29. 21 November 2001 (Hand D and Ironside MSS)

Dear John,


   Thanks for the latest. I'm peering at (makes a change from poring over) More at the moment. I was pleased to note that your expert finds palaeographic strength (unlike K. Duncan-Jones) in the contention that Hand D is Shakespeare's, though personally I find that its spellings are more persuasive. That's perhaps because, as I may have mentioned, I've given up palaeography as too demanding on these ancient eyes, which alas no longer have it. That may also be the explanation for my continuing failure to see the Ironside MS as the work of a professional scribe or copyist; it has far too many minim errors, for one thing. As many as Shakespeare makes, in fact. Nobody knows much about watermarks, either, unless such studies and students have improved beyond recognition in the last twenty years or so, which I for one rather doubt.

   But I entirely agree with you about Park Honan (no wonder that the equally uninspired Stanley Wells is among his few supporters) and K. Duncan-Jones.

   [...]. I think I've spared you the gory story of my fall, occasioned by my springing like a chamois (as I saw it) in my eagerness to catch a bus. Next thing I knew was that I'd taken a nose-dive, literally. In doing so I seem to have tapped an apparently inexhaustible supply of claret; as I hit the road, none too gently, I was overheard quoting, from that Scottish play, the inspired line about 'who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him'. Macbeth incidentally contains various tributes to King James, who in turn was quite chummy with its author; the relationship actually went far deeper than monarch-and-actor stuff, and I think I know why. Shakespeare, like his hero Southampton and his hero Essex regarded Elizabeth (rightly, I'd say) as a tyrant (cf Sonnet 107.14.) who really ought to be replaced by James as soon as possible, so that peace could proclaim olives of endless age.

   It was nice to have greetings from Denise and William. Perhaps the latter should also think of taking up snooker, like some of my other favourite 'Welsh people. And how: about singing?

   Best, as ever,

   Yours Eric