123. 9 June 1997 [NM] (Schooldays memories; Spanish civil war)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Eric,

A few lines to thank you for your last - 1 May, a long time ago. I've been having family visitors and no time or energy to work. But still appreciate immensely any lines from you, with such signatures as: 'to get on I have to get off'. (Bacon: 'hear me out: you were never in'.)

   You were visiting a school-friend when you wrote. They are important in our lives. My latest exchange with a Spanish school friend was moving. We went to university together, the rich days when we had a galaxy of eminent thinkers to lecture to us at the Faculty of Philosophy, looking right onto the snows of the Guadarrama. The Civil war bust that up and I landed in the fog three floors underground at King's College, London, where a very dull class of logic was given to students in journalism wanting to avoid maths. There was a group of us bright 'hidalgos' (ie 'children of somebody') gathering round coffee tables and producing magazines imitating our fathers, but before any of us began a career we were dispersed to the ends of the earth by the Franco regime. Antonio stayed in Madrid, and we did not meet again until, after Franco's death, my father went to take up his membership of the Academy (with a firmly non-political speech entitled 'Science and Poetry'). By then we had both retired! That was twenty years ago. Recently (aged 86) he produced an epoch-making four volume history of the Spanish Liberal Movement, and I wrote to thank him for my copy. Last month I received a letter from his wife, enclosing a blank page, with one line in his hand: 'Nieves, your name is friendship', he began, but did not continue, because, having finished his lifework, he died. To which the only reply is your firm decision to carpe diem (including among other flowers to be picked, of course, the Real Shakespeare II and my book).

   I am delighted that you think Sh. was working at his collected plays. I hope you give us some evidence.

   Some time let me know your view about the contestation of his title to bear arms (Akrigg photocopy) and (re the Oxford Bible page) about the Cardenio episode as possibly in Shakespeare's hand. What a pity none of today's students are interested in hand writing.