the other letter category would represent ‘b’. As an example, I’m going to write some text containing a secret message. In this instance, lowercase letters represent ‘a’, while capital letters represent ‘b’.
To find the secret message in this text, we first have to separate it into five-letter blocks:
Then we have to turn each letter into either an ‘a’ or a ‘b’. In this message, lower case letters turn into ‘a’, and capital letters turn into ‘b’:
Finally, we use Francis Bacon’s binary alphabet to find the letter which corresponds to each five-character block:
Now we see that the secret message is:
After learning about Bacon’s binary alphabet, Amundsen came across the 1900 book, The Cipher in the Plays and on the Tombstone, written by former U.S. Congressman Ignatius Donnelly. In his book- and in an earlier 1888 book entitled The Great Cryptogram: Francis Bacon’s Cipher in Shakespeare’s Plays– Donnelly claims to have discovered codes in the sonnets and plays of the famous English poet and playwright William Shakespeare. According to Donnelly, these codes, when decrypted, indicate that many of the Shakespearean works were, in fact, actually written by Sir Francis Bacon. Donnelly further claims that the inscription on Shakespeare’s tombstone contains a code which can be deciphered using Bacon’s binary alphabet. When deciphered, the tombstone message suggests a Shakespeare-Bacon connection.
Where is Shakespeare’s tomb? It is located in the chancel (the space around the altar) of Holy Trinity Church in the English market town of Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace. Beside Shakespeare’s tomb is the grave of his wife, Ann Hathaway, as well as the graves of his daughter Suzanna, his son-in-law Dr. John Hall (Susanna’s husband), and his grandson-in-law Thomas Nash (the husband of Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth (who is the daughter of Suzanna and Dr. John Hall)). The inscription on Shakespeare’s tombstone reads:
Translated into modern English, the gravestone reads:
There is nothing about the inscription on Shakespeare’s tomb which suggests that it might contain a hidden code which could be decyphered using Bacon’s binary alphabet. The letters on the stone cannot be divided into two different categories, like uppercase and lowercase. There are no randomly-modified letters in boldface or italics which could separate the letters into ‘a’s and ‘b’s.
However, in his book, Donnelly references an article written in the North American Review in 1887 by a resident of Kincardine, Ontario, named Hugh Black. In his article, Black maintains that the headstone that adorns Shakespeare’s grave today is not the original headstone, but rather an 18th or 19th century replacement. According to Black, the epitaph on the original headstone, while bearing the same message as its replacement, contained alternating uppercase and lowercase letters- a’s and b’s- which, when decoded using Francis Bacon’s binary alphabet, suggested a Shakespeare-Bacon connection.
The notion that the headstone that currently marks Shakespeare’s grave is a replacement is corroborated by an 1882 book written by Shakespearean scholar James Halliwell-Phillipps entitled Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare. In his book, Halliwell-Phillipps maintains that the inscription on Shakespeare’s tomb, designed to deter grave robbers and relic hunters from exhuming the poet’s remains, was designed by a friend of Shakespeare’s. This friend, Halliwell Phillipps writes, knew that Shakespeare hated the idea of his bones being re-interred in the nearby charnel house (a vault where human skeletons, exhumed from their graves, are stored en-masse in order to make room in the graveyard for fresh corpses), which was apparently a common practice in Stratford-upon- Avon at the time. According to Halliwell-Phillipps, the warning on the inscription seems to have worked, as nobody has tampered with Shakespeare’s remains. He continues:
“The honours of repose, which have thus far been conceded to the poet’s remains, have not been extended to the tomb-stone. The latter had, by the middle of the last century, sank below the level of the floor, and, about fifty years ago, had become so much decayed as to suggest vandalic order for its removal, and, in its stead, to place a new slab, one which marks certainly the locality of Shakespeare’s grave and continues the record of the farewell lines, but indicates nothing more. The original memorial has wandered from its allotted station no one can tell whither, – a sacrifice to the insane worship of prosaic neatness, that mischevious demon whose votaries have practically destroyed so many of the priceless relics of ancient England and her gifted sons.”
