HORSES AND EELS
Of the many amazing details in Hard Times, one of my favorites is where industrial magnate Mr. Bounderby regales his dinner table with an outlandish list of the foods of his poverty-stricken childhood:
“It was an appropriate occasion for Mr. Bounderby to discuss the flavor of the ha’p’orth of stewed eels he had purchased in the streets at eight years old; and also of the inferior water, specially used for lying the dust, with which he had washed down that repast. He likewise entertained his guest over the soup and fish, with the calculation that he (Bounderbury) had eaten in his youth at least three horses under the guise of polonies and saveloys” (Book 2, Chapter II)
“Polonies and saveloys” seem to be different kinds of sausages.
Bounderbury accuses his factory workers of being unsatisfied with meals of the eels washed down with cleaning water variety:
“There’s not a hand in town, Sir, man, woman or child, but has one ultimate object in life. That object is, to be fed on turtle soup and venison with a gold spoon”
Venison: lap of luxury, circa 1854. I guess tastes change. I might try to find some eels to eat when I’m in London, though – a soft spot for Mr. Bounderby.