48. 11 April 1993 [ES]

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Hayat,

Thanks for yours of 5 April. No, I didn't know that 'crucial' was Baconian; but under your guidance I've been polishing up my Novum Organum (which sounds unduly boastful; would that I even had one). It's a particular pleasure for an atheist at Easter to realise that instantia crucis has no connection with Jesus. Nor of course has the experimentum crucis, which I gather was patented by Boyle and Newton. The image of the cross-roads is especially pleasing to me; it derives from the practical approach and the discipline of having to make a decision, which either offers the rewards of possible discovery or entails the penalty of tedious backtracking, all within a real world. Academia is so sadly static in comparison; there are no cruces and hence no decisions to make, because all concerned have already arrived (both socially and intellectually, at their own conclusions, or more likely at those of their predecessors). But it seems to me that one can't actually ever be right without at least running the risk of going wrong. I liked your Don Quixote quote, and the thesis it illustrates. But I feel that there's a bit more than 'mere conjecture', or chit-chat-Chettle, about the Kind-Harts Dreame reference you mention. Stand at that crossroads, and the sign surely points in the direction of Shakespeare? He was after all the only play-maker identifiably singled out for attack by Greene, and hence prima facie the most likely to have taken offence.

   But I must whet my almost blunted purpose, which was to tell you, in case you hadn't already heard of it, about Daniel R. Coquillette's Francis Bacon, 1992, in the series Jurists: Profiles in Legal Theory, published by Edinburgh University Press (at 22 George Square, Edinburgh); x, 358 pp. ISBN 0 7486 0318 2 hardback. It's severely specialised and (for me) taxingly technical; but it contains some basic biography which seems to me very just in every sense, together with some useful chronologies etc. You may wish to acquire it for reference; if in that event you encounter any difficulty do let me know and I'd be happy to get a copy for you here and post it on.

   For the rest, I've been busy correcting page-proofs, teaching, lecturing and reviewing as well as argufying; leading the typical academic life, in fact, but outside the citadel. Like a wooden horse put out to grass, if that's possible. Christopher telephones from time to time; he sounds in good form. I'm preserving a little life in dried tubers (the nearest I get to the eternal youth you kindly wish me) and waiting for spring rain. But you, I'm happy to note, sound in very good form. This encourages me to get back to my own book, which like yours has been languishing, but in my case by my own fault. At the least sign of a breeze I shall sail out of the doldrums, probably into the Sargasso Sea; but at least a move will have been made on the chessboard of fate. To mix my metaphors into a final olla podrida, let our watchword ever be Excelsior.

   Warmest wishes, as ever,

   Yours Eric