In other words, Halliwell-Phillipps suggests that Shakespeare’s original headstone, decrepit and sagging into the floor, was replaced in about 1825, and that the original stone was lost to history.
A more recent discovery may shed some light on the reason behind the pitiful condition of Shakespeare’s original headstone circa 1825. In order to commemorate the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (April 23, 2016), in the early spring of 2016, a team of archaeologists and geophysicists led by English historian Dr. Helen Castor used non-invasive ground-penetrating radar to conduct the first archaeological investigation of Shakespeare’s grave. The team discovered that Shakespeare’s skull appeared to be missing, and that a strange stone or concrete structure, possibly serving some sort of structural purpose, lay in the area where Shakespeare’s head should be. The archaeologists concluded that their findings verified an old legend, first published in an 1879 edition of the Argosy magazine, which states that Shakespeare’s skull was stolen from Trinity Church by grave robbers in 1794. Perhaps the excavation carried out by those 18th Century grave robbers, along with the lack of structural support brought about by the absence of Shakespeare’s skull, contributed to the poor condition of the tombstone and the floor it was adhered to.
Anyways, if it is true that the original headstone of Shakespeare’s grave was replaced, that the original headstone contained a secret code, and that the original headstone, and thus the code, was lost to history, the mystery would end there. However, an 18th/19th Century English publisher named Charles Knight, while doing research for a Shakespeare biography (which was first published in 1843), copied the inscription on the original headstone and included it on page 535 in his work, William Shakspere: a biography. The original inscription included a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, seemingly placed in no rational order. Knight’s copy of the inscription looks like this:
Hugh Black, the author of the article in the 1887 North American Review, speculated that the inscription, with its seemingly-random uppercase and lowercase letters, was actually a code that could be cracked using Bacon’s binary alphabet. Accordingly, he did the following.
First, he separated the text into five-character blocks. He included the dashes between ‘T-E’ as characters.
Next, he postulated that the uppercase letters were the b’s, and the lowercase letters were the a’s. He included the dashes between the ‘T-E’s as lowercase letters, or a’s.
Finally, he assigned each 5-character a group a letter using Bacon’s binary alphabet:
At first glance, the supposed message appears to be nonsense. However, Black quickly annagrammed the letters to form the word SHAXPEARE. He further re-arranged the remaining letters:
To form FR BA WR EAR AY, which he maintained stood for “Francis Bacon Wrote Shakespeare’s Plays”. After that, the letters T and A remained.
Although Amundsen was convinced that there might be something to Black’s first step in forming the anagram ‘SHAXPEARE’ from the decrypted letters, he wasn’t so sure about the second part. He played with the letters, and came up with: W SHAXPEARE and FR BA (the FR BA apparently standing for Francis Bacon). He was left with the following letters:
From here, Amundsen seperated the remaining letters into two sections. Into one section he grouped the letters YETA. In the original code solution, YETA are the four letters that make up the middle section. They remain the four middle letters after W SHAXPEARE and FR BA are taken out. Amundsen also suspected that the letters YETA, which seemed to be enclosed in the code solution, were somehow related to the inscription words “the dust encloased here”. Into the other section, he grouped the letters RAAR.
At first glance, RAAR appears to have no meaning. However, Amundsen rearranged the letters so that they spelled ARRA. An ‘arras’ is a fine wool tapestry with Flemmish/French origins which plays an important role in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. In Hamlet’s Act 3, Scene 4, Hamlet, the protagonist, stabs and kills the character Polonius through an arras, behind which the latter was hiding. Later on, when a character asks Hamlet what he did with Polonius’ body, he replies, “I compounded it with dust.” From this, Amundsen deduced that he should ‘compound’ the word YETA with the word DUST.
An old tradition in cryptography is to assign numbers to letters. In this system, the letter A is equal to 1, B = 2, C = 3, etc. In his book, Abecedarium, Francis Bacon apparently reveals, in a roundabout way, that he is familiar with this system.
