136. 27 January 2000 [ES] (Sonnets; Shakespeare or Bacon?; Pericles)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Hayat,

   Thanks for yours of last year. At last we seem to have placed das verfluchte Fest der Liebe, as my dear dead friends used to call Christmas, safely behind us. And we seem to have survived the millennium itself, so far.

   [...]Perhaps mind and body are one and the same? Moddy might be a good name for the resultant normally nameless amalgam. And one's better than two, said my Surrey co-burgess William of Ockham (the second best Will in the world?).

   Which reminds me that my dear friend Evert Sprinchorn, retired Vassar professor (and hence Emeritus, which he explains as E, not, meritus, worth it) has suddenly succumbed to Shakespeare mania, a disorder which lies in wait for all specialists, and now believes that the Sonnets were addressed to Prince Henry, son of King James. I trust that heresy won't reign long.

   I had a nice sympathetic letter from dear Diana Burlton, at whose table we once met, to decide which was which, Shakespeare or Bacon. I'm sure we gave a good account of ourselves and our subjects. And Christopher rang up, just as kindly. I gather that I can now confidently compare him to the repaired Hubble space telescope; he sees further and clearer than anyone else. I don't see why he has to confine himself to music; how about painting, in Cézanne country?

   I'm sorry you're having trouble with feminists; but why should they be anti-Bacon? Sounds like a coven, as you say. Just such a witch once entertained Dorothy Parker, who found in an outhouse a strange-looking toothbrush which inspired her to wonder whether perhaps her hostess rode on it at Hallowe'en.

   For the rest, I'm brooding darkly, dove-like wings outspread, on Pericles, a topic that I find fascinating. Or would be, save for the fact that I'm having to prepare indexes for my Brahms book, a task that started as a labour of love but looks like ending as love's labour's lost. In such spare time as I can spare, I'm reading Leigh Hunt's autobiography; he was kissed by Italian sunshine and scenery, which jumped up at him like Jenny. And he writes well about Byron and Shelley too.

   It's good to learn that you're active and writing; more power to your elbow.

   Farewell for now,

   love as ever, and best wishes and regards for what I'm told that the Americans rather disrespectfully refer to as the zeros.

   Yours Eric