“Wit ought to be a glorious treat, like caviar. Never spread it about like marmalade.”*

*Noel Coward

From: Penelope Fitzgerald: Charlotte Mew and Her Friends (1984) Chapter Twenty – The Loss of a Mother:

“…Probably (it would have been like her) it was because of this embarrassment that Charlotte was suddenly at her best. Sydney, who was something of an anxious impresario with his two celebrities, was much relieved, and had never seen her “more sparkling and at ease”. De la Mare (as he explained in a letter of thanks) had thought Charlotte Mew would be quite different. Whatever he might have expected from the wild confessionals of Madeleine and In Nunhead Cemetery, it could hardly have been this tiny, neat, ironically glancing figure…She told stories, he said, which afterwards he could remember perfectly, but couldn’t repeat without losing the essence of them. All this is the more remarkable because de la Mare himself habitually talked without stopping and gently disputed every point (he once argued for two days over whether marmalade could properly be called a kind of jam). But on this occasion he listened, as he listened to music. “She just knows humanity,” he told Cockerell, “one of the rarest things in the world.”…”

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