Amundsen compounded YETA with DUST thusly: Y+D, E+U, T+S, and A+T. After he assigned each letter its numerical value and added them together, he got the values 27, 25, 37, and 20. The first three numbers here are too high to correspond with a letter of the alphabet. In order to rectify this, Amundsen subtracted 24 from the first three numbers (remember the Latin alphabet during Elizabethan and Jacobean times only had 24 letters) and arrived at 3, 1, 13, 20. These letters correspond with the letters CANV, respectively.
Amundsen replaced the letters YETA in the original code solution with these new letters, CANV, so that the new solution reads:
Here, the name enclosed reveals itself to be FR BACAN.
In the end, this solution reveals the ‘words’ W SHAXPEARE FR BACAN. The remaining letters are ARRAV.
Although this supposed solution of the supposed code on Shakespeare’s gravestone is far from being concrete proof that Francis Bacon was the real author of the Shakespearean works, it was enough to cause Petter Amundsen to abandon his original search for the code in Gann’s The Tunnel Thru the Air and concentrate wholeheartedly on getting to the bottom of this Shakespearean mystery.
By now, some of you might be wondering So what? Even if there is a possibility that Francis Bacon wrote Shakespeare’s plays, what does any of this have to do with Oak Island? The answer, according to Peter Amundsen, lies in Shakespeare’s First Folio.
The First Folio is the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, by John Heminges and Henry Condell, actors of the King’s Men playing company for which Shakespeare wrote his plays. Before the First Folio was published in 1623, a number of Shakespeare’s plays had already been published individually in Quarto. A Quarto is a booklet comprised of pages which have been folded in half twice (to make four double-sided pages). However, as many of these early Quarto editions were considered ‘bad Quartos’- Quartos which were pirated by audience members who attended the performances of Shakespeare’s plays and wrote down the scripts as they heard them- and as all of Shakespeare’s original, hand-written manuscripts have been lost to history, the First Folio is considered to be one of the earliest and most authentic publications of the Shakespearean works.
In the 2006 book Organisten, Petter Amundsen reveals a myriad of what he claims to be secret messages and clues linking the Shakespearian works with Francis Bacon, Free Masonry, and Rosicrucianism, hidden inside the First Folio. Specifically, Amundsen claims that these alleged clues imply that Francis Bacon was the actual author of the Shakespearean works, and that the Shakespearean works were a Rosicrucian project. Some of these clues are manifest in acrostic messages (in which the first letter of each line spells out a message vertically down the page). Others Amundsen reveals by counting words, lines, and pages using Masonic and Rosicrucian numbers, as well as the numerical values of particular words (remember, it was an established policy for cryptographers and steganographers to assign numerical values to letters; ex. A=1, B=2, C=3, etc.), such as FRANCIS BACON and POET. Others still Amundsen uncovers by drawing Masonic shapes and symbols (like Pythagorean 3-4-5 triangles, pentagons, circles, and the Masonic Square and Compass) directly onto pages of the First Folio; reversing words, numbers, and geometric shapes; taking note of mysterious typographical and page-numbering errors; translating English words and letters into Latin and Greek; identifying anagrams (words which are made by rearranging letters); and interpreting plays-on-words. In addition, Amundsen uses these same methods to find similar clues in the works of Francis Bacon and Ben Jonson (a 17th Century English playwright and poet who was a friend of Shakespeare’s and a close associate of Francis Bacon), as well as in the plaque on Shakespeare’s funerary monument, located in Stratford-Upon-Avon’s Trinity Church in which Shakespeare is buried. To the skeptic, many of these supposed clues appear to be the result of nothing more than coincidence when considered individually. However, the sheer magnitude of Amundsen’s findings, coupled with a handful of particularly convincing pieces of evidence, give credence to the notion that the Norwegian organ player might be onto something.
Why would Francis Bacon hide the fact that he was the true author of the Shakespearean works? Why wouldn’t he take credit for the spectacular plays and poetry which have come to be regarded as some of the greatest pieces in the history of English literature? Amundsen- along with many so-called ‘Baconians’ who believe Francis Bacon was the true author of the Shakespearean plays and sonnets- believes that Bacon did this so as to not hinder his political career. Bacon was a noble, and during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, it was seen as unbecoming for someone of the upper class to write verse and dramatic poetry. Furthermore, much of the content of the Shakespearean works is politically volatile, and could land its author, were he a member of the upper class, in serious trouble.
