5. 13 May 1995 (Pedigree Roll/Ironside handwritings; Shakespeare as Doron in 'Menaphon')

Dear John,


I'm briefly interrupting the Arthur Sullivan birthday celebrations to say thanks for yours. As to the sketch-maps, I get the picture, so to speak, and I must say that its main features look very familiar to me. I had noticed the Pedigree Roll/Ironside handwriting resemblances, but didn't include them in my book; I thought that I already had enough comparative examples, and that almost no one would take the faintest interest. I see I was gratifyingly wrong about the latter point, but anyhow the correspondences still need a lot more work (I think there are some consistent differences as well as similarities) and I don't have copy of the Roll. The Stratford sale of land document will also need to be compared. Really, one's heart sinks. But I now have a large photograph of that Stratford item; and in view of your very welcome comments I'll see if the BL will kindly sell me a photocopy of the Roll. Then, with any luck (and perhaps some new spectacles) I'll try to get back to those taxing topics in due course. Have you had or heard any further Denbigh/Ironside comments?

   The best of good fortune to you, meanwhile, in all your own endeavours. You're making such notable use of The Annotator that I hope you'll allow me to offer that spare copy to you as a gift, with my compliments in every sense. I'm sure you'll also find Moray McLaren's trailer “By me” (1949) of much interest: I'll lend you my copy if you can't get it through the local library services (which I've found invaluable over the years; they've cheerfully trawled Europe for me in search of rare 19th century German items for example).

   How's your Greek? Mine's barely extant (which is one of the few characteristics I share with Shakespeare): all Greek is still Greek to me. Another correspondent gratifyingly tells me that I must be right in saying that it was Shakespeare whom Greene satirised as Doron in his novella Menaphon, because Doron actually means spear! Well, I didn't know that (sheer ignorance, as Dr. Johnson observed). Still less did I know that, as my new correspondent assures me, the other Greene name Mullidor in Never too late actually means 'Shakespeare'. They're surely the same character: rustic bumpkins, like the young Shakespeare himself, as I also seek to show. Perhaps this further identification relies on some rather esoteric English etymology: 'mull' means 'grind' or 'rub'. and hence perhaps 'shake': they all share to-ing and fro-ing, I suppose. But might it be that 'mull' or something of the sort actually means 'shake' in Greek?

   I'm also asking an erstwhile colleague in the civil service who spends his retirement playing Bach and translating Homer: his name too, need I say, is Jones.

   Best, as ever,