13. 21 February 1988 [ES] (Comments on anti-anti-Baconianism; "tell what you got right, instead of what they used to get wrong")
Many thanks for your letter and consignment. I'm much impressed by your literary and historical erudition, and much taken by your lively prose style. But alas I fear I'm not your man, much though I'd have loved to be of some service to you. This is because of my own temperament and limitations, which I freely confess. I'm devoted to Bacon. For that very reason, though, I hate all his detractors. I've never paid the least attention to them, and I'm far too old to start now. I just don't much want to hear abut them, not even to hear them refuted. I hope I'm not typical of your potential readership!
Of course I've read the chapters you kindly sent me, and I've read them with interest and diligence, and could if you wished offer some detailed comments. Bu I have to say that, for the reasons given, if they'd occurred in a book I happened to be leafing through in a library, that volume would have leapt from my hand of its own accord and back on to the shelves. I just don't think of anti-anti-Baconianism as anything but doubly negative. Of course I see the case for a modicum of rehabilitation; my reservations relate only to the best way of doing that in a book. If you were disposed to think about shortening your text, one question to the asked might be what actual lie about Bacon is factually nailed here, and how effectively? In general I couldn't help wondering why you don't tell s - as perhaps in this age only you can - what you've now got right, instead of what everyone else used to get wrong? You say in your summary that a critical biography is contained within your pages, almost as a by-product of your proceedings. But what I personally want, and now more than ever, having tested your quality, is the you-and-Bacon book. I may not be alone in that. It's what Colin Haycraft wanted too, I dare say, and would gladly publish.
Well, I'm sorry if all this seems too negative, despite my advocacy of the positive approach. Forgive me.
With best wishes,
yours as ever Eric