101. 2 September 1996 [ES] (Bad Quartos; University Wits; Honigmann; little Latin; various topics)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Hayat,

   Thanks for yours. The sex is feminine, as you say: so it wasn't really much of a revelation on Elgar's part to tell a crony so. In Gil Blas however it wasn't feminine. And as you say, and indeed as LaSage also says, graves don’t traditionally enclose souls; quite the contrary. So it’s all rather enigmatic, in the Elgarian tradition. I’ve sent off my essay on that subject to (aptly enough) Music and Letters, and a piece on the Shakespeare application for a grant of arms to the TLS, and an offered book on Brahms song to Faber & Faber. And here I sit in my club like Caius Marius among the ruins of Carthage. His posture and physiognomy were no doubt based on Nebuchadnezzar after he'd been put out (literally) to grass. The ultimate exemplar is perhaps Satan in Milton - round he throws his baleful eyes/that witnessed huge affliction and dismay. My temper is not improved by piped muzak in the bar, which I can't hear without framing up to write a review of it. Once a music critic...

   I've taken your sage advice on Bacon (sounds like a toasted sandwich) and signed off from Carr. The last straw - in his hair - was his discovery of a Y shape in the text from which he mystically adduced and produced BACON, after which there was NO WAY BACK. He's been silent since. [...] the whole world seems to be flying off with the fairies into the supernatural and paranormal. Shakespeare is neither black nor grey, and hence (paradoxically) old hat. I wonder whether Bacon will find a serious reviewer in the States. I hope so, but it does rather seem that the best I can hope for in the USA is a mention in something like the Sears-Roebuck sales catalogue.

   But I have your comprehensive crushing of Carr in the Bacon-Wreckers' yard: I'm much obliged. Not that he takes any notice of ammunition however armour-piercing: the most bullet-proof Carr of all time. And there's even a certain tragedy about so outrageous a lunacy, like Lear: or would be, if there was much evidence of soundness or sanity in the first place. Oh what a feeble mind is here o'erthrown somehow fails to move pity and terror. Speaking of misquotations, perhaps it should be 'old men remember': I'm here in the club for lunch with an old(er) school friend and Mentor, not to say Nestor, who still preserves (as I don't) much of my early verse.

   A propos, why don't you send me some of yours (I'm sure you're a poet - only thus can your powerful empathy with language(s) be explained).

   Which reminds me that I've just been reading Ernst Honigmann on Q Othello, where he has found Shakespearean spellings which, to my unconcealed glee, are copiously duplicated in the manuscript behind Q E3. I've dropped Ernst a line accompanied by an offer to do the same for Ironside. He may not take me up on this. But meanwhile I can't help noticing, and have duly mentioned, the rather obvious fact that some of these undoubtedly authentic spellings cannot conceivably be those of a Latinist, to whom 'accumilate' and 'prophane', among many others, would be impossible. Little Latin, small Latin: how true. So he can't be Bacon either.

   Farewell for now,

   love as ever,

   yours Eric