28 March 1983

Dear Eliot,

Thanks fo yours of 25, and the splendid word‑list. It's good t know th my you Canadian friend, Martin of Merton (presumably chosed for the sake of the euphony) is among subscribers. Emrys Jones is also predictable, as is the fact that Magdalen didn't after all elect me to their fellowship, so I'm looking to Leverhulme to do their stuff. I'in more sanguine about that, since Asa Briggs is i/c purse‑strings, and i’m in his good books for solving a shorthand system in the Clarke MS diaries in his Worcester library, thus rendering them readable (and perhaps even saleable). The originals were brought out on microfiche by Harvester, whom I thusg have among my own publishers. I wonder what John Spiers's interest is? perhaps he'd like to do some microfiches of Ironside MS? Thanks for telling me of your daughter's Harvester impint; they seem to get hold of some first‑rate things, and I'll certainly follow that up, though interlibrary loans, excellent, service though they are, do rather tend to take time.


     A couple of points on the actual list, if I may. I think Ironside has 2 'basely' advs: 'I was as mean as any basely born', 280, and 'What, will a basely yield? The devil forfend', 1999, and 'bloodthirsty' adj, 'into the hands of bloodthirsty Danes’, 1625. There's also a sort of 'certify'; v.; “(this letter) certifies me that he is in grace with Edmund Ironside' 1529‑30; the construction of 'certify' plus clause, OED 3b, also occurs in 1H6 II.iii.32.

      Glad you liked the story of the little Ironsides; filings, as it were. I’m enclosing Ronay's summary article, which may interest you; no need to return it. And it's nice to know that Gary Taylor is active, though not in replying to the letter I wrote him on 3 February, drawing his attention to certain very striking Ironside parallels in Henry V (the authors of' both were familiar with Robert Recorde's illustration of Fortune, and Plutarch's life of Alexander) and also the Edward III point that its author and the author of HW both make the same mistake about Scotland, which suggests that they were perhaps the same person also. No wonder he's uneasy. I was interested to hear about his proposed letter, which seems to me to be asking for trouble, leading with his chin à la Proudfoot. Just the quixotic stance of those old‑fashioned Oxford chaps, perhaps. They’ll all be going bad to disintegration of the canon next, in the rush to explode Ironside and blow everything sky‑high. I'll be interested to see if he dares to say that 1H6 isn't Shakespeare, in defiance of his own Oxford orthodoxy, including Emrys Jones.

      More seriously, doesn’t the proposal that “Ironside's kinship with (non‑Shakespearean) 1H6 counts against Ironside's authenticity” entail, on your stats, that the even greater kinship of 2H6 with 1H6 counts against 2H6’s authenticity; and then vocabularies akin to 2H6, thus proved spurious by its kinship with 1H6, already proved spurious by its kinship with Ironside and known also to be spurious a priori will in their turn count against 3H6 and Titus with an unfortunate domino effect on the whole First Folio? We’ve already seen that some people would rather abandon Edward III than admit Ironside; I'm sure there are some who would rather sacrifice all Shakespeare altogether than be asked to believe anything they don't want to or can't get used to!

      It seems to me that if, in a sane world, Gary Taylor accepts that vocab. kinship supports common authorship, then he can't pick and choose among your results. Don't your figures support common authorship of 1H6 with 2/3/Titus and so on?

      I thought I might look at the quite manageable question of how your rare‑word methodology applies to those lines which are unique to True Tragedy and Contention, appended to Penguin 2/3 Henry VI. Also of interest to me would be the lines unique to Hamlet Q1 and also to A Shrew. Come to think of it, I could use the London Library complete Spevack, which of course concords all the so‑called Bad Quartos. I'm working on a new project, perhaps for the TLS, to show how absurd the 'memorial reconstruction' theory is in all those contexts. Isn't it very odd that those Gilbertian pirates, in 1600 as in l590/3, despite amazing differences of methos, always had one feature in common ‑ they employed a captive poetic apprentice to write hundreds of otherwise unknown lines of blank verse. Same chap too, perhaps, as vocab. analysis might show?