64. 13 May 1995 [ES] (Dark Lady; Mullidor)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Hayat,

Yours is the first letter on this new PCW 8512, acquired today. It has double the memory of its predecessor, which may help to palliate if not restore my own fading capacity. Thus the birthday celebrations for Arthur Sullivan are temporarily interrupted. He was a good Shakespearean, and Gilbert was even better; I still find the latter's parody of a typical clown's utterance (I had as lief be thrust through a quickset hedge as cry 'pooh' to a callow throstle) quite compelling.

   What I think about Rowse's Dark Lady is that even her colouring is a pigment of his imagination.

   I don't know why Shakespeare couldn’t have written the R2 deposition scene for Essex and Southampton (aka Phoenix and Turtle?). After all I’m sure he thought Elizabeth a cruel tyrant, just as they did, and indeed just as she in fact was.

   Hamilton: well, it's a nice problem whether one may be right about some things and wrong about others, leaving the former successes unvitiated by the latter failures. Age or infirmity may have supervened. But there's no denying that dottiness is discouraging. I rather fell out with Charles H. over his absurd misreading of 'Cheshire Cheese' in a Quiney letter. Ah well, nobody's perfect, as Joe E. Brown reacts to the refusal of his proposal by Tony Curtis in drag in Some Like It Hot, namely 'I can't marry you: I'm a man'.

   I can't find Erwin Reed at the moment, but he's in the London Library somewhere and I'll look again next week. What you say about Doron pleases me. 'Spear', of course, just so. I should have known that but didn't. Like Dr. Johnson I attribute this oversight to 'sheer ignorance, madam'. I hadn't noted Mullidor (sic) either; all Greek is Greek to me. But perhaps this reference is to English? To mull is to grind or rub, which is arguably akin to shaking in its basic to-ing and fro-ing; hence Shakespeare. I like that too, and I'll include it, suitably acknowledged, in any revision or sequel that Yale feel able to sanction. I'm due to have a lunch and a chat with them later this summer. That suggests a quotation too; after many a summer dines off the Swan, perhaps.

   I hear from Christopher occasionally; he sounds in quite good form, and has I believe received yet another award, as deservedly as ever.

   I was glad to hear you've been able to shake (sic) off bronchitis, to which I and both sons have been martyrs in our time.

   And yes, I find being a grandfather quite congenial. The duties, so far, are light; but my name has been put down as Toby's chess tutor in due course.

   Best, as ever,