Another question that arises when considering the possibility that Francis Bacon wrote all of the Shakespearean works is that of where Bacon found the time to complete them. There are a total of 835,997 words in Shakespeare’s plays alone. It would have taken a single man a tremendous amount of time to conceive of, pen, and edit such a quantitatively tremendous and qualitatively exquisite volume of work. And Francis Bacon was not an idle man; the English nobleman accomplished an impressive amount in his 65 years under his own name. As mentioned earlier, he was a parliamentarian, a jurist, a scientist and a philosopher who wrote a number of texts relevant to his professions. Amundsen addresses this question by stating that is it entirely possible that Bacon received help in writing the Shakespearean plays and sonnets from fellow Rosicrucians. He maintains that a number of these freethinkers might have worked under the supervision of Bacon, who was likely their leader, and published their collective content under the name of an up-and-coming actor from Stratford-upon-Avon named William Shakespeare, with whom they had made a deal.
Amundsen goes on to point out a number of hidden messages in Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets which, when combined with other secret messages found in the writings of Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, and the Rosicrucian manifestos, apparently illustrate a celestial map using stars and constellations. The hidden messages seem to indicate that a treasure of some kind is buried at a point where the star Deneb was in zenith over the earth in the early 1600’s- a point which, when calculated, appears to be one of the many islands off the coast of Nova Scotia. Amundsen uncovers secret messages in various 17th Century documents which suggest that this island was Glouchester Island. Glouchester Island is an early name for the place we know today as Oak Island.
Interestingly, the idea that Francis Bacon might somehow be connected with Oak Island is not a new one. A number of books linking Bacon with the island have been written by various authors since the 1930’s. Up until Petter Amundsen, however, most of these writers have based their suppositions on two different Oak Island discoveries. The first of these discoveries was made in 1897 by the Oak Island Treasure Company. While drilling to a depth of 153 feet at the Money Pit, the Company recovered a small piece of sheepskin parchment, about the size of a dime, with the letters ‘vi’ handwritten on it in India ink with a quill pen. According to some accounts, when later tested, it was revealed the scrap of parchment contained traces of mercury. Today, this piece of parchment resides in Dan Blankenship’s small personal museum on Oak Island. Also, in 1937, several thousands of pieces of broken pottery were discovered by treasure hunter Gilbert Hedden at Joudrey’s Cove on Oak Island. These pottery shards also contained traces of mercury. Some speculate that the presence of mercury on Oak Island artifacts, combined with the parchment discovered on the drill bit, is evidence that Francis Bacon was somehow connected; Bacon, in his natural history book Sylva Sylvarum, writes briefly about how quicksilver, or mercury, can be used to preserve ‘bodies’ such as flowers.
To summarize thus far: Petter Amundsen has purportedly unearthed a number of secret messages hidden in various 17th Century publications- including the writings of Francis Bacon and Ben Jonson, the Rosicrucian manifestos, and Shakespeare’s First Folio- which indicate that: a) Francis Bacon was the true author of the Shakespearean works; b) there is a treasure buried on an island somewhere off the coast of Nova Scotia; c) the island in question is probably Oak Island. These claims give rise to a number of questions: 1) Who buried this treasure on Oak Island? 2) Where exactly on the island did they bury this treasure? 3) What does this treasure consist of? 4) Why was the treasure buried in the first place?
Amundsen believes that his research has already revealed the answer to the first question. Many of the hidden messages which helped Amundsen to arrive at the conclusions he did were revealed through the use of Rosicrucian and Masonic numbers and geometry. From this, Amundsen deduced that the people who buried the Oak Island treasure were probably Rosicrucians- either sympathizers with the Rosicrucian philosophy or members of an actual Rosicrucian fraternity- or some sort of proto-Freemasons, or perhaps both. Judging from the content of the plethora of hidden messages he claims to have unearthed, Amundsen also believes that Francis Bacon somehow had a major role in the treasure’s burial.
