Ay, to have died without tasting that is miserable indeed! There is rum punch and arrack punch! It is difficult to say which is best, but Jupiter would have given his nectar for either of them, upon my word and honour. Apicius. The thought of them puts me into a fever with thirst. Darteneuf.

They carried the glories of their table much farther than the best eaters of the age in which I lived. Vitellius spent in feasting, within the compass of one year, what would amount in your money to above 7,200,000 pounds. He told me so himself in a conversation I had with him not long ago. And the two others you mentioned did not fall very short of his royal magnificence. Darteneuf.

No; the muraena, so respected by the ancient Roman senators, was a salt-water fish, and kept by our nobles in ponds, into which the sea was admitted. Darteneuf. Why, then, I dare say our Severn lampreys are better. Did you ever eat any of them stewed or potted? Apicius. I was never in Britain. Your country then was too barbarous for me to go thither.

I sailed to the coast of Africa, from Minturnae in Campania, only to taste of one species, which I heard was larger there than it was on our coast; and finding that I had received a false information, I returned immediately, without even deigning to land. Darteneuf. There was some sense in that. But why did not you also make a voyage to Sandwich?

I cannot indeed but exceedingly lament my ill fate that America was not discovered before I was born. It tortures me when I hear of chocolate, pineapples, and a number of other fine fruits, or delicious meats, produced there which I have never tasted. Darteneuf.

Ask your learned men that. I reckon as they tell me. But you may think that these feasts were made only by great men, by triumphant generals, like Lucullus, who had plundered all Asia to help him in his housekeeping. What will you say when I tell you that the player AEsopus had one dish that cost him 6,000 sestertia that is, 4,843 pounds 10s. English? Darteneuf. What will I say?

I see you both look astonished. But what I tell you is truth. Labour and hunger gave a relish to the black broth of the former, and the salt beef of the latter, beyond what you ever found in the tripotanums or ham pies, that vainly stimulated your forced and languid appetites, which perpetual indolence weakened, and constant luxury overcharged. Darteneuf.

He says, there was a haunch of the fattest venison untouched, while every mouth was employed on the turtle alone. Darteneuf. Alas! how imperfect is human felicity! I lived in an age when the noble science of eating was supposed to have been carried to its highest perfection in England and France. And yet a turtle feast is a novelty to me!

Our players were infinitely richer than your princes. Darteneuf. Oh that I had but lived in the blessed reign of Caligula, or of Vitellius, or of Heliogabalus, and had been admitted to the honour of dining with their slaves! Apicius. Ay, there you touch me. I am miserable that I died before their good times.

These, indeed, were great princes. But what most affects me is the luxury of that upstart fellow AEsopus. Pray, of what ingredients might the dish he paid so much for consist? Apicius. Chiefly of singing birds. It was that which so greatly enhanced the price. Darteneuf. Of singing birds! Choke him!