118. 9 March 1997 [NM] (Bacon's poetry; Baconiana; Hamlet)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Eric,        

   Lots to chat about. I'll start with yours of 26 ii. Puns and jokes – in a sense the very heart of poetry. The striking link between two incongruous thoughts that provoke a flash of discovery at the point of meeting. And what I love about Bacon is that his science is pure poetry. The place, deeper down, where realities meet. But now I'm deep in Shakespeare and that goes a lot further. I'm struck with how much that's both fearful and delightful happens in the depths of the sea. How can Michell begin to solve the 'Shakespeare problem' by dividing up sonnets from poems from plays and sharing them out...? Queries arising out of his book: Do you know a book he mentions, by Graham Phillips and Martin Keatman, exposing Shakespeare as a spy? What's this (p.186) about Shakespeare's Geneva Bible, in other words, Oxford's? (Any less likely candidate as a human being! Far better a corrupt judge and an ungrateful traitor, not to speak of butcher and deer-stealer!) And do you know anything about the Venus and Adonis frescoes painted in a St Albans Inn 7 years after the poem, which Carr makes such a fuss about?

   Music ciphers do sound fascinating. And by the way, your article Cryptanalysis and Historical Research (TLS 4 v '77) looks interesting. Any way of sending me a copy without too much rummaging? What do you know about the alleged discovery of Sh's hand in a BL MS in December (reported in the press in 1972 and in Baconiana 173, p.8): The Birth of Hercules, 1973?

   About the oblong shape of the TV picture. My one and only disagreement with Christopher. I do dislike the new frame (as I did the old one they used in the cinema for battles) which he is enthusiastic about. (There's an even worse one, with height half width, like a slit). In monologues it distances you from the actor, aside from cutting off the actors' heads, and requiring a constant filling in of the sides with irrelevant decorative material. Where do you stand in this controversy? Why can't they have a change about system, switch to the wider frame for battles and processions (as in Christopher' s Schubert) and back to the normal picture proportion for monologue, and quiet scenes, landscapes...?

  As for Shakespeare's special internet 'web' (theme word of late 19th century, what with the deconstructors and this), I'm suspicious. It's such a chaotic affair without values, order or 'degree'. So absolutely unorganic. I have a positive phobia for all things 'virtual'. As for instance a virtual reconstruction of the whole of Egyptian Thebes, looked like rows of maggots. (Dare I say it? That our age having turned its back on virtue, is plunged in virtuality?)       

   I enclose some tit-bits from Baconiana, re Lambarde signature and Shakespeare's coat of arms, which you probably know of, in case they're of any interest. And from my favourite Baconian, Edwin Reed (1902), the following:


Of all the absurdities of Shakespearian criticism, the notion that the first quarto of Hamlet is simply an imperfect version of the second one of 1604, taken down at shorthand in the theatre and surreptitiously printed, is perhaps the most glaring. Besides the occurrence of many passages in the one (1603) which are not in the other (1604) – a fact that ought to settle the question at once –  the difference in mental power between the two is so great that nothing but the intervention of a comparatively long period of development in the life of the author can account for it.

   Re my last on the too sullied flesh, I see now that in the first Hamlet (1603) it's 'too much grieved and sullied flesh'.


   No more room but to send my best of good wishes, ever