25. 20 December 2000 (Heywood; Sonnets; suppositions)

Dear John,


   Thanks for yours. What makes you think that Heywood is specifically referring to A Lover's Complaint? No doubt I've missed that reference in Chambers; where does it occur? I've always supposed that Heywood was thinking of the two sonnet versions already published inPassionate Pilgrim, and that his 1612 reference to 'published them under his own name' meant only that he had seen the Sonnets 1609 volume, not seriously studied it (otherwise he'd have noticed the textual differences) still less drawn any inferences about the relation between W.S. and T.T. I don't know of any evidence that there was one.

   As to the supposed time-lag, wasn't that just par for the course? Everyone says for example that The Comedy of Errors was written in about 1592; but it wasn't published until 1623. Is Shakespeare supposed to have tried to suppress that too?

   OK, 1-17 were addressed to the Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare's famous (and, so far as is known, his only) patron and dedicatee? So he was also the recipient of the rest, in so far as they're addressed to a young male patron, as a matter of 'duty' (see sonnet 26 and the two dedications). So why weren't the sonnets sent to their recipients? [so perhaps [sic] the so-called Dark Lady belonged to the Southampton circle?] And why in the world would poor old Thorpe 'rearrange' them? On what basis?. And why do we need William Herbert, any more than we need Francis Bacon? Why would Thorpe inscribe someone else's sonnets to someone who had, he thought, 'inspired' them? Would any publisher do this? Would you? And why would Shakespeare object to Thorpe's inscription? Where's the evidence for any of this? Sorry, but I'm totally unimpressed by 'seems to me', 'perhaps indicates to me', 'I think', 'it could be', 'the mysteries abound', ' lack of information', 'another possibility' and so forth. Where's the actual evidence for any such suppositions?

   And where's my Christmas card?

   Best, as ever,
   Yours Eric