72. 18 August 1995 [ES] (Shakespeare and Elizabeth; College of Arms)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Hayat,

Thanks for yours. We seem to be at cross- (not, of course, too cross) purposes about Shakespeare and Elizabeth. I don't dispute anything you say; but its relevance rather escapes me. We're not discussing rights and wrongs here, or any ethical arguments pro and con. I'm just saying that cradle Catholics (whatever their own beliefs or lack of them) don't like people who order or condone the torture and killing of their kinsfolk (whatever the alleged justifications). Substituting on both sides of the equation, Shakespeare didn't like Elizabeth. Further, on equally plain evidence, Shakespeare loved the Earl of Southampton, and admired the Earl of Essex. Might we not at least agree on those starting points?

   I've just finished revising my Edward III edition, and I've signed my Yale contract. I'll be taking the text in next week. Then I must turn to my London Univ. Shakespeare seminar subject (title: 'One Man in his Time'). Then it's the belated rediscovery that music hath Brahms.

   Today, though, I'm just off to the College of Arms to look at the 1596 drafts applying for a crest and motto on behalf of John Shakespeare and his heirs for ever. The building still stands on the same spot visited by William in person some 400 years ago; but my hosts (the College archivist, and York Herald) have apologised for the unfortunate fact that the original premises were burned down – in the Great Fire of London, but that's recent history in these parts.

   Enid has much recovered, thank you, even without benefit of yeast, which will be held in reserve for next time.

   Best, as ever,

   Yours Eric