14. 24 November 1996 (Shakespeare spelling [Sonnets and Edward III])

Dear John,


   Thanks for your letter and enclosures. We get obstinate in our old age, so I trust you'll forgive me if I prefer my Aethon to your Aetites (even, perhaps, as the Tudor priest always preferred his mumpsimus to that new-fangled sumpsimus). Besides, whatever it is has to rhyme with (inventi)on, which Aetites doesn't.

   But at the moment I'm incapable of rational thought about anything... Perhaps on reflection I should stop there; but the intention was to say anything except Shakespeare's spelling, as distinct from the spelling in Shakespeare, by whatever name he's known. If it's now my turn, perhaps I could try out the latest idea. It's this: the Sonnets and Edward IIIhave in common that they misprint 'thy' as 'their', with the inference that both were set up from authorial copy. They ought, in that event, to share their spellings. I've been (alas rather laboriously and no doubt fallibly) comparing the two; and my findings A-M (there's all hat yet is donne, as Lodowick explains) are enclosed, together with a list of Ernst Honigmann's Othello Q 1622 spellings also found in the Sonnets.

   You don't happen, I suppose, to know of, or have access to, an old-spelling data-base?

   Best, as ever,

   Yours Eric