In the the novel 'Gulliver's Travels', there is a passage in Part II Chapter 3 where the narrator "quarrels with the Queen's Dwarf". In that passage, Gulliver makes the aside that princes 'seldom get their meat hot'. Note that throughout the novel, Swift uses 'prince' to mean male nobles in general (applying it several times to the emperor of Lilliput etc.)
Was this a well-known irony of upper-class dining of the era?
My reading of the statement is that the elaborate rituals of formal dinners result in the meat being cold by the time the 'prince' gets a taste. Is this correct, or does Swift have something else in mind here?
Swift is making an extended satire of 'high society' in the novel. I'm wondering how this detail fits in to the whole.
Quoted from Gulliver’s Travels on Project Gutenberg:
He had before served me a scurvy trick, which set the queen a-laughing, although at the same time she was heartily vexed, and would have immediately cashiered him, if I had not been so generous as to intercede. Her majesty had taken a marrow-bone upon her plate, and, after knocking out the marrow, placed the bone again in the dish erect, as it stood before; the dwarf, watching his opportunity, while Glumdalclitch was gone to the side-board, mounted the stool that she stood on to take care of me at meals, took me up in both hands, and squeezing my legs together, wedged them into the marrow bone above my waist, where I stuck for some time, and made a very ridiculous figure. I believe it was near a minute before any one knew what was become of me; for I thought it below me to cry out. But, as princes seldom get their meat hot, my legs were not scalded, only my stockings and breeches in a sad condition. The dwarf, at my entreaty, had no other punishment than a sound whipping.
Bolding my own.