‘For my component we don’t understand why males who ‘ve got wives and don’t need ‘em, should not dispose of ‘em since these gipsy fellows do their old horses…Why shouldn’t they place ‘em up and offer ‘em by auction to males that are looking for such articles? Hey? Why, begad, I’d sell mine this moment if anyone would purchase her!’
Therefore states the young farm labourer Michael Henchard, in another of probably the most arresting passages in Thomas Hardy’s 1886 novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Nearby the start of guide, Michael gets drunk on rum-laced furmity (frumenty), and it has a disagreement together with his wife, Susan. He decides to auction off Susan and their infant child, that are purchased by a sailor for five guineas. Whenever Michael sobers up, the enormity of just just what he’s done hits house; he realises he cannot get their daughter and wife right back, and swears down liquor for the following 21 years because of this.