Amundsen believes that the answer to the question of the treasure’s exact location can be found by studying Nolan’s Cross. Nolan’s Cross is the name given to five conical 10-15-ton granite boulders spread throughout the middle of Oak Island which form a perfect cross. The Cross was discovered in 1981 by surveyor and treasure hunter Fred Nolan, a recently-deceased resident of Oak Island who had been searching for the Oak Island treasure since 1958. Amundsen believes that Nolan’s Cross is not only an artificially-created cross, but also a section of a larger, man-made Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life, or Etz haChayim, is a Judaic Kabbalistic symbol which represents one of the two trees in the Garden of Eden as described in the Book of Genesis (the other being the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which bore the fruit which Adam and Eve disobediently ate). The Tree of Life has 10 Sephirot, or attributes, which represent the nature of divinity. According to Fama Fraternitatis, the first Rosicrucian manifesto, Rosacrucians were both Christians and cabalists (practitioners of Kabbalah). Therefore, according to Amundsen, Nolan’s Cross, being both a cross and a Tree of Life, would be a perfectly appropriate Rosicrucian symbol.
When Amundsen projected the Tree of Life onto Nolan’s Cross, it fit perfectly. The stone labelled stone A corresponded with the ‘Crown’ Sephirot, stone C matched ‘Understanding’, stone B matched ‘Wisdom’, stone D matched ‘Beauty’, and stone E matched ‘Foundation’. Amundsen believed that the key to the Oak Island Treasure lay at the site of one of the Sephirots, and intended to travel to Oak Island to investigate the points himself.
Upon contacting David Tobias, one of the two partners of the Triton Alliance (the contemporary Oak Island treasure-hunting syndicate; the other partner being Dave Blankenship), Petter Amundsen received permission to investigate his hypothetical Sephirots for three days in the spring of 2003. On May 25, 2003, he, along with a small crew, arrived on Oak Island and immediately set about measuring the distance between the tips of the conical stones that made up Nolan’s Cross. As anticipated, the length between the stones was perfectly congruent with the corresponding Sephirots on the Tree of Life.
Amundsen and the crew went on to investigate several of the sites where Sephirots would be if the Tree of Life was projected onto Nolan’s Cross. The first one they investigated was ‘Kingdom’, at the bottom of the Tree of Life. Although a metal detector found no traces of metal in the area, a quick manual dig revealed that a large flat stone lay buried at the ‘Kingdom’ site just below the surface.
After finding the flat stone at the Kingdom point, the crew located the ‘Victory’ point. There, the crew found another flat stone similar to the one they had found at the ‘Kingdom’ point.
After finding the ‘Victory’ stone, the crew rowed into the middle of Oak Island’s triangular swamp on a dingy in search of the ‘Mercy’ point. Although the crew found the point with little difficulty, they could do little more; the ‘Mercy’ point is covered by several metres of swampy water. Having done all they could do in the time allotted to them, Amundsen and his team packed it in and returned to Norway.
Somewhat crestfallen, Amundsen returned to the aforementioned 17th Century manuscripts to see what he had missed. In those books, he discovered what he believes to be clear indications that the ‘Mercy’ point is the precise location at which the treasure is buried. The problem with the ‘Mercy’ point, however, is that it is located in the centre of Oak Island’s triangular swamp. If something were indeed buried at the ‘Mercy’ point, it follows that the Oak Island swamp might possibly be a man-made pond constructed in order to hide the burial spot- a theory which treasure hunter and Oak Island resident Dan Blankenship had held for years- and that at least one among those who buried the treasure on Oak Island was an engineering genius who possessed the technology and the skill to manipulate vast quantities of water.
