34. 17 November 1989 [ES] (Journey to Southend; "pace"; philosophy of the turning-point; Leopardi-like freedom from fear; Germany)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Hayat,

  Lovely to hear from you. [...]

  Well, here's an interim reply to your interim letter. If my hand seems shaky one reason is that I'm on a sentimental journey for a day by the sea in my home town of Southend.

   I enclose an article which I've been saving for you and now can't identify with any precision; the latest Society of Authors journal, I expect. You may find it of some interest. I'm glad you're taken by the idea of revision for reading - inspired by the Jonson Folio? And I enjoyed your typically twinkling aperçu that pace is actually rather aggressive. Si vis pacem, para bellum is no mere parable.

   Alas editord seem rather more given to jumping on than to Edward III, so I'm back with Brahms, in nostalgic autumnal mood. But there are still essays on the stocks, including some music-book-reviewing. Can it be that I forgot to send you my reviews of Levi and Rowse? I'm told that the former is sulking away like fits, worse than Achille in his (discon)tent. I haven't yet seen the Howard-Hill book, but my dear friend Jon Mills knows all about it. He attributes the whole of Sir Thomas More to Shakespeare: his edition is getting tuned down too.

   I'm so delighted to hear about our improved health and Bacon (a clear connection there) that I feel I have to start a new page, in recognition and salutation. Perhaps there's room for a philosophy of the turning point (Wendepunktismus) as the turning and orbiting earth proceeds somewhat thus on its mysterious way. I've recently seen a mini-whirlwind also behaving thus, made visible by leaves on my lawn: the air must be full of such invisible eddies that mostly pass us by. And I now see, peering across my much loved estuary, which occasionally gives the heart a brief Leopardi-like freedom from fear, that sunlight on the sea draws our attention to otherwise indiscernible patterns of wind and wave motion, comme le vent et la mer dans la mer, meeting briefly on the surface. I'm down here renewing old acquaintance, unmet (though corresponded with) for the last 45 years or so; widow of my dear late friend Iain Hamilton, sometime editor of The Spectator, biographer of Koestler, soldier, poet and nut, and the proximate cause of my volunteering for the army at seventeen, in the vain (in every sense) hope of looking as dashing as he did in his uniform. Even at my smartest I looked (my sergeant said) like an unmade bed. Well, we won all the same: as I find myself uncharitably reflecting as I see on my TV screen moving pictures of East Berliners coming weeping through the wall. I remember a time when Germans emerged and the rest of the world wept.

   And so farewell for now, with warmest regards and greetings as ever

   yours Eric