I have been reading Julia Ward Howe’s Reminiscences: 1819-1899. After having been raised in a very well-to-do New York household, she married Samuel Gridley Howe in 1843, and they immediately embarked on a honeymoon trip to London (accompanied by no less than Horace Mann and Mary Peabody Mann). It was quite a wedding trip — she met Carlyle, Dickens, Landseer, and other London luminaries of that time. But what really struck me about this trip was her description of the breakfasts to which they were invited:
“The breakfast was at this time a favorite mode of entertainment, and we enjoyed many of these occasions. I remember one at the house of Sir Robert Harry Inglis, long a leading Conservative member of Parliament…. At this breakfast, he cut the loaf with his own hands, saying to each guest, ‘Yill you have a slice or a hunch?’ and cutting a slice from one end or a hunch from the other, according to the preference expressed.
“These breakfasts were not luncheons in disguise. They were given at ten, or even at half past nine o’clock. The meal usually consisted of fish, cutlets, cold bread and toast, with tea and coffee. At Samuel Roger’s I remember that plover’s eggs were served.”
I’m struck that it was worth remarking that one host actually cut the bread “with his own hands.” I’m also struck by the plover’s eggs.