63. 30 April 1995 [NM] (Early Shakespeare; Hamilton; Reed on Bacon)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Eric,

   Talk of rainbows, your letter was a catherine-wheel of sparks! Unfortunately I kept it so close by me to answer that it has wheeled itself out of my ken. So I'll miss a few echoes, till it reemerges. All the better for you: fewer questions!

   You asked if I had any views about the deposition scene in Richard II. I did go into all that at one stage, but decided it was enough for me to know that the scene was there in 1601 when it was played to Essex's followers. One thing is surely clear: Shakespeare did not write it for them, therefore it already existed earlier. I look forward to seeing a complete elucidation of this intricate problem. Now I'll keep my questions this time to the strict minimun.

   You mention Edward III – I hope sanity will prevail, and they'll publish it quam celerrime. But you say nothing of the Real Shakespeare part II. Is this merely a dream, or are seriously contemplating an essential sequel (if not sequels)? And if so, when?


   I thought Alexander was an early authorship man, but don't have any of his books handy to check. However there's one who definitely was, and to whom I owe my long established convictions on the subject: that sober Baconian, Edwin Reed, Francis Bacon our Shakespeare, Boston 1902. I've just been rereading his chapter, entitled 'The early authorship of Shakespeare', and, barring the fact that he goes on to attribute these works to Bacon (whereby he fails to pass your economy test), it has a lot of substance in it, much of it a preview of yours. In his view, the first HamletLeirShrewHenry VIPericles and others are Shakespeare in the 1580s, includingThe Famous Victories (the 'product of a powerful but uncultivated mind', he quotes, which he corrects to 'a powerful but immature mind'). I presume you also look upon the Victories as Shakespeare's? (RSVP, that's not a lot of questions yet!) Reed takes the sensible line: 'No good ground exists for a denial of Shakespearian authorship in the case of ...' And he cites a few documents which, if he's right about them, could strengthen your case; including (p.85) Greene in Menaphon, 1589, attacking doron (in Greek letters) = spear, and Mullodoros = shake-spear..

   I've also been rereading a fascinating and well-written book – Alice-Lyle Scoufos, Shakespeare's Typological Satire, Ohio UP, 1979) about the many digs in the Henry IV plays and Merry Wives, as also in Nashe and Jonson, at all the Cobhams (enemies of Shakespeare, Southampton and Essex), which I'm sure you'd be interested in, if and when you start on part II. They also have some bearing on dating. This bright Greek lady assumes that theVictories are not by Shakespeare, though her thesis w'd be all the more convincing if it were. Her main reason is that it is 'barren of artistic qualities'...

   I'm tantalized by the many points in your catherine-wheel I'd have loved to respond to in kind. So no more for the present.

   Spring has come, I've shaken off bronchitis after 4 months of it. Christopher might visit me if he can find a little clearing in time.

   I gather you are enjoying being a grandfather? (No need to fatigue your brain by answering this one!) All the very best