37. 21 October 1990 [ES] (Richard Pokorny's graphology; Chettle; Greene; invitation to Ischia)

previously unpublished; © the estate of eric sams and beatrice cazac (Mrs.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

My dear Hayat,

     how good to hear from you. I always recognise and read your hand with pleasure. My old master Richard Pokorny (Psychologie der Handschrift) would have relished its disjunct candour and generosity of spirit. He was always alarmed, conversely, by my large loops below the line, which he associated with libido, and exclaimed in wonderment that nobody could possibly be as libidinous as that. But I exclaimed it was perfectly possible, so long as one had plenty of rest, at one's advanced age. Cf. Shelley:


          We rest [recte: look, ED] before and after

          we pine for what is not, etc.


Anyhow, Richard refused to modify his theory in any respect. And his theory certainly made him a good name, and his practice a good living (advising employers on candidate and applicants).

   It's old masters time today: I've just completed, after four years, my disposal and dispersal of the large library I inherited from Ernst Baronow. Too vast to house; too dear to sell. So the British Library and other institutions are the delighted beneficiaries, and I still have more German books than I can well shelve, let alone read.

   You pose, as ever, interesting and important problems. I agree that Chettle is often too freely interpreted, and that what he says is far from instantly clear. I think 'scholars' is used in its OED 3b sense of graduate who took up literary work: or perhaps playwrights generally. That's the field in which the bitter inveighing grew greenest, so to speak. As to the reason for which Chettle is assumed to mean Marlowe and Shakespeare by his 'one or two playmakers', it's I suppose that only Marlowe and Shakespeare were actually attacked by Greene, as respectively 'fool' (which would also annoy me, as it no doubt annoyed my fellow Corpus Christian, if it were used to describe my own atheism) and 'Shakescene'. There's some sort of supporting evidence that Shakespeare thought of himself as under attack from Greene, in Sonnet 112 which refers to the impression 'which vulgar scandal stamped upon my row' and also contains the amazing coinage 'o'er green' which baffles all those commentators who think it's just a word and not a personal allusion à la mode of Tudor times. So the key "attacked by Greene in Groatsworth" seems to fit the lock "taking offence at Greene's Groatsworth".

   Well, I see this won't reach you until you return from Paris, where I haven't been since I was last made much of by sweet friend Henri Lazard in the dixseptième; now alas long dead.

   It was then the Paris of Offenbach without the sparkle, I thought. But of course the Baudelarian Brève Rencontre is always possible. Magic words, rather enhanced for me by the pedantic reflection that the toi que j'eusse aimée was a Preceding Direct Object, no less, in more was than one, at least potentially, as well as agreeing in gender etc.

   For the rest I'm brooding darkly, dovelike wings outspread, on Edward III, or would be if I hadn't been summoned back into music by the Guildhall School where I teach on occasion, usually when someone is ill or indisposed. I wish the permanent staff no harm, but I do rather relish this relief, for which much thanks. And next year's diary is already stuffed with moments musicaux including chairmanship of the Gruner Lied competition and a projected sojourn in Ischia, courtesy of Lady Walton, to lecture on e.g. the musical connections between her William and ours (mainly in film scores) and also on the Italienisches Liederbuch of Hugo Wolf which I'm thinking of adapting to the original Italian, which can hardly be said to lack due rispetto.

   Well, my best regards to you too. I'll look at the Comtesse de Chambrun (toi que j'aime et qui ne le sait pas: moi, j'aime la lointaine/ Comtesse) as soon as an occasion occurs. And so farewell for now,

   yours as ever Eric