21. 15 July 1998 (Ironside MS; idiotic theories on Shakespeare)

Dear John,


   well, my letter might show that you hadn't explained your theory properly, or that I hadn't understood it. Or it might show that you had  explained it, and that I had understood it. I ask again - where is the actual evidence for it? And did my distinguished countryman William of Ockham live entirely in vain?

   The handwriting, now; well, that, as I see it, is a very different matter. It still looks to me very like the handwriting of the Ironside MS (which you might like to look at in the Students' Room, where I'm sure you'd be very welcome). Didn't you once obtain an affidavit to that effect from some accredited palaeographer? My own reaction, alas, attracts the riposte, which I find rather difficult to counter, that of course I'd find similarities, or (given half a chance) identities, and that anyhow the secretary hand then was as standardised as a typewriter later or a WPC now.

   Perhaps Prof. Wilson is having second thoughts? It doesn't do, in Academia, to be a maverick. Outside the herd, everyone is that, by definition; but only the herd is allowed to occupy the lush pastureland, or indeed any grazing ground at all.

   Thanks, finally, for the anthology contributions. My main difficulty is their superabundance. Once the dyke is breached, the flood will sweep everything away, no doubt including me; but also, I hope, the idiotic theory, fully as daft as 'memorial reconstruction', of Shakespeare's dispassionate objective reticence and detachment from his own times and his own personality. Honestly, whoever heard of any doctrine quite so mad as that?

   Best, as ever,