92. 29 July 1996 [NM] (Schubert and Melville; Richard II)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Eric

   Life hasn't allowed me to write to you sooner, your last a month ago.

   I am thrilled that we shall soon see Edward III. Can't wait for it. And even more thrilled that you are planning some handwriting comparisons. The only paladin left in the field! Unless you manage to recruit Charles Nicholl. Has your lunch with him taken place yet?

   With regard to Schubert I remember dear Herman Melville. 'Oh life, time, cash and patience!' Don't give up. And don't give up on the real Shakespeare either. What riches. Think of all the people who don't know what to do with their lives!

   Anarchists keeping order in Barcelona. It was a great time, when every newly seceded group set out to impose law and order on any lesser group attempting to separate. I heard from an eye-witness of one anarchist leader who at every station his train stopped at (and there were many) demanded at gun-point that the salute 'adios' be replaced by 'salud!' Finally he told his companions that he would shoot the next stationmaster who said adios, and he held his gun ready. At the next stop he was greeted with 'salud'. Sinking back in his seat with relief, he exclaimed 'Gracias a Dios!'

   I'd be interested to see your comments on our friend Michell. [...]  The agreeable and astute Judith is an old college friend of my daughter's, and of mine too. Under my influence she fell in love with my much admired friend, Isak Dinesen, and wrote a brilliant biography of her - which nevertheless (pace, or rather guerra Freud) missed the top level of that bright being. The result was she gave her blessing to 'Out of Africa', the most awful betrayal of Isak Dinesen, who was only redeemed from that degrading distortion by a perfect film of one of her stories made in Denmark, Babette's Feast. Nevertheless Judith is a sweet and flamelike creature.

   Richard II. Je me rends. No conclusions to be drawn. But don't you either draw conclusions such as that the additional bits relate to the Essex rebellion. Essex's followers demanded the play 'of the killing of Richard', and that killing was always there.

   I'm following an interesting clue on Shakespeare portraits. More later.

   I have the cash, and time, and patience. It's the life I ask the gods for.

   Enclosed review of my book the absolute best so far.

   Good work and carry your spear high! Christopher tells me he spoke to you. He too wields his spear, undiscouraged by the battle of contracts.

   With love, always