30. 2 December 2001 (Sonnet 126; Hamlet/Hamnet; Southampton)

Dear John,


Well, I respectfully agree with your palaeographic friend about Hand D. But  what's the date of it?

   Again with respect, I don't think you're right about 126. Firstly, you don't sound very persuaded yourself that it has anything to do with Hamlet Shakespeare (and why incidentally do you call his son Hamlet/Hamlet? That boy must have been baptised in, and been known as one such forename, not two - unless you imagine him pursued by his parents with cries of 'come here, Hamlet/Hamlet?'. Or else you've joined the ranks of Nye, etc., who ascribe to the Shakespeares their own doubts about what that child was actually called).

   The trouble with the theory that Thorpe didn't have Shakespeare's approval for his publication is, first of all, that it's only a theory; secondly and conformably, there's no real evidence for it, so we can continue to manage without it; and thirdly that there is, after all, a publication, with the information that these poems had never been printed before. And all right, 126 isn't a sonnet in the modern sense; but so what? Nobody else (not even Kerrigan) supposes that there's any special mystery here. OK, so Shakespeare in 'my lovely boy' is throwing his mind, and the reader's, and as you might have said, Southampton's, back to the beginning of the sequence. But doesn't that rule out any suggestion of Hamlet/Hamlet? And what could have rounded off that sequence more effectively than Southampton's actually having the offspring that the early Sonnets enjoined him to have?

   Best regards and wishes

   Yours as ever Eric