143. 7 February 2003 [ES] (Burgoyne Folio; Northumberland MS)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs. Mathew’s letters)

Dear Hayat,

   Well, the Burgoyne folio was eventually discovered in one of the dampest, dankest, dingiest and direst (not to say dirtiest) corners of the entire London Library; and it has weighed heavy on my bag (not to say conscience) for the rest of the week. I'm only sorry that my helpful suggestion of a general trawl round other such corners and lower shelves was not acted upon –  I'm sure it would have disclosed many other old members, many of whom will have been missing for months.

   But I fear I'm still far from satisfied with Charles Hamilton's Chapter XIV; indeed, his 150 and 167 seem to me to show that Shakespeare does not show his hand in the Northumberland manuscript at all. 'Strikingly similar' (p. 207) just won't do, and nor will 'I suppose' etc. I don't like his 'forgeries' (least of all 190) either, or his notion that Shakespeare was murdered. He's too often hasty, as he concedes (p. 223). as with that terrible faux-pas about the Cheshire Cheese, though he doesn't mention that (which, I may not have told you, once came between us) – no doubt owing, as Gilbert would have said, 'to his terrible taste for tippling' combined with old age, the inadequacies (not to say ravages) imposed by which are never far from my thoughts – or those of our latest publishers. There has to be a reason why the only name I can remember is Alzheimer; and I'm more of broken reed than ever. Forgive me.

   Love, as ever,