The Northamptonshire peasant poet. He had sent Lamb his “The Village Minstrel, and other Poems.”
TO MR. BARRON FIELD.
September 22, 1822.
My Dear F.,—I scribble hastily at office. Frank wants my letter presently. I and sister are just returned from Paris!  We have eaten frogs. It has been such a treat! You know our monotonous general tenor. Frogs are the nicest little delicate things,—rabbity flavored. Imagine a Lilliputian rabbit! They fricassee them; but in my mind, dressed seethed, plain, with parsley and butter, would have been the decision of Apicius.... Paris is a glorious, picturesque old city. London looks mean and new to it, as the town of Washington would, seen after it. But they have no St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey. The Seine, so much despised by Cockneys, is exactly the size to run through a magnificent street; palaces a mile long on one side, lofty Edinburgh stone (oh, the glorious antiques!) houses on the other. The Thames disunites London and Southwark. I had Talma to supper with me. He has picked up, as I believe, an authentic portrait of Shakspeare. He paid a broker about L40 English for it. It is painted on the one half of a pair of bellows,—a lovely picture, corresponding with the Folio head. The bellows has old carved wings round it and round the visnomy is inscribed, as near as I remember, not divided into rhyme,—I found out the rhyme,—
“Whom have we here
Stuck on this bellows,
But the Prince of good fellows,
“O base and coward lack,
To be here stuck!”
“Nay! rather a glorious lot is to
Who, like the Almighty, rides upon the wind.”
This is all in old, carved wooden letters. The countenance smiling, sweet, and intellectual beyond measure, even as he was immeasurable. It may be a forgery. They laugh at me, and tell me Ireland is in Paris, and has been putting off a portrait of the Black Prince. How far old wood may be imitated I cannot say, Ireland was not found out by his parchments, but by his poetry. I am confident no painter on either side the Channel could have painted anything near like the face I saw. Again, would such a painter and forger have taken L40 for a thing, if authentic, worth L4000? Talma is not in the secret, for he had not even found out the rhymes in the first inscription. He is coming over with it, and my life to Southey’s “Thalaba,” it will gain universal faith.
The letter is wanted, and I am wanted. Imagine the blank filled up with all kind things.
Our joint, hearty remembrances to both of you. Yours as ever,
 The Lambs had visited Paris on the invitation of James Kenney, the dramatist, who had married a Frenchwoman, and was living at Versailles.