52. 2 July 1993 [NM] (Book on Wolf; Geneva)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

Dear Eric,

Your two books have come, with their charming dedications, for all of which my thanks. I have always had some hesitation in reading about music, and I wish as children we were all taught to hear the music as we read it. So easy then, and so important. But - beginning with Hugo Wolf, whom I don't know at all, I find I can listen, and learn something very interesting to me: the link between the poem and the melody. I'll tell you more as I go along.

   Also received your letter, returning my chapter 50, with comments. Your support and understanding are much appreciated. Your principal comment entirely reinforces my approach: let Bacon speak. (Tho' some of the public I fear won't trust their judgement of Bacon's poetic prose unless told that Emerson thought so too!) And alas it takes many more words to cite a few of Bacon's images, for example, than simply to note: 'see Vickers on Bacon's images' (which is what he wants me to do, if anything). Still, your suggestion casts some light on my path. I do agree about Bacon's prose, and I love your Bacon haikus. Thanks also for shortening suggestions in text. It's more a matter of what can I keep, for most of these chapters must go.

   Your comments on Vickers' book are fun to read. A query on your category a) the loonies, Freudians et al, as opposed to academics: it seems to me that a lot of academics, specially in America, have caught the loony rash, and students are being taught ideology rather than knowledge. With regard to b), Vickers castigating the Establishment, c'd you give me details of his critical review of the Oxford Shakespeare, so I can get hold of it? You mean to say both he and Steiner are hankering after Oxbridge? I would have thought Geneva and Zurich was their choice. I recall a conversation of my mother's, when my father was made Spanish Prof. at Exeter. She had enjoyed the very active League of Nations life in Geneva, and was bored to tears by the milieu of Oxford Dons'wives. Approached at some college dinner by one of these condescending ladies - 'where have you come from my dear?' she replied, 'Geneva'. 'Oh you must feel as if you were coming from very far away into the centre of things.' 'Oh,' exclaimed my mother, taken by surprise, 'not at all!'

   Your further note re notes, food for thought, tho' I must say its principal pleasure was plunging again into the controversy with your irrefutably brilliant demonstrations. How can Vickers or anyone resist them? I am ever newly amazed at the unscholarly behaviour of scholars.

Do you really prefer Jean-qui-rit – who presides over the longest night, to Jean-qui-pleure, the saint of midsummer madness? Even so don't neglect les roses de la vie. They are there. You have to see them first in your mind. Then they'll flower all around you

   Have you seen David Buisseret's Henry IV King of France (1984)? He's a favourite of mine, and somehow I bought two copies of the book. If you'd like to have one, I'll post it to you.