Fortunately for Amundsen, one such aquatic engineer was a close associate of Francis Bacon. 17th Century British mining engineer Thomas Bushell was Bacon’s servant from 1608 until 1621, when Bacon was impeached on charges of corruption. Bushell was one of Bacon’s servants who had accepted bribes from people engaged in lawsuits on his master’s behalf. When Bacon was convicted, Bushell disappeared for three years. Some believe he retired to the Isle of Wight in the Irish Sea, where he lived disguised as a fisherman. However, Amundsen, using passages from Bushell’s 1659 book Abridgement as evidence, believes Bacon sent him on a special mission to the New World, possibly to oversee digging operations on Oak Island. After a three years’ absence, Bushell returned to England. He remained there until Francis Bacon’s death in 1626, whereupon he left England again, ostensibly travelling to either Lundy, another island in the Irish Sea, or the Calf of Man, a tiny island off the southwest coast of the Isle of Man. Amundsen instead believes he went back to Oak Island in order to carry out Francis Bacon’s last request. Bushell eventually returned to England in 1628, where he made a name for himself as Britain’s foremost mining engineer. One of his specialties was the manipulation of water.
Amundsen believes that it is possible that Bushell, during his extended absences, buried a treasure on Oak Island through the use of penal labour (a subject on which Bushell has written). Then, using his aquatic engineering expertise, he manipulated freshwater that was already on the island and drowned the burial site in a swamp.
If Bushell and company really did bury something on Oak Island, what was it? Amundsen maintains that clues in Bushell’s writings- as well as those in the writings of Francis Bacon, the first of the Rosicrucian manifestos, and an inscription below the Francis Bacon tomb/monument in St. Michael’s Church in St. Albans, UK- suggest that the Oak Island treasure might include a mummified body (perhaps the preserved corpse of Francis Bacon), a number of specially-preserved manuscripts (perhaps medieval Rosicrucian texts, the original, handwritten Shakespearean manuscripts, or the lost works of Francis Bacon), the Menorah (the seven-branched lampstand of pure gold crafted during the Exodus and used in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem), and possibly even the Ark of the Covenant (the chest containing the stone tablets on which Moses inscribed the Ten Commandments, which occupied the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Solomon).
If Amundsen’s theory is to be believed, we know the When, the Who, the Where, and the What behind the treasure buried on Oak Island. One final question remains: Why was the treasure buried in the first place? Amundsen believes that the Rosicrucian proto-Masonic Europeans who buried a body, secret manuscripts, the Menorah, and the Ark of the Covenant on Oak Island in the 1600’s were realizing an ancient dream shared by many orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians: specifically, the construction of the Third Temple, a Holy Temple prophesized in the
Book of Ezekiel.
In Jewish tradition, and according to Masonic and Cabbalist teachings, the First Temple, also known as Solomon’s Temple, was built in the mid-10th Century BC on the orders of the Hebrew King Solomon. This Temple, which was erected on what is now the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, housed the Ark of the Covenant and the Menorah in an inner sanctuary known as the Holy of Holies. According to Rabbinic literature and the Hebrew Bible, the First Temple was destroyed in 587 BC by the armies of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II. The Babylonians razed the town and kept meticulous records of their plunder. Although their booty included Temple treasures, the Menorah and the Ark of the Covenant were never mentioned.
According to the Old Testament, the Jewish people built a Second Temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in 516 BC. Between 20 and 19 BC, the Judeo-Roman client-king Herod the Great expanded it on a massive scale. Thereafter, the Second Temple was also known as Herod’s Temple. Herod’s Temple stood until 70 AD, when Roman legions under the Emperor Titus sacked Jerusalem and razed much of the city.
Ever since the destruction of the Second Temple, many orthodox Jews, and later fundamentalist Christians, have yearned to see the construction of a Third Temple on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, as prophesized in the Book of Ezekiel. The most obvious impediment to realizing such a goal is the fact that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been dominated by the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the iconic Dome of the Rock- both Islamic structures built under the Umayyad Caliphate since the 7th Century AD. In order to build the Third Temple in accordance with the specifications laid out in the Book of Ezekiel, one of these historic Islamic structures would have to be destroyed.
