18 OCTOBER 1963, Page 16

SHAKESPEAREAN VALENTINES SIR,—In his interesting review of my book on

Shakespeare, Mr. Philip Brock bank, having hesitated whether he should compare Dr. Rowse and myself to 'pilot fish,' monsters of the deep' or purveyors of 'costly and pretty Valentines,' proceeds to stigmatise my deplorable 'fluency' and 'plenitude of sentiment.' 'Everything,' he writes, 'tumbles out of the .cornu- copia'—references to Falstaff in the buck-basket, the uses of bawdy humour, Romeo's passion and Ralegh's dreams, Shakespeare's relations with the Davenant children, and Elizabethan ornament. Can he explain why any of these subjects is irrelevant to my biographical theme? Mr. Brockbank strikes me as one of those stern modern critics, who, although they demand 'hard, systematic study' in others, usually fail to apply it to the cultivation of their own