10. 19 June 1995 (Shakespeare's address; Midsummer Night's Dream)

Dear John,


   Thanks for yours. I suppose that everyone in Tudor London lived near their work, in the absence of public transport; so that the Westminster address given for Shakespeare in his copy of the legal text-book Archaionomia reflects the proximity of the law courts.

   I agree with what you say abut MND. Yes, the poetry is beautiful (though, bless us, it doesn't do to say so straight out in print nowadays), and also is the less highly wrought language. I love e.g. 'for never yet came anything amiss/when simpleness and duty tender it'. There are also some very funny bits, such as 'The Battle of the Centaurs, to be sung/by an Athenian eunuch to the harp?/we'll none of that'. I quite agree, and I strongly deny that any such thought crossed my mind while viewing the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, well fronted again, I thought, by my much-admired accompanist friend and Guildhall colleague Iain Burnside (I suppose it was commendably thought too chauvinist to emply a Welshman). The main prize was as absolutely right, I thought, as the lieder prize was absolutely wrong.

  But enough of that. I quite agee too that 'the Western valley' speech may well entail an element of personal reminiscence, like so much in Shakespeare which almost everyone else seems to neglect. But common sense may one day come back into fashion. Perhaps something depends on the impressionability of the age at which one first comes into contact with these works. I remember we all liked mits of MND (e.g. this is to make an ass of me) at our primary school, when we were eight or nine.

   How old is William? It was thoughtful of you to name your son thus. But I can't think of any Shakespearean connection with burgers (unless we allow Calais in Edward III). I'm getting on with that edition at the moment, while awaiting my photopgraph of the de Witt drawing from Utrecht. Meanwhile how's this (enclosed) for a 1597 sample of Shakespeare's handwriting, kindly supplied (though not as such) by the PRO?

   Doesthe Denbigh MS really have to be 1594? I suppose that the Stanley reference does date it thus, and I ought to be the last person to resist historical evidence in favour of subjective feeling. Still, I'd be happier if t were earlier.

   Best as ever,

   Yours Eric