68. 2 June 1995 [ES] (Deposition scene; Bacon and astrology; Elizabeth I as tyrant)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Hayat,

I can't resist the chance of putting my new machine (actually £85 second-hand) through its paces, in response to your kind enquiry. This double-drive Amstrad PCW 8512 is already a museum piece, but (or perhaps I mean  'and therefore')  suits me nicely. You should surely acquire a modern equivalent. Even this machine can get a whole book on one disc, which seems to be a triumph of technology, and hence infinitely more credible and impressive than miracles improperly so called.

   I note what you say about Shakespeare's views on monarchs, but I see a certain hazard about inferring his personal opinions from his plays, even though I'm not above playing that game myself on occasion. You still seem very tolerant about tyranny. As I say, I absolutely would not care for any sovereign, however copiously anointed, in whose name my own father had been odiously maltreated and my kinsmen brutally done to death. I took against Hitler at an early age on much the same grounds. How could Shakespeare fail to hate Elizabeth the First, or fail to support his much loved Southampton, (never mind about Essex) who


'in this shalt find thy monument

when tyrants crests and tombs of brass are spent'?


   As to the Richard II deposition scene, I don't see why it should be an exception to the rule that all scenes previously unknown are later additions by a revising author, like the fly scene in Titus Andronicus, especially when the 1608 Q4 says, point-blank, 'With new additions of the Parliament Sceane'. But I haven't really thought any of this thoroughly through, having been stopped in my sidetracks, so to speak, by a contemplation of that famous sketch of the Swan theatre c.1596. I've just written off to Utrecht to ask for a photograph of the original drawing (xerox enclosed [see the essay ‘My Name’s Hamlet, Revenge’ED]). I wonder whether you have any ideas about the scene it represents?

I was agreeably reminded of you in the London Library the other day, when I was consulted about the Bacon book you had requested. I advised a search of the BL and Congress catalogues; our assistants, decent chaps though they are, seem to find some difficulty in grasping the idea that other libraries may have books that we don't.

   I can't now recall why Mme la Comtesse de Chambrun gave up the holograph will. I agree that she's often willful in other respects.

   Best, as ever; yours while this machine is to him, and perhaps even thereafter,