121. 20 April 1997 [NM] (Arms; Woodstock; Frank Sypher's letter)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Eric,

Did I give you a wrong page for Montague on Bacon's arms? How very boring. It may be someone else's ref., but I do seem to remember a page – almost entirely filled, I think, with a note on this subject. Have another look. It would be in the part of his volume devoted to Bacon's fall, since this happened just before. If you get the Montague Life from London Library it would be the one I kept for many years, and should have a pencil-mark of mine.

   You reject Eagle on Shakespeare's arms, I enclose the same in Akrigg's Jacobean Pageant 1962, a good book (I have the LL copy). Any comment?

   I've found in The Mystery of William Shakespeare by one of the best Baconians, Judge Webb (1902, p 106), a ref. to Shakespeare that is not in Chambers, and since this is up your present street you might like to check it? Wm Camden in Britannia speaking of the Parish Church of Stratford: 'In the chancel lies William Shakespeare, who has given ample proof of his genius and great abilities in the forty-eight plays he has left behind him'. Webb adds, this shows how little he knew. But 48 plays in the end is more like what he did write. Did Camden know more about it than we do? Webb gives no date. The last Britannia edition was in 1607, I think. Too soon. Or was it actually in the Annales, 1615? If genuine, and before 1616, it's interesting as an early link between playwright and Stratford. Do find me an answer!

   Yes my feeling about Woodstock, for what feelings are worth, is for Sh. When are you planning to finish Sh.2? How good that you're working on it. 'How rich and great the times are now!'

   Your Oxfordian Bible pages very interesting. Comme ils s'acharnent! I don't think Shakespeare ever wrote his plays, Bible in hand, to quote from. Or annotated the Bible. The quotations came floating up, from homilies and the man or woman in the street. I'm sure they haven't looked well in Bacon as he's full of them too, and can't have had zero coincidence. But people find only what they want to. (Catherine Spurgeon, brilliant as she is, setting out early in her book to annul the Baconians, but with only AL and the Essays in hand, gives as typical of Sh. and not found in Bacon some of Bacon's most crucial images.) I wonder what those new handwriting experts are worth, and whether they'll look at the will, and Ironside. What do you think of the Cardenio episode as possibly in Shakespeare's hand?

   I presume if the cipher play of Anne Boleyn had been produced in the Globe you'd have heard of it. They are promising others from the same source! It really is a mad world, and I'm deep in it. I feel a bit like the chap who warned against keeping an open mind towards the Bacon theory, 'we are in danger of being submerged in a swirling torrent of folie lucide!'

   The fact that you can't recall a syllable of the Philips/ Keatman book on Shakespeare as a spy rather puts it in its place. But do ask Charles Nicholl what he thinks of it, if your lunch is still ahead. And if not, tell me about it.

   Which reminds me I wrote to ask Carr about the Venus and Adonis Frescoes. He tells me his book on D. Quixote has been accepted by a publishing house in Brussels. It's pure and utter cant from beginning to end.

   Your friend Sypher's latter is positively frightening. A very good analysis. I hope he publishes it somewhere. It's what we're all going towards...

   I have to give you a 'gran baccione' from Christopher, who comes up like a cork on the waves of so many troubles. Paganini should be fun.




(Handwritten notes by N. H. de Madariaga)