De Quincey’s Potato Anachronism

“Ah! what a beautiful idea occurs to me at this point! Once, on the hustings at Liverpool, I saw a mob orator, whose brawling mouth, open to its widest expansion, suddenly some larking sailor, by the most dexterous of shots, plugged up with a paving-stone. Here, now, at Valladolid was another mouth that equally required plugging. What a pity, then, that some gay brother page of Kate’s had not been there to turn aside into the room, armed with a roasted potato, and, taking a sportsman’s aim, to have lodged it in the crocodile’s abominable mouth! Yet, what an anachronism! There were no roasted potatoes in Spain at that date (1608), which can be apodeictically proved, because in Spain there were no potatoes at all, and very few in England. But anger drives a man to say anything.”

Thomas De Quincey, The Spanish Military Nun (1854)

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