Fortunately, Amundsen believes that a Third Temple of sorts is already built on Oak Island. He speculates that Bushell and the Rosicrucians used boulders to construct a temple layout which unified the Christian Cross with the Jewish Tree of Life; i.e. Nolan’s Cross. Underneath this Third Temple they buried the Menorah and the Ark of the Covenant, two of the most sacred artifacts in Judeo-Christian tradition. Specifically, Amundsen believes the Rosicrucians buried the Temple treasures at the Mercy point, which is located in the middle of the Oak Island swamp.
Amundsen’s theory first appeared in print in the 2006 book Organisten, or The Organist (renamed The Seven Steps to Mercy: with Shakespeare’s Key to the Oak Island Templum in 2015), by Norwegian novelist Erlend Loe. Organisten is essentially a series of edited interviews in which Amundsen explains his theory to Loe, along with a truly impressive, complicated, and often-interconnected assortment of supposed evidence for it.
In 2009, Amundsen presented his theory again, this time in the form of a 4-part TV mini-series directed by Jorgen Friberg called Sweet Swan of Avon. In this TV series, which first aired on Norway’s largest TV station NRK1, Amundsen has his theory assessed by a number of academic professionals, including Shakespearean scholar Professor Stanley Wells, Rosicrucian scholar Tobias Churton, cryptographic historian David Kahn, and 17th Century print expert Jola Sigmond. The TV series is now freely available on Vimeo.
In 2013, Amundsen theory was showcased in a documentary directed by Jorgen Friberg entitled Shakespeare: The Hidden Truth. In this film, English actor and Shakespearean scholar Dr. Robert Crumpton confronts Amundsen in an attempt to debunk his theory that the Shakespearean works were not, in fact, written by William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon. The inconsonant pair embark upon an adventure which takes them to Norway, England, Switzerland, and ultimately to Oak Island.
That same year, in the summer, Amundsen worked with the film crew of The Curse of Oak Island. This work was later showcased in the show’s fourth episode, The Secret of Solomon’s Temple, which first aired on January 26, 2014. In the episode, Amundsen submits his theory to Rick and Marty Lagina and their crew. Later in the episode, Amundsen sets out with Marty and Marty’s son Alex to ‘search’ for a hypothetical stone buried at the Kingdom Point which Amundsen had actually discovered years earlier, during his 2003 visit to Oak Island. However, since Amundsen’s 2003 adventure, treasure hunter and Oak Island landowner Dan Blankenship had re-buried the stone in order to hide the potential breakthrough from rival treasure hunter Fred Nolan. Amundsen, who was not entirely sure where the stone was reburied, guided the Laginas to the stone’s general location, and unwittingly selected the wrong stone to unearth. While the trio dug it up, Marty recited relevantly-adulterated lines from Robert Service’s The Cremation of Sam McGee while Amundsen winced to himself, realizing halfway through that he had indeed selected the wrong stone. When the stone was finally dug up, Amundsen admitted his error, much to the chagrin of the Lagina father and son. The Norwegian organist was saved further humiliation thanks to the resourcefulness of Alex Lagina, who promptly identified the correct stone, which the trio immediately unearthed.
According to Amundsen in a 2015 addendum to Organisten, his relationship with the Lagina brothers and with The Curse of Oak Island’s production team came to an abrupt end in 2014, when he publicly supported an amendment to Nova Scotia’s Bill 40, the Oak Island Treasure Act. Specifically, Amundsen supported a proposal submitted by Denise Paterson-Rafuse, the MLA of Chester, Nova Scotia, that there should be a stipulation that Oak Island treasure hunters have their work supervised by an archaeologist. The Laginas and the TV show’s producers are in staunch opposition to this proposition, ostensibly fearing that having an archaeologist on board might greatly hinder excavation projects.
Amundson further elaborates upon his theory in his own 2014 book entitled Oak Island & the Treasure Map in Shakespeare. In this book, he fleshes out concepts he introduced in Organisten, and presents many new pieces of supporting ‘evidence’ which he has gleaned from various 17th Century publications and artwork.
Although Amundsen has successfully outlined his theory via several different media, his is far from finished. Right now, he and director Jorgen Friberg are in the process of creating yet another TV series on his Rosicrucian theory. This TV series is to be called Seven Steps to Mercy.
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