71. 4 July 1995 [ES] (Hotson and Southampton; Elizabeth I as early Hitler)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Hayat,

   Today’s the anniversary of my arrival in Virginia to see the first American performance of Edmund Ironside. It was explained to me that the fireworks were an independent celebration, however implausible that might seem.

    Thanks for yours, and its lamentations about democracy, which is nevertheless (I suppose) the best we can do, despite Bernard Shaw's daunting definition of it as One Simpleton, One Vote.

      I can't deal with Hotson, who seems to feel that his archival discoveries entitle him to non-stop invention, though I quite agree he's much more congenial than those (i.e., almost everyone else) who have the invention without the discoveries. What seems to me perverse about starting the Sonnets in 1587 is that Southampton was only fourteen then, and would continue at Cambridge for another two years. And 'the mortal moon' can't really be a reference to the occasional crescent formation of the Armada, can it? Besides, the crescent moon isn't eclipsed.

But I'm certainly indebted to Hotson  for several facts, and I shall most scrupulously acknowledge all such cases (as for example in the revised piece enclosed,  which in a mad fit I've just sent off to the TLS; thanks for the comments).

   Nor can I swallow Elizabeth I, that early Hitler, or at least a sort of Attila the Hen. Of course she was a tyrant, and a cruel and bloody one too. As to her sacredness as a monarch, phooey; her successor but one got the same chop that she so freely dealt out to others, though unlike many of her victims Charles I was kindly allowed, by a benevolent commonwealth, to retain his genitals and bowels. Shakespeare’s allegiance, like any sensible person's, was surely to he ship of state, not its figurehead. Which reminds me about the 'wealthy Andrew' in MV, a tribute to the Essex expedition's capture of the galleon San Andreas; cf. the glutinous adulation of another Essex outing in H5, the only such overt reference to any such public figure in the whole of Shakespeare. James I (whose first act on enthronement was to pardon Southampton) wrote Shakespeare a letter in his own hand, and I bet it said  'Thanks for your help, chum'. I don't incidentally see how the R2 deposition scene can be called essential when no fewer than three separate editions during ten years were published without it.

    [...] I’m reading Eysenck's latest book, called Genius. I also hope to pick up a few useful tips. Meanwhile I've noted your planned arrival on 18 July, so that's something to look forward to. Do give me a ring; I trust we can fix a lunch, despite vicissitudes.

   Meanwhile I'm also enclosing the latest TLS Bacon feature.

    Best, as ever,

    Yours Eric