Barton and his daughter visited Lamb at Colebrooke Cottage somewhen about this time. Mrs. FitzGerald, in 1893, wrote out for me her recollections of the day. Lamb, who was alone, opened the door himself. He sent out for a luncheon of oysters. The books on his shelves, Mrs. FitzGerald remembered, retained the price-labels of the stalls where he had bought them. She also remembered a portrait over the fireplace. This would be the Milton. In the Gem for 1831 was a poem by Barton, “To Milton’s Portrait in a Friend’s Parlour.”]
CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE
March 22nd, 1826.
Dear C.,—We will with great pleasure be with you on Thursday in the next week early. Your finding out my style in your nephew’s pleasant book is surprising to me. I want eyes to descry it. You are a little too hard upon his morality, though I confess he has more of Sterne about him than of Sternhold. But he saddens into excellent sense before the conclusion. Your query shall be submitted to Miss Kelly, though it is obvious that the pantomime, when done, will be more easy to decide upon than in proposal. I say, do it by all means. I have Decker’s play by me, if you can filch anything out of it. Miss Gray, with her kitten eyes, is an actress, though she shows it not at all, and pupil to the former, whose gestures she mimics in comedy to the disparagement of her own natural manner, which is agreeable. It is funny to see her bridling up her neck, which is native to F.K.; but there is no setting another’s manners upon one’s shoulders any more than their head. I am glad you esteem Manning, though you see but his husk or shrine. He discloses not, save to select worshippers, and will leave the world without any one hardly but me knowing how stupendous a creature he is. I am perfecting myself in the “Ode to Eton College” against Thursday, that I may not appear unclassic. I have just discovered that it is much better than the “Elegy.”
In haste, C.L.
P.S.—I do not know what to say to your latest theory about Nero being the Messiah, though by all accounts he was a ’nointed one.
["Next week early.” Canon Ainger’s text here has: “May we venture to bring Emma with us?”
“Your nephew’s pleasant book”—Henry Nelson Coleridge’s Six Months in the West Indies in 1825. In the last chapter but one of the book is an account of the slave question, under the title “Planters and Slaves.”
“Sternhold”—Thomas Sternhold, the coadjutor of Hopkins in paraphrasing the Psalms.
“The pantomime.” Coleridge seems to have had some project for modernising Dekker for Fanny Kelly. Mr. Dykes Campbell suggested that the play to be treated was “Old Fortunatus.”
“Miss Gray.” I have found nothing of this lady.
“Manning.” Writing to Robert Lloyd twenty-five years earlier Lamb had said of Manning: “A man of great Power—an enchanter almost.—Far beyond Coleridge or any man in power of impressing —when he gets you alone he can act the wonders of Egypt. Only he is lazy, and does not always put forth all his strength; if he did, I know no man of genius at all comparable to him.”