69. 12 June 1995 [NM] (Astrology; Shakespeare's Catholicism; Mr WH)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Eric,

   Thank you so much for the book. I read it at once with great pleasure. First-rate, and something we should all read. How can the entrenched Oxfordians have to the face to banish such critics to the outer pale? What is really exciting is to see the mind of Shakespeare at work, 'the playwright's struggle with tone and rhythm'. Such an opportunity, so long missed! Refreshingly, he doesn't transform Falstaff's death, as most editors do, arbitrarily replacing the given text – 'his nose as sharp as a pen on a table of green field' (a play on the green of death) with a Falstaff babbling of green fields – the last thing he would babble of!

   Your letter (27 v): So glad you're working on vol.2. I like the marriage consummated and 'solemnized', in the same way as Sh's was. Astrology, another of my themes. Jean Overton Fuller – the last Baconian book I've read, late '80s, gave as proof that Essex, as well as Bacon, was a son of Elizabeth, his horoscope, too far North for London. Her best proof for Bacon was a genetic one: he had curly brown hair and brown eyes, and both parents had straight fair hair. She wins there, if she's got the colours right. I can believe the laws of genetics could fail but not that Lady Bacon would 'découcher'. Ann Geneva's book: I plan to buy it. Yes, the Bacon passages are familiar to me, thank – you for offer to photocopy. On the other hand the Forse book doesn't seem worth my buying, though. I must say I'd like to see his views on Shylock and the Isle of Dogs, and on the Essex rebellion, so perhaps I sh'd get it. Or perhaps you can lend it to me while I'm in London? I'm planning two weeks from 18 July. So book us a lunch-hour!

   I can see why after all that has been unearthed of Sh's Catholic sympathies, he might look on Elizabeth as a tyrant, but it seems you do too. Remember however that a lot of the Catholics' sufferings were brought on them by their constant efforts to murder the Queen (originally very reluctant to pursue them) and encourage a Spanish invasion. Their plots were not all invented by Walsingham. And how patriotic Sh. remained. He would not have gone along with that. And surely for him as for the vocal Elizabethans, the 'tyrants' crests' were not at home. We mustn't forget that all kings at that time were absolute rulers, invested with a sacred power. The conflict, brought on England by Henry VIII, imposed a double temporal power on the English. Thus Popes enjoined murder and crowed with glee at the assassination of kings.

   Some queries. In consolidating Southampton as the Friend you aptly eliminated Pembroke, but not Hotson's Hatcliffe in Mr WH. I feel he needs eliminating. Despite his irritating self-confidence (anyone who might have met Sh. being presented throughout his books as a lifelong bosom friend, e.g. Toby Matthew of Shakespeare's 'lifelong friend' Russell, whereas the only man whose bosom friend he was is of course Bacon), I find some very convincing arguments for Hotson's dates: 1587-'90. Not of course on the sonnets urging the young man to marry, which in his version remain unexplained. But he musters a lot of suggestive evidence for the mortal moon, and his pyramids are more convincing than Southampton's. Also I like to think of Shakespeare beginning to write his sonnets at 25 like everyone else, and if he complained of tongue-tied art wasn't that when Ironsidewas suppressed? If Hatcliffe himself presented his sonnets to the publisher, there w'd be no problem about the dedication. I'm open to conviction if all this is nonsense, but I do think Hotson needs refuting.

   Dear Eric - please keep on sending me tasty snippets. And go on working and being a very young grand-father.